Monday, October 1, 2012

12-Gauge Chimp's First Ever Gear Review.

Hey folks, it's your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp here with the first ever gear review in the sites history.

Now, I've done gun and knife reviews in the past and that's basically what I'm known for, but lately I've thought about expanding my site and doing different reviews in addition to the gun and knife reviews. I'll still be doing those since they're basically what makes the site, but I just wanted to try and review something that wasn't sharp and pointy or went bang.

On with the review.

As you all may know, I purchased my very first 1911 in February of this year ( I think I may have said March when I did the review, but looking at my records, I actually bought it in February.) Anyway, the gun came with smooth wood grips that were kind of slippery. So, I decided to replace them with something better. What I ended up with was a set of Ergo Grip brand 1911 grips in black. These things are awesome and really fit my 1911 well. Granted, I did have to trim some molding remnants off and trim down a sharp corner on the grips, but other than that the grips were fine. It was just a matter of personal preference. Not everyone will have to do what I did. Now, I haven't really tested the grips out at the range but a couple friends of mine are supposed to be headed my way at the end of the month, so I hope to have a field test done at that time. As for now, I'm holding off on giving the grips my seal of approval, but even though I haven't gotten out to the range, I'm fairly sure that I'll be giving the Ergo Grips my approval.

Also, here's another first for the site. I will actually be naming the shop where I purchased the grips from. Recently, I was in Albuquerque New Mexico on vacation and I stopped at a shop called "Kaufman's West", which is military surplus store based in Albuquerque. They sell mostly brand new tactical gear and other items, but they do have a pretty good amount of actual surplus stuff. Now, I had read some bad reviews on the internet about the store and I was a bit worried I'd have the same experience as some of the other reviewers. In reality, I had just the opposite experience.

When I walked into the store, I was greeted by an employee named Daniel, who would later go above and beyond to help me find a paracord bracelet big enough to fit my large wrists. When I had a question about the Ergo Grips, he directed me to another employee, who in turn directed me to yet another employee, who would later turn out to be the manager of the store. All three of them were very helpful and made me feel welcome in the store. I forgot to get the names of the manager and the other employee, but I'm sure if they read my site, they'll know who I'm talking about. After I decided to purchase the grips, I wanted to see if they had a left handed holster that would fit my 1911. I'm kind of weird when it comes to shooting guns as I shoot handguns as a left hander and rifles and shotguns as a right hander. This makes it a bit hard for me to buy handguns since few on the market are lefty friendly. That's changed a lot recently since more and more companies are making guns that are lefty friendly. Matter of fact, I found a company that makes a true left handed 1911. It's basically a mirror image version of the 1911 we all know. It's pretty expensive which is why I probably won't be reviewing it any time soon.

Getting back to the store, I found an employee stocking holsters and asked her if they had any left handed holsters for 1911's. She asked me what kind I was looking for and after she mentioned a few styles, I followed her to the wall of holsters the store has. She found a really nice Galco holster for me, which I sadly could not buy due to my lack of funds. We looked at a few more holster options and after we came to the conclusion I wasn't going to find one in my price range, I thanked her for her help and went off to look for other items on my list. I ended up leaving Kaufmann's with the aforementioned 1911 grips, a coyote tan paracord bracelet and an OD Green boonie hat which will replace my cheap desert camo one.

All in all, I enjoyed my experience at Kaufmann's West in Albuquerque and I will be back again one of these years.  The employees were nice and took the time to answer my questions to the best of their knowledge and the employee named Daniel, who I mentioned earlier, went above and beyond to help me find a paracord bracelet that fit me. When I told him about my site, he was interested in it and asked me to write down the site address for him so he could check it out. As I was writing down the site address, it occurred to me that it might be in my best interests to ask permission to write about the store. So, Daniel called the manager over and I explained what I wanted to do. I told her that I wouldn't write anything bad about the store, which is true since I honestly could not find a bad thing about the store. I received permission to write about the store and I kept my promise to them.

So, if you ever find yourselves in Albuquerque New Mexico , stop by Kaufman's West and check out the store. If you all are anything like your pal 12-Gauge Chimp, there's bound to be something that you'll like.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guns and Gear Review # 13: Leatherman Blast multi-tool and Cold Steel Vaquero Grande folding knife.

