Introducing the Mean Gene Leather Barbarian Belt

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mean gean leather barbiran belt Gene Higdon from HSGI fame is at it again. His latest venture “Mean Gene Leather” is combining the old with the new with a unique approach to tactical belts. His flagship belt the "Barbarian" Belt combines Leather with a Cobra Buckle. Yup, you heard that right, a leather cobra belt.

The "Barbarian" Belt is Constructed of 2 layers of unsplit “Top Grain” leather for strength and finish. It is sewn together with 277 Bonded nylon threads, has 1” nylon webbing throughout the length of the belt to provide minimal stretching and a 3/4" integrated leather belt loop sewn onto belt, as well as an internal belt loop for the tail of the 1” webbing. Available in Black and Chocolate Brown and in 1.5” and 1.75” widths. All belts come with Black webbing, stitching and Cobra Buckles.

I just got mine in and have been wearing it everyday despite running out of memory on my phone 6 times due to all the ladies giving me their phone number after seeing me wear it. I cant wait to see how it looks a year from now because I know this baby will only get better with time (just like the author).

John Wayne would kick your teeth in if he saw you wearing a gun on a nylon belt

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Mean Gene Leather Barbarian Belt:

-Men Wear Leather Belts

Your dad wore a leather belt, his dad wore a leather belt, you wear a belt made of nylon and Velcro – and quite frankly it is embarrassing. Leather is Old School, over time it absorbs the character of the man who wears it. Every scratch tells a story, every stain is a reminder of your past, only leather can build pedigree like this over time. This is something you will hand down to your son.

-Nylon Tactical Belts are Vagina Repellent

If you do not like to have sex with attractive women then throw on that 5.11 Tuxedo and Nylon Tactical Belt. All the more ladies for me.

-Only Vegans beat their kids with a Nylon Belt

One of the things I remember most from growing up was my dad’s leather belt hanging up behind his bedroom door. This served both as a reminder not to fuck-up but also a “Man” was in charge of the house.

Your child is not afraid of the coyote tan nylon and Velcro belt hanging on your closet door next to your skinny jeans and hemp shirt.

-American Leather

Only the finest hides are picked from god-fearing republican cows before it is tanned under the hot freedom loving American sun (not that cold Commie sun they use in Russia) and dried with air that has passed through a field of American flags.

-Its Handmade by Gene Higdon

If you do not know who Gene Higdon is then Fuck You.

MGL

You can grab one of these bad boys at G-Code or War Sport Ind. or by contacting the man himself Mean Gene at: info@meangeneleather.com or on Facebook

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~James "ARCHER" Price

Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

James P. is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and beating Applebee's Hostesses with his Barbarian Belt.

TACTICAL GEAR: Making Bacon in Full Kit

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making bacon in full kit One of the first things I had to figure out when a young James P. started contracting in Iraq was setting up my “kit” of armor carrier, rig, mag pouches, IFAC and a bunch of other crap I had never carried before. At that point in my career I was not in the tactical gear world and had pretty much never even owned anything ‘tactical’ except a black CamelBak. So when I had to buy a full load of kit I basically ordered a bunch of cool looking shit I saw online.

Two weeks later I got a big ass box that puked out the entire Blackhawk! catalog onto my hooch floor in the IZ. After putting every pouch I bought on my super cool SWAT vest I pretty much ended up looking like a Coyote Tan Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My kit was also so poorly placed I could not even scratch my junk. I ended up fighting my kit on every mission for the next two weeks until I adjusted everything.

Like most people who have never been deployed to a war zone where they would have to wear full kit, I thought it would be all yelling “follow me lads” and burning villages when wearing all my ninja slick gear. I suppose I had fantasies of going from battle to battle pulling mag after mag while rescuing white women from the clutches of Ray Ban wearing dictators.

Nope, not even close - Even if you were on a mobile team running the most dangerous roads in the world like I was, in reality 99% of the time you are wearing full kit you are doing glamorous stuff like; frying eggs in oil for breakfast next to a Land Cruiser, buying 83 gorditas at Taco Bell on base because half your guys don’t have an MNFI badge or sitting in a truck trying not to fall asleep.

So if you are setting up your first all-out full kit I have the following suggestions:

-Wear your kit at home for one week.

The 4th day on a mission outside the wire isn't where you want to find out your kit pinches your neck whenever you lay on your back or you are constantly bumping into things with your side mounted IFAC. Like I said before, 99% of the time you won’t be shooting people when wearing full kit, you will be walking around, sitting or eating.

Usually something annoying about your kit won’t start bothering you until 10 hours after you are wearing it. Your kit also needs a ‘break in’ period for it to settle and that will not happen until you have worn it for a while. So everything may seem ok at first, but 6 days later your helmet strap starts annoyingly curling around the sides and cutting into your face.

So this is why I suggest you wear your kit while doing everyday things for at least a week. This is when you will really get to know it. Every time you try to walk through a door and every time you bend over to pick something up, you will make an adjustment or just throw it away and start over with a different brand or style.

This is much like the first time you make angry love to that stripper you picked up on leave, you will learn every dirty nook and cranny – and how to adjust your movements to make it lay down and do what you want. You are now building muscle memory that may save our live someday (or give you super AIDS).

I am sure most of you have seen pictures of SF, Rangers and Security Contractors in the field with worn out looking kit and thought “dag, they can’t get new shit?” – Nope it’s not military cutbacks - look closer,  like a fine wine they have aged their kit. The right-hand mounted IFAC has now has a slight divot on the corner where his arm was rubbing against it (but no longer does) and the left-mounted flap double M-4 mag pouch now has a crease on the right side from tearing it open so many times.

Vintage Kit Baby.

-Please do not take out the garbage or pick up your newspaper while wearing your kit.

It will freak your neighbors out and scare children. Also having to constantly take on and off your gear will let you know if the way you set up all of the pouches and shit interferes with getting your kit on and off smoothly. This is the exact reason why I only use he H-Harness for my rig, it is easier to get on and off - but some guys think the X style strap is faster, this is where you will figure all that out.

Constantly taking your kit on and off all day long is something you will do if you are ever in a situation where you have to wear full kit for an extended period of time. Tape down or move around stuff until putting it on and off is as easy as putting on your Members Only Jacket before hitting the clubs. Duct Tape is your friend, who cares if it looks like shit - it works for you.

-Do not sleep in your kit

Don’t even bother, no matter how squared away your kit is you will be uncomfortable sleeping in it, so no need to be uncomfortable for no reason but to be uncomfortable. It takes months and for some guys years before they can get a proper night’s sleep in full kit, and some dudes never get used to sleeping with all that crap on.

The only advice I can give you for this is: if you have access to a vehicle sit in the passenger or driver’s seat, notch the seat back 3 clicks. That’s as comfortable as you will get sleeping in full kit

-Do not take a shit indoors in full kit

I don’t care how many times the C-RAM sounds you will take your kit off to crap indoors no matter how dangerous it is, you just will.

