[infobox]Wandering Ronin is a U.S. Marine Sergeant stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Sergeant Rinell was the recipient of Certificates of Commendation in 2009 and 2011, and was a Distinguished Graduate of the SNCOA Sergeant’s Course in 2012. As a U.S. Marine and a veteran of combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and 2009, and now, a graduate of the USMC Combat Marksmanship Coach/Trainer Course, WR is uniquely qualified to offer reviews of firearms and related accessories for GRT Evolutions. This is WR’s review of the Vickers Combat Action Sling and BLACKHAWK Serpa Level II Drop Holster. [/infobox]
While I attended the USMC Combat Marksmanship Coach/Trainer Course I had the opportunity to use the Vickers Combat Action Sling and really put my BLACKHAWK Serpa Level II Drop Holster to work. During the course we shot the current Entry Level Programming (ELP) pistol course of fire. We also shot the new and improved Combat Pistol Program (CPP) course of fire. Over 4 days I put about 200 rounds through my M9. We also shot Table 1 Known Distance (KD), Table 2 Basic Combat Marksmanship, and Table 3 Intermediate Combat Marksmanship course of fire. Throughout the 2 weeks of firing I put upwards of 500 rounds through my M4.
The Vickers Combat Action Sling (VCAS)
Let me preface this all with the fact that the armory did not order the correct equipment to attach the VCAS on the M4. There are additional brackets that move where you attach the sling back on the grips for us tall folk. At 6’2” I was unable to get into position with the VCAS using its loop sling option on the Table 1 KD. Essentially because of how the sling is designed, you can slip it off your body, put a ½ twist in the sling, slide your arm through the hole and you end up with a traditional loop sling just like if you were using the old school green webbing slings pretty much every one in the military should be used to. No one in my course was able to do this though; you just can’t get into position as the sling is WAY too tight without the brackets to move the attachment point back on the rails. Table 2 and Table 3 the VCAS paid up in gold though.
The VCAS is a 2 point sling with a quick slide tab that will loosen/tighten the sling on your body. You wear the sling the same way that you would rock a 3 point sling, with the butt stock end over your dominant shoulder and the barrel side under your weak side arm. This is how we were required to wear it the majority of our time out there. We were shown, and were able to try, another way of wearing it though. If you place the butt stock side under your dominant arm and the barrel side over your weak side arm, the sling works essentially the same. The advantages to this are that the sling is no longer in your way during reloads, and if you need to go into the prone you can slip your weak arm through the sling and the strap is now placed across your back creating good tension to drop into the prone quickly. It really works and was beneficial to us out there.
Either way you wear it, the VCAS is an amazing sling that I found easy to attach, and easy to operate with. I plan on buying the VCAS padded sling for my personal use in the near future. We did night shoots, moving targets, unknown distance, engagement of targets while making movement, pivot and face to targets with the VCAS and it performed superbly. I have used a BLACKHAWK 3 point, a SpecOps Mamba 3 point for these kinds of drills in the past, as well as the old school green web sling. Nothing matches the VCAS. The lack of webbing running down the side of your weapon is a major bonus in my book, couple that with the quick adjust tab and you end up with an amazing sling.
The VCAS Overall
4 Stars. From the time that I had it and used it, knowing that an unknown amount of Marines had used it previously, this thing was a beast. There was some slight “fuzz” on the areas where plastic rubbed over webbing, however this was minimal, and would be drastically lessened on a personal rig.
4 Stars. This thing was purpose made, and works great. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because I wasn’t able to use the loop function of it since we did not have the correct hardware. Also I think that requiring special hardware for tall people is bogus!
4 Stars. This is a little on the pricey side, $45 dollars for the original, $55 for the padded version. When you take into consideration the above 4 star ratings though, the price is nothing compared to what you get in return. A great sling that has multiple uses, it can readily switch from a Known Distance Range to Combat style marksmanship quickly once you have it set up.
The BLACKHAWK Serpa Level II Holster
I bought this when I was a young Corporal and thought I was moving into a high speed/low drag career field and wanted to fit in. At the time I was riding security for teams going in and out of country all the time and was constantly rolling with a Condition 1 weapon and that green monster holster just wasn’t cutting it. The Serpa worked well for these missions, but I didn’t really get to put it through its paces until now.
Fast forward 5 years and the Marine Corps have bought off on the Serpa holsters and this will be the go to holster for Marines now. During the ELP course of fire, the Serpa works just as well as the green monster. When you transition to the CPP though, the Serpa really starts to shine.
Let me give you some quick basics on the two courses of fire for reference. In ELP you shoot 15 rounds from the 25 yard line in 20 minutes, at the 15 yard line you have 20 seconds to shoot 3 rounds, speed reload, and shoot 3 more rounds. In CPP you shoot 8 rounds from the 25 yard line, you are given 2 seconds to draw your pistol, take it off safe, and cock for a single action shot.
You then have 7 seconds to take your shot. At the 15 yard line you have 9 seconds to draw your pistol, shoot 2 rounds, conduct a speed reload, and put 2 more rounds into your target. When you talk about all this drawing from the holster, (which is what CPP is ALL ABOUT!) 90% of your shots in CPP come from the holster, meaning that having something as easy to use as the Serpa pays huge dividends. The finger lock – a small cam that is depressed on the exterior of the holster by your trigger finger – allows you to release the pistol from the holster, start to draw and slide your trigger finger right into place. The lack of a “cover” or flap over the grip makes sliding your palm down your body, and getting your firing hand into place a piece of cake.
The overall cut of the holster allows for an easy draw. The leg straps keep the holster secure and in place while moving around. I didn’t have an opportunity to do any running and gunning with this holster so cannot speak to its performance there. It can be attached to a patrol, riggers belt, or cobra belt easily via the provided straps. I hung mine of my BLACKHAWK Gun Instructor’s Belt that I wear on my uniform.
Serpa Holster Overall
3 Stars. I have had this holster for some time, and have used it in numerous situations. However when I purchased the add-on pistol bungee retainer, to comply with current Marine Corps Order and tried to install it, let’s just say that was a nightmare that required disassembly and reassembly. Somewhere something went wrong, and the plastic spring that “pops” the pistol out when you hit the release no longer works.
4 Stars. This is a great holster, that BLACKHAWK has only improved upon since I bought mine. The quick release kits that they now sell allows you to switch between thigh rig and mounting on a shoulder holster, or on your body armor.
4 Stars. My biggest complaint with this holster, is no longer an issue to anyone looking to purchase one now. That was that it required modification to meet Marine Corps standards. This is no longer the case, making this an outstanding holster for the price. The tactical drop holster will run you about $140 dollars, which is steep, however you get a lot for that money. Especially in regards to functionality and durability.
Overall it was a great two weeks of shooting and learning, with some great gear.