VA News: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Now Signed to Law

June 25 President Trump signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to law. For years Navy Vietnam Veterans have been trying to get disability benefits for exposure to Agent Orange while serving around the seas of Vietnam during the war. Last night they finally got only a little of what Americans owe them for their dedication to this country.

 

Approximately 90,000 Navy veterans are said to qualify for disability benefits as a result of Agent Orange exposure while at sea.

The new law is expected to total $1.1 billion over the next 10 years for these new benefit changes and a new fee will be attached to certain VA home loans. Similar to the VA funding fee, disabled veterans are exempt from this additional payment – a small price to pay, knowing approximately 90,000 veterans are finally going to get the disability compensation they’ve deserved for too long.

Along with the signed law, there will no longer be a loan limit on VA home loans. More details will be available in a separate blog, once we are able to confirm the facts.

VA Home Loan Guide

Top VA Home Loan Terms

Your lender should know the below terms, but it's still wise to become familiar yourself. After you've done that, check out our top-rated picks for VA lenders!

What You Need To Know

RE Factor Tactical Buyer's Guide
  • Not all lenders are created equal in knowledge or fees
  • You should do your own research
  • You can confirm information by calling the VA directly

Top VA Lenders

Veterans United
★★★★★ Learn More
Quicken Loans
★★★★★ Learn More
JG Wentworth
★★★★★ Learn More
Lending Tree
★★★★★ Learn More
NASB
★★★★★ Learn More

The VA has never been a truly simple process. So, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the most common words you’ll hear in reference to a VA home loan, to make life a little easier. Some terms you may be familiar with, while others may seem completely foreign. This is not a full list of VA home loan terms, but we think it’s a pretty good start. If you have any more key terms or phrases you think we should add, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

VA Home Loan Terms

Funding Fee

A VA Funding Fee is intended to help reduce the loan’s cost to taxpayers. Now, you might be thinking, what do taxpayers have to do with my loan cost? Last I checked no one is paying for my loan.

This is true. Taxpayers aren’t dishing out any money to help you with your loan process. The VA Funding Fee is meant to keep that from happening. By the VA not requiring taxpayers to dig a little deeper into their pockets, they can make sure future homebuyers have VA Home Loans available for them too.

If you served as a regular, active duty service member and you put no money down on your first VA home loan, you’ll pay 2.15%, or 3.3% if you’re applying for subsequent use. As a Guard or Reserve member, you’ll pay 2.4% or 3.3%.

Funding Fee Exemption

A funding fee exemption is exactly what it sounds like, an exemption from paying the funding fee. This is available to veterans with a disability rating through the VA.

VA vs FHA Loan

VA Tidewater Initiative

The tidewater initiative happens when a VA appraiser says the house you want to buy is worth less than what you are saying you’ll be paying for the house. 

Land Loan

A land loan is a term used to describe a piece of property without a house on it. The VA does not approve of a land loan. However, if you have plans to build or bring a prefabricated home onto the land and live in it within a designated period of time, the VA will approve the purchase.

Home Improvement Loan

A home improvement loan is given to qualifying veterans or service members who need to make improvements to the home before they move in. This can be rolled into your VA loan but must be listed with detailed plans and dates of completion. You cannot make these improvements on your own and an approved contractor must be hired.

Construction Loan

A construction loan is a loan to build a house on the land you intend to purchase. In a true VA construction loan, payments do not start until the house has been completed.

VA Streamlined Loan

A VA streamline loan is a refinance with little to no extra fees involved for the process. These typically only get approved if the individual refinancing will save money or be able to go from an adjustable to a fixed interest rate.

VA Loan vs Conventional

Loan Limits

Loan limits are based on what county you live in. While you can get a loan greater than the limit, doing so means you’ll most likely have to put a down payment on your purchase.

Guaranteed Home Loan

A guaranteed home loan refers to a veteran being guaranteed a VA loan on the terms that they first qualify for a VA loan and that they can financially afford it. Many individuals who would not normally be able to purchase a home because they cannot afford a 20% down payment are now able to do so with a guaranteed home loan backed through the VA.

Certificate of Eligibility

A certificate of eligibility proves to the lender that you qualify for a VA approved loan.

Home Loan Entitlements

Home loan entitlements refer to the amount of money you can use to purchase a home (which is a result of your loan limit). These entitlements are restored if you sell the home or the loan is paid off.

VA Farm Loan

The VA does not offer a farm loan. However, they will support a VA loan for a farm so long as the primary residence is also on the property.

Restoration of Entitlement

Restoration of entitlements refers to a qualifying member being able to purchase a second home because they have sold a home or have transferred the loan to another qualifying veteran, in which case it is as if you never used your entitlements in the first place.

VA Closing Costs

A VA loan does not mean there are no closing costs. Closing costs and down payments are two different things. However, the closing costs can be rolled into the loan so you are not paying them upfront.

VA Interest Rates

The VA does not actually provide your loan, however, when you get an approved VA loan, you might qualify for cheaper interest rates as a result.

Assumable VA Loan

An assumable VA loan means that you are transferring your loan to another qualifying veteran or service member. The qualifying individual will take over the remainder of your loan.

VA Jumbo Loan

A VA jumbo loan refers to a house that requires a loan larger than the counties loan limit. For example, if you want a house for $500,000 but your county’s loan limit is $484,350, you will require a jumbo loan. You’ll most likely be required to make a down payment as well.

