About the Author

Woody is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A few thoughts on pistol sights

AmeriGlo Hackathorn sights on my Glock 19 slide
If you were to thumb through a Brownells or Midway catalog, you'd see an entire section dedicated to pistol sights.  Sights of all shapes, sizes, and colors can be found with a quick Google search.  Even many tactical trainers and training companies have their own sights.  "Why so many sights?" you might ask.  Well, for one thing, sights are pretty easy to change out.  Sights can also be a very personal choice.  Much like a grip material or style, a lot of people have very deeply held feelings about what type of sights they like.

For me personally, I generally have two main criteria: I want a front sight that draws my eye and can be seen under a variety of light conditions, and I want a rear sight that has a ledge to allow me to rack the slide one-handed if I need to.

The two sights that I tend to rely on are the Redback One (RB-1) sights designed in conjunction with 10-8 Performance, and the AmeriGlo Hackathorn (GL-433) sights.  The RB-1 sights reside on my Glock 17, and the Hacks reside on my Glock 19.  The RB-1 sights were my first sights that I ever changed out on a pistol, and at the time, they were ideal.  The front sight is a narrow blade with a tritium insert.  The rear sight is plain black, serrated to reduce glare, with a wide notch to allow me to pick up the front sight faster.  It has just enough of a ledge to catch the edge of a holster to rack the slide with a single hand.  The combination of the narrow front and wide rear is not ideal for longer-range precision shots, but really does lend itself to fast sight acquisition at normal self-defense ranges.  The Hackathorn sights are similar, but an improvement, in my opinion.  The front sight is still tritium, but it's surrounded by a fiber optic ring that increases the sight's visibility in brighter conditions where the tritium isn't effective.  The rear sight is similar to the RB-1, but with a slightly larger ledge.  Both rear sights slide into the standard Glock rear sight cut and are held in place with a set screw.  I used blue Loc-Tite on the set screw, but both sights fit into the sight cut tight enough that I'm not really worried about them moving.  Both sights shoot point of aim/point of impact.

Both sight sets are excellent choices, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Hacks.  The addition of the fiber optics to the tritium insert really, really draws the eye, and is more applicable in a wider variety of situations.  I highly recommend them to anyone looking to replace their stock Glock sights.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Special Operations Department (SOD Gear) Para One Pants Review

I first stumbled across SOD Gear when I was looking for a smock for winter wear.  As I reviewed here, I'm a huge fan of their clothes, so when I went looking for a set of combat pants, naturally I ended up on their site again.  While there are many manufacturers of combat pants in today's world, including Crye Precision, Tru-Spec, Propper, UF Pro, Helikon-Tek, Sabre, Applied Orange, and Molay, there were a few things I was looking for that led me to purchase the SOD Para One pants over the others. 

First, the Para One pants minimize the use of hook and loop.  While hook and loop has its place, it is noisy, gathers dirt, and tends to wear out fast.  With their new uniform announcement, big Army has moved away from hook and loop as a method of closing pockets due to soldier complaints about the closures failing (the Coast Guard actually figured it out before the Army, and deleted hook and loop pocket closures after their first uniform redesign at least 7-8 years ago).  In my years in, I've worn the BDU, ACU, ODU, and Crye Precision field and combat uniforms, and I still prefer buttons over hook and loop for most applications.  Even better than the deletion of hook and loop is the use of the Canadian or NATO pattern buttons, which attach via a strip of webbing or fabric instead of the US method of attaching with only thread.

Second, the pants are reinforced in all the right areas.  High stress areas such as the pockets, belt loops, knees, and leg hem are all reinforced with Cordura nylon.

Third, the pants are cut more form fitting.  This is both a good and bad feature, but I think it weighs more heavily toward the good.  As an American, I am used to the very baggy BDU and ACU.  While it is very comfortable for low-stress wearing, excess material can present problems as well, including snagging and bunching.  Plus, for me, the standard BDU can be constrictive when kneeling or lifting my legs high.  This would seem counter-intuitive, but that's my observation.  With the tighter fitting pant, I feel like I actually have a larger range of motion.  The tighter fit does take some getting used to, though.  For one thing, the crotch just feels different.  It was never uncomfortable, I didn't experience any pinching, but it just feels a little different.  This also changes the sizing a little bit, but mostly the pants are true to size.

