Notable Products from 2006

Every now and then in the law enforcement community a new product is introduced that has the potential to change our level of preparedness, to make us more comfortable during operations, to increase our level of protection or to simply make our lives a little easier. As I looked back at the reviews I've written in 2006, it occurred to me that this has been a pretty good year for innovation. Each year I write 52 evaluations, and in 2006 I found several items that still seem impressive to me. At least two of them were submitted for awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Having spent the majority of the past few weeks looking at SHOT Show "new" equipment items, I wanted to revisit those from 2006 that I feel can really have a positive impact in public safety (and some in military ops as well).

LW Rifles

I first became aware of the difference between gas-operated rifle systems and piston-operated rifle systems just a few months ago. As a result of a discussion on our forum, I began to do some research and actually was contacted by a representative of Leitner-Wise Rifles (LW Rifles) offering to help educate me. After a great day at the range with the guys from LW Rifles and some instruction from them about the differences in operating systems, I was a believer in the piston-operated rifles. I watched one gentleman burn through 230 rounds of 5.56mm ammo as fast as he could reload and all fired full-automatic. As soon as he was done he opened up the weapon and pulled out the bolt and held it in his hand. It obviously was not as hot as the bolt from a gas-operated rifle would be and it was far cleaner than I expected as well. As I said, I've become a believer in piston-operated systems and look forward to acquiring one for my own gunsafe.

Rapid Deployment Inc. Body Armor Gun Bag

Every cop needs a way to carry his rifle. Some agencies, who aren't quite as worried about "appearing too aggressive" have gun locks in the passenger compartments of their patrol vehicles to secure patrol rifles. Officers working for more politically correct agencies need to find a way to secure their weapon in the trunk or other storage space and have to protect the weapon in a bag or case. Of course, the circumstances when they'll need that rifle will also likely mandate that they have appropriate body armor, extra magazines and obvious identification panels available/on as well. To me,the Rapid Deployment Inc. Body Armor Gun Bag is an excellent innovation in this regard. The padded ballistic nylon gun bag serves double duty as wearable body armor. Once it's opened to get the rifle out, you can pull it on over your head, cinch the waist straps and be ready to go. On the front of it are pouches for extra rifle magazines as well as extra pistol magazines, and blatant ID panels are velcroed on front and rear. This is one of the products that I know was nominated for an award. I think it's a fantastic idea for patrol cops and hope that it sees wide usage moving forward.

BlackHawk Level III SERPA Duty Holster

The BlackHawk CQC SERPA off-duty holster was a huge hit when it was released. BlackHawk beefed it up to create a Level II duty holster as well as a Level II Tactical holster. Still, given liability issues and industry / market demand, a Level III holster was in the making. At SHOT '06 BlackHawk released their Level III holster and I fell in love. While I demand a holster that has a secure passive retention feature--such as the SERPA trigger guard hook--so that I can "jam and go" when hands-on becomes necessary, I appreciate additional security features that make it more difficult for bad guys to get my weapon out of the holster. Of course, I'm not going to stand around and wait to see if they can, but everything that slows them down, without slowing me down, is a good thing. BlackHawk did this one right.

Ka-Bar TDI

Years ago I took Michael DeBethencourt's Edged Weapons class and one thing I clearly remember him saying is, "I'm not training you how to be a knife fighter. I'm training you how to be a cop that can fight with a knife." BIG difference and I'm glad he focused on it. Given that most of us lose much of our fine motor control skills under severe stress, a knife that allows us to function simply and effectively is good. The Ka-Bar TDI (Tactical Defense Institute) knife was designed to be held and punched. It's that simple. Since we can all remember how to hit even under high stress, with a 2 to 3.5-inch blade sticking out of the side of our fist, every punch is a puncture and every slightly missed punch a potential slash/laceration to the bad guy. "Keep It Simple Stupid" applies and I like it.

