Quick Review: First Spear Missing Link

After doing my annual review of my gear and holster box a few weeks ago to see what I should probably sell to other people, I noticed that I had a couple HSGI Tacos that were still plenty usable, and in fact, would be quite helpful for the Green Ops AK class (since I have no kydex AK pouches). Unfortunately, these were PALS attach items, and I don’t really use MOLLE battle belts… I’m a competition double belt guy for the most part. (Note: PALS is often referred to as “MOLLE”, but this is not technically correct.)

Enter the First Spear Missing Link. The Missing Link is basically a connector that works with MALICE, WTFix, or similar clips that provides a belt interface. They come in packs of six for $25 (I bought mine from SKD Tac). It is stupidly simple, and has some pluses and minuses as a result of that.

The Missing Link interfaces with PALS by essentially riding the clip and using the sewn in bits of the strips to provide a stopping point for the Missing Link loops. There is also a hook interface on the back (part of the “hook-and-loop” system, also known as “Velcro”) that you can use to attach to a loop interface on your belt. First Spear’s video on the Missing Link shows them putting it on a different way than I do, because that’s how their belt’s loop interface is positioned. On a competition double belt, you want the hooks on the outside. It took me a bit to figure this out, but it works quite well.

Installation is easy enough, and can be demonstrated in pictures, or in that video shown above.

Now, review time… there were things I liked about the Missing Link, and things I didn’t love.

On the upside… the interface is pretty secure, or at least as secure as your clip and belt are, especially when using the hook interface. The installation of the Missing Link is also fast and easy, or at least as fast and easy as threading the PALS is. They’re also not all that expensive.

There are downsides, though. There is a tiny bit of movement since the Missing Link isn’t all that tight. Not a big deal for mag pouches, but some people like their gear to never move at all on their belt. It’s also not really perfect for double belts because there’s nothing to secure placement on the outer belt. It won’t fall off, but it will move around until you place the outer belt on your inner belt securely. The biggest problem, though, is that they’re just a little too loose for a double rifle mag pouch, and they hang out at a pretty bad angle out to the side. Single mag pouches are great, I’ll probably try a different solution for the double pouches.

In any event, if you’ve got a single mag PALS pouches that need a belt attachment, this seems like a pretty good option that won’t break the bank.

TOC Active Threat Response AAR

Ever since I started coaching a youth shooting sports team, the medical aspect of shooting has loomed a little larger in my consciousness. While we run very safe practices, life comes at you fast, and you need to be prepared for the worst eventualities. It was serendipity, or at least a nice coincidence, when I saw that TOC was offering a class that combined active threat management, Stop the Bleed, and some shooting. When another class with them got canceled, I applied the payment to their Active Threat Response class.

What did I think? Read on!

Continue reading TOC Active Threat Response AAR

Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov AAR

The first really expensive guns I ever bought was a Galil SAR SBR that was built by the fine gentlemen “TennGalil” over at Hillbilly Firearms . The full build cost me about $2000, which, in retrospect, I suppose doesn’t sound like a lot compared to what higher-end AKs cost now.

Despite it being a rather amazing piece of kit, I barely ever shoot it anymore. There’s not a lot of room in the competition world for an iron-sighted AK if you care about really competitive. Thus, I was quite enthused about Green Ops offering their newer Defensive Kalasknikov class You can read on for my impressions.

Continue reading Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov AAR

Sentinel Concepts Practical Shotgun AAR

I make no secret that I like to train with a diverse variety of instructors. I think this makes you a better shooter, and it also gives you a lot more perspective on what you see in classes. In this case, Green Ops was hosting Sentinel Concepts for a shotgun class. Sentinel Concepts is a one-man show run by Steve Fisher, who’s one of the biggest names in the tactical shooting community. Needless to say, I was excited by the opportunity to train with him, and signed up months in advance.

Was it worth it? Read on!

Continue reading Sentinel Concepts Practical Shotgun AAR

SpartanCore Charon (Vehicle-Borne Tactics) AAR

I always enjoy training with new instructors. Everyone’s got a different take on subject matter, and even small tweaks to technique can lead to big gains over time. Thus, when I saw that SpartanCore was offering a new vehicle tactics class (“Charon”), I was excited not only to get in some training in and around vehicles, but to also learn more about SpartanCore and the people involved.

How did it go? Read on!

Continue reading SpartanCore Charon (Vehicle-Borne Tactics) AAR

New Blaster: EAA/Girsan MC1911S with Custom CHPWS Plate

Since I have a ton of large pistol primers, I decided I’d supplement my 9mm expenditure by loading some 45 Automatic (aka, 45 ACP). My load recipe is a boring old 230gr coated bullet on top of 5.3gr of Unique with max OAL.

I have a couple guns in 45 Auto, but neither of them is something I’d want to use for a daily driver due to relative rarity (especially my KSN GAL). I splurged a bit, and picked up an EAA Girsan MC1911S, which has a factory optics cut and accessory rail. It’s really quite fetching!

Holster compatibility is problematic, but there are options out there. The trigger pull is nothing to write home about, but not worse than any other cheap 1911. The accessory rail seems to be in spec. The magazine well was tight – maybe a bit too tight, as a couple of random 1911 magazines wouldn’t fit in it. It fired my handloads with 100% reliability, which is not nothing, though.

It came with a factory optic. Said factory optic is a “Derry”, and it is obvious garbage. It sells on Alibaba for $35 in bulk. While I am sure that margins on reflex sights are not horrible for most manufacturers, I’ve got a lot of qualms about the reliability of something that’s retailing for $35 – and other reviews of this pistol seemed to indicate that failures happened quickly. It uses a Docter footprint, which is not really a terrible footprint, but none of the cool guy sights use it anymore. Suffice it to say, I did not bother with this optic at all.