Fourth, the kneepads are well executed.  The pants come equipped with soft knee pads, which fit inside a hook and loop closed, Cordura reinforced pocket.  Due to the athletic cut of the pants, I found that the knee pads stayed right where they needed to through-out the range of motion.

Overall, these are some outstanding pants.  I personally like them better than the Crye pants I had previously been issued.  Customer service was also outstanding. I corresponded via email due to the time difference, but all of my questions (especially sizing) were answered quickly and to my complete satisfaction.  Some other features of the pants include a hidden pocket inside the waistband for E&E items, and padding in the waistband so that you can wear equipment on your pants belt without the need for any additional padding.  Also, the belt loops are big enough that you can run a belt with Cobra buckle through with ease.

Rear view
Front view

The Para One pants come in 11 different colors in 50/50 NYCO or Cotton, depending on the color, and can be purchased at http://www.sodgear.com/product-detail/en/sod-combat-line-para-one-pants-12-hcs.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cars vs. Guns...

A common argument brought up by gun control (anti-Second Amendment) advocates is the false equivalency between the requirements to own a car and the requirements to own a gun.  I say this is a false equivalency because the Constitution specifically grants me the right to own a gun.  I've read it several times, and I have yet to find where it specifically grants me the right to own a car.  Just for fun though, I'll play along with this argument and present two sides:

If guns were treated like cars:

Well, as the gun control crowd points out, I'd have to take a test, get a license, and have insurance.  But as they seem to fail to notice, that's pretty much the end of the benefits they get out of that argument.  I'd get quite a few benefits though.  For one thing, I could now take my gun anywhere.  No more state by state restrictions on carrying my gun.  Nope, my Virginia permit is now valid in Massachusetts, California, and New York.  For insurance, no problem, I'll get a bare bones policy that just barely meets coverage requirements.  I could take my gun to school, church, federal buildings, pretty much anywhere.  I could legally buy a gun from a dealer at age 16.  I could buy a gun in any state, not just my home state, without having to mess with a dealer.  I wouldn't technically have to ever get a license either, so long as I didn't take the gun off of my private property.

Now, if cars were treated like guns:

Car laws would vary state by state.  Just because I have my Virginia driver's license doesn't mean I can actually take that car into another state, say California, Massachusetts, or New York.  If someone didn't want me to have my car around them, they could ban my car with nothing more than a sign.  Depending on the state, if my car was stolen and used in a crime, I could be charged with failing to properly secure my car, even if I had it locked in my garage.  I could also be charged with failing to report it stolen.  I could only buy a car from a resident of my own state or a licensed dealer, whose business is licensed by the Department of Transportation and whatever local entities may have jurisdiction.  To buy the car from a dealer, I would have to pass at least one, possibly two or more, criminal records checks.  In states with "universal background checks," I would be forced to by my car from a dealer, because only dealers have access to the background check database.  I could only buy certain types of cars at age 18, but would have to wait until age 21 to buy other types of cars.  If I wanted to buy more than one car at a time, I may have to jump through additional licensing requirements, and if I did so in certain Southwest states, my purchases would be required to be reported to the Department of Transportation for their records and possible investigation.  I would also be limited to the type of fuel I could buy.  I would only be able to buy the type of fuel that goes with my legally licensed car.  If I buy "unusual amounts" of fuel in a short time period, the gas station may be required to report me to the police.  Depending on the state, even though I legally own the car, I may not be able to take it off my personal property without acquiring additional permits or licenses.  I could be restricted from stopping at any way station during my planned driving route.  If I met any of the following criteria, I would not be allowed to purchase or even possess a car (and by possess, I mean I wouldn't even be able to sit in the driver's seat):

