Review Posted: ADM 18″ UIC MOD 2 Upper Receiver: Dialing-In the Long Yard

Initially introduced at SHOT Show in 2014, the Universal Improved Carbine (UIC) MOD 2 by American Defense Manufacturing (ADM), continues to be the mainstay of the UIC line of rifles, and comes available up to an 18” barrel length (featured in this review) and others.

Review Posted: Vortex UH-1 (Gen II): Continuing the Legacy On Solid Performance

Introduced at SHOT in 2017, the UH-1 Razor was updated in 2020 as the Gen II and is Vortex’s premier reflex optic.

Review Posted: MKM Ultra Low-Profile Billet Scope Level: Maintaining Balance

Sometimes the smallest tools can make the biggest differences, and while mounting a scope is straight forward—getting it done correctly can be a bit of a challenge. Enter the Xtreme Low-Profile (XLP) Billet Scope Level by MK Machining (MKM).

Review Posted: T3 Gear SSE Pouch: Stash All The Things

Intended to support a given range or battle belt setup, the new Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) Pouch (Gen 2) by T3 Gear is designed to provide the end-user with a rapidly deployable dump pouch to deposit non-essential items like expended or spare magazines, sensitive items, or other accessories.

Review Posted: MKM Ultralight Utility Compact Grip: Best For the Shorties

Designed as a grip for daily duty or shorter barreled rifles, the Ultralight Utility Compact Grip (ULCG) by MKMachining gives the individual a more ergonomic angle, anti-slip texture, and a utility storage compartment over other aftermarket grip alternatives.

Gear Review Posted: T3 Gear Range Day Placard: For Two Different Roles

Expanding on its Laminate Carrier line, in 2023 T3 Gear introduced the Range Day Placard to bridge the function of its Range Day chest rig with its LC Plate Carrier.

Review Posted: MKM Vertical Crossover Grip: Adding Control and Comfort

Intended as a grip for use in precision shooting or daily duty, the Vertical Crossover Grip (VCG) by MKMachining offers an ergonomic angle, large surface area, and an anti-slip texture that provides the end-user added accuracy and performance over extended periods.

Review Posted: LeonWorx QD-NVL (V2): Securing Your Investment

Blending innovative technology and design with traditional tactical function, the QD-NVL (V2) by LeonWorx Solutions is a retention system for night vision devices that provides a solid lock and safety to otherwise very valuable sensitive items.

Review Posted: HRT Arc Belt: New Design, Lighter Materials

Released in 2022, and using new Tegris materials, the Arc Belt by HRT Tactical provides the end-user with all the essential elements necessary be it in a professional or practical use, field, or competition.

Review Posted: Altama Maritime (Mid) Assault Boot: Designed For Subjective Purpose

Released in 2017, the Maritime (Mid) Assault Boot from Altama were intended to bring about a tactical footwear that performs well on both linear ranges as well as wet environments.


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TRU-SPEC® Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack: Ready to Explore the World

Designed to carry large quantities of equipment while maintaining equal weight distribution, the Pathfinder 2.5 by TRU-SPEC® is an evolution over its predecessor by offering improved compartmentalization of essential items and features for expanded capability.

Introduced in 2015, the Pathfinder 2.5 is made from 1050D nylon that offers mid- or high-end abrasion resistance. At approximately 19” (H) x 13” (W) x 7” (D) its overall carrying capacity is approximately 39 liters of cubic space.


The adjustable, contoured, dual shoulder straps featurean over-the-shoulder design with sternum strap and padded air mesh for increased comfort when the pack is fully loaded. The air mesh padding is extended throughout the pack’s back panel and weapon concealment pouch as well. On either side is an 8” (H) x 6” (W) accessory pocket secured via drawstring zipper for immediate access to essential items.

