Friday, December 27, 2013

Extended Magazines

Extended Magazines

This post is an overview of a few extended magazines as well as non-standard capacity magazines for the AR-15, Glock 9/40 and M&P family of weapons.

The most common gripe about these magazines will revolve around two factors. Both factors will have pro’s and cons. Depending on the situation, these are pro’s that outweigh the cons. The first factor is for carry, the second is for shooting.

First, extended magazines can create difficulties in carry, both in the gun as well as in magazine pouches. This will also carry over to where your weapon is stored, i.e. a Rifle in a crowded storage environment like a Patrol Vehicle, Discrete Carry Bag, UC vehicle, etc. Another example is carry of a 22 round Glock magazine at 9 or 3 O’clock will restrict your ability to flex or bend sideways, but at the advantage of 22 rounds in a reload.

Second, shooting. Almost every gripe about any extended magazine and shooting involves shooting with it from the prone position. I hear many arguments against even the USGI/STANAG 30 round magazine – USGI, PMAG, etc. claiming that anything but the 20 round mag is two tall to properly prone shoot. This is a carryover from slick or shooting without kit on a perfect range environment. When shooting with even soft body armor, getting a sight picture behind a rifle with a 20 round magazine will have the 20 round magazine off the ground anyways.  Add rifle plates in a PC, a PC with plates and magazines, etc. and the magazine gets even higher off the ground.

Some of the extended magazines  on the market are to long and as such are not relevant to a “practical tactical” discussion. The Glock 33 round and Surefire 100 being two of them.

To show the difference in standard magazines as well as extended magazines, I took a series of photos with a measuring tape for reference. On the pistols, I included a flush fit magazine (standard) as well as extended. On the rifle, a 20, 30, PMAG 40 and Surefire 60.

Glock 9/40 frames: Starting with a factory "flush" fit magazine. Then a Arredondo extension + 4 rounds of .40 or +5-6 of 9mm. Last is a Glock factory 22 rounds of .40. 

M&P standard frame: First, flush fit standard magazine. Second is a Arredondo +4 .40 or +5/6 9mm. 

AR-15: Starting with a 20 round, 30 round, PMAG 40 and a Surefire 60. 

I attempted to show via photos the difference of the various rifle magazines from the prone position. This may or may not be clear, and if not, it is my fault for not communicating by visual means. The factor that is hard to show without use of high end photo editing software like MS Paint (kidding) is how the angle of your muzzle in proportion to where you are prone out at is dependent on where the bad guy is. If you are behind cover that forces you to shoot up in direction, a raised mag may be very good where a downward firing position, not so much.

You will need to do a full analysis of the cost, height and bulk before deciding to purchase any extended magazines, magazine extensions or even before carrying them. That is up to you.

Extended magazines can induce reliability issues, depending on the magazine, weapon system, environment, etc. That is more for the next post. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Phokus Hoplite PVS-14 Cover

I recently won a giveaway and received a Hoplite from Phokus Research Group.
 As shipped from Phokus:
The concept for this, is old with NOD usage and started with Duct Tape or the included rubber storage covers for NOD’s. It allows you to be in focus with your NOD viewing from up close to infinity.
Focused at infinity:
No NOD focus device:

NOD focus device:

DARC posted a bit more on the history of this and how to make the do it yourself modes:

I’ve used the concept for a few months, in the cheaper do it yourself multipart option. The setup I was using was the Butler Creek Scope Cap drilled out in the middle in conjunction with a Wilcox Industries Protective Cover for Objective Lens (PVS-14) sacrificial lens system.

The scope caps run from $3 to $12. The Sacrificial Lens system is about $30. The setup I was running was “cheaper” up front. The disadvantage to this is that the scope cap can’t be put flush onto the NOD unit thanks to the Wilcox lens pushing out a little further out. When you open the scope cap, it wants to slide back over the Wilcox lens which won’t allow you to close it until you readjust it.

The Hoplite MSRP is $100 so there is a definite price difference. What does it offer over the do it yourself model? The Hoplite features a multi size aperture that allows you to make the whole bigger in the same way the KAC 300 meter rifle sights work with a plastic insert.  The Hoplite also features a built in replaceable sacrificial lens setup. It’s secured by either friction direct onto the PVS-14, or with the rubber band seal that is included.



I’ve done some driving with this setup as well as some walking around with them and am impressed. It seems to be more reliable long term than the do it yourself mode, but not sure how much more reliable long term as I’ve only had it about a 3 weeks. 

Video of the focusing in use:

What is the downside to this? You will have reduced light collection. SURPRISE! By making the light collection area smaller, less light will be collected, making it a darker image. If you are in a environment where you need more light, then you just flip the cap up or turn on IR illumination if you won't violate OPSEC. 

I've passed this around to a few co-workers to play with and they have been happy with it, although they don't have as much experience under NOD's as I have been able to get. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cold Weather Gear for the LEO

Cold Weather Gear for the LEO

It’s the season for cold weather and that means cold weather gear comes out to play. In my AO, temps can go from 110+ in the summer to less than -20 at night in the winter. The cold weather doesn’t help when you add in the fact you can be standing in the weather (with wind) and 2 minutes later be inside a house that is 80 inside.

