Wednesday, June 8, 2022

M&P Shield Plus with an Accessory Rail? Yes!

At RFV Tactical, we really like the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus as a choice for a slimline subcompact, but in our opinion it has one glaring con... the lack of an accessory rail to attach a quality weapon mounted light.  There are gun specific lights from Streamlight and Nightstick that clamp onto the trigger guard, but those lights are only around 100 lumens.  Recover Tactical makes an add-on accessory rail that clamps onto the trigger guard similar to the Streamlight and Nightstick gun-specific lights, which gives you the ability to attach more substantial lights to the gun, but the add-on rail is kind of bulky and spaces the light away from the gun's frame a little too much for our preference. We gave it a lot of thought, and decided to permanently modify the frame of the gun to accept a custom made picatinny rail so that we could attach a quality light and not have it hang off the gun too badly. Worst case scenario is that if our custom add-on rail didn't work out, then we would just have two small holes in the bottom of the frame's dustcover that shouldn't pose any issues with the functionality or reliability of the gun. We did this by drilling two holes in the bottom of the dust cover of the frame and dremeling out the inside of the frame a little to allow two threaded posts to sink down enough to clear the slide when it cycles.  With these threaded posts installed into the frame of the gun, we mounted our own custom picatinny rail that we made out of a Magpul polymer M-Lok rail section. The Magpul rail section was cut down to only a three slot section, reshaped and new mounting holes were drilled into it and then chamfered to countersink the screws a little bit. The threaded posts and screws were from our supply of hardware we use to make kydex holsters.  The add-on rail pictured below was our second attempt at it. The first one worked fine, but was only a two-slot section that didn't extend all the way back to the trigger guard. The one pictured below extends all the way back to the trigger guard, but that is purely for aesthetic purposes. Obviously, this is not a modification for someone that is not comfortable with permanently modifying their firearms.  We currently don't offer this as a service or product (yet), but it turned out great and we wanted to share.


Streamlight TLR-7sub (1913 version) mounted to the gun

Of course, a custom mounted light requires a custom holster!

Check out our website for more details and pricing on all of our products!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Inforce WILD1 Weapon Light - Minor Design Flaw

The Inforce WILD1 compact weapon mounted light is a great light, but we've discovered a minor design flaw with the activation switches. The outer most ridge of the serrated activation paddles extend right to the edge of the light body which can sometimes catch or snag on the inside surface of a holster (kydex or leather) when inserting the gun into the holster and inadvertently activate the light. This typically only happens when the holster is being worn on the body (inside the waistband) and the tension of the belt squeezes the holster slightly. This may not be an issue with ALL of the WILD1 lights, but depending on the manufacturing tolerances of your particular light, this problem may exist. One of our two lights had this problem, but we modified both lights to alleviate any potential issues. If you find that your light is mysteriously getting turned on when you insert the gun into a holster, you can fix the issue yourself by filing down those ridges slightly so that they don't snag on the inside material of the holster.

Outer most ridge of the switches can catch on material when holstering the gun

Light body and activation switch taped off so that minor filing can be done

A small needle file or sandpaper can be used to remove just a little bit of material

Touched up with black paint and reinstalled on the gun

Monday, January 10, 2022

All The Lumens! Compact Weapon Mounted Lights

With the much anticipated release of the new Inforce WILD1 compact weapon light and no other new reasonably priced compact lights slated to come out in the near future, we thought we would compare the latest offerings of the most popular compact lights. These lights include:

Olight Baldr S and PL-Mini2
Streamlight TLR-7A/TLR-7sub
Nightstick TCM-550XL/XLS
Inforce WILD1

RFV Tactical makes holsters for these lights mounted to several popular compact and subcompact handguns (see the list of guns here), so we own and have experience with all of these lights. We are not going to comment on the durability or reliability of any of these lights because several of them are fairly new to the market and long term testing just isn't feasible at this time. We won't go into as much detail with these compact weapon lights as we did with our full-size weapon light blog post, but we wanted to at least give some comparison of the light output of each light. The size, switch activation, fitment, and price are all very similar with these lights, so we won't go over those aspects with much detail in this post. The photos below were taken with brand new batteries installed or freshly recharged.