On the exterior of the main compartment, is a 10” (H) x 12” (W) admin pocket that includes; a retention lanyard for keys, one 7” (H) x 10” (W) zippered pocket behind a 6” (H) x 10” (W) sleeve, a small hook-and-loop secured accessory pocket, two card sleeves, and two pen sleeves. Above the admin pocket is a 5” (H) x 7” (W) accessory pocket with mesh lining/pocket on the interior side of the access flap. On the external side of the access flap is a 3” (H) x 5” (W) hook-and-loop field for identification patches.

The kidney pad of the pack’s back panel doubles a weapon concealment pocket and is secured via a curved pull-string zipper. On the bottom of the pack are two drainage grommets and four MOLLE panels.

On the pack’s right side is a concealed laptop pouch designed to accommodate most 15” laptops that is protected by the air mesh padding on the back panel and interior compartment, then secured via pull-string zipper.


Throughout the exterior of the Pathfinder 2.5 are multiple MOLLE straps for added compatibility

At the top of the pack is a padded drag handle that is reinforced via bartac stitching, and on either side are hook-and-loop access panels to the interior storage compartment for headphones or hydration tubes. Between the drag handle and shoulder straps is a 4” (H) x 6” (W) fleece-lined sunglasses pouch secured with another pull-string zipper.


The internal storage compartment to the Pathfinder 2.5 is reinforced on either side of the exterior with side cinch straps and slide-release buckles to ensure the stored items remain secure. The main storage space includes a rigid backboard for stability and support, a hydration sleeve with MOLLE straps on the exterior, and two mesh lining/pockets on the interior side of the access flap.

The Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack comes in Black (featured) and is made of 1050D nylon. While the website still lists Coyote and Multicam as alternatives, those options have been discontinued.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the time of this writing, the cost of the Pathfinder 2.5 is $119.95 and comparatively priced within the market for similar-sized (approx. 39 cubic liters of storage space), dual-strap backpacks. This is due mainly to the amount of nylon used that ensures long-lasting abrasion resistance.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): With regards to comfort in packs, really it comes down to how the design in the shoulder straps mitigate the weight and strain of the pack on/against the body. In the case of the Pathfinder 2.5, the padded air mesh carrying straps have a unique over-the-shoulder design that ensures the weight of the pack remains close and high to the shoulders. Furthermore, the carrying straps have offset seams so to avoid pressing that up against the neck/spine. Add in the thickness of the overall shoulder strap pads and the padded panels on the back of the pack, the end result is an almost pillow-like feel that helps mitigate carrying a large amount of weight for extended time/distance. By design, there is no waist strap to help further balance the weight of the pack, so the entire load will be on the upper torso.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Pathfinder 2.5 comes in 1050D nylon that will be stiffer and have a tighter weave than lesser denier rated packs and play into the overall increased abrasion resistance. With reinforced stitching and bartac at all key stress points and MOLLE straps, it will have a significant amount of durability regardless of how the user employs it. Likely the hardware will wear out long before the pack does.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): A significant amount of functionality went into the design of the Pathfinder 2.5. The side accessory and eyeglass pockets give you immediate-ready access to essential items, while the MOLLE straps throughout give you added capability for expansion to other accessories with similar mounting devices. Even the side cinch straps have hook-and-loop retainers to keep the excess under control (though it would have been nice if such feature had been extended to the shoulder and sternum straps). The hidden compartment for a laptop is an added bonus for any field researcher or traveler. The firearm pocket is somewhat awkward to access unless you have the pack off, so there is no immediate-access while wearing it (somewhat defeating the purpose of it as a concealed carry pocket). One noted design aspect was when accessing the main compartment, and placed on the straps, the zipper to the main compartment is at the top—thus negating the risk of smaller items spilling out.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 3.35 pounds (empty) the Pathfinder 2.5 is comparable in weight to other packs of similar size, this is due to the amount of nylon and other materials that go into making it.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link:

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Vortex Venom 5-25: Quality Glass for Every Long-Distance Shooter

Launched in early 2021, the Venom 5-25×56 FFP from Votex brings together basic and intuitive features shooters desire for moderate long-distance shooting, and rapid adjustment between variable distances to ensure consecutive shots on target.

