All posts by benja455

Review: P-Mate Female Disposable Urine Director

Today we have a special treat – a brief review conducted by my wife & written by me!  We wanted to highlight a product that we’ve had in hand for a while and just recently got the opportunity to use (during a long bike ride) – the P-Mate!

The P-Made is described as a “Disposable Urine Director” so women can stand to pee (an increasingly crowded space with several other products making the same claim).  This concept is awesome because in addition to coming in handy while out in the middle of nowhere, the other benefit is that it means no more squatting over a gross toilet/portapotty.  Yet, the P-Mate is unique in the sense that it is made of paper and can be easily folded and stored in minimal space (and minimal).

My wife tried it and loved it.  She commented that it was a little weird not squatting – but that she could probably get over that with time.  She was more impressed with the product and felt it would be best served for toilets or portapotties as women’s underwear still needs to be dropped for the product to work (and that might be awkward in a more “public” location).  She suggested that we include some in our day bags for large outdoor events and hikes.

Overall, she highly recommends the P-Mate and given Amazon’s price point ($6.55 for a pack of 5), we both think they are fairly reasonably priced!  Learn more at: http://www.pmateusa.com

Review: Mid State Firearms – Another Day, Another Test

As some of you may recall, we had a fairly infamous review of a Mid State Firearms upper that I bought in the Spring of 2015:

This upper gave me a lot of headaches…

Years went by and we got a lot of comments to my review – admittedly, many of them were positive – describing awesome experiences with Mid State Firearms and their products.  So, when Mid State reached out and asked if I’d consider reviewing some of their newest offerings – I figured, hell yeah – let’s give these guys a chance and show people what this company is doing now.  And you know – I’m happy I did that.

There are a lot of folks at the price point of Mid State Firearms and I was impressed to see some premium options that buyers can include on their builds (without tripling the price).

Something that really attracted my attention (but I sadly didn’t end up going for) was the non-NFA 10.5 inch (+shroud) 300 Blackout Upper.

That is a really cool option for someone that doesn’t want to pay/wait for an SBR tax stamp but already has a suppressor.

Given that this upper was supposed to be light weight for the wife’s first AR, I decided to go with a pencil contour 16 inch .223 Wylde upper…but after perusing the Mid State State Firearms Instagram account, I found this photo of some unusually colored BCGs:

These OilSlick Rainbow BCGs, were exactly the type of thing that I wanted to find and a fairly reasonable price compared to comparable premium retailers – so that got included as well.

Next came choosing a rail and I was excited to see a very modern offering that was slim and offered everything I wanted for this build.

Speaking directly with MSF was easy and once the order was placed – we set out to purchase everything else for the lower build (MFT Minimalist Stock, MagPul SL Grip, ALG Defense ACT, etc).

Keep any eye out for Part 2 – where we see what MSF is bringing to the table these days (heads up: we were very impressed).

Safe Insight: Tactical Knife Class (“Yeah, I Need to Sharpen My Knife…”)

Safe Insight: Practice Until You Can’t Get it Wrong

Like many folks, I carry a folding knife every day as part of my EDC.  My primary knife is a SOG Zoom Mini and while it’s primary duty is opening Amazon.com boxes – I’ve always entertained the idea that it could play a role as a defensive weapon if I was disarmed by a “gun free zone” or simply couldn’t access my carry gun.  With that in mind, it occurred to me that I might want to get some knife training and Mike, former LEO and owner of Safe Insight suggested that I join a class he was offering.

The course ran us through a number of several self defense fundamentals – including:

  • How close is “too close” when it comes to edged weapons?
  • How to hold a knife when engaged in self defense?
  • What type of a knife is truly dangerous?
Mike C. breaks down the technique

As we went through the class, it became clear that like many weapons – the knife was an extension of my basic physical ability to stop the threat, break contact and escape.  When attacked from behind, we practiced a technique to throw the attacker off balance and then draw our (training) blades.  Similarly, as we wrestled on the ground – the knife was not the first thing we grabbed – instead, we learned “the can opener” – before attempting to use a knife.

It was great to see the class went beyond talking, bullet points and PowerPoint slides…by getting hands-on (literally), I learned a lot about how to handle myself in a close quarters self defense situation.  Equally important – I learned that my carry knife is woefully dull.  I won’t ruin the surprise at the end of the class – but I did get to use my knife and it failed miserably.

I guess I need to head up to SOG’s corporate headquarters (in Lynnwood, WA) and get my knife sharpened and I recommend you head the same direction and take a class with Safe Insight!

WaGuns Camping Reviews: SunJack 14W + 8000mAh Battery

I had a contact reach out to me and ask if I’d like to do a review of some products for the WaGuns blog and I figured my summer travels would be a great opportunity.  First up is the SunJack 14W + 8000mAh Battery solar charger which – I must note, was provided to me for free for the purposes of this *honest* review.