Olight Baldr S
The Olight Baldr S is the company's newest compact weapon light offering and is slightly larger than their popular PL-Mini2. It also includes a green laser sight that is projected from inside the bezel of the light, so there is no extra "wart" hanging down from the body of the light to accommodate the laser. While this light is not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as some of the other compact weapon lights, it's performance is actually really good! It is rated at 800 lumens, but it's probably closer to 600 lumens which is still brighter than all the other compact lights.  It also has the widest spill of all the compact lights. The fact that it also has an easily selectable green laser is a nice bonus to an already great performing light. A unique thing about all of the Olight compact weapon lights is their adjustable rail mounting mechanism with a quick release lever that allows you to easily mount the lights to a very wide variety of handguns. We don't really like the aesthetics of this adjustable mount as it spaces the body of the light farther away from the frame of the gun, but we appreciate the versatility of it. As with almost all current Olight weapon mounted lights, it's rechargeable battery is not removable, so when the light is in need of a charge, it is out of commission for several hours while it's attached to a special USB charger. It's probably a good idea to buy two of these lights and keep one on the charger ready to swap out when the one mounted to your gun dies. 😏

Olight PL-Mini2
The Olight PL-Mini2 has been around for a couple of years now, but is still a current and very popular compact weapon light despite all the negativity associated with Olight on various internet gun forums. It is rated at 600 lumens but is probably closer to 400 lumens. As with the Baldr S, it's not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye with it's adjustable rail mounting mechanism (although it is smaller than the Baldr S), and it also has a rechargeable battery that is not removable.  Better buy two of these lights too! 😁

The Streamlight TLR-7 has been around for several years, but the "A" version came out to address the consumer dislike for the activation buttons being on the sides of the original version which placed the buttons slightly out of reach for a lot of people. The newer 7A has improved switches that come back farther towards the trigger guard area and includes two different style of buttons/paddles for your preference. The original version with side buttons is still available for those that like those switches. This light is rated at 500 lumens and performs as good as you would expect from a Streamlight, but it does not have as far of a throw as some of the other compact lights.

The Streamlight TLR-7sub is a slightly smaller and sleeker version of the TLR-7A that was made specifically for subcompact handguns.  It comes in four different versions: "GL" for the Glock 43X/48 MOS, "SIG" for the Sig Sauer P365/X/XL, "SA" for the original Springfield Hellcat, and "1913s" for various subcompact and compact handguns that have a short 1913 picatinny accessory rail. It's performance is nearly identical to the 7A, but appears to be slightly brighter than the 7A as it's light output is a little more white in color temperature.

Nightstick TCM-550XL/XLS
The Nightstick TCM-550XL and XLS (strobe) appears to be a clone of the Streamlight TLR-7A with some subtle differences, but actually has slightly better light output than the 7A. This light has a nice white output of 500 lumens with a good amount of throw. One weird quirk to this light is that there is a split-second delay when turning the light off from either constant-on mode or momentary-on (more noticeable from the momentary-on mode).  Not a major issue (more annoying than anything), but worth noting. 

Inforce WILD1
The Inforce WILD1 is brand new to the market as of the date of this blog post. The WILD1 is the company's new and improved replacement for the long discontinued APLc compact weapon light that was very popular despite only having 200 lumens and being plagued with flickering problems when they first came out. It has the same overall appearance as the APLc, which is subjectively a very good looking light, but is a little larger than the APLc, so it won't fit any holsters made for the APLc.  It's also made out of aluminum instead of polymer like the APLc, so it should be more durable. The 500 lumen output is good, but it has the most narrow hotspot of all the compact weapon lights. This makes it seem not as bright when used indoors, but it has the farthest throw of all of the compact lights, which is impressive for a compact light.
NOTE: we discovered a minor design flaw with this light's activation switches that should be inspected.

As we mentioned in our full-size weapon light blog post, regardless of which weapon mounted light you use (or don't use), we recommend that you ALWAYS carry a good handheld light with you.

