Accessories - Other

2015 Guns & Gear 'A' List

November 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Ray Ordorica, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, Rafael Urista, Ralph Winingham, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine’s testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year’s worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.— Todd Woodard

(AR-15 Rifles ebook Part 2 #3) GG&G 45-Degree Offset Accessory Rail

November 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

We recently bought an inexpensive item for an AR that has delivered a lot of bang for the buck: the GG&G 45-Degree Offset Accessory Rail (CTD #2-GGG1526, $30.99)

This handy little rail allows the shooter to install micro red-dot optics, flashlights, lasers, and other items to be mounted at a 45-degree offset. It works well to move a Bushnell First Strike Reflex Red Dot Sight off the top rail to the right side when the shooter wants to install a riflescope on top of the rifle. It takes about a minute to put the offset rail on, and another minute to move the First Strike for closer targets. Righties will put the rail on the right side so they can go from scope to dot with a quick counter-clockwise turn of the rifle, and without having to change head position. The unit is ambidextrous, so if lefties want to cant clockwise, that’s easy, too. The offset piece mounts to a MIL-STD 1913 rail and offers five cross-slot mounting locations. It is 2.5 inches long, but only uses 1 inch of the top rail for mounting. It weighs 1.45 ounces.

To read what Gun Tests evaluators thought of this rail as well as other AR-15 add-ons, purchase the AR-15 Rifles E-Book, Part 2 from Gun Tests.

Magnum Research Desert Eagle Animal Prints

November 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

 Magnum Research Introduces New Animal Prints on Desert Eagles

Following the success of its Cheetah print for the Desert Eagle, Magnum Research has introduced two new prints — the Kryptek Highlander and the Snakeskin, available in either .50 AE or .44 Mag.


Firearms Accessory Quick Hits

March 2014 - Gun Tests Magazine

In our recent evaluations of AR-15s and AR-style 308 rifles, we’ve concurrently tested some accessories that seem to have made a lot of sense off the rifles, but when put on the rifles, didn’t offer the utility the makers claimed. Here are four more: the Limbsaver AR-15/M4 Snap-on Recoil Pad, $42; the Limbsaver Pro Handgun Grip, $12, Limbsaver’s Magpul Carbine Stock Recoil Pad, $42; and Magpul’s ACS-L Carbine Stock, $100. Here’s what our test team said about these accessories:

Production Ends on Arsenal’s SLR-106 Rifles; Kahr Moving

July 2013 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

After nearly a decade since its initial introduction into the firearms marketplace, production on Arsenal’s SLR-106 series has officially ended. The SLR-106 rifle and pistol series was Arsenal’s answer to the 5.56 caliber as the company looked to compete in that arena. The major selling point of the line was its chrome-lined and hammer-forged barrel. The current stock of SLR-106 5.56 caliber rifles and pistols will continue to be sold until supply runs out. Arsenal’s availability list is displayed in the nearby photo. Additional SLR-106 products can be found by checking with Arsenal’s distributors and various dealers.

Range-Finding Binoculars: Zeiss, Steiner, Bushnell, and Swarovski

January 2013 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Adding a rangefinder to binoculars seems like a logical combination of technology. Not only does it mean carrying less equipment, there’s less fumbling between binocs and range finder when a target comes into view. All things equal, we initially thought the only downside would be a heavier set of binoculars. We did find the combined technologies added about 11 ounces on average to the binoculars. A pair of Swarovski EL 10x42 binoculars used as the control in our test weighed 29.6 ounces.

The combination of technologies does increase the price, but if you were to purchase a comparable laser rangefinder and binoculars separately, you would approach the same cost. If you are frugal, you could purchase each piece of equipment separately at a significantly lower total cost, but the quality and durability may be compromised. If you are on the fence about paying more for a pair of quality binoculars, then look at any guide who knows his stuff. That guide will be using the best optics he can afford because hunting game means finding game, which is where the binocs come in. The rangefinder feature provides the distance to the beast quickly, so a shot can be taken.

Three-Way Gun-Protectant Test

August 2012 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

We have several times tested oils in a simple comparison to see which offers better protection against rust than the others. We’ve run this test with several ancient and modern fluids by the simple expedient of grinding off a piece of steel, marking off areas on it, anointing each area with different oils or greases, and letting the steel bar sit outdoors for days or weeks to rust. After a week or two we generally apply some salt to make the test somewhat tougher. A manufacturer’s representative read our most recent report (July 2010) and offered to put his product, “Fluid Film,” to our test. The product is made by Eureka Chemical Co. We received a sample in an aerosol spray can holding 11.75 oz. The product is labeled as a penetrant and lubricant, and is supposed to give long-lasting rust and corrosion protection. The product is wool-wax based, which is lanolin. In addition to its penetrating and lubricating qualities, it is claimed to not harm paints, plastic, or synthetic rubbers.

