Category Archives: Weapons

Gerber vs CRKT

For a decent budget knife, CRKT and Gerber are both competing for Sub-80 Dollar knife budget. Both have some interesting knives, and both are knife companies I used to hate. But when you kinda start to groove on these new mini-cleaver type folders, these companies are a great choice. But which one is better?

Let’s look at their two very popular options. CRKT’s PILAR in size Large. The Large PILAR isn’t much bigger than standard PILAR, but it’s enough to make all the difference in everyday use. I am quite fond of it, and it makes small cutting tasks kinda fun. It’s a delightful knife.

The Gerber Flatiron is just cool. The blade shape, the handle shape… It’s a great knife to hold on too… and if your cutting jobs are mundane, this is a cool way of taking care of that work. You just like HOLDING it.

Both knives are of the same construction type… An asymmetrical frame lock on one side and composite scale on the other. Both sport a pocket clip. But that’s where the similarities come to a screeching halt. Because, let’s be frank here… The Gerber’s pocket clip blows. And as of yet, know one has stepped up to make a replacement that might work better. It carries just fine, but getting it to clip over your pocket is a real PITA, and I’m not talking about the bread. It almost ruins the knife.

Overall, the CRKT is the easier knife to carry, open, close and put back into the pocket. It fulfills the function of a folder better. And I think the build quality is a bit better too. The blade steel is D2, which is an advantage. Though, the Flatiron is available in D2 as well. But D2 out of China is pretty much just meaning its made out of some sort of actual steel and not just melted tin cans.

Once both knives are open though, the edge (sorry) goes to the Gerber with it’s longer cutting edge and straight razor geometry. It cuts better and can take a finer edge than the PILAR. And that sounds like it makes the Flatiron a clear winner… But the problem is that it’s stiff to open, even after a redesign has improved it. It’s stiff to close, even after a redesign to improve that as well. And again, the Clip is the worst thing in the world. It’s so bad, that I’d rather take it off completely and just carry it in a sheath… which doesn’t exist.

So which one wins? The CRKT wins. Overall it’s the better pocket knife – which is what these are. And it’s fun to use. Whereas the Flatiron just because a pain in the ass.

Accessorizing your gun

If you are going to set up a Rifle with accessories… You really need to take in the purpose of what the rifle is for. What the Mission and Objectives are. We see failures of this in AR-15’s all the time. So much so that it seems like people just like hanging toys off their rifle, because such owners at the Range and in the Classes tend to spend more time fiddling with the accessories rather than concentrating on the task at hand, which is engaging and destroying the target. The mission of a tactical firearm is the application of fine-focused violence.

The question is where, when, and at what range that violence needs to be administered. When you apply these such failures of reason to a noble arm such as a Marlin Lever Action, you compound the Sin and you should probably either fall on your sword, or fix your Kit. Let’s look at this rifle below… As it sits, this gun is Clown Shoes.
The Strengths of a Lever Action is the svelt profile, lightweight, and exceptional handling while delivering reliable and hard-hitting, sledgehammers to the target. But that’s not what we have here.


Taking a Lever Action and turning it into a modern Cowboy Tactical gun is fine… I’m not mad at that. I’ve done it myself and have promoted the practice over a decade ago. The areas we need to look at are the Optics and the Objects hanging off the forend.
Ignoring the fact that the Scope Mount is backward… This is a completely wrong scope mount to start with. It’s far too high for the gun. The natural line of sight on a Lever Gun is very low over the action and barrel. You know this if you are paying attention because that’s where the iron sights are. Not up high. The Scope is also set far too back. If this scope is actually set for your eye relief, then you are mounting the rifle incorrectly and you probably need to take a class. Then there is the question of if this is the right optic for the mission. If the mission is precision marksmanship, then the scope is probably incorrect, and the vertical foregrip is an interference.
If the mission is CQB work, then the scope is also incorrect, and the Bi-Pod is only adding hindering incumbrance and opportunities to snag on things and otherwise screw things up.
So, to fix this… You need a different optic, or at least move the scope foreward enough for good eye relief and to avoid the scope cutting your eyebrow. Google Weatherby Eyebrow.

