Sport Shooting in Britain

Going to take me a little while to do the write-up on the NRA Armistice Centenary match, but in the mean time if you’re in the UK and never shot before but would like to, I’d encourage you to check them out.

If you’re a civilian there is a short safety course you’d have to take before you could turn up to a competition and use a rented weapon/buy ammo for the day, but if you can get that course done it’s actually no more difficult to be a ‘rental’ at one of these matches than it is to be a rental at an airsoft game. This was something I personally had no clue about until just a couple of weeks back and had I known previously I certainly would have partaken in the occasional match with a rented weapon a long time ago.

I know quite a lot of you reading this will be in the UK and won’t have shot before but will be interested in trying, so I thought sharing this might bring some awareness in the same way my own awareness was recently raised. There are a few ranges you can go to in the UK and shoot bolt action rifles and shotguns if you literally just want to blast a couple of rounds and only spend a short time doing it, but if you want to get a lot more out of the experience and gain at least a small amount of good marksmanship practice then doing what I did for this match is a solid way to go about that.

We are currently experiencing issues uploading all the images from the Armistice Commemoration Match. We think this…

Posted by NRA of the UK on Sunday, November 11, 2018

ITS Tactical – Modular Morale System

A hot minute ago I mentioned a patch display option from Mil-Spec Monkey that leans towards the highly economical end of the scale, but today we’re making a big jump to something from ITS Tactical that is somewhat differing in nature.
The good thing about the MSM Halco Luxmed loop is it’s a raw material and if you’ve got some time and the inclination to be a bit crafty you can apply it to any sort of backing material you like to make a display. If you want to skip that effort however the ITS Modular Morale System is probably the highest quality, most luxurious 5* hotel for patches that a person might ever wish to find.
The backing is a rigid plastic, on to that is layered a pretty generous sheet of a dense foam and then of course there’s the loop sewn tightly over the top to create a mill-pond smooth surface. I usually try to avoid superlative and subjective observations like the one that is about to follow when I’m talking about any products, but honestly the feel of these panels is just superb. If they made a sofa that felt the same way you’d probably never get off of the thing. It’s the tactile equivalent of that first sip of your number 1 favourite ale. Does that matter for patches? No obviously not, but I can’t express enough how much these things to ooze quality in a way that is at best tricky to convey in a written format.
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On top of being fully capable of mounting both hook-backed patches and pin badges (via the foam), the MMS panels come with adhesive 3M hook tape that will stick to absolutely any bloody surface for attachment of the panels. I’d strongly advise not sticking it to anything that’s painted or might delaminate in any way in fact, unless you don’t plan on every removing the hook because it will take any paint/wallpaper etc with it when peeled away. It’s certainly not going to just slip and fall down on you though.
Each panel measure 12×18″ and there’s no edging or border. This proportioning of course means that the long edges of 2 panels can be jointed by the short ends of 3 panels to create different shapes and still have a clean rectangular boundary. As you’ll see from my personal display setup you can also neatly bridge panels with patches on account of the fact the loop wraps right around the edges of the HDPE plastic backings.
Lots of upsides, so what’s the downside? Well the cost per square inch ratio is not the most economical, there is no denying it. At $22.99 per panel the unit of currency per surface area you’re getting is at the less economical end of the scale, but as I mentioned at the start if you want something 100% ready to go out of the packaging with the only effort required being slapping some hook tape on a wall, something with an immaculately classy and professional look, then to my mind it’s worth the investment. That’s why I’ve purchased 6 of them myself so far. I fully appreciate that if you have a large patch collection however it may well not be for you.
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Personally, I’d say I’m quite picky about the patches I will actually buy and display on these panels. Some people might not get that impression seeing a big wall of the things, but bear in mind I’ve been acquiring them for about a decade now and only my favourites make it to the MMS wall. Anything that’s just a company logo/branding (i.e. loop mounted advertising) gets attached to the products that are cheaper per surface area. The really good ones I’ve bought or been lucky enough to have gifted to me get added to the MMS.
If you’d like to see the ITS store page for the system here’s that link:
Made in America to very high standards using top class materials and clearly with a lot of design thought behind what on the surface is such a simple item. I fully appreciate some people who aren’t interested in patches may well be left scratching their heads at this product, but then again if you’re reading this I’d bet you’ve either owned or wanted to own Crye or Arc’teryx gear even if there’s a 99% chance you’ve zero need for anything that high end (myself included), so each to their own I always say.

