Storing valuables in your vehicle always involves risk. And if you own a Jeep like I do, it’s almost impossible to keep it secure. The main reason people own Jeeps is to drive with the tops off. I first began looking at small, under seat safes or lock boxes but quickly realized they weren’t anywhere near the size I needed. It didn’t take long to come across the Smittybuilt Security Storage Vault – Rear Lockable Storage Box, or The Vault as Brittany and I call it.
As always, I had a very specific idea of what I was looking for, or at least specific features I needed. Most importantly was security of course. It needs to be very difficult to break in to, which then leads to the next requirement, durability. Not only did I want it to be hard to break open but the fact it will be riding around in the back of an off-road vehicle full of gear meant it needed to be tough and high quality in regards to the slides and locking mechanism. The Smittybuilt Security Storage Vault – Rear Lockable Storage Box fit the bill perfectly.
The Security storage vault measures roughly 35″x28″x13″ and was a perfect fit for my 2010 Wrangler JK. The 16 gauge cold rolled steel makes the vault both strong and keeps it from rattling. I had a feeling the gear stored inside the vault could possible rattle and make noise so I added a couple pieces of gym flooring, cut to size, to the bottom of the drawer. It truly doesn’t make a sound, not even off-road.
Another great feature is the 4 ratchet strap tiedown anchor points. This allows additional gear to be securely stored on top of the Smittybuilt Security Storage Vault – Rear Lockable Storage Box using owner supplied ratchet straps. I use them to secure our cooler. Even though the vault comes with a durable signature series two stage black powder coat, to prevent scratching the top of the vault when the cooler is in place, I again used the BalanceFrom foam tile gym flooring. For the price, you just can’t beat it.
The drawer opens and closes extremely smooth due to the high grade steel sliders and you can actually feel the durability in the drawer and slides. You can pack a whopping 350 pounds in to the vault without any problems not even counting what you can put on top. However, I’m currently only running with about 150 pounds on a daily basis. The locking mechanism is also top notch, high quality, with a weather resistant dust cap making it a very secure storage box. For additional security, I mounted the vault about one inch from the rear gate. Anyone trying to break in to the the vault would need to open the rear gate to even have a chance.
When it came to picking the secure storage for the JK, this was a no brainer. It fit perfect, was made of high quality, durable parts, looks good, and is very secure. I feel 100 percent confident leaving the tops off while I’m away from the vehicle with this vault in the back of the Jeep. Normally I can come up with a few cons on everything I use, but this one is the exception.
A gun case is not just for transporting a firearm – many people use it for storage and for protection from scratches or other damage. Therefore, a gun case with multiple features would be desirable. The most desirable features for the gun case would be: that it is legal to use for transporting in a vehicle or otherwise, it breathes enough not to trap moisture and stays dry, and has enough padding so that the firearm is protected from drops, bangs, and other damage that can occur – and the Blackhawk Sportster Tactical Carbine Gun Case seems to be just that!
I’m not someone that stores firearms in their respective gun case, but rather use it solely for transporting to and from the range or the field. However, when I found the Blackhawk Sportster it came with what I needed and more. The first thing I noticed was the magazine pouches. Each pouch can easily carry 2 30-round AR magazines and is held closed by a very strong hook and loop closure. There are 2 additional pouches for storage. One in the middle section of the case and a larg er pouch on the barrel end of the gun case. The large pouch is protected by a large flap with a very robust hook and loop closure. The first drawback I found is that the middle pouch does not come with any sort of closer making the smaller pouch basically useless.
The construction seems very well built and durable, and according to Blackhawk, “is constructed of tight-weave, heavyweight 600 denier polyester with thick PVC Laminate for stability” The inside of the gun case is made with a very soft but seemingly durable fabric rapped around one layer of soft open-cell foam to protect the firearm and then a layer of closed-cell foam for shock protection.
