Tactical S&M

A while back I picked up some used ‘Old Gen’ Patagonia L9 combat trousers in AOR2 via a certain auction site we all know and love; the type of trousers that take the Crye kneepad inserts.  They had some general fading and a blown seam right in the central groin area so luckily the price ended up being less than a normal pair of G3s at retail and they were in my size; so they worked out to be a nice addition to the camouflage collection.  This is both in terms of the actual pattern being comparatively quite rare to see and the potential usage and history behind a piece of apparel such as this.

I had the blown seam nicely re-done and reinforced by a bloke who’s a true craftsman when it comes to a sewing machine and military fabrics, but before I shipped the trousers off to him I made sure to have a thorough check through all of the pockets since this was one of the very few items of apparel I’ve ever bought in a used condition.  I had surmised that there might be an extremely slim chance the original owner could have left something behind inside the trousers, but honestly really didn’t expect it to happen.  Now granted, there’s a chance the eBay seller (who deals in a lot of similar gear) could just plant these things randomly in order to promote future business because the buyer got a cool ‘find’ one time so they’ll gamble on it happening again; so there’s no way of knowing for sure.  But I think that would probably be a slightly overly pessimistic angle to take.

Anyway, the TUFF-TIE:

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Since finding this one, I decided to look further in to the product.  At first I wasn’t sure if I’d actually find any information, but then again the item itself isn’t sterile and as it turns out the company has an easily findable website.  Interestingly they only actually make 4 products; the hand-restraints pictured being the flagship.

Their site discusses a wide range of US Federal Law Enforcement agencies which use the products and mentions military branches, but does not go into any details on that side of the house.  Their main advantages are marketed as being their easy carry, easy concealment, conforming fit to reduce prisoner injury and extremely high breaking strength (800lbs); the bulk and weight vs multiple sets of traditional metal cuffs being quite evident.  The braid is a nylon and the locking block is polycarbonate, meaning these things pack down to pretty much just the size of the locking block (~2 wide x 0.5 of an inch), they each weigh about the same as a couple of pieces of note paper, will resist any environmental conditions and are incredibly easy to use.  If anything I’d say they’re almost perhaps a little too easy to use because they employ a 1-way slip system to lock the braids once tightened and you are not getting out of these cuffs easily; that much I can tell without trying them on for myself.

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Overall, I can entirely understand how these restraints would fit perfectly in to the mission parameters for modern day SOF.  With such an emphasis on CQB and capturing key members of organisations that like to blend with local populations, having a cuff system that is cheap, disposable, extremely light and super compact makes absolute sense on many different levels.  An individual being able to bundle 5-10 of these things in one of the small ankle pockets on their uniform trousers and hardly notice that they’re there would be very handy indeed.  Then not have to worry about taking them off when handing over detainees or constantly resupplying on bulky metal/plastic cuffs, would again, no doubt makes these a supremely useful tool in the tool kit.

For The Night Is Dark

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I’m a little late to the party with the Haley Strategic Partners edition of the Inforce WML (Weapon Mounted Light), but to my mind this version is still very much a top contender amongst the Inforce line up.

Inforce have released their WMLx since the HSP version hit the market and the ‘x’ boasts 500 lumens vs the 200 this model produces, but a lot of people who’ve got far more experience using lights than I have (often in some pretty unpleasant situations) will tell you that the lumen war going on right now with tac light manufacturers is getting a tad out of hand.  This is especially so when you start talking about using lights inside buildings and at closer ranges, which is probably what you’re preparing for when buying a weapon mounted light.  A good friend of mine who’s taken more shooting courses than I’ve had hot dinners (to include many low light courses) says he specifically prefers the old SureFire X300 pistol light with it’s lower output for actual pistol/CQB usage vs the new X300u.  Unfortunately companies seem to really be pushing these big lumen counts and in some situations are entirely dropping the ‘dimmer’ models from their product line, leaving the consumer with fewer options.

Luckily however the HSP variant WML doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and it’s got a lot going for it.  The WML design itself represents absolute, beautiful simplicity in a weapon light and the version from Haley Strategic takes that concept even further to make the very simplest system you’ll likely find on the market right now.  If you’re not a super ninja with a million hours of weapons training under your belt, then when the going gets tough you want simplicity in your equipment, that’s for damn sure.  Manipulating anything, be it on your gear or on your weapon, gets far harder when you need to do it fast and under the slightest duress and that applies even to nice, safe sporting situations.  I’ve no idea exactly how much worse it gets when somebody wishes to do you harm, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be orders of magnitude.

