Anyone else check out the new Raven Concealment Systems “Copia” pistol mag pouches? If not you should definitely check them out! I bought my first RCS holster and mag pouches in 2010 after checking out the 1911 setup Larry Vickers had in class. It was good gear but it wasn’t a huge departure from what you’d expect most kydex holsters and pouches to be.

THIS…. This is cool and a significant improvement over what I’d come to expect from a kydex shop. The Copia magazine pouches are injection molded, ambidextrous and can be used with most common double stack mags. What that means is I no longer need a set for my G17, one for the M&P or the 2011 pistol. The same pouches will work on a variety of mags and can be adjusted for additional retention as needed. I like the fact RCS uses injection molded plastic for the mag pouch and the belt loops as it provides some flex or give. That makes it easier to thread on your belt, carry as a EDC option and leads me to believe they’ll bend before they break.

I also got a G17 Phantom light compatible holster and it uses the similar injection molded belt loops as the Copia mag pouches. As someone who’s had holster belt loops break more than once I suspect this is going to be more durable. The Phantom holster is a snug fit close to the hip, provides solid retention without impacting my ability to draw the gun. Overall I’m REALLY impressed by how far Raven Concealment has come since 2010 and I’m wondering how I can upgrade all my gear to RCS holsters and mag pouches.

Side note: My Fire 4 Effect Weapon Systems, LLC G17 with the Rule fIVe slide, microdot stippling and match trigger is still going strong. I ran it during last weekends Defensive Handgun course with zero issues and it’s been my primary carry and teaching gun for a year now.

 

Yesterday I wrapped up a private 2 day Defensive Handgun course at the Fire 4 Effect Weapon Systems, LLC range. It was a great class and everyone made some huge strides in improving their individual abilities. We started out by defining the context of the class as “Using the pistol to save yourself or others” and “Reacting to a unknown threat with available resources”. This allowed us to train to that context. As I told the students, if I had my choice I’d carry a rifle over a pistol everywhere I went…but I can’t. So you learn to fight with what you can realistically expect to have, a pistol with a spare mag and a light.

We outlined specific training gates they wanted to achieve and then we got to work. We fired approximately 700 rounds in 2 days, focused on accuracy and mechanics on day one before transitioning to multiple targets, moving, use of cover and alternate positions on day 2. Before we finished we spent time looking at engaging a threat in a limited visibility scenario while using weapons mounted lights, a handheld light or night sights.

At the end of the course the students made the comment that the biggest takeaway was their increased confidence in their ability to use their handgun to react to a threat and win the fight. I pushed them to identify their individual limits, develop a plan to respond to a threat and have realistic expectations based off of their demonstrated abilities. Some guys shot faster, others were more accurate but everyone left knowing what they needed to focus on in a fight.

After the class we broke out the toys and had some fun testing a Silencerco osprey mounted to a HK VP9. I don’t think anyone’s going to run it as a concealed carry but a suppressed handgun makes a nice “nightstand gun” if you’re reacting to a bump in the night at home lol.

 

Recently I picked up a Trijicon, Inc. MRO and decided to run it as my primary optic on my American Defense MFG UIC MOD 2. Here’s a quick review after running it during a recent carbine class I taught with Greyfox Industries.

Short version: This thing is awesome. I say that as a long time Aimpoint user. I was impressed and want another one. I dig the size, performance and the price point.

Long version:
When I initially shared the new optic I had several questions from other shooters regarding its performance. I’ll attempt to answer some of those now that I’ve put some rounds down range with it.

I didn’t notice the blue lens tint that some people reported. Trijicon mentions it on their FAQ and I believe it’s due to the lens coatings. Personally, I never noticed it. I’ve used the MRO indoors and outside and the lens quality has been nothing short of awesome.

I was asked if I experienced any “fish eye” distortion at extended ranges. During the carbine course I was able to engage targets at 200 and 300 yards using the MRO and noticed zero fish eye distortion. I was actually surprised at how clear the targets appeared at those distances since I wasn’t using a magnified optic. I’ll chalk that up to the lens quality not my eye sight.

Zeroing was a breeze. The windage and elevation were both positive adjustments without any mush you see in low quality optics. I was concerned that I would bump the windage or elevation nob at some point due to the fact they are exposed unlike the ACOG or Aimpoint optics. That doesn’t appear to be a issue. The adjustment knobs are slightly recessed on the MRO and I didn’t have any issues with my zero changing despite the rifle getting banged around more than once.

I was extremely impressed by the clarity of the red dot while running rapid target engagements. I dislike the Eotech because the reticle appears “fuzzy” to me. I’ve seen the same issue with some Aimpoints and I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity and clarity of the MRO even when I turned it up to higher settings.

