It’s that time of year again/ You’ve (hopefully) made it safely through Mother’s Day. Not it’s time to think about dear old dad and what he might appreciate. We’ve put together a list of gift inspirations ranging from extravagant to practical with price points to match.

Ruger PC Carbine Takedown

ruger pc carbine rifle
The new Ruger PC Carbine has a free-float barrel and an M-LOK handguard, plus its still a takedown firearm like the other PC Carbine models. Tom McHale

If you really care for dear old dad, and I’m talking to my kids here, you won’t be stingy and will gleefully open those wallets to get him the new Ruger PC Carbine. The latest model features an M-LOK handguard, free-floated barrel, and it breaks in half – on purpose. Yes, you can separate this bad boy for easy carry in car, backpack, or Vespa.

It’s a 9mm that accepts Ruger SR-9 magazines (one is included), or with the included adapter, it will take 9mm double-stack Glock magazines too. It’s not a new idea, but its still cool to match up the ammo supply for both pistol and carbine. Oh, it’s also available with a threaded barrel. MSRP: $729

Crimson Trace CTS-1000 Red Dot Optical Sight


If your kids love you enough to get you a Ruger PC Carbine, then of course they wouldn’t skimp on optics, right? I paired one with the new Crimson Trace CTS-1000 Red Dot Sight. Complete with a locking quick-detach mount, this one is built solid yet remains light. The 2 MOA dot will give you a precise aiming point as far as the PC Carbine 9mm round will go.

Of course, it’s equally handy for rifle calibers too. At 500 yards, that dot only covers 10 inches of target area. If you can see it, you can hit it. It’s got 10 intensity levels with the lowest being night vision compatible. If you leave it running at power level 8 or higher, it will drop back to 7 to save on battery life.

Plus, the mount is co-witness height for AR-type rifles. The mount also is open under the sight, so you can look right through to see the handguard mounted sights on the Ruger PC Carbine. MSRP: $299

Syntech Training Match Ammo

federal syntech training match ammo
These purple Syntech Training Match loads are calibrated to act and feel like the more expensive Federal HST self defense loads. Federal Ammunition

So, the Federal Syntech ammo is known for its bright red polymer-coated projectiles. Those are still on the market, but now you’ll see blue and purple ones too. They’re color coded by function. The purple Syntech Training Match loads are calibrated to act and feel like the much more expensive Federal HST defensive loads.

If you load the 124-grain 9mm HST in your carry gun, practice with the 124-grain Syntech Training Match. It’ll feel the same and impact the target in the same place.

Those color bullets aren’t for show. They projectiles are made from lead and covered with a slick polymer finish, making your gun run cleaner and cooler while minimizing traditional copper-jacket splash back when shooting steel targets. MSRP: $19.95 (9mm)

Z-Clear Anti Fog Glasses, Scope, Binoculars Cleaner



I made an impulse buy at the recent NRA Annual Meeting. I figured I would regret it after a few trials, but this product has lived up to its show-floor demo. Available in spray or paste form, you apply Z-Clear Anti Fog coating to glass by rubbing with your finger. When it dries after a few seconds, kind of like car wax, you wipe it off with a glasses cleaning cloth.

This polishing method helps temporarily “fill” minor scratches for a clearer view. The anti-fog actually works too. In the hotter months here I’m accustomed to instant and blinding fog when exiting an air-conditioned car or building. No more – that problem is now reduced by 90 percent. MSRP: $19.99 and up.

Leupold LTO-Tracker 2



I want one of these. Desperately. The Leupold LTO Tracker 2 is a hand-held thermal monocular. If Dad hunts, then it’s a fantastic tool for spotting game day or night. It’s also useful for tracking blood trails, again day or night.

If dad doesn’t hunt, they’re still insanely fun. I live in suburbia but am surrounded by woods. We’re starting to get coyotes and have the occasional fox and raccoon so it’s nice to be able to see what friends you have when walking the dog at night.

The standard version works great, but you can get a higher resolution HD model for a bit extra. MSRP: $1,039.99

Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener

Work Sharp


I’ve been using the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener tool for a few months now and… it actually works. I can’t count the number of knife sharpening tools, stones, diamond things, and various gimmicks I’ve tried with little success.

Yeah, I know. If you go to Arkansas Stone State Knife Sharpening University you can learn to do a fine job with just a stone, but I flunked out.

This one operates a bit like a belt sander with guides for different types of blades. The 20-degree brace does a bang-up job on banged up kitchen knives while the 25-degree angle is great for pocket and utility knives.