Check out our website for more details and pricing on all of our products!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Popular Optics Ready Compacts And Subcompacts - Out Of The Box Pros And Cons

At RFV Tactical, concealed carry is our jam! We daily carry compact handguns with full-size weapon mounted lights 90% of the time (14 hours a day, 7 days a week) and slimline subcompact handguns the other 10% of the time. There are plenty of reviews on the popular compact and subcompact optic ready handguns listed below, so this article is just focusing on the most obvious Pro and the most glaring Con of each gun when they are fresh out of the box without any modifications done or accessories added. There are obviously more optics ready compact and subcompact handguns currently available, but we actually own and have experience with all of the guns below for holster making purposes as they seem to be the most popular in their given categories. By the way... the guns are listed in the order of our preference with the best at the top of each category.

Compact Handguns

Biggest Pro: Excellent Trigger
Biggest Con: Price
The incredible feel of the single-action-only trigger design of the 1911 makes it the standard by which all other triggers are compared to and strive to achieve. It is nearly impossible for a hinged striker fired trigger to safely replicate the feel of the 1911 trigger. The Staccato 2011 series of handguns offer that sought after 1911 trigger with increased capacity for duty or concealed carry use. Unfortunately, most high quality 1911s and 2011s are also very expensive and the C2 is approximately 3 to 4 times the cost of most quality polymer or alloy frame compact handguns.
Shown with a Trijicon RM06 optic on a milled non-DPO
slide using a Trijicon 1911/2011 specific mounting plate

Walther PDP Compact
Biggest Pro: Excellent Trigger
Biggest Con: Optic Mounting System*
The Walther PPQ is very well known for its excellent factory trigger. The PDP is an updated optics ready version of the PPQ with better grip texture and aggressive slide serrations. Just like the PPQ, the PDP's trigger is excellent for a factory striker fired handgun and the gun has very good ergonomics. The biggest issue with the gun is that the optics mounting system does not have any type of locating lugs or recoil bosses for an optic mounting plate to index on. It is simply just a flat pocket milled into the slide with two threaded holes for the screws to hold an optic mounting plate in place. If the optic mounting plate that is used is not precision cut to perfectly fit that milled pocket front to back, there will be unnecessary shear forces placed on the mounting screws each time the gun cycles during recoil which could potentially fatigue and break them. There is also no lateral support for the mounting plates, so a harsh bump on the side of the optic could potentially fatigue and break the screws.
*NOTE: All new PDP handguns produced in mid 2022 now come with an optics cut that now has locating lugs for the plates. This eliminates the biggest Con of this gun, and potentially makes it the best striker fired optics ready compact on the market!
Shown with a Holosun 509T optic
on a CHPWS optic mounting plate

Biggest Pro: Excellent Trigger*
Biggest Con: Stiff Slide Release
The trigger of the CZ P-10C is excellent right out of the box (see the note below). It is almost as good as the Walther PDP in regards to break, reset, and pull weight. Like the PDP it is also very ergonomic. The biggest problem with this gun is that the slide stop/release lever is extremely stiff and difficult to actuate for releasing the slide when the gun is brand new.  This issue improves over time with use, but its very noticeable and frustrating when new.
*NOTE: We have read reports that CZ P-10 triggers can feel quite a bit different from gun to gun right out of the box, so it is possible that other P-10C triggers may not be as good as our sample size of one.
Shown with a Holosun 509T optic on a CHPWS
optic mounting plate and RFV Tactical grip texture

Glock 19 Gen5 MOS
Biggest Pro: Aftermarket Support
Biggest Con: Grip Angle
The Glock 19 is the standard by which all other compact handguns are compared. However, the Glock handgun has remained relatively unchanged for several decades with only small improvements with each new generation.  Thankfully, there is a huge variety of aftermarket support to improve and customize just about every aspect of the gun.  The biggest complaint about the Glock 19 (and most other Glock models) is that the grip angle is substantially different from most other modern handguns, and not in a good way. People go to great lengths to modify the grip angle of Glocks with the addition of aftermarket beavertail backstraps or even permanent modifications like trigger guard under-cuts and grip reductions that remove the infamous "Glock Hump" on the lower half of the grip's backstrap.
Shown with a Trijicon RM06 optic on a CHPWS optic mounting plate,
Ameriglo sights, a modified OEM backstrap, and a re-contoured trigger guard

