Sunday, January 21, 2018

Salomon Outpath GTX shoe review


Salomon Outpath GTX


Specifications:

OUTSOLE
·      High Traction Contagrip®
MIDSOLE
·       injected EVA
·       molded shank
MEMBRANE
·       GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort Footwear 
SOCKLINER
·       EVA shaped footbed 
UPPER CONSTRUCTION
·       Seamless Technology
FIT MANAGEMENT
·       Quicklace™ 
·       Asymmetrical lacing 
·       Precise forefoot fit
UPPER MATERIAL
·       Water Resistant textile
·       Waterproof Synthetic
·       Seamless sensifit™



Review:

My standby daily wear shoe since about 2010 or so, has been the Salomon XA PRO 3D. This was back when Grey Group Training was a thing and all the cool guys had Atom LT’s aka Smoking Jackets, XA Pro’s and if you were really cool, a BAC. Over the years, I’ve worn out a couple pair of the XA PRO 3D’s, and last fall was on my last saved pair. 

Proof I've had a Salomon problem... a few pairs have been thrown away since they were worn out.


For running I had been using a couple shoes over the last few years, New Balance, Rebook Nano 3’s and recently, Saucony Peregrine 7’s.  I try to use a toe first natural stride as opposed to a heel strike stride. This was easier with Nano’s than the New Balance, and the Saucony’s were comfortable to run in. During the winter or when traveling and not wanting to pack extra shoes, I would just run in my XA Pro’s. I noticed it took more effort to focus on stride in the XA Pro’s than with normal running shoe.

After living in the PNW for a year at that point, I realized shoes here for hiking and running 8 months of the year or so need to be waterproof (GTX). So my search for a replacement for the now worn out XA Pro’s and Peregrine 7’s. Its easy to just go with what you know, but at the same time as any gear nerd will tell you, new gear is exciting. I also knew from getting dirt covered socks, that the XA Pro’s in the non-GTX/breathable format allowed dirt to get on the whole sock, which sucks when off paved paths.

Summer 2017, Salomon announced the new Outpath GTX. It looked like the upper portion of the shoe was sealed better to keep out dirt so I figured I’d give it a shot. Right off the bat in comparison to the XA Pro’s, I noticed the Outpath is stiffer. After wearing them for non work use as well as running, Its only slightly less stiff. From reading reviews this is a common complaint and I should expect the shoe to remain this stiff for the rest of its serviceable life.



The Outpath laces up using the Salomon Speed Lace system, just like the XA Pro’s. These options are fast to put on. The downside to the Speed Lace’s are:
1.     Can’t replace without a replacement kit vs normal shoes and a spool of Paracord.
2.     The friction lock looses torsion abilities over time/wear.
3.     Personalizing fit with how tight in a given place is difficult although it can be done.


The first couple times running in the Outpath’s, I went reduced distance as my feet adjusted to a different feel than they were used to. This was the same process I’ve done with my other running shoes, 1.5 miles, 2 miles, 3, and up to 4. I recently ran the farthest I’ve ran in way to long, 7.75 miles in these. Around mile 6.5 there was some pinching going on. The pinching was on the upper inner middle area of my foot. I stopped, loosened the laces, readjusted and finished without further pinching. 




With a typical lace up shoe, I can generally feel that the shoe is properly laced without needing to take a few steps to check it out. The Outpath, not so. I tighten the Outpath up then walk around to ensure proper fit. I’m about 50/50 on having to readjust one of the shoes each time. After this its fine for an average run – 3-5 miles.

I’m still planning to get a non-GTX running shoe for summer and rare rainless d
ay’s here in the PNW. In the meantime, the Outpath GTX are working double duty and I’m content to give them a 4/5 star rating. That would go up if the stiffness goes away so we will stay tuned.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

EGL custom M-VOCR 3: Modular for .308 and 5.56


EGL Custom M-VOCR 3 for LE DMR role.