Cross Machine Tool UHPR Mod 1 9.5″ AR Handguard

Unfortunately with discussing AR forends like this I can’t ever provide any serious feedback on how they perform when mounted to a firearm that is then shot extensively, given the laws we have in the UK; not to mention ammo prices for the neutered AR type rifles that can actually be legally obtained. Just something to bear in mind. All I can give is my opinions on the design and construction as they sit before me and see how they handle being bashed around a little bit in the occasional airsoft game.

I opted for the UHPR to go on a 10.5″ KWA Performance Industries, Inc.LM4 build that I’ve been very gradually working on the past couple of years. I wanted a short and light M-LOK compatible rail in the mid-range price bracket so I wouldn’t feel so bad about getting it cerakote’d.

The big plus about this CMT design is the mounting and if you’re looking at any AR forend I can’t advise strongly enough that you highly prioritise a mounting setup that does not require timing of the barrel nut. Much like the Geissele and BCM rails I’ve worked on before the CMT nut requires no timing, shims or anything of the sort, you just tighten the round barrel nut and the clamp system at the base of the rail secures the forend itself. Infinitely preferable to trying to get radial screw holes lined up perfectly and doubly so on airsoft receivers that are mostly made of cheap, nasty, weak ‘alloys’ that will not stand up to the same treatment a real receiver will. Personally I hate the feeling of paranoia when trying to vice mount something or work on a piece in said vice. It’s not something I have to concern myself with in my usual daily work using proper firearms parts and I certainly don’t miss it while I am at work. I’m yet to break an airsoft upper while re-profiling the threads to AR spec or attaching a handguard, but the nagging feeling is always in the back of my mind.

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CMT list the UHPR as “6000 series alloy” on their website, although the Battle Arms Development manufactured ‘Rigidrails’ are listed as 6061-T6 over atRainier Arms and I’d say there is a pretty good chance both products are machined from the same extrusions; but take from that what you will. Either way, the CMT barrel nut is made from 7075 and has a good length to it to ensure proper support of the handguard, an important feature you’ll see extolled by the likes of Geissele for both reasons of resisting applies leverage and consistent zero’ing of lasers. Both the rail and barrel nut are coated in Type 3 hard anodise, just as one would expect to see on a quality product.

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The Mod 1 variant has M-LOK at 3, 6, 9 and some slots at 12. You can also pick up the Mod 2 which features full pic rail around the 12 o/clock. I prefer to minimise the weight and outer diameter by cutting out some of that picatinny so a partial M-LOK configuration is what I’ll go for when it’s available, but of course it all depends which accessories you’ll personally be utilising. There’s rotation limited QD sockets both near to the receiver and near the muzzle on both sides of the rail, so no shortage of options there if you use a QD sling. For me though the best features are the non-timed barrel nut and the anti-rotation tabs that combine to both allow extremely easy, hassle free mounting as well as assurance of the best possible alignment along the 12 o/clock.

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Total weight for this 9.5″ model comes in at a squeak over 8oz which for a sub-$200 aluminium (i.e. not mag or lith alloy) rail is highly competitive within the marketplace. The one and only change I might make is to slightly shorten the forward picatinny on the 12 o/clock to move the M-LOK slots forward, since it is a bit longer than is really needed for a front BUIS, though that said it might well be handy for mounting some PEQ units. Especially if you want to try and squeeze on both an IR laser and fixed front sight.