·                     Under indictment or information in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
·                     convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
·                     who is a fugitive from justice;
·                     who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
·                     who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
·                     who is an illegal alien;
·                     who has been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions;
·                     who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
·                     who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or
·                     who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (enacted by the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 104-208, effective September 30, 1996). 18 USC 922(g) and (n).
If I previously owned a car and then fell into one of these categories, the state could come and seize my car.  If my car were seized, I would have to navigate a confusing bureaucracy to attempt to get it back, even if all charges were dropped.  The state would have no obligation to return my car of their own accord.  When I applied for a license, I may be required to prove the reason I need to own a car, depending on whether my state is "shall-issue" or "may-issue."  I would have to justify why my needs for transportation couldn't be met by the many public options available.  I may have to wait up to 10 days from the time I buy the car until I can actually pick the car up, just in case I may have planned to use the car to commit a crime in the heat of the moment.  There would be limits on how fast my car could go - not just posted signs, but an actual governor that physically prevents my car from going over the speed.  Certain car features deemed dangerous would be banned.  I may be restricted to purchasing a car from an approved government list deemed to meet arbitrary criteria.  And the kicker, every time someone committed an egregious crime with a car (say, a drunken driving incident that kills a family of four), I would be crucified in the media as some sort of crazed psychopath for even wanting to own a car, my masculinity would be called into question (I must be compensating for something by owning a car), and more restrictions would be proposed to limit my ability to possess and operate my car.
So, please, explain to me again why you seem to think that my specifically enumerated Constitutional right hasn't been restricted?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review of the Raven Concealment Vanguard Holster

So I've had the chance to utilize the Raven Vanguard 2 for about a month now, and I'm impressed.  You should seriously evaluate this holster if you are looking for a versatile system that allows for IWB, or off-body carry.

The Vanguard system is very different from your typical holster.  Really, you can hardly call it a holster - it's more of a trigger cover.  The molded plastic only covers the bare minimum needed, ie, the trigger and trigger guard.  It attaches to you in two possible ways: via a belt loop for IWB carry or via 550 cord or other lanyard.  This means that bulk is reduced to an absolute minimum.  When I wear my G19 IWB, it almost feels like I've just got the gun shoved in my pants.  The solid fit of the holster, however, means that it is far safer and more secure than if I actually just shoved it in.   Surprisingly it's still very comfortable, even more comfortable than some hybrids I've worn, again with significantly less bulk than your average IWB.

One of the biggest uses I think this system presents is for carrying off-body, especially for the ladies.  A lady I know used to carry a Glock in her purse.  Being a fashionable young lady, she wasn't really interested in buying a purse designed for carry, so she bought a cheap Uncle Mike's at the store, put the Glock in it, then put the whole conglomeration in her purse.  Couple of problems with that - draw time is dramatically increased and it takes up a whole lot more room.  The other option (or so she thought) would be to just place the gun in the purse bare.  I probably don't have to point out the issue with that, but I will; with a Glock (or some models of M&P, the other gun they make Vanguards for), the only thing between you and boom is the trigger safety.  Spend a little time on YouTube, and you'll see how well that works out for people.

The Vanguard answers that problem.  Simply place the Vanguard on your gun, run the lanyard (or a piece of leather, or a fashionable chain, whatever) through the grommet and a hard point on your purse, like where the straps mount, and you are ready to go.  Just make sure the lanyard is strong enough to take the pressure of your draw by dry firing at home.

There is one big disadvantage of the Vanguard - getting the gun in it.  Your gun has to be placed in the Vanguard before you put it in your waistline or your bag.  There is no re-holstering with this gun.  This could present an issue if you were to draw your firearm and then need to put it back for some reason.  A little bit of practice and problem solving ahead of time should easily mitigate that particular issue, but I do point it out for your consideration.

Overall, this is definitely a system you should consider if your needs call for a simple IWB or bag carry solution.  And at $35, it's a great solution at a great price.

Image copyright Raven Concealment

Train hard, train safe, do work.


