All posts by David Zakar

Kestrel KST1000 Shot Timer Review

My review of the AMG Lab Commander shot timer continues to be one of the more popular articles on this blog. There’s good reason for that: the Commander, while not a perfect timer, still sets the standard for size and usability. I use it weekly during the shooting season.

However, as mentioned, the Commander is not perfect. It’s not terribly loud. The waterproofing aspect has been known to be an issue. There’s no backlighting. Seeing the time while you’re wearing it is awkward, and there’s no integrated belt clip. None of these are a big deal, and are weaknesses shared by other timers. However, they did make me want to look into other timers.

Ever since I saw the Kestrel shot timer at SHOT Show in 2022, I’ve wanted to get one. While it’s certainly a fairly large piece of hardware, it seemed like it was designed to address the shortcomings of other shot timers. Did it? Read on.

Continue reading Kestrel KST1000 Shot Timer Review

Active Response Training Close Quarters Gunfighting Class AAR

The last class I took with Greg Ellifritz was his knife class in 2019, which I absolutely loved. In fact, it convinced me to carry a knife on me as much as possible, which was something of a lifestyle change. This positive experience made me really want to take his Active Response Training ECQG class. Well, COVID got in the way and delayed things, but the stars finally lined up, and I was able to enroll in the class.

What did I think? Read on.

Continue reading Active Response Training Close Quarters Gunfighting Class AAR

Somogear PEQ-15 Review

As you’ve seen in my more recent posts, I’ve been getting into the night vision game lately. Ironically, I’d say I’m still spending a lot more time doing competition shooting, but at least the two interests tend to have some skills overlap.

One of the things you quickly discover about the night vision world is that active aiming is awesome, and good IR illuminators are shockingly expensive. You can get a usable IR laser for reasonably cheap ($200-$300 for a Holosun LS117IR), but an IR illuminator that can really throw? That’s going to cost you.

But… what if there were a $250 unit that could give you co-aligned visible and IR lasers along with a reasonably good (but not amazing) IR illuminator? Well, maybe there is. I bought the Somogear PEQ-15 to check out whether this Chinese company broke the code. Did they? Read on.

Continue reading Somogear PEQ-15 Review

Gemtech GVAC Uppers Available

I got an email from Brownells that they Gemtech GVAC uppers are now available.

I know most of you won’t care, BUT these are extremely exciting because they incorporate Gemtech’s bore evacuator technology. This makes gas much less likely to come back into your face, which is a common issue with suppressed shooting (especially if you are using a higher blowback pressure suppressor). Gemtech’s Integra uppers featured this technology prominently; unfortunately, the reflex-style suppressor made the handguards far too hot to hold in short order. If you are making a rifle that is going to spend most of its time suppressed, this upper seems like a really great idea.

A Quick PSA about the Vortex Defender MRDS

I’ll make this post short. I bought a Vortex Defender MRDS to replace a Romeo0 on my backup P365X carry gun. It came, I took it out of the package, and put in a battery to function-test it before I did anything permanent.

It has a TERRIBLE refresh rate at anything other than max brightness. Like, I could cant the optic up and down at a very moderate rate and see a trail of red dots with substantial gaps between them. I have literally never seen this problem before, including on some really cheap optics. I am not sure what caused Vortex to make this design decision, but it was a terrible idea. Unfortunately, higher brightness levels caused substantial halo with the red dot as well. (On the plus side, it got very bright.)

I returned it. The 507K is still the RMSc footprint optic to beat. I thought everything else about the Defender seemed pretty solid, but those were deal killers for me. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy running two UH1s, two Razor LPVOs, and two Razor RDSs. I am perfectly happy buying Vortex. But the Defender… not so much.

Making your own PVS-14-style irises

After messing around with night vision a bit, I discovered that the amount of light you let in makes a huge difference in your ability to see detail at varying distances in different light conditions. There are a couple ways of dealing with this:

  • Flip-up lens cap systems, such as the Phokus Hoplite or the improved Butler Creek setups (sometimes involving 3D printed components)
  • Irises

My RNVG came with a flip-up system with a 3D printed “shutter”. It works well enough, but is not up to hard use. It’s also the wrong color, which offends my aesthetic sensibilities. I knew in my heart that I wanted an iris system. The problem with irises is that the go-to Matbock Tarsier Eclipses are hugely expensive – as in $250 each. While I’m not afraid of spending money when it’s called for, $500 for a couple irises seemed a bridge too far, especially when there had been some complaints that they were so tight that adjustment frequently adjusted focus. If I were using these in a duty context, sure, I’d buy the Matbock solution and then expense it to my unit.

However, with the power of the internet, I discovered there was a far cheaper way of approaching this problem. Here’s the recipe I used:

If you’re in a hurry, you can get the same irises off Amazon for 50% more, but if you use my recipe, it’s ~$50 for each tube. Besides the much more acceptable cost, one thing I really liked about this solution was how I had more finely-grained control over light, and how the sacrificial lens was screwed in (vs sandwiched in my previous setup). The amount of force needed to turn the diaphragm was also just right, and did not affect focus. They also look super cool, and if they get damaged, it’s a LOT less money that I’m out. I was quite impressed with the amount of thread engagement that each piece of this solution also had – the iris and lens are not going to be coming off by accident.

Cosaint COS11 Review

Sometimes, you’re seized by the desire for something a little novel. I had been investing heavily in BUL 2011s (and loving them), and wanted a similar sort of gun for shooting USPSA Single-Stack and IDPA CDP. Of course, USPSA Single-Stack only allows single stack 1911 magazines, so this limits your choices a bit. I initially went looking for a Staccato R in .45 Auto; when this didn’t pan out, I found a different option: the Cosaint COS11, which is very similar in many ways.

Continue reading Cosaint COS11 Review

Green Ops M.A.R.C.H / TCCC Training AAR

Any time there’s a good medical class offered, I try to clear off my schedule so I can take it. I know shooting is more fun, but the reality is that I’m a lot less likely to shoot someone, and a lot more likely to need to treat an injury.

I’ve taken CPR and Stop the Bleed classes, but I’ve never done a TCCC-oriented course. When I saw that Green Ops was offering one, I made sure to sign up. What did I think? Read on.

Continue reading Green Ops M.A.R.C.H / TCCC Training AAR

Sometimes you do beat those odds

As mentioned in passing in other posts, I bought a Smith & Wesson R8 revolver about a year ago that I have basically been using for messing around with OSR and low-light shooting. Reloading 357 Magnum (at 38 Special pressures) is a good excuse to use leftover powder that I am uninterested in stocking longterm (Bullseye, Unique, etc.). Nothing wrong with that, but as any reloader can tell you, swapping out calibers on a progressive press is typically an annoying affair. I also find that 9mm moonclips typically work much better than 357/38 moonclips due to cartridge length. You can see where this is going: I like the R8 in 357 Magnum, but I’d like it a lot better if it were in 9mm.

Continue reading Sometimes you do beat those odds