I brought the SunJack on trip to Mt. Rainier National Park in mid-July and was pleasantly surprised at its capabilities on a fairly overcast three-day trip.

Build quality seems fairly high, especially to another solar panel that I had purchased previously which had a very cloudy film all over the panels (and reduced charging efficiency; I did two warranty exchanges with that panel, it has never really worked).  The nice thing about the SunJack is that it includes a 8000mAh battery, although there are some downsides to that (more on this later).

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SunJack catching some rays on a nearby tree stump

Overall the solar panels worked quite well, charging up the battery pack to half way (as far as I could tell from the blue indicator lights).  What that means realistically is anyone’s guess – but it was enough to juice up my iPhone 6s.

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SunJack on the roof of my tent

Overall, I enjoyed having a way to produce free power for my devices while on vacation but there’s definitely one downside to the SunJack – weight.  If you use the included battery pack, the company’s specs list the entire package at 1.75 pounds (or 2.3 pounds according to Amazon).  You all know the saying – ounces turn into pounds and pounds turn into pain…even at 1.75 pounds, this is a hefty device to include into your pack when going on foot.  With highly rated 16,000 mAh battery banks (twice the capacity of the one included with the SunJack) weighing in at 10.9 ounces; it raises a lot of questions for me about when and where it would be appropriate to bring the SunJack.

Overall, cool piece of tech and an EASY entry into the solar charging market compared to other options but I have a lot of reservations about the capacity of the battery when you consider the weight of the entire system.  Ultimately, I’ll bring the SunJack again when I go car camping but it is highly unlikely to make it on a backpacking trip.

Review: Maklarbak R6 SMARTMAG (“Solution Looking For A Problem…If It Worked”)

As we were walking around SHOT 2016, the Maklarbak booth caught my eye and the representative – Martin – gave us the whole run down on their product, the R6 SMARTMAG.

As Martin (and the Maklarbak website) explained:

WHENEVER you have a bolt lock, you will have one round left. Then,

Drop Bolt on the last round in your mag.
Drop the now-empty mag.
Find and insert a new mag.

The round from the empty mag is already chambered so you can immediately return fire when needed.

We all stood there and thought about the concept while Martin handed out sample magazines.  He further explained that the idea was that you’d have four (4) magazines (1 in the gun and 3 on your body/chest rig).  We smiled, nodded and walked away.  Shortly out of earshot – we all concluded it was a great concept (your rifle is never completely empty)…but that it required a huge investment in retraining muscle memory and it also created a completely separate reloading procedure for your rifle vs. your side arm.

Nevertheless – I wanted to know if the magazine would function as advertised so I took it to a recent SBR/Suppressor demo at Interlake Sporting Association.  I was also trying out some .223 ammo from American Reloading in my 10.5 inch SBR and I knew it would present a fantastic opportunity to show off the concept while getting a good idea about how well it functioned.  The first shooter – a former LEO – Mike – was impressed with the idea but immediately jumped to the same conclusion we had…it requires a lot of retraining.  Not long into the day – maybe by the 3rd or 4th shooter, the bolt locked back and as the shooter attempted to release the bolt on the last round – everything froze up…requiring a lot of muscle to pull the magazine out and free up the bolt.

This same thing happened intermittently to the next 3 or 4 shooters until I pulled the magazine out of rotation and just used Gen 3 PMags.  At this point the failures stopped – which leads me to believe these issues were caused solely by the R6 SMARTMAG…so, I don’t plan on using it again and I certainly can’t recommend it.

Review: American Reloading (“Four Guys Walk Into a Bar…”)

The WaGuns crew was at SHOT in Vegas…settling down for dinner and a beer several beers at the joint inside the lobby of our luxurious off-strip motel.

Rocking our WaGuns gear, we frequently get stopped by folks for good and for bad:

– “Hey, my parents live in Washington!…I would love to move back.”
– “Excuse me, what’s up with that background check law that y’all passed up there?”
– “Can I meet that guy who did the Armscor interview on YouTube?”

Tonight was no different and two guys from an adjacent table leaned over and asked if we were from Washington…we said we were and they quickly introduced themselves to be representatives of American Reloading.  We chatted for a while and they casually suggested to send us some ammo for testing and evaluation – I didn’t really think it would happen, but a few days later I got an e-mail asking for a shipping address…two days after that, I had a huge box of ammo waiting for me at home (sorry, UPS guy!).

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Packaged in bulk but still, the boxes were heavy duty and much more sturdy than what I’ve seen from fly-by-night reloading outfits.

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All of the brass (the .223 in particular) was bright and shiny – couldn’t ask for much more than that!

