Category Archives: Reviews – General

Are you trying to save money and time on firearms and related items? Try Gun Deals

In searching on the web, I’d seen links to Gun Deals once or twice but never bothered because of the name. My mental scam filter is always set to high in other words. They recently reached out to me about their service so I took a look and was surprised.

Gun.Deals – yeah, that really is their website but wha I didn’t know is that it is a free to the user search engine where you can plug in what you are searching for – firearms, ammo, optics, lights, knives, etc. – and then they return listings at various websites so you can see the prices. You can then click on a result to learn more or order directly from the merchant’s website you go to – Gun.Deals helps you find the deals but they aren’t the actual seller, which is just fine. You can go to merchants you like and skip ones you do not.

They have advertisements and ways for vendors to post listings so I sure they have a number of ways to make money but it is not off you. It’s the same as you using any other search engine but they have tuned Gun.Deals for the things we care about.

One of the biggest value adds in addition to just finding items and seeing their prices is whether they are in stock or not. They also split out “in stock” vs. “out of stock” listings via their real-time inventory information, they can save you time and frustration as well. A pet peeve of mine is searching for something and going through website after website of vendors listing the product but not having it in stock.

Screen Shots

So you can get an idea of what the site looks like, I just went to their main page while writing this post:

This is their main page that came up for me just now. I then entered “Glock 29” in the search bar.
It came up with both the Glock 29 Gen 4 and the SF. I clicked on the Glock 29 Gen 4 and the above is what came up. It separates listings that are in stock from out of stock automatically and that is really cool.

Summary

With money tight these days, add Gun.Deals to the websites you go to for checking prices, finding deals, etc.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


My Favorite Rifle of 2022: The IWI Tavor X95

I like compact rifles but that means you have some combination of shorter stock and/or barrel. With that shorter barrel also comes trade-offs in terms of velocity because the ammunition is expecting a longer length of barrel and unburned powder exits the muzzle – often with a really cool flash. Other than shock and awe, that wasted powder isn’t turning to gas to shove the bullet down the barrel. It’s all a game of trade-offs. So, what if you don’t want to play the trade-off game?

This is where you enter the world of bullpups. A bullpup refers to any weapon where your cheak is basically resting on the action with the magazine under it. The barrel can actually be much longer now because the buttstock is gone and so you have a compact weapon with higher velocities. So what’s the catch?

Well, a lot of bullpups have a huge trigger problem. They typically use a solid linkage to take the movements you create by pulling what looks like the trigger and transfers them to the rear of the weapon where the actual trigger, disconnector are at. The result is long mushy feeling triggers …. unless you have a plan and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) did have a plan when they designed the Tavors.

My first encounter

The first time I saw a Tavor was a number of years back. My friend, Scott Igert, who owns Michigan Gun Exchange, had one in and it caught my eye. It looked like something out of a SciFi movie and I wasn’t really sure whether I would like it or not plus it was way more than I could afford at the time. I shouldered it a few times and had Scott put it back. I read a bit about them and decided it didn’t fit into my plans … at least not then now fast forward a few years – like maybe 3-5 years.

What changed my mind? Why did I go back?

Interestingly enough, a number of things happened. First, I had learned a lot more about firearm design. Second, I’d worked a lot more with both IMI and IWI Galils in both 5.56 and 7.62×51. Third, because of the Galils I became interested in Isreaeli weapon designs in general and what drove the industry constantly towards innovation (existential threats to the state are certainly a big factor. Fourth and final, I was getting kind of jaded towards short barreled rifles excluding pistol caliber carbines. I guess I should mix in a healthy dose of curiosity across alll of those.

So, I wound up older, maybe a bit wiser and more interested in the Tavor. I could also afford one I must add, but it was still going to be a chunk of money. So, I ordered one with the intention of selling it if things didn’t work out – as Scott will tell you, I rarely hold on to firearms of any kind.

What’s up with the name?

I’ve always found why something is named what it is of interest. If you’re really into the history of words you study what is known as the etymology of a given word. Me … I’m a redneck from Southwest Michigan and am just curious where they come from so I can sound smarter than I am when drinking with friends.

Ok, “Tavor” – where did it come from? Well, you may know it’s modern English name of Mount Tabor and it romanized name from Hebrew is “Har Tavor”. It is a real mountain located in lower Galilee, Israel. According to the Hebrew Bible, a great battle was fought there between the Israelite army and the army of the Canaanite King of Hazor. It’s also considered the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. There is so much history around Har Tavor that there is a whole wikipedia page devoted to it.

Is the Tavor X95 a new design?

Not exactly, the design team to create the Tavor began work in 1995 with Zalmen Shebs as the team lead. They wanted a rifle that could withstand sand and the elements, be accurate enough and also compact enough to be readily carried in vehicles. Of course, they wanted something better than the American M4 and the Galil had proven itself to be too heavy and large for continued use by the Israeli miliary.

By 2001 they had versions of the Tavor in trials that helped them learn better what was needed and refined the design to better handle fine sand for example. It was issued in November 2001 as the TAR-21. From 2001 to 2009 a number of refinements were made. In November 2009 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) announced they would adopt the Tavor X95 as their standard infantry weapon.