How do you prep for that? Research of the SOCOM PCU system, speaking with others who have dealt with the cold weather, as well as hands on experience. I have found many very informative blog posts on “tactical” subjects over at Soldier Systems. In particular, this post on the topic:

I also looked up YouTube videos and researched for official explanation of what the 9 layer PCU system was:

The big takeaway from this system was the principle of Layering. This is very familiar to someone who goes backpacking or other outdoor activities. The principle is to add or remove clothing as you adjust to outside temperatures. This is also affected by your activity levels.

How do you apply this layering concept to Law Enforcement, specifically Patrol officers? With a bit of accepting you’ll just have to embrace the suck sometimes. This is mainly because of agencies uniform policies and the ensuing restrictions. Some agencies only allow issued gear, others tell you to buy yours 100% out of pocket. There are also places that allow a mix of the above.

What have I found worked?

·      Stocking cap/Watchcap: I like a windstopping model, currently a fan of the Windstopper Fleece from Gore Tex.
·      Gloves: Find a pair that allows you to shoot with them on, then buy 3 of them. I’m regretting not doing that a few years back when my favorite model was closed out and am having to try to find a new model that works. I keep a pair of leather or synthetic gloves in the car as well as a pair of the “Seal Skins” for any pre expected wet weather or wet object handling.
·      Neck Gaiter: Something fleece, ideally with Gore’s Windstopper Fleece or similar. I am running a Outdoor Research one right now and am content with it.
·      Socks: This is the subject of another blog post to elaborate on, but thick high quality socks are a must. Smartwool or Darn Tough Vermont. Really cold weather, I put a thin pair under a thick pair.
·      Boots: Some guys I know run “Cold Weather”  boots all year round.
·      Base Layers top and bottom: Starting the fourth winter of wearing the same pairs of Patagonia Capilene 2. The clothes still look in almost new condition. I like the no longer made Turtlenecks for my shirts as they provide that little bit extra skin coverage for wear in very cold weather. These also handle the sweat of being worn under body armor well. I bought a piece of the Capilene 3 system this winter to see if its enough warmer to justify purchasing more.
·      Coats. This is dictated by policy and will give specific options/limitations. I like to wear a mid weight Fleece for general wear with a rain shell if its wet out. During extremely cold times, I put a Arc’Teryx Atom LT under my duty jacket. This creates a very warm low profile base layer.

I’ve found its worth storing extra cold weather gear in your car, in case the stuff your wearing gets wet. A Jetboil is also kept on hand. This allows me to make hot refreshments if I get soaked – Tea, Instant Coffee or Camp Foods. Hand warmers are useful as well. This stuff can help you, a fellow Officer or First Responder not to mention members of the community you protect and serve.

Psychologically, It’s best to keep the temperature in your house, your car, etc. closer to the outside temperature so you don’t have as much of a “shock” to the system when you get outside.

There is a lot more to this subject, but this is at least an overview of what layers are available and more importantly what works for me. Lots more info is available, just do some research. Your local REI (or EMS for East Coasters) should have knowledgeable staff as well.

Stay warm and dry.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DARC Lessons Learned, Part 3: Nutrition

DARC Lessons Learned, Part 3: Nutrition

Obviously, nutrition is essential to every day life. Most any personal trainer, fitness expert, nutritionist, etc will say that fitness is 80% Nutrition and 20% exercise. How did this play in regards to DARC? If you don’t feed the machine, it won’t matter how much you PT’d in advance, you will hit your wall and hit your body hard.

What I found worked, worked for me. I based it on my research and my personal experience. Research wise, there is plenty out there that is free for you to peruse, on top of the paid for stuff. You’ll have to test these theories out yourself if you don’t want to pay the money to have a nutritionist to draw one up for you.

Take a look at various diets, but mostly focus on diets for high performance for individuals like Olympic Athletes, SOF “Tactical Athletes,” Long distance hikers, etc. I also spoke with Paleo diet following athletes in planning. A lot of my diet is the same, regardless if I’m in a DARC training environment, work, backpacking or working stuff around the house. 

What did I find worked?

Hydration. Lots of water and a 2 to 1 ration of water to Vitalyte. Hydrate constantly. The age old adage, if you don’t have to pee your dehydrated, is true. 1 liter before bed, 1 liter upon waking up.

Good breakfast (no matter when you actually start, always start your day off with a good breakfast). I got protein shakes and apples for my daily breakfast. ‘

Lunch/Dinner: Subway. You can save money and just get sandwich makings, but getting a 12” sub was nice each day. Get a heavy meat one, light on dairy condiments!

High protein snacks. Beef Jerky/Beef Sticks. A jar of Peanut Butter on hand and was eating from it all the time. Peanut butter crackers and packets of peanuts are great for while observing runs, during the lectures, etc.

Foods that gave a good boost: Banana, Milky Way (or your choice chocolate candy bar). If you need it, you’ll know it. I prefer to avoid chocolate or sugary foods, but sometimes you need it. Cliff Gel Bites and Gel Shots or the Camelback or Power Bar versions.

One of the nights, we had an extremely long run. That night I was happy I had a few Campbell’s microwave soups on hand.  

For further reading, I’d suggest reading or obtaining the following:
  • ·      Special Operations Forces Nutritional Guide.
  • ·      Paleo diet
  • ·      Appalachian Trail packing list

This is kind of a crash course overview, but will hopefully help any future students at DARC, as well as any other high physical endurance class, event, etc. you do.