Here we see a scope mounted properly. Low enough that you don’t need a cheek riser, and forward enough for good eye relief. Also note – the occular bell of the scope is not interfering with the hammer.
Here’s another good example of a tactically minded lever action. The Extended Eye Relief scope, or EER, is mounted well forward which gives you good clearance, doesn’t upset the balance of the gun, and it allows for fast target acquisition. And you can see, it’s nice and low. This is perhaps the most ideal set up for a magnifying scope on a lever action.

Then you need to decide if you should ditch the VFG or the bi-pod.
Considering that this rifle is a short to intermediate-range brush gun, I’d suggest tossing the bi-pod. I’d also suggest ditching the VFG because Hand Stops or an AFG would work better. For a short-range gun, I’d suggest an optical gunsight that maximizes your field of view. That means something none-magnified. But if you have failing eyes and you need some degree of Zoom, an EER optic would be much better suited to a Lever Gun.

In the case of non-magnifying optical gunsights. You can run any sort of Red Dot you like… The only requirement being that you mount it low. Something in a form like an ACOG will not do as that is designed to go on a flat topped AR and put the line of sight up where a regular AR iron sight is. This is too high for a Lever Action. Also, I’d suggest avoiding any bulky Red Dot sights. Go with something compact. Go with something that offers a wide field of view. These can be mounted further back on the receiver, and you’ll end up with a very nicely balanced weapon.

If you have to put anything out in front of the action. Bi-Pods and VFG’s are just not helping you. They are taking away from the advantages the lever-action platform gives you. Which is exceptional handling. If you need grips and pods and such… Honestly, you probably need a different rifle. At most, a lightweight and low profile tactical light. I’ve seen some accessory items that will allow you to carry one or two spare rounds on the fore end. Okay, that’s cool. Kinda dumb, but it’s cool though. Because you can’t reload a Lever Action Rifle like it’s a Tactical Shotgun with a fast move and slip that shell into the breach like John Wick. That’s not happening. But a spare round handy is fine if you like it.

The absolute best Lever Action set up though… Is completely naked with a sling.

That Old itch again…

I’m getting that old timey itch again… for a Cowboy Gun. I’d love a Colt Single Action Army, and for me that means a Ruger Vaquero. The Transfer Bar Safety is the business and that’s a requirement. Because if I am only going to have 6 rounds in the gun, I want to keep all six chambers loaded. A Six Shooter is best with Six. Not the standard Colt load five and carry it with the firing pin down on an empty cylinder.

I know of three cases in the last decade where a person with a single action revolver dropped the gun and it hit hammer first, discharging the firearm and the bullet impacted the person in the lower abdomen. One case was fatal, one wasn’t quite but should have been, and the other the person was luckly and only lost a testicle and has to use a pump to have an erection… Okay, so two of them should have been fatal. But never mind all that… my point is the Transfer Bar Safety is a Must Have item for me.

Ruger makes a fine revolver and their Single Action Revolvers are, in my opinion, the best value for the money. I was also a fan of the Beretta Stampede, which also had a transfer bar safety. Unfortunately, they discontinued those… They were great looking pistols to be sure. I know other makers are putting out fine Colt Clones… and there is nothing wrong with them at all. They are probably better guns than the original Colts were. They are made with the original pattern and some slight upgrades… and they have the firing pins on the hammers as the Colts did. So those are non-starters for me.

I think I am most fond of the 5102 model at this moment. Not sure why, maybe I’m itching for that big fat .45 Colt round. Because that cartridge proves that these guns are just not Outdated by any means. That cartridge is still getting work done, and in a Ruger… it can do even more. I also like the 4.6 inch barrel. Just a little shorter, I think it feels just as good, points just as good, and looks just right to me.

Springfield Armory MC Operator

If I were in the market for another full sized, railed 1911, I’d be looking for a Springfield Armory MC Operator. Let me tell you why…

Back when I was still in the Gun Industry, a Springer Rep came with a number of guns to try out first hand. I shot the lot of them, but the one I kept coming back to was the MC Operator. It just felt awesome in the hand, was exceptionally accurate for me, and it was flawlessly reliable.

A couple years after that, I was visiting the MARSOC armory at Camp Lejeune. We were fitting holsters for their new Colt Rail Guns, that won the contract to replace the MC Operators. The Marine Operators there spoke highly of the Springers and talked about how they never had problems with them… and the new Colts were giving them fits and nightmares. This made a lasting impression on me… and here I am years later again, and the MC Operator remains just as accurate and reliable for those that I know that have them and shoot them.