Mod-U-Lok Light Holster from Night-Ops

Ever since a big name light manufacturing company came on the scene people have been making nylon pouches to hold flashlights. Nearly every one of them was specific to length of the flashlight and limiting in bezel size. Enter the Mod-U-Lok. From the minds at BlackHawk--where the Night-Ops team brainstormed with the Delta Design Group--to create a flashlight holster that will fit most standard "tactical" hand held lights, but without any concern for bezel size. If the bezel is too big to fit in the light bucket at the bottom of the Mod-U-Lok holster, simply turn it bezel up and lock it in. Additionally, the Mod-U-Lok holster provides a secure holster for your light, but one you can snatch the light out of quickly and without having to manipulate any security devices. Just grab it and do what you need to do. Every cop should have TWO of these on his (or her) belt with redundant flashlights. Two is one; one is none. Since approximately 80% of police shootings occur in low-light settings, doesn't it only make sense to have the ONE tool that will increase your chances of domination in that setting?

Baker Batshield

Given the advent of Active Shooter/Immediate Response training, I believe that the Baker Batshield is a revolution in portable soft bunker systems. In the carry bag it provides an easily portable double layer of Level III body armor. Withdrawn from the carry bag it provides an (approximately) three foot wide shield that is specifically designed to shoot over and move with to include making corners and doorways easier to navigate. In light of the potential conditions and threats that would exist in any Active Shooter/Immediate Response scenario, I consider the Batshield an excellent tool to be provided to patrol officers. Every patrol squad should have one of these shields available for every four officers assigned. The point man on every four-person entry team should have one available. Moreover, the Batshield can easily serve as potential protection from edged weapons if an officer needs to move within TASER deployment distance. The options for use are wide and limited only by the officer's imagination - but he has to have one to use!

Dexter Meadows' Spec-Ops Clip-On Knee Pads

I met Dexter Meadows at the 2006 SHOT Show. His kneepads had already been on the market and I liked them when I tested them back then. They are unique in that they provide the same (or better) protection to the wearer as other kneepads do, but they attached to the leg in a completely different fashion. Rather than having elastic bands that wrap around the leg--and have a nasty habit of riding down, turning, etc.--Dexter's kneepads fasten directly to the pants by way of strong clips that are reinforced and held in place by heavy duty rubber straps. Nothing wraps around the back of the leg. Not only does this make them more comfortable to wear in the long term, but it holds them securely in place so that they are in the right position to protect your knee when you need it. If you wear kneepads a lot, I highly recommend these.

Tac-Grips

When I attended the Blackwater Tactical Pistol Course I was surprised to see how much tread tape had been purchased, cut up and applied to Glock pistols. Having been offered the opportunity to shoot Glocks with and without the extra grip security offered by that tape, though, I quickly saw the benefit of having it. Silberbak Industries took that idea to the next step and manufactures such appliques precut to fit your weapon(s). This sandpaper-like adhesive material is easy to apply and can be removed without a great deal of effort. It does NOT come off so easily as to start to peel or flake just with normal day-to-day wear. I have Tac-Grips applied to my Glock 22, my 1911 and my Browning Hi-Power. If you're looking for something to make the front-strap on your pistol not quite so slick, Silberbak also manufactures finger-grip applications to fill that space and save you the trouble of having lines cut in by a gunsmith. At just a few bucks for sets of three, it's hard to beat the convenience and value of Tac-Grips.

PolyShok Twelve Gauge Ammo

I respect LTC Dave Grossman a great deal and I completely understand why he says that shotguns are outdated technology, where our modern battle against terrorism is concerned. That said, I think he should check out PolyShok ammo. While shotguns filled with 00 shot rounds might not have great application in CQB situations, the PolyShok rounds are especially effective in just such combat conditions. Specifically designed to deliver more than a 1/2 ton of energy to the target, the round is also designed to come apart in such a fashion as to not threaten innocent persons or sensitive property behind the target. I have tested the PolyShok round (look for a more detailed report on it in the near future) in a couple of ways and was quite impressed.

  • Using a standard Remington 870 pump shotgun with a 20-inch slug barrel and rifle sights, firing from a rested position at the fifty-yard line, I was able to put five rounds of PolyShok into the head on a B27 target...twice.
  • To test overpenetration, I put two one-gallon milk jugs back to back, full of water and with the lids duct-taped on. I fired into them with one sitting in front of the other, fully expecting both jugs to be destroyed. The first jug was obliterated, but the second jug was simply pushed off the stand. None of the PolyShok load penetrated it.

It's impressive stuff and excellent for liability management in any agency that still issues or authorizes the twelve gauge shotgun for its officers. Thanks to its construction, the PolyShok can also be used for breaching, which makes it great for law enforcement special operations teams as well.

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