VA Approved Lender

A VA approved lender is any lender the VA has approved. This is not hard to find and the VA approves most major lenders.

Estimated Reasonable Value

The VA issues something called a certificate of reasonable value, referring to the estimated reasonable value of a home. This is needed before you can get a VA loan. It is based on the appraiser’s estimated value of the home and will show the maximum value of the home and how much the VA is willing to approve for a loan.

Other VA Terms, Programs

Veterans United Lighthouse Program

The Veterans United Lighthouse Program is intended to help individuals that need their credit score improved for lenders to provide them with a loan or individuals who want to increase their credit score for a better interest rate once they are looking to purchase a home.

Service Eligibility

Service eligibility refers to what type of service qualifies someone for a VA loan.

Borrowers may be eligible for a VA Loan if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • They have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
  • They have served 181 days of active service during peacetime
  • They have more than 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related disability may also be eligible

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private Mortgage Insurance, also commonly referred to as PMI is not required for a VA loan.

VA Home Loan Guide

Specially Adapted Housing Grant

Specially adapted housing grants are for veterans who need a grant to specialize their home to fit their needs, based on a service-connected disability. For example, installing a wheelchair ramp.

VA Business Loan

The VA does not offer a business loan, as an approved VA loan is intended to help purchase a primary residence.

VA Pre-Purchase Counseling

Pre-purchase counseling is a counseling service to help individuals understand the cost of owning a home and help you budget properly for your future home purchase.

Loan Repayment

Loan repayment is required with any loan, including a VA loan. You have 30 years and 32 days to pay off a VA loan.

Equal Housing Opportunity 

Equal housing opportunity is put in place to ensure a person is not ineligible for the purchase of a home because of personal preferences or discrimination.

Blockbusting

Blockbusting refers to getting an owner to sell their property to prevent a different race or class from moving into the neighborhood and in turn making a better profit by reselling the home for more money.

HUD

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

FHA

Federal Housing Administration

Lien

A lien can be placed on your home as a result of owing a debt to another person. For example, if a contractor were doing work on your home and you failed to pay them, they might take a lien out on your house, which would keep you from selling until the debt is paid off.

Down Payment Requirements

Utilizing a VA loan typically results in not having a down payment requirement. However, if your loan were to exceed the county’s loan limit or you wanted a lower mortgage payment, you might have to or want to consider making a down payment.

Traditional Fixed-Payment Mortgage

A traditional fixed-payment mortgage is a 3-year loan with a fixed interest rate.

Graduated Payment Mortgage

Graduated payment mortgage refers to a payment plan that typically starts out cheaper and gradually increases over time. Usually, these are mortgage payments for younger buyers who might not be able to make larger payments at their current stage of life but should be able to at a later date.

Buydowns

This is a process of a buyer refinancing for a lower interest rate. This is typically over the first few years of mortgage payments.

Growing Equity Mortgage

A growing equity mortgage is similar to a graduated payment mortgage. It is a fixed rate where the payments increase over time, based on a set timeframe. The interest rate will never increase since it is fixed. Unlike a Graduate payment mortgage, there is no negative amortization.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

An adjustable rate mortgage or ARM means that your interest rate will fluctuate. It typically stays fixed for a few years (normally 5 years) and will reset after. An adjustable rate can increase or decrease, and there is usually a limit to the amount your interest rate can increase over the life of your loan.

Veterans United

★★★★★ Learn More

Quicken Loans

★★★★★ Learn More

JG Wentworth

★★★★★ Learn More

Lending Tree

★★★★★ Learn More

NASB

★★★★★ Learn More

Stately Asset Protection Gear (SAP Gear) Review

We wanted to take a second and put the spotlight on a company that features some of the coolest products we’ve seen in a while. Stately Asset Protection Group (SAP Gear) is run by a group of guys with a deep knowledge of operating individually in austere environments. We will save their resume for a later date since they have active members still working overseas but what you do need to know is they carefully select their products based on what actually works.

SAP Gear’s product line currently specializes in survivability products to include E&E kits, hostage rescue kits, and other items to help keep you safe while traveling. Their Instagram page @statelyassetprotection offers a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of survivability topics.

One of our favorite products of the SAP Gear product lineup is their Handcop Counter Escape Restraint. These are constructed from Technora 960 cord that it much harder to break through than traditional 550 cord. These cords are great for hasty restraint of an attacker and are a perfect addition for CCW holders, undercover/off-duty officers or other security personnel. At $9, it is an inexpensive addition to your EDC and it wears comfortably on your wrist when not in use.

While SAP Gear is a relatively new company they certainly come with years of experience. We are excited to see what products they end up coming out with in the future. Certainly, one to keep your eye on.

Top Rated Concealed Carry Backpacks [2019]

If you’re looking to get into Concealed Carry or if you already carry concealed on a daily basis, chances are you’ve looked into or heard about concealed carry backpacks. Backpacks are a great way to carry a concealed pistol, especially if you don’t want to carry a pistol on your body or can’t due to clothing restrictions or work restrictions. The great news about a concealed carry backpack is it allows you to really set up your ideal concealed carry loadout to include extra magazines, medical gear or other emergency items. With the increasing popularity of concealed backpacks, we wanted to put together our recommendations of putting together a good loadout and what bag to select to help you ensure success.