Raven Concealment

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reply from Sen. Mark Warner

Dear Woody,
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on legislative efforts to reduce gun violence in the United States.
On September 16, 2013, twelve innocent men and women lost their lives at the Washington, DC Navy Yard at the hands of a gunman who, reports show, had a history of violent tendencies and serious mental illness. This shooting was one of the latest in a string of recent gun-related tragedies that continue to shock our communities. In the aftermath of this recent shooting and tragedies such as those in Newtown, Connecticut and at Virginia Tech, we need to take meaningful steps that will help us best avoid these kinds of mass shootings in the future. The status quo is not acceptable.
I own firearms and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. However, I also recognize that, like with many of our constitutional rights, our Second Amendment rights are not without limits. During the spring of 2013, the Senate considered the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649) in an effort to address issues contributing to gun violence. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) attempted to amend this bill with a reasonable, bipartisan proposal to strengthen background checks.  The Manchin-Toomey amendment would have closed the gun show loophole and prohibited the commercial sale of guns to those who are seriously mentally ill or have a criminal record while also upholding Second Amendment rights. I voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey proposal but, unfortunately, the amendment received only 54 votes in support when it needed 60 votes for passage. Furthermore, its failure, which occurred one day after the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy, essentially halted consideration of the underlying gun safety bill, which included my bipartisan CAMPUS Safety Act.
There was also significant debate over proposals to ban certain types of weapons and magazines. I voted against those bans because, after talking to numerous experts, I believe the most effective action we can take to reduce gun-related violence and keep guns out of the hands of those prohibited by law from possessing them is to pass a strong background check law. This proposal is strongly supported by the American people and I believe that the Senate should continue to work to pass effective measures that will help to keep our children and communities safe and to improve our mental health system so we can provide help to those with dangerous mental illnesses before it is too late.

I appreciate you contacting me. I will keep your opinion in mind should the Senate address this issue or other relevant legislation. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov .

United States Senator

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dream rifle

My Dream gun as I imagine it.  Now to start saving...

Faxon Firearms 12.5" complete upper w/BCM flash suppressor
Aimpoint Micro T-1 2MOA w/Larue mount
Aimpoint Magnifier w/Larue mount
Surefire Scout light
BCM Gunfighter Foregrip
Troy fixed front sight
Troy folding rear sight
Gem-Tech HALO suppressor

Rainier Arms lower
Colt small parts
Geissele SSA trigger
KNS trigger pin set
BAD safety lever
BCM Gunfighter grip
MagPul trigger guard
Mil-spec receiver extension and castle nut
MagPul CTR stock with 1/2" - 3/4" riser
MagPul mags

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reply from Senator Kaine

March 24, 2014
Dear Woody:
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on proposals to reduce gun violence. I appreciate hearing from you. 
No one can deny that gun violence is a serious problem in this country today.  We owe it to the victims of the growing number of mass shootings to vigorously debate specific and comprehensive proposals that can keep our communities safer.  The right approach focuses on many issues - improvements to the mental health system, better security protocols and common sense rules about gun use, including keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
When I was on the Richmond City Council in the 1990s, our city was mired in an epidemic of gun violence that included the city having the second-highest homicide rate in the United States.  The most successful step we took was implementing Project Exile, a program that involved federal prosecution and tougher penalties for gun crimes that were previously treated more leniently in state courts. Celebrated by diverse groups engaged in the gun violence debate - including the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign - the program helped drive down Richmond's homicide rate by nearly 60 percent within a few years.
In 2007, the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech revealed glaring weaknesses in campus security protocols at colleges and universities, in our mental health system and the gun background check system for gun purchases. In a bipartisan spirit, I worked with then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to immediately improve our background check system and issued an executive order ensuring that those adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous would be entered into a national database and barred from purchasing weapons. We also changed standards for mental health treatment and increased funding for community health programs while dramatically improving campus security and efforts to assist college students suffering from mental stress.
On the sixth anniversary of the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech, I took to the Senate floor to remember the 32 Hokies who lost their lives. The tragedy happened after a dangerous young man illegally purchased weapons due to flaws in the background records check system. I was pleased to cast my vote on April 17, 2013, in support of S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act legislation, which included tougher laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, and ways to improve safety in schools. I also voted in support of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on gun laws, but unfortunately a filibuster of this measure prevented it from passing. I also voted for a ban on large-capacity magazines, and for a proposal to ban combat-style weapons. I am disappointed a minority of the Senate chose to use the filibuster to block common-sense reforms.
As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to work to bring that kind of comprehensive approach that will strengthen the safety of our communities, while protecting our Second Amendment rights. As a gun owner who worked with others to constitutionally guarantee Virginians the right to hunt, I know that you can be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment without tolerating the gun tragedies that are too often a part of our daily lives.
Thank you once again for contacting me.
Tim Kaine