HOME

 

 

Gun Care/Shooting Accessories Page 1

Page 2 Page 3

TO VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGES: USERNAME and PASSWORD are both "mm"

EMDOM USA/MM Ammo SAC (Soft Ammo Can)

6/25/08 - Here's the next accessory for shooters that I've come up with, in collaboration with EMDOM USA. Are you tired of bringing your loose ammo to the range in ratty plastic or mesh bags, tearing at the seams with rounds falling out of splitting sides and open tops? Do you wish ammo cans were lighter and didn't take up space when empty? Do you hate the noise ammo cans make when they're half full and fall over when you're turning in the car? Do you wish ammo can handles were more comfortable to carry? Well, I've got the solution for you - the EMDOM USA/MM Ammo SAC (Soft Ammo Can).

Concept - When I head to the range, I bring loose ammo in ammo cans, individual boxes or individual boxes emptied into plastic bags (if I don't have enough cans around). I dislike bringing individual cardboard boxes to the range as I have to open them up, get the rounds out, then discard the boxes. So, for quite a while, I've been emptying the rounds from cardboard packaging into whatever I could bring to the range. Loose ammo is just quicker to load into the mags. I'd sometimes use the plastic bags that the ammo was packaged in, but they don't last long. Other nylon bags aren't designed to hold 1000 rounds of ammo, and didn't have proper handles. So, I decided to come up with a simple solution to my issue - the SAC (Soft Ammo Can). EMDOM turned the concept into actual product with their usual attention to detail, excellent workmanship and quality.

Description - The EMDOM USA/MM SAC is a purpose-designed and built bag for carrying loose ammo. The SAC comes in two convenient sizes:
Small, which fits the contents of a standard 30 cal ammo can (10" x 7" x 3").
Large, which fits the contents of a large 50 cal ammo can (11.5" x 7" x 6").

Whatever the amount of ammo you can fit into the steel ammo cans (e.g. 750 rounds of 5.56mm in the small can and at least 1000 rounds in the large can), you can fit into the SACs. The large SAC measures approximately
8.5" long x 6.5" wide x 7.5" tall. The small SAC is about 7" long x 5" wide x 6" tall.

Materials - The SACs are constructed of 500D cordura, with double-stitched seams and fully seam taped. Both small and large sizes are available in Coyote and Foliage green. The bottom is reinforced with a layer of 1000D cordura. I've been using both my prototypes for the past year or so, filling them up to the brim with 7.62mm, 5.56mm, .45 ACP, 9mm, shotshells etc, with no signs of wear or tear.



Small SAC ((L) and Large (R)

Side view

Bottom
Inside pocket

Other Features

  • Flat bottom - The SACs have a rectangular, flat bottom so they sit flat and open for easy access.
  • Cinch cord opening - The full size opening has a cinch cord closure with cord lock. Inside the opening is a sleeping-bag compression sack-style flap. The flap keeps the opening closed and the contents secure when the cord is cinched tight. I wanted the SAC to be able to open up to its full diameter, for easiest access to the loose ammo inside. The flap lays outside or can be tucked out of the way.
  • Carry handles - 1" low profile carry handles; I wanted them to be as short as possible so as not to get in the way. The handles are actually a single length of webbing that wraps under the SAC completely. The take-off point is box and cross stitched, and reinforced with a second piece of webbing.
  • Outer slot pocket for ammo label - This is a slot pocket with clear 3" x 2" window for putting a note or card with ammo data/label. I usually tear off the end of the ammo package and stick it in the pocket.
  • Internal mag loader pocket - An internal 4.5" x 4" deep slot pocket will hold most compact pistol or rifle mag loaders, like Maglula or C-mag loaders.
  • Folds up flat and compact - Both SACs will fold up flat neatly and can be stuffed into your range bag pocket.

I've used the SACs for rifle, pistol and shotgun ammo, and also to carry loaded mags (the larger one is great for M4 mags). I typically use a large one for rifle ammo and the smaller one for handgun ammo. I find it useful to have each size in different colours, so I can differentiate them at a glance, as I sometimes being different caliber weapons to the range. If need be, the small one can also be 'nested' inside the large one. After shooting, I've used them to pick up my empty brass. The SACs are not limited to carrying ammo; you can put whatever you want in them. They're very quiet, especially when filling or emptying them. No more rattling or clanking, whether full or partially.

Anyways, I hope shooters will enjoy the added convenience that the ammo SACs provide. Enjoy, and thanks for looking. See ya at the range.



Top cinched up

Clear front slot pocket

Large SAC
Internal mag loader pocket SACs folded up

EMDOM USA/MM Split Ammo SAC (Soft Ammo Can)

11/6/11 - The EMDOM USA/MM Split Ammo SAC (Soft Ammo Can) is divided version of the Large Ammo SAC (shown above). All dimensions and features are the same, except for the addition of an internal divider and two metal D-rings for a shoulder strap.

Concept - I've obviously been using the SACs for the past four years to carry loose ammunition or boxes of ammo, mags etc to the range in lieu of metal cans or plastic bags. I normally use the small ammo SAC for pistol mags and ammo, and the large one for rifle mags and ammo. I've since started using the EMDOM-MM PMC for organizing and transporting my loaded rifle mags. There were times when I thought that I wouldn't mind having a divider inside a Large SAC, to segregate different type of ammo; if I didn't really need to bring enough to fill up two small SACs. So, we came up with the Split Ammo SAC. The Split SAC is basically the large SAC with an internal divider sewn inside, splitting the SAC into two equally sized compartments. Two metal D-rings were also added, located diagonally to each other, for attaching a shoulder strap for shoulder carry. No shoulder strap is supplied with the Split SAC, and any shoulder strap that can connect to D-rings will work. In the photo, it's shown with the shoulder strap from the PMC.


Coyoteish and Foliage Green Split SACs

Crye MultiCam Split SAC

Internal divider

Metal D-ring
Shoulder strap attached (not included)

Description - The EMDOM USA/MM Split SAC is the same size as the Large SAC, and fits the contents of a large 50 cal ammo can (11.5" x 7" x 6"). All the features are the same as the Large SAC, except for the addition of the divider and D-rings:

  • Flat bottom - The Split SAC has a rectangular, flat bottom so it sits flat and open for easy access.
  • Cinch cord opening - The full size opening has a cinch cord closure with cord lock. Inside the opening is a sleeping-bag compression sack-style flap. The flap keeps the opening closed and the contents secure when the cord is cinched tight. The flap lays outside or can be tucked out of the way.
  • Carry handles - 1" low profile carry handles. The take-off point is box and cross stitched, and reinforced with a second piece of webbing.
  • Outer slot pocket for ammo label - This is a slot pocket with clear 3" x 2" window for putting a note or card with ammo data/label.
  • Internal mag loader pocket - An internal 4.5" x 4" deep slot pocket will hold most compact pistol or rifle mag loaders, like Maglula or C-mag loaders.
  • Folds up flat and compact.

Whatever the amount of ammo you can fit into the steel ammo cans (e.g. 1000 rounds of 5.56mm in the large can), you can fit into the SAC. The Split SAC measures approximately 8.5" long x 6.5" wide x 7.5" tall.

Materials - The Split SAC shares the same construction as the Small and Large SACs, and are constructed of 500D cordura, with double-stitched seams and fully seam taped. They're available in MultiCam, Coyote and Foliage green. The bottom is reinforced with a layer of 1000D cordura.

Pictured below are just some examples/suggestions of how the Split SAC can be used to organize your ammo or shooting gear. If you collect brass or empty shotshell hulls, the Split SAC is perfect for that purpose - live ammo on one side and empties in the other. The possibilities/combinations are left up to your imagination.

 


Mags and 9mm ammo
Kitmat, pistol, holster etc
Pistol and rifle ammo
Rifle ammo and mags
Shotgun ammo

EMDOM USA/MM KitMat

3/3/07 - Here's my latest design project that I am collaborating with EMDOM USA on. I came up with the concept and sketch back in July '06, and after a couple of prototype and changes, it is finally in production (available now, from EMDOM). It's nothing high-speed; just something that I think most shooters will find a very practical shooting accessory, in my humble opinion.

Concept - If you go shooting, whether it be at an indoor our outdoor range, or just out in the field, chances are that you've had to disassemble your weapon, either to take a look at a problem, or simply to clean it. Even when shooting off the bench at an outdoor range, it's nice to have a clean surface. Most of us have an old T-shirt or towel to do the work on, and keep the oily parts out of the dirt. I usually carry a G.I. M16 cleaning kit pouch with my sectional cleaning rod, small bottles of bore solvent and oil, jags, brushes, and maybe another one with some essential tools and spare parts. Every time I've had to break all of this stuff out, and find a clean surface to work on my gun, I thought about how nice it'd be to be able to have all of these in one package for the field. I did some research, and while I found cleaning kit pouches and mats, they were always separate, and the mats were too bulky and large for practical field use. And of course, none of them were built out of 1000D cordura in cool colours. So, the KitMat idea was born.