The Blackhawk Sportster gun case zips shut with a medium to heavy duty zipper with a metal D-ring at the closed end for a lock. One issue I found with the zipper is if I unzipped it all the way to the very end then it was a little stubborn to get it moving again. A simple work around was to stop just short of the end and no more problem. There is a shoulder strap attached to the gun case in what many people seem to think is in an odd place. The attachment points are in the middle of the ends of the case rather than the top or bottom of the ends. The reason for this is the case is designed to be slung over the shoulder and not carried under the arm.. This is a much more practical approach than under the arm.
Lastly, the size of the case makes it perfect for a firearm with an RMR or scope. For my purpose, I did need to collapse the stock, so keep that in mind if your firearm stock does not collapse. Blackhawk does make a longer Sportster in that event – located https://www.amazon.com/Blackhawk-Sportster-Tactical-Rifle-42-5-Inch/dp/B001MVFDO4?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=jcbower-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=96409d7e4c47d32d9922aa5a4b63c881&camp=1789&creative=9325">BLACKHAWK Sportster Tactical Rifle Casehere on Amazon
Other than the small, middle storage pouch being not very useful due to no sort of closer, and the workaround for the zipper, I’m very happy with the Blackhawk Sportster Tactical gun case, especially given the price of $35-$40. If I was in need of another carbine size tactical gun case I would defiantly purchase this one again. If you would like more information or would like to purchase the Blackhawk Sportster gun case, you can find it https://www.amazon.com/Blackhawk-Sportster-Tactical-Rifle-42-5-Inch/dp/B001MVFDO4?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=jcbower-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=96409d7e4c47d32d9922aa5a4b63c881&camp=1789&creative=9325">BLACKHAWK Sportster Tactical Rifle Casehere on Amazon
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
With the shear volume of bags and backpacks on the market today it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you, and with everyone attaching the words like tactical and military to everything they sell, it can be very frustrating. Originally, the backpacks used by the military were very different than they are today. Most people probably wouldn’t have wanted to use them for civilian use, however, the civilian type of tactical backpack and bags have come a long way towards serving in the same capacity as the ones used by the military – specifically the amount that the bag can carry, the specific pockets and compartments, water proof or resistance, durability, and the modular system or ability to add accessories.
Take the tactical backpack from REEBOW GEAR. It measures about 13″ x 11″ x 20″, is double-stitched with heavy duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls. It also comes with side load compression straps that allow you to compress the contents in the backpack for a more stable load, meaning that what’s inside won’t shift or move around when donning, doffing, walking or running.
The backpack has 4 main compartments plus one rear compartment for a hydration bladder. Several of the main compartments have additional pockets on the inside for additional organization plus an admin pocket for paperwork, maps, pens, pencils, etc.
The strap system has several adjustment points including the top and bottom of the main straps, plus the chest and cummerbund that also have quick disconnects. The main straps are well padded and have a mesh covering on the inner side of the strap for breathability and have 2 D-rings for attaching accessories. The lift handle at the top seems to be sewn in strong enough to be used as a drag handle should the emergency arrive. The back pad is also covered with mesh.
As for waterproof/water resistance, it’s not waterproof but does have good resistance to water. The small drain hole in the bottom of the main compartment seems like it would let water in if it were submerged in water and no sort of seal at the zippers.
One of the best features of the Reebow Gear tactical backpack is the Molle system which is a must for any tactical backpack. This is a system of straps sewn on to the backpack to create loops to be able to attach additional bags, holders, hook and loop fasteners, flashlights, first aid kits, holsters etc. The backpack has them on both the front and sides as well as Molle with hook and loop on the front top pocket. As a little bonus, the top pocket comes with a hook and loop American flag patch which can be removed if needed.
In all, it’s a great budget tactical backpack for those not wanting to spend hundreds for a name brand or for features they don’t need. It’s durable, functional, expandable due to the Molle, and comfortable. The hydration compartment is the icing on the cake. Definitely worth the $40-50 I spent!
To find more information or to purchase the backpack on Amazon, click here.
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
I’m a firm believer in dry-fire training. It’s something I do on a regular basis while using my Laser Ammo’s Smokeless Range 2.0 Simulator which you can checkout here. But the purpose of this post is to talk about the SIRT laser pistol for dryfire training from Next Level Training.