Hey folks, it's your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp bringing you a very special review. It's the very first Two for One Review. I'll be reviewing two different things, in this case, two knives.

Now before I go any further, y'all are probably wondering just where I've been since April when I last made an entry to the site. Well, a lot happened between my review of my Rock Island Armory 1911 and now, but that's in the past and I finally have something to review.

First up, my Leatherman Blast multi-tool.

I was given this as a gift by a friend of mine and it's been on my belt ever since. Leatherman brand multi-tools have around since 1983. Leatherman also offers folding knives in addition to it's line of multi-tools. I don't yet own one of the folding knives, but as soon as I can, I will get one. The Leatherman tool I own is the Blast, which has been discontinued from Leatherman's lineup for some reason. I guess it's so Leatherman can focus on bringing newer tools and knives onto the market. Which is fine with me since I'm planning on getting a Leatherman Wave multi-tool sometime in the near future.

Anyway, the Blast features 16 tools and it's made from stainless steel with Zytel inserts for comfort when using the tool for whatever you may need it for. It comes with a leather belt pouch, although I have seen some that come with a nylon pouch instead of the leather one. In the years since I've had it, I have used just about every tool on the thing and it's still going strong and is as sharp as the day it left the factory. One really cool thing about the tool is that it has a 25 year warranty. All you have to do is register whatever Leatherman multi-tool or knife you buy on the Leatherman website and if the tool should somehow break or otherwise be damaged, Leatherman will fix it. Whether this is a free service or not is unknown to me since I haven't yet had to use the warranty service, so it might be a good idea to do a little research. Either way, it's still pretty cool.

Now, the 16 tools on the Blast are as follows.

1. Needle nose pliers
2. 420HC clip point knife blade
3. Regular pliers
4. Wire cutters
5. Hard-wire cutters
6. Wire strippers
7. Small screwdriver
8. Large screwdriver
9. Phillips screwdriver
10. Scissors
11. File (wood and metal)
12. Small bit driver
13. Bottle opener (this tool probably gets the most use for me.)
14. Can opener
15. Saw
16. and finally, a Phillips and flat tip eyeglasses screwdriver bit.

After all the years I've used the Leatherman Blast multi-tool and the fact it has not once let me down, makes me give it the 12-Gauge Chimp Seal of Approval.

Now, onto the second part of this review, the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande.

I purchased this knife from an antique store last month and it is by far the largest folding knife I have ever owned. Seriously, the knife measures out to 12 1/4 inches in overall length with the blade open and around 5 and a half inches or 6 inches when closed.

Now, Cold Steel has been around for a long time and the videos of Lynn Thompson, the president of Cold Steel, using the various products his company makes to hack through car doors, thick free hanging rope, whole sides of beef and other stuff, have been seen by practically everybody. Cold Steel stands behind their product and is not afraid to show how much abuse one of their products can take.

The Vaquero Grande is a lockback style knife, kind of like the old folding knives our fathers and grandfathers carried. Is it my preferred lock style ? Nope, but I'm not carrying this massive sucker around everyday or even using it as my primary knife. That job falls to my CRKT Hammond Cruiser knife.

The handle of the Vaquero Grande is made of glass reinforced plastic called "Grivory" in the Cold Steel site description. Now I don't know if my knife, since it's an older model, has that type of handle or if they simply made the handle out of glass reinforced plastic, like the kind used in making synthetic stocks or grips for firearms. The steel used is Japanese AUS8 stainless steel and it holds a pretty good edge. I bought my knife second hand and I have no idea how much use it saw with the previous owner(s), but it's still pretty dang sharp. I got the serrated edged model, but the newer Vaqueros are available with either a serrated edge or a plain edge. They retail for about 56 dollars US, but I was able to snag mine for a little less than 20 dollars US. If you look hard enough, you might even be able to find them for less than what I paid, but probably not.

Now, I haven't done much cutting with the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande, mostly because it's such a large knife and it's a serrated edged blade. All in all, it's not a knife for everyone, but it's still a good knife. I've heard of folks carrying this type of knife as part of their EDC, but I prefer a smaller knife. That's not to say I wouldn't use it as a camp knife, though. If one wants to carry a knife as big as the Vaquero Grande around, I say more power to you. That is if you have pockets big enough to fit the knife. When they mean 'Grande', man do they mean it.