The KitMat is a fold-up/roll-up cleaning kit pouch, with attached mat (hence the imaginative name). The mat itself is a 24" x 19" piece of coated 1000D cordura. At one end are some grommets, two of which have a loop of shock cord attached. The shock cords keep the mat rolled up tightly. At the other end are two cordura pouches with internal pockets for cleaning kits and spare parts.

Empty and rolled up, it's approximately the same length as a G.I. M16 cleaning kit pouch (9.5"). The diameter depends on how much stuff you put in the pouches. To unroll it, the shock cord loops are passed over the ends of the roll, and the mat unrolled completely. Then it's unfolded and spread out flat.


G.I. kit pouch ((L) and KitMat (R)

Kitmat rolled up

Partially unrolled
Mat unrolled Unrolled and unfolded

Mat - I sized the dimensions of the mat very carefully. I didn't want it to be too small as to be unusable, and I didn't want it to be too large as it'd be too bulky. The size of the pouches were based on the G.I. pouch dimensions, and dicatated the width of the mat. 24" x 19" ended up being the optimum size. It's large enough to lay out the parts of a disassembled carbine (as shown below). It's also wide enough to be used as a mini shooting mat to rest your elbows on if you're lying on dirt and rocks. You can also sit on it if the ground is wet (the coated Cordura is pretty water resistant), or even use it to put food on and eat off, instead of in the dirt, or on a rock. But its primary purpose is to keep your disassembled weapon's components out of the dirt. I've found it useful at home, just in case I knock over my bottle of solvent on to the carpet. It'll keep it from soaking through for a few moments and buy time. The edges of the mat are finished with seam tape.

Small parts area - In one corner of the mat near the right pouch is a 6" x 4" area of loop velcro. Supplied are two 3" and two 4" lengths of 1"-wide hook velcro, with sewn-over ends. These are for securing small springs, pins and other small parts to the velcro patch to prevent loss. Place the part on the velcro patch, and stick the velcro strip over it. If the wind catches the mat and blows it over, at least these small parts won't get lost. The velcro strips store on the patch when not in use. Some manufacturers use magnets to hold small parts in place, but they only work with ferrous items. The velcro strips will work with any small item.

Pouches - The KitMat has two zippered pouches, using YKK zippers and cord pulls. Each one is 9" x 3" x 1", and will open out flat. Inside each pouch are 420D compartments/pockets.
The left pouch has two 4" x 3" compartments, and will fit cleaning patches, most bore brushes and jags, or small solvent/oil bottles. Inside the lid is a long 9" x 3" pouch with velcro-secured flap. This is sized to fit G.I. sectional cleaning rods and commercial pistol cleaning rods. The pockets aren't flap, but are pleated at the corners so they expand.
The right pouch has an identical flapped pocket inside the lid, and a full-length compartment at the bottom. These will hold bolt carriers, boresnakes, toothbrushes, my AR chamber guide, spare parts in plastic baggies etc. Stuff can be stored between the pockets instead of inside them as well. All pockets and compartment openings are designed to be accessed easily when the pouches are opened out flat. All seams are finished with seam tape.

To roll it up, the dirt/sand is shaken off the mat, and the mat is simply folded in half. The dirty side of the cordura is always down or inside, and doesn't dirty the upper surface or pouches when rolled up. When the mat is folded in half, it's rolled around the pouches, then the shock cords are slipped over the ends to keep it from unrolling. It's compact enough to fit in most rifle cases with the rifle, and any range bag, ammo can or ruck.


Objects for size reference

Two zippered pouches

Internal pockets in pouches
Velcro small parts area At the range used as a bench shooting mat

I've used the KitMat prototypes over the course of the past few months, tweaking the design, to ensure that it performed as I envisioned. I usually stock it with both a rifle and pistol cleaning kit, essential tools and spare parts for whatever weapon I have with me. I've used it on filthy indoor range tables full of unburnt power particles, in the dirt/sand, as a mat on shooting benches and at home on the floor and table. When it gets too dirty, you can throw it in the wash, or just dunk it in the sink and scrub it off (after emptying its contents of course).

I'm happy to report that it works exactly as I envisioned, and that EMDOM USA did a great job bringing the idea to life, with their typical high quality.

Update 4/28/07 - Other coloured KitMats shown below - Black (by request of i-SHOT), Foliage Green and Army UCP. i-SHOT and EMDOM will be offering a mix of the colours, so check both sources for particular ones. All of them have colour-matched zippers, velcro and shock cord. The inside pockets are all grey nylon.


UCP, Foliage green and Black KitMats


Black
UCP Foliage Green

Here's a method of folding the KitMat with the pouches on the outside, for easier access to the contents without having to unroll the mat. The shock cord is still used to secure the KitMat together, and will have to be disengaged to access the pouches.




MagLULA Magazine Loaders

8/29/08 - Many shooters are already familiar with Maglula Ltd., and their innovative magazine loaders. I've been using one for my AR15 for a number of years. Their newest offering is the StripLULA, which loads M16/AR15 magazines using stripper clips or loose rounds. I'll also cover some of their LULA models for other weapons in this writeup, including the UpLULA for pistols.

Background - The name 'maglula' is made up of the words 'magazine loaders and unloaders accessories'. maglula is an Israeli company and was established in 2001 by Guy Tal and his father, Ran. Ran is the chief inventor of maglula's products and is an 'old school' engineers, making prototypes on his workbench at home from scratch with no paper, drawings or computers. maglula's products are pretty ingenious designs, in my opinion. The LULAs are designed to load single/loose rounds into magazines, making it much easier on the fingers and thumb, and reducing wear on magazine feed lips. All of them are constructed using durable reinforced polymer and will last for tens of thousands of rounds.

LULA - The LULA (magazine Loader and Unloader) is probably the product that most people are familiar with. The LULA is made to fit specific magazines, or standard variants of the same, and are made for most popular 5.56mm, .308, 7.62mm and 9mm rifle and submachinegun magazines. Some of them will be covered below.

The LULAs share a common design and method of operation - they attach to the top of the magazine and lock on. The main difference between the various LULAs is how they lock on to the different magazines. The LULAs have a lever which stows inside the body when not in use. The lever is pulled up when the LULA is to be used and it rocks back and forth on a pivot. The lever has two cams on the inside end, which push down on the top round in the magazine, alternating left and right when the lever is moved forwards and backwards. When the top round is pushed down, it makes space for the next one to be loaded, case first, without putting any tension on the feed lips. With the magazine facing 'bullets up', one round is loaded with each flip of the lever. I find it easier to handle the magazine if I rest the baseplate against my body and work the lever with one hand, while the other hand loads loose rounds. Unlike loading by hand, the LULA helps prevent wear and tear on feed lips.

To unload a full or partially full magazine, the LULA is placed over the top and the magazine oriented so the bullets point down. The lever is worked back and forth and the rounds drop out. All LULAs have a small split ring at the rear for tethering. On average, you can load about one round per second.

M16/AR15 LULA - This is the first LULA I ever bought, and have used it over the past few years. It slides over and locks onto any standard AR15 or M16 magazine utilizing the mag catch detent on the body. While easier than loading by hand, I didn't find it that much faster, and also started using my 5-round C-mag loader which I think is a bit faster. However, sometimes rounds don't line up right in the C-mag loader and I have to shake it to re-seat them. My new favourite AR15 mag loader for loose rounds is the new StripLULA shown below.

M1A LULA - The M1A LULA has a small square 'pin' fits in the front square hole on the magazine body. It is installed by slipping it over the magazine at the front first, and inserting the square pin into the hole. There is a 'lock wire' that rotates down and locks the LULA on the rear mag catch of the magazine. Loading is performed as normal, by moving the lever up and down with the magazine front facing up. I noticed a difference between mil-spec M1A mags and aftermarket. The rounds would sometimes stick in the aftermarket mag when unloading and I'd have to shake the mag a bit before they fell out. No probs with the USGI mag.

FN FAL LULA - The FN FAL LULA will fit all 10/20/30 round FAL metric and inch type magazines, as well as L4A1 and L1A1 mags. It functions essentially identically to the M1A LULA. The front of the LULA has a cutout which fits over the front protrusion on the magazine, and the rear lockwire locks it in place on the rear catch. Watch a short video demonstrating the M1A and FAL LULAs.


M16 LULA

M16 LULA on PMAG

M1A LULA
M1A LULA lock wire on rear catch
FAL LULA
FAL LULA

AK LULA - The AK LULA will fit all AK-47 7.62mm and Galil 5.56mm magazines, as well as most AK-74 mags. Like the FAL and M1A LULAs, the AK LULA is slipped over the front of the mag body first, engaging the front locking tab on the magazine, then clicking it on the rear catch of the magazine. Loading and unloading is as with the other LULAs. To detach, the lock tongue at the rear is lifted slightly to release it from the mag body.