-Do pop and squat

The only time I ever wore my full kit while pinching one off was when we would pull over on the side of the road because one of the trucks broke down or we were taking a break. Prepare to have poo everywhere, but with practice you can eliminate or limit the amount of poo on your kit and hands.

Hint: Wipe reaching between your legs unless you have gorilla long arms. Try not to get poo on your balls.

-Buy an expensive heavy duty Backscratcher

You are welcome

-In Conclusion!

I know many of you pimps won’t be in a situation where you will wear full kit 24/7, but many of the problems you will work out while wearing your kit for a week are the same problems you will encounter while under stress. You will also build the before mentioned  muscle memory. How many times have you been to a training class where your fellow attendees unnaturally move like they just popped out of their mom yesterday? That is because they do not have the  muscle memory built up from wearing kit for an extended period of time.

A mag pouch one inch out of place for your particular body movements, a pinch that will distract you, or just needing to take a deuce half way through a training class and getting poo all over yourself are all things you can work out beforehand by doing this.

If you do this please let us know in the comments below what you learned, thanks.

DISCLAIMER: If your girlfriend or wife leaves you because you wore you kit every day for a week at home and you refused to take it off DVM accepts no liability, but your welcome, now go angry bang that stripper with a clear conscience.

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~James P

Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

James P. is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and referring to himself in the 3rd person.

TACTICAL GEAR: Flight and Fight Tactical Blackjack Battery Brick

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IMG_0092

Packing for another romp in the 3rd world

When you pull over at a Hajji Shop in Iraq and you walk through the isles past the cans of fly-covered baklava, dusty cans of corned beef and Gauloise Smokes what is the one thing you can not buy?

CR123 Batteries

And not just in Iraq, I once drove around for 3 hours in Phnom Penh, Cambodia looking for CR123’s before I finally found some in a camera shop for the astounding price of 16 bucks a pop!

After going through all the Bullshit of having to order CR123’s in bulk and paying 150 bucks to ship them, trading bottles of Jack D with force protection guards and wasting time trying to track down a shop in Stabyouinthefaceistan just to get raped at the cash register I had enough. So I decided to replace all the disposable battery powered kit I used with AA and AAA powered kit.

But that created another problem, off-brand batteries in the 3rd world are mostly shit Chinese batteries that have 1/5th the charge that US batteries have, so to make up for using commie batteries I had to pack a shit-load of batteries before every mission.

And enter the next problem, I would end up with a huge pile of loose batteries spread all over the bottom of my mission bag (I would take them out of the package so I would not have to fuck around with cutting a battery package open while trying to watch the road).

Solution: Enter the guys over at Flight and Fight Tactical

I figured I needed a way to carry a grip of AA and AAA batteries lined up beside each other (so I could keep count visually) in some sort of pouch that would not dump all the batteries out if it was banged around in my mission bag or tossed on the floor of my guntruck.

I looked around but I could not find anything currently made to fit that bill so I threw a shot out on my Facebook to see if anyone knew of a pouch like that. Less than an hour after I threw the post out on my wall Flight and Fight Tactical said they could work it out for me.

And a few hours after that, BAM, they posted a picture of the perfect solution to what I needed, yep – in a couple of hours they sketched up an idea, sewed it up and had it GTG. That sort of professionalism and hard work could have only come from an American company, straight-up fucking outstanding.

Blackjack Battery Brick
Blackjack Battery Brick

The Flight and Fight Tactical AAA Blackjack Battery Brick (avert your eyes to the Satan of all camouflage)

The Flight and Fight Tactical Blackjack Battery Brick is exactly what it sounds like, it holds 21 AA or AAA Batteries in a clever design that folds up three times on itself into a compact ‘brick-like’ package. And each fold and flap secures the last preventing the next row of batteries from falling out even if you leave a fold open.

This is just an ingenious design to a problem that pretty much everyone who uses batteries has. I even got one for my mom and pops so they can stop having a drawer filled of paperclips and loose batteries that sounds like pool hall every time they open it.

And to top things off Flight and Fight Tactical sells these bad-boys in your choice of ACU, Multicam, Coyote, Foliage Green, OD Green and Black for only 23.95. This is a hand sewn USA made nylon product for a few bucks more than a DVD.

I have been using my Blackjack Battery Brick for six months now and it still looks brand new, the stitching is solid and the 1000D Cordura is holding up great. If you use AA, AAA, CR123 and Coin Cell Batteries (and who doesn’t?) then grab a few Blackjack Battery Bricks from Flight and Fight Tactical and throw one in you go bag, the cheap price is a steal for a USA handmade piece of nylon gear.

Flight and Fight Tactical
Flight and Fight Tactical

Flight and Fight Blackjack Battery Brick Available in ACU, Multicam, Coyote, Foliage Green, OD Green and Black Made in the USA 23.95

AA (21 AA) >>>

AAA (21 AAA) >>>

COMBO (7 AA's, 8 AAA's, 4 CR123's and 2 coin cell batteries) >>>

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~James G Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

JamesGrey
JamesGrey

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and eating rotten baklava

TACTICAL GEAR: Helmets, Protect That Noggin

Civilian Contractor Helmet
Civilian Contractor Helmet

Pimp My Helmet Bitches

I see a lot of guys both off and online discussing the latest and greatest rigs, mag pouches, FAK’s, admin pouches and armor carriers that they just bought or have on their ‘tactical wish-list’. And all the stuff they have put together for their BOB’s, go-bags and Vehicle Emergency Kits.

But one thing I rarely see mentioned is helmets

Answer this - what do construction workers, military folks, skateboarders, rock climbers, motorcyclists, firefighters, Security Contractors and that ‘slow’ cousin of yours all have in common?

They all wear helmets

Why? – if you hit your head and get knocked the fuck out then guess what?

You can’t fight if you are taking a nap on the pavement.

civilian security contractors iraq
civilian security contractors iraq

In my opinion everyone should have some sort of helmet as part of their tactical kit, go bag, for training or just shoved in a closet. I keep one in my Iraq Mission Bag, 3rd World BOB, in the trunk of my car in the states and a few stacked in the ole DVM Arms Room.

Now I am not saying you should go out and buy an 800 dollar super SF tactical helmet with rails and Velcro all over it. You can find tons of good quality ballistic helmets online for less than a hundred bucks.

Also, you don’t even necessarily need a ballistic helmet; a skateboard helmet will provide great non-ballistic protection and prevent you from the above knocking yourself the fuck out.

I have personally seen a guy jump out of his guntruck, start running, trip, and did a sleeping beauty in the middle of an Iraqi highway. Wearing my helmet (back in the day when IED’s and VBIED’s were a major threat) has saved my ass on several occasions.

And speaking from personal experience getting knocked out or hit in the head so hard you don’t even know where the fuck you are is generally an unpleasant situation that renders you combat ineffective.

But helmets are hardly just for those working in 3rd world non permissive environments, for those of you stateside who are prepared citizens adding a helmet into your tactical ‘bag of goodies’ is something I would highly suggest.

They can be used for everything from tactical training, home defense, active shooter situations, civil unrest, during natural disasters to even helping to pull someone out of an overturned car.