Pros of Concealed Carry Backpacks

Concealed Carry Backpacks offer a lot of pros to include: increased ability to carry mission essential items, ease of concealment and the ability to simultaneously carry snacks (most important of all). We like concealed carry backpacks because chances are you carry a bag with you in most aspects of your daily life, so why not make part of that bag an ideal concealed carry setup. Even if you already carry concealed, a backpack is a great way to augment your primary carry.

Cons of Concealed Carry Backpacks

The biggest downside of a Concealed Carry Backpack is accessing your pistol. In an emergency situation, a concealed carry backpack option will be slower than if you carried it on your body.  Further, it’s easy to get separated from a backpack and if you do you both have an unsecured pistol as well as one method of protection out of arm’s reach.

What to Look For in a Good Concealed Carry Backpack

Usability

Usability is probably the most important thing to look for when selecting a good concealed carry backpack. Always ask yourself, “can I quickly and easily access my weapon?” If the answer is “no,” you probably need to keep looking. The best way to find out is to simply set up your pack with your pistol inside and time yourself getting the gun out and into action. In many cases, a bag you already own might be sufficient for concealed carry.

Concealment

Concealed Carry Bags should not only conceal your weapon but they should also be covert in nature. The bag itself should not look as though it might have a weapon. In many cases, the best concealed carry backpack is a normal day to day pack that you can modify to fit your needs. One of the biggest mistakes people often make is getting a tactical pack to fit their tactical needs. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and alter a good day pack into a good CCW pack.

Durability

A good CCW pack is probably going to need to be a little more durable than your average day pack. You will most likely be carrying around items that are heavier and will put a greater strain on the pack itself. In addition guns and magazines tend to have hard sharp edges that can wear through cheap material over time.

Price

Price is obviously dependent on your own personal budget. The biggest thing to keep in mind with bags is they are either inexpensive because they are poorly made or made overseas. It’s up to you to determine if that’s an issue in the decision-making process.

Concealed Carry Backpack Packing list

If you’re looking to carry concealed in a backpack there are a lot of great accessories you can add to your bag to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success. It’s easy to overload a backpack with every item you might need to fight zombies in the apocalypse, but here are a few essential things to consider adding for a good everyday civilian carry:

  1. Concealed Carry Pistol
  2. Concealed Carry Holster
  3. Extra magazines
  4. Medical Gear
    1. Tourniquet
    2. Quickclot
    3. Control Wrap
    4. Chest Seal
    5. Gauze
    6. NPA
    7. CPR Mask
    8. Gloves
    9. Space blanket – Very important for treating hypothermia
  5. Signaling Kit
    1. Chemlights
    2. Hi-Vis marker
  6. Flashlight
  7. Knife
  8. Multitool
  9. Water
  10. Eye-pro
  11. Ear-pro
  12. Restraints

Our Top-Rated Concealed Carry Backpacks

Vertx EDC Commuter Bag

Vertx is experts when it comes to making concealed carry backpacks. We’ve had a chance to work with their design team and they are a group of incredibly intelligent guys who put a lot of thought, time, R&D and effort into ensuring they are putting out a solid product.

The EDC commuter bag is expertly crafted to be the ideal daily EDC/Concealed Carry Backpack. The bag comes with one strap that allows it to easily swing to the front of your body for quick access of your firearm. The outside pouch is lined with both MOLLE and velcro to allow adhesion of a wide variety of holsters on the market. The pouch is covered with a rapid-use pull tab that makes getting to your CCW quick and easy.

The back of the bag comes with a protected slot for your computer making it ideal for use as an office or school bag as well. Overall, this bag is the best Concealed Carry bag if you’re looking for something to take with you on a day-to-day basis and don’t have a lot of extra gear you need to carry around

Price

$119-199 (various models and sizes available)

Pros

  • Fast access to your CCW
  • Safe storage for your computer
  • Easy mounting options for your pistol

Cons

  • The single carry strap is not ideal for heavy loads
  • Limited room for other daily items
Learn More

Hill People Gear Recon Chest Bag

The Hill People Gear Recon Chest Bag isn’t exactly a backpack but it’s a great concealed carry pack nonetheless. The pack itself sits on the chest making it the fastest pack available for a quick draw. The pack is large enough to fit a full-size pistol, magazine and some medical items. It’s a great option for runners, hikers, hunters or campers and it’s compatible for use with larger backpacks. Hill People Gear is also well known for making some stellar, Made in the USA bags and packs, so you know you’re getting a quality pack that won’t fail you when you need it.

Price

$126.00

Pros

  • Quickest draw option available
  • Affordable
  • Can be used with other backpacks

Cons

  • Small
  • Might look odd as an EDC pack

Maxpedition Gear Entity 23

Usually, we shy away from Maxpedition due to their habitual tendency to create overly tactical looking bags. Most Maxpedition bags scream “hey I have a weapon in here” and if you’re looking to carry concealed that’s not the best way to go. However, the Maxpedition Gear Entity 23 is actually a very well thought out bag that doesn’t scream tactical. In fact, the bag is arguably the most innocuous bag in our lineup.

At 23 liters, the bag itself is the perfect size for everyday carry and it has plenty of pockets to fit all your daily needs. One thing we really like about the bag is the side zip pocket that runs along the back of the bag that’s specifically designed for your pistol and magazines. To access simple take off one strap, rotate the bag 90 degrees and unzip.