StripLULA - The StripLULA is maglula's latest offering (at the time of this writing). It will work with all M16/AR15 magazines; both metal and plastic. It's very compact and will easily stow just about anywhere. The tail end of the StripLULA body slides into the stripper clip grooves at the rear of the magazine. The grooves are pretty shallow, so it's recommended that the tail end of the StripLULA is held to the magazine securely by a finger. There is a slider that moves up and down the body; and stows on the rear of the body. A loaded stripper clip is slid into the body of the loader, and the tail end of the body secured to the magazine with a finger. The slider is then turned over the rounds and quickly slid towards the magazine to load it. The magazine is then turned upside down to drop the empty stripper clip from the loader and is ready for the next one. To load loose rounds, the magazine is held horizontally and ten loose rounds are slid into the loader, ensuring that the base of the case is all the way down in the loader. The same procedure is used to load them into the magazine; by placing two fingers on the slider and quickly moving it towards the magazine. The magazine must be horizontal (with the bullet tips up), or else the rounds will fall out of the loader.

The tail end has a short tab which can be used to unload the magazine. It is used to press the second round in the magazine downward enough to release the top round, which just drops out when the magazine is facing downward. The StripLULA is my new favourite AR mag loader as it's quicker than the LULA, and easier than the C-mag loader I was using. I made a short demo video to illustrate how the StripLULA works, loading 10 rounds for brevity, along with the AK LULA.

 


AK LULA

AK LULA

StripLULA

StripLULA attached to a mag

 

upLULA - Now when this came out and I used it, I thought to myself, "Whoa, this is really an ingenius design!" Ran Tal designed an innovative and unique loader that would load most pistol calibers including 9mm, .357, 10mm, .40 and .45, into both single and double stack mags from most manufacturers. This is accomplished by a tapered hood that accomodates both single and double stack magazines. The hood automatically centers the magazine in the upLULA body. A steel 'beak' is attached to a pivoting portion of the body called the 'press'. When the press is closed, the beak presses down on the magazine follower when the upLULA is slid over a magazine and pushed downwards. It is recommended that the base of the magazine is placed against something like a table or hip. A round is inserted between the feed lips and the press is opened, and the beak is withdrawn. The spring loaded tapered hood then allows the upLULA to be raised and the process repeated until the magazine is full. Note that there are a few magazines that the upLULA will not work with - visit the upLULA page to see which ones they are.


UpLULA
Double stack mag
Single stack mag

The upLULA is small enough to fit into a pocket and very easy to use once you've tried it a couple of times. I have tried it on all my magazines and it works like a charm on them all. I'm faster using the upLULA than loading the old way. For the higher cap mags, it really saves the thumb and fingers and makes loading those last few hard-to-load rounds so much easier. It's ambidextrous, and made of tough reinforced polymer. You can leave all the other pistol loaders at home as now you only need one pistol loader - the upLULA. It truly is a Universal Pistol Magazine Loader. See a short upLULA demo video here. Note that when Guy Tal saw my video, he mentioned that I should grip the upLULA with my index finger going over the top (see pics below). That way, it's much easier to push down with. Watch magLULA's demo video here.


Correct UpLULA grip

Maglula's magazine loaders are easy to use and help prevent damage to magazine feed lips. Best of all, they prevent sore thumbs and fingers. If you're shooting a lot of rounds, you'll be glad you had a LULA on hand.

 


 


AR Multitasker Tool (replaced by II below)

6/10/09 - The AR Multitasker Tool is a folding multi-tool that incorporates specific tools for the AR-15/M16/M4 family of weapons. While it is designed first and foremost around the needs of an AR user with the AR-specific functions, it still maintains it's utility as a multitool around the house or out in the field. What it offers is the convenience of having general use tools plus some AR-specific ones all in one package.

Some of the main features of AR Multitasker tool are:

  • G10 handle scales.
  • Black oxide finish.
  • Nylon sheath.
  • Length: 4 in
  • Weight: 11 oz (tool only), 15 oz (tool + bits + pouch)

The tools incorporated into the AR Multitasker are:

  • 440C Tanto-style knife blade with liner lock
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • M4 collapsible stock castle nut wrench
  • Front sight adjustment tool
  • 1/4" drive bit driver
  • Bent tip carbon scraper
  • Chisel tip carbon scraper
  • File
  • 3/8 box wrench
  • Five dual-sided tool bits in holder

Description - The AR Multitasker tool comes with a black nylon pouch which holds the tool and the included bits in their bit holder. The pouch is molle-compatible with a single molle strap in the back with snap. The lid is secured by velcro. The Multitasker is heftier than most other multitools, at 11 oz (most weigh less than 10 oz). But when you look at the individual tools that it replaces, it's much lighter than carrying them separately. Compared below to the Leatherman Crunch and Wave, you can see that it's about the same length, at a little over 4", but is wider (about 1.85" at the wider end), and about 0.85" thick.

The added thickness is due in part to the addition of textured G10 scales, which add comfort and a more secure grip when handling the tool, as the edges and corners are beveled and rounded. When the pliers are in use, you can exert quite a bit of gripping force without the handles cutting into your hands.


Multitasker, pouch and bits


Compared to Crunch and Wave

Fold-out Tools - The handles fold out to expose the needlenose pliers, which are pretty standard with wire cutters and serrated jaws. They're a bit longer than those found on the Leatherman Wave, for a little longer reach if needed.

The onboard folding tools open outwards from the handles when the pliers are closed, though they can be opened without having to close the handles completely. The tools snap into the open position and are retained by leaf spring pressure. The 2.3" knife blade is made of 440C (which is a high-end stainless excellent for general use) and is of a tanto style, which is unusual for a multitool. It opens with a thumbstud and is the only tool that locks with a liner lock. I'd have preferred a drop point blade in a multitool rather than a tanto, but that's just my personal preference.

The extended hex bit driver has a 4-prong AR-15 front sight adjustment tool on the end. It's long enough to reach the grip screw in a standard USGI pistol grip, but may not work with grips that have smaller openings like the TangoDown Battlegrip or Ergo, unless you have an extension, as the handle doesn't allow the standard bits to go deep enough. Also, make sure that you check what size bits you need on your weapon, as the supplied ones may not always be the right ones. Five dual-ended hex bits are supplied, with their own rubber holder which fits into the small compartment at the front of the pouch. The included tool bits are: 3/32" and #5 slotted screwdriver, PH1 medium Phillips screwdriver, T10 and T15 (used on most LaRue scope rings) Torx tips, and five hex wrenches (3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/96", 3/16").

The file has a chisel tip that doubles as a carbon scraper, for use inside the bolt carrier. There is also a bent-tip radiused carbon scraper, which is used for scraping carbon off the rear of the bolt. It's a bit long and I felt that I could control it better if it were shorter; nearer the handle. However, I found that it works quite well in its current length when the bolt is held down against a table and rotated while the index finger is placed on the shaft for pressure and control. You can also wrap a patch around it to get into the barrel extension and lugs.

The box end 3/8" wrench fits LaRue tactical scope mount locking lever adjustment nuts, as well as M1A/M14 gas plugs. Last, but not least, is the collapsible stock buffer tube castle nut wrench. This is one tool that someone usually ends up needing in a group of new shooters, or if anyone has put their own rifle together and not staked the castle nut. Castle nut wrenches aren't very common tools for most shooters to carry around in their range bags, I've found, so this could definitely come in handy. It's not meant to replace an armourer's wrench, but more as an emergency/field tool. It engages two slots in the castle nut and the closer hook has radiused cutouts to minimize stress points.


Pliers open

Pliers closeup

Fold out tools

Castle nut wrench

Castle nut wrench in use

Notes and Observations - Overall quality looks decent, and the while the design, construction and overall finish of individual components aren't as refined as the Leathermans, it looks pretty robust. It's definitely a solid-feeling tool, not a flimsy lightweight. I'd have liked it to be a bit smaller, lighter and compact, but that goes for most tools. The pliers and tools fold out smoothly and snap into place positvely. I found that the Multitasker will fit in some pistol mag pouches (for double stack mags). The only caveat is that the 'hook' of the castle nut tool protrudes outside the handle and can snag on the binding tape at the top of the pouch opening, so care has to be taken when withdrawing it. Since the tool is tapered, it's easier to extract when the narrow end points down.

I usually carry my Leatherman Wave or Crunch with me, whether it's every day or when going to the range. If I'm at the range, I'll also have some tools in my EMDOM Kitmat. For the most part, at the range, the Multitasker can take the place of the Leatherman, the AR sight tool and LaRue locking lever wrench. While those don't take up much room, they're small and easily lost. Having those tools plus the castle nut wrench 'just in case' combined in one package simplifies things, and ensures that they stay together. It's a convenient tool to carry along, and good to have whenever you're shooting the AR.