You get a variety of belts with different course through fine grits for the specific sharpening task. MSRP: $89.95

Cold Steel Hide Out Neck Knife

Cold Steel


Cold Steel makes over 13 trillion functional knives and a few ridiculous ones too. They even make blades and spike tools from non-metallic substances. I’ve been using a Tanto Spike neck knife for years and it sure is handy.

For those times when you’re going minimalist and don’t want to carry a gun (they require holsters and belts) or a regular pocket knife (those require pockets) try a neck knife. That’s a fixed blade in a sheath that you hang around your neck, under a t-shirt, using the chain affixed to the sheath.

The Hide Out has a shorter blade (three inches) than the Spike series so it’s a little less intimidating if you pull it out to cut tape or open a box. You also might see if dad likes the ultra-portable Urban Edge model. MSRP: $35.99

NEBO Inspector Pen Light



I picked this up on a whim at a MAST General Store in North Carolina. It was a successful buy as I use this light daily. The NEBO Inspector Pen Light packs a whopping 180 lumens into a package about the size of a Sharpie pen.

It has high, low, and strobe modes which you change with the activation tailcap. A light touch will give you momentary light while a click leaves it on. You’ll get two hours of use in high (180 lumens) mode, six hours in low (54 lumens), and 50 minutes of 180-lumen strobe.

You can also rotate the light end to vary the “zoom” of your beam. It’s well worth the price. MSRP: $19.99

Blue Force Gear Double Pistol Belt Pouch

Blue Force Gear Double Pistol Belt Pouch
The double pistol belt pouch from Blue Force Gear isn’t just good for hauling magazines, but its great for that, too. Blue Force

The double pistol belt pouch from Blue Force Gear the ultimate magazine carrier. It’s made from some super durable and stretchy material that puts standard elastic to shame. Maybe you’d refer to it as “mil-spec elastic.” Whatever it is, it’s tough and regains it shape no matter what you stuff in the pockets.

The primary intended use is for pistol magazines. Thanks to the material, it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. You can stow fat double-stack .45 ACP magazines one day and single-stack 9mm ones the next and it still works.

Velcro belt loops allow you to adjust to most any belt width. The best part is that they’re thin and weight next to nothing. The next best part is that they wrap around the contours of your waist, so the carrier is comfortable for all day use.

While you can order a single pouch, I like the double, even when carrying just one magazine. That other pouch is handy for a multi-tool, pocket knife, flashlight, or spare beef jerky. MSRP: $29.95

LaserLyte Laser Trainer Pistol Cartridge



There is nothing that will improve dad’s handgun shooting skills faster and more efficiently that dry-fire practice. Doing that without any feedback is kind of boring, so most won’t develop that habit.

The LaserLyte Laser Trainer Pistol Cartridge loads into the chamber like a regular cartridge, but instead of a primer, it uses that space for a laser activation button. When the firing pin strikes it, the cartridge emits a mean through the bore and a dot on your target.

It’s a great way to see if you “hit” what you were aiming at. Better yet, it’s consistent with the crop of new training software tools that can watch walls and targets for laser beams and record results. That leads us to the next gift idea… MSRP: $105


lasr app
The LASR App is a software solution that runs on computers, tablets, and smartphones using the device’s camera. LASR App

The LASR App is a software solution that runs on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Using the respective device’s camera, it watches any target area you define for laser impacts. So, if you bought dad a laser cartridge, you can set up a complete course of fire on a wall or door right at home.

The software can walk you through all sorts of timed drills with multiple target areas. Want to work on your draw and time to first hit? No problem. Want the computer to issue random target commands so you can react? You can do that too. It even handles multiple “shooters.” Dry fire practice is boring no more. MSRP: $9 per month, $65 per year

Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit

Real Avid AR Master Armorers Kit
It’s possible to complete most AR-build tasks without a bench full of specialized gunsmithing tools, but the job sure is easier (and safer) if you have some of the right gear and the Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit has everything you need in one convenient case. Real Avid

Building an AR rifle or pistol is all the rage right now. While it may or may not be less expensive than buying a ready-made gun, it’s satisfying, relatively easy, and you can get an end product literally built to your exact specifications.

It’s possible to complete most AR-build tasks without a bench full of specialized gunsmithing tools, but the job sure is easier (and safer) if you have some of the right gear.

This AR Armorer’s Master Kit from RealAvid has everything you need right down to the instructions on how to use each tool through the build process. It contains a wrench for barrel nuts, castle nuts, and muzzle devices and works in conjunction with an included torque wrench.