Dry-Fire training has been around for quite awhile from simply pulling the trigger on an empty, unloaded firearm to using snapcaps to the most popular choice, SIRT’s and laser bullets like the Pink Rhino 9mm Lase Bullet. Check it out here. Dry-fire training has many benefits, such as learning to handle a firearm safely, learning to correct trigger issues, get faster at drawing from a holster, accuracy, and to eliminate anticipating recoil to name a few, and let’s not forget the savings on ammunition.
The SIRT or Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger pistol that I will be discussing is the Model 110 which has the features, look, and feel of the Glock Model 17 such as the same grip, mag release, sights and weight. The weight is contributed to the removable magazine being close to the same weight as a loaded Glock 17 magazine holding 17 rounds. I have not weighed the SIRT laser trainer or real Glock 17 to compare but going just by feel, they are about the same. But, according to Glock, the G17 fully loaded weighs in at 31.93 ounces and according to Next Lever Training, the Model 110 weighs about 32 ounces.
When you purchase the SIRT from Next Level Training, it comes with the pistol and magazine, a trigger adjustment tool, and a laser windage and elevation adjustment tool. In addition, the pistol does comes with several options: the slide can be either metal or polymer; a slide color of green, pink, purple, or red; and a laser color of green or red.
Out of the box the first thing I noticed is how real it felt and how well balanced it is. I ordered the the red polymer slide with the red laser and was amazed at how bright the laser actually was. Far brighter than most lasers for an actual firearm. Very easy to see where it hits the target. A quick pull of the trigger and you are made aware of another feature built into the SIRT – you will notice a second laser dot when you begin to pull the trigger. The is an instructor feature known as the trigger up-take indicator. It allows a firearms instructor to be able to tell when you start to move the trigger. Useful for finger discipline training. This feature can be turned on and off by a toggle on the slide. The slide itself does not move as there is no recoil feature on this laser pistol. Really about the only negative feature I’ve found. As for the construction of the SIRT laser pistol for dryfire training , this is no kids toy, it feels just as solid as the real thing.
The Model 110 SIRT fits any holster that the Glock 17 will fit making it ideal for many people as the Glock 17 is a rather popular firearm, so many people will already own a holster.
The SIRT from Next level Training is definitely worth the price. There are other laser training pistols out there with more features but also with a higher price tag, and aside from the stationary slide, this has everything you need to practice and improve your shooting.
Like a lot of people like their coffee, I like my energy drink. Over the years, I’ve tried many different energy drinks, including Adrenaline, Amp, Reign, Redline, Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Rockstar, and Monster, just to name a few of the most popular drinks I’ve tried. But it always seem like I end up back with Advocare Spark Energy.
I started enjoying Spark Energy around when it first came out in the 1990’s. At that time, there was only one flavor. Over the years, Advocare has added many additional flavors for a current total of 13:
Raspberry Lemonade (alternatively sweetened)
Morning Grapefruit (alternatively sweetened)
Advocare Spark Energy Drink comes as a powder and needs to be mixed with water or whatever juice, etc. you would like to use. I find that it has plenty of flavor with just water alone however, I’m also known for mixing it with my pre-workout powder to give it an extra kick 30 minutes prior to working out. Advocare Spark Energy is available in canister or individual serving tubes. Both have its advantages and disadvantages. I prefer the canister for the fact you get more servings for less money and I can control how much powder I use per serving where as with the tubes, the serving is predetermined. The benefit of the tube is its more convenient on the go or for storing in places such as a desk at work, but it also does cost more per serving this way.
A quick look at the nutrition guide and you will see a huge difference between Spark and most other energy drinks. From the very low calorie count to the long list of vitamins and minerals and the added supplements, Spark definitely sets itself apart. Although many people use this as a fitness drink, and as I said earlier, I add it to my pre-workout, I would not consider this a stand alone drink, just simply for added energy and focus. As you can see, the caffeine content is in the same range as most other energy drinks on the market so if you are familiar with them, this won’t feel any different. In fact, I don’t get jittery or feel like I’m racing, but rather just feel like I got a great night’s sleep and and find it easier to focus during the day.