AR Multitasker II Tool

5/6/11 - Always looking toward improving their products, Multitasker Tools has made a few changes to their popular AR Multitasker tool reviewed previously, in the AR Multitasker II tool, which was released a little while ago.

The AR Multitasker II tool shares the same overall features as the original:

  • G10 handle scales.
  • Black oxide finish.
  • Nylon sheath.
  • Length: 4 in
  • Weight: 11 oz (tool only), 15 oz (tool + bits + pouch)

The tools incorporated into the AR Multitasker are:

  • 440C Tanto-style knife blade with liner lock
  • D2 steel Long-reach needle-nose pliers withdual roller bearings and Melonite finish
  • Wire cutters
  • M4 collapsible stock castle nut wrench
  • Front sight adjustment tool
  • 1/4" drive bit driver
  • Bent tip carbon scraper
  • 8-32 male thread tool (compatible with OTIS cleaning kits) with removable dental pick attachment
  • File/flat head screwdriver
  • 3/8 box wrench
  • Ten tool bits in holder

Description - The AR Multitasker II Tool comes with a semi-rigid black nylon pouch (as opposed to the soft nylon pouch on the original) which holds the tool and the included bits in their bit holder. The pouch is molle-compatible with a single molle strap in the back with snap. The lid is secured by with a snap. The Multitasker is the same weight as the original, which is a hefty 11 oz (most weigh less than 10 oz). But when you look at the individual tools that it replaces, it's much lighter than carrying them separately. it's the same size; a little over 4", but is wider (about 1.85" at the wider end), and about 0.85" thick. The II also has a lanyard/dummy cord loop slot at one corner of the handle.

One of the main differences between the original and the II is the pliers. The new pliers have dual roller bearings in the pivot and a non-bypass wire cutter. The roller bearings are much smoother than the original. The serrated portion in the jaws has also been increased. The non-bypass wire cutter means that the cutting surfaces don't overlap each other. Overlapping cutters can sometimes trap a piece of wire in them as they force the pliers jaws apart sideways, and can get the jaws stuck closed. The original pliers were cast 420 stinless, and the new onesCNC from D2 billet. Both are treated with QPQ Tiffride nitrocarburizing.


Multitasker (L), Multitasker II on right


Original on (L), II on (R)

II (top), original (bottom)

Fold-out Tools - The onboard folding tools open outwards from the handles when the pliers are closed, though they can be opened without having to close the handles completely. The tools snap into the open position and are retained by leaf spring pressure. The II has the same 2.3" tanto knife blade made of 440C. It is still only tool that locks with a liner lock.

Instead of the integrated 4-prong AR-15 front sight adjustment tool on the end of the extended hex bit driver, the sight adjustment tool is now a removable hex bit, and can be used with any hex bit drive. When removed, it exposes the magnetized hex bit holder for use with the other bits. The drive has also been move further to the side, where a cutout in the handle accommodates it. This has created more internal space for an additional tool. Ten single-ended hex drive bits are supplied, with their own nylon holder which fits into an elastic compartment at the back of the carry pouch main compartment. The included tool bits are: 3/32" and #5 slotted screwdriver, PH1 medium Phillips screwdriver, T10 and T15 (used on most LaRue scope rings) Torx tips, and five hex wrenches (3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/64", 3/16").

The original file had a chisel tip that doubled as a carbon scraper, but it's now gone. Instead, the end of the file serves as a large flat head screwdriver, as it was more commonly used. There is also a bent-tip radiused carbon scraper, which is used for scraping carbon off the rear of the bolt. A new tool for the II is the 8-32 male thread tool (compatible with OTIS cleaning kits) with removable dental pick attachment, also seen on the Ultralight tool.

The box end 3/8" wrench fits LaRue tactical scope mount locking lever adjustment nuts, as well as M1A/M14 gas plugs.The collapsible stock buffer tube castle nut wrench has been changed slightly, and is a slightly different shape. Castle nut wrenches aren't very common tools for most shooters to carry around in their range bags, I've found, so this could definitely come in handy. It's not meant to replace an armourer's wrench, but more as an emergency/field tool. It engages two slots in the castle nut and the closer hook has radiused cutouts to minimize stress points. The only caveat on the original Multitasker was that the 'hook' of the castle nut tool protruded outside the handle and could snag on the binding tape at the top of the pouch opening. Im glad to see that this was addressed on the II, and it's no longer an issue.


II (top)

Original (L), II (R)

Fold out tools

Bit holder and dental pick

Notes and Observations - I'm happy to report that the II is more refined than the original Multitasker, even the pouch it comes in. The design, layout and construction have all been improved, when you examine the tool closely. While overall quality looked decent before, it's even better now. The new roller bearing pliers are as smooth as silk, with absolutely no side play. More versatility has been added with the 8-32 thread tool and reconfigured hex bit drive. If you like the original Multitasker, you'll like the II even more. It's currently available from Brownells.



AR Multitasker Series 3 Tool

8/5/13 - The Multitasker Series 3 tool from Multitasker Tools has been released and is the latest evolution of the popular multi-tool. The Multitasker has a weapon-specific focus and is designed for maintenance tasks associated with the AR-15/M4 series of rifles. It's an invaluable range and field tool, and a must for anyone who shoots or carries an AR-15 rifle.

The Multitasker series of tools has fast become the multi tool of choice for those who use the AR-15 series of weapons since it's release back in 2009. Multitasker continues to improve tools with each series, and when comparing each subsequent iteration, the attention to detail and improvement in quality is quite obvious. Rather than investment castings like other mass-produced multi-tools, the Multitasker utilizes CNC machined steel for the pliers and other major components. Other details include G10 scales, aluminum-bronze washers and TiCN treatment on the pliers.

Features - Here are the main features of the AR Multitasker Series 3 tool:

  • Non-slip G10 handle scales (available in black or tan)
  • D2 tool steel CNC machined/wire EDM pliers with replaceable wire cutter inserts (Rockwell c59-60)
  • Ti CarboNitride (TiCN) treatment on the pliers.
  • 3/8" hex wrench for LaRue mounts
  • 1/2" hex wrench for scope rings
  • Dual lug M4 castle nut spanner wrench/bottle opener + screwdriver
  • Removable 3/32" pin punch with 8-32 male thread for OTIS cleaning kit compatibility
  • Radiused tip carbon scraper
  • 3" D2 tool steel knife blade
  • Pocket clip
  • 1/4" drive magnetic bit driver with M16A2 front sight adjuster
  • Ten hex bits in plastic tool holder
  • Approx dimensions: Length 4.1 in, max width 1.9", thickness .95"
  • Weight: approx 13 oz (tool only)

Description - The AR Multitasker Series 3 Tool comes in an attractive foam-lined box. No pouch is provided with the Series 3, which is a departure from the original and Series 2 Multitaskers. This, to me, is actually a good thing. The original pouch wasn't very impressive, nor was the one for the Series 2. Most users end up sticking the Multitasker in a range bag or admin pouch, or wear it on their belt in an alternate pouch. The price of the Series 3 increased slightly over the Series 2, and the decision was made not to increase it even more with a pouch that most may not use anyways. I'm currently working with EMDOM on a Multitasker pouch that holds the tool and the tool bit holder.

The Series 3 is slightly thicker by about .050" and heavier than the Series 2 by about 2 ounces. The main reason for this was to move the knife blade outside of the main handle frame spar; which allows for a more conventional liner lock mechanism and a much bigger blade since it doesn't need to fit inside the frame. The Series 3 has a much more usable 3" drop point blade vs. the small 2.3" tanto blade that the Series 2 has. It's a 'real' blade now; made out of D2 steel with jimping on the spine and on par in utility with any 3" folding knife. The thumb stud is also much more substantial. The slightly increased width also allowed the placement of the castle nut wrench outside the main handle spar as well, so that it locks against a stud vs. the handle leaf spring, so it should be much stronger.

The Series 3 has G10 scales, found on the better folding knives, with more substantial texturing for improved traction. The Series 3 is held together with torx tip screws.

The D2 CNC machined/ wire EDM Series 3 plier head is beefier than on the Series 2, with more aggressive serrations for better grip. Finer serrations can be found near the tip. These are some of the most precise serrations I've seen on pliers. The roller bearings make for a very smooth action, and the wire cutter inserts are replaceable.


Multitasker Series 3 box contents

Multitasker and hex bit holder

Hex bits

Series 2 on (L), 3 on (R)

Series 2 on (L), 3 on (R)

Series 2 on (L), 3 on (R)

Fold-out Tools - Like on the Series 2, the onboard folding tools on the Series 3 open outwards from the handles when the pliers are closed, though they can be opened without having to close the handles completely. The tools snap into the open position and are retained by leaf spring pressure except for the knife blade and castle nut wrench.