There are a lot of great railed 1911’s out there on the market. But few provide the bang for the buck value that the Springfield MC Operator gives you.

Cleaning and Lubrication

Over the last month, I’ve had an abundance of questions regarding Weapon Lubrication, Cleaning, and about what oils I’ve been using as of late, and what CLP I recommend.

First off, I don’t recommend any CLP product. Because the functions of Cleaning and Lubrication tend to be at odds with one another so any single product doesn’t do both of those jobs well. Some products do one job better than it does the other, and other products the opposite. I favor using the right tool for the job. So I like a dedicated cleaner, and a dedicated lubricant.

MPRO-7 Cleaner is my cleaner of choice. In fact, I’m due to grab another bottle as I am getting low. Anyways.

For a Lubricant, I still have some Slipstream, but as supplies run out and production is stopped, I’ve been using something else more and more. Mobil 1. And here’s why. Oils designed for engines have a lot of other additives than just the base oil. These additives increase the lubrication properties, and they help break down carbon and helps prevent carbon from sticking to the metal. The additives in the oil keep that carbon emulsified and as those particles are in a solution, helps move it away from friction points. A firearm works a lot like an internal combustion engine. Heat and carbon are a result of a cartridge’s Combustion. And no matter how slick the surface is, carbon is going to want to stick to it, build up, and cause problems. This is why Crusader started recommending using the Slipstream oil on top of the permanent application process and eventually stopped doing permanent lubrication altogether. While a lube free coating sounds like a good idea at first, like Socialism, the actual use of it causes its own set of problems and eventually, it’s just a bad idea.

Guns can be Hot. Guns can be Dirty. Guns can be Dry. But they can’t be all three and keep having fun. If you want it to run Hot and Dirty, it’s got to be Wet. Just like a weekend in Vegas.

Ka-Bar Mark 98

What the Mark 98 is, and what it’s supposed to be, might be two different things. Let’s find out.

Let’s first talk about what the Mark 98 is. It’s a beefy liner-lock folder that looks ruggedly handsome. With the battleship gray coating over all the metal, and the G-10 scales, and the pronounced fuller reminiscent of their standard Ka-bar fighting knife, the Mark 98 looks fantastic. It has a 3.5″ spear point blade and unfolds out into an overall length of just over 8 inches. The knife has some heft to it, and it’s handle is thick, making it feel suitable for hard use.

The blade material is 5Cr15, which is a Chinese version of 5Cr15MoV… which is kind of a nothing special type of Stainless Steel. I like it better than AUS-8, personally. It takes an edge well, easy to resharpen, and holds it pretty well for actual real world use that doesn’t involve slicing cardboard strips. So I’m expecting the blade steel to be just fine.

I was pleased with just how smoothly the blade flips open, and that the blade was almost perfectly centered right out of the box. If there is anything concerning about the design, it’s that the liner lock is just a hair thinner than I really like. But it seems to work well. The blade locks up tightly, with no play at all. The detent holding the blade closed is a bit weak, so it doesn’t resist the flip open, so you don’t get that distinct snap on the open without a bit of wrist flick action. But when you do, is opens smooth as a puma.

The knife feels good in the hand. The scales are contoured well, and shaped well. You could really lean on this knife doing some serious cutting tasks, and it wont be uncomfortable through the job. Can I say again just how good looking this knife is? The flipper is a little of spoiler for the lines, but it’s functional and not obtrusive.

The best thing about the knife, is the price. BladeHQ has it right now for less than $20. The question though, is if this Chinese made Ka-Bar is worth the money. The answer to that, is up to you and what you want to do with the knife. So to put this to the test, I have this knife to my Son that broke a previous knife I gave him that featured D2 steel. He’s rough on knives. So he’s going to carry it and use it every day for a month or so, and we’ll check back on it and see how it’s held up. Because if it survives his use – it’s a sold knife and worth the money.

To Be Continued!
Update: After several months of hard use by my son who works in Maintenance for a large facility… The knife has held up just fine. The finish has proven strong, and the blade has held its edge very well. The knife has shown far more value than its cost. Overall, thumbs up.

CRKT M16-01S

CRKT is slowly winning me over, just like how Ruger did. 8 Years ago I’d have never said I was a fan of Ruger, but now I truly am. And with CRKT, even up through last year, I’d have never said I was a fan. But things change. Ruger changed. And CRKT is changing too, it seems. And because of those changes, my mind has changed.