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In terms of function, the HSP WML has one button that does one thing; that is it.  No alternate modes, zero extra switches and levers; nothing.  You press the nicely angled rubber switch on the back and hold it to keep the light shining, as soon as you let go, it stops illuminating things.  My personal experience has been that anything other than momentary activation on a weapon light is not only an unnecessary hassle, but rarely useful and most it’s probably not something you need to be fucking about with when ‘the time’ comes.

The attachment system is just as simple as the operation; 1 small screw to loosen to allow the spring-loaded clamp to open, press on said clamp, place the body on your picatinny and at that point you could just go ahead and use the light, but obviously it makes sense to tighten the screw.  The WML runs on a single CR123 and the all-plastic body is light as a feather; all up mass with the battery is a mere 3 ounces.  The battery is accessed by unscrewing the head, which can be partially removed to lock out the light from functioning.  This thread also features an O-ring so the entire unit is actually waterproof down to 20m.  The other lock out is the swinging gate on the back, which isn’t perfect because it’s certainly not impossible to press the switch with the gate raised, but it is at least very low profile and folds completely out of the way when not in use.  I’ve not tried to remove it from any of my WMLs but it certainly looks possible and personally I’d rather just grip my rifle so that my thumb isn’t rested on the switch, eliminating any chance of a negligent light discharge.

Durability:  I have actually dropped a similar model of WML straight on it’s head on to concrete and the slotted plastic bezel piece around the head did split, but the light remained entirely functional.  The light took all the brunt of the impact since the GBB carbine kit in question was dangling from a 1-point (lesson learned, gear is fallible, your hands should not be), but said ‘weapon’ was very light and the drop distance was short, so I can’t comment on how this light would hold up to a more forceful hit.  It did fairly well though, especially considering the pricing on these.  On that point, the elephant in the room; yes, to my mind the SF Scouts are without doubt the more ‘professional’ option and with those you have a true myriad of choices in terms of heads, bodies, mounts, tail caps and switching options if you go down the SureFire route.  You’ll also get a fair bit more durability with the anodised aluminum bodies, heads and tails, but then you’re paying probably 3 times the price just for entry and if you then pick up a gucci mount from HSP/DD/Gear Sector/Arisaka as well as an extra fancy remote switch (which is the base line for a lot of folks) you’re easily getting to $500 with many other options there to go far higher; I’m sure I could configure a $1k+ light setup without trying too hard at all.  The WML on the other hand is one piece, I’m not aware of any other options for the head or mounting and the switching physically cannot be changed.  It’s incredibly light and supremely streamlined, you take it out of the box, clamp it on your rifle and go.

Compared to the original/Gen 1 WML I have, which featured a really awful switch system with high/low/strobe modes all on the one switch depending on how you pressed, the HSP edition from Inforce really embraces the simplicity of this platform and runs with it to the logical end zone.  At the time of writing, it is available for $123 in Coyote Brown (pictured) and Black from the Haley Strategic webstore.  So if you absolutely need your weapon light to be guaranteed to survive any possible situation, then yes, you should stick with the safe-bet in SureFire.  But for any other applications, be they sporting or otherwise, consider the Inforce offering because it’s a really impressive piece at the numbers they retail.

How much does that elevator weigh?

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Entirely out of the blue my awesome little brother presented me a trifecta of MGS themed patches over the weekend, so of course I had to feature them for the weekly segment here.  They’re not from a tactical patch company they came from the gaming/movie fiction enthusiast side of the patch world so this one didn’t have hook on the back, but that was remedied quickly with some velcro product I have in my toolkit which makes use of an extremely strong adhesive.  Given that I have just about every patch I would ever want (of the existing crop) from MSM, Maxpedition, VLMS, Mojo Tac, Tac Outfitters etc by this point, I’ll probably be looking more in to the realm of non-tactical patches in future; they may not often come with hook but the variety of cool designs available is staggering and covers a truly mind-boggling range of subjects.