Speaking of that… This thing has a 5 year battery life on the number 3 setting! You can crank the dot up to 6 but I found myself running it at 3 the majority of the time. 5 years is a LONG time! One argument guys make against red dot optics is the need for batteries when things go bad. I don’t think that’s as big of a problem when one battery will last you 5 years. I’ve always been a fan of the durability and performance of the Trijicon ACOG and wanted something similar but in red dot optic. The MRO seems to fit that bill.

So there you go. I like it, it seems to take being used hard and it’s not bad as far as price points go.

More to follow as I get more time running it. In the meantime here’s a couple photos from range trips to keep you busy.

 

Recently Alexandra I Wilson & I were discussing how society defines “success”. It’s easy to get caught up in the illusion of social media. Look on IG & you’ll see plenty of people talking about how they “hustle” or posting pictures of cash, cars & BS. At some point you may go “What am I doing wrong? Why don’t I have that?” I’ve done it. Here’s the reality though…

Are you better off today than you were yesterday? Yes? Then keep doing what you’re doing. No? Then change. Change your job, your perception or whatever it takes to get to better off each day. I spent a large part of my childhood in a trailer park living like poor white trash. Joining the Army gave me a way to change my circumstances. I was survived multiple combat tours in Iraq. I was promoted to SFC and I graduated the Army Sniper School. I can be proud of those accomplishments. During my career I learned a skill & traveled the world…or at least to a couple shit hole countries. I don’t think my parents ever left the U.S. Today I’m better off than I ever expected when I was a kid & I’ve accomplished more than anyone expected.

I’ll never post pics of Rolex watches or brag about how “hard I ball”. That’s not me. I’ll tell you I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to earn a living doing what I love. My family has a roof over their head & I’m not worried about getting evicted or having the power shut off. Those are 3 things my parents couldn’t say when I was a child. Most days I can come home to my wife & Gunnar, we spend the weekends together unless one of us has a class & Sunday’s we try to head to church. My son will never live in a trailer park. I call that success compared to where I started life.

As a young Sniper I was tired of never getting support from my unit when it came to training. So I bought a M40 clone & trained on my own. Today I’m sponsored by guys like Ashbury Precision Ordnance or American Defense MFG & I represent their products as a subject matter expert. I sacrificed to change my circumstances & today I’m better than yesterday. Am I rich? No. Am I famous? Far from it. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t succeed. Sometimes I need a gentle reminder from friends that success comes in many forms.

Next time you feel like you’re failing, stop comparing your life to other people’s BS. Ask yourself are you better off today than yesterday. If you’re not, stop doubting yourself & start doing something to change.

 

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with another shooter and discuss what goes into teaching a class. There’s definitely a art to effective teaching and by no means am I suggesting I know everything, I’m just happy to share what I’ve figured out so far.

The information we covered can be applied to ANY course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be shooting specific. The biggest take away is STAY IN YOUR LANE regardless of what you’re teaching! That applies to any field but we see guys making that mistake on a regular basis in the firearms industry.

During the conversation I actually reached out to Greyfox Industries to see if he had any recommendations for a instructor development course and Steve actually suggested basic speaking classes. We both agreed that the purpose of a instructor course should be teaching you how to better present material, not teach you course content. If you aren’t familiar with the content or the subject why are you teaching it? I busted by chops learning how to teach combatives in the Army, from there I went to basic rifle marksmanship and small unit tactics. I didn’t become a certified Army instructor or choose to focus on precision rifle until later in my career.

Bottom line, know what you’re talking about. Write out a curriculum and practice it. Have peers and mentors review it for weak points or areas you can improve. STAY IN YOUR LANE!!!!Do After Action Reviews so you can see what worked and what you need to improve on. And finally, never be afraid to ask for help and always offer help to the next guy. It pays off in the long run.

Thanks to guys like Steve from Sentinel Concepts Petty from All The Lumens Larry Vickers Jacob at RIFLES ONLY, Inc. Paul from Safety Solutions Academy, LLC Fred from S&S Arms AZ and countless Army NCO’s for their advice, mentorship and teaching me along the way.

 

Watching Captain America The Winter Soldier with the man cub because it’s never too early to learn that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. ” as Ben Franklin said.

I’ve always been a comic book fan and it amuses me how many great quotes can be found in comic books.

“I remember the first time I really understood what it was to be an American…What it was to be a patriot.”  “I was just a kid…A million years ago, it seems sometimes. Maybe twelve. I was reading Mark Twain. And he wrote something that struck me right down to my core…something so powerful, so true, that it changed my life. I memorized it so I could repeat it to myself, over and over across the years. He wrote –‘In a republic, who is the country?

Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a temporary servant: it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. It’s function is to obey orders, not originate them.

Who, then is the country? Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it, they have not command, they have only their little share in the command.

In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country: In a republic it is the common voice of the people each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak.  It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians.  Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man.

To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of’.”