With its standard 15.25” overall length, the Venom 5-25×56 First Focal Plane (FFP) delivers a solid optic platform for full-length bolt or semi-automatic rifles. The variable magnification and parallax adjustability make it an ideal optic for competition shooting or out on the hunt. The ArmorTek ® coating provides an ultra-hard surface that resists scratches, oil, and dirt.

With its single-piece housing of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, the 34mm main tube and 56mm objective lens provide the greater overall dimensions to the Venom’s body. Its adjustable eyebell assembly provides the 5x – 25x magnification at a 3.6” eye relief. The removable throw lever assists in rapid adjustments between magnification levels. All connections within the Venom are IPX7 sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture penetration and nitrogen gas purged to prevent fogging.

Features within the Venom optic include its glass-etched EBR-7C reticle, and XD (Extra-low Dispersion) lens elements that have anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass elements to increase light transmission and clarity.

The exposed tactical-style turrets allow for immediate access for elevation/windage adjustment, and the grooves ensure consistent alignment as the shooter adjusts between various distances. Each turret provides adjustments of ¼ MOA per click. The RevStop™ Zero System in the elevation turret allows for adjustments to various elevation then rapid return to zero.


  • Magnification……………….5x – 25x
  • Eye Relief…..…………………3.6”
  • Field of View (@100yd)…21.2’(5x magnification) – 4.7’ (25x magnification)

The Venom is available only in black and can be selected between an MOA or MRAD reticle.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Excellent (5/5): With a list price of $699.99 the Venom 5-25×56 FFP provides a variable magnification optic for long distance shooting with features found in many top-shelf competitors. Included in the price is Vortex’s “No Questions Asked” warrantee for the life of the product. In contrast, market alternatives include the RT 5-25×56 ($839) from Burris, the Mark 5HD 5-25×56 ($1,999) from Leupold, and the ATACR 5-25×56 ($2,700) from Nightforce all illustrate that the Venom is excellently priced for its function and quality of glass amid the market of similar competitors offering similar products.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect the Venom held a very comfortable eye relief with full view down the optic. The glass itself was very clear with no hint of colored tint around the edges of the field of view. The exposed turrets did provide a clear audible and tangible click with each increment changed and remained firmly locked into place throughout evaluations. Moreover the line markings on the elevation and windage correctly aligned with each adThe parallax adjustment did help to maintain a comfortable  image sharpness within the context of the 5-25 magnification.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Durability wise the Venom was coated in a matte black using Vortex’s ArmorTek ® coating, which gave the optic’s exterior sufficient hardness and abrasion resistance. No scratches nor superficial marring was noted during evaluation from transporting and moving the rifle around and coming into contact with varied surfaces. Likewise the glass performed as expected (without using the sunshade) and neither became loose nor scratched. The Venom came with a lens cloth and rubberized bikini cover to protect the glass during non-use and ensure it was properly maintained. Moreover, as mentioned Vortex does offer its lifetime “VIP Warrantee” should your optic ever get damaged.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally the Venom provided very good 5-25 magnification while keeping the glass clear. The adjustable eyepiece and parallax adjustment helped to ensure that targets remained clear and in focus throughout, and made ringing steel at 300 yards easy, even to the point of identifying bullet trace downrange. The EBR-7C reticle was short and clear, with incremental markings to adequately range targets and compensate for drop to the evaluated distances. Moreover, as the zoom was increased, the reticle remained sharp and clear. The RevStop™ Zero System worked well in that it basically allowed the end-user to take any distance and modify the elevation turret and reset the dial to zero for the new distance. That process could be repeated/adjusted over time if the end-user decided they wanted a different distance zero. Perhaps the only negative aspects from a functionalist point identified was the plastic adjustment tool that came with the optic and allows you to loosen the elevation turret to use the RevStop™ Zero. The tabs were very small and allotted little purchase, and easily snapped. Perhaps a recommendation to Vortex would be, although an accessory to the optic, to reexamine the design or polymer material for improvement. Elsewhere, adjusting the eyepiece for 5-25 zoom was very stiff even with the throw ring, and perhaps Vortex may want to think about loosening the tolerance a little.
  • Weight – Fair (2/5): At a demure 35 ounces the Venom owed most of its weight to its anodized aircraft-grade aluminum body which made it strong enough to withstand the impulse of multiple rifle cycles, but not so heavy as to make the rifle top-heavy or off balance. This too added to its durability and strength in design to hold up over time and transportation. In contrast, the RT 5-25×56 (24.8 ounces) from Burris, the Mark 5HD 5-25×56 (30 ounces) from Leupold, and the ATACR 5-25×56 (39.1 ounces) from Nightforce show that the Venom is on the heavier side (most likely from the materials) and a fair weight amid the market of alternatives.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link:×56-ffp-riflescope.html

