Every year, as I go through the mounds of equipment information I have from various manufacturers and vendors, I inevitably make that mental list of all the stuff I'd wish for if it were me getting the gifts. But think about it: all the equipment I recommend is stuff I've tested and have found to be of value OR it's stuff made by a manufacturer I've grown to trust. This year my list got a little bit longer as manufacturing technology advances increased the amount of cool stuff out there. Cool, but useful to those who work behind triggers.
Brigade Quartermaster / 5.11 Tactical TACPATT uniforms
The result of a professional partnership between Brigade Quartermaster and 5.11 Tactical--both well known names in the military and law enforcement industry--the TACPATT uniforms were specifically designed to be the latest in digital urban camouflage. Comprised for four different shades of gray (what looks black is actually a dark gray), the pattern breaks up well and is also suited for low light and night work in rural environments as well. Taking into consideration all of the design features that have made the 5.11 Tactical clothing line so popular, this new TACPATT uniform series is sure to be popular. The pattern is available on shirts, plants, baseball cap, boonie cap and a concealed equipment vest.
Blackwater Gear Armor Skins Gloves
When it comes to gloves for operators, dexterity is equally as important as protection from temperature extremes and external cut and puncture dangers. The Blackwater Gear Armor Skins Gloves family of products encompasses a number of different glove designs so that the operator can figure out which best suits his (or her) needs. My preference, except in the harshest of environments, is for the lightweight neoprene Armor Skins. The leather palm and inner fingers provide decent protection against smaller cut and puncture threats, while warmth is maintained. Due to the slim profile of the material used, dexterity is excellent and overall comfort superb.
Original SWAT Boots
I've had a number of people comment to me about how uncomfortable most boots are until after you've broken them in. And even then, some boots break in your feet instead of the other way around. Enter Original SWAT. The Original SWAT tan suede boots are very comfortable straight out of the box. I've been wearing these boots for several years and I find it necessary to wish for a new pair every year. That's not to say that I've worn out any of the old ones! The boots are durable and warm down to, and at, freezing temperatures. They aren't waterproof, but offer a high level of moisture resistance. Unless you stand in a puddle or go swimming in them, they should keep your feet fairly warm and dry.
BlackHawk SERPA off-duty holster set
When BlackHawk CQC released the SERPA holster, they introduced the next era of holster technology. Kydex holsters had been around for awhile, but a carbon-fiber holster, molded to the weapon, and integrating an instinctively released trigger-guard hook/locking device was something new. The carbon fiber is much stronger than Kydex, and the SERPA safety system is secure without paying a price in speed of release. Since originally introducing the holsters for plainclothes and off-duty use, BlackHawk CQC has expanded the line to include duty, tactical and now Level III security. A complete set--holster and off-side magazine/light pouch--is a very cool Christmas present for your law enforcement professional.
Sabre Defence Industries' Massad Ayoob Signature Elite
The SDI Massad Ayoob Signature Elite Rifle is to a "regular" AR-15 what the BMW 530xi sedan is to a Dodge Neon. Sure, they're both four door sedans that have internal combustion engines, run on gasoline and have four tires. But sitting in them is different and driving them is radically different. That is the difference in perception between a standard run-of-the-mill AR-15 and SDI's Elite. With a 16-inch fluted barrel, M4 feedramps, SOCOM stock, Samson hand guards, flip up front and rear sights and an L3 EOTech Holoscope, the rifle definitely has all the "bells and whistles." Add to that the specially designed soft carrying case, two 20-round magazines and two 30-round magazines, and you get quite a package. Shooting the rifle is a dream. Recoil is minimized by the heavy buffer and Gill brake. This is something I definitely want to have in my trunk when the feces hits the oscillating rotator.
