I have reviewed a number of tactical pens in this column. As simple as a “tactical pen” seems to be, there are a number of different features and price points on the various products on the market. To date, every pen I have reviewed has a removable cap covering the writing implement. This has never been a feature I prefer in a pen. A tactical pen has to be a tactical tool, but first and foremost it has to be easy to use.
The Precision Press model is a “clicky” pen. The pen tip retracts and extends with the push of a button—like your typical retractable ballpoint pen. The large button works very well, and has a muted clicking sound. You can be ready to write with a simple click—no need to take the time to unscrew a cap or risk losing the darn thing. This is a great feature for the way I use a pen.
The Precision Press design is very typical of a standard pen. There are no unusually pointed ends or aggressively sharp protrusions.
As you would expect, this pen is nearly indestructible. It is constructed with an aerospace grade tempered aluminum body, stainless steel tip, and powder-coated spring steel clip. You could drive this pen through a board with a hammer.
The actual writing cartridge is one of the famous “space pen” refills from the Fisher Space Pen Company that is pressurized and will write upside down, underwater, or in just about any temperature range. However, the pen incorporates a spacer that allows for the use of a variety of different refill bands if you prefer something more traditional.
The Precision Press design is very typical of a standard pen. There are no unusually pointed ends or aggressively sharp protrusions. The middle of the barrel is nicely grooved and features rubber O-rings that are both decorative and functional. Of course, there are no logos or brand names to indicate the true nature of this otherwise non-descript pen.
The pen shown is raw aluminum, with no color annodization applied. The raw finish is very attractive and understated. There are also several colors available, including black, red, and digital multi-cam. I like the non-tactical colors, which are great for civilians trying to be low-key and planning to carry the pen as a last ditch weapon.
The Precision Press retails for as little as $85.95, but prices vary a bit across the product line, depending upon the color you select. Tuff Writer pens are made in the U.S.A. and are backed by a lifetime warranty.
When things get tough and your pen is pressed into service as an improvised weapon, a Tuff Writer pen will be up to the task.
If you have any questions about the proper use and application of a tactical pen, I would highly recommend the “Focused Impact: Volume 1” training DVD by Michael Janich. This video features Tuff Writer pens and explains the tactics and techniques for using a tactical pen as a defensive tool. For an additional $29.95, you may consider adding this to your order to be certain you are getting the most out of your Tuff Writer. You may think you understand all the applications of a tactical pen, but I bet you can learn a few things from this excellent 90-minute video.
Check out all the Tuff Writer pens at www.tuffwriter.com. Sometimes a tactical pen may be all you can carry in a non-permissive environment. When things get tough and your pen is pressed into service as an improvised weapon, a Tuff Writer pen will be up to the task. Not to mention, Tuff Writer pens make excellent writing instruments too!
My dad taught me how to clean guns when I was ten years old. Until recently, my basic cleaning tools and supplies hadn’t changed much. We cleaned barrels with an aluminum rod, a metal brush attachment, and a plastic loop attachment. After brushing the barrel, we would run solvent soaked cotton patches through the barrel until it was clean. This would often involve a lot of cotton patches, and you had to use the proper size patch for the barrel you were cleaning. This system worked fine, but required a lot of consumable cotton patch material.
Remington has introduced a new method for cleaning gun barrels using their patented Squeeg-e system. The cleaning process is now reduced to a pass or two with a lubricated bronze brush, and then a single additional pass with the rubberized Squeeg-e attachment. The bore is cleaned with just two or three passes, and no cotton patches. The Squeeg-e works exceptionally well, and saves both time and money.
The brushes and Squeeg-e attachments are designed to be pulled through the bore, from chamber to muzzle, using a cable with a T-handle attachment—so don’t try to use them with a traditional cleaning rod.
It has the potential to save time, save money, and save waste materials. Sometimes the old methods are the best, but sometimes they are just old.
Remington sells the Squeeg-e components separately, but I obtained the Universal Gun Cleaning System, which has all the tools you need to clean most calibers from .22 Long Rifle to 12 Gauge in a complete package. The universal kit comes packed in a small Remington branded range bag. Remington suggests you can use this as a range bag to carry ammo to the range. I prefer to use it to keep all of my other cleaning materials and basic gun tools together.
The Universal Gun Cleaning System is priced at $89.95 from Remington, and is available on its website: www.shopremingtoncountry.com. However, I have seen the same kit from various online merchants for prices closer to $60. Remington also offers smaller sets, or you can buy all the components individually.