That’s a short summary and the whole point is that it is not brand new and your not risking a bunch of money to be a guinea pig. The Tavor has seen real combat use and performed respectably. If you buy an X95, you are getting a proven weapon that has a good combination of accuracy and reliability in a variety of environments.

Ok….So what did I buy?

I bought a model XB16 in August 2021. This model of Tavor is black (you can also get them in flat dark earth or olive drab), is in 5.56×45 NATO, has a barrel length of 16.5″, an overall length of 26.125″ inches and weighs 7.9 pounds empty.

I wanted to pair it up with an optic that would excel in close quarters with rapid sight acquisition and a wide field of vision but that I could also magnify a bit if needed. I went with the Vortex UH-1 holographic sight and a 3x flip up magnifier. I had a red dot and magnifier combo on an AR many years ago and did NOT like it. The UH-1 and 3X magnifier pairing on the Tavor were made for each other. If you want speed, flip the 3X out of the way. If you want some magnification, flip it back into place.

There is only one change that I made internally. A lot of Tavor owners were removing their original trigger packs and installing either a Timney or a Gisselle. I backordered both and the Timney showed up first. Changing a trigger pack in a Tavor is super easy – it’s a modular cartridge that goes up through the bottom of the bullpup. The Timney did make a world of difference.

I put a Streamlight 88509 weapons light on it along with a real IDF Zahal sling. For mags, I use a combination of Magpul Pmags and Lancer Advanced Warfighter mags – I like both and just grabbed some spares.

Lastly, I did go for one accessory I don’t normally buy – a fitted Peak Case. Normally I just go with some generic carrying case but decided I wanted something a little “cooler” and more protective than a softsided case. Click here to go to their page in a new tab.

By the way, the Zahal sling can be purchased off ebay from here.

Unlike some of my reviews, I don’t have a ton of unpacking and assembly photos. Why? Your’s truly misplaced/lost/deleted almost two months of digital photos and I have no idea how. What I can do though is jump ahead to the results:

The Peak case comes pre-cut for the Tavor and a handgun off to the left. I actually have the original trigger pack stored in there for Click here for their web page.
Here’s the Tavor with the Zahal sling and the Vortex optics mounted.
The rail covers slide off once you depress the button.
Pushing that button allows you to slide a rail cover right off.
The Tavor X95 design immediately made me realize that I needed to read the manual and a couple of Youtube videosto learn how it works. In this photo, we are looking at the back bottom. You have the mag well hole and behind it is the bolt release lever for when the bolt locks open on empty.
There’s the trigger with the mag release to the above left and the safety selector lever to the back right.
Combining a Vortex UH-1 with a Vortex 3x magnifier gives you a lot of versatility. When you want a wide field of view for close-in work you can flip the magnifier out of the way as shown in this photo. When you want 3x magnification, just flip ti down.
The Vortex UH-1s are great optics. This is my second and I can’t recommend them enough. Rugged, bright, easy to use, reliable and a no-nonsense fix or replace warranty – what more could you want?
With the Timney trigger pack installed, I did 5 trigger pulls and the average pull weight was 4 pounds 9.7 ounces. The minimum pull weight was 4 pounds 3 ounces and the max was 4 pounds 15.4 ounces. One thing you tend to notice with good triggers is both a lighter and more consistent pull weight.

Preparing for the range

I’ve written about this before – do not take a new firearm straight to the range or you are going to have a lousy time. Instead, field strip it, clean & lubricate it and then cycle the action about 200 times to let the parts wear in and get to know each other – no, you don’t need to pull the trigger 200 times. It makes a world of diference with most firearms.

Range Time

We were able to take the Tavor to the range twice this summer and put about 300-400 rounds of bulk box M855 through it. The Tavor ran flawlessly – no problems feeding or ejecting. The control layout does take some getting used to – the more I use it then the more I will get used to changing magazines I’m sure.

Jim shooting the Tavor – he definitely liked it. I mentioned it in my blog post about taking the Stribog to the range that same day – Jim forgot his hat and the only spare I had in the truck was my wife’s. Nice hat Jim 🙂
Niko fire the Tavor from a number of positions and really liked it as well.

I honestly did not think I would like it but I actually do. It takes some getting used to in terms of the controls and swapping magazines but these are things that practice can overcome. Think about it, you have a 5.56×45 NATO rifle in the same form factor you would normally find a SBR or braced pistol with a much shorter barrel.

This photo highlights the advantage of a bullpup over a traditional firearms design. The weapon on top is a Grand Power Stribog SP9A1. It has a F5 Manufacturing Modular Brace, the action in the middle and then only has an 8″ barrel. The Tavor has the rear “stock” and action integrated with a 16.5″ barrel that can achieve far higher velocities from the 5.56×45 cartridge than a shorter barrel could. Yet, the over all lengths are almost identical.

We were shooting at paper targets and plates – not for accuracy – at about 10-15 yards. The Tavor just handled wonderfully. I couldn’t have been happier.

