It’s always a good idea to have somewhat of an idea of what you are looking for in a gun case. Its always best to see someone you know using gear and copying what they are doing, but often times people are on their own and it’s our job to give them options. We see far too often that people that own an AR15 or some other type of semi-auto rifle just assume they need a rifle case with a whole bunch of magazine pouches on the side. Then they go off and buy a grip pod, flashlight, extended butt stock, and find out they are having trouble closing the case up. Then we here of the stories where the zipper broke, the nylon has a whole punched through it right where some accessory was and then it’s time to spend more money on something else.
I own a ton of Uncle Mike’s and Bulldog gun cases for my firearms and usually mark off somewhere on the case which firearm it’s for, I keep the magazines in the case so it’s range ready, Mini 14, AK, AR15 ect. I tend to prefer to buy gun cases, or recommend gun cases that are rectangular in shape knowing that bi-pods, grip-pods flashlights, laser sights, optics are all add ons that people buy and it’s better to start off with space around your firearm that getting something too tight. The Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations cases are very, very nice and are a great match for SBR’s, M4s, SCARS and more. Valken makes a pretty decent 42″ Double Rifle gun case that is also in the same classification. Hard cases are nice, Like Pelican or SKB, but I often hear of how much of a pain they are to transport. Those are more for people traveling long distances or for shipping.
Sometimes our customers are told what to buy, and sometimes it’s at their discretion. Color usually matters and in this industry it’s almost always Khaki or Black, but then it’s our turn to pitch some options. We work with people doing everything from Prison Security, SWAT Training, Concealed Carry, Home Inspection Workers, Landscapers, Electricians and more. They are sometimes wearing the exact same so called “tactical pants”. Cell phones have really changed a lot and often the design of the pockets and it’s relationship to which cell phone someone is using is what actually sells the product, but sometimes the pockets are excessive for what people are using them for and when you have those large BDU type pockets, especially if you are wearing black pants, you are going to have that Ninja SWAT look.
Changing up the color to Tru-Spec’s Stone or Coyote color can really change the image you portray. There were several new designs that came in the last year that have really gained attention, first the Tru-Spec Eclipse pant, which is available in the 65/35 Polycotton ripstop or the 100% nylon which really out sells the previously mention material. I would classify the Eclipse pant and an Ultra Lightweight design but check out the pocket layout because the really lightweight material is going to cause anything you are carrying in the pockets to print. I have seen the trend towards the stretchy fabric that everyone seems to want in their pants and even though I hear a lot about the 5.11 Stryke Pants which are about $70, The Tru-Spec Pants that I’d rather wear are the Tru-Spec Ascent pant due to the much better pricing at about $59.95.
We were one of the first dealers here in Pennsylvania to carry Turtleskin gloves and when we got them in, we really didn’t know the market all that well but we knew we had to get something in. Once we found out that Warwick Mills has a relationship with NASA on building Astronaut Suits, there really wasn’t much more we needed to know about them than that. We do know more about what the frisk glove market is and how important these days that Police, Security and EMS have something like this on them, one word, heroin. Bloodborne pathogens are common and having needle and slash protection is as necessary as having a bullet in the chamber of your duty weapon.
We have been selling the Alpha and Bravo Gloves for several years now and they have sold well, but the new Turtleskin Gloves that we just added to our inventory are the Turtleskin Delta Police Gloves which are very different. You are never going to get all of the dexterity you want in a glove like this but there are variables. With the Alpha and the Bravo, there is a stiffer feel to the palms of the hand that kind of feel like a thin layer of cardboard even though they are puncture resistant. With the Delta Glove, this is an all leather police glove and you can definitely feel the difference. I would have to say that I feel as though there is more dexterity with this glove and a more normal glove feel. It’s a few bucks more than the Bravo and Alpha but if feel and dexterity and it’s not just about protection, you might want to go with the Delta instead.
In the last 20yrs of AR15 range experience, I’ve watch people go from heavy barrel 20 ” carry handle AR15’s with Trijicon ACOGS mounted on them to Short barreled rifles (SBR’s). The AR platform is an extremely versatile Carbine and it can be used for everything from varmint hunting, target shooting, home defense, or in your local police department. The ballistic variations also make it a versatile firearm because with the right ammunition, you can huge variations in performance. Once you have a lower receiver there are numerous upper receiver variations to choose from instead of having to buy multiple firearms. The only other thing to consider is how versatile is your optic?
