Vltor CASV-EL Handguard

Posted in AR, Uppers, WEAPONS on December 31st, 2006 by M M

This writeup has been a long time in coming, as the CASV-EL from Vltor Weapons Systems has been out a couple of years now. The original CASV was orignally offered by Abrams Airborne, and when Abrams acquired Vltor, Eric Kincel (general manager and head designer) re-designed the CASV specifically for the U.S. Navy. It was adopted by the U.S. Navy EOD (West Coast) in the tan version, and once that contrat was fulfilled, Vltor offered it to the public in 3 colours – tan (ELT), black (EL) and OD green (ELG).

The CASV-EL is made entirely of aluminum, with the exception of the mounting hardware, which is stainless steel. It’s basically designed for carbine-length gas systems like the M4 or M4 CQB 10.3″ barreled upper, and attaches to the top of the flat top receiver without alteration to the host weapon or gunsmithing needed. The barrel remains free-floated; the handguard does not touch any part of the barrel except at the barrel nut. The ‘EL’ refers to ‘ extended length – the CASV ‘extends’ the available rail space past the front sight tower. The CASV-EL weighs less than 16 oz.


Vltor VIS update

Posted in AR, Uppers, WEAPONS on December 31st, 2006 by M M

Production version update – All three versions (carbine, midlength and rifle) of the VIS are now in production and available. Very little has been changed from the pre-production prototype shown above. There have been minor changes to the lower handguard and a re-designed latch. Instead of a small hole for bullet tip, the latch is now bent over to allow anything that will fit in there to be used to pry it up. It’s tight, and designed that way, as the lower handguard isn’t meant to be removed and replaced all the time. Provisions for mounting an M203 has also been added, and a rear mount is supplied with each kit. When I wrote the preview above, I wasn’t able to disassemble the upper, so I’ve shown more photos of the un-barreled receiver below.


Visit to Vltor ‘Photo essay’ Part 2 – At the range

Posted in MISCELLANEOUS, Vltor on December 28th, 2006 by M M

During the factory tour, I took a look at some of the weapons we’d be shooting the next day at the range. Vltor has an extensive weapons library/collection, both for the fun of shooting, and also for research and product development. Recently, they purchased pretty much the entire line of FN weapons, so it was good timing for me to visit. I got the chance to shoot weapons that most civilians would never have the chance to.

On Saturday morning, Eric and I met the fellows at Vltor, and loaded up a large enclosed trailer (complete with tables inside), with all sorts of machine guns, spare barrels, and can upon can of ammunition. Vltor doesn’t have gun safes – they have walk-in gun vaults/rooms. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun loading up weapons for a shoot. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m carrying a Mk46 in my left hand and a Mk48 in the right. This is SO cool.”

Note: I’m not going to go deep into the technical details and descriptions of each weapon featured here simply because I’m not intimately familiar with them; I’d only be parroting what information I found. I’ll provide additional links that I find relevant, for further reading and information. I’m writing from a weapons enthusiast/layman’s point of view with limited (or no) experience with some of these weapons when I share my impressions of shooting these weapons.


Alta MultiCam knee pads

Posted in EQUIPMENT, Protective on December 27th, 2006 by M M

Alta Industries’s knee pads are now available in Crye MultiCam, exclusively from SKD Tactical. The problem I’ve had with similar designs is that they don’t stay put, always making their way down my legs, necessitating the tightening of the elastic straps. The Superflex knees pads, on the other hand, don’t have two elastic straps like the other similar-looking brands; the bottom strap is non-elastic webbing. Whoever came up with that simple solution deserves a medal. By having a non-elastic strap at the bottom, below the knee, it prevents the knee pad from slipping down the calf. It’s also more comfortable than a tight elastic strap. Crye MultiCam cordura is used in the construction of the pads.


Vltor Bipod Preview

Posted in Access, AR, WEAPONS on December 26th, 2006 by M M

Vltor’s bipod (or bipod legs) take a different approach to the rail mounted bipod. Instead of a one-piece assembly that attaches to the bottom of a rail, the Vltor bipod legs mount to the host weapon separately on the side rails. Instead of folding beneath the handguard, the Vltor bipod legs stow above the centerline of the bore, reminiscent of the Sake TRG 22/42.

The Vltor bipod utilizes the carbon fiber-reinforced TangoDown legs from the ACB-4 bipod featured below, and will be available in tan or black. Instead of a common center mount to which the legs are attached, each leg has its own rail clamp. Some of you might recognize it as the same thumbscrew mechanism as seen on Vltor’s Tactical Light Scout Mount. Each leg is simply attached anywhere on the side rails. The legs can be mounted to stow facing backwards or forwards. When mounted facing back, they’re located further forward on the rail, and vice versa. Since there is no built-in traverse feature, mounting them further back on the rail, facing forward, makes it easier to traverse from side-to-side, as the pivot point is closer to the shooter. However, for an SPR or target type rifle, mounting them forward like a conventional bipod works as well. There is no cant feature built in, either, except for the 3 height adjustments in the legs for uneven ground.