Cap continues, “Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world–
–No,you move.”

Real Talk: Consider this next time you take that “sponsorship opportunity or sell your soul for free gear”.

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in this industry. I’ve always placed a higher value on building relationships with people and companies I trust than simply getting paid. If I can’t respect you I’m not going to work with you…regardless of how much cash you’ve got or the number of followers you have.

This photo was taken at the 2012 SHOT show during media range day. It was the first time I shot a Ashbury Precision Ordnance rifle and I immediately fell in love with their SABER chassis system and custom rifles. I was (and still am) a simple knuckle dragging trigger puller who was trying to figure out how to share my experiences as a Army Sniper, teach new shooters long range and enjoy the occasional competition. Without going bankrupt preferably.
Morris and the APO team took a chance on me and offered to rebuild my M40 rifle with a APO chassis and provide gear for use in future classes. I immediately jumped on the offer and shortly afterwards I had a tuned up .308, a mil spec laser range finder and support gear that changed how I taught LR classes. If you’ve ever attended a 1MOA Solutions precision rifle course you’ve seen the APO rifles they supplied me with and may have borrowed one of your rifle went down. I’ve lost track of the number of students I’ve loaned my rifles to when theirs failed. Ashbury’s support ensured those students continued to train and didn’t have to sit the class out.

I can always count on a phone call or a email from the APO team when my birthday roles around, a anniversary card for Alex and I or baby shower gifts when Gunnar was born. I’ve also spent hours on the phone with Morris getting advice and mentorship on how to grow 1MOA and stay true to my beliefs. More than once Alex and I have talked about how we feel like we’re part of the APO family, not just a customer or a marketing tool.

When I left active duty I packed everything in storage and lived out of my truck for awhile. I wanted a break from the hustle and to enjoy the simple life. I had my dog, my guns and all the training gear I needed to do what I wanted. I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up and I was cool with that. After awhile I settled down and Alexandra I Wilson and I got a place in Central Texas. I’ve had 4 jobs and moved 3 times since 2013. I’ve sold guns, eaten ramen and slept in my truck during road trips to and from classes more times than I’ll ever admit because teaching and shooting is something I love. Not something that makes me a million bucks. There’s been times when the only thing that’s kept me afloat is the VA disability check and GI Bill education benefits. I’m not the guy who’s going to post photos of Rolex’s and new cars to my IG or talk about how hard I ball. That’s not me. I am the guy who will give you my personal rifle or let you shoot my ammo when your rifle goes down in a class. I’ll help you build a rifle and toss in spare parts that I have if you need a hand and I’m not using them. I’ll spend as much time as you want on the range shooting and talking guns if it helps you learn. Teaching isn’t making me rich, but it makes me happy and it lets me give back. And that’s worth more than a paycheck in some ways.

Moral of the story is this… surround yourself with people who encourage you to be better. Their support will allow you to succeed. Four years later and I’m still planning bigger and better things with Ashbury. This year they’ve announced their RifleSports training program and you can find class dates for Oct, Nov December on their website. I’m blessed to be able to work with companies who build great products but also see the value of long term investments in people.

 

If you’re a combat Veteran do yourself a favor and go buy this book. I recently picked up a 25th Anniversary copy of David Drake’s “Redliners” after seeing Larry Correia recommend it. If you’re not familiar with Larry he’s the author of The Monster Hunter series, a award winning author and known as “The international lord of hate”. If he says it’s worth a read it’s usually a safe bet.

Redliners is “A story of Soldiers and civilians, of what it costs the men and women who serve, of hope and – possibly-of redemption”. The author is a Vietnam Veteran who served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse) which operated in Cambodia and cleared the Bien Hoa Airbase during the Tet offensive. To say he saw some shit is probably a understatement.

Reading the introduction I quickly realized the author struggled with PTSD and anger towards the politicians who hamstrung the war. Within the first few chapters one of the characters discusses why he chooses to be the point man and anyone who ran point or the number one man in a stack will immediately appreciate the characters point of view… because it’s how we all felt in that position.

David Drake ends the introduction by saying “I don’t care about leaders any more than they cared about me and the other grunts in Viet Nam. The folks I care about are the ones who’ve been through bad places. Redliners showed me that there really could be hope for us. Don’t loose hope, people. At least we can believe in ourselves and the hundreds of thousands who’ve come back from those places with us.”

I picked my copy up at a local Barnes & Nobles bookstore but I suspect you can buy it off amazon or order it through any big bookstore.

 

I’ve gotten into the habit of using a IPSC cardboard target for training notes during classes. I use the same approach I was taught for a after action review and start by listing 3 major training goals. After doing a initial assessment of the shooters skills I may add more or remove something based off of what I’m seeing. At the end of the day we’ll revisit the list and discuss what worked well, what issues we identified and suggestions for moving forward. More than one shooter has walked off the range carrying a target with my notes all over it so they’ll have a plan for future range trips.

