Newsletter #1, October 31, 2009

Issue #1, October 31, 2009

The Tactical Toolbox Newsletter provides product reviews, training thoughts, political thoughts and anecdotal tidbits about shooting, self-defense and current Toolbox community events.

Training Update:

Basic Carbine Operations #1 – Rainout!

Basic Carbine Operations 1, held October 17th, was a rainout event.  Apparently any pictures taken of this event were lost due to iPhone sogginess.  The day started well at almost 8 AM with no rain, but the ever present threat of such.  A light rain started during the base zero stage.  By the time the class started it was drizzling steadily.  This class showed the promise of making real men out of the participants.  At the end of section one, Rifle Shooting Positions: Accuracy, the rain was pretty steady.  Later it became so hard that water soaked down through my legs and filled up my hikers.  After that, my shoes squished when I walked.  It would have been alright until the wind started to blow and the shelter I set up to protect the paper target supplies wasn’t doing so well.  We had to remove the supplies from the area, stow them in the heated support shack, and take the cover off the shelter.  The new 10-8 Tactical training targets worked ok, even on the wet target backer boards until the wind picked up and chose select times to blow the target off the board.  At least twice, shooters were lining up on target for the next stage of practice when the wind would pick up and rip the target from the board.  At this point, I declared a ceasefire so we could re-evaluate training this day.

The shooters were real champs and desired to continue at least until two or three in the afternoon.  So, we made a course change.  Shooting bowling pins in the now constant heavy rain, we continued through combat shooting positions, ambidextrous shooting, and shooting on the move.  After a lunch which included sitting close to heaters to stave off the chill, we again took to the range for more instruction and a hasty final grade testing process, adapted for the bowling pins.  At this point, rain had tapered off a little and the wind continued to gust, enough to blow over my heavy main targets.  The testing process worked out fairly well as the shooters had to get some “teaching to the test” instruction prior to some test objectives.  Soon the rain had stopped enough to set up targets again so we could resume some more sections of the course (shortened of course for the time constraints).

One section we covered was rapid fire.  Rapid fire is necessary due to the anemic nature of some of our carbine’s cartridge and barrel length combinations.  What is taught is to be able to rapid fire rounds into a target at 5, 10, and 20 yards as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger.  Each shot is aimed, if possible.  The Next Generation Arms rifles carried by our shop are excessively good for this objective.  Both shooters could keep most if not all their bullets inside a 7” circle at 15 and 20 yards in bursts of two to ten or more rounds.  One shooter was using a Leupold Mark 4 2.5x-8x tactical scope and was not prior familiar with shooting a scope.  He was still able to rapid fire shoot and even excelled at it, zippering a five or so inch group with all the impacts vertically strung in a cool line up the target’s torso.  This was exactly what I liked to see.  Very impressive.  I wish I had pictures.

Overall the students were happy with their experience and, due to the shortened class and rainout, are invited back at a much reduced rate for the second half of Basic Carbine Operations 1 (now a two day, 16 hour course).

Now Available!

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Available in sizes, S, M, L, XL and 2XL.  Hurry, your size might move fast.  Limited supplies!  $12.00 ea.  Hanes Beefy-T shirt.  Turn inside out for washing.image003

Don’t be without your zombie plan t-shirt!  Be the first on your block to get this stylish shirt!

Training, it works!

Varmint Update

Last night, the dogs started barking.  Actually, it was this morning at 2:30 AM.  By the time I got out there, ten minutes had passed.  It helps if you wake up on your own instead of after your wife investigates by opening a window, then has to wake you.  So, when I got outside with my uber-cool tactical rifle and flashlight combo, I had to search around to see what was causing the dogs to bark.  I soon found eyes out in the pasture or up in a tree.  By the time I had determined those weren’t goat eyes looking back at me, whoever owned those eyes had rounded the other side of the tree in which it was perched.  Outside, alone at two in the morning, those glowing eyes are kind of creepy.  If hadn’t had so much experience with this kind of thing, my blood might have been pumping a little harder.

After determining that this was a varmint (still unidentified), I moved to a different location to get a better bead on the critter.  This brought me down to the edge of the pasture.  There I got a good enough glimpse of the thing to determine it was a giant raccoon and not a cougar.  Not that it mattered too much in determining whether I would let him have it.  My angle on him was good enough, but he kept looking away from the light.  So, I had to do a body shot.  The thing that bothered me was how I couldn’t see much of his body because the EoTech was too bright and the circle covered up enough so I had to gauge my shot based on where his rump was.  I took the shot and down he came, about thirty feet down.  I saw him squirming on the ground and called it good.  I was using handloaded Sierra 60 HP loads, my regular defensive stuff.

There were two things I noted from this experience.  Number one: NGA rifle muzzle brakes are LOUD!  I need one or two things for this kind of thing—electronic ear muffs and/or a silencer.  My folks even woke up and heard the shot.  Number two: my training from the week before paid off in a clean shot, good trigger control, etc. despite the conditions and my lack of ear protection.

Sale Items!

