Oakley SI Ballistic M Frame® Alpha Operator Kit | REVIEW
Oakley introduced the Alpha Ecosystem with the knowledge of the extremely dynamic and challenging environments that the modern operators have to face in combat. This multi piece kit is designed to be quickly and easily reconfigured to each mission without any compromise in either performance or protection.
Oakley has been the leader in the eyewear market for ballistic protection, usability and clever designs that could enhance the performance amongst athletes and especially military forces.
First Line Equipment |FROG.PRO Operator Belt and Pouches
The use of modular tactical load bearing belts has consistently grown in the past decade. The influence of special operations in tactical training and shooting techniques has brought a very versatile tool in the hands of many users. What is typically referred to as “first line” is, in fact, the primary layer on top of which the users equips himself. This terminology has been applied to professions in which there is a multi-level approach to equipment. In almost all cases the first line is the first to be applied before heading out of the door and the last to be taken off. Different professions require a multi line system for different purposes: Law Enforcement usually add a second-line (chest rig/PC) for special purposes while using the first line (belt) as the main source, on the other hand we usually see the opposite with military applications, in which the belt mounted equipment is a backup for the plate carrier. There are exceptions to this in both professions, for example we see often the positioning of the magazine designated for speed/emergency reloads placed on the belt at the 9 o’clock.
Explorer Cases 9413 | Review
Hard cases have become an effective tool in equipment and valuable protection; in certain industries, for example expedition photography, it has been a vital necessity for sustaining the lifespan of fragile instruments in harsh environments.
With the development and expansion of industries and activities which involve the use, transportation or storage of valuable and expensive equipment there has been a growing need for an effective and reliable system that could provide this degree of protection.
When it comes to the firearm industry there is also a fourth factor that corroborates the need of a hard case: the security. Whether it is for travel for a match or tactical training away from home, for staying overnight in a hotel, or simply for raising the level of security of a truck gun the implementation of a tool such as a hard case could mean the difference between a gun in the hands of a good guy and a gun in the hands of a bad guy.
This contemporary firearm training [nomad] lifestyle that involves a much more dynamic and mobile approach to tactical training, in which users often times move domestically in the US requires a high degree of protection, security and practicality. A tool such as a high quality hard case becomes almost as a “mobile safe”.
Because of the extremely high quality standards, Explorer cases are able to sustain the shift of action from an everyday “urban” approach of protection from iniquitous acts to the conventional protective purpose from the elements out in the field; which is the actual origin of this type of case.
Depending on type of use, time of exposure and other key climatic factors, the field can be an extremely demanding environment to which only very few quality-focused cases can withstand.
The gasket’s design is usually a noticeable failure point for water-tightness; in order to overcome this possible issue, Explorer, has focused on the manufacturing process rather than the design itself. Instead of utilizing the ubiquitous rubber-polymer tube of which the connection point could potentially be the weakest point, they have implemented a system that extrudes a foam-like material directly into the gasket housing. This innovative manufacturing process has proven to be effective and reliable.
The IP67 waterproofness rating and the fact that it is retained without compromise throughout the lifespan of the case is directly related to the ruggedness of this gasket design, compared also to the weaker hollow-tube design.
Temperatures play a key role in the longevity of a gasket or sealant and Explorer does not utilize rubberized material O-ring or glue. As the temperature is decreased the rubber passes from a soft (easily deformed) and elastic state to a more rigid state and finally to a brittle glass-like condition. On the other hand glues tend to a detachment process when reaching higher temperatures, as well as freeze towards glaciation.
The water tightness is achieved also through an intrinsically mechanical strength of the closure design. The latches are sized to obtain a strong, secure and constant pressure along the perimeter between the case and the lid. Despite this the opening and closing process are facilitated mainly by two factors: the double-action of the mechanism (with two pivotal points) and the relatively large surface of the latch.
The hinges mechanism is reliable and the action is smooth and repeatable.
The hinges are designed to optimize the efficiency on the field by opening up to 90Deg and by staying open without the necessity of two-hand manipulation. Unlike other products on the market, the Explorer case does not tip over when opened empty…
Differently from similar products on the market, once closed, the Explorer cases latches do not make any [annoying] noise, which (even though it is not carried into direct combat action) is still, in our opinion, inappropriate in a “Tactical” weapons case.
One aspect in which we really wanted to focus was the tolerances between the parts of the assembly. The very high grade of precision in the dimensions of the lid, main case and metal rod protects the mechanism from any external agent, even after prolonged use in dusty and sandy environments.
The smoothness of the hinge mechanism is usually a substantial differentiation between high quality cases and less quality after some use in the field.