New Gun Products 2015

October 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

There’s a whole lot of new products coming out at the end of 2015, well in advance of the massive outpouring that’s introduced every new calendar year at the S.H.O.T. Show. Here’s a look at just a few of the new products I’ve seen that may be interesting to gunnies:

ARES Defense Now Shipping MCR Sub-Carbine. ARES Defense Systems is now shipping its MCR Sub-Carbine. The ARES MCR Sub-Carbine is a lightweight, semi-auto 5.56 NATO-caliber firearm featuring gas-piston operation, a 3-second quick-change barrel system, and a left-side folding stock assembly that telescopes for adjusting the length of pull. The charging handle is ambidextrous and interchangeable with standard AR15/M4 charging handles, to suit user preference. Suppressor capable and able to be fired with the stock in any position, the MCR has an edge on many of the folding-stock and telescoping PDWs. The internals are billet machined from aircraft-grade alloys and heat-treated. Aluminum components are Type III, Class 2 hard-coat anodized to MIL-A-8625F for maximum corrosion and wear protection. Also available to complement the MCR Sub-Carbine is an optional SKB briefcase with custom-cut foam insert that holds the firearm, six 30-round magazines, a cleaning kit, operator’s manual and storage space for a suppressor or other accessories.

S&W J-Frames Now With Lasers

August 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

Smith & Wesson Corp. will make three more lightweight J-Frame revolvers — the Model 442, Model 637, and Model 638 — available with factory installed LaserMax CenterFire laser sighting systems. They join the popular Model 642, which was equipped with a factory-installed LaserMax CenterFire laser in January 2015.

The factory-installed CenterFire laser is designed to fit the revolver frame. Located under the bore, the new sight features LaserMax’s Controlled Activation feature, which enables the user to operate from concealment without revealing his or her position.

In Texas, Better Protection for Class 3 Devices Is Coming

August 2015 - News Article

In about a month, gun owners in Texas and visitors to the state will feel the positive effects of SB 473, a bill which Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott signed into law that extends protections for Class 3 devices, such as short-barreled rifles (SBRs), suppressors, and “any other weapons,” as defined by the National Firearms Act. SB 473 will take effect on Sept. 1, 2015.

Holster Buying Guide

August 2015 - Gun Tests E-books

Discover today’s smartest choices in concealed carry holsters.

Let Gun Tests’ editors show you the holsters that are tops for comfort, speed, and security.

As most gun owners know, you have to have a suitable hand-gun for personal defense – one that fits your hand, is reliable and effective, and that fits your needs. The same is true of a holster.

In the Holster Buying Guide, you’ll discover…

  • an $85 pancake-style OWB that flattened the competition in speed
  • an all-leather paddle holster that’ unmatched for comfort.
  • a $50 single loop IWB that has great fit and needs no break in.
  • the one shoulder rig that handles heavy pistols without stretch or sag
  • a versatile IWB designed to easily adjust to your different carry guns

In this new guide, you’ll meet the holsters that are our nominees in the best supporting category—those holsters that offer the superior concealment and extended comfort all-day carry demands.

In this guide we cover dozens of holsters to see if they sag on the belt, ride tight against the body, present the proper grip angle for rapid presentation from concealment, and are well made and durable.

You’ll find IWB, OWB, shoulder rig, and other holster styles. The guide looks at holsters made of rugged, low-friction high-tech Kydek…and scores of offerings in leather, horsehide, and sharkskin, and more.

Looking for an IWB that won’t weigh down you or your wallet?

Go to page 25 for an $80 gem that’s brilliantly fast into action with a design that assures comfort. How about an OWB cross-draw with outstanding speed and retention? (See page 8). Or turn to page 29 for the most concealable belt slide holster we found—and a $60 Best Buy too!

The Guide rates and reviews more  than 65 holsters from over 40 makers including Ted Blocker,Milt Sparks, SwapRig, Galco, and Hopp Custom.

The guide will introduce you to the best in IWB/OWB holsters, small-of-the-back holsters, wallet holsters, ankle holsters and more. You’ll find cool choices for hot-weather carry…easy-on-easy-off paddle holsters…and a unique design that’s even better than a thumb break for security.