One thing that people often run into when they go to a shooting range and learn how to shoot at longer distances is that many red dot or zero magnification CQB optics actually inhibit your ability to see a target. A 4 MOA red dot is going to make a 16MOA reticle at 400yds. At my target range we have steel targets that are smaller than that and it’s not going to be easy to hit unless you consider using something like a Vortex Magnifier, Aimpoint Magnifier, Eotech Magnifier or the Mako Magnifier. There are big differences in the way all of those mount on a firearm but not much difference in clarity except the Mako one. In my humble opinion, the Eotech and the Vortex are the ones to think about. If you want a more durable mounting system, you’re going to pay double the price of the Vortex VMX-3T if that’s what you need. The other thing to think about is if you don’t want the magnifier on your firearm anymore, just take it off and use it when you want to, there’s nothing to have to worry about when it comes to zeroing it back in.
There are plenty of things to consider choosing from other than Eotech, Aimpoint and Trijicon, and the market seems to be adjusting to the fact that there are some pretty red dot optics out there from Vortex, Bushnell and several others. There still is a difference between durable for shooting range use, and durable meaning going to war. There are plenty of those durable range optics that are going to fail if you leave them out in the rain or prolonged humidity, that’s what all those military standards are for waterproof depths. It actually means something in the real world.
I have to admit that I’ve never seen the Meprolight M-21 Sights at any of the range I belong to, but I can tell you I was the first person I know to own an LWRC M6A1, so it doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to acquire something really good. The M-21 Bullseye is by far, according to our sales data, the most popular, probable because so many people have looked through an Eotech sight at some point that the reticle is an easy transition. Not like these are IOR Rifle Scopes that I always felt awkward shooting through. The Meptrolight M-21T for the Triangle reticle is a distant 2nd and we’ve mostly seen those on SBR ARs. The Trijicon RM08-G is kind of a baby brother to this optic and if you didn’t know, Meprolight and Trijicon get their Tritium from the same place.
We still get people that are using 3 piece cleaning rods and out dated gun cleaning solutions like Hoppes #9, and if you want that toxic stuff in your cleaning kit, that’s your call, but there is a certain point you should really consider getting rid of some of the chemicals in your home, and at a certain level of being exposed to lead and other toxic materials in this industry, using gloves, good ventilation are things that are going to prevent bad things from happening. Since I own so many 22 caliber firearms, my 22 Caliber boresnake and a once piece rod for 30 caliber semi-auto and bolt action guns are pretty much the majority of my cleaning tools.
Shotguns are a joke to clean and often my least cleaned firearms, but making sure they have a level of corrosion protection on them is pretty much all I worry about. The only difference between rifle and pistol Hoppes Boresnakes are the length of the cord. I still have a pistol rod that gets used on AR15 chambers because a boresnake isn’t going to get into all of those chamber areas, i’ve found that if you clean bolt action rifles right away, boresnakes get lift all of the crud out and you won’t need to resort to cleaning patches or cleaning rods, if you do wait it might take some more effort to clean the rifling. Boresnakes general, when it comes to calibers, but I do have some issues with revolver cylinders not getting cleaned with boresnakes. I still have to take a q-tip to clean out my Ruger Single Six, probable because lead and not copper coated bullets do the dirtiest work, so don’t expect these Hoppes snakes to work for everything, but when they work, they really do save time.
I sometimes feel as though I need to take a couple training courses every year to just learn what is going on in the industry, but I often do a lot of listening and asking questions and probable spend at least an hour a day researching something on Youtube.com to see if the manufacturer has a Youtube Channel or if a reputable blogger or writer has something to say. Reading specs off of paper takes time and is harder to comprehend sometimes and we’re real happy with companies like Leatherman Inc to have such a good youtube channel so we can just pick a product and watch all of the features. If you know what you want then you’ll have to do some research into each tool because need a punch, screwdriver, or hammer all have different purposes and if you use a tool incorrectly you’ll ruin it.
Right now the Leatherman OHT is the our 2nd highest selling tool since it’s so easy to handle “One Handed Tool” and has most of what you would use a multitool for. The Leatherman Wingman and Leatherman Wave a bigger sellers for Police and the Leatherman Raptor is practical uniform gear for EMS and SWAT Medics, we also have FBI medics in the area using them. I’ve been eyeballing the Leatherman MUT for a long time but just feel it comes a little short on what I would want to use it for. For $159.85 and not having a broken shell extractor falls just short of perfection. Always be aware that the Leatherman multi-tools can come in a Brown or Black Nylon case and some also come in leather cases.