So, how did this stuff shoot?  Pretty well, I must say.  At an Action Pistol and SBR/Suppressor Demo hosted at Interlake Sporting Association, the American Reloading .223 was the only ammo shot out of my 10.5 inch SBR (with a SilencerCo Omega), and I had zero ammo related malfunctions (there were a handful of magazine-related malfunctions, but that’s a story for another day).  I would also add – there wasn’t nearly as much gas blowing back into my face when shooting the SBR (with or without the suppressor)…so I’m not sure if American Reloading is using different/faster burning powder or what – but that is a huge plus to me.  The American Reloading 9MM (115gr) was also heavily used as it was barely supersonic at 1080 FPS and was a good way to demonstrate the difference between supersonic and subsonic loads when using a suppressor.  While I can’t speak to the accuracy of the ammo (most of it was used for demonstration purposes), when I took my first shots of the day (before the targets were all ripped up) – it seemed to do just fine.

I typically get my plinking ammo from Freedom Munitions, but I’ll definitely be watching the sales/prices at American Reloading from now on.

Review: ALG Defense AKT AK Trigger (Part 2 – “Everybody Loves It”)

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After shooting it in my Arsenal SLR – 107F, shooting it in my M92 PAP SBR and just about every other AK I own…the verdict is in: the ALG Defense AKT AK Trigger is definitely the “go to” trigger to have in an AK. For the price point and performance, you can’t beat it.

With that said, I will admit that the “fitting” of the roll pin for the safety can be a little funky – it took us a solid 30 minutes to get it right in my brother’s Yugo M70B1 (I gave him an AKT as a Christmas gift), but he loves it – going so far as to say that it has completely changed the rifle for him.

Ultimately, I highly recommend the AKT and Arms Unlimited tends to have the best price when you consider shipping.

Review: ALG Defense AKT AK Trigger (Part 1 – “So Far, So Good”)

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After my abysmal experience with the Tac-Con Raptor AK trigger, I was looking forward to the ALG Defense AKT.  I ordered mine shortly after they were released and promptly installed it on my Arsenal SLR-107F (a gun that the Tac-Con would not work in).

Unlike the Tac-Con, installation was an absolute breeze.   Other than the pin that you need to press in and then file to fit for the proper safety engagement (which isn’t necessary for the trigger to work) – it’s totally simple.  If you can do a Tapco or an AR trigger – this is nothing.

And the outcome?  An extremely short and fairly light trigger (darn, I need a trigger gauge) but if you’re disciplined about it, you can “stage” it and have an idea when it’s going to break.  Crisp, audible – CLICK – reset.  The cycle of the bolt seems a bit rougher – rubbing on the unfinished part of the hammer – unlike my well worn Tapco hammer.  Also the ALG has no over travel which is nice compared to the Tapco G2.  Ultimately, the trigger reminds me of the Tac-Con but it’s a fraction of the cost, installs without beating the snot of out of your rifle and the safety functions without much effort.  Seems like a winner, right?

Speak of of my safety…it’s probably out of their “safe” spec zone but the roll pin (mentioned earlier) they include to adjust that is too long (AK tolerances).  As a result, they expect you to sit there and file it down (meh, maybe later).  Basically, the trigger will rock back and forth a bit while on safe but that happens on my Tapco G2 triggers as well.  With the AKT, the sear engagement surfaces are smaller – which is why they want that extra degree of caution.  To test the safety without the roll pin, I put my rifle on safe and really jammed on the trigger multiple times and could not get it to drop.

It’s worth noting that I think they reacted to the first round of reviews saying the trigger was too light and they now include an auxiliary trigger spring which will increase the trigger pull.  To be clear, the basic ALG trigger is slightly more complicated that a standard trigger but you throw that extra spring in there you’re really starting to muck up a simple trigger group that the AK relies on.
I’ll take it out for a function test in the next week or so…keep an eye out for Part 2!

Review: Tac-Con Raptor AK Trigger (Part 2 – “Meh”)

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After e-mailing and calling (I also left a message) Tac-Con regarding the issues I experienced with installing the Raptor trigger, I took my Yugo M70B1 to the range.  For this preliminary function check, I set myself up at the 25 yard berm and simply propped the rifle up on the bench by using the magazine as a poor man’s mono-pod.  While I put up some 7 inch targets – I was really only interested in testing how the trigger worked given that it was such a pain to install.  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if something goes wrong…and I was right.

Continue reading Review: Tac-Con Raptor AK Trigger (Part 2 – “Meh”)

Review: Tac-Con Raptor AK Trigger (Part 1 – Not So “Drop In”)

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After shooting the Tac-Con Raptor AK trigger at SHOT Show 2015, I was hooked…until I heard the price tag – $349?!?  Um…I own AKs which originally cost that much.  I figured it wasn’t meant to be and started considering the less expensive triggers being offered by CMC and ALG.  A few weeks later I was shocked to learn I had received one in a give-a-way!  Of course, the day I got it in the mail – I tore open the box and sat down to install it in one of my rifles.

Continue reading Review: Tac-Con Raptor AK Trigger (Part 1 – Not So “Drop In”)