The videos playlist included below is the order in which I shot the stages. If you are interested in attending one of these matches, I encourage you to watch them all to get an idea of what you are in for and what skills you should learn and practice to prepare for one of these events.
People tend to ask a lot of gear questions on my channel, so I will preemptively list what I used here. In full disclosure my full time job is as the sales and marketing director at KE Arms. I use events like Hard as Hell to proof out equipment and demonstrate that it works under challenging and unique conditions.
I trained with this equipment in the months leading up to the match by using it at every local match, the Tactical Performance Center Multigun Mastery Class (article forthcoming), and in the classes I taught myself. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and as I have written about before I believe gear must work together as a total system. Training with it as a total system goes a long way to improving match performance. Acclimating to wearing it all, and building the strength to perform at your best while wearing it are critical. There were several shooters that didn’t put the time in before this event with their gear, and performed accordingly at the match.
Trooper division shooters must be self-sufficient. If you didn’t hike it into the range from the Trooper check point you can’t use it. For the Hard as Hell 2 Gun Match we changed Trooper division rules so that rather than grounding everything not needed for a stage when you got to it, you must carry anything shooting related used on any stage throughout each stage. This means ammo, mags, spare parts, and cleaning equipment. Non-shooting supplies could still be grounded. Armored was an additional category shooters could choose in any division if they decided to wear rifle rated front and rear plates.
US Palm Agile Combat System with United Armory Steel Plates. I prefer to use steel plates for matches with armored divisions or categories so I don’t unnecessarily put wear and tear on ceramics. I used the US PALM ACS because of its’ integrated pack. I used it to carry my extra ammo, mags, bipod, and cleaning kit throughout all the stages as required by Trooper division rules at this match. With the minimum round count at roughly 300 pistol and 300 rifle, I started each day with 300 of each on my person. I generally double the minimum round count to allow for misses, reshoots, and flexibility in stage planning. On the front of the vest I carried three 35 round 5.56mm mags, and two glock 32 round magazines. The vest was comfortable and rode well loaded down with 45 pounds of ammo and mags. The internal air mesh really made it breath great. The integrated pack worked well, though I did wish I could adjust it to ride a bit higher to put the weight more on my shoulders.
I used a Spec Ops Brand Gunfighter belt with We Plead the 2nd Chuckwulla 2.0 holster. WPT2 designed this holster with my input to protect optic equipped pistols during action matches like this one. I carried 2 21 round PMAGS in Safariland Injection molded pouches, and 30 round PMAG in HSGI TACO. On the back of the belt is a Maxpedition Rolly Polly that I use as a catch all for random things I may need.
KE-15 Scout Carbine. This carbine features the KE-15 billet competition flared mag well lower with SLT-1 Sear Link Technology Trigger, and 45 degree ambidextrous selector. The upper is also a forged one made by KE Arms, with KE Seven Side 12.5” MLOK handguard. The barrel is a 14.5” Ballistic Advantage Hanson with Permanently attached Griffin Armament Flash Comp. My optics are a Aimpoint T-2 Micro and C2 Magnifier in Larue Mounts, with Griffin Sights for back up. My Sling is by Red Wire Gear with HK hook MLOK attachment in the front. I have a number of AR configurations, and I chose this particular one for this event based on experience attending previous Hard as Hell 3 Gun events; I wanted something that was shorter and less obtrusive when slung, and more maneuverable in close quarters; in this regard I believe I made the right call. I generally prefer running red dots while wearing armor for unlimited eye relief, though there were more mid-range targets at this match that I expected it and it was at the edge of where I might prefer a 1-6x variable.
KE-19 Charlie “Stealth Special”. I put this pistol together to make the most out of SMM3G’s Sealth Division Rules that allow anything that fits inside particular box dimensions. I didn’t know what a “Roland Special” was when I put this together until someone pointed it out to me on Instagram. I just wanted the most advantage within the rule set. It has become my go to pistol for action matches of all kinds in Open, Trooper, Armored, or Stealth division. The Glock 19 frame is pretty much the only factory Glock party left on it; and it has been worked over by We Plead the 2nd to remove finger grooves, undercut the trigger guard, and texture the grip. The frame features the KE Carry Mag Well and Carry Trigger. The slide is a KE-19 Charlie machined for the Leupold Deltapoint Pro (I use the 2.5 MOA dot), with KKM barrel and compensator. As you’ll see in the videos, I believe the “Stealth Special” combined with my shooting skill accounted for a definitive advantage over other competitors in my division and made solving the marksmanship challenges encountered much easier. I simply cannot perform this well with iron sights, at best I am 10% slower, sometimes 20% slower. The red dot makes long range targets, small targets, and moving targets easy pickings.
My training, practice, gear, guns, and skill all came together to allow me to place 1st Trooper-Armored/24 competitors, and 5th/82 competitors over all. Bryan Welch of We Plead the 2nd took 2nd Place, and Glen Stilson of Independence Training took 3rd.
Major matches like this give me something to work towards, and prepare for throughout the year. There are always skills to get better at, things to improve at, and new firearms technology to proof out. I strongly encourage all gun owners to seek out some form of competition to better themselves, have goals to work towards, and improve their skill at arms.