The Series 3 has the same magnetized bit holder found on the Series 2. The 4-prong AR-15/M16A2 front sight adjustment tool is a removable hex bit, and can be used with any hex bit drive. When removed, it exposes the magnetized hex bit holder for use with the other supplied bits in the bit holder. Ten single-ended hex drive bits are supplied, with their own nylon holder. The included tool bits are: 3/32" and #5 slotted screwdriver, PH1 medium Phillips screwdriver, T10 and T15 (used on most LaRue scope rings) Torx tips, and five hex wrenches (3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/64", 3/16").

The Series 2 had a file with screwdriver tip, but this has been deleted on the Series 3. The Series 3 no longer has a file, but the flat head screwdriver tip has been incorporated into the castle nut wrench end. There is also the bent-tip radiused carbon scraper, which is used for scraping carbon off the rear of the bolt or inside of the bolt carrier. The 8-32 male thread tool (compatible with OTIS cleaning kits) has been retained, but the removable dental pick attachment has been replaced instead by a more useful 3/32" pin punch (which can be used on Glock pistols).

A 1/2" wrench has been added to the box end 3/8" wrench. The 3/8" wrench fits LaRue tactical scope mount locking lever adjustment nuts, as well as M1A/M14 gas plugs.The 1/2" wrench fits scope ring nuts. The collapsible stock buffer tube castle nut wrench has the added flat head screwdriver on the end, and also doubles as a bottle opener. Castle nut wrenches aren't very common tools for most shooters to carry around in their range bags, I've found, so this is definitely handy to have. It's not meant to replace an armourer's wrench, but more as an emergency/field tool. It engages two slots in the castle nut and the closer hook has radiused cutouts to minimize stress points. I actually used the Series 3 castle nut wrench to install my Centurion Arms rail barrel nut, as I lacked a pin wrench.


Series 2 (top), Series 3 (bottom)

Pliers

Blade

Fold out tools - blade, scraper and pin punch

Fold out tools - castle nut wrench, 3/8 and 1/2" wrench, and hex driver

Scraper and 3/32" pin punch

Bit holder, front sight tool and hex bits

Notes and Observations - Like the previous Multitaskers, the Series 3 is not a lightweight tool; it's got some heft to it. What you get is a compact multitool made of steel and built to last; that's much lighter than carrying individual tools that would provide the same functions. I carry the Multitasker on my belt at the range - I don't carry armorer's tools. While the pocket clip is a nice addition, the Multitasker is a bit large for EDC in a pocket, and the pocket clip would make it hang up in the prototype pouch that I have when extracting and inserting it. I was able to remove the pocket clip by unscrewing the pivot screw without any hassle.

I didn't use the file on the Series 2, so I don't really miss it. I did use the large screwdriver on the end of it, though, so I'm glad to see that it's been incorporated into the castle nut wrench tool. The fact that the castle nut tool opens against a stud instead of the leaf spring is worth the very slight increase in thickness of the Multitasker, in my opinion.

Just as the Series 2 was a refinement over the original Multitasker, so is the Series 3 vs its predecessor. It's currently available from Multitasker dealers.



AR Multitasker Ultralight and Tube

12/30/10 - Multitasker Tools has added two new AR Multitasker tools to their lineup: the Multitasker Ultralight and the Multitasker Tube. The Ultralight offers AR-specific tools in a lighter, more compact version as the original AR Multitasker by omitting the pliers, knife blade, file and 3/8" box wrench. The Tube offers AR-specific essentials in a pen-shaped format.

Multitasker Ultralight - The AR Multitasker Ultralight Tool is a lighter and more compact version of the AR Multitasker Tool reviewed above. It's a more AR-specific than the standard tool, and about the size of a medium Swiss Army knife/multi tool. It's designed first and foremost around the needs of an AR user with the AR-specific functions, and offers the convenience of having some AR-specific tools all in one package.

Some of the main features of AR Multitasker Ultralight tool are:

  • Textured G10 Maxgrip handle scales.
  • Stainless steel chassis and tools with black oxide finish.
  • Individual locking mechanism for each fold-out tool.
  • 1000D Ballistic nylon molle compatible pouch and bit holder.
  • Belt clip for 1.5" belts with lanyard loop (the loop can also be used to adjust scope adjustment screws instead of a coin)
  • Dimensions: 4.25" x 0.75" x 1"
  • Weight: 7 oz (tool only), 10.5 oz (tool + bits + pouch)

The tools incorporated into the AR Multitasker are:

  • Compact two-prong M4 collapsible stock castle nut spanner wrench
  • 5/16 flat blade screwdriver at end of spanner wrench
  • 8-32 male thread tool (compatible with OTIS cleaning kits) with removable dental pick attachment
  • Bent tip carbon scraper with radiused tip
  • Interchangeable magnetized tool bit driver with removable 4-prong A2 sight adjustment tool bit
  • 10 additional 1/4" drive tool bits included with rubber bit holder.
  • 3/8 box wrench

Description - The AR Multitasker Ultralight tool comes with a black nylon pouch which holds the tool and the included bits in their molded bit holder. The pouch is molle-compatible with a single molle strap in the back with snap. The lid is secured by a snap. The Ultralight is 4 oz lighter than the Multitasker tool reviewed previously, and quite a bit more compact. Besides omitting the pliers, knife blade, file and 3/8" box wrench of the original Multitasker, the Ultralight has a Swiss Army knife format with a chassis and fold-out tools instead of the plier handle configuration of the AR Multitasker. The Ultralight will also fit in most single pistol mag pouches.


Ultralight, pouch and bits

Different views of the Ultralight

Spanner wrench and front sight tool

Hex bit drive

Fold-out Tools - All the onboard fold-out tool have individual locking mechanisms. The 1/4" bit driver and castle nut spanner wrench have locking tabs that are depressed to retract them. The carbon scraper and dental pick both use liner locks.


Carbon scraper and pick

Pick is removable

The collapsible stock buffer tube castle nut spanner wrench engages two slots in the castle nut and the closer hook has radiused cutouts to minimize stress points. Castle nut tools can be useful especially in a group of new shooters, or if anyone has put their own rifle together and not staked the castle nut. It's not meant to replace an armourer's wrench, but more as an emergency/field tool. At the end of the wrench is a flathead screwdriver.

The bent tip carbon scraper was inspired by the small Chinese bamboo ear cleaner, and is shaped for scraping carbon off the bolt tail and also inside the carrier. Care should be taken not to scrape so aggressively such that damage is done to the finish. The removable dental pick/hook can be used to reach those tight spots where the carbon scraper can't, or pull out a tight firing pin retaining pin.

The hex bit driver has a removable 4-prong AR-15 front sight adjustment tool bit on the end, which will also work with any other 1/4" drive. Ten hex bits are supplied, with their own rubber holder which fits behind an elasticized compartment inside the pouch. The included tool bits are: 3/32" and #5 slotted screwdriver, PH1 medium Phillips screwdriver, T10 and T15 (used on most LaRue scope rings) Torx tips, and five hex wrenches (3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/96", 3/16"). Always make sure that you check what size bits you need on your weapon, as the included bits may not always be the right ones.

Multitasker Tube - The AR Multitasker Tube is an even smaller tool packaged instead in a pen format for even more portability and light weight. The Tube is available by itself (Tube tool only), or with an expansion kit which includes a case and additional bits).

Some of the main features of AR Multitasker Tube tool are:

  • Compact pen format
  • CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum with a black or tan anodized finish.
  • 5/16" flat blade screwdriver at the end of pocket clip (made of HD spring steel)
  • 8/32" male thread (compatible with OTIS cleaning kits) supplied with dental pick attachment and bent carbon scraper with radiused tip.
  • Magnetic 1/4" bit driver with removable 4-prong A2 front sight adjustment tool
  • 3/16" pin punch on the rear cap to push out tight receiver takedown and pivot pins
  • Dimensions: 5.25" x 5/8" diameter
  • Weight: 2 oz (tool only)

Optional Tube expansion pack:

  • 1000D ballistic nylon EVA hardshell zippered carry case
  • Compartments and elastic loops for spare parts, cleaning kit etc.
  • 10 1/4" drive tool bits with rubber bit holder.
  • Brass pin punch (might not be included in production kit)

Tube + expansion pack



Cap removed

1/4" bit driver

Shown here is the Tube and Expansion pack. The Tube itself looks like a fat pen, with flutes machined into the body for additional grip. The end cap with the pocket clip has a pin punch on top, for pushing out stubborn receiver pins. It also reminded me of other 'tactical pens' that double as self-defense weapons/kubotans, for which the Tube can also be used. Even though it's blunt, the pin punch on the cap is very effective for poking soft tissue, pressure points or striking bone. Unscrewing the cap reveals a magnetic 1/4" hex bit holder, and the included 4-prong A2 sight adjustment tool (which makes an even more effective striking or poking weapon). The end of the pocket clip doubles as a flat blade screwdriver.


carbon scraper

Interchangeable tips

Room for more stuff

Tan tube

Proto scraper/pick

Removing the cap from the other end reveals the included bent-tip carbon scraper that is unique to the Multitasker tools. This is used for scraping carbon from the tail of the bolt or from inside the bolt carrier. The scraper is threaded onto a 8/32" male thread stud, which is compatible with OTIS cleaning kit pull-through cleaning cables, and other accessories.