I’ve always liked the looks of the CRKT’s Carson designed M16 series knives. Handsome knives. But I wasn’t a fan of the liner locks on them, and the secondary safety lock mechanism was a flat out turn off. Some time ago, CRKT has changed at least some of them to a Frame Lock design, and they ditched that wart of a secondary safety. So what you have now is a cleaner, more pure, more essential, M16 knife. The way they should have always been.

This knife here that I now have, is the model M16-01S. The series gives you a lot of options in style, serrations, tanto or spear point, and blacked out blades as you like… but this one is the smallest of the M16 series, with a bead blasted finish, plain edge, spear point.

This gives you gorgeous, sleek lines, that looks fantastic from every angle. The blade length is just a tick over three inches, with an overall length of just a tick over seven inches. The blade steel is 8Cr13MoV, which is essentially the same as AUS-8. Which means it’s going to take a very sharp edge, but you’ll have to resharpen it from time to time. Luckily, with this steel (and AUS-8) the bottom of a Coffee Mug does just fine for that.

The blade flicks out with a satisfying *snick* sounds with a flick of the flipper. It’s a smooth action, that opens and closes easily. And the frame lock is, in my opinion, a much more sturdy lock than the previous liner locks. The blade pivots on brass washers, which is a nice touch on a knife at this price point. And the blade is perfectly centered in the frame. The handle material is stainless steel. but because there’s just not a lot of it, the knife is delightfully lightweight. Strong, but light.

The folded knife carries deeply in the pocket. The clip works with slacks very well, as the clip slips over the softer material easily and doesn’t abrade the fabric to wear out your trousers prematurely like some knives are keen to do. The clip is narrow enough to be very unobtrusive. The whole knife, when folded and clipped in the pocket, is very unobtrusive… it carries exceptionally well, and leaves a lot of room in the pocket for your car keys. It carries very very well. The clip also doesn’t get in the way of your hand when holding or using the knife.

Other M16’s in the CRKT line are certainly of the Tactical Folder type. But this one is not. It’s more of a Gentleman’s knife, due to the size and weight and slim profile. But it’s got that rugged tactical look. Imagine bearded and tattooed veteran working a civilian office job. Imagine Matt Best in Business Casual. That’s what this knife is. Unobtrusive, but ready to take the air out of your lungs.

Overall, it seems like these knives are exceptionally well made, and of high quality. Especially when you look at the price. That may be the best thing about this knife. You can get them for well under the 49.99 MSRP. In fact, right now, BladeHQ has them for $31.95. And I’ve seen them for even less… 20 bucks… on Amazon Prime! That makes these an amazing value. Absolutely amazing. I’m not saying you should rush out and get one. I’m saying I don’t blame you if you do.

Here’s my wish though. I wish CRKT would make these in the USA. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that. And I wish they would use a better grade of steel. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that too. Then, sure, the knife would actually sell for the MSRP and be worth every penny. But I guess they are worth every penny now as it is. I’d just like to see the design executed to its full potential.

BlasTech E-11

The E-11 Blaster Rifle is one of the most famous rifles throughout several galaxies, as it’s been the standard issue for the Empire for several decades. But the real question is, just how good is it?

As we all know, MilSpec certainly isn’t a guarantee for quality, but simply as the establishment of minimum standards. And with the E-11 being in production under license on less than a dozen worlds even Imperial MilSpec is a floating goal. We’ve seen some problems with power-pack compatibility in some cases. But that doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the design because of that. That’s more of a quality control issue. Most of the time though, what we see from the E-11 series, is that they are extremely robust weapons with reliability like a solar cycle. You pull the trigger with a charged power-pack, and the E-11 will fire. Sometimes, even when the safety was on. This was a known defect, Safety Malfunctions have been all too common and usually blamed as a Training Issue, which I agree due to most Stormtroopers lack of weapons training due to budget cuts for Death Star projects, and new Troopers lack familiarity with the use of the weapons while in their Hard Armor uniforms.

The standard short power-pack, or “Shorty Pack” as the Stormtroopers are prone to call them, offers 200 full power shots on the Lethal setting, and 300 on the Stun setting, and about 600 on the Sting setting. The bigger “Bully Pack” ups that capacity for 500 full power Lethal shots. This is enough to keep you in the fight with any Rebel Scum you come across. And honestly, if you are having to reload, your tactics suck.