US Contractor
US Contractor

As for choosing the different types of helmets out there it is really up to you, for ballistic helmets I would suggest something high cut like the Kejo Special Forces Helmet I use, but if you are on a budget just grab a used military Kevlar off of ebay or Amazon.com. For non-ballistic helmets just go down to your local sporting goods shop and try a few on.

So if you have a few bucks lying around or if you are putting together a list of new tactical shit to buy go ahead throw a helmet into the mix

Non-Ballistic helmets on Amazon.com >>>

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~James G Founder – Editor in Chief

JamesGrey
JamesGrey

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and trying not to get knocked da’ fuck out

TACTICAL GEAR – FIELD TESTED: TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier

TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets
TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets

The TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets used by James G in Iraq

So after wearing my Paraclete Armor Carrier to the point it was basically a de-threading mound that smelled so bad even my Iraqi teammates were spraying cologne on it while I was sleeping I went on the hunt for a new Armor Carrier.

It had actually been a while since I went looking for an Armor Carrier, the first ‘serious’ Armor Carrier I bought was a Blackhawk Carrier for my first contract in Iraq. From then on I was issued one for pretty much every contract I have ever been on. Even my old Paraclete was also issued, and it was a great carrier but I wanted something that gave me a bit more maneuverability.

After putting the word out on Facebook I was swamped with different suggestions. But when a few experienced security contractors mentioned a new (new at that time) armor company called TYR Tactical I set my sights on checking them out. And right when I was going to take a look at them they actually contacted me and offered to let me try out one of their Armor Carrier Systems.

So after talking to the folks I went with the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. At the same time one of my former teammates was also in the market for an Armor Carrier so he bought the same one.

Due to some nonsense with a former DVM employee my vest never made it to me here in Iraq. But my teammates Carrier made it here safe and sound where he wore it for around 9 months, then when he left I started wearing it – so in the end it worked out (sort of, I still don’t know what that dude did with my Carrier so I ended up just buying another on myself).

TYR
TYR

TYR Tactical

First off I would like to say that the folks at TYR Tactical are good people, I have had several friends order from them and they treat customers the Old School way – with respect and courtesy.

Something not always seen with Tactical Gear Manufactures (especially ones who make Armor) who generally see the ‘one off’ customers (meaning non government or agency buyers that don’t order 400 Carriers at a time) as an annoyance.

TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets
TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets

The Carrier and Cummerbund

This Armor Carrier is a combination of the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. In this combination the Carrier provides front, rear and side soft and hard armor coverage. Due to the amount of Contractor deaths from IED’s having the hard/soft side coverage is an absolutely necessity for me.

The PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and the T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets both come with soft armor inserts (SPEAR Specifications, 9mm and Frag). The PICO-1 Plate Carrier fits most ESAPI style Ceramic Plates (I have tried 8 different plates and they all fit fine).

And the T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets will fit 7” x 8” hard plates or smaller (along with the included soft armor inserts).

I really like that both the Carrier and Cummerbund come from the factory with soft armor, it is always a pain in the ass to match the soft armor you have with a new carrier. Plus you need to rotate out your soft armor every few years anyway so this saves you the trouble of tracking down the manufacturer and praying they still make the soft armor cut your were using.

PV™ “Pluma Vires”

Bothe the Carrier and the External Cummerbund are made with TYR’s patent-pending 500D, hybrid material called PV™ “Pluma Vires” that is 7 to 10-times the abrasion strength of standard Mil-Spec Cordura nylon.

The PV nylon has held up like new over the year this Armor Carrier was tested, no tearing, holes from wear or discoloration. The stitching is also top-notch with only the random thread or two coming out (completely normal for any carrier under hard-use).

The PICO-1 Plate Carrier comes with a built in Magazine insert that come standard with a 3 M-4 mag insert (can be replaced with a 7.62 Kangaroo Insert). Both my teammate and myself both use Rigs so we never used the Mag Inserts but they worked fine when tested. I have also used the Magazine insert with the Kangaroo Insert removed to just carry a pistol and pistol mag tons of times and while it is not 100% secure I have never had my pistol fall out by accident.

The Carrier goes on like any standard Cummerbund style Armor Carrier, you pull up the ‘Kangaroo’ flap and slap the ends of the Cummerbund in and slap the ‘Kangaroo’ flap down. All is held in place/down by a heavy Velcro.

TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket
TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket

Easy on and off

This is actually the fastest on/off Carriers that I have ever used; it takes about 2 seconds to get the Carrier on or off.

One thing to note is this Carrier is extremely easy to put on and off while sitting in a car. If you have ever tried to put on an Armor Carrier with 6 side-squeeze clips, internal cummerbund and 8 different Velcro attachments just to open and close the sides while sitting in a tiny ass Pajero then you will appreciate the ease of putting on the PICO-1 Plate Carrier while sitting in a car.

Concealable

One of the surprising parts about this Carrier and Cummerbund combination is it is fairly concealable. Now you can’t wear it under an Armani suit, but throw a big shirt over it and it’s not that obvious you are wearing Front, Rear, Side, Hard and Soft Armor System.

For those folks still running the road in Iraq like myself keeping things low-pro when running the roads and passing through checkpoints is starting to become the norm. So still having full armor coverage and being discreet makes this armor system a great choice.

TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket
TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket

Shoulder Straps

The Shoulder straps are padded with sewn in padding that goes the entire length of the straps. The straps themselves are held in place with Velcro and are quickly and easily adjustable.

The padding and slight ‘Y’ position of the shoulder straps evenly distributes the carriers weight and does not strangle the sides of your neck like many carriers do

There is a quick release pull-tab below the right shoulder strap that is held down small by a small MOLLE strap. Just give it a yank and it pulls a wire that releases the shoulder straps and side Cummerbund. I gave it a yank and it worked flawlessly without any of the usual snagging, I did almost break my foot when the front carrier fell on my foot but that is more of my being clumsy and a little drunk when testing than any design flaws on TYR’s part.

The left shoulder strap can also be released from a side-squeeze clip at the base (presumably if the main release malfunctions), I thought this was a nice addition and shows TYR’s attention to detail and innovation.

TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket
TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pocket

Carrier Interior

The body-side has internally raised spacer mesh that you usually see on the pricier carriers like Crye Precision’s armor carriers. The spacer mesh has Anti-microbial properties so you won’t smell like a dead cat after wearing it every day for months at a time.

The Anti-microbial spacer mesh works so well that even after two different operators wore it almost every day for close to a year it still doesn’t stink (well, doesn’t stink too bad). I have had vests that my teammates have threatened to burn if I don’t wash them after only wearing them for a couple of months so this Anti-microbial spacer mesh works like a mother-fucker.

The spacer mesh also brings the carrier off of your body just enough to bring in a bit of airflow and makes it extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The Carrier actually feels more like wearing sports padding than 8 tight sweaters like most carriers feel like.