Rapid Deployment Inc. Body Armor Gun Bag
In the event of an active shooter at any public facility, or a terrorist attack from an on-the-ground team, responding officers should be properly equipped. Some of that equipment should include a rifle, extra magazines, body armor capable of defeating rifle rounds, extra pistol magazines and more. I know plenty of officers who carry their rifle in one bag and have a separate vest set up to carry the magazines and other equipment. Rapid Deployment Inc. makes a gun bag that incorporates all of the above. The bag has pockets specifically designed to hold soft armor or hard plates, rifle magazines and pistol magazines. Inside it's designed to carry your rifle, but has the necessary straps that make it wearable. When you have to go into that ugly situation, grab the bag and know that you have everything you need in the short term. Pull out the gun, unzip the bag into its two halves and pull it on over your head. Snap the waist buckles and rock-n-roll!
XS Sights for shotgun, AR-style rifle or off-duty pistol
The plethora of available sights for handguns, shotguns and rifles is a testament to capitalism. But here's the bottom line: our sights--most especially on the guns of those who work behind triggers regularly in a high risk environment--need to be quick to pick up, easy to see, easy to align and durable enough to take the abuse we will most assuredly subject them too. XS Sight Systems makes such sights. The Big or Small Dot 24/7 sight system combines a shallow V rear sight with an easily picked up front dot. At close quarters distances as long as you can remember the words of your firearms instructor (front sight, front sight, front sight) you can score disabling hits with your handgun. At greater distances, proper sight alignment is required but is just as easy (if not easier) to accomplish with the shallow V design. All of the above applies equally to the XS Sights for rifles and shotguns.
LightSaver Tactical Model 1 Tailcap Switch
I anticipate that this will become one of the most popular items of the new year. While the leading manufacturers in the flashlight industry today try to engineer greater versatility into their lights, Brigade Quartermaster and LightSaver have developed an end cap for the large majority of popular lights that allows the operator to upgrade the versatility of the light. Just put on the LightSaver Tactical Model 1 tailcap. I have an early production model so that I could test it on my collection of lights. It fit without any issues onto my SureFire G2 Nitrolon, Pentagon X2 LED, and others. The tailcap enables the operator to have temporary light through touch pressure; hard on and off through just slightly more pressure; and (this is the kicker) a flashing/strobing light by pushing and holding the endcap button. The incapacitation value of the flashing / strobing light has been documented and grows in popularity every day. Now, instead of buying a whole new flashlight to gain that versatility, all you have to do is buy a new end cap. Retailing for less than $30, I really think this will be a big hit.
BlackHawk Night-Ops Mod-U-Lok Tactical Light holster system
You have to be able to carry whatever flashlight you've chosen. Most of today's "tactical" lights have a one-inch body and are about six inches long. Still, thanks to endcap designs, bezel shapes, etc., it can be a challenge to find a holster for your flashlight that will securely hold it and fit it without issue. Enter the Mod-U-Lok light holder from Night-Ops, a member of the BlackHawk Products Group family. The Mod-U-Lok was specifically designed for the Night-Ops lights, but because of industry standardization it will fit a whole collection of other lights. I have carried my Pentagon X2, SureFire G2, Night-Ops Falcata and Night-Ops Gladius in my Mod-U-Lok holster. Since I am a firm believer that the only thing better than a good quality tactical light is TWO good quality tactical lights, I have two Mod-U-Lok holsters. I highly recommend them.
LaserMax Uni-Max rail mount laser
Having made a name for itself in the laser aiming device industry and doing so with a unique internal-to-the-gun product, LaserMax is now stepping out of its own box and producing an external Picatinny-mounted laser aiming device: the Uni-Max. Unlike so many other attached laser aiming devices, the Uni-Max is itself equipped with a rail mounting system so that an operator can mount other devices under it if necessary. This extremely cost-effective laser aiming option is manufactured by recognized leaders in the industry and supported by their customer support program.
Revision Eyewear Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses
Hot on the heels of their Bullet Ant Goggles, Desert Locust Goggles and Sawfly Ballistic Eyewear system, Revision Eyewear has announced the release of their Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses. Stylish and sleek, these sunglasses carry all of the ballistic protection of Revision's other products, but in a less militaristic appearing package. Available in a variety of frame/lens color combinations, the Hellfly sunglasses are sure to become an instant hit among officers who value their vision.