The case is provided with three handles, a primary, larger, and two secondary smaller. The handles are well built and very durable, the injection-molded polymer is tough and does not bend under the heavy load of firearms. Explorer produces all hinges with extreme accuracy; even after prolonged field use, with the case exposed to the elements, the movement of the handle is solid and repeatable, and the metal rod does not show weak points or corrosion. Even after the testing and evaluation process the handles stay in position, which is an explicit indication of quality.
The two secondary handles locate at the exact opposite side from each other provide a very comfortable two-men carrying solution, especially with heavier weapon systems. Of course with the 9413 one could only fit enough items, but with the larger models this feature could be vital.
In the central portion of the case, between the primary-handle attaching points, are located the air valve and the luggage nametag. The manual pressure release valve is a key component for operation with variable barometric excursion. The valve is designed with an internal stop ring, for preventing the user from overrunning it and completely extract it.
The nametag is protected by a translucent polymer shield and is only accessible when the case is open.
Four latches are located relatively to the four hinges of the case. Next to the four latches are positioned four padlock-able points, and with two of them being metal plated there is the possibility to safely lock the case with either standard padlocks or TSA approved ones. Explorer offers three different padlocks, a combination, a heavy-duty brass with key and TSA-approved. The combination padlock is designed with the chamfering of the edge inherently constructed in the dimensions, covering the entire pin (for enhanced security from tools such as bolt cutters) as well as tightly securing it and preventing it from swinging, which may be causing noise.
The case is provided with ball bearing wheels that enable a more comfortable and effective transportation of heavier items. The wheels are exposed enough to allow the case to be pulled from a wide range of angles, but the overall dimensional extremities still allow the case to stand in the upright position very solidly, even when loaded with firearms. The wheels are designed to be utilized also for pulling the case from a horizontal surface with an extremely low angle; this provides a high level of mobility when loading or unloading weapons from trucks of vehicles.
Even after carrying the case in all types of terrains for several months, the wheels spin smoothly and freely, do not show any stress point or failure points, and are still very silent.
The foam insert set consist of a convoluted panel for the lid, two pre-cubed sections and a thin stabilizing layer for the body. The pre-cubed foam allows for a high degree of customization by the user and seems to withstand weight and time.
As for the material utilized the main case sections are manufactured from an injection molded copolymer Polypropylene compound, which seems to have a good balance between rigidity and elasticity, for maximum toughness and protection. Throughout the heat of the summertime, the case has not shown any brittleness from the extensive direct sunlight exposure.
On the bottom side of the case are located eight rubberized feet for better stability both on surfaces and for stacking.
The Explorer Cases 9413 comes in three color-ways: Black, Desert Sand and Military Green, all available with or without the foam insert.
Below are some details and specifications:
Length: 939 mm | 36.97 in.
Width: 352 mm | 13.85 in.
Depth: 137 mm | 5.40 in.
Lid: 43 mm | 1.69 in.
Base: 94 mm | 3.70 in.
Length: 989 mm | 38.94 in.
Width: 415 mm | 16.34 in.
Depth: 157 mm | 6.18 in.
Weight (empty): 6.70 Kg
Weight (with foam): 7.70 Kg
For more details please visit: ExplorerCases.com
Blackhawk!® Cyane Dynamic Backpack | Review
The assault pack has become widely popular in the last years because of its versatility in very dynamic applications such as direct action. The main function of this platform is to provide an augmentation of carriage to the user without compromising speed and efficiency. Because the environments in which the current asymmetrical wars are fought are usually very confined and hostile it is mandatory for the operator on the field to be as agile and unrestricted as possible, we are therefore experiencing an evolution in equipment in which compact, slick and efficient designs are prominent.
The category of direct action assault pack has morphed into a carrying system that varies in volume from the size of a Camelbak® to a maximum of 30 liter (usually and in theory). The main function of an assault pack is to allow the user to carry either supplemental combat essential equipment or lower-priority items without compromising mobility.
This type of equipment has gained a lot of traction also in the non-operative world due to the mythicization of “high speed” special operation forces in popular culture. Nevertheless the function of such a system is to allow the user to carry extra essential equipment into theater and to be utilized as a site exploitation bag if need arises.
Because of its essential nature the Blackhawk! Cyane Dynamic Pack is not provided with an internal rigid structure but it features a sheet of flexible polymer, of which the main purpose is to hold shape when the pack is empty.
The design of the pack focuses on the efficiency of movement and operation of the user; the narrow design and the ability to attach it directly to a plate carrier render this pack even more compact and volumetrically low profile.
Despite the very compact size, the pack is comprised of 5 separate pockets, which define the high level of usability of the pack. Because it is extremely vital, in dynamic environments, to be able to quickly and efficiently access essential gear, this feature is highly valuable.