Again I can’t comment on longevity, dissipation of heat, comfort in the hand under recoil or any of the like, but in terms of design I’m definitely happy with this effort from CMT.

Beyond Clothing Outlaw

If you’re here, you might well be a bit like me, in so far as you might want clothes from brands you like/trust that can actually be worn around daily when you’re not doing ‘tactical stuff’. It’s certainly nice when said garments can still maintain that level of practicality that you’ve become accustomed to in your tac gear, yet not also scream “I’m in the service/am concealed carrying/have a lot of expensive military kit” – whatever your circumstance might be.

Of course you can tick off a lot of those things by going with mountaineering brands, but I’ll refer you to the ‘brands you like’ part because, personally, a lot of the brands I really like are purely contained within the military sphere and often do not have a civilian line in their catalogues. I’ll also buy stuff that’s made in the US/EU/Aus where I can.

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The Beyond Clothing​ Outlaw is a pretty sweet jacket all around given the above context. Of all the layers I have accumulated for outer wear in the winter, it is one of the few that is actually a softshell, alongside the OR Ferrosi, though they’re very different animals. That selection is not due to a deliberate avoidance of shells however, it’s just that if you want a nice looking jacket it’ll probably be canvas/cotton, leather, wool or something along those lines. Generally the smart looking items you find out there will not be made from a more modern technical fabric. From an everyday perspective that sort of thing is not the end of the world by any stretch, but a shell will of course serve in a far superior fashion in the event you do get caught in the less pleasant elements.

The Outlaw is not a thick insulator, but of course the shell blocks all wind and combining that with a fleece lining makes for quite an effective end result. As you might expect coming from Beyond, all the materials are very much akin to what you’d find amongst PCU garments, which is certainly a huge plus to my mind.

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It is not the ideal jacket for the likes of serious mountain climbing or the like, as you might imagine, not that I hold that fact against it. It has a few zips it doesn’t really need and some of the pulls can rattle about and be slightly noisy. The press stud storm flap at the front over the main zip is also somewhat irritatingly slow to fully secure and when not secured the metal studs will move around and hit against each other. Not in any sort of cataclysmic fashion, it’s not just tactical (imagine air quotes around that).

The Outlaw is however good looking, features plenty of pockets in convenient places with no compromise for the sake of pack belts and still has those weather resilient fabrics. Dry time is a crucial one, especially compared to any sort of cotton and wool, a shell will dry many times more quickly and last better in the very long term vs leather. The vintage/worn look can be cool of course, but there will be occasions in life when that just isn’t appropriate and nylon shell does an amazing job at staying looking like it just came out of the bag even after years of use.

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Interesting bit of backstory to the Outlaw that I discovered when chatting to one of the head blokes at Beyond at the FirstSpear​ range day during SHOT 2017; the jackets were all meant to originally be sold in very high end, fancy clothing stores in New York and it would appear that at least some of them were:

Beyond Clothing Private Reserve Collection Launch in NYC

MSM Raw Hoodie – Redux

If you missed my video on the MilSpecMonkey RAW Hoodie I would definitely recommend checking that one out if you are interested in colour options for tac gear.

As I mentioned in the video this is a jacket I wear absolutely all the damn time, constantly. When I want something to put on to warm up, the RAW is what I take out of the cupboard. Many of you that are also in the UK will probably just be getting to the start of the cold weather in the past week or two and since that’s been happening I’ve been living in this hoodie. I am in fact wearing right now as I type this.

As I’ve spent time in it, there’s a couple of features that have really stood out the most to me.

