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EarPro Clearance with Various Helmets

A question arose recently about the various cut options on the Ops Core helmets. They offer various heights of cut around each ear, from Mid-Cut which hangs over the ear, to High Cut which is slightly above the ear, to the Super High Cut which raises the opening even higher. While providing less ballistic coverage square-footage, many users prefer the additional clearance for ear protection and communication headsets

Their Maritime ballistic shell material is lighter-weight than most competitors and was the state-of-the-art until their latest FAST SF line arrived. As far as I know, it’s been offered in both the High and Super High Cut configurations, easily distinguished by the number of vertical rail slots behind each ear.

Below I’m glamorously modeled a few different sets of earpro with various helmet cuts. You’ll see across the three columns, bare, MSA Sordin Over-the-Head (OTH), then Peltor Behind-the-Head (BTH) and down the rows, bare, Ops-Core FAST Carbon High Cut, Ops-Core FAST MT Super High Cut, then Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic helmets.

You’ll notice on the High Cut there is some interference with the top of the Sordins, whereas both the Super High Cut and the Team Wendy offer clearance. The OTH headset works well in a semi-permanent capacity by removing a middle pad from the helmets and tucking behind the suspension - then they remain ‘attached’ to the helmet when donning/doffing.

The Peltor BTH model hangs low enough on the back of the neck to prevent interference with the rear suspension adjustment dials and is compact enough to fit under the regular High Cut Carbon helmet. Issues arise when latching the chinstraps, as the rear strap presses on the BTH strap and wires.

I prefer the BTH for times when I’m putting the helmet on and off a bunch, to share with others or do photography work - the ears can stay on to retain hearing protection as the helmet is removed. The OTH Sordins fit nicely when spending a bunch of time in the helmet, but lock you into needing to wear them full-time. A solid option is to get helmet-mount adapters like in the bottom photo, with the Unity Tactical MARK system. Then you can rotate the ears out of the way for venting or passing the helmet.

Overall, having the Super High Cut or EXFIL profile helmets offers reduced issues with various earpro options and some recent sales have made them much more attainable for those of us that buy them for ourselves.

MAWL-C1+ in Infrared

I rented a Nikon DSLR with its IR filter removed from in front of its filter, which allows it to capture a much wider frequency band of light. In this case, I put a visible-light-blocking filter on the front of the lens so I was only capturing light above 720nm. This allowed the infrared pointer and illuminator from the MAWL-C1+ to appear brightly and allowed for a direct comparison of the three different range modes. Thought it might be interesting to visualize for people that have just seen the charts B.E. Meyers puts out but not seen them in person through anything other than narrow NVG tubes. Target was about 40yd from the rifle on the tripod and camera lens was 17mm equiv.

I find myself leaving the unit in the mid range setting 80% of the time for the wide splash around the area along with the nice bright spotlight around the target. This is mostly because the shooting I do is at gun ranges or outdoors at friends properties. When indoors the short range setting is fantastic for filling a room and lighting up everything within my NVG's view, without blooming super close targets. I still have yet to hit another shoothouse class and make use of the C1+ but would imagine I'd be flipping between short and mid quite a bit there. The long range setting does a great job when used in conjunction with a clip-on unit like the PVS-30 and its very clean beam pattern really seems to stretch further than restricted units that have noisy, blotchy laser projections. While I didn't understand the long range lockout function on the range selector at first, it works great for me to be able to easily switch between my most used settings very quickly without having to find the middle position. Long range becomes relegated to when I put it on a DM or bolt gun and don't want the mid range flood to splash off grass and other obstructions.

Pistol sights under various lighting conditions

Recently a discussion came up in the Primary & Secondary Discord chat server regarding recommended pistol sights for defensive use. The two non-red dot suggestions that seemed the most popular were Tritium-based "night sights" (either front-only or all around) and a fiber-optic front sight with blacked-out rear.

Having a handful of different sight setups on a few of my Glocks, I figured it'd be handy to compare them side-by-side in various lighting conditions in a consistent manner. While I had my own feelings going into it, I found it interesting how similar the tritium and fiber options were with blacked out rears. Granted that was just when the tritium front sight came with a day-glo orange ring around it for extra highlighting, but I had expected the narrow fiber sight to have a clear advantage in all situations other than completely dark (which may be difficult to come up with a justifiable circumstance for).

I also found the wider front sights (that cause less daylight on either side of the front sight) to be more difficult in the various lighting conditions. I much preferred a narrow front sight so it was easier to distinguish in darker, silhouetted situations.

The condition "F" images were brightened by 3.5 stops to make the tritium tubes visible - otherwise they were extremely difficult to see in the photos. I think the Trijicon HDs from setup 4 were only successful because of the bright ring around the center tube. Having to house a tritium vial brings other limitations on how narrow the front sight can be, that the fiber optic or full-blacked-out sights are not limited by.

A Surefire X300U-A with 500 lumens was mounted to all the setups and turned on for condition C, D and E. A second Surefire was bounced off the ceiling in conditions B and D. I believe the fiber optic would have been even more brightly illuminated if the shooter's position was in direct sunlight or brighter overhead lighting, but I felt this test represented reasonable indoor conditions.

My Nikon DSLR was set manually to keep photos consistent across all setups - 85mm lens at f/6.3 and exposed 1/30 sec at ISO 1600.

Here's the chart I put together for the various setups and lighting conditions - I've included galleries below of each setup and a download link to the full-resolution image at the bottom that is helpful for zooming in and seeing the sights up close. Please give me feedback on this brief test and let me know if there is similar information that might be helpful to examine in the future, whether it's rifle sights, night vision devices or other optical units. Hope you enjoy.


Setup 1 (RMR+Black Front/Rear with target in focus and RMR on)

Setup 2 (RMR+Black Front/Rear with front sight in focus and RMR off)

Setup 3 (RMR+Tritium Front/Rear with front sight in focus and RMR off)

Setup 4 (Black rear and Tritium front dot - Trijicon HD)

Setup 5 (Black rear and fiber-optic front)

Setup 6 (Police Trade-in Tritium 3-dot night sights, front and rear)


Night Shoot at Iron City Gun Club

A buddy and I visited the Iron City Gun Club in the evening this last weekend and stuck around after dark. We wanted to try using a Knight's Armament AN/PVS-30 clipped onto a 6.5 Creedmoor bold-action and a MK-12 Mod 1 5.56mm AR-15. We also used helmet-mounted Mod-3 night vision goggle tubes (from Nightlong Industries) firing an HK MR-556 SBR with an aiming laser.

Here's a couple clips, shot through one of the Mod-3 tubes and an ATN Thor thermal optic:

2017 Portfolio Book

I printed a small number of these booklets to share with manufacturers and other vendors at the 2017 NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Here's a PDF version available for your perusal with some of my favorite photos from the last year or two. Please get in touch if you have a project in mind that could use my help.