In the upper area is locate the routing port for hydration and comms, which makes it convenient for ambidextrous use.
The numerous attachment points on the outer portion of the pack allow for external attachment. It could be said that is even possible to securely attach more equipment on the outside that it is possible to stow it inside.
The Cyane Dynamic Pack is provided with various sections of PALS webbing. Four main areas are spread throughout the outer surface of the pack: two lateral sections (7 rows x 3 columns each side) and two frontal sections (on the top 3 rows x 3 columns | on the bottom 3 x 4 columns). The size and position of the PALS panels allow to capitalize the area available with, for example, two or more ammo pouches.
During night MTB rides, and for signaling in general, we have secured on this surface red and green Chemlights or Nitizes on the respective side. The loop panel on the 3 x 3 PALS section is extremely useful for attaching S&S Precision V-Lites or Manta Strobes. It could also fit the CORE Survival HELSTAR 6 but because of its larger size and weight we don’t recommend it.
The shoulder straps are provided with copious attachment points, both vertically and horizontally, allowing the user to attach items like Princeton Tec light, strobes and of course hydration tubes.
The sternum strap can be moved vertically in order to accommodate most body types. The padding of the shoulder straps is extremely comfortable while maintaining a very low profile. Usually comfort comes at the expense of size, in this case Blackhawk! was able to manage a good balance between the two.
Since the pack can be directly mounted to a plate carrier via Pals/Molle, the shoulder straps are removable. In order to attach the pack directly it is necessary remove the padded back-panel.
The inner portions of the pack are very minimal in design and material, the only internal organization available it the mesh pocket for hydration which is voluminous enough to accommodate up to a 3L reservoir.
The beavertail design allows the user to expand the size for storing items like rain gear, helmets or even tripods. With a very secure 6 points attachment the beavertail section can be tighten and released via QD buckles and webbing. When not expanded the beavertails “pocket” collapses and can be really reduced in footprint via adjustment points. The beavertail design effectively secures the equipment carried, this portion could be utilized as a secondary site exploitation carriage if need arises.
The inner portion of the backpack can accommodate more sensible material, like night vision and thermal; while the more exposed and more accessible pockets can be utilized for IFAK or medical kits in general.
The size and nature of this pack could be very suitable for transporting extra equipment during quick night hunting sorties.
The layout above displays the equipment that we utilize for night mountain biking in very rural areas. Everything shown is either worn or carried in the Cyane Dynamic Pack.
We have been using this pack since last spring and the quality of construction is on point where it needs to be. We would define “efficient” the quality of material and craftsmanship because it provides very good durability while maintaining a relatively light weight and a very competitive price point. The material used for the pack are Multicam® certified CORDURA® fabric and 500 rip stop fabric.
For a pack with this kind of design and volumetric capacity we have found some interesting applications that go beyond the operative theater, from hiking and mountain biking to climbing.
Overall, this backpack has a great potential for this industry. The average “tactical” user lives his daily life with a mindset that is tightly connected to efficiency and practicality; with this pack, because of its size and design it is possible to apply that same mentality and mindset of preparedness also to sports and outdoor activities in general. The Cyane Dynamic Pack is also available in solid colors for a more settle presence (Black, Coyote Tan, OD, Ranger Green and Urban Grey).
Blackhawk also produces a slicker version that does not have PALS webbing panels on the front and on the sides: the Cyane™ Stealth Pack. It also comes without the direct attachment to the plate carrier.
We appreciate the opportunity given by Blackhawk! to review this product.
Outdoor Research Infiltrator Waterproof Jacket | Review
Outdoor Research manufactures, without a doubt, some of the finest textile products in the outdoor industry. The Seattle-based company has mainly built its brand around the climbing, mountaineering and exploring community; and is now gradually increasing traction also in the tactical-military apparel market.
In the past OR, has manufactured gloves, beanies, hats, bivies and other products specifically oriented for the tactical industry. At SHOT Show 2017 we have covered the launch of a new line of tactical apparel(LINK), designed to be extremely versatile thanks to a modular layering system.
The first garment that has been released is the outer hard shell, the Infiltrator jacket.
Compared to a PCU (or Protective Combat Uniform) the Infiltrator jacket would be a level 6, which consists in a non-insulated hard-shell garment. In a PCU system the level 6 jacket and/or pant should be worn both with and without insulation underneath as it is designed to provide water protection both in warm and cold environments, as well as during both dynamic and static activities.
As we all know, insulation and warmth come at the expense of size and bulkiness, and therefore there is an issue with the mobility of the user, since traditional hard-shell fabric don’t provide any elasticity.