After a bunch of rounds we needed to let it cool down before putting it back in the bag.

By the way – I like the weight and rear-biased balance. Granted 5.56 does not have much recoil to begin with but the Tavor is very pleasant to shoot. Again, if you hear people mentioning it is awkward, well, bullpups in general take getting used to because the mag is so far back.

Summary

I kid you not, I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. It’s compact and reliable. The trigger is good enough … some day when I have time, I need to take it to the range with match ammo and see how it does but for now, I am quite happy. I’ve tried a number of different rifles this past summer but this takes first place and my IWI Galil Ace .308 takes a very close second [click here for my review of it]. The rest are all “ok” in comparison.

There are a ton of positive Tavor X95 reviews out there and now I know why. If you are on the fence about buying one, just get it 🙂

I hope this post helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


There Is A Great Counter Top Ice Maker Available That Is Very Affordable On Amazon

We have an expensive Whirlpool fridge that had (past tense) an ice maker built into the door. It managed to work until its warranty expired and then it stopped. It turns out those things are a known problem and expensive to replace (over $1,000). Well, the chilled filter water still worked so I wondered about other options.

Yes, good old fashioned ice trays are an option but we rarely have room in the freezer section for them, we forget to fill them and they are slow to make ice. It was an option but not realistic in our family.

What I really wanted to do was to find a counter top ice maker. We stayed at a cabin with one last year and it did a pretty good job. I had no recollection of the make or model of it so I turned to Amazon and started reading.

First off, there are tons and tons of options ranging from relatively small counter top ice makers all the way up to commercial units on Amazon. I wanted something that wouldn’t take up a ton of space, had a refillable water supply tank (not plumbed in other words) and could crank out ice quickly.

The good news is that there are a number of units to choose from. I read reviews and went for a combination of great reviews and price to select the AgLucky HZB-12/B. When we bought it, the price was $119.99 and there was a coupon for $10 off. When I checked the price just now, it was $129.99 and no coupon but this gives you an idea of the price.

It scores 4.4 stores with 14,024 reviews and to be honest, I can see why. It does the job very well with some small issues but for the price, I’d buy it again. We’ve used it a ton for a month now and am quite happy.

The units is 12.6″ tall, 8.7″ wide and 12.3″ deep. It is not large and there are color options. We went with grey and there is also black and red.

Setting Up The Unit

It comes completely assembled in a sturdy box. You do need to go through the top of the unit and remove the tape they installed to secure everything at the factory. I washed it with mild soap and rinsed it thoroughly. I then ran a couple of containers of test water through the unit to make ice that we tossed out.

It took less than an hour from when I got it out of the box, cleaned and tested it to when we were then cranking out ice. Not bad at all.

Ice Volume

They say it makes cubes every 6-8 minutes and that is about right – it really does. It can crank out 9 ice cubes with each batch at that pace – it’s surprisingly quick especially compared to old fashioned ice trays. By the way, the ice produced is shaped more like a cylinder that is hollow at one end – they are not really “cubes”. I think it can crank the ice out so fast because it focuses on cooling extended metal rods to make the ice.

Definitely use filtered water. We keep a large plastic cup near the unit to refill the unit with filtered water. Yes, there are much more expensive units you can tap into your water line with but we wanted portability

The Basket

The ice basket is in the front of the unit and is not refrigerated. Why, I am not sure – maybe to keep costs down. As the ice melts, it drips and goes into the water tank directly below the ice tray.

The basket sits in the angled surface and the small column you see at the bottom of the photo. The bottom is actually the front of the machine. You fill the unit with water up to the top of that column or any existing ice will be sitting in water. So, you both get ice out of the top and add water as well.

The basket is also relatively small – the whole unit is small. We keep the provided ice scoop by the unit. If more ice will be needed in the future, we would dump the ice from the bin into a plastic bag and freeze it. To be honest, it works but if you need a bunch of ice fast for a party, you may still want to buy ice.

There is an infrared sensor at the back edge of the ice bin – just above the rear of the basket. If a cube gets in front of it, the unit will assume the bin is full and stop making ice even though the bin has room. I just got in the habit of looking when I walked by and would use the scoop to move the cube out of the way.

Just above the back edge of the basket, find the black dot on the left side and somewhat clear dot on the right side. When ice breaks the infrared beam between the two units, the machine stops making ice. That could be when the basket is legitimately full or if an ice cube happens to be stuck in the way. This is a trivial issue really.

Sound Level Is Acceptable

When the fan kicks in to make ice, it is about 60-62 db at about a 6″ distance according to a sound level app on my phone. This puts it at the level of normal conversation or background noise. 70db, for comparison, is the sound level inside a car or an office. Our house is relatively quiet but we got used to the sound and the sound it makes when the ice drops off the fingers and is pushed into the bin. Sure, I wish it was quieter but for the price, I will happily live with it.

In Conclusion

The AgLucky unit is a work horse. It does its job and is totally worth the price for us — it’s nice to have a ready supply of ice again.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.