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

BFG GRID Belt: Fit to the Curve

Initially debuted at SHOT 2020, the MOLLEminus Belt product line by Blue Force Gear was introduced as first the CHLK Belt (designed with retention for air assault missions), and later as the GRID Belt (designed for traditional ground forces) belt. Both offer the continuing legacy of BFG’s minimalist and extremely lightweight tactical gear, although this review focuses on the newest version of the GRID.

Made from laser-cut, composite laminate nylon the GRID Belt is a two-part system that utilizes the inner/outer belt approach to give the wearer a comfortable EDC or daily-wear belt, but when the situation demands it a tactical battle belt that is quickly and easily donned. The GRID Belt draws its namesake after the belt’s visual similarities to map gridlines, and while not load-rated like the CHLK belt, does offer many of the same features.

One of these features is the GRID Belt utilizes a 3D printed buckle to secure the outer load-bearing belt. This buckle can be upgraded (separately) to a Hybrid AustriAplin COBRA Buckle that is otherwise included with the CHLK Belt. Moreover, the GRID does not include the reinforced “clip-in” retention points (one in front and one at the rear) with rubberized coating found on the CHLK Belt.

The inner 2” belt is made from a blend of smooth, inner-facing laminate nylon with an exterior-facing band of hook-and-loop (female). The inner belt is multi-angle, intended to contour to the wearer’s hip and worn threaded through the trousers’ belt loops—then secured by a G-Hook buckle. There is some overlap in the inner belt at the front for added protection, with any excess in the cinch strap secured against the outward-facing hook-and-loop.

As noted above, the GRID outer belt is a multi-angular, low-profile platform that is intended to prevent potential snagging and contour to the wearer’s hips for maximum comfort and prevent “ride up”. The outer belt secures to the inner with the associated inward-facing hook-and-loop (male) band.

The outer belts are made from a combination of composite and ULTRAcomp nylon laminate with three rows of laser-cut MOLLEminus sections for mounting any Helium Whisper Attachment System, or associated MOLLE-mounting pouches and/or accessories. Holding it all together BFG uses TEX 70 bonded nylon thread to draw multiple lines, bartack, and other reinforcement stitches to maximize tensile strength.

The MOLLEminus belts (both the GRID and CHLK) is available in a variety of colors to include; Multicam (featured), Black, OD/Ranger Green, and Coyote Brown and be in sizes 30” – 44” physical waist size.