I’ve tried all the flavors and the ones I think are the best are the Mandarin Orange and Grape, but I haven’t found a flavor I didn’t like. I would suggest trying the variety pack for the first time available here on Amazon or you can use the select links below to go directly to the flavor of your choice.
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
A safe and comfortable holster is most important for carrying a firearm but what is often overlooked, or not enough importance is placed on, is a heavy duty rigid belt made to support the weight of the gun. The Propper Rapid Release gun belt does just that.
The Propper Rapid Release gun belt is made of 100% double layered nylon and comes with the AustriAlpin COBRA Quick Release Buckle found here. The first thing I noticed about the nylon webbing, which comes in black or coyote, was how stiff it was. This is an import feature as it allows the belt to stay strait under the weight of the gun and not tilt away from the body causing the gun to stick out. The next feature was the adjustable Velcro webbing connected at the buckle. I especially liked this because it allows very precise size adjustments that I don’t get with belts that have holes, such as leather belts, plus the Velcro prevents the belt from loosening up while wearing it. The last main feature is the quick release action of the buckle making it easy to connect and release the belt itself.
The one problem I encounter with the Propper Rapid Release belt is that the Austriaplin buckle is slightly larger than the belt loops on my pants. This causes me to have to remove the adjustable side of the buckle to put the belt on and then re-install the buckle end. It’s not a big issue and its probably designed to do that but it’s just something I find annoying sometimes.
I have owned my belt for over two years now and wear it every day. It is as ridged as the day I bought it and shows very little wear. Even the location where my holster clips on isn’t showing wear. The Velcro is still in great shape and holding strong, but as with any Velcro, it needs to have the strings and lint it picks up removed from time to time. The very heavy duty stitching is still solid, no fraying or loose stitches at all.
This turned out to be the best gun belt I’ve ever owned. You can purchase the belt here on Amazon.
A lot of people are becoming interested in dry-fire training these days. As more and more shooters learn the value of dry-fire or laser training, the more they share with friends or social media. I became interested in this type of training about a year or so ago and loved it. I wasn’t expecting the results that I achieved. I have two types of training aids that I use on my Laser Ammo Smokeless training simulator. The Pink Rhino 9mm laser bullet from Mantis and the SIRT 110 Glock laser training pistol. Today I’m going to be reviewing the laser bullet from Mantis.
First off, I need to remind everyone, make sure prior to using the Laser bullet or dry-fire range, you double check to make sure your gun is unloaded!!
The laser bullet is a tiny laser device designed to be inserted into the breech end of the gun barrel. When the gun is fired, the firing pin strikes the rubber switch on the end of the casing briefly causing the the laser to flash one time. The shooting simulator then sees this flash and shows you were you hit on the target depending on the type of simulator you own.
If your gun is double action, you can continue to fire as many times as you like however, if you use a hammerless gun like the HK-VP9 or Glock 19, you will need to reset the firing pin after each pull of the trigger. I use this with a VP9 for one shot speed drills and and reloads and It works well.
My one shot speed time has increased by just over .5 seconds and my accuracy is dead on now. The best part is this is with the gun I carry every day. Keep in mind with this type of training aid, there is zero recoil, so it will not train you in any sort of drills where getting back on target after each shot is part of the goal, but it will help break habits like anticipating the shot and pushing or pulling the firearm to the left or right.
The one issue I have with the laser bullet is it doesn’t always load exactly perfect with the gun site on the first try. When this happens, I simply use the eraser end of a pencil to pop the bullet out (this is the proper way to remove the bullet when you are finished using it) and drop it back in a second time. This usually corrects the issue. I’m a stickler for accuracy, at least when training.
