Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk by Richard Henie

Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk

At SHOT this year, I was lucky enough to meet a living legend in the industry, Richard Heinie.  If that last name sounds familiar, it should; Richard Heinie is a renowned gunsmith responsible for some of the best gun sights ever created.  Many pistol shooters swear by his sights, and Nighthawk Custom swears by his designs that they implement on almost every 1911 they produce, such as their new “Lady Hawk” that they’ll be releasing this year.

Craig Gholson (CEO of Nighthawk Custom), Chris Costa (Magpul Dynamics President), and Richard Heinie (industry legend and Nighthawk Custom Consultant) @ SHOT 2011

First off, it was real treat being able to spend the limited amount of time with Richard talking about his various projects.  The project he seemed most proud of, and with good reason, was the Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk.  The Lady Hawk was a real beauty of a 1911, I mean all 1911s are beautiful in their own right, but some of the features on the Lady Hawk really stand out.  As the name implies, the Lady Hawk is tailored towards women shooters (a demographic that is growing as fast as the industry itself).

Ironically, the main design feature Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk was inspired by Richard Heinie‘s own shooting ergonomics.  The new 1911 brainchild of Heinie features a slimmed down and shortened grip making it a little easier for smaller hands to handle.   The Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk also features Heinie’s Logo on the rear of the rear of the slide, match everything, a handsome skeletal trigger, and of course some Heinie night sights.  The one feature that blew me away though would have to be the barrel–it’s custom fluted to not only make it look cool, but stay cool.  Even though I’m sporting a pair of banana hands, I would still love to get my grips around this pistol.

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New OPMOD (Optics Planet Modification) Products

Optics Planet is launching a new limited edition line of products named OPMOD (Optics Planet Modification).  The most notable product would have to be the new OPMOD EoTech EXPS.  This new limited edition from Optics Planet has all the same features of the regular EXPS such as a quick throw lever, optimized height for 1/3 cowitness, and a shorter profile.  What sets the OPMOD EoTech EXPS apart from other EPXS is the obvious OPMOD logo on the side, but more importantly, the price.  The OPMOD EoTech EXPS is only $495 dollars plus free shipping which is about 100 dollars less than anywhere else.  I got a chance to use the EXPS at SHOT this year and it was a blast to use.  The OPMOD EXPS will come in two flavors, the typical 65 MOA circle with a 1 MOA dot, or two 1 MOA dots.


The other OPMOD product out is a special Optics Planet double rifle bag.  Again, the most desired feature of this bag is its low price at $80.  The new bag is PVC coated, features MOLLE webbing on the inside and has a couple large  pockets to help store those ever increasing range accessories shooters seem to stack up.  The new bag is advertised as a shooters mat, drag bag, and double rifle case.  I suppose if the bag is fully opened one could use it as a shooters mat, although there’s no pics on Optics Planet depicting this.

The OPMOD bag seems like a solid product for the price.  I have some reservations about the “double rifle” capacity considering the rifles aren’t separated by foam or an insert like other double rifle bags and that could lead to my expensive carbines/rifles rubbing up against each other even though they’re straps to hold the rifle down.  However, for the price it doesn’t seem like a bad deal.  The bags come in black or desert tan and are available only at

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Crimson Trace Laserguards for P238

The new concealed carry movement has pushed sales of super-micro-sub-compact pistols which have been the best selling firearms for the last 2 years.  Crimson Trace has been making a new line of laser sights for these palm sized pistols called Laserguard, and the newest addition to that line is the Laserguard for the Sig Sauer P238.  Since many of these concealed carry movement gun owners are first time gun owners, and owning a gun only for protection, a reliable laser sight could serve as a great accessory for their new size-doesn’t-matter pistol.

One thing is for sure about laser sights, they are intimidating.  Nothing works faster than a laxative like having your forehead painted with a laser attached to the business end of a firearm.  The new Laserguard laser sights from Crimson Trace could serve this new community of shooters rather well; it’ll dramatically increase their accuracy being that they haven’t been shooting for years, and it’ll give them more confidence to carry.  However, no matter how many do-dads you’ve put on  your firearm, nothing will increase accuracy like mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship.

Personally, I find lasers to be somewhat distracting–that laser bouncing up almost takes away too much of my concentration from the sight picture and I find that using standard iron sights on a pistol is just faster for me.

Anyway, the new Crimson Trace P238 Laserguard seems like a top notch laser sight being that the dot size is a mere .5″ at 50 feet and it’s a 633nm class IIIa laser–which is the maximum output allowable by federal law for civilian lasers.  The laser is activated as soon as you grab the pistol by a pressure pad on directly underneath the trigger guard on the grip. The Laserguard is adjustable both windage and elevation and comes with a 3 year warranty.

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US Optics SN-4S Review

SN-4S on SCAR 17s


The 1-4x optic is an optic that is gaining popularity in both tactical applications and competitive venues.  From CQB to medium range engagements, the 1-4x optic is extremely versatile for tactical applications. For 3-gun competitions it provides the competitor a quick option for both his/her close targets to ones out to 400 yards.

With all the hype around Nightforce and Trijicon, I feel that US Optics is sometimes left behind in the quality optics discussion.  US Optics has had contracts with the USMC and many law enforcement agencies, so most hardcore shooters and long range forum regulars know about them—I feel their recognition is far less for Joe the average shooter even though the typical range warrior will know about Trijicon or Nightforce whose prices are similar.