In the end, I still give the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande knife the 12-Gauge Chimp Seal of Approval.

Thanks for visiting my site and I hope to bring you all more reviews, Random Thoughts and Range Reports in the near future.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Update for Gun Review #5: Rock Island GI Tactical 1911

Hey folks, 12-Gauge Chimp here with a quick update for my review of the RIA GI Tactical 1911.

A few weeks back, I got the chance to go to the range and test out my 1911. Seeing as I had a limited amount of ammo ( 100 rounds of Federal 230 grain FMJ), I decided to just test accuracy and function as well as my magazines. I loaded my seven magazines and headed out to test my gun. The mags were all from various companies, so I wanted to see just which ones worked and which ones didn't. The brands of magazines I had were, Kimber, KimPro, Colt, ACT-Mag (which is the factory magazine for RIA guns), Chip McCormick and an unmarked magazine. The unmarked mag is similar in design to the ACT-Mags so they may very well be the same brand, I honestly have no idea.

I first loaded the RIA 1911 with the factory magazine and proceeded to fire off eight rounds at a 12"x12" target placed at about 25 yards. My first shot missed completely, but since this was my first time ever firing a .45 or semi auto handgun, this was to be expected. After firing that mag and and determining it functioned well, I moved on to the Kimber mag. Again, I fired the mag through the gun with no problems. The next two mags ( KimPro and No Name) were just the same. When I got to the Colt mag, that's when I had some trouble.

Apparently, the spring was weak in the Colt mag and that caused a FTF (Failure to Feed) on every other shot. Finally, I had enough and just quite using the Colt mag, which sucks because it's a nice mag. If the floor plate was removable, which sadly it is not, I could probably just replace the spring and be done with it.

After that little screw up, I moved on to the next factory mag. Again, it functioned well and fed each round reliably. Now onto the accuracy test.

I set up a target at 25 yards and carefully took aim. I fired a seven round mag and an eight round mag at it and managed to keep all rounds on target with the majority in the black. Four rounds were in the white, but still on paper. Unlike my first target during the magazine function test. Now, I did have a couple jams, but nothing too serious. Even though I had never fired a semi auto pistol until that point, clearing the jams felt almost natural to me.

Overall, I fired about 81 rounds through my RIA 1911, not including the two shots fired through it at the factory for testing purposes.

Aside from some minor hiccups, the RIA GI Tactical 1911 functioned like a champ and after I complete the factory suggested 500 round break in period, this gun will become part of my EDC once I get the required concealed carry permit from my state.

All in all, the Rock Island Armory GI Tactical 1911 in .45 ACP gets the 12-Gauge Chimp Seal of Approval.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Knife Review #7: Gas Station Specials and me.

Hey folks, your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp here, bringing you another knife review/rant.

I mentioned in my review of the Kershaw Crown (Knife Review #6, February 27th, 2012) that I would be doing a review on what I called "Gas Station Special" knives and how I disliked them. Well, here it is.

I'll give you a little background on this subject and why I feel so strongly about it. Back when I was a wee Chimp, I used to spend practically all my allowance on cheap knives, simply because I didn't know any better and frankly I liked sharp, pointy things. Over the years, I ended up with at least two plastic storage tubs full of crappy knives, both of the folding and fixed blade variety. Some were pretty good, but most were useless for anything other than opening an envelope. Again, some were purchased from knife shops, but most were purchased from gas stations, hence the nickname "Gas Station Special".

Now, depending on where you live in the US, you can buy cheap pocket knives and fixed blades at the check-out counter. Often times, the knives are less than 10 bucks a pop with some of the larger ones going for about 20 to 30 bucks. These knives range from knock-offs of Kershaw, Benchmade, and Spyderco (which seems to be the most popular brand to make fakes of, by the way) designs to ugly fantasy style knives with zero practical use. The fixed blade knives are even worse. I swear for every normal looking fixed blade, there's at least twelve that look like something out of a bored high school students sketchbook.