The expansion pack included a nylon hard case with elastic loops and additional compartments, two other bits for the 8/32" stud (dental pick and brass pin punch), and the same ten 1/4" drive bits as the Ultralight - 3/32" and #5 slotted screwdriver, PH1 medium Phillips screwdriver, T10 and T15 (used on most LaRue scope rings) Torx tips, and five hex wrenches (3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/96", 3/16"). There's also room for more stuff, as illustrated above.

Notes and Observations - For those who felt that the original Multitasker was a bit heavy to carry, the Ultralight and Tube should be welcome additions to a field kit. When I examine the machining and fit of the components, I actualIy think that overall quality has been improved over the original Multitasker I reviewed, which is nice to see. The Ultralight fits easily in a single pistol mag pouch and the Tube fits just about anywhere. Though lighter, the Ultralight is still a a solid-feeling tool, not a flimsy lightweight.

While I usually carry the original Multitasker in my EMDOM Kitmat, I now carry the Ultralight or Tube in a pouch on my vest, as it's light weight and compact enough. Like the Multitasker, having these tools plus the castle nut wrench 'just in case' combined in one package simplifies things and can definitely come in handy at the range or in the field. It's always a good idea to have specialized gun tools along with the weapon you're shooting.

The Ultralight tool and Tube are currently available from Brownells. Multitasker's website should be up and running in 2011.



CrossTac AR-15 Armorer Block

11/4/07 - The CrossTac AR-15 Armorer Block is reversible block that will fit both upper and lower receivers on an AR-15 and hold it for gunsmithing tasks. I've assembled and disassembled quite a few AR-15s over the years, and have found that some kind of specialized aid that holds the parts in place is much more convenient than wrapping them in a cloth and sticking them in a vice. It also prevents damage to the components.

The CTAC Armorer Block is machined from solid UHMW HDPE and is virtually indestructible and resistant to oils and solvents. It will not marr nor scratch a receiver. The Armorer Block is available by itself or as a kit with the addition of the hammer block and punch. The Armorer block fits in any standard lower receiver, either from the bottom or top of the mag well, to hold the receiver right side up or upside down. There are mag catch slots on both sides to hold it securely in the lower when installed. The block will also fit standard upper receivers by flipping it over. There is a gas tube relief slot on the top, but it wasn't cut deep enough to accomodate the gas tube on my version. Future versions will have the slot relieved enough so that the block fits all the way into the upper when a gas tube is installed. It's not too critical, as most people use an Armorers block to install barrels. This is generally performed without the gas tube, of course, so the point might be moot. However, some may want to use the block for other purposes when a gas tube is present, like handguard/rail system installation or mounting scopes. There's also a small hole in the side of the Armorer Block to aid in punching out the trigger guard roll pin. The lower receiver is supported by the block and the roll pin punched out into the hole. It's meant to be used with the pistol grip removed.


Full kit - receiver and hammer block, punch

Installed on lower receiver

Receiver supported vertically

Installed in LMT upper receiver

The Hammer Block slides into the top of the mag well and provides a surface for the hammer to drop instead of slamming against the receiver if it's pulled when working on a trigger job. With both the Armorer and Hammer blocks installed, the lower receiver is supported vertically and the bolt catch is held captive. This is handy when installing the bolt carrier release catch roll pin, which has to be punched from the rear. The CNC stainless steel Bolt Catch Pin Punch has a small hole on its end to hold the roll pin and is long enough to reach the bolt catch.

The Armorer Block fit my standard uppers, as well as LMT MRP, Vltor MUR and LaRue Stealth Uppers (since they all have standard internal dimensions). The Block is not pinned to the upper, and so depends on a snug fit to retain it. When installing a longer or heavy barrel, the end of the barrel might have to be supported to prevent the upper from rotating down. Normally, a hand on the top or front of the upper, pushing it against the Block is sufficient to keep it in place. If you work on ARs, the CrossTac Kit is definitely worth considering.



Installed on lower and clamped

Hammer block installed

Lower upside down

CrossTac Pro Armorer's Mat

8/19/11 - The Pro Armorer Mat from CrossTac is a heavy duty mat that folds for travel from the bench to the range. It's not only a mat, but features pockets and two tethered Impact Pads for protecting your firearms' finish when driving pins.

Description - The CrossTac Pro Armorer's Mat is designed as a mobile work surface for gunsmithing or cleaning, at home or at the range. A 24" x 18" sheet of 1000D Grip ToughTek fabric is laminated to a sheet of 1000D MultiCam fabric to form a tough, non-slip work surface that is oil and solvent resistant. The ToughTek fabric is sewn over to provide finished edges around the mat. The mat folds in four, after first folding it in half, and is 12" x 9" for transportation or storage. When folded, a velcro tab keeps it together.

At the lower left is a storage area for tools and parts. It measures 8" x 8", and consists of a slip pocket, a zippered pocket with protected zipper, and elastic tool pockets and looks. The front surface of the pocket is the ToughTek fabric, so it keeps items stored under the elastic loops and pockets in place. There are three pockets and loops that are 1.5" wide, and a larger one that's 3" wide. The elastic pockets are perfect for pin punches.

 


Pro Armorer Mat folded

Partially unfolded

Opened fully

Zippered parts pocket

Elastic tool pockets/loops

 

A rare-earth magnet is sewn into each of the upper corners. The magnets retain any small ferrous pins or springs to prevent loss. The magnets also serve to keep the corners together and lined up when the mat is folded; a secondary benefit.

The Pro Armorer's Mat also comes with two Impact Pads; one leather (5.5" x 4"), and the other hard plastic (5" x 5"). The impact pads are used when driving pins or drifting sights without worrying about marring your firearm finish. The Impact Pads stow in the slip pocket, and are tethered to the mat by a cord. The mat has an eyelet to which the cord is attached, and each Impact Pad has a small hole for the cord. The cord is secured with spring-loaded cord locks, and the Impact Pads can be easily detached from the mat.

The Pro Armorer's Mat has become my default mat to use at home when cleaning or working on guns, as the cleanup is easier than with absorbant mats, which just soak up any grease, solvents or oils. I just wipe this off after using it. I also found the non-slip surface very useful for steadying the part I'm working on, especially when using punches - an advantage hadn't really noticed until now. It's proven to be a well made and useful addition to my firearms maintenance toolbox.

 


Magnets in corners

Slip pocket

Tethered Impact pads


Ergo Rear Squeeze Bag

10/19/07 - The Ergo Rear Squeeze Bag by IST Designs and available from CrossTac is replacing my old USGI sock filled with sand as my rear stock bean bag for shooting rifles off the bench or in the prone position (when using a bipod or front rest). The Ergo is constructed of a unique one-way stretch, tough, rubberized material that stretches vertically when you squeeze the bag (when it's on its end). The Ergo has an oval cross section, and measures approximately 5.5" long x 4" wide x 2" thick. The Ergo can be used in all three postions - flat, on its side, and on the end.

The Ergo has a wrist strap across its length which secures it in your palm, or be used as a tether point. The Ergo comes pre-filled with inert poly beads. They're very lightweight and won't retain moisture. They're also easier to squeeze than sand when adjusting the height of the bag. The Ergo has a zippered opening for easy access to the filling.

It can be used with just about any rifle for rear support, placed under the stock or pistol grip. The rubberized material is non-slip, and keeps it in place. Out with the old and in with the new, the Ergo has found a permanent place in my range bag.


SIG P226 for scale

Poly bead filling

Flat - lowest height

On side - middle height

On end - highest position

C.A.T. M-4 Tool

4/11/09 - Combat Application Tools is a Wyoming-based company founded by an operator/instructor with military/LE experience and a competition shooter/gunsmith. Using this combination of military/LE experience in the field and gunsmithing skills, the duo have come up with a practical tool, the Combat Application Tools, Inc. C.A.T. M-4 Tool that is intended to make cleaning the bolt and carrier group of any M16/AR-15 a quick and easy process, whether it be out in the field, at the range or back in the comfort of your own home.