Conclusion

TYR Tactical has really hit the mark with the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. The combination of included soft armor, the lightweight and durable 500D PV material, ergonomics, odor resistance, on and off ease along with a reasonable price makes TYR a winner and “DVM Approved for Shooting and Looting” and is currently being used by me in Iraq every day.

TYR Tactical

http://www.tyrtactical.com

Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) – 575

GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets – 359

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and eating way too many lamb kebabs from dirty roadside Iraqi restaurants.

TACTICAL GEAR – FIELD TESTED: 3 Tactical Products for 50 Bucks or Less

Three-Great-Pieces-of-Tactical-Gear-for-50-Bucks-or-Less
Three-Great-Pieces-of-Tactical-Gear-for-50-Bucks-or-Less

Despite all the reviews I do on 400 dollar tactical jackets, 300 dollar flashlights and 200 dollar knives the gear I use the most usually costs less than 50 bones. Unlike in action movies or on so-called “tactical” blogs written by guys who don’t even pull triggers for a living the most used gear are the simple things.

A pouch for holding your flashlight, QuikClot, Nokia Phone, or a sling to keep your arms from turning into jelly when standing on the side of some shitty Iraqi highway for 4 hours because another one of the old ass Scania tractor trailers in your convoy has broken down for the 7th time that mission.

Below are three of my most used 50 buck or less pieces of tactical gear, feel free to suggest you favorite sub-50 buck pieces of kit in the comments.

Original-S.O.E.-Single-Point-Sling
Original-S.O.E.-Single-Point-Sling

Unlike in action movies your rifle will spend 99.99999% of the time collecting sand in your hands. Having a good solid sling to distribute the weight from your arms and shoulders yet still handy for zapping fools is always a fight between practicality and comfort.

For road work I prefer the Single Point Style of Slings, for me they are a good tradeoff between fast on and off when jumping in and out of my gun truck, comfort and the ability to go from “just standing around” to “shoot a mother-fucker”.

I was turned on to the Original S.O.E. Single Point Sling by my brother who was using one for his FAL here in Iraq. After John Wills over at O.S.O.E. heard that I was using a sling made of 550 cord and duct tape he was cool enough to shoot me one of his Single Point Slings.

What sets the Original S.O.E. Single Point Sling apart from most other Single Point Slings is John uses two thinner bungees sewn together inside the sling instead of one single thick bungee like most other gear companies use.

The difference of using two thinner bungees vs. one thick bungee is the weight of your rifle is spread over two bungees instead of one, thereby distributing the weight of your rifle over a wider area. If you get a chance try carrying a rifle all day long one day with a Single Point Sling that has two thinner bungees and one with a Single Thick bungee and you will see the difference.

I have been using the Original S.O.E. Single Point Sling here in Iraq for about 5 months now and it is still like new, the bungee is still stretchy like it came out of the box and the nylon has not seriously frayed.

Original S.O.E. Single Point Sling Made in the USA 50.00 http://originalsoegear.com/1point.html

HSGI-Pistol-Magazine-Pouch-Modular
HSGI-Pistol-Magazine-Pouch-Modular

These days I tend to run a lot of missions at night so my flashlights have become my most used piece of gear. And for you guys who work with Iraqi Team members you know that not a damn one of them carry a flashlight so you end up handing out one of your lights 20 times a mission.

I also pack a green laser as a way to warn off cars driving aggressively into my convoy or into my AO when stopped on the side of the road. Then add my trusty Nokia and now I have four things to carry that I need immediate access to.

Stuffing them into my HSGI Warlord V-4 New Version’s admin pouch isn’t really an option because between all the other shit I already have stuffed in there I end up looking like a pregnant kangaroo.

So with the help of Kristopher DiMauro over at HSGI I grabbed one of their Pistol Magazine Pouches – Modular with the four mag pouches. The pouches are adjustable so you can fit anything from 5 ½ inch light to a 10 round pistol mag. The flaps are secured by side squeeze clips or Velcro [that can be covered so you can just use the side squeeze clips].

Now I can pack my lights, laser and phone in one convenient pouch that fits nicely on the side of my HSGI Warlord V-4 New Version via included MALICE clips.

HSGI Pistol Magazine Pouch – Modular/Quad Made in the USA 14.00 to 50.00 http://www.highspeedgearinc.com/proddetail.asp?prod=HSG-PMMOD

BLACKHAWK-S.T.R.I.K.E.-Utility-Pouch
BLACKHAWK-S.T.R.I.K.E.-Utility-Pouch

I have been a big fan of Blackhawk for a long time; good solid gear at cheap prices. The first piece of tactical gear I ever bought was a Black Blackhawk Tac Vest [90’s Style Baby!] that are oddly still popular to this day with British Security Contractors.

Anyway, I used to carry this massive FAK [First Aid Kit] that could mend the wounds of an entire battalion but after revamping my entire combat load for my latest gig I ended up thinning out my FAK to a more practical kit suited to a mobile gunfighter.

Originally I was going to buy a new pouch but after digging through my massive pile of tactical nylon gear I came across a BLACKHAWK S.T.R.I.K.E. Utility Pouch that I bought back in the day for carrying grenades. It ended up fitting all of the contents of my now thinner FAK with a bit of room to spare; the height was also low enough that it left a ton of space above it on my HSGI Warlord V-4 New Version when mounted low.

Even after using this pouch on and off for almost 9 years it still looks brand new. Despite BLACKHAWK using cheesy advertising and gay ass names for their gear, they make solid kit that won’t break the bank.

BLACKHAWK S.T.R.I.K.E. Utility Pouch Made in Some Sweatshop in Vietnam 22.00 - 40.00 bucks BLACKHAWK! S.T.R.I.K.E. Utility Pouch - Large, Coyote Tan

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and eating way too many lamb kebabs from dirty roadside Iraqi restaurants.

TACTICAL GEAR – FIELD TESTED: Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double Magazine Pouch

An Innovative M-4 Mag Pouch in a Sea of Mundane

Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch-oc
Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch-oc

These days you don’t see much Innovation in the tactical nylon market outside of a few companies like HSGI, SO-Tech and OSOE. Most Tactical Nylon products are basically rehashes of the same old designs with the only difference being a manufacturers tag.

But one Tactical Nylon gear company over the past year has been pushing the envelope of new and innovative tactical nylon products. And that company is Zulu Nylon gear headed up by Joel Z. They first burst onto the market with what is [in our opinion] the best admin pouches out there.

Zulu then jumped into the Tactical man-Bag arena with the solidly built Emissary Messenger Bag. Both are unique tactical nylon products that have raised the bar in both categories.

Recently we here at DVM were fortunate enough to participate in the field testing of Zulu’s latest offering, the Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double Magazine Pouch.

When Joel first mentioned them to me honestly my first thought was “Really, an M-4 Mag Pouch? The Tactical Gear market needs another M-4 Mag Pouch like it Needs More Chinese Sweat-Shops”. But considering how fresh Zulu’s other gear is I kept an open mind that Zulu’s M-4 mag Pouches would be as good at their other shit is.