When it comes to concealed carry today, there’s no room for compromise. This new guide will help you find the holsters that fit your guns and your demands. Click below to purchase your copy of the Holster Buying Guide now.


Replacement AR-15 Triggers From Ruger, HiperFire, and Rise

June 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Improving the trigger in an AR-15 can make a big difference in performance of the rifle. Whereas handgun triggers are generally retained and modified, the AR-15 lends itself more easily to replacement of its trigger group, such as we did in this review. Our test triggers were two from HiperFire, the $89 HiperTouch EDT AR-15/AR-10 Enhanced Duty Trigger and the $215 HiperTouch 24E Elite, Ruger’s new Elite 452 AR Trigger 90461, $159, and the $259 Rise RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger.

Our test-bed AR-15 was the Bushmaster “preban” XM-15 carbine previously tested in the August 2003 issue of Gun Tests. The XM-15 featured a 1:9 twist 16-inch-long barrel chambered for 5.56mm ammunition. While its trigger continued to be extremely consistent, the pull weight measured at a full 8.5 pounds with little or no take up and a hard break. In terms of function, there was nothing really to complain about other than it being inordinately heavy, a characteristic we were looking to change. For optics we retained the Sightron S33-4R 1X-magnification red-dot scope that had been in place since about 2005. With four different illuminated reticles to choose from, we picked the single-dot reticle with a size of 2 minutes of angle at 50 yards.

We considered both ease of installation as well as performance in our judging standards. The Rise Armament trigger was a sealed drop-in module, but the other triggers required assembly. By working with both a neophyte builder and an experienced gunsmith, we were able to gain valuable insight on the process. Matt Suddeth of Katy, Texas — a brilliant knife maker with a reputation for exacting rifle work — advised us on aspects of the installation. Once the triggers were configured properly, we measured their pull weights 10 times immediately following installation then 10 more times after our range tests with a Brownells Recording Pull Gauge (174-025-250WB, $125).

Our first test was to make sure the safety remained fully functional. All four triggers passed this test. Then we tried an impact test with the selector in the fire position. With the gun empty, safety off, this consisted of crouching down so that our head was below the line of the muzzle and slamming the buttstock against a concrete floor three times. We wanted to see if we could get the trigger to release the hammer by means other than pulling the trigger. None of the units failed this test. In addition, none of the triggers exhibited common flaws such as creep, grittiness, or dead spots.

Live-fire tests were performed in two segments, each fired offhand (standing unsupported) from the 50-yard line at American Shooting Centers in Houston, Texas. The targets we chose were proprietary to the range, displaying a white 3.9-inch 10-point center containing a 2-inch-diameter X-ring. The 9-point ring consisted of an orange circle, producing an overall diameter of 8 inches. Segment one was a practice session consisting of 50 rounds performed with budget ammunition, American Eagle 5.56x45 55-grain FMJ XM193BLC100, sold in 100-round packaging. During this period, we experimented with different ways the shooter could work the trigger. We fired using the slowest, most controlled press, we could muster. We also moved the trigger fast. We shot strings of fire holding the trigger fully rearward after ignition and then practiced a slow release until the mechanism reset and fired again. We did this as rapidly as we could as well as with measured precision.

After a timed 3-minute rest period, segment two was fired for shots of record using premium ammunition. Limited to ten shots standing unsupported, we chose Black Hills 5.56mm 69-grain OTM (open tip match, featuring the Sierra Match King BTHP bullet). Did any of these triggers make our test gun easier to shoot accurately? Here’s what we found out:

Leupold's New Delta Point Sight

June 2015 - News Article

Watch as Tom Moyle, product line manager for Leupold and Stevens demonstrates some of the great features and benefits to their Delta Point Sight. The Delta Point has a light weight magnesium housing, a 3mm aspheric glass lens which allows for clear objective sighting and much more. Click below for Tom's full product demonstration in this exclusive Gun Tests product demonstration:

Insight's Combined Laser and LED Sights

June 2015 - News Article

Laser sights are fine, but sometimes you need to illuminate the target--or find it--before firing. Insight's combined laser sights and lights do exactly that. At SHOT 2010, they're introducing a new line that includes bright but power-saving LEDs.