There has been much debate over the last 20yrs, especially amongst Law Enforcement about whether or not lasers are an asset or a liability. Just like the debates over using flashlights and how flashlights can and will become target indicators in low light, lasers and flashlights have an on/off switch or an activate/de-active button. Nobody with functional brain should expect to keep a flashlight on at all times or always have the laser activated. Some think that putting a laser on a handgun means hitting your targets more accurately, but I’ve found that to not be true. If you don’t have good trigger control you aren’t going to shoot better with a laser. If you practice dry firing in a safe place in your home, you can practice seeing exactly how much movement your trigger finger is causing and then go back to the range and apply it. After training with it, you’ll improve but not the other way around.
From what I have read, Crimson Trace Laser Grips come from the factory zeroed in at 50yds and if you are using one for CCW, you should probable make sure that it’s zeroed in to the top of your front sight picture before you carry it. The statistics are that most robberies and attacks occur in low light and if your firearm is too small to have a light on it, high definition night sights or something from Crimson Trace is an added bonus. We see a considerable number of J-frame revolvers and Ruger LCP and LCR’s with lasers on them due to the fact that the line of sight is so short that lasers can give confidence in a point and shoot situation, and remember not every time someone pulls a gun in self defense is it necessary to pull the trigger, as a matter of fact, most of the time they don’t have to, lasers can give a good guy a level of confidence in close ranges, at low light while a bad guy will clearly know what is glowing on his chest.
The new rage right now is everyone is calling looking for gun holsters for the Glock 43 and they aren’t happy to hear that there’s not much out there “yet”! We actually called up Fobus Inc. to find out production dates for the Glock 43 holsters and they told us they are 2 months out. With the way the gun industry is now, there’s a variant of just about everything and it’s a bandwagon I’ve personally failed to jump on. I’m pretty happy with My Government Model 1911s and Glock 19’s and J-frame revolvers and never jumped on the .380 craze that has gone on for the last several years. Ballistics are improving which is why so many have been considering smaller semi-autos, but Glock knew that not everyone was going to be happy with a Single Stack .380 gun and that’s why the Glock 43 was released.
I think the .380 has improved so much that I don’t think it falls in the category of “under-powered” like it use to, but that great gun show purchase you got might not be your carry gun if you didn’t research what holsters you could get for it. There are always custom kydex companies but expect wait times. Buyer beware of first generation firearms. We’ve been watching the release of the Sig 320 now for over a year and a local Police Department is our primary source of feedback and it seems to be doing well, but there still aren’t a lot of options for off duty carry. We pick up the phone and call manufacturers like Fobus Holsters to get production dates so we can relay that to our customers, but think about modes of carry before you find out you can’t.
We’ve been selling both for several years and the one thing we know in this business, is we can’t stock enough belts to accommodate everyone. Some want leather belts, or the leather “looking” belts, some need nylon and others are particular about what kind of buckle or rescue type attachment. I’ll have to say that I’ve been wearing The Wilderness belts for almost 16yrs and am presently on my 3rd belt. The first one wore out the velcro after about 4yrs and at the time, I didn’t know you could send it back to The Wilderness for like $10 or $12 and get it fixed. Later I gained a little weight and had to go up one size. The 1.5″ 5 stitch is pretty much the belt that people refer to as The Wilderness Instructor belt.
One of the main reasons we stuck with this belt so far, and by far our #1 selling nylon belt is we don’t get complaints about durability of them. There’s been a lot of complaints about the 5.11 version of this belt not holding it’s color and the buckle not holding the paint and chipping easily. The Wilderness Instructor Belts also will easily work in Tru-Spec, Blackhawk, 5.11, Proper and many other tactical pants styles. We have had some issues with the Cobra Belts being difficult to get through some of these pants. I also have a Wilderness 1.75″ 5 Stitch instructor belt that seems to support duty gear a little better like, Pepper Spray, Baton, Flashlight ect. The there is a Youtube video that The Wilderness has for getting the proper sizing so please watch that so you can get it right if you are ordering online, many people don’t and this is a high return item due to customer laziness.