One of the extra assignments I have at my new agency is a Patrol Designated Marksman. This means I’m issued a different gun and in this case the decisions was made for us to carry semi-auto .308’s with variable scopes. We are put through extra 2 days of training and shoot a more strict rifle qual due to the increased accuracy expectation. If you are LE and needing some guidance on DMR programs, be sure to check out the LE forum on PrimaryAndSecondary.com


Due to the other requirement that I maintain proficiency with a 5.56 patrol rifle, I needed a gear solution that would allow me to do both .308 and 5.56 mags on the same setup – PC is a Velocity Systems Scarab LT. There are various options on the market, but custom means you can pick things that fit your needs. I knew when I started this process, that in the near future I would be wearing an external soft armor vest for work so the PC would be covering my pistol reload when it’s worn. This drove a portion of my pouch layout. 



When I decided what to do, I looked to my go to for custom gear, Darin of Extreme Gear Labs. Darin had me draw up what I wanted and send a description including measurements of what I wanted. My 5.56 setup was 3 wide M4 mags (use 2 slots for mags, 3rd slot for work iPhone. With this, I wanted the same width meaning 2 .308 and 3 5.56 mag slots. Darin came up with a insert setup that allows me to swap out mag pouches based on what I’m using.



For the rest of the M-VOCR setup, L to R: Double iPhone GP pouch, 2x TQ pouches, and single pistol mag pouch. The outside edge has the ability to shock cord more kit such as TQ’s and the like on them. The edge also has loops that allow attachment of QD buckles for chest rig style wear like the VOCR. Due to this being worn 100% with my PC at this time, I do not have them installed.  



At the core, this is a VOCR. It just has the ability to swap magazine types based on inserts. The inserts are a newer material for me to see in use by EGL as it is a slick material, not the normal Cordura Nylon of various weights. This is a prototype, so the insert is a low Denier packcloth, but production materials will be a heavier Denier packcloth for durability. To use, you open up the the M-VOCR, then insert mag sleeve and press it against the outsides like filling a taco. Then you can then press the Velcro into the VOCR and lock it in.

The retaining straps on the .308 pouches allow secure storage of 5.56 mags just in case I don’t have time to swap them out when doing range training or if I’m completely leaving the .308 in the safe for the shift. The 5.56 inserts will hold other mags as well, as seen here with a couple AK mags and then one with AK, M4 and Styer AUG mags.





For ordering info, questions, specs, or other questions, contact Darin at: eglabsinfo@gmail.com




Friday, September 1, 2017

Advanced Holster Snatch 'N Grab V1 Modular Loadout Panel


Advanced Holster Snatch ‘N Grab V1 Modular Loadout Panel
https://advancedholster.com/products/snatch-n-grab-v1

I received this to T&E from Advanced Holsters. I had previously only used one of their products, the first generation ALG 6 Second Mount Glock Holster. My impression of that product was that it was good quality, but not the greatest design. aThe Snatch ‘N Grab on the other hand, showed more effort and work was placed in the design and production. The panel is modular, well built and versatile for both backpack and non bag carry.

The Snatch ‘N Grab is a “L” shaped panel of kydex with the following specifications:
16"L x 10"W with a 2.375" Bottom Flange
Made From 0.125" Black Kydex
MOLLE/PALS Compatible Grid Pattern
Nylon Grab Handle and 5 Foot Accessory Straps with Mil Spec Hardware
All Cutouts and Edges are Rounded to Prevent Frayed Webbing/Material
Made in the USA!

My preferred way to discretely carry a rifle is a LAW folder equipped SBR in a Vertx Gamut Plus backpack. The downside to carrying a rifle like this, is that the muzzle can poke down into the bottom of the back which upsets its ability to sit upright. The Snatch ‘N Grab panel prevented the layout from being an issue all while adding the ability to organize the interior with MOLLE pouches.
Up front, I expected that the Kydex would break along the L angle/fold. I was impressed that having used this since March, there are no breaks in the Kydex. having a hard angle folded into it along with the pressure on it from being roughly treated when I set my pack down in a hurry.