The revolutionary feature of Outdoor Research Infiltrator jacket is the GORE-TEX® Fabric with Stretch Technology, which is designed to solve the previously mentioned issues.
There are two specific advantaged related to the elasticity that we have experienced in the testing process: unaffected agility and ability to comfortably add layers underneath.
Unrestricted freedom of movement during high performance activities or gestures related to weapon manipulation. The GORE-TEX® Fabric with Stretch Technology panels are strategically placed in high mobile areas of the body, such as the inner-arm/ armpit as well as back / lats. These key points need to anatomically be free to expand in order provide enough liberty of movement.
Usually it is possible to feel a slight impeded movement when doing ready-up drills when wearing standard waterproof jacket; if you don’t, chances are that the garment fits loosely (which may be good for mobility but not as good for bulkiness).
With the Infiltrator, those key areas are well stretched and shooting with the jacked feels the same as shooting without, which in our opinion is the ultimate goal for a “tactical” garment manufacturer.
Ability to layer even with a very athletic fit.
The strategically placed stretch fabric panels provide a close fit in warm climates in which the jacket is worn without insulated layers underneath. At the same time, the fabric can stretch and expand to accommodate voluminous insulation layers in colder environments.
We appreciate the athletic cut of the Outdoor Research products; it is one of the features that differentiate their products from standard “military” manufacturers.
The background in the alpine, climbing, mountaineering and high-performance outdoor markets has brought a great level of know-how on their drawing board when designing a new tactical apparel line that would render the user’s movements as efficient as possible; we have, in fact, experienced negligible restriction of movement.
Freedom of movement, lightweight, pack-ability and durability of textiles are features that have been improving the “tactical” apparel segment and have originated within the performance-based outdoor community.
The streamlined design of the Infiltrator jacket provides higher comfort when wearing plate carriers, chest rigs or even backpacks, especially in dynamic environments.
The two areas in which we applied thoroughly testing were the sections considered to be under the most pressure when wearing a plate carrier, a backpack or a chest rig: the yoke and the shoulders.
The presence of a stretch panel in the cervical area of the neck provides a high degree of comfort and, in conjunction with the other stretch panels, keeps the yoke and shoulder areas wrinkle free under the weight of equipment. Under heavy rain, the fabric has kept waterproofing also in the areas in which pressure was directly applied.
As with all GORE-TEX® hard shell textiles, in warm and humid climates, the fabric has difficulty expelling moisture and heat from the inside of the garment. Therefore, we believe that quick drying is a mission essential feature that both the GORE-TEX® Fabric with Stretch Technology and the “standard” all-weather GORE-TEX® Military fabric are equipped with.
The hood was designed with a high degree of versatility in mind. It allows the user to comfortably cover the head when wearing a helmet as well as without headgear.
The “Halo-Hood” consists of a draw cord that runs the whole circumference of the head for precise adjustments and can be controlled via a cord-lock located in the occipital area of the head. The cord is enclosed in a mesh compartment sewn inside the hood, in our opinion this is a key feature if one uses tactical helmets that, equipped with lights and rails, may be caught by the hood itself.
The “Halo-Hood” provides extremely important adjustability especially if a helmet is not worn, due to the larger size of the hood in order to accommodate most helmets.
With or without headgear, the adjustments allow the user to closely secure the hood to the head; and because of the stretch panel located in the cervical area of the neck there is a large freedom movement (extension/flexion, lateral bend and especially rotation).
Vertical adjustment is provided by symmetrical draw cords accessible from the front that cinch down the hood from the temple area and are secured by cord-locks.
The helmet worn in the photos is an OpsCore helmet equipped with two S&S Precision V-Lites, a CORE Survival Helstar 6, a Princeton Tec Charge MPLS, a Princeton Tec Remix MPLS and a Oakley SI Alpha Ballistic Halo™ Goggle.
The hood provides protection to the elements even with this equipment mounted. We believe that all “tactical” oriented hard-shell should have such a feature-rich helmet.
SIDES and ARMPIT
The side of the jacket features a panel of GORE-TEX® Fabric with Stretch Technology that runs from the armpit all the way to the waistline; this section mostly allows the jacket to expand when worn on top of other insulated layers. The armpit has a no-seam construction and is not equipped with vent zippers, which could become uncomfortable after wearing with backpack straps and rifle slings for a prolonged period of time.
In order to cool down the user can open two symmetrical side vents located at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. The two YKK® AquaGuard® Vislon zippers can be opened from the bottom, exposing the belt area or from the top, retaining a higher degree of protection from the elements with the internal storm-flap while cooling down.
The side vents can also be used to access holsters or belt mounted equipment. Shown in the photo below is a Safariland ALS holster with low-ride belt attachment.