Primarily it’s the fact that it is a fleece, yet unlike fleeces I’ve owned in the past I don’t hate it or find it useless, quite the opposite. Generic fleeces have absolutely zero wind blocking abilities which makes them frankly redundant without a rain jacket or softshell over the top. The MSM Hoodie may not cut the cold wind as much as something like an Arc’teryx Atom AR which comprises a thin nylon shell with synthetic fill, but then it also costs a small fraction of the Atom and frankly for daily wear the nature of the fleece makes it a nicer, more comfortable proposal all around. The RAW is a hard faced fleece so you get the ‘fluff’ on the inside but a smooth appearance and feel on the outside, making it better in the wind and far, far less of a magnet for hair and dirt and bits of plants and whatever else it out there that just loves clinging on to normal soft faced fleece.

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The second key point is that the RAW is not a hoodie. I don’t mind hoodies for lounging around indoors when nobody’s going to see me and they can be ok as a mid-layer for everyday use. However I’m 30 now and for the most part I want to wear layers that fit, not ones that hang a giant kangaroo pouch in front of me and have a generally loose, overly-baggy appearance. Crucially also a full zip allows for controlled levels of insulation which is why I largely despise shirt style or half/quarter zip insulating layers. The issue PCS item for example is very warm, however the thick nature of the fleece and the one-third zip mean if you put it on when you’re cold then run in it you will boil yourself alive and getting the bloody thing on and off is an absolute nightmare and a half. This makes temperature regulation far more difficult than it should be when alternating between slow and fast paced activity.

As far as the MSM Grey colouring goes, well frankly I love it. It does a brilliant job of tricking the eye to switch between appearances of green, brown and grey depending on light/background and balances all 3 colours very nicely indeed. I would certainly jump all over some quality NYCO combat clothing in this same colourway, and indeed some 500D load bearing kit, because to my mind this is the true solid-colour equivalent to Multicam – perhaps even better than MC in some ways, certainly against concrete and buildings. As it stands the Gruppa 99 L5 apparel comes very close to MSM’s colour selection and I intend to pick up some more of their kit down the line. Fingers crossed UF-Pro might produce something equivalent in their Striker series because at the moment their ‘Brown Grey’/RAL 7013 is basically just one tiny shade away from Ranger green and not nearly different enough to Crye’s RG to warrant the purchase for me personally.


G3 Combat shirt – The Best For Bookend-Multicam?

I have talked about the Crye Precision G3 Combat shirt in the past, so you can either search here or over on the The Reptile House for the foundational information. That said I’m not one to shy away from absolutely squeezing every single drop of juice out of a fruit so I’ll say a couple of things about this particular example in MC Arid.

First thing’s first – at this time, I am not aware of a better (cost excluded) combat shirt in this pattern that is currently in production and available for sale. Or indeed one that has ever been in production in the past. There are certainly some that might be better value, although again in MC Arid this isn’t as much the case as with other patterns. When looking at commercial camouflage there is always a lower level of take up when it comes to the desert-centric variants, something that was particularly evident when it comes to the PenCott and Kryptek families. Multicam doesn’t suffer that issue quite as badly and enjoys a lot of native support from Crye, but there’s certainly far more choice of regular Multicam out there on the market by comparison to Arid.

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As mentioned however I am not aware of a better combat shirt in this colourway so the CP G3 is what I have in the collection, taking in to account my personal goal of having the all around best quality (for recreational use) garment in any given pattern or colour. As an example, I’ve eschewed the G3 in favour of the UF-Pro Striker XT in MC Black as that design better suits my preferences, though there’s no doubt the Crye offering is the better option for a military application. During my stint deployed I certainly took great strides to avoid ever leaving the base while wearing an issued combat shirt and those feature the same torso fabric as the Striker. The PCS kit is great for 99% of the time when everything’s going ok, but it’s the 1% of course that is actually worth worrying about.

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A couple of points to mention as far as labelling goes. First off I know some folks have had queries about the lack of white box around the label on some G3 items. Some pieces of apparel feature said border around the label and some do not. Both are common and perfectly legitimate however, certainly since this shirt came directly from the CP web store and, as you can see, does not feature the border. Second, just for interest’s sake I wanted to upload a shot of the ‘Multicam’ brand label which will sometimes feature the words Arid/Tropic/Black. The NYCO fabric itself will also on occasion do the same, though seemingly not on every batch of fabric and it’s not terribly common to actually find the script on a given garment since it doesn’t repeat very often within the print.