The kit also contains a variety of punches and picks plus two additional tools that are guaranteed to prevent cursing and frustration: a handguard removal tool and a pivot pin installation tool. Last but not least are vise blocks for upper and lower receivers and a bench block for working on the receiver and smaller parts. Those additions are handy for cleaning chores too. MSRP: $249.99

Champion AR500 Steel Targets

champion steel target
Champion’s new like of AR500 steel targets come in round, square and, mini-silhouette shapes. Champion Targets

Here’s how to make a range outing better. Bring steel targets. That ring of a solid center hit is not only satisfying, but convenient. You know you hit your target and you never have to go down range to see what happened.

Champion has a new line of AR500 steel targets in round, square, and mini-silhouette shapes. The company produces a variety of mounting kits so your steel target setup can be portable too. If dad is a handgun aficionado, get him a few so he can have some fun with multi-target scenarios. MSRP: $39.95

Brownells Magna-Tip Super Set

brownells magna tip set
Gunmsith screwdrivers are essential, even for simple tasks like changing grips or scope mounts. Brownells

If dad owns guns, then he needs at least a basic set of gunsmith screwdrivers. Unlike standard tools you get at the local hardware or big box store, gunsmith screwdrivers are specially ground with flat edges. That prevents scraping and marring of screw heads. Ever wonder why it’s so easy to mess up a screw on your gun while a gunsmith can do it all day without a scratch? It’s because they use the right tools.

This Magna-Tip gunsmith screwdriver set has everything you need in a well organized case.

Even for basic operations like tightening or changing grips, scope rings, or mounts, it’s important to use the right tools.

These sets from Brownells are outstanding and well worth the money when it comes to protecting the finish of valuable firearms. MSRP: $69.99 to $129.99

CED 7000 Shot Timer

Tom McHale


A shot timer is a must have for those serious about improving their shooting skills. Not only does the pressure of the clock expose techniques that need work, a timer allows you to measure progress and improvement over time.

The CED 7000 model features a rechargeable battery and is compact enough to keep in the range bag at all times. It’s chock full of features so you can do simple random start time drills, track multiple shots, measure split times between shots, and set par times as “limits” for courses of fire. MSRP: $119.95

5.11 RUSH24 Backpack

5.11 RUSH24 backpack
The 5.11 RUSH24 is a medium sized pack with lots of pockets and pouches. 5.11

This pack is part of 5.11 Tactical’s Rush series of bags, which are simple yet rugged packs that are overbuilt for lasting performance.

The RUSH24 is a 37L backpack that’s just the right size to be extremely versatile, it’s not quite big enough to be a heavy pack requiring a kidney pad and belt, but it has plenty of room for a decent amount of gear. An adjustable-height sternum strap and heavily padded shoulder straps help enhance comfort and properly distribute the weight of the pack for extended use.

It can serve as an overnight bag, a field pack that can haul plenty of shed layers and other gear when hunting, a go bag, and even as a commuter bag—yet it’s rugged enough and meets the proper specs to be active duty gear for the military while also being water resistant with a water-repelling coating.

The main compartment has several zippered nylon and mesh pockets for keeping your gear organized and a pocket sized for a 60-ounce hydration bladder. And if you regularly haul around stuff with a lot of small parts, wires, or other detachable components, the front pouch has a whole bunch of compartments and sleeves of varying sizes, including pen slots and pouches sized for AR magazines.

The small zippered pocket at the top of the pack lets you securely stow items that you need readily available and a zippered side pocket for a water bottle.

Plus, the 1050D Nylon pack is surrounded by MOLLE webbing, so you can always add to the pack’s storage capacity if you want with any number of pouches and panels. It’s also compatible with 5.11’s Tier System and Scabbard.

The pack is available in black, Double Tap (black and gray), Flat Dark Earth, TAC OD green, Sandstone, and dark navy blue. MSRP: $129.99 —DM

SOG Flash AT Assisted Open Knife

The new SOG Flash AT with an Urban Grey handle.
The new SOG Flash AT with an Urban Grey handle. SOG

SOG has reinvented itself, getting back to its roots in a way with a new version of its name, S-O-G: Studies and Observations Group instead of SOG Specialty Knives and Tools. With this change in image came many changes in their product lines, including the reinvention of some of their classics with updates intended to make them more useful and attractive for every day carriers who aren’t members of a SWAT team or elite operators. One of these knives is the Flash AT.