The jacket features two capacious symmetrical front pocket (160 x 300 mm) that can be accessed via AquaGuard® zippers. The opening of the pockets is placed high enough in order to not interfere with harnesses or belt straps of backpacks.
The inner part of the pocket is built with a mesh fabric in order to allow the pocket to be used of venting, giving the user two different techniques for cooling down.
The materials used are undoubtedly innovative and, in our opinion, are truly going to raise the industry standard. Overall the Infiltrator jacket has been utilized for rucks, runs, hikes and for shooting and it does not show any sign of wear.
The equilibrium among freedom of movement, lightweight, durability, breathability, climatic adaptability and overall waterproofness truly render the Outdoor Research Infiltrator jacket a unique piece on the market and a must have in any environment.
The Infiltrator jacket is available both in Berry-Compliant and non Berry-Compliant version in Multicam, Coyote and Mas Grey.
For more information on the Outdoor Research Infiltrator Jacket please visit: Outdoor Research Tactical
Blackhawk! Omnivore Multifit Holster | Review
The Blackhawk! Omnivore holster is designed to accommodate more than 150 types of handguns. What differentiates the Blackhawk! Omnivore from other multi-fit holsters on the market is the retention mechanism.
In the past we have seen various manufactures designing a multi-fit holster that was based on multiple handgun sizes and makes. This did not allow almost any of the firearms to have a good (and safe) level of retention because of the large tolerances that were needed in order to fit multiple models of pistols. This design, based on an engineering compromise could not ensure the consistency in the draw, the re-holstering and most importantly the retention; it was therefore not considered a valuable product by most consumers in the industry.
Blackhawk! has rethought the whole process and has designed the holster around the weapon mounted light and not around the weapon itself. This allows to have a very precise mechanism that retains and secures the weapon inside the holster. Since most modern pistols feature a rail attachment systems of some sort (below the fore-end of the barrel) this design is able to standardize the way that the holster gains the purchase on the weapon system. Blackhawk! has also designed the holster around those users that are not interested in utilizing a weapon mounted light.
The Omnivore Holster is available in three variants: for SureFire X300, for Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-2, and for pistols without a light there is a very low-profile accessory that attaches to the rail.
The firearm is secured with a level 2 retention system that can be disengaged with a thumb activated mechanism. We have tried without any success to pull the gun out of the holster without pressing the thumb switch, even with rough force.
It is remarkable that Blackhawk! has designed an efficient and secure retention system that only locks on the weapon mounted light and not on the weapon’s frame itself. In the past we have witnessed some issues with other holster manufacturers that failed in retaining the weapon (and the holster was designed to utilize the whole frame of the gun for the retention).
The Omnivore holster also features a free-floating weapon design that was implemented mainly for avoiding any premature wear on the firearm caused by the friction of the draw and the re-holstering. We found this feature extremely useful when doing longer range sessions in which the firearm would heat-up and the free-floating design would help to cool it down faster. It is also useful for eliminating any issued with debris and dirt that may interfere with the weapon in rougher environments.
The thumb release is provided with three different sizes and it features a rubberized texture for a secure engagement under critical stress. With the thumb release mechanism adjusted to the correct size of the hand, the draw is very smooth and efficient; and with some practice it can deliver a very quick pistol presentation. The retention mechanism doesn’t disengage if the weapon is pulled at the same time, for added protection and security for all duty applications.
The holster comes with two different injection molded belt attachments, a standard curved belt loop and a paddle. Once the preferred attachment system is bolted to the holster, the whole system is very solid and does not bend or loosens under the weight of the sidearm.
We have mainly used the standard belt loop because it can accommodate both larger tactical belts (works also with a Cobra buckle) as well as smaller standard leather belts, for which Blackhawk! does provide an attachment that eliminates any unwanted movement.
It is also possible to attach the belt loop with various angles for better efficiency with the draw or for some specific requirements.
Blackhawk has kindly given us the chance to try and test this product, and after two months of hard use, the rugged and tough nature of the holster comes to the surface. The finish and the injection-molded frame still hold their shape and detail even after some bad falls and the retention system is as crisp and consistent as when it was new.
In a world of expensive and custom-made tactical products, we appreciate how Blackhawk has successfully designed what is, in our opinion, a high quality, affordable and effective standardized system that is capable of delivering great performance for most users of different segments of this industry.
You can find more information on the Blackhawk! Omnivore holster at: blackhawk.com/omnivore
Peli/Pelican 1450 Tan | Review
High quality hard cases are a vital piece of equipment for maintain the best reliability of your tactical or sporting shooting gear. When you store a gun (possibly clean…) inside a Peli Case, you know for sure that it is going to operate the next time you use it.