Although I’ve shot with Trijicon’s Accupoint 1.5-4 (I haven’t had a chance yet to try out their newer true 1-4), and I’ve had some experience with Nightforce’s NXS 1-4, I’ve never had the pleasure of shooting with a US Optics scope.   So when Jeff Fertal at US Optics offered us a SN-4S to review, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve only seen their scopes on display, and I was thoroughly pleased with my initial impressions, so finally getting to shoot with one for a couple of months was a real treat.  After using the US Optics (USO for short) SN-4S on an AR-15, Bushmaster ACR, and a FNH SCAR-H, I’m finally ready to give readers my feedback and introduce them to a quality 1-4x optic that I think has been overlooked by many shooters out there.                                                  click read more to continue the review

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Roni Civilian Carbine Conversion

Roni 16" barrel

Along with expanding their RONI pistol-carbine conversion kits to include more handgun models such as Sig Sauers, Berretas, and Smith and Wessons, CAA is going to finally offer a RONI that you won’t need a tax stamp to operate.  CAA is releasing a RONI pistol-carbine conversion kit with a 16″ barrel, so all those people reluctant to purchase a carbine conversion for their pistol due to that 200 dollar tax stamp and wait time can finally put those reservations away.  CAA has really expanded the RONI line to include almost all popular handgun models and they’ve also expanded their color options, and finally, they expanded the barrel making it easier to own.

I got to shoot the standard SBR RONI with a Glock 17 at SHOT a few weeks back and I was quite surprised with how easy it is to convert (takes a whole 45 seconds), and it was just as easy to operate.  I suspect a lot more people jumping on this since it’ll be easier to obtain without the fiscal and opportunity costs involved with CAA’s NFA version of the RONI.  Expect the new civilian RONI to be out sometime mid 2011.

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New Lancer Magazines and QuickMag

Lancer Translucent Magazines

In the age of Magpul; it’s easy to forget that other companies make some good magazines for the AR15 as well.  A few years ago, Lancer Systems came out with the translucent magazine that we pretty successful but was quickly overshadowed by the by Magpul mania–I myself am guilty of also having this fever.  At Shot Show this year, I stopped by the unsuspecting Lancer Systems booth and was quite pleased with their improvements to durability and added features for their new magazines, the L5 Advanced Warfighter, along with some other new products they’ll be releasing this year.

The new Lancer L5 Advanced Warfighter magazine feature a one piece hardened formed steel feed lip which differs it from the completely polymer magazines or USGI magazines we’re accustomed to seeing.  To help against corrosion the steel feed lips are coated with PTFE.  Lancer Systems have also expanded the color options for the L5 magazine keeping its original translucent model but expanding it to 4 different hues which will also be offered in opaque or translucent and 20 or 30 round varieties.  Its nice to see options out there considering almost every single AR15 you see out there, including mine, is always featured with a Magpul magazine–not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s nothing that will incite improvement like competition.  I handled the L5 Advanced Warfighter magazines at SHOT and I was impressed– should have some soon for a complete review sometime before summer.

new Lancer Magazines

Along with the new magazines, Lancer Systems also have an extremely light carbon fiber handguard coming out this summer.  At SHOT these handguards looked great and were very light.  The handguards are coming out in carbine, mid, rifle, and extra long length.  The carbon fiber brought a high speed low drag look to them, and felt great.  There weren’t as slick (texture-wise) as they look, which is a good thing because the last thing we would want are handguards that slip and slide while handling them.

The last thing at the Lancer booth, and the most noticeable would be their new QuickMag attachment.  The first thing that came to my mind (and I’m sure yours as well) is, it’s a polymer RediMag.  Although it was hard to tell, I would say that the Lancer QuickMag will probably be a few ounces lighter than the RediMag, although it won’t be that noticeable with 2 full 30 round magazines attached to it.  Where the Lancer Systems QuickMag differs from the RediMag is in its operation.  There are a few more buttons and levers with the QuickMag.  The QuickMag can drop both magazines, or just one magazine, and it provides a separate button for the bolt catch and release.  It should be noted that the QuickMag is still in its development process and should be available late in 2011.


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Smith and Wesson VTAC M&P Pistol

VTAC M&P 9mm

Smith and Wesson and Viking Tactics collaborative efforts are producing another M&P firearm with the VTAC moniker pasted on it, the M&P VTAC Pistol.  I first saw this pistol surface when I noticed that the Smith and Wesson rep who was in Magpul’s Art of the Dynamic Handgun was using a tan M&P; well, it looks like after 2 years they’re finally going to be available to the public.  The S&W VTAC Pistols have been seen at trade shows such as the NRA Annual Meeting last year in Charlotte and at this year’s SHOT SHOW, but now they’ll finally be in our stores soon.

Aside from the obvious differences from the standard M&P pistols such as color, the new Smith and Wesson M&P VTAC pistols will feature VTACs Warrior Sights which are basically dual stacked 3 dot sight systems–one set of dots are fiber-optic sights for a high viz sight solution during daylight, and standard tritium night sights located about .5 mm underneath the fiber optic sights.  The dual purpose sight picture seems like an ideal solution for combining the best possible methods for gaining a clear sight picture in both lighting conditions without compromising the effectiveness of either system by directly combining them as seen with other combination sights.


The S&W M&P pistols will be offered in 9mm or .40 (no word on a .45 yet).  Along with the VTAC Warrior sightsSmith and Wesson enlarged the trigger guard for the VTAC line of M&Ps making it easier to operate the pistol with gloves on.  Other than that the new Smith and Wesson VTAC M&Ps feature a 17+1 capacity for the 9mm with an unloaded weight of 24 ounces and the .40 will be able to hold 15+1 with a barely noticeable heavier feel of 24.25 ounces unloaded and both models feature a picatinny rail. S&W M&P  VTACs will feature previous attributes of the M&P pistol line such as an ambidextrous slide release, reversible magazine release, and interchangeable grip inserts.  So most of the features you would expect out of the popular M&P line are still there with some added tactical features and a tacti-cool color to create the new M&P VTAC.  Expect the MSRP to be around $650.

M&P VTAC .40 Review

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