Visit to Vltor ‘Photo essay’ Part 1

Posted in MISCELLANEOUS, Vltor on December 25th, 2006 by M M

Back in November, I spent a weekend at Vltor Weapon Systems/Abrams Airborne Manufacturing Inc., in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve known Eric Kincel, general manager for Vltor, ever since Vltor introduced their modstocks to the market a few years ago when I became one of their first customers. Vltor was started by Eric and investors in Idaho, and Vltor was bought by Abrams Airborne in 2005 and moved operations to Tucson, AZ. Abrams is a designer, manufacturer and fabricator of all kinds of commercial, military and aerospace products, with almost every manufacturing process available in-house, including CNC machining, sheet metal bending and stamping, welding, dip brazing, bonding, metal finishing…the list goes on. With all these resources available to Vltor, Vltor has been able to greatly expand its product line and capabilites.

Eric’s a genuine ‘good guy’ and in my personal opinion, currently one of the most innovative and knowledgeable weapons designers in the industry. He draws from his passion for the study of firearms technology and history, and years in the firearms industry, some of them spent as a writer for Gun World magazine, and designer/product developer at Knight’s Manufacturing Company and has worked with Reed Knight and Eugene Stoner. Vltor’s designs are ones that I can get genuinely excited about, and I’m always bugging Eric to let me in on what’s new on the drawing board. Ever since Vltor moved to Tucson, Eric has extended an open invitation to me to ‘come on out and shoot’, and I finally had the time to take him up on his offer in November.


Crye MultiCam Water Transfer Printing

Posted in Crye Precision, MISCELLANEOUS on December 22nd, 2006 by M M

We’re all familiar with the results of Water Transfer printing – the process is in use all around us on many common items. Hunters use it on their mossy oak or woodland-coloured shotguns and ATVs; it’s used to put faux woodgrain and carbon fiber on car parts, graphics on cell phones etc. Water Transfer printing is essentially a process that transfers an ink pattern onto a 3D surface/object. There are some limitations to the process of course, depending on the material and complexity of the item.

Here’s the Water Transfer process in a nutshell. Before dipping, the item must be prepped, similar to prepping for painting. The surface must be completely clean and free from oils, and sometimes a chemical etch is used. A primer or base coat is applied if necessary, often using one of the base colours (the lightest) in the pattern.


Timney/POF drop-in AR15 trigger group

Posted in Access, AR, WEAPONS on December 22nd, 2006 by M M

Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF-USA) worked with famous trigger maker Timney Mfg. to develop the Timney Mfg. Part #661 drop-in AR15 trigger group. This is a self-contained unit, along the lines of the McCormick Super-Match AR15 trigger (which they don’t seem to be making any longer). Instead of supplying you with separate components (new hammer, disconnect, trigger etc) which you install and adjust yourself, the #661’s individual components are assembled in a gold-anodized aluminum housing which is then installed in the lower receiver, in place of the stock trigger components. No adjustment is needed or possible by the end user.

The single-stage trigger pull is set at 3lbs. I don’t have a trigger pull gauge to verify that, but it’s lighter than the McCormick triggers I have. The trigger only moved .030″ to pull and reset. The trigger and disconnector are A2 tool steel and the hammer is S7 shock-resistant tool steel. The aluminum components are machined. The tool steel EDM’d, then heat treated and hardened to 58-62 HRC. The hammer spring is stainless, and the disconnect and trigger springs chrome silicon.


Rammite Australia Merino Wear

Posted in Clothes, GEAR on December 21st, 2006 by M M

Hailing from down under is Rammite Australia’s Merino Layering System, shown here with more of their military items available from MissionPac. Rammite is based in Perth Western Australia and their entire operation is run inside Australia from selection of the merino wool to the final making of the garment in Perth.

Some of the advantages of wool are durability, insulation for both hot and cold climates, absorbance (wicking), flame resistance (natural fibers are recommended if exposure to flame is a risk), resilience, odour and static resistance. However, I’m very cautious when it comes to wool products, as I’m one of those individuals in the minority whose skin can get irritated even by the fine fibers of Merino wool, which I mentioned in my writeup on the Arc’teryx Emissary T-shirt. There’s no such thing as an ‘allergy’ to wool, but rather a hyper-sensitivity of some individuals to the thickness of fibers. I asked Ric from Rammite to expound on the subject, and this is what he explained:


OR Gear Gloves

Posted in EQUIPMENT, Protective on December 20th, 2006 by M M

Outdoor Research is well known as a leading manufacturer of outdoor gear, clothing and equipment in the mountaineering/outdoor enthusiast arena. Expanding their market is the Outdoor Research Government Programs division, which has military/LE-specific items not offered on the civilian side, and also some crossover items from the civvie line. They offer a bewildering array of gloves and the models shown below are just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to gloves, there’s always a balance to be struck between dexterity, tactility (sensitivity to manipulation by feeling), and insulation or protection. Just to give the reader a common frame of reference for how much tactility the following gloves have, I performed a simple test – loading 9mm rounds into a pistol magazine. This requires picking up the round, identifying the right end, inserting it into the mag etc, both by looking and then by feel only with eyes closed.