In the event you need to get to your pistol quickly this is probably the fastest two-strap design we have come across. We also like that the bag comes with a computer pocket making it ideal for use as a travel bag. Priced at around $140 this bag is a great bang for your buck and offers a ton of great features.

Price

$140

Pros

  • Low vis design
  • Great for travel
  • Specialty built CCW pocket

Cons

  • None that are noteworthy
Learn More

Eberlestock Little Trick Pack

Eberlestock is no stranger to the tactical pack business and they have created some designs that are used by some of the best military units in the world. The Eberlestock Little Trick Pack is an awesome pack that’s perfect for concealed carry. The bag comes with a quick access CCW pocket that is secured using magnets.

The 18.6-liter pack is small but will still easily hold whatever items you might need for your day-to-day use. One thing we also like is that the bag can fit broken down sub guns such as an MP5, AR pistol or similarly sized item.

In addition, it comes with pockets specifically designed for rapid access to your magazines. This feature is especially useful for police officers looking for a good active shooter response bag or federal agents.

One thing we don’t like is, the bag is a little more tactical than what we’d want to see in a concealed carry bag since it comes with exterior MOLLE. However, while it is more tactical in nature it doesn’t necessarily look as tactical as other bags on the market.

Finally, we had a chance to try out the Eberlestock Little Trick Pack and we were very pleased with how it carried, especially with heavier items. The bag sits comfortably and securely and would make a great day hiker if needed.

Price

$229.00

Pros

  • Well thought out CCW Pocket
  • Compatible with other weapon platforms
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Tactical appearance
  • More expensive than other bags we reviewed
Learn More

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Ok, so the Peak Design Everyday Backpack isn’t specifically made for concealed carry, but it just so happens that it’s actually a great non-tactical option. The Peak Design Everyday Backpack is specifically designed for photographers, however, many of the features that photographers need, translate very well to concealed carry.

The bag itself comes with a fully customizable, velcro lined interior that can be set up using any aftermarket holster or velcro pouch. In addition, Peak Design made the pack for rapid access to a camera, or in our situation, a weapon.

We really like the Peak Design concept because if you’re wearing it people would assume you’re a photographer or a daily commuter before they’d assume you were carrying a weapon. If you’re looking for a great civilian bag to use for concealed carry this is a great option.

***Sorry about the video, it explains the pack well but the lady is a tad bit annoying***

Price

$259

Pros

  • Extremely customizable
  • Quick access to your firearm
  • Blends in well with the public
  • Very well build

Cons

  • Not specifically designed for EDC
  • Expensive
Learn More

VA News: The VA Owes Disabled Veterans Millions in Funding Fees

The VA is at it again, screwing over as many people as they can because someone somewhere wasn’t doing his or her job, at least that’s what the Inspector General report is accusing senior VA officials of doing.

Yesterday it was medical and today it’s housing. What’s sad is, the VA really could be great, and instead, they’re blinding themselves to things like disabled veterans being exempt from a funding fee. You might be thinking, well it’s up to the veteran and lender to catch this and apply for the exemption when they purchase their house using a VA home loan.

 

According to the VA’s policy, a veteran who purchases or refinances a home and pays a funding fee, if their rating comes back and is retroactive to before the loan finalization date (using a VA loan), then the VA has to refund the veteran their funding fee. Some veterans don’t know this, but the VA does.

In fact, the VA had it brought to their attention that they owed veterans over $150 million and needed to return the funding fee to veterans who qualified—this was way back in 2014 according to KARE 11 and now it’s about $189 million owed to an estimated 53,200 veterans.

Now, for the veterans who are authorized this refund, you could have had it five years ago, but the VA is still, for some reason failing to do their job. They haven’t even taken the time to notify veterans that they owed them money and will “eventually” pay them back.

So, if you paid a funding fee as a disabled veteran or you were in the middle of a pending disability rating during your purchase/refinance and ended up getting a retroactive rating after the purchase or refinance of your home, you might just want to give the ol’ VA a call and remind them they owe you money. Because you know the second you owe them money they’ll be sure you know about it.

We should also mention, a funding fee can be as much as 3.3% of your home loan, so you’re looking at significant savings by qualifying for a funding fee exemption – unless of course, the VA doesn’t honor their own policy.

To see if you qualify for a VA funding fee exemption, read our blog: What is a VA Funding Fee Exemption

Iran Plans to Sell $123 mil. Drone to Local Pawn Shop

You know those things Amazon said they’d be flying around to drop packages off on your front porch? Yeah, drones. Believe it or not, the government is using them too. Say what? Yeah, and not only is the government utilizing them, but bad guys are also trying to prevent us from using them as a source of surveillance. Now, we aren’t saying the NSA is peaking in your windows—Amazon deliveries = NSA spies…

Okay, we’ll stop. Let’s be serious for 2.5 seconds. Apparently, one of our drones was shot down in Iran. Considering we’re being told that these surveillance drones are worth more than your 5 houses, 2 cars, and ex-wife combined, it looks like Iran might be getting ready to put a down payment on Africa with their new-found funding source.

Drone pictured may not depict the drone written about in the article, in cost, size, capability, or color.

Of course, we can’t say there was anything left of the thing once it was shot down by a surface to air missile—from what we’ve read on Military.com. But, an unconfirmed source did say locals were seen frequenting the local pawn shop with what appeared to be pieces of what would potentially make up a flying device, and talking about doing a major upgrade to the country.