Helps with speed and accuracy
Helps save ammo and range fees
Helps correct bad habits
Allows for more time training
Fits all 9mm handguns
Trigger needs to be reset after each pull on hammerless firearms
Doesn’t always load in to the chamber perfect on the first try
In the end, for around $40-50 its well worth the cost for how much better I’ve become with the firearm, from getting to the firearm faster, accuracy, safety, and the thousands I’ve saved on ammo and range fees. I’m just about to order the laser bullet for the .223/5.56 and will let you know how that turns out in an upcoming review. The Pink Rhino laser bullet can be found here on Amazon.
I looked for several things when I was selecting the weight bench that would be used with my Valor Fitness BD-41 Power/Squat Rack. First was the frame construction. I wanted the least amount of nuts and bolts and the most amount of welds. It needed to be able to handle the weight. I wanted at least 600 pounds. Next, I didn’t want to be replacing the cushions in a year, so it had to have heavy duty mat and stitching. And lastly, I wanted 2 part adjustment of the seat and back.
A quick Google search and I found several that seemed to meet my list of demands, but unfortunately without getting to put my hands on the weight bench, I couldn’t tell if it was going be sturdy and rugged enough. I’ve been lifting in commercial gyms for years and have grown accustomed to commercial grade equipment. I lucked out and was able to get my hands on the Fitness Gear Pro Utility Weight Bench.
It didn’t take long to realize this bench was exactly what I was looking for. Very few nuts and bolts, which also translates to easy assembly. Very heavy duty steel construction and cushions, and both the back and the seat adjust. The weight bench is also rated to 600 pounds.
The benefit of having the back panel adjust is obvious, but several weight benches don’t allow for the seat to adjust or to be tilted. When lifting heavy weight on an incline, the tilted seat is a must-have for both the ability to lift the heavy weight properly and safely. I can’t imagine sliding off the end of the seat while holding 150 pounds plus is a good idea. The back and seat lock firmly in place with the spring loaded adjustment locks.
One thing to note is the Fitness Gear Pro Weight Bench is a bit on the heavy side. This can be good and bad. It means it is heavy duty but more difficult to just pick up and move. It does, however, have a front lifting handle and wheels on the rear of the bench. I have not had problems moving this around my home gym, nor does Brittany, but it could be a problem if you had to move it up or down stairs, or in very tight spaces.
* Heavy duty
* Back and seat adjustment
* Holds 600 pounds
* Front lifting handle and rear wheels
* Very stable
* Hard to maneuver in tight spaces
I’m actually very happy with the Fitness Gear Pro Weight Bench and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a heavy duty, commercial quality bench.
A lot can be said for training with live ammo at the range – there is no substitute. However, I can’t always get to the range, can’t find ammo, or just simply can’t afford 10 boxes of ammo every other week. For this reason, I started looking for an alternative and finally settled on Laser Ammo’s Smokeless Range 2.0 Simulator.
The smokeless range allows a shooter to practice drawing, shooting from different positions, stances and moving, speed and transitional drills, and moving targets. It helps to not anticipate recoil and helps with not pushing or pulling the barrel.
The Laser Ammos Smokeless Range comes with the camera and unlock code for the software. The shooter would need to supply the computer, projector and screen, or TV, and the laser. The laser can either be a (SIRT) Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger Training pistol or a laser bullet insert that is used with an actual firearm like the one I use here. I’ll do a review of the two different lasers, computer and projector in the near future. In the mean time, If you would like any information about them, just leave a comment.
Setting up the range is rather easy. I use my laptop for the computer and place it next to the camera on a small portable table. Plug the camera in to the computer using the USB cord, and the computer in to the TV/projector using a HDMI cord. Fire up the software, enter the activation code, use the auto calibration feature and you’re ready to go.
Originally I started out with a 55 inch TV in my office which worked “ok”. In order to use a TV, a plastic covering is needed for the camera to be able to pick up the laser shots such as the one here. As I said, it worked ok but was a bit fuzzy and made it so you couldn’t use the TV to watch TV without removing the covering. When I purchased the smokeless range, I had the intent to purchase a projector down the road which I have now done and it’s 10 times better. Using the projector, the targets are life size, clear and frees up the TV.