About 4 months into use, I rearranged the pouch setup on the Snatch ‘N Grab panel. It was simple to do even with using two different width PALS pouches. One was the weird off centered 7 or 8 channel wide Paraclete Med/Firing Systems pouch and the other a 6 PALS wide Blue Force Gear Triple M4. Due to the spacing on the Panel, I was able to work both pouches on the panel.

I didn’t use this as a vehicle insert, but can see how it would work as one should I need to in the future. Simply carry a duffle bag with panel out to vehicle to keep items out of plain view. Open duffel bag, remove panel, attach panel to seat back using included QD nylon straps. Do your tasks throughout the day with trauma kits, food, binoculars, etc. easily accessible. Get to a position you need to leave the vehicle, remove panel, back in duffle bag go on with life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Semper Paratus Armorer AAR

Semper Paratus Arms 2 Day Armorer Course
www.semperparatusarms.com
May 16/17, 2017
Greater Seattle, WA area
Instructor: William Larson



I had seen the announcement for this course by watching Will Larson’s company’s posts on Facebook.


I was paying attention to this and was in the process of fitting it into my schedule when I saw that Primary & Secondary had a free slot giveaway in the class for LE. Somehow, I was blessed to win the free slot. Thanks to Larson and P&S for the opportunity.
The course was different in the description from other AR-15 specific armorer classes I’d looked at attending. How so you may ask? The instructor has the student bring their own or department issued AR-15 pattern rifle to the class. The others I’d seen, you just bring the required tools and a rifle is provided. It became evident the advantage of bringing rifles to the class as the 2 days progressed.
The day started off with an overview of Larson’s background and what gave him his knowledge. I had followed Larson from his posts on M4Carbine.net back in that forums heyday as “IraqGunz” where he posted many pictures of the problems with assorted guns sold as “Milspec” yet failing to be close. (For those lacking critical thinking abilities, that is as close as they can be to Milspec absent a full auto switch.) This class was all Direct Impingement gas system focused.

After establishing the “why you should listen,” the course purpose and terminology was defined. Next up was called “Establishing the Standard.” This was explaining “MilSpec” and what that means. During this entire portion, the instructor was bringing up many AR-15 weapon myth’s such as “jamming,” “Milpsec sucks,” gas rings must be aligned to work,” “staking of the carrier key and castle nut is overrated,” etc..., and then debunking them.
A common myth is that “Milspec means lowest bidder.” Larson explained that while this was technically true, it implies something that isn’t true. What is implied is that lowest bidder equals junk. Lowest bidder equals “junk” in word association. What does lowest bidder mean in association with government contracts? Lowest bidder who states they will produce/provide what the contract description asks for. So a US MIlitary issued MilSpec M4/M4A1 Carbine (Colt or FN manufacture), doesn’t mean its “junk” as the contract price for a M-4 Carbine is anywhere from $500-600 per, compared to a Bushmaster of similar listed specs at $800. Cost alone isn’t an indicator of quality. Quality is based on the parts and way they are built.

The reason one should be familiar with the MilSpec standards, is to know what a product’s specifications should be and that there is a reason for parts to be what they are. Larson showed examples of guns from his personal armorer experiences as well as student guns from past classes. The best part was getting to look at the guns brought to class, both personally purchased and issued duty guns. Seeing the results of doing homework before purchasing a gun and how this usually avoids having a gun with problems.

First thing we looked at in the gun, was the BCG. During the history of the BCG the instructor covered the precursor to the AR-15, the AR-10. The AR-10 was built by Armalite, a division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation. Getting to see the history of rifle parts was very interesting to someone who is into history and therefore likes to know why we are where we are today. This showed how things have changed for the better as specifications where changed.