What we can say is, “U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019,” Navy Capt. Bill Urban said. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Wait! You mean to tell me, we were playing nice and Iran decided to shoot down our $123 million drone for no reason!? Now that’s not very nice. Frankly speaking, it’s a bit rude.

 

Buy Your Own

Best Concealed Carry Guns Buyers guide [2019]

What You Need To Know

RE Factor Tactical Buyer's Guide
  • Best .38 Special for concealed carry: S&W 642 Airweight
  • Best .380 for concealed carry: S&W Body Guard
  • Best .45 ACP for concealed carry: Glock 30S

Best Concealed Carry Pistols

Saying that a certain gun is the best concealed carry gun is pretty subjective and honestly, fairly outlandish on our part. We want to preface this blog with the disclaimer that the best concealed carry gun varies from individual to individual and what works best for one person might not be the right fit for the next guy. I know that some of you will read this and start to get an involuntary twitch in your eye as you see some of our recommendations, that’s ok, it’s natural. But the purpose of this article is to help inform the general public who might not be self-proclaimed concealed carry gun experts as to what models might be a good fit if they are looking to get into the CCW world. So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at RE Factor Tactical’s list of the best concealed carry guns.

Concealed Carry Gun Criteria

There are some important criteria to look for when choosing the best concealed carry gun. Again, the best concealed carry gun will vary from person to person, but it’s important to keep in mind a few key things to help you make the right choice

Is it Concealable?

This might seem obvious but it’s a pretty big one. A full-size Glock 17 might not be the best fit since you would need some pretty baggy clothing to be able to properly conceal it. Your Concealed Carry Pistol should be compact enough that you can easily conceal it with your everyday attire. The best thing to do is go to your local gun shop in the clothes that you are most likely to wear when carrying a CCW (concealed carry weapon) and see what pistol is easiest for you to conceal.

Is it comfortable?

I know this sounds a bit weird but your concealed carry weapon should be comfortable to carry. If it’s not comfortable you will inevitably stop carrying the pistol all together. I should note that a lot of the comfort comes from the holster you carry.  Either way, ensure the pistol you are carrying rides well and doesn’t jab into you or cause abrasion.

Is it big enough to use?

One common mistake when choosing a concealed carry pistol is going too small. This is especially important if you have larger hands that would cause a loose grip on the pistol. Ensure you take the pistol to the range and ensure you can rapidly fire it accurately while maintaining a good solid grip.

Is it reliable?

A concealed carry pistol should run flawlessly, especially since it might be your first line of defense. A lot of concealed carry pistols tend to jam up because manufacturers are so concerned with making them small over being reliable.

Are there a lot of accessories available?

I know this might not be a common suggestion but it is a valid one. A lot of times you might purchase an off-brand/model and have a difficult time finding holsters, replacement parts, upgraded sights, magazines or even ammunition. Purchasing a more mainstream pistol will ensure you can customize it as needed.

Common Concealed Carry Calibers

The most common concealed carry calibers are .380, 38 Special, 9mm and .45ACP. While we could spend hours trying to argue what caliber is the best the biggest take away is that the larger the size of the round the less you’ll be able to carry. There are plenty of 9mm concealed carry pistols that can hold up to 15+ rounds while most .45ACP concealed carry pistols will cap around 7+ rounds.

9mm vs .45ACP

Now, this might cause a few people to grab their computer and throw it at the wall out of rage because we are going to pooh pooh all over their .45ACP 1911 concealed carry pistol. But we recommend carrying a 9mm over a .45ACP. The common argument is that a .45ACP offers more stopping power meaning if you hit your target they are more likely to stop whatever they’re doing that you didn’t want them to do. I personally advocate relying on shot placement over caliber type in any type of engagement.

A well placed .22 round will kill someone better than a grazed .50cal round. Just because your round hits your target doesn’t mean it’s going to somehow magically take them out of the fight. Only a well-placed shot will produce the desired effects.

A 9mm round offers very effective stopping power with increased magazine capacity, plain and simple. Most of the main US Law Enforcement Agencies have switched to the 9mm platform to include the FBI. Again, this isn’t the blog where we fully argue one over the other, we can do that later, but it is our recommendation that if you’re choosing between a 9mm and a .45ACP, go with the 9mm.

.38 Special vs 9mm

The .38 Special is the most common round for revolvers and offers some serious punch. The .38 special is .357inches in diameter compared to a 9mm’s .355inch diameter meaning it packs a little extra punch.

The .38 special’s velocity is around 700-1000 fps compared to the zippier 9mm round that ranges from 1000-1300 fps. If you’re looking to choose one over the other they’re actually fairly similar in nature. The real reason you might choose one over the other would come down to your decision to carry a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol.

.380 vs 9mm

The .380 is also very similar to the 9mm round but is smaller, making it a common concealed carry round. The diameter of the round is the same as the 9mm but the cartridge is smaller giving it less “punch” or stopping power.

The .380 itself is pretty much a dedicated concealed carry round while sub-compact, compact, full size and rifles all come in 9mm making it a more versatile round. The only reason you should choose a .380 pistol is if you’re in the market for an ultra sub-compact pistol that you can throw in your pocket, otherwise, we recommend getting something in a 9mm.