Some may argue that soft cases are more flexible and versatile. In our opinion, the whole gear should be stored in both hard and soft cases. When it comes to weapons, scopes, electronics and precision items the hard case is the obvious choice; but for soft-goods and tactical/outdoor equipment in general soft cases provide the best flexibility.
Pelican offers a very wide gamut of products, from SD memory cases to rifle cases to even large cases for aircraft replacement parts; which provides a protective solution tailored to the operator’s needs. In addition to this Peli provides the cases with multiple inserts such as “Pick and Pluck” foam, regular foam, padded inserts (ideal for cameras and electronics in general) or simply empty. The foam inset helps booth helps with keeping all the equipment nicely organized and protects any fragile items from accidental bumps. In this article, the 1450 case is provided with the “Pick & Pluck” foam insert.
The watertight gasket protects the content from dust, sand and water. All pelican cases have proprietary valve that allows the pressure to be stabilized equally between the inside and the outside of the case. This particular feature may not seem important but is vital both for very fragile electronics and for operating at different barometric excursions.
The handle is rubberized and heavy duty, allowing to comfortably carrying a hefty load. Peli cases are designed to exceed military requirements, in both protection and practicality. The locking mechanism is tough and reliable; and when on the move all of the components quietly sit in position, leaving an almost invisible sound footprint. It is safe to say that all of the material used in the construction of this product are of very high quality.
The hinge’s action is smooth and reliable; we have extensively used this case in bad weather, mud and sand and there has never been an issue opening the lid. The quality of the foam inserts utilized is also high; even after long range sessions the heat of the weapon did not affect the integrity of the material. The pick n pluck design allows the user to quickly and effortlessly cut the insert with the best layout for the specific content or mission. It also supports the weight very well.
For a gun owner this product serves as a vital piece of equipment. There is, in our opinion, a huge gap between your gun being store in a safe at home and pointed towards the target at the range; this is the area where a mobile and lockable safe storage system comes into play.
A hard case is one of the most secure places to store a firearm when on the move, especially in a car. It is possible to fly with a weapon, these days, it is mandatory that it is stored in a lockable hard case. In our opinion, whether at the range or on duty, your pistol should be in a Peli Case as soon as it exits your holster (of course this applies also to long guns).
We believe that this product can apply to the lifestyle of the all of the members of the gun community, from the Elite Operators, to the Hunters, to the Competitive Shooters or simply to the gun enthusiasts. These high-quality hard cases provide protection to the equipment as well as safety in the surroundings; it is vital that all weapons must be stored inside such cases, especially when on the move. For a long time our equipment will have a very safe place to stay, inside a Peli Case.
Velocity Systems | Light Weight Plate Carrier
The LWPC is designed with maximum versatility and speed in mind. The ability to conceal this plate carrier allows the operator to maximize the effectiveness of this platform even in uncertain environments where low-profile is the number one priority. The possibility to unzip a Jacket and attach a placard with all the mission specific equipment really makes the transition from low-profile to high-profile just a matter of seconds. The ability to change configuration in a brief period of time allows the end user to quickly adapt to the specific situation as the environment changes. The biggest feature of this plate carrier, aside from its incredible light weight, is the versatility and modularity provided by the SwiftClips. Velocity Systems and MayflowerRC have, for a long time, believed in the concept of a modular armor and load bearing system that shared the same support structure. For many years we have seen great redundancy in the operators’ equipment; a popular set-up used to be a standard chest rig worn on top of a low profile armor carrier. At the time the only alternative to this system was the bulky PALs webbing/MOLLE plate carrier (which required a lot of time to reconfigure pouch by pouch) but it would not provide the ability to quickly change set-up (from 5.56 to 7.62 or to mission specific role) like the chest rig and plate carrier combination.
To this need Velocity Systems and Mayflower RC have responded with modular placards and chest rigs that would provide the operator with the comfort of a single piece of equipment while having the versatility of multiple pre-configured modular set-ups.
In our opinion, there is a substantial difference in the set-up of this product in the various applications of agencies and civilian use.
For a military or agency type of application this product would be suited for some sort of low-profile operation in which the operator would be required to constantly wear armor, comms and, perhaps, a medical kit. The low-profile nature of the carrier would quite possibly be unnoticed but would offer protection and the ability to attach a fully equipped chest rig placard within seconds.
As for the civilian use, we think that this system could offer much more versatility that a standard MOLLE vest. The use in a civilian application would, hopefully, be for a shorter period of time and it would not require the user to wear comms and med kit on a closer level. In an event in which the civilian should respond with armor the medical kit and radio would probably store within the placard itself. The MOLLE version allows to carry 6×6” armor side plates and offers 6 columns of PALS webbing attachment.