The quality of these knives ranges from workable to "Who let the blind monkey near the CNC machine again ? ". Most of them are made from 440 stainless steel, the quality of which can vary widely. Some 440 steel is decent and can hold an edge for a long time, while other 440 steel loses its edge if you look at it wrong or cut a piece of paper. Seriously, I spent a half hour sharpening a Gas Station Special only to have it dull on me after I used it to open a letter. Let's just say that knife is no longer in my collection, at least not the whole knife anyway. The handle materials can vary in composition, most of the time they are cheap plastic with some using what looks like a cross between micarta and particle board.

Some of the worst offenders in the GSS area are the knives from Pakistan. Most are just horribly made and simply sheets of stainless steel stamped into the basic shape of a knife. I had a pair of boot knives made in Pakistan when I was younger and the construction left a lot to be desired. The blades rusted if you looked at them funny and the wood handles were poorly fitted and had big cracks in them from the tang of the blade being pounded into them. There are some GSS knives that are made in China and Korea, which are surprisingly good for most purposes. Are they as good as the factory knives costing three or four times as much ? Heck no, but they are good for cutting stuff and tossing in a tool box or tacklebox when you don't feel like losing your 100 dollar Benchmade or three hundred dollar custom knife.

So, all in all, I'd say buyer beware on some of these knives. If you're at a gas station and they have a sign saying "Benchmade knives $19.99" save your money because what they mean by "Benchmade" is that the knives were made on a bench in a shack somewhere in the desert. Spend the 20 bucks on gas or a novelty Zippo with the silhouette of a naked lady or a wolf on it.

In the meantime, 12-Gauge Chimp's Blog will be undergoing some changes in a few weeks, mostly I'll be dropping the 's and Blog at the end of the site header. As for the YouTube videos, keep an eye out for those and a possible YouTube channel for 12-Gauge Chimp.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guns and Gear Review # 12: Kershaw Crown

Hey folks, your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp here with another knife review. In the past two months, I have purchased two new knives, one being the Aranyik E-Nep I reviewed awhile back and the second being the Kershaw Crown, which I'm reviewing today.

First off, this is the first Kershaw knife I have ever purchased. Well, the first real Kershaw knife, anyway. I have a pair of Kershaw knock-offs I bought from a roadside vendor and they aren't that great. Getting back to the Kershaw Crown.

I was walking around the local Wal-Mart and spotted the knife on a clearance rack. I took a look at it and decided to purchase it. I'm a sucker for quality knives, especially when they are on sale. Now if I could just find a Spyderco or Benchmade knife on sale for less than 100 bucks. Anyway, I paid the price for the knife, which after taxes was 16 dollars US, and walked out of the store. I got home and proceeded to open the package and handle my new knife.

From what I could initially see, the Kershaw Crown is a well made knife. It is extremely sharp right out of the box, or in this case plastic clam shell package. I almost cut myself at least ten times just handling the knife and in one case, a family member managed to nick their finger just by barely touching the blade. So, in other words, Kershaw really means their blades are extremely sharp.

The Kershaw Crown's factory specifications are like this.
Blade length: 3-1/4"
Overall length: 6.55"
Blade material: 8CR13MoV satin finished stainless steel.
Handle material: polished Micarta (in the case of my particular knife, it's a blue colored Micarta)

Now onto the fun part, cutting stuff with it. This is where the Kershaw Crown excels. Everything I cut with it was cut cleanly and without any tearing. The 8CR13MoV steel holds an amazing edge, unlike the crap steel the knock-offs I have. I swear those knives get dull just by me looking at them. I'll be doing a review and rant about what I call "Gas Station Special" knives. Look for that coming soon.

The Kershaw Crown may not be the most expensive knife in Kershaw's catalog, but it is one of the nicest.

The Kershaw Crown gets the 12-Gauge Chimp seal of approval.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guns and Gear Review # 11: Rock Island Armory GI Tactical 1911

Hey folks, it's your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp here with a brand new gun review.

Over the last few months, you might remember me mentioning buying a new handgun. I went back and forth, trying to decide just what kind of handgun I wanted. First I wanted a 9mm because I already have a box of 9mm rounds sitting in my ammo drawer, but then I looked at some .45 ACP pistols and decided I wanted one of those. That opened up a whole new can of worms and lead me down some interesting paths. Well, after a few months of saving up the money and deciding which gun I wanted, I finally got one. In the end, I purchased a Rock Island Armory GI Tactical 1911 in .45 ACP.