Our Top Rated Concealed Carry Guns

Best 9mm Concealed Carry Pistol

Sig Sauer P365 (RE Factor’s Choice)

The Sig Sauer P365 is RE Factor’s choice as the best overall pistol currently available on the market for concealed carry.  With a 10+1 capacity and a 1″ width, it’s one of the slimmest CCW pistols you can find that still has a robust magazine capacity.  While users experienced issues with the first models, Sig quickly got the kinks ironed out and the newer models run almost flawlessly.

If you’re looking for comparison the Sig P365 carries 10+1 rounds compared to the Glock 43 that runs 6+1. This is even more impressive considering the two weapons are almost identical in size.  We also like the Sig P365 because it comes with a front mount rail that allows the use of pistol lights and lasers, something the Glock 43 also lacks.

One other thing we appreciate about the Sig P365 is the overall ergonomics and feel. Shooting the pistol feels similar to that of a full-size pistol and it’s easy to grip if you have larger hands. While this isn’t the smallest pistol on the market it is the best all-around option… according to us of course.

Price

$599

Specs
  • Caliber – 9mm Luger
  • Barrel Length – 3.1″
  • Length Overall – 5.8″
  • Width – 1″
  • Height – 4.3″
  • Weight – 17.8oz
  • Capacity – 10+1 (Stock model)
Pros
  • Great for large hands
  • Good magazine capacity
  • Durable design
  • Easy to shoot
  • Plenty of aftermarket parts and accessories
Cons
  • More expensive than most
  • Big issues with early models
  • Larger than other available options

Glock 19 Compact (Reader’s Choice)

The Glock 19 is the largest model we suggest for concealed carry and for most, it will be very difficult to conceal. That being said the Glock 19 is a battle-proven design with endless accessories and upgrades. Further, while the Glock 19’s MSRP ranges from $499 – $799 it’s easy to find used models ones on sale, making it a fairly affordable option.

In the RE Factor Tactical Team Room Facebook Group, reader’s rated the Glock 19 as the best concealed carry pistol by far. The Glock 19 offers the largest magazine capacity with 15+1. However, this capacity comes at a cost with the Glock 19’s width coming in at a 1/4″ wider than the Sig P365. This includes a barrel that’s almost an inch longer, making the weapon more accurate but also harder to conceal.

In addition, the Glock 19’s magazine capacity makes it a lot heavier when fully loaded, almost 24 oz. The bottom line, the Glock 19 is an extremely durable and accurate pistol that’s a very safe go-to.  However, you will most likely find it cumbersome and difficult to conceal on a daily basis, especially if you’re smaller or wear tight clothing.

Price

$499-799

Specs
  • Caliber – 9mm Luger
  • Barrel Length – 4.02″
  • Length Overall – 6.85″
  • Width – 1.26″
  • Height – 5.04″
  • Weight – 24oz
  • Capacity – 15+1 (Stock model)
Pros
  • Long history of success
  • Durable
  • Accurate
  • Inexpensive
  • Tons of accessories
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Difficult to conceal

Glock 43

The Glock 43 is a newer pistol to Glock’s lineup but they made it specifically as a sub-compact concealed carry weapon. That being said, it’s around the same size as the Sig P365 but lacks many of the Sig’s features. Many CCW users like the Glock 43 due to its familiarity with other Glock models and the fact that it carries Glock’s name.

The Glock 43 is much smaller than the Glock 19 and a lot lighter (18oz). With a 6+1 magazine capacity, the Glock features a single stack design that allows it a slim, easy to conceal profile.  If you like Glock’s design the Glock 43 is a great option. However, users with larger hands might face issues with comfortably holding the pistol due to its short profile. This can be fixed with the use of extended magazines that are easy to find on the market.

Price

$499

Specs
  • Caliber – 9mm Luger
  • Barrel Length – 3.41″
  • Length Overall – 6.26″
  • Width – 1.06″
  • Height – 4.25″
  • Weight – 18oz
  • Capacity – 6+1 (Stock model)
Pros
  • Easy to conceal
  • Lightweight
  • Proven Glock design
  • Lots of aftermarket parts
Cons
  • Difficult to use with larger hands
  • No front rail for use of lights/lasers
  • Low magazine capacity

Best .38 Special Concealed Carry Pistol

Smith and Wesson 642 Airweight

Revolvers are actually a great concealed carry pistol for a few reasons. One, revolvers are small and lightweight, making them easy to conceal and carry. Two, revolvers are pretty much fail-safe in the sense that when you pull the trigger it’s going to fire. There’s a very low chance revolvers will jam mainly because they have less moving parts like a removable magazine or slide release.

The downside to revolvers are that they only carry 5-8 rounds, are slow to reload, and can be difficult to fire quickly and accurately. Many revolvers have extremely short barrels making them only useful in close engagements.

With all that being said the Smith and Wesson 642 Airweight is a great option if you decide to go the revolver route. At an overall weight of 14oz this is one of the lightest pistols on our list and with an overall length 6.3″ it’s very easy to conceal. However, our biggest complaint is the 5 round capacity. If budget is the main factor, this is a great option with the pistol coming in at $320!