BCG’s must be staked, no room for discussion. Understanding that the spec’s show such a low torque value for the screws that hold the carrier key in, and how easy it was to break the torque, it drove home the importance of proper staking. A MOACKS was used to fix staking on BCG’s that were fixable in class. It was interesting that the carriers that weren’t staked properly generally had non-quality/spec screws in them as well. Having a BCG with poor staking and some aftermarket coatings prevented some BCG’s from being staked. Staking something that was already coated would of have fractured the coating which could lead to eventual peeling or flaking over time. This was something one should consider before they purchase a coated BCG – make sure its staked properly or you will be SOL for the cost of getting it coated.

The AR-15 family in common use today, is not the same as originally built (20” barrel with 1/12 twist and rifle stock). The AR-15 family today is really a gun limited by imagination and parts. No other rifle has truly answered the designers’ goal of “weapon system” that the AR-15 family has become. With the adaptability of the gun, comes issues though.

The Milspec for gas ports was the next topic. Rifle length gas, carbine gas, buffers, etc. all play factors. The right size gas port is very important and must be in place for a gun to function correctly. AR-15’s DI gas systems require dwell time to both function and stabilize the bullet. Charts were showing to explain why some longer barrels have smaller gas ports, while others have larger. This variance in size was due to the length of gas system – from carbine, midlength to rifle. Also discussed were some manufactures proprietary gas systems and the downside of that – parts availability.

Larson gave an example on why both knowing and following the spec by explaining, the MK18. The MK18 is a very misunderstood gun, although its understanding is increasing as time progresses. The MK18 is a Crane built gun for the Navy based on a specific request. Take the standard M4 carbine, make it as short as possible for ship operations yet still work with the standing SOPMOD accessories including the SOPMOD can which at the time was the KAC QDSS suppressor. When this was done, Crane was taking M4 Carbines in service and cutting the barrel down. This resulted in 10.3” barrel, which was the shortest possible combination of the carbine gas system and the KAC suppressor mount. Next up was making the gas system work, which was done by progressively enlarging the gas port until the gun ran both suppressed and unsuppressed. This resulted in a larger gas port that works with Milspec ammunition. The MK18 has been copied by many companies and “clone” builders. Sadly, most of them are not anywhere close to the spec.

The FSB and gas blocks were next. Larson explained how a FSB is spaced for the front handguard cap. If you remove the FSB to install a low profile gas block, most of the time a gas block is secured with set screws, not pins. Also covered was materials used – don’t use aluminum for example.

Chamber’s were covered – including what is a 5.56, .223 and .223 Wylde. The reality is, most companies that don’t follow the spec list they claim to follow, also don’t have a 5.56 chamber even when they market it as such. A 5.56 chamber reamer was shown and how to use it. Larson used this on a couple different 5.56 marked barrels in the class, which by this point based on the manufacturer of the guns, didn’t surprise the students.
Day 2 was short on powerpoint and long on the hands on work of tearing the rest of the rifle down. We took our rifles other than barrel, gas block/tube, and rail. We took lower receivers apart and parts of the upper. The parts that were not taken out, were shown how to install or replace. The course didn’t call for tearing barrels out, but students who wished to did get to have their rifle taken down for fixing things such as receiver extension staking, barrel replacement, gas tube alignment, barrel nut replacement etc.

It was interesting to see the guns students brought to work on. Some were put together with good parts by people who did the install correctly. Others were not. Those rifles were great examples of why things must be done correctly. From set screw gas blocks with no dimples so they were misaligned, to UTG parts being used by someone.
This is my first AR-15 armorer course, so I’m curious what other classes would teach. That said, I felt that by having the background of working on a litany of AR-15’s in his career and the course having a variety of AR-15’s in it I gained much more than working on a stock Colt 6920 style carbine for two days. None of my AR-15’s are “stock” so learning about the stuff to look for in buying, building or inspecting a rifle with parts that are performance or fight enhancing makes this worth it.
*** No dremel tools were used in the class, thankfully. ***