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact OR
Biggest Pro: Optic Mounting System
Biggest Con: Trigger*
While the M&P C.O.R.E. optic mounting system uses plastic filler plates for different optics, it is one of the most robust factory optic mounting systems available. It includes 7 different filler plates and screws for a wide variety of optics, and the mounting screws for any compatible optic go directly and deeply into the slide (similar to the Shadow Systems optic mounting system) for a very solid and secure installation. The factory trigger with it's hinged safety design is this gun's biggest and possibly only flaw. The trigger isn't horrible by any means, but it is commonly replaced with a drastically improved trigger kit from Apex Tactical.
*NOTE: All new M&P handguns (late 2021) now come with the new flat face trigger that comes with the new Shield Plus listed below, which is a definite improvement.
Shown with a Holosun 508T optic
and an Apex Tactical curved trigger

Sig Sauer P320 XCarry/XCompact
Biggest Pro: Modularity
Biggest Con: High Bore Axis
The modularity of the Sig P320 fire control unit (FCU) is such a great innovation that comes with a really smooth trigger pull (especially with the X-series). You can essentially build multiple guns for different purposes with only one serialized FCU by simply purchasing additional slides/barrels and grip modules. The biggest downside to the Sig P320 series is that it has a very high bore axis for a striker fired gun which causes more muzzle flip compared to other guns in the same category. The increased muzzle flip isn't a night and day difference, but it is definitely noticeable.
XCarry shown with a Sig Romeo1Pro optic
and RFV Tactical grip chop and texture

Springfield XD-M Elite Compact OSP
Biggest Pro: Decent Trigger
Biggest Con: Overall Design and Execution*
While the Elite series of the Springfield XD-M handguns have fairly decent triggers and the guns look pretty good aesthetically, the overall design and execution of all the XD handguns is simply subpar. Their grip texture looks aggressive, but is actually fairly smooth. Their grip safeties are unnecessary and historically problematic. The grip length of this compact is more of a subcompact length which makes it awkward to get a good grip with or without the included magwell (why offer a flared magwell with a subcompact grip length?!?) and it reduces the capacity of the gun compared to other similar sized guns. The gun is also heavier than all of the other polymer frame guns in the category.  All that weight is in the slide, which makes the gun feel very top heavy. To top it all off, their optic mounting system places the optic abnormally high on the top of the slide, which requires extremely tall iron sights to be able to co-witness through the optic window. Springfield includes those extra tall iron sights on their larger Elite guns with threaded barrels, but they are not included with the compact nor available for purchase separately from Springfield.
*NOTE: Due to the disappointing experience with this gun, it was sold and we no longer offer holsters for any of the XD series guns without using the customer's actual gun during the mold process, but we left this one in the article as a warning to people about how bad these guns are!.
Shown with a Hex Dragonfly optic and a
modified Pearce magazine pinky extension

Compact Handguns - Honorable Mention

CZ-USA P-07 and P-01 Omega
Biggest Pro: Excellent Ergonomics
Biggest Con: Not Optics Ready
Even though the CZ P-07 and P-01 Omega are not optics ready from the factory, they are both outstanding handguns for concealed carry use, so we wanted to mention them in this article. These guns have excellent ergonomics and have proven to be very reliable. They are double-action/single-action hammer fired guns that we feel are one of the safest platforms for defensive purposes due to the longer double-action first trigger pull. This is especially beneficial for appendix carry since you can keep your thumb on the back of their de-cocked hammers as you holster the gun to greatly reduce the chance of an accidental discharge. The CZ P-07 is our all time favorite gun to carry and shoot at RFV Tactical, and we recently acquired an alloy frame CZ-75 P-01 Omega that has the same internal trigger components as the P-07. Out of the box, the double-action trigger pull on both guns is a little heavy, but that can be easily and inexpensively improved by installing a performance spring upgrade kit from Cajun Gun Works for around $30 to lighten the double-action trigger pull and further increase their overall reliability. Since neither of these guns come optics ready from the factory, you'll have to send their slides off to a reputable optic milling company like Impact Machine (that's who we use!) to get them direct milled for your favorite optic.
P-07 shown with a Trijicon RM06 optic and RFV Tactical grip texture
P-01 shown with a Holosun 507K optic and G-10 grip panels by Lok Grips