I’ll say one thing, if Crye release Gen 4 combat shirts down the line with colour matched loop fields and torso fabrics in MC Arid (and Tropic) I’ll definitely be a happy camper.

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Centurion C4 (A Quad Rail? Srsly??)

Great product, bad purchasing decision – not necessarily mutually exclusive.

I opted for this 10″ Centurion Arms C4 rail for a few reasons. First off because I had this older VFC/Avalon AEG with BCM markings and the C4 is a type of forend that Bravo Company do actually sell on their AR-15 uppers. Secondly I wanted to have at least one quad rail in my RIF collection for both posterity and the extreme range of accessories that are already available on the market. I believe, if memory serves, that at one time Centurion were marketing the C4 as the lightest quad picatinny rail on the market, something I dug in to deeply at the time of purchase (back in winter 16). The website description now says it is the lightest quad rail to attach to a standard barrel nut, so I’d be interested to know who’s out there manufacturing a lighter freefloat quad. Purely from a curiosity standpoint.

The C4 is a 2-piece design that easily clamps around a standard type of USGI AR barrel nut and it mounts on there with no question of the security or rigidity.
This is aided by the extra set of screws towards the front end that join together the 2 sections and keep everything perfectly lined up. It is machined from 6061 T6 which is essentially always the go-to when you want a quality handguard possessing of the right properties. Surface finish is again the bar setting standard in the form of Type 3 hard coat anodise which not only looks consistently good but even under simple handling and installation holds up a lot better than some other finishes I’ve seen on even more expensive forends.

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The rails are of course 100% true to the 1913 picatinny spec. Centurion have even included the small cuts in the slots at the very end of each quadrant to enable old school KAC cover panels to mount correctly. Then there’s a total of 4 QD sling socket points, both near to the receiver and way out up front, catering to either preference. Most impressively for a 10″ quad rail the weight sits at around 11oz with the barrel nut included and when you consider some old tube forends like the Troy offerings weigh double that then you really start to see the achievement in design. Even some very recent and slightly shorter M-LOK tubes with minimal pic rail along the 12 o/clock will still weigh around 9oz when using aluminium and some skinny M-LOK tubes will get to over 10oz at lengths of around 11″. Again, impressive numbers and all part of the reason I picked up the C4 in the first place.

The unfortunate rub for me is the diameter of the C4, that’s the only significant reason I decided not to keep it in the end. The internal diameter around the curved surfaces is only 1.37″ which is very much comparable with many modern negative space handguards featuring KeyMod/M-LOK, however the 4 pic rails make the outer diameter of the C4 far, far larger than the inner diameter. There are some hefty old quads out there which are even wider and heavier so the Centurion design still does very well in its’ own league, but having gotten extensively accustomed to far narrower handguards over the past 4-5 years I personally just could not go back to the old style given the actual feel in the hand.#

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Does that mean nobody should consider the quad in 2018? Not at all. There is one real downfall to negative space systems that I’ve experienced and very, very rarely see mentioned online; it’s a problem that is particularly exacerbated with narrow diameter tubes and when using silencers that sit within the rail. Because the modern rail accessories have to go through the handguard vs purely clamping on to the outside they require space on the rear face of the accessory slot i.e. inside the handguard. Any time the gas tube, piston or gas block (or a silencer) get close to the inside of an M-LOK slot you lose the ability to attach items to that slot. I’ve noticed a distinct tendency for aftermarket M-LOK handguards for AKs and HK roller-locks to be quite wide in order to avoid this issue, though AR rails often try to go slim and sacrifice mounting slots for that.