Enter C&H Precision Weapon Systems (CHPWS). Utilizing some shared contacts, I was able to contract CHPWS to develop a better red dot plate with the Holosun HS507K footprint. It was not cheap, and it took a while, but the results were gorgeous, and the HS507K is just the right width for my pistol – a bit of overhang on the sides, but far less than an RMR. It also exudes a sort of quality that the factory sight didn’t even come close to replicating.

The radius matches the slide perfectly. You can see the usual CNC milling angles, which I consider acceptable for this sort of purpose.

When I took my new gun out to the range, I was impressed. The optic was rock solid on the slide, and the gun kept on running with 100% reliability. While I had to fight the trigger a bit to keep my shots in the same hole, when I did my part, the accuracy at 10yds was excellent.

You can get an optics-equipped Girsan MC1911S for about $600 off Gunbroker. My optics plate was a $200 custom job, but keep in mind that normal plates from CHPWS start from $70 on up – so paying a fair bit more for something that literally didn’t exist and probably doesn’t have much of a market doesn’t seem terribly unfair to me – and perhaps it’ll be slightly cheaper for you since the design work is done now. With the 507K, I’m about a thousand bucks in, total.

I’m looking forward to using this gun at a class or two, and for messing around at the range. I suppose I could even run it in IDPA Carry Optics if I felt like being an iconoclast. A trigger job would probably make it a much more comfortable shooter, so that’s an upgrade I’ll be looking into when funds allow.

There’s a touch of overhang because a 1911’s slide is 0.9″, and the 507K’s width is 0.98″. But .04″ off the side isn’t much.

3D Printing Adventures: Upgrading The NiteScout A3

I’ll keep this one short but sweet. My readers may recall my review of the NiteScout A3, and some various caveats I had about it. Believe it or not, I still rather enjoy the rifle in its SBR form, and have been trying to figure out how to give it a modern handguard. The handguard that came on the A3 could charitably be described as heavy and obsolete.

When I was looking at pictures online of various MP5 handguards, I was struck by the realization that they looked rather similar to the A3 handguards in how they attached. Rolling the dice, I bought a PTR-9 aluminum handguard to see if I could fit it.

Shockingly, it screwed straight into the retainer. But this left me with a problem: the tube that protects the screw connecting the front sight to the receiver was too long, and so was the screw.

Enter my 3D printer! A bit of OpenSCAD coding and a couple of test runs netted me a tube that fit just right. After a quick run to Home Depot for the correct screw (1/4-20 coarse, 3″ long), I had my handguard adapter all ready to go

The original part was aluminum, so the plastic replacement is not necessarily as robust. But there’s really no weight bearing component to this, and all of the pressure is directed into compressing the layers. Even a tube with somewhat small infill is more than enough to do this job.

I am genuinely stunned that NiteScout didn’t just outfit these guns with MP5 and MP5K handguards right out the gate. It would not surprise me at all if you could put on a MP5K handguard with either no tube or a very short one. But, in any event, I managed to fix this problem on my own. Next stop: Magpul SL grip and safety…

I ran the gun hard last night at SASP practice, and the 3D printed part seemed to hold up just fine. No problems with heat damage were observed. The gun itself isn’t really a Steel Challenge champ (that long, heavy trigger!), but it is super reliable, which is not nothing.

ETA (9/6/2021): The Magpul HK94 safety works quite well with the gun. The SL grip… not so much. Even after shaving down the back of it to be flush with the receiver, the gun still refused to fire when I dropped the hammer. I assume there is some sort of tolerance issue with how the hammer is positioned with regards to the bolt, but have not had time to track it down.

IWI-US Announces the Galil ACE Gen II

IWI-US has announced the release of the Galil ACE Gen II guns. For now, it seems like the 7.62×51 ACE isn’t being upgraded, but the 5.45×39 version is getting a bump to full-production status.

As you can see from the picture, there’s been some changes:

  • The buttstock is AR compatible.
  • The trigger has supposedly been upgraded.
  • The handguard is MLOK, and free-floated. It also looks moderately longer, but that may be a scaling trick.
  • No more built-in iron sights.
  • Upgraded safety lever.

My personal take is that this was probably a manufacturing optimization as much as an upgrade, but it is an upgrade nonetheless. Keen readers would be advised to keep their eyes open for closeout Gen I ACEs at the usual suspects.

On a similar note, IWI also recently released a minor update to the Uzi Pro, giving it a threaded barrel.

TOC Vehicle Ambush Tactics – Pistol AAR

After training with TOC last year in a really well-thought-out carbine class, I had made it a priority this year to try to take another class with them. Thankfully, they scheduled their “Vehicle Ambush Tactics – Pistol” class on a day I could take it, so I signed up ASAP.

I’ve never done any shooting in or around vehicles, so I had almost no expectations walking in. I just wanted to learn some new skills, do a little shooting under stress, and maybe have a bit of fun. I think I accomplished all those goals. Read on for more.

Continue reading TOC Vehicle Ambush Tactics – Pistol AAR

Green Ops Practical Red Dot Pistol Skills AAR

The combined threats of the pandemic and ammo shortage have been causing me to be a little more selective than usual about my training selections in 2021 so far. But when I saw that Green Ops was introducing a red dot pistol skills class, I was intrigued and knew I’d be taking it. I am 100% sold on the benefits of red dot pistols, and was curious as to how Green Ops would approach that subject matter. Read on for what I thought!

Continue reading Green Ops Practical Red Dot Pistol Skills AAR