Slimline Subcompact Handguns

Glock 43X/48 MOS
Biggest Pro: Aftermarket Support
Biggest Con: Capacity vs. Size
As with the Glock 19, there is a ton of aftermarket support for these guns to upgrade and customize to your heart's content. The biggest issue is that the factory magazines only hold 10 rounds despite the gun having a fairly long grip compared to smaller micro compact handguns that can hold up to 12 rounds with a flush fitting magazine. That previously mentioned aftermarket support addresses this flaw with flush fit 15-round magazines available from Shield Arms.
43X shown with a Swampfox Sentinel optic
and RFV Tactical grip texture

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus OR
Biggest Pro: Great Trigger
Biggest Con: No Accessory Rail
While the increased capacity of the Shield Plus is a welcomed improvement over the original Shield, the new and improved flat face trigger in the gun is great for a factory trigger. The lack of an accessory rail to mount a good compact weapon light is the only thing that keeps this gun from being perfect. We wish they would have at least put an accessory rail on the 4" version of the gun, but it uses the exact same frame as the shorter 3.1" version. See our blog post where we fabricated and installed a custom accessory rail to attach a quality weapon light!
3.1" version shown with a Holosun 507K optic
and a shortened Pearce magazine pinky extension

Sig Sauer P365X/P365XL
Biggest Pro: Capacity vs. Size
Biggest Con: Small Grip Circumference
The Sig P365 is the gun that started the "High Capacity Micro Compact" trend that all other new slimline subcompacts strive to achieve. It's high capacity for its size makes it very appealing, but it has the smallest grip circumference of all the latest micro compact handguns.  This may be fine for people with small hands, but the reduced grip surface area can be problematic for people with average size or larger hands to maintain a good grip on the gun with both hands.
P365X shown with a Sig RomeoZero optic

Springfield Hellcat OSP/Hellcat Pro
Biggest Pro: Capacity vs. Size
Biggest Con: Heavy Trigger
The standard size Hellcat looks great and is almost identical in size and capacity to the Sig P365, but it has a fairly heavy trigger compared to the other micro compact guns, which makes it a little difficult to be accurate with the gun past 10 yards even with a properly zeroed optic installed. The Hellcat Pro is bigger than the standard version in grip length and slide length, but boasts a 15-round capacity magazine and will accommodate most compact weapon mounted lights.
Standard Hellcat shown with a Shield Sights RMSc optic

Check out our website for details and pricing on all of our products!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dual Purpose IWB/OWB Combo Weapon Light Indexing Holsters

We now offer dual purpose IWB/OWB combo full-size weapon light indexing holsters. They can be changed from IWB for concealed carry use to OWB for competition or general range use in just a few minutes by simply installing an OWB belt mount! There's no real need to remove the IWB hardware from the holster for OWB usage unless you just want to. 😉 They come with a FOMI belt clip, concealment fin, comfort puck, and an OWB belt mount. These dual purpose holsters are made with 0.080" thick Kydex.

IWB on the left and OWB on the right...

Check out our website for more details and pricing on all of our products!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sig P320 XCARRY Grip Chop and Texture

Here is a Sig Sauer P320 XCARRY that we just did a grip chop to accept the 15-round compact mags with our concealed carry texture. The XCARRY grip module looks and feels great (especially with our texture!), but its just a tad too long for concealed carry with it's 17-round magazines.  The Sig P320 XCOMPACT is a great compromise for concealed carry, but we prefer the longer length of the 3.9" barrel, slide, and dust cover of the XCARRY vs the 3.6" barrel/slide of the XCOMPACT so that we can mount a full-size weapon mounted light.  So... grip chop it is! 😁

Here is the chopped XCARRY grip compared
to an unmodified large XCOMPACT grip module

Check out our website for more details and pricing on all of our products!

M&P Shield Plus with an Accessory Rail? Yes!

At RFV Tactical , we really like the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus as a choice for a slimline subcompact, but in our opinion it ha...