Now, for those of you who haven't heard of Rock Island Armory (or as I'll call them in the rest of the review, RIA), the company that makes the RIA line of 1911's, Armscor, has been around since 1952. It was originally a part of a gun store in Manilla called "Squires, Bingham and Co."which was founded sometime in 1911. Now, Armscor is based in the Philippines, but has a subsidiary in the US located in Nevada. An interesting little bit of info is that Armscor makes the STI Spartan line of 1911s as well as guns for Charles Daly (which is once again back in business) and the Auto-Ordnance 1911 pistols.

Enough history, on to my new gun.

Well, I placed the order for it with a local FFL dealer and a few days later, it arrived. Originally, I had a bit of a minor hiccup with the order. Either the FFL ordered the wrong gun by mistake or someone at the distribution center read the order wrong and shipped the basic GI model, which isn't the gun I wanted. After a little bit of work, they shipped the correct gun and I had it in my hands a few days later. It was no big deal, just kind of annoying. Anyway, I received a call from the FFL and went to his shop to pick it up. I spent about 40 minutes there, 30 minutes just sitting around talking with the FFL guy and 10 minutes doing the whole 4473/background check thing.

After paying for the gun, I brought it home and proceeded to wipe off the oil Armscor puts on their guns for shipping. After cleaning it up, I took a closer look at my gun. It appears to be very well made and after I do the factory recommended 500 round break in, it will become my CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) after I receive my permit to carry a concealed weapon. A lot of people carry these guns, either in the full sized 5" model or the more compact 3" and 4" models.

Now, I haven't had the chance to get out and test my 1911 yet, but once the weather heats up and I get some more ammo, I will be giving you folks a full range report on the RIA GI Tactical 1911. I also can't give it the 12-Gauge Chimp seal of approval just yet, but I can say that if you're interested in a 1911 pistol that won't break the bank or make your wallet scream at you in seven different languages, a Rock Island Armory 1911 is the way to go.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guns and Gear Review # 10: Aranyik E-Nep machete

Hey folks, your old pal 12-Gauge Chimp here, bringing you a brand new knife review.

As you may have noticed, the knife in question is actually a machete, but not like you'd normally think of. The machete in question is an Aranyik E-Nep machete.

The E-Nep is a Thai machete, similar in style to a Nepalese Kukri, made from 5160 carbon steel, which is the preferred steel for tools that'll see heavy use like a machete. Now, I purchased this knife earlier this month right around New Years and received it about a week ago and paying about 42 dollars US for it. That was pretty quick shipping on the part of the guy who makes the knives. According to the info I was able to find out on this style of knife, the guy who makes this particular knife is either in Hawaii or Thailand, I'm not sure. He hand makes these knives using traditional methods. What is the traditional method for making knives in Thailand ? I have no idea. Anyway, the wood he uses for the handle scales is Red Gum Eucalyptus, which is a pretty nice wood for this purpose.

The blade itself measures about 12 inches with a cutting edge of about 9 inches. The total length of the knife, from the very tip of the blade to the bottom of the handle, is 15 and a half inches. Weight is about a pound and it is blade heavy, which is something you want in a machete. These knives come in five different sizes, ranging from size 0 which is the largest to size 5, which is the smallest. I purchased a size 1 E-Nep and it is huge. I can't imagine what the size 0 E-Nep looks like.

My first impressions of the E-Nep were that one, this is a huge knife and two, it is a heavy knife. The sheath that comes with it is kind of crappy, but I didn't buy the knife for it's sheath. I can always make a new sheath for it or have a custom one made. I haven't gotten to test its chopping capabilities yet because as I write this, there is a bit of snow on the ground and it is pretty cold outside as a result.

I will be doing a video review on the Aranyik E-Nep in the near future so look for that on YouTube in the next couple weeks. I'll also be doing video reviews on some of the other knives and guns that I've reviewed in the past.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase and can't wait to chop some stuff with it. I would recommend getting an Aranyik E-Nep. It's a well made knife and not too expensive for something that is handmade.

The Aranyik E-Nep Thai machete gets the 12-Gauge Chimp seal of approval.

As always, this is 12-Gauge Chimp signing off.