Vuurwapen Blog – Now With More African Revolution News

Don’t worry, I’m still here. “Here” at the moment is Tunisia. I went to Libya briefly (do not have much to report there). I also photographed the refugee camps inside Tunisia and do believe that I have a story to report from there, but will probably wait until after the 1st of April so that it is taken seriously. I was able to inspect (but not photograph in detail) Tunisian military and police weapons, as well. If all goes well, I will be out of Africa within 12 hours, and hopefully will not hear the call of a muezzin again any time soon.


Standing on the border between Tunisia and Libya

IWA 2011 Coverage

The cat is out of the bag.

I am in Europe to cover IWA and several other exciting things. Full coverage will be on The Firearm Blog, but I will be posting brief updates here on Vuurwapen Blog.

I am also here to eat amazing Italian food. Excuse me while I take care of this important mission.

Vltor Photos

Vltor Weapon Systems is probably best known for its excellent AR stock series: the original Modstock, the EMod (Enhanced Modstock), and the IMod (Improved Modstock). It’s also known for the MUR and VIS AR-15 upper receivers and the CASV handguard. What many people don’t know is that they make an astonishing variety of other products – to include PKM machine guns for foreign militaries, handguards, components, and stock adapters for other weapons, and so on. I considered myself familiar with their product line before a recent visit, but was, frankly, astonished to see how busy they have been, and how many new products they have.

This is pretty brief, as I’m preparing for a rather exciting adventure at the moment, but here’s an overview of some unknown Vltor history, as well as photos of some of their new products.

One of the oldest Vltor products actually originated under ASAR, or Abrams Small Arms Research, before Abrams Airborne acquired Vltor years ago. That product is the CASV, which received several modifications for functionality and durability before being sold under the Vltor name. What you see here on the left is an original CAS-V prototype – made of titanium! – next to one of the newest CASV models, the split-level CASV-ELS.

The titanium prototype is rather heavy, as well as being expensive to produce, so the current aluminum CASV is a much more useful product to most end users. Thousands are currently in use by various US Navy units, among others.

Here are the new split-level versions, the CASV-ELS for carbine length ARs and the CASV-S for midlength ARs. The bi-level version allows for cowitness of optics mounted on the forward portion of the handguard. I’ve been using a CASV-ELS for several months, and love the profile of the newer handguards – they’re ideal for “thumb-forward” support hand shooting.

Vltor still manufactures standard level CASVs, such as this CASV-M, shown with the optional front sight.

From oldest in the background to newest in the foreground, here’s a glamor shot of some AR CASVs.

Vltor also manufactures quite a few M1A components, including the stock and handguard shown here. I was surprised to find that this weapon didn’t feel too heavy and balanced quite well. Please excuse the poor framing of this shot.

Other AR type stocks are compatible with the tube shown here.

One weapon that definitely hasn’t escaped the touches of Vltor is the SCAR. Here’s a SCAR-H with the full treatment – a CASV-type handguard (extended beyond the factory handguard length, and allowing for better heat dissipation) and an AR stock adapter that has a very nice height adjustment system – which, unfortunately, I did not photograph very well.

Vltor’s HK416 handguard – the exact designation of which I am unsure – is one of my favorite products, though I’m not really sold on the 416. I found it intriguing that the HK416 emitted a low, pulsating hum and fluoresces under UV light – no, just kidding.

You will soon be able to buy an AR that’s almost entirely Vltor, as they’ve started manufacturing AR-15 lower receiver assemblies (they’ll be sold as you see here for $379 starting in a few weeks). The three stand-out features are an enhanced magwell, an enlarged magazine release button, and a receiver endplate with side QD sockets that are tucked in close to the receiver.


Hopefully, in a month or so, I’ll be able to report on some other Vltor news.


SKD 40% Off Sale

In the last few weeks, I’ve been purging/unsubscribing from a vast number of email subscriptions, which has really made it easier for me to respond to important emails. One of the subscriptions I didn’t dump, though, was SKD Tactical, and for good reason – they’re awesome.

SKD newsletter subscribers (including myself) just received an email about a pretty incredible sale. Using the coupon code “skdfan40″ you can receive a 40% discount on the items listed there (30% off Vltor products). This means that you can pick up a Vltor VIS-1 for as little as $382 or a Velocity Systems lightweight plate carrier (which is, I believe, made by Mayflower) for just $90 ($101 if you want to be cool and wear Multicam). Tactical Tailor’s “Urban Operator Pack” would be $54. And if you need a boat anchor, the Surefire M910A would be “only” $335.

How to Choose a Concealed Carry Handgun – The Basics

Choosing a concealed carry firearm can be a daunting task, often involving trips to various gun stores, consultations with friends that own firearms, late-night internet forum browsing, and possibly asking a spouse how much money one is allowed to spend. Along the way, various rules might be set – “it has to be in a caliber starting with 4,” or “only a revolver is always reliable,” or “You can’t spend more than $300 on something silly like that.”