New for 2009 – Beta:


The new Tactical Toolbox 3 point sling is now available in a beta version for $42.  It comes with a stainless snapshackle which can be traded in for a oxide black one when available.  Students in the Basic Carbine Operations course can attest that this sling is THE SOLUTION to all sling problems.  It starts out as a regular 3 point sling except that the carry is much higher and more in control than other 3 point slings.  When needed, it can be instantly converted to a single point sling for ambidextrous use.  No other sling is as simple, nor converts as fast.  It easily adjusts to every body type as well as is modular to adapt to different styles of sling attachment points.

Buy it now!  Only $42.00 for the world’s finest sling design!

Email me at to find out about magazines on sale!

GI AR15/M16 30 round aluminum magazines with orange or gray Magpul 3rd generation followers on sale!  $9.50 ea. These are blowout prices!


Tactical Optics for your carbine:

Concerning my personal rifles, a lot of thought has gone into what kind of optic really improves a rifle’s performance over the iron sights and is useful for the purposes a rifle is likely to be put to use.  I have investigated at length the zero magnification electronic optics, scopes, magnifiers, etc.  Here are my thoughts on each.  Take it for what it’s worth.

Red dot sights:

image009Red dot sights such as Aimpoint, EoTech, ProPoint, Fastfire, Trijicon, all have similar features and some dissimilar shortcomings.  Their similar features are that they are typically smaller than regular magnifying riflescopes and lighter.  They have zero magnification optics which can facilitate the use of flip up iron sights through the visual field of the optics.  Almost all of them require batteries.  Some fit regular scope caps for water intrusion; others require something special while the Trijicon and Burris Fastfire don’t seem to have any caps to seal out water.

These sights are good for closer ranges and larger target sizes than are riflescopes.  Conversely, less precise aiming is possible with them.  It’s hard to beat a zero magnification optic at six feet!  But, if you’re into occasionally popping a varmint at 50-100 yards, you’re on less certain ground.  You’re on even more uncertain ground if you encounter an enemy who is peeking around a corner and presenting you with half a head shot at 50-100 yards.  If, for some reason your batteries fail or your electronic optic just outright burns out, you can always immediately flip up the irons and go to town.  This feature cannot be duplicated using a riflescope.

My experience is, when your rifle prints ½ to 1 ½ MOA, why use a zero magnification optic, especially if your potential range requirement might exceed 200 yards?  Many a time I’ve wanted more power, whether popping a steel plate at 300 yards or engaging a deadly squirrel nemesis at 50 yards or more.  Less and less am I impressed with the EoTech I have for anything other than a dedicated close range rifle.



A lot of people might scoff at the idea of a riflescope on a CQB rifle.  What I have found is, I look for a lower powered optic with a zoom capability that would render it useful at 50-300 yards for head sized targets.  If the rifle can do it, I can see to do it.  This lower powered optic can be as low as 1x or 2.5x and still range up to 4x and 8x.  Recently, a student purchased a Leupold Mark 4 2.5x-8x illuminated reticle optic for use in the Basic Carbine course.  This ended up working well and he used the illuminated part pretty much the whole day.  We found that aimed shots at 5 and 10 yards were still quick and possible.  I found that the illuminated part of the reticle very useful and comparable in close range usefulness to zero magnification optics.  The key is teaching both eyes open techniques.  Not only can it be done, but it is essential to true ambidextrous use of combat arms.  With a rifle scope and illuminated reticle, flipping down the front scope cap allows your right eye to superimpose the lighted image onto the primary image the left eye is giving.  This allows very good close range aiming.

The downsides to riflescopes are that they do not work with irons unless the scope is entirely removed, they tend to be heavier/bulkier than the red dot optics, and they’re slightly more difficult to get used to both eyes open techniques.  The upsides are precise aiming at extended distances and thereby a greater effective range for the rifle.  My personal opinion is, for a general purpose combat rifle, riflescopes are the way to go, especially the Leupold Mark 4.



Magnifiers are the response to the “need” for magnification without losing the close range capabilities of a zero magnification optic.  They generally work in either a flip-to-the-side mount or in a quick detach mount.  They typically are in 3x or 4x.  They do allow for use of the rifle in both a magnified mode and true zero magnification.

However, there is a problem with the concept.  The problem is two fold.  First, maxing out at 3x is hardly worth the extra weight and 4x is again hardly worth it, especially when the dot size doesn’t get smaller, but rather larger.  You aren’t going to be aiming more precisely.  Second, the whole fix is rather Rube Goldberg-ish in that the setup is cumbersome, more so than a single riflescope, and then leaves you with either an extra part to stow, or with a giant weight hanging on your rifle which isn’t doing your ambidextrous close quarters combat any good.  From my investigation, I decided against such an idea due to the above factors.


If you are looking for a dedicated 0-50 yard rifle, a zero magnification optic is probably the choice, if you don’t just opt for straight irons.  If you are looking for a general purpose 0-300+ yard rifle, one of the low power variables should be your choice.  I would recommend against the magnifiers.

This letter brought to you courtesy of The Tactical Toolbox.

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