Price

$319.99

Specs
  • Caliber – .38 Special (+P)
  • Barrel Length – 1.87″
  • Length Overall – 6.3″
  • Weight – 14oz
  • Capacity – 5
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Low round capacity
  • Difficult to fire rapidly
  • Difficult to reload

Best .380 Concealed Carry Pistol

Smith and Wesson Body Guard

The Smith and Wesson Body Guard is arguably one of the most popular concealed carry pistols on the market and for a good reason. The Body Guard is small, reliable, and very inexpensive. In fact, the Body Guard is the lightest and least expensive pistol on our entire list, it’s also the most compact.

That being said there are a few reasons you might want to steer clear of the Body Guard.  First, the Body Guard features a long, heavy, double action trigger that makes it a bit more difficult to fire. In addition, anyone with hands larger than a toddler might have some issues holding on to it.

The Body Guard also has a 2.75″ barrel which is shorter, making it less accurate than similar models. However, with a width of just .75″ the Body Guard can conceal in almost any clothing choice you go with. At the end of the day, the Body Guard is a great weapon to throw in a bag, your pocket, or vehicle but not one that we’d recommend carrying habitually as a CCW option.

Price

MSRP $349 (Usually available around $260)

Specs
  • Caliber – .380
  • Barrel Length – 2.75″
  • Length Overall – 5.25″
  • Width – .75″
  • Height – 4.10″
  • Weight – 11.25oz
  • Capacity – 6+1 (Stock model)
Pros
  • Very easy to conceal
  • Light
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Difficult to hold
  • Heavy trigger pull
  • Very short barrel

Best .45ACP Concealed Carry Pistol

Glock 30S

So we will make this short and sweet. Don’t carry a .45 for concealed carry. The biggest reason being that what you make up for in stopping power you lose in the ability to easily conceal the weapon and round capacity.

Most .45s are bulky, difficult to conceal, and heavy. Now… IF YOU MUST carry a .45ACP, we recommend the Glock 30S. Weighing in at 30oz fully loaded it’s almost twice the weight of some of the other options, however, it is still lighter than other options on the market.

The Glock 30S does offer a 10 + 1 round capacity, which is fairly generous given the caliber. At 1.35″ wide it’s not the slimmest .45ACP available on the market, but it’s close. In short, it’s about as good as you’re going to get for that caliber. Again, this is all according to us.

Price

MSRP $655

Specs
  • Caliber – .45 Auto
  • Barrel Length – 3.78″
  • Length Overall – 6.77″
  • Width – 1.35″
  • Height – 4.80″
  • Weight – 22.75oz
  • Capacity – 10+1 (Stock model)
Pros
  • High magazine capacity (for a .45)
  • Durable design
  • Accurate
Cons
  • Difficult to conceal
  • Very short grip
  • Expensive



10 Reasons to get Travel Insurance

If you haven’t already started your vacations this year, there’s no doubt the season is upon us. Have you considered getting travel insurance? If not, there are plenty of reasons to consider this often cheap protection for that not so cheap vacation. Here are our top 10 reasons to get travel insurance.

Canceled Trip

Things happen, it’s inevitable. However, when things happen and you’ve paid thousands of dollars for a vacation do you really want all that money going to waste because you need to cancel your trip? We doubt it. That’s why it’s important to consider travel insurance. It’s easy to sit there and say nothing is going to happen or I don’t care if my leg gets chopped off, I’m going on that vacation! It’s an entirely different story when it actually happens—the need to cancel, not the leg chopped off part, although you never know.

Say a family member dies, or a close friend. Maybe mandatory training came up at work and you’ll lose your job if you don’t show up. Maybe your pet is deathly ill or the country you’re going seems a little unsafe for the time being. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have to cancel your trip. If you don’t have travel insurance, or you have insurance through a crappy company, you’ll be out of pocket—some insurers have specific cancellation scenarios in order for them to consider your case. *Read the fine print*

Read our blog, Best Travel Insurance for Veterans, Service Members

Terrorist Attack

None of us wish for anything bad to happen, but it does. Sadly terrorism isn’t an occasional act anymore. And believe it or not, without insurance, some travel companies won’t give you a refund because of a terrorist attack. They aren’t concerned about your safety. They’re concerned about that money you paid them and how to keep from giving it back to you.

You get Sick on your Trip

You’ve sailed off into the sunset. It’s day two of your trip and life really couldn’t get any better. Oh, but it could get so much worse. Because on day three you wake up and feel like you were run over by a bus. You’ve fallen victim to some terrible bug and you might actually die this time. Especially after you find out your trip won’t be reimbursed because you left early and laid in the ICU for a week.

However, if you had something like, I don’t know, travel insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about this. Instead, you could file a claim and get some or all of your money back and rebook the trip for a future date. Or just go ahead and flush your money down the toilet now – completely up to you.

Photo Credit: (Seaman Michael Colemanberry/U.S. Navy Released)

Lost Passport

Now this one might be news to you, but it happens. I was headed out for Peru one year. I had taken everything I needed to carry with me onto the plane and placed it into one spot for packing. It was about an hour before I had to leave and I went to take this pile and put it in my bag. Book – check, phone – check, earphones – check, wallet – check, passport…wait, where is my passport? I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was not in my safe, where I normally kept it. It was not in my pile. It was not already in my bag. Oh no!

To make a short story even shorter, I found it about 15 minutes before I had to leave (I just looked over it) and was able to make my flight on time. However, what would have happened had I not found my passport? Well for me, a young buck, I would have been screwed out of all my money because I was too wise to buy travel insurance. My hotels were booked, my flights were all booked, my travel fee was paid, everything. And every dime is what I would have lost. Everything paid for and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of any of it.