When the pouches arrived the first thing I noticed was the unique top flap that held the mags in-place. I am a big fan of a flapped double-mag pouches [but I like a bungee for singles] but one of the biggest problems is the flap. After you open it either re-secures itself down in an awkward angle [in the case of Velcro secured flaps] or it flops around when you run [for side-squeeze secured flaps], I call this “Crazy Flap Syndrome” [CFS].

Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch
Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch

Zulu has solved this problem by arranging the flap opening on the top [instead of the bottom] and then adding Velcro to hold down the then opened flap.... So basically when you open the pouch [by pulling downward] the flap is automatically held open therefore eliminating the above mentioned “Crazy Flap Syndrome”.

The pouches have an adjustable draw-string bungee so no worry about your mags falling out after the pouch is open. The pouch will fit 2 standard USGI Aluminum, Magpul PMAG, and most other 5.56 magazine. You can’t use ranger plates because it makes the top hard to secure [does anyone even still use those remnant’s of the 90’s anyway?].

The Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double Magazine Pouch also has all the usual stuff you would expect to find on a double M-4 Mag pouch like MILSPEC components, grommets for draining, PALS webbing on the back for hooking on a couple of Long MALICE Clips (not included) and like all Zulu products it is Sewn in Chicago in the good old U.S. of A.

I tested these for a couple of months mounted them to my rig and used them every day here in Iraq. Learning the new muscle -memory for the pull-down opening was a breeze and kicked in naturally after a couple of hours running them on the range. The construction is way solid and shows no wear after months of daily use and exposure to the elements [they even got soaking wet when I was running around in the rain for a whole day].

Additionally I loaned them out to several other operators to get their opinion, some of the best feedback came from a former SF guy on one of the Tier-1 teams who said quote “those pouches are the mother-fucking shit bro, I wish I had them back in the day”. Another guy wore them on his “war belt” here in Iraq for a week and liked them so much I had to corner him at the chow-hall to get them back.

The only real suggestion we had for Joel over at Zulu was to make the pull tab on the flap a little longer: which you will see on the production model.. Besides that they were The Heat. I really can’t see myself using any other type of double M-4 mag Pouches ever again after running these.

I currently use one as a holster for my pistol on my rig, the pouch wasn’t really designed for packing a pistol but nonetheless it holds a pistol securely. I have used an M-4 mag pouch as a holster for years and it is my preferred way to carry a pistol on a rig as I fucking hate drop-rigs. I also ran the pouch open with a single AK mag a bunch of times, and as long as you tighten the bungee a bit it holds the AK mag like a glove.

Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch-AK-and-Pistol
Zulu-Nylon-Gear-M4-Double-Magazine-Pouch-AK-and-Pistol

Overall this is a unique and truly innovative M-4 pouch that solves several design problems in traditional flapped double M-4 Mag Pouches. It is solidly sewn in the U.S. for a reasonable price and will no-doubt become a standard design in flapped mag pouches.

Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double Magazine Pouch 34 to 35 bucks

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and Chasing Fools Down in the DFAC. James G. on FACEBOOK

TACTICAL GEAR – FIELD TESTED: US PALM AKMP AKMP Shingles – An A+ Nylon Product

US Palm AKMP AK Mag shingles
US Palm AKMP AK Mag shingles

One of the biggest voids in the Tactical Gear market is AK Specific magazine pouches that fit the unique shape of the AK magazine properly. It seems like every gear manufacturer just doubles the size of whatever M-4 mag pouch they sell and market it as an AK mag pouch.

I have tried a bunch of different brands of AK mag pouches and I have never been 100% satisfied. They are either too big, not big enough, the mag is positioned awkwardly, the flap or bungee doesn’t fit right or they are not properly shaped for the unique curvature of AK mags.

So far the only AK mag pouches that I have been impressed with were the ones that US Palm integrated onto their AK Attack Rack. Unfortunately at the time US Palm did not offer them separately. I actually liked them so much I considered cutting the AK mag pouches off my Attack Rack and DIY’ing them into separate pouches.

Luckily I never had to resort to such radical means to have some solid AK mag pouches for my rig. Back a couple of months ago US Palm started making the same style of AK Mag Shingles they were using on their AK Attack Rack, but as separate MOLLE pouches/shingles.

I was standing by with enthusiasm when I found that out because in my new gig in Iraq I am humping the AK about 80% of the time and I still didn’t have decent AK mag pouches for my rig.

The US PALM AKMP Shingles come in Single, Double or triple Racks in a verity of colors from the evilest of all camos Multicam to solid colors like Ranger Green, Coyote and Black [good on US Palm for making them in Black, not enough nylon gear comes in black these days]. And just like the AK Attack Rack these shingles are made of durable yet lightweight 500D Cordura, and are a US made fully Berry Complaint product.

The mags are held in place with Bungee cord locks that are fully adjustable [just untie and re-position] and a little Velcro spot for patches. I especially like the MOLLE attachments US Palm is using; they are flexible and make for easy and secure mounting [so no more fighting with plastic MOLLE clips].

Over about a month long period I field tested my double shingle US PALM AKMP shingles here in Iraq. I was lucky that they arrived right before a major AK training push my team was assigned to because I was able to test them during a month long intensive schedule where I was inserting and withdrawing AK Mags every few minutes for 8 to 10 hours a day for up to six days a week.

US Palm AKMP Double AK Mag Shingles on a Warlord V-4 New Version
US Palm AKMP Double AK Mag Shingles on a Warlord V-4 New Version

If these shingles were ever going to fail it would be during this because I stuffed and pulled AK mags out of the AKMP shingles literally hundreds of times in each shingle during this 27 day field testing period. Additionally I was laying down prone rubbing these into the sand and concrete with all of my body weight, body armor and tons of other kit on. I also ended up going on 3 missions and conducting an AK demonstration for the US Army wearing the AKMP shingles during the same time period.

That sort of use is easily the equivalent of damn near a year for most users and honestly I was a bit worried about putting that much hurt in that short a time period on a brand new product. But I figured “sink or swim baby, I will give these puppies a no holds barred Old School Man review” [I also didn’t have a choice cause I gave away my BH AK pouches when I got these in].

I like the folks at US Palm – they are good peoples, but hey, if they are going to market a product like this to Civilian Contractors and other folks who make their living pulling triggers then you have to play by Big Boy Rules.

So after close to a month of using and abusing my AKMP shingles teaching over 200 hours of AK training, running a few missions, putting on a dog and pony show for the Army and just generally abusing the fuck out of them they preformed and held up flawlessly showing little to no wear and tear and with zero functionality issues.

US Palm AKMP Double AK Mag Shingles
US Palm AKMP Double AK Mag Shingles

These are a solid and no bull-shit AK Mag shingles, after dishing every type of abuse on these outside of catching them on fire; I do not have a single bad thing to say about the US Palm AKMP shingles. The Mag draw is smooth as silk with no snag and requires learning minimal new muscle memory. The Bungee is well-placed and slips over the mag easily even when manipulating them from an awkward angle.

The only improvement to these shingles I could possibly think of is making a version that was double-stacked with a flap cover [basically turning them into pouches] for guys like me who sometimes carry 12 mags at a time. And I don’t really see the use in having Velcro on the side but no big deal; I am just going to cut them off. But for side by side AK Mag shingles these can’t be beat, period.