So let’s start with the looks of the new Flash AT. This is a handsome damn knife all the way around. When closed it has a silhouette reminiscent of some Benchmade folders, and the blade sits deep in the handle—which helps protect the finish on the blade over time as the knife rubs against junk in your pocket or wherever it ends up being stowed.

The straight back 3.5-inch blade has a titanium nitride finish and is made of hearty Cryo D2 high-carbon tool steel. It is cryogenically heat treated and has an excellent balance of edge retention and durability. That means, unless you’re breaking down multiple animals a day with it or cutting cardboard for hours, you will only have to sharpen it lightly every so often to keep a razor’s edge on it.

The knife SOG sent me was viciously sharp with an excellent grind on the edge.

The matte finish matches the greenish-gray of the handle perfectly and just plain looks great together.

At the pommel is an angled pocket clip that lets the Flash AT sit deep when your carrying it and it’s angled to better match the edge of a jeans pocket. This lets the knife sit straighter and a bit more securely and move around less.

The very comfortable, ergonomic handle is made of GRN polymer.

Being an assisted-open knife, it’s under spring tension when closed and once you start opening the blade via the thumb stud, the spring takes it the rest of the way, snapping it open and engaging the AT-XR locking mechanism.

SOG says their AT-XR lock can withstand 1,500 lbs. of force, and I believe them. The blade is more than rock solid in the open position.

There is a manual safety on the spine-side of the handle in the form of a flipper tab. Press down the side with the red dot for safe, if the red dot is showing, the knife can be opened.

This keeps the blade from springing open in your pocket or in a pack when you don’t want it to, but after carrying the knife in my pocket and jacket for a couple weeks without the safety on, it hasn’t opened on me once. The closed-hold is fairly substantial and it’s difficult to pinch the blade with your fingers and get it to open without using the thumb stud. But when you open it the way you’re supposed to, the tension is just enough to be solid but not difficult to overcome—sort of like the perfect trigger pull weight. MSRP: $74.95 —DM

Henry X Model Carbine

The Henry X Model carbine in .357 Magnum.
The Henry X Model carbine in .357 Magnum. Henry Arms

I didn’t really understand what Henry has here with the Henry X Model rifles until I got it in my hands on one and got it to the range. It’s not just an old school lever gun with “modern features” like some of those custom rifles you see with brass receivers and black aluminum M-LOK handguards (I don’t hate these builds like some do—I kind of dig them).

What Henry built is a lever gun for the 21st century. From buttpad to muzzle, it’s a line of lever action firearms that is completely designed for and capable of functioning alongside new firearms without most of the drawbacks of a classic lever gun.

The stock and finish are as weather resistant as any found on an AR—this is Henry’s first line of firearms fitted with polymer furniture; some think the All Weather models have polymer or laminate furniture but it’s actually hardwood with an industrial moisture resistant coating. It can be used with muzzle brakes, flash hiders, and suppressors and is ready to accept a sling with no extra hardware necessary.

An integrated accessory rail on the handguard at 6 o’clock makes using a bipod or alternate sling attachment a breeze, or it can be used for a laser sight or gun light. Two additional M-LOK slots cut into the sides of the polymer handguard offer additional mounting positions without adding any unneeded bulk or rails.

Ultimately, Henry went with their own polymer handguard design and I think they made the right decision. There are enough rails and M-LOL slots to attach a bipod, gun light, and a laser sight if someone wants. If you need slots for more accessories or to put them in a different place, then you can drop $165 on the MI handguard and do so—but for most shooters, the stock arrangement will do just fine.

All X Model guns feature Henry’s new side gate loading port. The company has famously made its rifles to be loaded via the tube magazine at the muzzle, keeping with the design of original Henry rifles. That is, until last year, when it released a line of rifles and .410 shotguns with side loading gates in addition to the old-school Henry mag tube loading system. However, they did not release any Big Boy pistol-caliber lever guns with the side gate until the X Models debuted at SHOT this year.

You can load the guns from the side or the muzzle and you can top of the magazine if you have to, something you simply cannot do with ease with other Henry rifles. And I will say, the design of the loading gate, along with the half-moon cut in the front of the gate, make it really easy to load—and that cut also allows you to tell at a glance if there’s at least a round in the mag tube or not, as you can see the back of the brass.

The action is smooth right out of the box and gets even smoother after a box of ammo, but this is standard for a Henry, as is an excellent trigger. And something that’s a pet peeve of mine—the lever stays closed when its supposed to. I’ve used far too many lever guns that just pop open at the slightest bump—I don’t ever see that happening with this gun. MSRP: $970 —DM