If you are ready to try a new cleaning system, you should consider the Remington Squeeg-e system. It has the potential to save time, save money, and save waste materials. Sometimes the old methods are the best, but sometimes they are just old.
Raven Concealment Systems Vanguard Holster
In the movies and on TV, people carry guns tucked into their waistbands without a holster. In reality—that is a bad idea. A holster performs two main functions: 1) it covers the trigger; and 2) it keeps the gun securely in position. Shoving a gun in your waistband is just asking for trouble on both points.
Now if you are a true minimalist and really want to come as close to “Mexican carry” as possible, Raven Concealment Systems offers the Vanguard. The Vanguard is a holster, but sure doesn’t look like one. It is hard to imagine a holster getting much smaller and still being a holster.
The Vanguard is a small hard plastic sleeve that covers the trigger guard area only. The holster body is held to the trigger guard strictly by friction. The Vanguard does a great job of protecting the trigger and preventing an accidental discharge. So far, so good.
The lanyard serves two important functions—it prevents the pistol from slipping too low in the waistband, and it aids in clearing the holster on the draw.
What about keeping the gun in position? The Vanguard gives you a number of options. First, the holster ships with a belt-mounting strut. This adds a belt loop attachment to the Vanguard holster for inside-the-waistband carry. The gun can be secured to the belt in a typical IWB position. The strut can even be adjusted to different carry depths. When worn this way, the Vanguard doesn’t feel much different than a traditional IWB holster, but there is no additional thickness for the typical holster’s external shell.
Alternatively, the Vanguard comes with a braided nylon lanyard. The lanyard can be used in lieu of the belt-mounting strut to secure the gun in the waistband. The lanyard attaches to the Vanguard holster on one end, and your belt on the other. The lanyard serves two important functions—it prevents the pistol from slipping too low in the waistband, and it aids in clearing the holster on the draw. In essence, when the gun is drawn, the lanyard retains the holster and strips it off the gun mid-draw.
The lanyard method actually permits a variety of off-body carry options as well. The lanyard could be used with purse carry, for example. The holster covers the trigger for carry, and securing the lanyard to an anchor point inside the purse ensures the holster will separate from the gun on the draw. I can see similar applications in a briefcase, a car, or maybe even your bedroom. The possibilities are nearly unlimited. RCS describes this holster as having “maximum applications.”
The Vanguard actually comes with a few pages of instructions. It is not that the holster is that hard to use or understand—it is just very different from other holsters you may have used. In particular, there are detailed instructions explaining the lanyard method of carry.
For belt carry, I prefer to use the belt-mounting strut. The holster then holds the gun securely in place, while adding minimal bulk. Keep in mind, of course, that the absence of a holster shell means the gun and any sharp edges are directly against your body. An undershirt between you and the pistol makes the holster much more comfortable if worn for extended periods. However, all things considered, I was very impressed with the ease and comfort of carry. The simplicity of this holster starts to make you wonder if other holster designs are a bit overthought.
… there is no easy way, when using the belt strut, to reholster the gun once drawn.
This holster does have a couple significant drawbacks. First, there is no protection for the gun’s finish. Metal surfaces are going to be subject to scratches and maybe to moisture from your body. More importantly, there is no easy way, when using the belt strut, to reholster the gun once drawn. The body of the holster remains below the waistband, and a safe re-holster requires opening the belt, and probably your pants, to properly access the holster. When using the lanyard on the belt, the holster body can be pulled clear of the waistband for easier reholstering—but the process is still not quick and requires two hands.
The holster reviewed here is actually the Vanguard 2 “Full Kit,” which includes the holster, belt strut, and lanyard. You can buy the different configurations separately, but the full kit seems to be the best value at $34.99. Currently the Vanguard 2 fits only Glock and S&W M&P pistols.
Raven Concealment Systems offers a variety of top-quality concealment holsters, and all are backed by a lifetime warranty. You can purchase direct from RCS at www.ravenconcealment.com.
The Vanguard 2 is a unique and versatile holster system. If you are looking for an ultra minimalist holster, or a new way to safely carry off-body—this may be your solution. I think I am going to be experimenting with this Vanguard holster for a while to come.
[ Duane A. Daiker is a contributing writer and columnist for CCM, but is otherwise a regular guy — not much different from you. Duane has been a lifelong shooter and goes about his life as an armed, responsible, and somewhat opinionated citizen. Duane can be contacted through his website, www.realworldcarrygear.com, or though his public page on Facebook, and welcomes your comments and suggestions for gear reviews. ]
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