Side note - To clean or not to clean? There are differing opinions on whether carbon build up on the bolt tail negatively affects the functioning of the weapon in any way (as long as the bolt is kept lubed), and I personally believe that it doesn't. Some just see scraping the carbon off or cleaning the bolt tail periodically as a waste of time and effort, and I can't argue with that - it just comes back the next time you shoot. Others prefer to keep their weapons clean, regardless of whether it's beneficial to functioning or not. Some will clean (and some are required to clean) all the carbon off every time they go to the range, and others will keep the weapon lubed and running until they decide to clean it. I tend to be in-between the extremes, and clean my weapons (the bore, mostly) after every range session, but not necessarily very thoroughly. Usually a quick wipe down and lube.

Whichever group you belong to, I think most people will tend to agree that getting the carbon off the bolt tail and from the inside of the bolt carrier is generally a pain in the butt, whether you do it every time or almost never. I've used some specialized tools in the past, as well as dental picks etc. When I first started shooting the AR-15 back in '84, everyone (including manuals) stated that the rifle needed to be kept clean for it to run. I stopped doing the detail bolt clean with tools a while ago but still like to clean the majority of gunk off. I've soaked the bolt in carbon remover, but that still leaves a lot of it on. So, something like the C.A.T. M-4 tool that reduces the time and effort down to almost nothing can benefit all users, as the time taken is so short it becomes a non-issue. It doesn't have to be used to scrape ALL the carbon off, so the finish of the bolt tail isn't damaged from excessive wear.

Description - The C.A.T. M-4 Tool is a 3.5" long tool weighing only 1.4 ounces - small and lightweight enough to fit just about anywhere. It is designed to remove/scrape carbon from the three components where carbon is deposited when the weapon is fired: the rear of the bolt tail, the inside of the bolt carrier, and the firing pin. It is investment cast from 400-series stainless steel then the scraping surfaces are CNC machined to fit a mil-spec bolt. It has a matte cast finish and rounded edges.


C.A.T. M-4 tool


Fits bolt tail

Firing pin scraper

Bolt cleaner/scraper - At one end of the M-4 tools is what looks like a two-pronged fork. Upon close examination, the prongs form a bolt scraping chamber which is machined/contoured with a custom carbide cutter to closely match the tail of a mil-spec bolt. When inserted into the tool, the bolt tail is exposed on either side of the tool, since the tool is thinner than the diameter of the bolt tail. The edges of the chamber act as scraping edges that bear along the radius of the bolt as it is turned. A few turns in either direction is enough to remove the majority of carbon buildup on the bolt tail. A solvent-soaked patch or cloth can be held against the tail in the tool for a more thorough cleaning. It only takes about 20 seconds to do the job.

I used the bolt scraper on several bolts. It becomes obvious that not all bolts are made the same. There were slight differences between how each one fit. Some bolts fit a bit looser, and I just pressed them against one side of the tool so that contact with the scraping edge was ensured. I'd also reverse direction, which took off more carbon. The tool didn't remove all the carbon completely, but definitely more than I would with a dental pick, and in a fraction of the time. With a solvent soaked patch, the rest of the carbon came off with a few more turns. Another thing to consider is that the bolt scraper is designed to follow the curvature of the tail. Using a dental pick or sharp instrument can cause damage to the tail. The bolt scraper cleans off the carbon without gouging the tail.

Updated Tip: I discovered that holding and rotating the bolt against the outside of the tool was useful in dealing with those out of spec bolts that don't contact the scraping edges completely when the bolt is inserted into the tool. By holding it against the outside of the tool and rotating it (see pic below), the scraping edges can make full contact with the contours of the bolt, by slightly varying the angle if need be. This way, I'm able to remove ALL carbon completely. The scraping edges will work both ways - rotating towards or away from you.

Carrier cleaner/scraper - The end opposite the 'fork' is for inserting into the front of the bolt carrier, and cleaning out the carbon deposits that collect and harden inside the rear of the bolt chamber. It is inserted into the hole and twisted while putting some pressure towards the rear of the carrier. Carbon will be scraped off the shoulder inside the carrier, and will fall out when the front of the carrier is pointed down. For a more thorough 'inspection' cleaning, there is a patch slot, through which a cleaning patch soaked in solvent can be placed before inserting the tool.

Firing pin cleaner - The firing pin cleaner is the cross (+) shaped hole. The firing pin is inserted through the hole and is turned against any of the four slots. The firing pin is loose in the slots by design, to reduce the risk of damage to the pin from bending. A solvent-soaked patch can be pierced by the firing pin before twisting the pin in the hole.

There is also a hex head hole in the tool handle for use with 1/4" hex head bits.


Patch inserted in slot

Cleaning bolt carrier

Removing carbon from bolt tail

I used the C.A.T. M-4 Tool on several bolts at a range session and at home - some of them belonging to my buddies, who don't clean their guns that often. The M-4 Tool made quick work of the hardened carbon deposits on the bolt tails and inside of the bolt carriers without any damage to the bolt tail. Even for those who don't care about removing carbon deposits, or don't want to waste their time scraping it off, seeing it come off in large chunks in a matter of seconds is strangely satisfying.

Sooner or later, everyone's going to clean their weapon. If you're out in the field and don't have the time or the inclination to perform a thorough cleaning, a few turns of the M-4 tool before you re-lube the carrier group is all that's needed. For those who do it often, the C.A.T. M-4 Tool saves time and effort and makes the job a LOT easier. For those who don't want to waste their time, the M-4 Tool does it so quickly it's hardly any time spent at all. It's found a place in my field cleaning KitMat.


CountyComm Norton's Universal Cleaning Stick (U.C.S.)

6/11/07 - The Norton's Universal Cleaning Stick from Countycomm is one of those simple, inexpensive tools that makes cleaning weapons just a bit easier. The U.C.S. is a a little flat piece of hard but flexible plastic, about 4.3" long and .375" wide, and about as thick as a wooden ice cream stick. The thickness tapers down at each end to create a sharp edge. One end has rounded corners and the other has a sharp corner. This stick gets into the nooks and crannies of a firearm that are overlooked or missed much of the time. For getting into narrow grooves, I usually break a wooden q-tip in two and use the sharp point, or use a dental pick with a cleaning patch on the end to get the gunk out. The wooden Q-tip usually breaks and the dental pick can scratch firearm finishes.

I used the U.C.S. to see what I could scrape from a slide I had already cleaned and was surprised at how much I had missed. I wrapped the end in a patch and used the stick to move the patch in the grooves and recesses. It came out pretty dirty. The U.C.S. can also be used to scrape carbon from under extractors on pistols that you don't usually remove them from. I used a knife and added a couple of small notches at the ends of the U.C.S. - the notches grabbed the patch better when moving it around, so it wouldn't slip off the end of the U.C.S. The U.C.S. comes in orange or brown and are a good addition to any cleaning kit.


USC with .45 mag for scale

Cleaning a .45 slide

Notches added

 

MD Labs XF7 Grease and SLIP 2000 Gun Care Products

10/2/04 - I actually got the SLIP 2000 products and MD Labs XF7 grease a while ago - almost a year for the SLIP 2000 stuff. I held off from writing any sort of review as I wanted to use these products for a while. As I don't get out to the range as often as I'd like, it takes me some time before I can get any sort of idea about how well gun care products work. If you're like me, you have bottles of different kinds of oils, solvents etc. I'm a sucker for products that claim to make my weapon function better and get clean faster.

The XF7 grease was developed by MD Labs, the makers of Mad Dog knives. It's distributed by MAXPEDITION Hard-use gear. From the Maxpedition website -

"Formulated specifically for protecting modern weapons and tools in extremely adverse conditions, MD Labs XF7 is a truly water-proof grease with extraordinary powers of lubrication and corrosion inhibition. XF7 will not run/melt/drip even when heated; it remains where you applied it and continues to protect at high cyclic rates and at high temperatures of up to 500 degrees F. XF7 guards metal surfaces in marine and under-water environments; it continues to work even in boiling salt water. Long after conventional oils or greases have washed/melted/boiled off, XF7 is still right where you put it, functioning at optimal level. Use non-toxic, non-staining, non-corrosive, O-ring friendly MD Labs XF7 for your high performance weapons, tactical knives, and tools because they deserve the best."

My particular interest in it was for the AR-15 series of weapons. I've found that the bolt gets dry after a few hundred rounds - the oil gets burned off or turned to carbon. XF7 seemed like it might work a bit longer to keep the bolt lubricated. Rather than repeat what's on the website, read the general information sheet, and instructions for use in the M16/AR15 series of weapons here. In a nutshell, you have to degrease/clean all components, apply a thin coat of XF7, and then lubricate with oil as usual. By following instructions, I found that the XF7 still remained on the components, after the oil had disappeared. It didn't gunk up any more than usual, and hasn't seemed to affect reliability adversely in any way. Using a very light coat spread with my fingers on handgun components before lubing with oil also seems to work very well. The grease stay put where the oil might run off.