I practically never Dick-Ride a product like this but the US Palm AKMP is a kick-ass AK Mag shingle and is by far the best AK mag pouch/shingle I have ever used. And add the fact they are made in the US of A pretty much seals the deal for me on these.

US PalmAKMP AK Magazine MOLLE Shingles 1,2,3 cell Single – 29.95 Double – 39.95 Triple – 59.95

Team DVM Field Tested, Official Issue and Highly Recommended

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and Slapping AK Mags and Eating Crabs. James G. on FACEBOOK

TACTICAL GEAR: CSM New Drop Pouch

CSM-New-Drop-Pouch
CSM-New-Drop-Pouch

I recently found myself in the need for a high quality dump pouch for an upcoming work related assignment. Before I had one of those dump pouches that fold up into a dip can sized ball but after digging through my “war trunk” here in Iraq I realized I must have forgotten to pack it.

No great loss, I didn’t like that dump pouch anyway. The material was way too thin so when I ran, the weight of the empty mags would cause the pouch to annoyingly flop around. Also you had to have the skills of an origami master to fold it back up and latch it with one hand.

Anyway, I ran across CSM Tactical Gear on Facebook [I think one of my friends posted their link or something] – I had never heard of them before but they had a cool logo [a sure sign of good gear – lol] so I decided to check them out. After hitting their website I noticed that CSM has a pretty pimp looking Dump Pouch called the “New Drop Pouch” that looked like just what I needed.

The CSM New Drop Pouch is made of 1000D Cordura with 3 rows of PALS webbing on the front. It is additionally lined with 410D Pack Cloth that has a rim you can tighten with a bungee cinch drawstring closure. It also has a few drainage holes on the bottom, both on the exterior and liner. The pouch easily rolls up one-handed and is held closed by a Velcro arm.

But there are 3 features that make the CSM New Drop Pouch stand out from the Dump Pouch crowd:

CSM New Drop Pouch
CSM New Drop Pouch

The first clever feature is a flexible stiffener [maybe a thin plastic?] sewed under the interior liner around the rim that keeps the mouth open. I really like this feature because the mouth on my last Dump Pouch would fold over when I was stuffing the first few empty mags in – it was annoying as fuck.

CSM New Drop Pouch
CSM New Drop Pouch

The Pouch has three 1” elastic loops on the inside that can hold items up to the diameter of a shotgun shell. The reason why I like this feature so much is because when I do night shooting [training/instructing] I duct tape a Glow Stick on the inside of the pouch.

It was a pain in the ass because I would have to tear the glow stick on and off when rolling and un-rolling the dump pouch. Now I can just slip a glow stick in and out of the elastic loops without the need for duct tape.

CSM New Drop Pouch
CSM New Drop Pouch

This Dump pouch has the best Belt/PALS attachment of any other Dump Pouch I have ever seen or used. It uses a combination of Velcro [I hate saying “hook and loop”] and snaps that keeps the pouch held on to your gear even if it is filled to the brim with fully loaded mags.

CSM New Drop Pouch
CSM New Drop Pouch

I just ran this pouch for 3 days and nights in a row on the range during some extremely intense training here in Iraq without any issues at all. I liked it so much I now wear it daily on my HSGI rig, when it is rolled up it does not interfere with getting in and out of a vehicle.

The CSM New Drop Pouch is a solid and cleverly designed USA manufactured pouch that has several features not seen on other dump pouches. It is not as compact or light as other dump pouches but the heavy duty 1000D and belt attachment more than make up for the size and weight.

If you are in the market for a Dump pouch I highly recommend the CSM New Drop Pouch. Team DVM Approved and Recommended

csm tactical gear
csm tactical gear

CSM Tactical Gear, Inc is owned and operated by a service connected disabled veteran who spent 22 years in the Navy, most of those years as a Special Operations Reconnaissance Corpsman.

Shipping was real fast and they responded to my emails same day so customer service was top notch.

CSM Tactical Gear New Drop Pouch 49 to 58 bucks www.csmgear.com

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and taking a dump in his dump pouch. James G. on FACEBOOK

TACTICAL GEAR: Zulu RDK Carrier - Field Tested

Zulu-RDK-Carrier
Zulu-RDK-Carrier

If you are like me you probably suffer from “CTMSS” or “Carry Too Much Shit Syndrome” when it comes to loading up your kit. One of the more extreme examples of CTMSS in my case is the amount of medical supplies I carry in my IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit).

Over the years it has become ridiculously packed with medical shit I have swapped, acquired or been issued. Its been getting to the point where I probably couldn’t even fit a thermometer into it, and even worse it looked like I had a backpack hooked to the side of my chest rig.

So when the boys over at Zulu Nylon Gear sent over one of their RDK Carriers I figured this was a good a time as any to lighten my load and move some of the stuff in my IFAK into a separate pouch.

The RDK Carrier was made to fit the contents of RSKTKR Medical’s [a tactical school run by an ex-security contractor] “RSKTKR Down Kit” [a kit similar to the Army’s IFAK but with better supplies].

The RDK Carrier is a straight-forward IFAK pouch that does exactly what it is supposed to do – give you quick one handed [via a red pull handle] access to your IFAK Contents.

I especially like the simplicity of the two interior pockets, Zulu didn’t try and add any unnecessary “tactical ninja” features to them – they are just two upward opening pockets [so your shit won’t fall out when you open it] that you put your medical crap into - KISS.

Zulu-RDK-Carrier-open
Zulu-RDK-Carrier-open

After stuffing it with some of my “CTMSS” IFAK contents [from the IFAK I wear on my chest rig] I ended hooking it onto one of my Contractor BOB’s with a pair of MALICE Clips (not included) that I take along with me when I travel by land in Iraq.

The reasonable size [about 7"x4.5"x2" ] of the Zulu RDK Carrier makes it a good choice for non-tactical uses also, I am definitely going to use it as a “regular” first aid pouch [the band-aid and aspirin type of FAK] on my next boar hunting trip in Indonesia.

Zulu-RDK-Carrier-pull-handle
Zulu-RDK-Carrier-pull-handle

Like all of Zulu Nylon Gear’s kit it is sewn right here in the U.S of A [Chicago]

Zulu RDK Carrier Around 40 Bucks Click Here To Grab One

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and scrounging for expensive medial supplies from departing Army units. James G. on FACEBOOK

TACTICAL GEAR: Watches for the International Operator

tactical_watch1
tactical_watch1

Several weeks ago James asked me to write an article on tactical watches. I apologize for the delay but every time I sat down to write on it, I found an excuse to procrastinate: too much information, too many choices!

Part 1 of this series will cover: Rolex, Panerai, Bell & Ross, and Sinn. Part 2: 5.11, Luminox, G-Shock, and MTM. Part 3: will look into some interesting brands most of us haven’t even heard of. The jewelry market is too big to cover every brand so I will not discuss AP, Blancpain, Breitling, Citizen, JLC, Omega, Seiko, etc. I do not want to write a Wikipedia article here.