The takeaways from yesterday’s carbine class stressed efficiency during reloads. The shooter went from 8.4 seconds to fire 1 round, reload the rifle and reengage at 7 yards to 6.4 seconds simply by bringing the rifle to his workspace and being more efficient with his reload. We also discussed the value of using a shot timer to push yourself to improve and identified his hold to consistently engage the bullseye at 25y with his pistol. At the end of the day it’s better to go home with data you can use to improve than cool stories about doing mag dumps during tactical fantasy camp.

Have a plan.

Side note: The American Defense MFG UIC MOD 2 I recently picked up is proving to be awesome! I run demos during class and I’m not always the fastest but I think it’s important to talk through and show what I want students to accomplish. So it would be bad to say the least if the gear I used during a demo fails. I’ve been impressed by how well the ADM rifle has run and its accuracy. It’s been a great choice for a 14.5″ fighting rifle

 

Recently a shooter asked what was better, .308 or 5.56mm. The context was a “SHTF rifle that could also be used for home defense”. There were a LOT of replies that offered up suggestions based off of over penetration, weight and reliability.

Here’s my response. I’m curious what everyone else thinks.

Best is entirely subjective.

There is no “best” when it comes to selecting a rifle for personal protection lately due to the fact we can’t predict what tomorrow will bring. There’s options that will potentially increase the your odds of surviving a life threatening encounter based off of your expectations on the threat.

The problem you run into is what happens when the unexpected comes into play? There’s been a lot of suggestions about why 5.56 is better than a .308 or why you should choose a AR15 over a AR10, a shotgun or a handgun. Many of those suggestions are based off of assumptions on how the threat will play out.

You assume you wont need anything other than a red dot optic because all threats are close quarters.

You assume you won’t have to carry your rifle and gear for long distances.

You assume you wont run out of ammo, loose your extra mags or need a resupply.

All of those assumptions may prove to be wrong when you find yourself actually going to guns and facing a unexpected threat.

We also base our choices off of our individual experiences. If you are comfortable with the 5.56 AR15 you’ll recommend it because your past experience has show you can accomplish work under a variety of conditions. I’m a long gunner, I am comfortable running a AR15 in a variety of conditions. I also know the advantage of creating distance between you and the threat while maintaining fire superiority so I run a SCAR 17 and a variable optic if I know I’m outside of the home. I may never need the advantage of increased range and magnified optics but my experience has shown the benefits in the past. Better to have and not need than not have and find yourself outgunned.

It’s important to identify the factors that have the greatest likelihood of effecting you and select the appropriate weapon. When I’m home or around town I carry either a 10.5″ or 14.5″ AR15 with a Aimpoint CompM4, a Surefire Fury 600 lumen light with a mag ready to go. That setup is compact enough I can easily maneuver it inside a building or a vehicle. The red dot optic allows me to quickly identify and engage short range targets and I know my hold overs for targets beyond 100 yards if needed. The Surefire light allows me to illuminate, identify and engage threats under low light conditions. I run a extended magazine because there’s a good chance I won’t grab a chest rig and spare mags if I’m responding to a immediate threat in my home or while driving to work. Im coming out of the bed and doing work.

When I’m traveling away from home I carry the SCAR 17 with a Elcan 1.5-6x with the same Surefire light setup and a chest rig with spare mags, a med kit and basic supplies. I’m frequently in rural areas and the ability to identify a threat at greater distances than in the city comes into play. The SCAR 17 allows me to engage a target out to 600 yards using everything from standard 147gr ball ammo to 175gr SMK match using simple holds with the Elcan reticle. It’s reliable, effective and runs on any ammo I throw at it. I can also run it as a standard carbine at close range using the 1.5x mag and red dot setting on the Elcan. It’s got a folding stock which makes it easy to transport and the 16″ barrel isn’t overly cumbersome in a building. Eventually I’ll SBR it and chop the barrel to 13″ so it’s not a issue in a vehicle.

Ultimately skill is more important than equipment. If you know how to run your gear you can overcome the unexpected. You can learn your hold offs to engage a threat at distance with a red dot. You can also run a .308 AR10 or SCAR 17 like its a AR15 if you put in the trigger time. Ask any 3Gun Competitor running a .308 in the heavy division.

There’s no guarantee my plan will work out and I’ll have the “best” rifle when I find myself in a fight but I’m confident I’m better prepared by being realistic about the threats I am most likely to encounter and training to prepare for the unexpected. If I find myself in a short range fight with the SCAR 17 I think I’ll still be good to go.

And remember folks, there’s always the chance you won’t have your “best” rifle and you’ll be stuck with a pistol.

Focus on training more than equipment selection and you’ll be better prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.