Three Trail Companions We Like

April 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

The avid woodsman or outdoorsman, be he/she hunter, hiker, camper, or what have you, has certain necessary items that must always be packed along on the trail. Whether going into the Eastern woods for a few days or into the Western mountains, those companion items will always go along with us: water, fire makings, rope, shelter, and the like. Many of us also want a pistol and knife. In this report we take a close first look at Ruger’s new 22/45 Lite in 22 LR and the Mora HD knife and an accompanying Scow Sheath as trail companions.

We must comment that lately we now consider taking quite a few more items for our forays into the bush, thanks to a fellow who is one of the more serious outdoorsmen we’ve encountered. This is one David Pearson, who has posted nearly 100 rather lengthy, intelligent, thoughtful, educational, and highly entertaining videos on YouTube under the moniker reallybigmonkey1. With his heavy and pleasant Appalachian accent, Mr. Pearson shows in great detail how he deals with the varied aspects of serious camping in his neighborhood of northwest Georgia. This includes making off-the-ground beds, low-cost heated shelters of a great variety, dealing with fires and cooking, the use of rather large knives, and making much of his own equipment, all dealt up with a great deal of self-effacing humor — and absolutely no swearing. Mr. Pearson calls his educational videos “Fun in the Woods.”

Though some of us are essentially outdoorsmen, we have learned quite a bit from Mr. Pearson. More to the point, one of Pearson’s videos gave us a heads-up about Duane Scow, whose custom sheath for the Mora knife was shown in one of Pearson’s videos. But for now, we’ll look at the packable pistol from Ruger, then address the qualities of the knife and sheath.

Beretta Unveils APX Striker Gun

March 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

Beretta’s APX, a new striker-fired full-size pistol in 9x19mm, 9x21mm IMI and 40 Smith & Wesson cartridges, debuted at the 2015 International Defence Exhibition & Conference IDEX expo in Abu Dhabi Feb. 22.

“IDEX is one of the first venues where defense contractors present their wares to worldwide military customers and Beretta felt this was the ideal environment to present the international offering of its APX pistol,” said Carlo Ferlito, general manager of Beretta and Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) vice president.

Beretta intends to market a variant for the commercial market later this year. The new Beretta APX has an ergonomically-molded reinforced polymer frame fitted with a built-in MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail, interchangable backstraps and grip panels, and a modified Browning locking system. The APX is 7.56 inches long with a 4.25-inch barrel.

The trigger can be considered a light double action, with a 6-pound break, 0.2 inch of travel, and a 0.12-inch reset. The rear portion of the striker slightly protrudes from a round slot on the back of the slide as a loaded-chamber indicator.

The slide is machined from stainless steel and has a nitride coating that reduces glare, scratches, and corrosion. Other features include wide front and rear slide serrations, three-dot sights dovetailed into the slide, and no manual safety save for a Glock-style trigger safety.

Ferlito said, “Beretta waited to enter the striker-fired market until we had a pistol we knew would meet the needs of the operator. The APX has been more than three years in development. We tested it extensively with professional end users and incorporated that feedback at every opportunity. The result is a pistol platform that delivers superior performance in durability, reliability, accuracy and ergonomics.”

A slot on the frame allows the use of a tool to decock it before it can be field-stripped by operating a lever found on the left side of the frame.

An optional manual safety system will be available upon request, consisting of a frame-mounted two-position switch. A reversible magazine-release catch and a factory ambidextrous slide stop/hold open release lever help make the pistol suitable for left- or right-handed shooters.

Supplied black double-stack metal magazines have polymer bottom pads and offer 17-round capacities in 9x19mm NATO and 15-round capacities in 9x21mm IMI (9 Italian) and 40 Smith & Wesson.

The Pig Box and TSA

March 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

I admit I was miffed when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) opened a computer case I checked as baggage to Las Vegas for the SHOT Show back in January. The case and contents were a load — a 38-pound Pelican 1730 transport case with a 27-inch iMac in it. I prefer to use a desktop machine to update the Gun Tests Facebook page, YouTube page, website, and new-product files when I’m at SHOT for a week. I’ve done the jobs with a laptop before, and I admit, it’s much easier to carry-on a smaller machine. But once it’s set up, the full-size iMac is heaven while we’re processing words, photos, and movies for our various media in a hurry. In previous years, I had shipped my back-up iMac 27 in its original box a few days prior, so I hadn’t had to wrestle what I lovingly refer to as the Pig Box through airport check in. I call it that because the Pelican is big enough (37.5 x 27.1 x 14.4 inches) to hold a whole pig. Oh yes, extra weight and size charges apply.