In addition it does not make sense to review the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Survivor, adding it to the list of tactical watches, as not many DVM readers might be able to afford one. It reminds me of a recent letter from a Cigar Aficionada reader complaining that reviewers only review gadgets way out of reach for the average cigar smoker. We at DVM don’t do that!

Now, be careful though: buying a cheap time-piece it may cost you over the years – you might want to invest into an “expensive” watch once in your life and keep it as long as possible… I made a lot of stupid investments with knives, thankfully less with flashlights, and basically none with my watches: don’t spend your money on too many cheap ones instead of getting a better one for the same amount!

The tactical watch

There is no real definition as with all tactical stuff. I’d define the average tactical watch with attributes as:

• Scratch-resistant with a Sapphire glass • Easy to read with glowing numbers in the dark • Stainless or black case • Quartz or automatic (self-winding) mechanism = trouble free operation • Rubber wrist-bands or NATO-strap compatible • No fancy design: simple as a tool-watch should be

Most of us will immediately think of diver’s watches: the grandfather of tactical watches. So, let’s jump right into the topic…

Steve-McQueen-Rolex
Steve-McQueen-Rolex

I always have fun when people start bashing Rolex for having the image of Paris Hilton wearing one while holding Tinkerbell or some other celeb back from rehab. Nevertheless Rolex is selling more steel-versions than golden ones encrusted in diamonds. I met a lot of people in our industry and most of them acknowledge the role of Rolex watches in the tactical community or even carry/own one themselves.

Rolex basically invented everything we know of the modern watch: the self-winding (automatic) wrist-watch, waterproof and shockproof, multiple models for different activities – “tool watches”, and external certification. While Rolex may not have invented the diving watch (that one goes to Omega: model "Marine" introduced in 1932; though I always thought it was the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms): they perfected them like a lot of other things.

Rolex1
Rolex1

Rolex Submariners that were issued to combat divers and soldiers (the famous "T" models with the radio-activity warning for the tritium) are worth a fortune with collectors, Pan-Am had Rolex come up with the GMT watch (two time-zones) for its pilots flying Boeing 707s over the Atlantic, and COMEX had them issued to its highly-specialized deep-sea divers and was instrumental in the development of the Submariner version that later became the Sea-Dweller.

In addition several companies and royal families gave them away as presents. My personal “holy-grail” is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Space-Dweller – one of a few rare NASA prototypes – though the watch is nothing fancy.

Rolex2
Rolex2

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is an automatic watch you'll never need to worry about. No change of batteries, possibly one of the most precise watches due to the Oyster Perpetual movement, and built like a tank. No fancy features except a date (or not; depending on the model), glowing numbers, and simply the best steel wrist-band you’ll ever wear. (It can adjust for wearing gloves with a quick snap.)

The only issue with Rolex watches as a "tactical" watch is that they are not available in all-black versions. (Which can be done as an after-market PVD-job violating your warranty of course.) If you plan to save money and troubles by owning only one watch, I'd absolutely recommend either a Submariner or the bigger Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA to you. In addition you can always "flip it" as an insurance, because the resale-value is very high.

Panerai1
Panerai1

The Italian "god-father" of combat diving watches. And, yes, the first models even used Rolex "engines" before Panerai started making its own movements. (A movement is the "engine" of watch). The most famous 3rd-party producer is ETA, a Swiss company making movements for basically all modern watch producers. You can basically buy a movement and design your own case around it.)

Panerai was an insider-tip that became famous in recent years and mostly due to Sylvester “Sly” Stallone and later his Austrian buddy Arnold. Sly once posted a great reply, how he became aware of this brand:

sly_response
sly_response

Of course the company later designed a "Sly-edition" and due to its size it became a cult, with people who prefer watches over 46mm. My problem with Panerai is that my wrists are too small for one. Else, they are damn fine watches making you look like Jason Statham in the Expandables – unless you want them for real duty.

sly_airplane
sly_airplane

Black (PVD) versions are available, but for a super-premium only. If you are shopping for a "cool" watch with some serious tactical background, take a look at a jewelry store offering possibly both brands: Panerai and Rolex. I seriously would prefer a Rolex over a Panerai as it is the more robust watch – but that is me talking never having worn a PAM… In addition you should know that most PAMs like the Luminor Marina are hand-wound mechanical ones. Therefore PAMs take a bit more attention and care from your side.

Panerai2
Panerai2

Additional comment: I would never, ever buy a new watch from such a brand. It's like buying a new luxury car: you'll automatically lose 25% of the value after leaving the store. Check out special watch-stores and forums like www.watchuseek.com, speak with friends, and ask around. (E.g. I know several high-end, second-hand dealers.)

Like with other collectables some people just buy a model, put them into the safe, and flip it later for another better/newer one. I also know a few people having owned every Rolex model – by selling the old one and getting the newer afterwards.

bellross3
bellross3

What Panerai is in Italy, Bell & Ross could be for France, though Panerai has a real history compared to the relatively young Bell & Ross. The brand was launched in 1992 and in the beginning made by the German watchmaker Sinn. The two Bell & Ross founders decided to convert their love of military-style time-instruments into watches.

Today it is well-known for the "01" instrument watches, which looks like a cockpit watch on your wrist. The "03" is the smaller version with 42 instead of 46mm. I am a big fan, though only a few models have been issued to the tactical community: a 01 GIGN (French anti-terror unit) version, the "Demineur" – a Quartz watch with magnetic field protection for French EOD teams, and the Quartz BR03-88 selected by the French Air Force for its pilots. The 02 is the equivalent of the Rolex Submariner, as every good watch company has at least one diving model in its portfolio.

bellross1
bellross1

The company uses ETA movements for most of its models, which explains the attractive price. The tactical factor is quite high with Bell & Ross, which might surprise people based on how young the company is. I am a big fan, as it somehow suits my style. Mentioned BR03-88 uses the same ETA movement as the Breitling Emergency-One; of course without the RF beacon and therefore smaller but with a similar coolness factor.

Black (PVD) versions are available of most models and usually cost only a few hundred bucks more. Most B&R models include more than one strap, with tools for changing straps included.

bellross2
bellross2

Both B&R and Panerai have a cult of its owners changing wrist-bands. If you are into changing your wrist-band from tactical black rubber to exotic leather, you can find lots of 3rd parties offering those.

Sinn1
Sinn1

Sinn is a German manufacturer of automatic watches and has a huge portfolio of models. One of the most well-known watches in the tactical community is the Sinn U-series based on the “EZM: Einsatz-Zeitmesser” – kind of the Heckler+Koch of “tool-watches.”

The cases for the UX, U1, U2, and U1000 are all made out of German U-Boot steel. Not some recycled steel from tanks as with some limited edition knives but current steel as used by ThyssenKrupp for submarines. The EZMs were used by several German Special Forces units like the GSG9. The U-series is basically the commercial version.