This is why we find the MOLLE version of the cummerbunds more suitable for low-profile operations and the elastic (lighter and slicker) cummerbunds for civilian use. Off course, the interchangeability of them will allow the user to configure it to the mission requirements. The low profile nature of the elastic cummerbunds would also allow a concealed carry citizen to use his/her inside the waistband holster at the three o’clock position without any interference with the plate carrier itself.
The lower half of the front of the plate carrier is covered with loop Velcro, stitched right into the front flap. On the sides of the upper portion are the two SwiftClips, which can be removed. There is a low-profile admin pouch, also stitched with a loop Velcro panel. If you happen to have the Multicam version of this plate carrier, as we do, the “admin” and back loop Velcro panels visible from the outside are matched with the camo pattern.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that this Light Weight plate carrier has all of the features of “Standard” plate carriers. Often times, due to the weight reduction, companies tend to “lighten” the adjustability and user-configurability, not Velocity Systems and Mayflower R&C. The cummerbunds can be adjusted both from the front and from back panel. For primary fitting, it is possible to regulate on the back panel the position of the cummerbund, the end of which is provided with both hook and loop Velcro on each side; this ensures the stability and the overall ruggedness of the product. For field adjustment (or secondary adjustment), it is possible to fit the size by lifting the dedicated front panel. On the market it is usually is rare to see two fully spec’d adjustment points on such a lightweight platform.
The top straps are also adjustable, allowing fitting the perfect height of the plate carrier (on a side note, please stop wearing your plate carriers low, you know who we are talking about…). The top strap is provided with a cushioned sleeve, for load bearing comfort and cable routing. We only wrote cable and not hydration tube routing on purpose, this plate carrier is meant to be lightweight and therefore used in atypical (or asymmetrical warfare) type of scenarios such as urban and low-profile application in which there should not be the need of “field” requirements like continuous hydration on the move. If the possibly of attaching a panel or an hydration bladder is an important characteristic we suggest checking out the other plate carriers from Velocity Systems and Mayflower R&C like the SCARAB.
Both the stitching and the material used are impressive. The attention to details and the well thought design differentiate this product from a market full of plate carriers that have become almost a commodity without any peculiar feature. Velocity Systems uses 500-denier Cordura fabric for the outer layers; this provides high mechanical properties while still maintaining a low-weight discipline.
Velocity Systems and Mayflower R&C proudly use materials and workmanship that are 100% made in the USA.
For more information, please visit: VelSyst.com
Streamlight TLR1-HL: 800Lumen Weapon Light | Review
The most important accessory for your firearms (both pistols and long guns) is quite possibly an illumination tool. Uncertain firepower will almost always lead to trouble, if either you miss your target or you shoot at something you were not intending to destroy. A simple and quite inexpensive solution for this problem is a weapon-mounted light (or WML). This tool will usually provide a tactical advantage, and, most importantly, will take away the uncertainty of where those rounds go.
Unfortunately, even nowadays, many gun owners think that the only applications of weapon mounted lights are in the military and Law Enforcement field. In reality, this tool is almost mandatory for low-light/no-light engagements, especially for civilians. One of the most important applications for such a tool is home defense, a scenario in which almost every gun owner can see himself or herself involved.
In this article, we are mainly going to focus on personal defense applications for civilians: both home invasions and concealed carry. Statistically, vastly majority of attacks occur by nighttime; the intruders or attackers utilize darkness as an advantage, so a flashlight is a vital tool.
For many years, the use of a handheld flashlight in conjunction with a handgun has been the choice for many professionals. The benefit of having a separated handheld light is that you do not have to point a loaded weapon at the possible threat that you are investigating on. While the main cons is of course the impossibility of any one-handed weapon manipulation, which also excludes any long gun application.
Utilizing a WML on a handgun also allows the operator to work both on the light-switch and on the trigger with a single hand, which is essential when wounded or when helping others to safety.
The preferred method used, in the past few years, by many professionals has been the application of both weapon mounted and handheld lights used simultaneously. This will provide the tactical and practical advantages of the weapon mounted light and the safety of the handheld (for all those further investigations on possible “false alarms”, you really do not want to point your gun at the neighbor’s dog that somehow has escaped…)
A weapon mounted light, according to many military and LE users, has to be as simple as possible in order to be operated effectively. While many hand held flashlight have on average 5-7 features (between strobes, brightness levels and special functions), it is mandatory that a weapon mount light only has two
functions: Momentary ON and Steady ON (some people use strobe, but we are not really huge fans).