The SLiP 2000 gun care products seen above are just a few of the many offered by SLiP 2000. Their CLP is a light, completely synthetic oil which contains NO silicone or teflon. Their 725 cleaner/degreaser, I've found works well, but doesn't dissolve carbon as well as M-Pro7 gun cleaner (in my personal experience), which I've been using for years. That's ok, as they also have their Carbon cutter which DOES work rather well to dissolve carbon deposits after soaking. It works best when parts are allowed to soak for a while. The large jar comes with wire hangers for submerging parts in it. You don't have to filter it when it gets dirty. It doesn't make the tough deposits on the back of the bolt simply disappear, but it gets most of the carbon off. Still need a little elbow grease.

I'm using the SLiP 2000 CLP as my gun oil, in combination with the XF7 grease, and it's worked very well so far. I found Break-free CLP to get rather gunked up and dirty in my weapons, while the lighter SLiP 2000 doesn't gunk up as bad. Reports from friends who've gone to Gunsite have come back with positive reports about SLiP 2000, which Gunsite has been using for a while.



SLiP2000 Brush Buddy

3/16/08 - I love to shoot, and know lots of others who do. And if you shoot, you clean your weapons, sometime or other. Sure, some people don't, but that's not me. For those weapons I don't shoot often, I clean them pretty thoroughly. For the weapons I shoot most often, I just do a quick cleaning between sessions. Either way, I get tired of cleaning the bore (even with the bore snake). For this task, SLiP2000 has come up with a simple device that makes the chore of cleaning a little bit easier - the Brush Buddy. It eliminates the need to screw and unscrew the cleaning tools on the end of a cleaning rod.

Normally, I have one or two rods, and change the attachments in between. I'll run a patch/jag through the bore, then a bronze bore brush, each time unscrewing the attachment before drawing out the rod. Call me impatient, but even those few seconds are a chore sometimes. Especially when I'm only pushing the brush through and not reversing it.

The Brush Buddy is an attachment that fits onto the end of most 8-32 commercial thread cleaning rods. It's made of brass, and has a hole in the top end in which attachments are inserted. The aluminum attachments are retained by a spring loaded locking mechanism/quick release lever. They're simply inserted until a 'click' is heard and the lever locks. The attachments are also free to rotate freely so you don't have jag's unscrewing from the cleaning rod. To remove the adaptor, the back end of the lever is pressed down into a small depression, which unlocks the attachment, which is then removed. The Brush Buddy comes with four attachments. You screw your wire brush, jag etc onto an attachment. Extra attachments are available separately. Switching between the wire brush, jag or patch holders is done in a matter of seconds. No more poked fingers from unscrewing wire brushes, plus your hands stay a lot cleaner. It also lessens thread wear on the end of the cleaning rod.

The Brush Buddy comes in three sizes - .20" for .22 caliber and up, .25" for .270 caliber and up, and .375" for larger calibers (has a 5/16-27 thread instead of the 8-32). Note that the .20" kit is only meant to be a PUSH system ONLY, do not PULL/REVERSE your wire brush or tight patch back through the bore, as the locking lever can lose its grip on the attachment.

EWL and Carbon Killer - SLip2000 also offers their Extreme Weapons Lube (EWL), and Extreme Weapons Grease (EWG), not shown here. The EWG has the consistency of grape jelly, and doesn't feel as sticky as a grease, but smooths on and spreads more easily. I've been using their CLP above since '03 without any issues, and will see how the EWL does. Weapons lubes are very difficult for someone like me (a civvie shooter) to evaluate, as I do not put enough rounds downrange nor expose my weapons to different 'real world' conditions to see a big difference between all the lubes I use as I'm just on a range running around, or occasinally in the desert. I've never really had a problem, as long as I keep the M4 well lubed. The differences I'll notice are ease of cleanup, formation of carbon and how long it stays where it needs to and doesn't burn off or go dry.

Rather than copy and paste the manufacturer's product information here, please visit the links I provided above. I'll update my writeup if I have anything to report while using these products. The Carbon Killer is a the Carbon Cutter repackaged and coloured. Still the same good product.

 


.22" brush buddy

.25" brush buddy

.22 kit with attachments

.25" kit with attachments

EWL and Carbon Killer



 

PCA/SPECTRUM (Natec) Polymer Cased Ammunition (no longer manufactured - kept here for info only)

10/1/04 - I saw PCA/Spectrum Polymer cased ammunition at the '04 SHOT show, and was intrigued. I was finally able to do some testing of the ammunition at the end of August '04. The commercial load had been available earlier, but I had wanted to wait until the military-spec load was available. I also wanted to test it on full-auto, not just semi, so it was a matter of finding a weekend to get together with my friend Ferdie Sy of Ferfrans, who is a military/LE dealer.

Some of the advantages to polymer cased ammo is lighter weight, lower manufacturing cost, less heat transferred to chamber, and natural lubricity of the case for easier extraction. The ammunition really IS lightweight, and the cases can be molded in any colour. The loose neck tension of the commercial cases worried me, as the bullet could be pried off with just some thumb pressure. The bullet could also be pushed back into the case if pushed against a hard object. I could not do that with the military case, however.

Relevant specs of the test weapons we used are as follows (see picture below):
Rifle A - LMT MRP upper receiver with 14.5", 1x7" twist barrel. Colt bolt carrer, LMT enhanced M4 bolt.
Rifle B - Bushmaster upper receiver with 11.5", 1x9" twist heavy barrel, Bushmaster bolt and carrier, Troy Industries MRF-C rail forend.
Rifle C - Stag arms upper receiver with 11.5", 1x9" heavy barrel, ARMS SIR forend

Lowers were all Bushmaster select-fire registered receivers.

Magazines used were 30 rnd USGI and 30 rnd thermold.

Lot # of the 55gr commercial ammo was PCA04 Jul B
Lot # of the 62 gr military ammo was PCA M855 0604

Ambient temperature at time of testing was approx 92° F and humidity was 45%

Here's a summary of our shooting session -

1. rifle A - commercial load, 20 rnds semi - no malfunctions. 20 rnds FA, 2-3 round bursts - no malfs.

2. rifle B - commercial load, 28 rnds FA, short bursts - no malfs. 28 rnds FA, long bursts, no malfs.

3. rifle C - military load, 28 rnds FA, long bursts - no malfs.

4. rifle B - military load, 80 rounds in 4 magazines, short and long FA bursts, no malfs.

5. rifle A - military load, 50 rounds in 2 mags, long bursts, no malfs.
50 rounds in USGI mags, short bursts, semi and double taps - no malfs.
50 rounds in 2 thermold mags, both unloaded in 25 round continuous bursts, no malfs. A round was loaded in the hot chamber and allowed to sit for about 5 minutes immediately after, and when examined, no melting or effect on the case was observed.

I had soaked 20 rounds each of the military and commercial ammo in a container of water for about 48 hours (see 'soaked' pic). all rounds were completely submerged. water was drained at the range and the ammo loaded and fired immediately.

Commercial load in rifle A - no malfs.
Military load in rifle A - 1 failure to fire. Primer was dented.

I fired the remaining ammo out of rifle A and B using a combination of mags, on the move, on both semi and full auto, with no more malfunctions. My inital concern with being able to remove the bullet in the commercial load with thumb pressure is still a concern.
Some of the commerical cases suffered partial seperation at the neck, while the military cases showed no sign of it. I'd feel a lot better about using the commercial load if the cases held up like the military load.

Summary: 120 rounds commercial - no malfunctions.
400 rounds military load - one malfunction (soaked round, failure to ignite primer).
If PCA can deal with that neck separation problem with the commercial cases, and offer it at a lower cost than the cheapest non-reloadable ammunition (Wolf), I think it'll do well in the market. Right now the commercial load cost is on par with other reloadable brass cased ammo, but it hopefully it should go down in time. I definitely like it better than Wolf - it's much cleaner and the rifle stays much cleaner after an equivalent amount of shooting. But until PCA takes care of the neck separation and loose necks, I'd hold off until further notice. I have not heard of any changes or improvements to Natec ammo so I cannot recommend it at this time. Plus I haven't heard much about them as of late.


Commercial load (L) and military load (R)

Test rifles

Rounds soaked in water for >48hrs

Failure to ignite soaked primer on left, neck separations in commercial cases (grey)

Rifle B

Rifle A

 

 

 



ATTENTION! PLEASE DO NOT LINK DIRECTLY TO MY IMAGES -
IT RESULTS IN MY BANDWIDTH ALLOCATIONS BEING EXCEEDED,
AND MY PAGES GO DOWN. THANKS!

/ . PLEASE OBSERVE AND RESPECT OUR COPYRIGHT! . /
©opyright by MilitaryMorons.com. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, Duplication, Distribution Strictly Prohibited.

Unless mentioned otherwise, content and images are the property of militarymorons.com and are not in the public domain.
They are not to be used without permission. Please Contact me for permission to use any images or content herein.