The U1 is an automatic watch while the UX is a Quartz watch. The whole movement of the UX is swimming in a liquid allowing an underwater pressure up to 500 bar for the movement. The commercially available EZM 3 is watch with magnetic field protection – very similar to the Bell & Ross “Demineur”. I do not own a Sinn (U1 yet!) and all my friends owning one are highly recommending it. It’s a no-nonsense tool-watch and nothing fancy.

More in part 2.

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~Lorenz “Lo” Szabo Contributing Correspondent

lowlight
lowlight

Lorenz “Lo” Szabo is an Austrian citizen and tactical gear-head, helping US companies locate customers in Europe and parts of Middle East. His areas of expertise are body-armor, less-lethal, and low-light. He also consults end-users on special equipment and training. He loves coffee, cigars, and all kind of bling made from Titanium. He has a dislike for people using political correctness as a defense for their own stupidity. As he has written this all himself, it might not be true at all…

TACTICAL GEAR: Arena Flakjak Goggles - FIELD TESTED

Arena-Flakjak-Goggles-2
Arena-Flakjak-Goggles-2

Look. You have to use protective eyewear. In semi- and non-permissive environments, you’ll find that there’s a need to cut the risk to your vision by wearing some sort of protective lens.

At the top of my list of approved protective eyewear is Arena Flakjak Goggles. When I am in the turret scanning for IEDs and bad guys these goggles keep the dust, grit, and flying crap out of my eyes when on the move.

As well, the Arena Flakjak Goggles lens system provides ballistic protection when the rounds start flying and the debris related to combat assails your visual senses.

If you’re kicking around and need a pair of bug eyes, these should be near the top of your list. They most certainly have a nesting place on my head when meeting my objectives.

Arena-Flakjak-Goggles
Arena-Flakjak-Goggles

One of the big pet peeves I have with goggles is the fact that they all fog up when you’re active or burning your face off sitting in the turret of your gun truck. Your job as a gunner is to engage bad guys and be a serious lookout for problems. There’s nothing worse than trying to make out a bad guy pointing an AK at you or a fishy looking box on the roadside through a pair of fogged up lenses.

The Arena Flakjak Goggles go a long way in preventing this problem with their top Razorback anti-fog Vents. While I’ve still encountered fogging from time to time, it’s nothing as bad as I’ve had with Oakley goggles I’ve employed in the past either.

Arena-Flakjak-Goggle-Razorback-anti-fog-vents
Arena-Flakjak-Goggle-Razorback-anti-fog-vents

I also want to mention their durability. I have sat on these goggles, tossed them around in the vehicle like all my other gears, and left them on the dash all day in the heat of the Iraqi sun and have had no problems beating them through hard use. This is a big score since plenty of other brands have failed in this respect. Arena Flakjak Goggles gets high marks from the field. Check them out!

Arena Flakjak Goggles >>> 30 to 100 Bucks

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~Bubba G Editor at Large

snake-eyes
snake-eyes

Bubba G is an active protective professional presently performing contract duties in the Middle East and has well over 15 years of military, high risk contracting, international training and martial arts experience.

TACTICAL GEAR: Wiley-X SG-1 V-Cut Tactical Goggles – Field Tested

Wiley-X-SG-1-V-Cut-Tactical-Goggles
Wiley-X-SG-1-V-Cut-Tactical-Goggles

NOTE: I have no idea why they call these “Goggles” when they are really just Sunglasses

I started wearing the Wiley-X SG-1 V-Cut Tactical Goggles in Iraq about 5 years ago after destroying about 15 pairs of sunglasses. I managed to toast my old sunglasses in every imaginable way possible - sitting on and crushing, dropping and breaking, placing in my front pocket and sitting down, stepping on, getting drunk and dropping them through a hole in the floor in one of Saddam’s old palaces are only a few examples of the ways I have mangled sunglasses.

So after having a pair of Ray-Bans fly off while I was standing in the back of a Bongo truck I went to the IZ PX and picked up a pair of Wiley-X SG-1 V-Cut Tactical Goggles. The only reason I picked that particular brand and model of “sports/tactical” sunglasses was because I didn’t want to go the Oakley route because I am not really keen on the NASCAR fan look like my brother Bubba G. seems to like.

Luckily for me they turned out to be the toughest pair of sunglasses I have ever owned outside of dedicated safety glasses. Not that Wiley-X’s don’t have their bad points (they have a few), but they are great for the desert environment and they are kick-ass tough

The Good:

You can stuff these into your pocket, drop them on the concrete, throw them at someone or even do a half-sit on them (like when you forget your sunglasses are in a chair and you start to sit on them). If you scratch the lenses you can just pop them out and replace them (or change from dark lenses to clear lenses) in just a few seconds.

They are also unique among sunglasses because they have a foam ring around each lens that basically turns them into a goggle/sunglass combo. This is a much needed feature especially if you are working in the desert where sand is always kicking up in your face or when you are driving around with the hairdryer hot air blowing in your face.

The Wiley-X’s sit on your face and not on your nose like normal sunglasses so if you sweat allot (and you will in the desert or during heavy training) or have oily skin they will not slip down your nose – a big plus for me.

The Bad:

They fog sometimes, especially when going from an air conditioned building to the desert heat, but a bit of spit or anti-fog spray takes care of that no problem (fogging has never been a big problem for me with Wiley-X’s but I still wanted to mention it.

Also the foam on the lenses and the rubber on the arms will start to come off a bit after 6 months if you sweat like a pig like I do. But it is no big deal; I just glued them back on with some superglue from my first aid kit.

The Ugly:

These are not the “coolest” looking sunglasses out there – some people even say they are clunky looking. Sure, titanium Oakleys and Ray-Ban Aviators are way more pimp but if you are as hard on sunglasses as I am in-country then you don’t want to waste your money on nice stuff like that. Save the cool sunglasses for your R&R.

The Odd:

You can also remove the arms and attach an elastic strap so you can wear them like traditional goggles but I really have not seen many people who do that (except maybe for Vin Diesel). Also when you use the elastic straps they are tight as a mother-fucker so you feel like your eyeballs are being shoved into your head. I threw out my headband after wearing them once.

They also come with a padded soft case that is half the size of a shoebox, it looks cool but it’s not like someone deploying can give up that sort of space in their bag. The good part is these are tough enough to just throw in your cargo pocket or in a pouch on your rig.

Wiley-X-SG-1-V-Cut-Tactical-Goggles-rear-view
Wiley-X-SG-1-V-Cut-Tactical-Goggles-rear-view

Conclusion:

The Wiley-X SG-1 V-Cut Tactical Goggles are great operational specific sunglasses (like I would not wear them in the states, but I wear them all the time in Iraq) that have some minor faults. If you don't quite need a pair of real goggles then they are great for filling in the gap between sunglasses and goggles.

If you are looking for a pair of full-on goggles then be on the look out for an article on the only brand of goggles we recommend when you wear a helmet later next week.

Wiley-X SG-1 V-Cut Tactical Goggles >>> Around 100 Bucks

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and spending 20 minutes picking up bullets after 3 M-4 mags slid off the roof of his car and blew open like a bullet piñata into the sand

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