You might not think it would or could happen to you, because you’re too organized to lose anything—I thought I was—but it will. And when it happens, travel insurance might have been a good idea. Also, they’ll help by getting a new passport expedited to you – in case it was lost or stolen while in a foreign country, preventing you from getting back home.

Natural Disaster

Natural disasters happen, why, because, Mother Nature wants to ruin your vacation. Okay, not really, but seriously, have you ever wondered why it rains on all your days off? She has some serious mood swings! With that being said, if you’re the victim of this and it ruins your travel plans, travel insurance would have your back.

And no, your travel agency isn’t responsible for what Mother Nature does. So chances are, without travel insurance you won’t get your money back.

You Missed your Connecting Flight

You might be thinking to yourself if I miss my connecting flight because of the current flight I’m on, that airline is then held responsible. No, no they are not. Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand. Oh, and if you’re traveling internationally and going from international to national flight, they definitely won’t be paying you back. Maybe if American Airline flew you from Italy to DC and DC to CA, you’d have better luck. But trust me, you’re chances of missing a flight when dealing with international flight is highly likely. I’ve missed a flight, almost missed a flight, or got lucky because my connection was also late. It’s almost never been a smooth process

Without travel insurance, you might find yourself out of money for your flight and booking a new flight for more money because it’s last minute. Oh, and don’t forget about the fact that it’s late at night, everyone else is trying to book a new flight, and the next flight doesn’t fly out until tomorrow. So now you’re also looking for a hotel for the evening—maybe the airline will be so kind as to give you a discounted rate toward the airport’s hotel.

Your Flight got Canceled

This one is a bit disappointing, but believe it or not a canceled flight as a result of weather does not constitute reimbursement. Sounds terrible, I know, but it isn’t the airline’s fault that Mother Nature was having one of her fits again. It also isn’t the airline’s fault you decided to forgo travel insurance. Now you’re left with a flight that never even left the airport and you’re missing the money you spent on it. However, travel insurance does account for bad weather and they’ll help you get your money back.

Lost or Damaged Luggage

You probably haven’t considered this one because lost or damaged luggage isn’t actual travel. However, travel insurance will help reimburse whatever was lost and help you buy new clothes and things at your location. Because wearing what you traveled in for a week because the airport lost your luggage is not fun.

The good news is, the lost luggage department can typically give you hygiene necessities, but they won’t be giving you a week’s worth of outfits. The last time my luggage was lost, I got a white t-shirt with my kit. But, I wasn’t about to wear that in a five-star restaurant in Paris – they probably wouldn’t even let me in. (It’s a good idea to pack a set of clothes in your carry on).

Emergency

Emergencies happen. You might need a medical evacuation from your trip. You might end up hurting yourself while you’re on the trip and need medical care. Travel insurance can often help with this.

Keep in mind, you typically need to purchase additional health insurance for overseas travel. Medical Evacuation Insurance is a thing too. So make sure you read the fine print before assuming your travel insurance company has you covered.

Before you go on your next adventure, read our blog, Protect yourself when you Travel

The Travel Company Filed for Bankruptcy

Something else you probably wouldn’t expect, that your travel company went bankrupt. You’ve paid a bunch of money for them to book your hotels, transportation, amenities, experiences, etc. You haven’t actually been booked with any of these things and now the company you hired is incapable of finishing the job. What do you do? You give up on getting your money back and you go home and cry yourself to sleep.

Or, you call up your travel insurance agent and get that your money back. You can choose not to believe this happens, but please trust us, it does. And when it does, a lot of unhappy people are left without a vacation or the money they spent, unless of course, they had travel insurance.

Disclaimer: Travel insurance is like car insurance. Not all agencies are the same or offer the same coverage. Make sure you shop around and that the company you’re seeking insurance through will cover you for what it is you’re seeking coverage for. Read the fine print because some companies might cover you in the case of a medical emergency but not in the case of a job emergency.

Camp Red Devil Cafe | Get your Beef Patty MRE, Served Hot and Fresh Daily

Apparently, there’s a cafe on Fort Carson that used to be a shoot house. Rumor has it, someone turned it into a cafe that serves MREs. Of course, it’s on a military installation, so it’s exclusive access only. So, if you haven’t had your fill of crappy food lately—though we’ve heard that MREs have had a makeover as far as tastes goes—then maybe it’s worth the visit.

People have even left reviews about the place, earing it a whopping 5 stars on Google—okay, it’s only two reviews, but still. The stars allude to a fantastic dining experience, but the words tell a completely different story.

Cody H. wrote, “Great Food. I’d prefer ordering Pork Sausage Patty (Maple Flavored) for Breakfast. What you pack in, you pack out.” Pack out after three days of constipation, maybe…

Foxtrot Kilo wrote, “Great food, but, you gotta bring it yourself. Also, military only.”

Hmmm, maybe it’s not the kind of cafe you’re thinking of.

If you’ve been the victim of this top-notch establishment, please feel free to leave us your comments below. We’d love to hear about your experience, and find out why people keep coming back – maybe it’s the friendly environment?

Don’t worry, if you can’t take advantage of this fine dining facility, feel free to buy some expired MREs off Amazon. Okay, we’re kidding, they might not be expired. But, they would make a great Christmas present for your brother-in-law, trust us.