The operator should not have to focus on the light instead of on the threat while cycling through the light’s functions. Streamlight has applied a very interesting rotatory switch to their weapon mounted light. It can be worked with both the trigger finger (index) and the support-hand’s thumb. If toggled
clockwise it will provide steady ON mode, while momentary only if toggle anticlockwise. This is a very simple and effective solution that requires very little training and practice to be operated. The light comes with the strobe mode pre-installed; if you want to disable it, quickly toggle 9 times the momentary on and keep it pressed on the tenth. This process will able or disable the strobe function.
Streamlight offers the latest version of their TLR-1 HL model with a single 800 Lumen output. The light is powered by two lithium CR123A batteries and it has a runtime of 1.75 hours. The light-beam generated by this light’s LED appears to be very versatile for both indoor and outdoor engagements. A glass-like material prism refracts the light through itself providing the internal light enhancement properties and making the whole product much more rugged
than those using a metal-like reflective mirror. The “spill” of the outer circular beam has a very wide angle making the TLR-1 HL an ideal light for close quarters combat and for peripheral vision, while the very hot center provides a very good “throw” with an approximate reach of 300m, a necessity for distant target acquisition and engagement. At these distances, it is probably going to be mounted on a long gun. Below are two examples of the light beams at 25m and at 50m in total darkness (the camera is in the same position).
The Streamlight TLR-1 HL comes with 4 mounting accessories for Glock, Beretta 90Two, S&W pistol and 1913 Rails. The aftermarket accessories for this light include a remote switch and a dedicated door-switch for rifle applications. If you are interested in purchasing only one weapon-mounted light to be alternated between your handgun and your rifle this is just the right product for you. Most other weapon-mounted lights on the market are offered only as water-resistant while the Streamlight is IPX7 Waterproof.
The light comes in three different colors: Black, Flat Dark Earth and Flat Dark Earth Brown colors; in this article are shown the FDE and Black models.
For more information regarding the Streamlight TLR-1 HL weapon mounted lights please visit:
Blue Force Gear: Pistol Belt Pouches | Review
Blue Force Gear is well known for quite possibly the most low profile PALS-Webbing / MOLLE pouches on the market. They have put together two incredibly thin and durable materials: the military grade elastic and the ULTRAcomp laminate. The combination of these two fabrics created the well-known Ten-Speed pouches. After the great success with the MOLLE platform, Blue Force Gear has decided to apply this technology to the belt pouch. For many years, leather and Kydex were the two only material utilized in belt pouches, the only problem with these was the bulkiness and impossibility to have them “collapsed” against the body when not in use. Although Kydex remains a good option for more overt applications, the Blue Force Gear belt pouches are suited for more covert applications for both military and civilian use.
The belt-mounted line of pouches are designed specifically for:
- rifle mags (low rise and high rise pouches available)
- pistol mags
- dump pouches
- pepper spray
These products serve three different category of users simultaneously: Military personnel, LE officers and concealed carry civilians.
For this article, we had the chance to test the pistol mag pouch in the two configurations: single mag
and double mag. These two mag pouches are designed to be quickly and easily accessible, even under
stress. They work with both single and double stack magazine. The high quality elastic material allows
to switch between double stack and single stack mags without losing any retention capability.
Although fast speed reloads are ideal for this type of pouch, tactical reloads are also possible with just a
little practice. The main feature of this system is that once you extract the content, the pouch collapses
on it-self reducing any extra bulk. In our opinion, this feature is ideal for EDC and CCW.
For everyday carry purposes we have found that this pouch is incredibly useful not only for pistol mags
but also for multi-tools, battery racks and flashlights.
For CCW we usually like to carry appendix or 3 o’clock (both IWB and OWB). For appendix carry the use
of a mag caddy is quite comfortable, but when carrying at the 3 o’clock position having an IWB Kydex
mag caddy at the 9 o’clock is pretty uncomfortable.
This is why we now have decided to go with the Blue Force Gear mag pouch Outside the Waist Band.
These mag pouches also work perfectly in conjunction with a plate carrier or a chest rig. They are easily
accessible also with the Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit NOW! placed right on top; both in the loading and
In order to attach to the belt these pouches utilize a very versatile hook and loop system. This allows the pouch to be mounted to classic leather or tactical nylon belts of up to 2″ in width. The pouch can also be easily detached from the belt without having to take the whole system off. Attaching the pouch to the belt doesn’t require much time or effort, making it a valid option for extra emergency mags stored elsewhere. For example we always carry the single pouch on the belt with an extra Glock 19 mag, but if needed, within seconds, we can mount, to the belt, the double pouch with two Glock 17 mags that we keep in an EDC backpack.
As for all Blue Force Gear products the quality of construction, stitching and material is outstanding. The are constantly providing clever products that bring more efficiency and are lightweight, the belt pouches are the proof.
For more information on the belt-mounted line of pouches please visit: BlueForceGear.com