The Laser Ammo Smokeless Range 2.0 is the basic package offered by Laser Ammo. There are several upgrades that can be added on at a later date including a video scenario trainer which is actual recorded video rather than computer generated graphics.
I did have one issue that required me to contact support. The auto calibration was not able to calibrate and kept reporting the room was too bright. Turned out that the location I have the projector screen is above the French doors to our deck and light was coming in at the bottom of the screen. This was easily fixed by simply pulling the screen all the way down to the floor.
The range is actually a group of 10 ranges or drills:
Marksmanship drills include: Transitional Drills, Tracking Drills, Speed Drills, Moving Targets and Matching drills
Recreational training drills include: Dueling Tree, Trap Shooting, Target Shooting, Can Toss and Bomb Blast
Each of the 10 ranges or drills have several settings that the user can adjust making each drill completely customizable. Settings like: type of target, speed of moving objects, one or two simultaneous shooters, size of target, and many more. I have countless hours using the range and still seem to be able to come up with new options to make it challenging.
I would imagine one of the most important things people want to know is does it help. YES! My speed and accuracy have improved more than I ever expected. How do I know? The range records my shooting times and scores so I can compare then and now.
If you would like to learn more or purchase the range, you can do so here on Amazon.
When I first started carrying a concealed firearm, I was seriously worried someone would be able see the firearm “printing” and potentially cause a problem for myself. I also thought I’d never get used to the feel, how it digs in to my skin and how tight I had to keep my belt. Over time I ended up purchasing several different holsters trying to find the right fit and feel while keeping the gun hidden and more importantly secure.
I finally ended up purchasing the Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster. It wasn’t love at first sight by no means but as I started wearing it, changing the position, 3 o’clock, 4o’clock, 5 o’clock, and also changing the position of the belt clips on the holster, It finally started to feel natural and stayed very well hidden to the point I can wear the holster all day and not really know its there. I never forget it is there of course.
As the name suggest, supertuck, this holster is designed specifically so the wearer can tuck in the shirt they are wearing and still have the firearm concealed. I don’t personally use it for that reason as I don’t tuck in my shirts very often, but have tested it on a couple of occasions that I had to dress up and it worked perfectly. The main reason I choose to wear this holster is comfort.
The Crossbreed Supertuck holster is made of black cowhide leather backer and a molded Kydex retention pocket. I know a lot of people are against using leather holsters or in this case partial leather holsters due to negligent discharges caused by leather that starts to curl or bend as the holster wears in. I’ve had mine for several years and it is still in the same shape as when I purchased it other than a small curl I bent in the bottom corner for comfort Additionally, I have tried over and over to get the holster to contact the trigger but have not been able to do so. I have more than 8000 draws and re-holsters with this holster as I not only shoot at the range, I shoot on a virtual range inside my house with a laser insert sold here on Amazon. I’ll post a review of the lasers and the virtual range soon. I also feel that the leather backer is more comfortable than plastic or metal against my skin.
Another thing I was worried about was the Crossbreed holster being partly made of Kydex and scratching the firearm. While I cant say it does not do this, after 8000+ draws, it is very minimal and not noticeable unless you look for it.
This holster is a passive retention holster which means there is no locking mechanism or strap that keeps the holster in place rather the design of the Crossbreed keeps the gun in place. While I have not stood on my head or rolled around on the floor while wearing the holster, the gun has never came out of the holster or even slid up slightly. I chose this style because of the speed of draw plus there specifically is not a locking mechanism that could accidently cause me not to be able to draw. This also means it would be easier for someone else to draw however, its concealed so that really isn’t an issue in my opinion.
As you can see from the picture, I carry a full size 9mm with double stack 15 round magazine and it is very easy to conceal under a semi loose t-shirt, polo or button up.
The holster can be purchased for a wide range of firearm making it one of the best holster out there for inside the waistband concealed carry. To get additional information or to purchase the Crossbreed holster you can do so here on Amazon