For the purposes of this evaluation, other BFG and other pouches were added to evaluate how the belt performed under conditions as close as intended. They are however, not considered part of the belt’s scoring.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostFair (2/5): With its MSRP of $249.99, the GRID Belt brings together tested hardware with Blue Force Gear’s proprietary laminate nylon for immense strength and abrasion resistance. The GRID lacks the retention loops the CHLK Belt ($349.99) has, however the rest of the belt (including the optional Cobra Buckle) is the same. This is in comparison to other market belts with similar design and materials, such as the Task Force Belt ($192) by Ronin, the SMU Operator Belt ($147) by AWS Gear, the SET Warbelt ($183) by Snake Eater Tactical, the Contact Series Belt w/Inner Belt ($135) by G-Code Holsters, or the Trident Operator’s Belt ($159) by T3 Gear. This all puts the GRID belt in the upper tier of the market of options, reflecting its newer design and materials. Thus, the GRID Belt, at its current price point, is fair considering what is included. 
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The sizing to the GRID Belt was like the CHLK and very specific, allotting for the physical circumference of the user’s waist, and not trouser size. With the proper sizing, the belt was very lightweight, and its multi-angular cut hugged the waistline giving the belt a proper and ergonomic feel. As items/pouches were added, the weight was distributed throughout the belt preventing it from pulling or rolling on any specific side of the body. One observed aspect of concern was that when upgraded, the Hybrid COBRA buckle was a somewhat difficult to manipulate due to its smaller profile in the larger hands of the user. While it did consistently function, it was not as easy to grab in contrast to a full-sized COBRA buckle. While this is merely a weight-saving option on the part of Blue Force Gear and the overall belt’s design, it is something the consumer should be aware of. It may be of interest to Blue Force Gear to make the buckle of the GRID Belt an optional upgrade to have the full-sized buckle included.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): From a durability aspect the GRID Belt did an excellent job of not only retaining its profile, but showing very little wear to key stress points or fraying. This included swapping out pouches and accessories several times to try different configurations, or brands of other pouches. With most of the GRID Belt made from ULTRAcomp and composite laminate nylon, its various layers held up remarkably well despite and flexing or dynamic movements. Extensive bartack and reinforced TEX 70 bonded stitching was noted throughout the belt, particularly at the tie-in points and for securing the buckle to the belt’s reinforcement. The Hybrid COBRA Buckle itself was composed of 7075 aluminum alloy and provided great strength in retention and locking. The buckle was rated, per the manufacturer, for a variety of safety standards and loads tested to 11,000 pounds..
  • Functionality Good (4/5): The key aspect to the GRID Belt’s function is its multi- angular cut, so that as the belt wrapped around the waist it contoured to the body vice being a linear belt and bowing (thus mitigating potential Meralgia Paresthetica issues). This made the GRID Belt far more comfortable then its contemporaries simply on that feature alone. Other aspects, such as the clip point for gloves and buckle consistently functioned when appropriate. With the absence of the rubberized retention points on the GRID, there was more available space for pouches or attaching other accessories. One area of recommended improvement for Blue Force Gear would be to develop a small hook-and-loop field to bond/secure the excess adjustment strap for the buckle. There are several loops to aid in this, but the material tended to creep and flop around if there was an excess. A side note unrelated to the belt itself, was when passing the Helium Whisper tabs of other BFG pouches through the laser cut MOLLE field on the GRID Belt, the belts inner liner hook-and-loop (male) material often snagged/pulled on the tab’s hook-and-loop (female) material – often causing the tab to fold or roll. Not a negative against the belt, but more of the pouches – particularly the mounting tabs that worsened the more times a pouch was mounted/removed and the material frayed. Use of other brand pouches that utilize standard MOLLE mounting tabs, MALICE clips or fold-over hook-and-loop bands did not suffer from this effect.
  • Weight Excellent (5/5): With regards to overall weight, the GRID Belt (size 40)  measured in at approximately 14 ounces (or 3.4 ounces for the inner belt and 10.6 ounces for the outer). This reflects the weight-saving use of the ULTRAcomp and composite laminate nylon throughout the design while it sacrificed none of the function or strength. Over time while worn, this lightweight belt was very noticeable in the hips not only in improved comfort, but fatigue in the hip joints and legs where heavier belts often pull on. In contrast, the Task Force Belt (1.2 pounds) by Ronin, the SMU (1.12 pounds) by AWS, the SET Warbelt (1.7 pounds) by Snake Eater, the Contact Series Belt w/Inner Belt (1.5 pounds) by G-Code Holsters, or the Trident Operator’s Belt (1.27 pounds) all illustrate that while material does split the hair in terms of mere ounces, the lightweight materials of Blue Force Gear’s ULTRAcomp makes it an amazingly lighter and minimalist option for those considering such an excellent option.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link:

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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