On a daylight usage rifle or one with a long barrel this is usually not much of an issue and the weight savings of M-LOK over quad 1913 really make themselves known and felt when examining 12-15″ rails, but short barrels and lots of front end electronics for night time use are of course the norm these days and a short barrel necessitates a short rail. When you’re potentially trying to mount a white light, front BUIS, laser unit, a remote pressure switch and a foregrip all within the area of the forend you want to hold while shooting (and your hand does actually require an area to slot in to as well) then space is very much at a premium. With some super narrow M-LOK tubes this can raise an issue as mentioned with accessory attachment and especially when the 1913 along the 12 o/clock is deleted in favour of more M-LOK. Is this insurmountable? Far from it, it is entirely surmountable in fact, but it is still an issue that can be encountered and the narrower the rail and the more stuff you try to put on it, the further exacerbated the problem can potentially be.

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I would tend to say that all things considered the quad is somewhat comparable to the idea of the SMG at this point. It can have some niche applications but it is only getting increasingly obsolescent every year that goes by. The range of M-LOK accessories is only growing and elements of US SOF have already adopted it in the form of the Geissele Mk16 rail. I’d predict the entire US Army to follow in time with either a completely new rifle or an M4A2, after which the rest of the US military will follow and we might well see a replacement of the HKey forends on our L85A3s before moving on to a new rifle.

In the meantime however, if a quad pic rail fits your needs you’d not be underserved by the C4 from Centurion by any stretch given the overall quality of manufacture and design. I’d tend to not recommend a quad, but if you are going that way then this one is a very solid bet.

BCM Gunfighter Mod 0 Stocks and Rail Panels

Tired of all that Magpul on absolutely everything? Well if you’d prefer something different that’s still incredibly tough and durable you won’t go far wrong with the Bravo Company USA Gunfighter line of polymer accessories for your firearm/replica. I’ve opted for the Mod 0 stocks on 2 of my VFC AEGs, one being the original type and the other being the SOPMOD variant which features the wider construction with sloped cheek weld areas as per the original military SOPMOD/’Crane’ AR-15 collapsible stocks.

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For an extremely economical price you’re getting a very tight fit on a Mil-Spec buffer tube with a strong latch system that isn’t going to get knocked and collapse your stock at a bad moment, but is still perfectly easy to adjust for length of pull. Essentially, the spring on the latch is just stronger than most other stocks since there’s no other material around said latch to cover it; like the lever inside a CTR for example. The general build strength of course will be welcome for shooters in the event of an accidental drop or having to mortar the rifle to clear a stubborn stoppage. There’s an integrally moulded tab that will retain an elastic band should you wish to fold up a sling for stowage and you can attach your sling at the rear via either a traditional pass-through slot or QDs. The QD sockets are not rotation limited but BCM have gone for the cheaper, lighter option in the form of simple, thin metal plates drilled through to the correct size vs machined solid sockets that could accommodate the anti-rotation notches.

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Fortunately the SOPMOD variant is not quite as excessively wide as the older style stocks that share the name and as you’ll see from the underside shot the plastic is all hollow with a few reinforcement ribs, so if you do prefer that sloped cheek weld you’re not adding too much weight. They lock in to place very solidly indeed and the colour matched rubber butt pads are a nice touch that’s certainly comfortable in the aim. All your favourite tacticool colours are also catered for to include this nice shade of so-hot-right-now grey.

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While I’m here I’ll also mention the rail panels BCM produce, which are available in KeyMod and M-LOK variations. If you own a handguard that has modular slots all the way around (i.e. diagonals included, not just 3, 6 and 9) then a slim panel such as this design is certainly my personal recommendation as they conform nicely, add minimal width to keep the forend slim and do not interfere with each other. If your rail does not have KeyMod or M-LOK on the diagonals then something wider like the Magpul Type 2 covers is the way I tend to go, but if you want the narrowest profile possible while still insulating your hand then these solid plastic BCM panels definitely work well. They also weigh nothing at all and have a nice middle-ground grip texture.