When I worked in a gun store (there’s a phrase I don’t like to repeat often), I encountered this all the time. I would often have to help someone select a firearm based on arbitrary rules that Uncle Jerry had set forth – despite Uncle Jerry’s complete lack of knowledge.

With those experiences in mind, I’ve decided to write a primer on the subject, being as brief as possible while still explaining my opinions. Keep in mind that they’re opinions – feel free to seek out other advice – just take Uncle Jerry’s with a grain of salt.

I’m going to avoid recommending specific firearms in this article. Here are a few basic considerations that should be taken into account. They’re in a rough order, from most to least important:

  • Usefulness/Needs
  • Proficiency
  • Budget
  • Platform/Caliber


First and foremost, the weapon you purchase to carry concealed should meet your specific needs – chief among them is your ability to carry the firearm, on your person, at all times. A hand cannon that’s too heavy or large will not be carried often, making your purchase - and efforts – a waste. The concept of a small handgun being easy to conceal doesn’t escape many people, but what does escape people who don’t shoot much is that tiny handguns in big calibers are difficult, even sometimes painful, to shoot.

Perhaps I should write a separate article on myths, but erase the concept of the “one shot stop” from your mind right now. Being forced to rely on one shot stopping a threat – especially after that balsa wood derringer chambered in .50 BMG breaks your wrist – is a very poor choice to make. No handgun caliber is a magic wand, and you might not be facing just one opponent.

When you first start looking at carry handguns, you’ll probably gravitate toward the smallest ones in the case or on the wall, because you’re thinking in terms of the clothing you wear now, which is probably not exceptionally conducive to carrying a sizable handgun. However, while minor wardrobe changes might be undesirable, they’re worth it in the long run, for both comfort and the more capable firearms they might allow you to carry.

As a side note, the general population is oblivious to many things, concealed carry being one of them. The only person “freaking out” about the fact that you’re carrying a concealed weapon the first time you carry will be – you.


There’s absolutely no substitute for being proficient with your firearm – caliber, manufacturer, etc. are absolutely irrelevant if you have no idea how to safely load, operate, and fire it under all conditions. You become proficient by properly learning how to do all of those things (often via competent instruction), and you remain proficient through regular practice. If the bulk of your shooting budget goes to one or two training courses per year, but you rarely shoot otherwise, you’re only proficient for a maximum of 1-2 months out of the year. By all means, attend shooting courses if possible, but don’t let those skills become dormant.

Beyond that, you should choose a handgun with which you can easily become proficient and easily maintain said proficiency. I’ll go back to the “hand cannon” analogy, but the same could be said for someone with huge hands trying to operate a tiny .22 revolver – whatever weapon you choose should not fight you in your efforts to load, operate, or fire it.


Whether limited by personal finances or a controlling spouse, budget often plays a role. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a crappy gun – you can save your money over time and look for deals. Also keep in mind that having, say, $800 budgeted for the task does not mean that you should go to the nearest gun store and look for pistols priced at $799.95. You’ll need ammunition, a holster, range time to practice, and, preferably, some professional training. Your current belt is probably not sufficient for the purpose, and you might need to buy some different pants or shirts- just don’t buy a khaki concealed carry vest, for Browning’s sake.

These other items are going to eat into your budget. It might be a good idea to allocate roughly half of your budget to a firearm, and the other half to the items mentioned above.

Don’t feel bad about not being able to afford the nicest pistol in the display case – as they say, it’s the singer, not the song. Just keep in mind that there are a few crappy songs out there.


I deliberately put this last, because it’s almost always the first thing that people think of when buying a handgun, despite the fact that it’s not as important, in my mind, as the above factors. Caliber itself, once we are in the major caliber realm of .38 Special to .45 ACP, plays almost no role in the decision-making process I use to choose a firearm. I’m far more concerned about the platform being adequate for the caliber.

What I mean by this is not just “big bullet + small gun = bad.”

I prefer a firearm that was designed for the caliber, not adapted for it – examples of which I’ll provide in another article, or perhaps a video, because they’d be too voluminous for the purposes of this article, which is already longer than I wanted it to be.

Final Thoughts

If you already own a handgun with a barrel length under 5″, chances are that it’s at least a semi-decent choice for concealed carry. You might be able to save yourself time and money by using what you already have.

Beyond that, purchasing or carrying a firearm, in and of itself, will not make you any safer. Evaluating and avoiding potential dangers, being aware of your surroundings, and maintaining proficiency with your carry firearm can increase your chances of survival. Only you can prevent forest fires – and only you are ultimately responsible for your safety.