The Rifle is most often carried with the stock folded for ease of handling, transportation, and storage. But the stock can unfold for greater stability and accuracy if desired. The E-11 has been taken to task about accuracy concerns, but this is once again a training issue instead of a firearm issue. Stormtroopers, who use the E-11 the most, just about never extend the stock or even make use of the electro-optical gunsight, which offers IR/UV/Thermal targeting features. But other Imperial forces do, and they have no problem bullseyeing their targets out to the 500 meter max effective range.

Max Effective Range differs depending on the operational atmospheric environment. Extreme cold or humidity can shorten the max effective range to 300 meters. Other versions of the E-11 can extend the range out to 1200 meters, but they use a completely different powerpack that’s not compatible with standard issue rifles.

Really, the E-11 is a fantastic Blaster, and certainly fitting for all of our Imperial forces needing a rugged weapon. But like any weapon, it’s only as good as the Troops that use it. It’s our suggestion that improved training standards should be the priority over any weapon upgrade program.

HK’s HK45 Tactical

One thing I like about the HK HK45, is that it’s actually a .45 Auto caliber handgun. Unlike Glock’s G45, which is a 9mm. Small details, but with the HK, the small details add up. Outside of 1911’s, the HK45 is one of the very best looking .45 caliber handguns on the planet. And one of the best feeling handguns in the hand. As I said before, it’s in the small details.

The newer HK45 Tacticals are coming with tall suppressor sights. But I like these lower profile night sights that have a nice hook to help with one handed slide manipulations. It’s Ambi-Friendly as you can see with the wrong side slide release lever and the magazine release lever. It has, of course, the expected frame rail and the extended, threaded barrel.

The full sized grip frame allows for a full 10 round magazine capacity. The but it also gives you some very elegant contouring for an amazing feel in the hand. And to make sure it’s good in more than the average hands, the back strap is changeable. The muzzle end has some nice lines to it as well. Gone is the monolithic flat faced of the USP series. The beveling doesn’t just look nice, but it also helps reholstering. I like the fatter magazine floor plates that help in a fast reload in making sure the mag is slapped all the way in and locks properly.

At 31.2 ounces, the HK45 isn’t the lightest of handguns, but it’s not a heavy one either. It balances well in the hand, and with a 1911-like grip angle, it points naturally. The trigger is smooth, and the break is crisp. I do appreciate the DA/SA trigger system. You can carry it cocked & locked, or you can decock it into DA mode, where it’s nice and safe and you won’t have anyone tapping your shoulder, “You’re Hammer is cocked.” I hate that. The 5.2″ Barrel is long enough to give you a good long sight radius. These little details add up to a comfortable handgun that is very accurate and comfortable to shoot. The recoil is cushy.

ESEE AvISPA

Many of you are well familiar with the Ontario RAT 1 & RAT 2 knives. Great hard working value grade folders, designed by Randall’s Adventure Training… hence the name. I’ve reviewed the RAT 1 before. And it’s a great knife for the money. But now there’s another sister knife. The Avispa. ESEE isn’t working with Ontario anymore, which is fine. They are busy making their own knives. ESEE is also busy building a huge following for their hard working, get it done blades.

There’s some distinct differences between the RATs and the Avispas. First and foremost is that the Avispas are Frame Locks and not Liner Locks. The other is that the blade shape is more of a drop point rather than the RAT’s more clip point’ish style blade. Other than that, you can see and feel the same DNA in the designs.

The blade steel is “D2”, which is great. It’s certainly not the end all be all of blade steels, but it’s a very tough material that holds up well and takes a good edge without requiring diamonds to sharpen. The frame lock system is solid and smooth. You can easily flick the blade open, and it locks open with a snap.

The best thing about these knives are the price. They are cheap enough you can buy a couple and keep them in convenient locations. Or just put one in your EDC rotation. I think these are the better knives than the RAT’s but I do like the RAT’s blade profile better due to the sharper point at the tip. But I think overall the Avispa is the better knife. And right now, you can get these on Amazon for less than 35 bucks. $35 Bucks! That’s a lot of knife for the money. Enough to make one reconsider the actual practical value of knives costing 4 times as much as not as fond of hard work.