5.11 Tactical 5-in-1 jacket
A while back I did a full test and evaluation on this product and my wife promptly stole my test sample. I still want one. The two-layer jacket is comprised of a fleece inner with an insulated nylon outer shell. Either one of them can be worn separately to provide protection adequate to the temperature, or they can be combined to provide protection against colder environments. If some middle ground has to be found, then you can zip the sleeves off the outer shell and wear the vest outer over the fleece inner. Or wait...you could also wear just the fleece vest inner...or...or...I ended up finding sixteen different configurations for the layers, parts and pieces of this jacket. In a job (military or law enforcement) where versatility is the name of the game, this jacket excels. I want one!!!
Yeah, I know...who writes up underwear? Well, I'm that guy. Everyone has their own preference in undies: snug, loose, briefs, short legs, longer legs, etc. Not to give away secrets, but I'm a boxer-briefs kind of guy. The UnderArmour products, where undergarments are concerned., are just the bomb. They are snug and provide adequate support without that binding or chafing feeling you can get from cotton-polyester briefs. They are available with shorter legs or longer legs that reach almost to your knees, depending on how you like your coverage. If you're hot, they help wick moisture away, keeping you comfortable. If you're cold, they hold your heat in, keeping you comfortable. The only thing I can think of more comfortable than UnderArmour undergarments is, well, no undergarments at all...and that can be uncomfortable in its own way.
N-Range Home Shooting System
All right; for those of you who haven't figured it out, I'm a gun guy. While I've never really been into precision long distance shooting, I've always found enjoyment in shooting. Anything under 50 yards just makes my day. I find it to be therapeutic. That said, not many of us can afford to build a range into our basement or have enough property to put one "out back." Well, by using the N-Range home shooting system, you can do precisely that. You can put a shooting system up in your office, basement, garage, or other space. The system includes a conversion kit for your gun (several different models covered), a brass catcher so you don't have spent shells bouncing all over your space, and the target/bullet trap. The bullets are actually .223 caliber--even if you're shooting a 9mm conversion--and are easily stopped by the sheet steel trap. Cardboard targets are also included and are easily replaced. Eye protection is required, but the system is so quiet that ear protection is not. With a standard shooting system costing just about $1,300, it's hard to complain about not having space. A home shooting range is suddenly very affordable!
Down Time Reading:
Although it may not appear so in my writing, I'm a big believer in staying educated. I was taught a long time ago that the day we die is actually the day we quit learning anything new. For contemporary warriors in the United States (and serving overseas) there are a few things I believe should be read. They are informative books that will help you in your chosen career.
- On Killing
Written by LTC Dave Grossman (Ret.), On Killing takes a look at the psychological cost on people and on society in learning to kill. This groundbreaking work, published in 1996, takes a look at the training provided to our soldiers and other contemporary warriors; what effects it does or may have on them; how it affects their perceptions and interactions, and more. If you are someone who works behind a gun--or someone who loves someone who works behind a gun--I highly recommend this as a gift or as educational reading.
- On Combat
Also written by LTC Grossman and building on his work in On Killing, On Combat expands the information about learning to kill into a wider view of how to survive after having killed, specifically in combat. As one senior NCO is quoted as having said, "The Army spent 18 years and thousands of dollars teaching me to kill. This is the first time I have been taught how to deal with it." That is the power of knowledge, and this kind of knowledge isn't easy to come by. I highly recommend both of LTC Grossman's books.
- Terror At Beslan
As a cop and a parent I read this book--and then doubted what I read enough to do some research and then seek out the author, John Giduck, to get some other information directly from him. What I came to believe is that if terrorists ever attempt in America what they succeeded in doing in Beslan, Russia--that being to take over a school--our current law enforcement plans and tactics are sorely under-prepared to respond. Terror at Beslan is an eye-opening, and sometimes hard to read, work of non-fiction that offers insights into terrorist actions never before available. John's ability to access on-the-ground information in Russia and integrate that into investigative information discovered after the fact are first rate and can't be found anywhere else. This is a book that every parent in America should read and every law enforcement professional in America should study.