JOX Loader Pouch Test

February 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine

Many Americans choose a revolver as their concealed-carry handguns. Most carry a snubnose revolver; a few carry a 4-inch barrel 357 Magnum like those tested elsewhere in this issue. Their faith in the revolver is understandable. Our raters observe that criminals often run in packs. The natural polarity between good guys and bad guys may erupt into a gun battle. While high-round counts are not the norm, the possibilities are endless. At any rate, after you win the fight, you will wish to reload the handgun, which means carrying spare gun loads — a somewhat more difficult task than with magazines for a self loader. We believe the reason the revolver reload isn’t carried as often is because of the bulk of speedloaders, and carrying loose ammunition in the pocket is a bad choice. Revolver speed strips help, but are far from ideal. In our view, a revolver speedloader is best, but they are about as wide as the revolver cylinder, which makes for a bump on the belt with conventional old-style speedloader pouches.

SIG ‘Holds’ on ATF Silencer Suit

July 2014 - Gun Tests Magazine

Gunmaker SIG Sauer has agreed to “stay” its civil suit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives while ATF reviews a sample of a muzzle brake that the agency called a silencer. By agreement, approved by the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, SIG will “stay” its lawsuit against the ATF until Sept. 17. In the meantime, both sides agree, SIG will send the ATF a sample of its muzzle brake for review and the ATF will issue a third ruling by Aug. 6.

Hybrid IWB Holsters

July 2014 - Gun Tests Magazine

A reader recently asked if we could do a test of IWB holsters and come up with the best balance of speed, retention, and access between Kydex, leather, and hybrid types — a tall order. But the South Carolina test team was eager to put these holsters to the test because most of us carry a concealed handgun on a daily basis and have a personal stake in the program. The holsters were worn for a minimum of a week and tested by drawing for at least fifty repetitions. We looked at a number of considerations to come up with what we liked the best and what we believe will work the best for most people. But as we found out, everyone is different.

Before you choose a holster, knowing how you will wear it is important. By placing a triple-checked unloaded handgun in your waistband (or better yet, a Rings or ASP fake gun), practicing the draw from standing, seated, and driving positions, you will obtain a better idea of the right holster position for your needs. As an example, some users do not have enough rotation in their shoulder for the FBI tilt in the small of the back, and others are too thin for near-the-hip carry. Drop is related to how the holster rides in relation to the belt, above or below the belt. Most makers offer a choice in how deep in the pants the holster rides.

For our consideration, we deemed access and retention to be the most important points. The shooter must be able to consistently reach the handgun and draw it correctly and quickly. This must be true for a spot on the belt just behind the hip and a sharp draw from the kidney position as well.

Of course, the holster must retain the handgun, and the handgun must be in the same position every time the user draws the gun. You should be able to jump up and land hard on your feet without dislodging the handgun. Holstering the handgun with one hand after drawing is also important and was given considerable weight during the test program.

Comfort is subjective, but quality isn’t subjective when something comes apart, so quality and durability are serious concerns. Is the holster well made? Does it fit the individual handgun correctly? Will the holster last through years of daily carry and practice sessions?

The quality of mounting hardware is also important. With holsters offered with loops or snaps for both OWB and IWB carry, the holsters have to be considered as a system. The mounting hardware cannot break easily and it must fit correctly.

Also, it is no secret that Kydex is harder on a handgun’s finish than waxed leather. Bottom line, if you use your handgun and practice often, there will be finish degradation.

The carry handgun isn’t a safe queen, so degrading the finish cannot be an overwhelming consideration. Just the same, since Kydex retains the handgun by friction on certain points, finish wear is evident.

Leather holsters also tend to wear the muzzle, so this wasn’t a deal breaker.

For further details on the holsters tested and to read about more top-rated gear for 9mm handguns, purchase "The ‘A’ Team: Concealable 9mm Handguns & Gear" from Gun Tests.

AR-15 Accessories from CAA

April 2014 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

In recent evaluations of AR-15s and AR-style 308s, we’ve also tested some accessories. This time we take a good look at some AR stocks from Command Arms. These stocks included optional pop-up cheek rests and compartments for short lithium batteries or what-have-you. These Israeli-made units were available in black, olive, or tan, and were made of polymer, with hard-rubber buttplates. We looked at two versions, the CBSACP and the ARSNL. While the workmanship on all the CAA items was quite good and the cost for the simple one was reasonable, we much preferred the Magpul items reviewed last month over these.