Now, I’ve no idea if the actual details of the ‘device’ known as the Stealth Camo that’s present in most MGS games has ever been fully explained anywhere.  I know I’ve played most of the titles and not heard anything about why exactly it appears to have a bloody big needle on the side for example.  But I used this widget in the first MGS way back in the 90s some time and through playing all the titles that have been released in the last 2 decades or so (minus Peace Walker) I’ve grown somewhat attached to it, as abstract as that might sound.  ‘Stealth’ was probably the biggest game changer in the original Metal Gear Solid, because it was the most OP in that game to my mind and when you went for your second playthrough of said title and had access to the power of invisibility, it was a pretty crazy feeling indeed.  Also being fairly young and being exposed to one of the first properly grown up games of my life that dealt with violence, loss, fear, betrayal and international conspiracy on a truly fantastical level; everything about it was just really rather epic and extremely memorable.

MP2 Inserts – Part 1

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I’m calling this entry part 1 because thus far I don’t have any platforms or pouches which are specifically designed for the MP2’s, so I’ll be revisiting them further down the line.

Let’s be clear to start with – The concept of a plastic insert for a magazine pouch which allows solid retention without any lid or bungee is not any kind of brand new idea.  ESSTAC have been manufacturing their Kydex Wedge Inserts for quite some time now and there have been a range of pouches available from them that make use of said inserts.  There are also a couple of other moulded polymer inserts for magazine pouches on the market right now, such as the MUKI from Predator Gear Inc which is somewhere between the MP2 and KYWI and will be of interest to my fellow europeans.

Anyway, the HSP offering – One key feature that attracted me was the vertical sizing.  As I’ve talked about before when discussing mag pouches I personally prefer something that’s 4 PALS rows tall such as the HSGI TACO, it gives more than adequate retention but also exposes an extra amount of the magazine to grab on to that manages to feel disproportionately larger than it really is.  This has always felt particularly evident for me when drawing a quick access mag from a belt pouch mounted on the reaction side hip (left hip in my case).  Having that extra inch of mag to grip means the difference between easily grabbing just the mag and having it fill my hand for a secure hold, vs potentially getting caught up on the pouch and also having one or two fingers hanging off the bottom of the mag when in a ‘beercan’ grip.  I’ve always been of the opinion that shingle type pouches were a bad move in this regard.  They were really big a few years back but I only ever tried a couple of them myself as I found that they’re usually slow and fiddly to reinsert magazines in to with the tight and compact manner in which they’re constructed.  Also being a full height pouch (5 PALS rows) just isn’t as conducive to expedient magazine access.

What the MP2s actually do very well, perhaps ironically, is mimic (in an updated fashion) the classic double mag pouch design of old, particularly when using the lids-tucked-in trick.  It’s a technique I saw online, used myself for quite a while and found to be one of the best overall solutions going at the time (around 2009).  For those unfamiliar, this is the pouch design I’m referring to:

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As far as I’m aware it was an Eagle design originally, but this setup that utilises the elastic in the middle of each caddy section has been copied so many times around the world by so many gear companies it’s become probably the most ubiquitous PALS mounted mag pouch ever at this point.  It’s those elastic pieces that allow this design to work so well with the lids tucked; if utilised with just one magazine instead of the intended two that is (they were always overly tight with 2 anyway).

Now the HSP site lists quite an array of mag pouches from a wide range of gear manufacturers with which they claim the MP2 insert will function, but if you are going to use the inserts with something other than an HSP platform that’s specifically designed for them (I’m sure we’ll see them releasing their own HSP PALS pouches soon enough), then I’d strongly recommend a pouch in the style displayed above.  I have tried my MP2s inside a FirstSpear M4 Single, which isn’t a massive departure from the original EI pouch in shape and design (good thing too because it’s still one of the best going) but does bring the materials and attachment system right up to date.  The great thing about the bands of elastic in these pouches is that they grip the MP2s right at their narrow point and hold them in extremely well, even adding a little security to the overall retention.  With this combination you can use the flaps in the intended, secure manner when in your boat/helo/herc, then once you’ve got your feet on the ground you simply tuck the lids and you’ve still got really solid retention yet have gained instant access to your ammo feeders without any hindrance like lids, velcro, excessively tight kydex or bungee cord/tabs.

The plastic that’s been used to actually mould the inserts doesn’t have any stand-out weak points or likely lines of breakage and maintains a good strength throughout.  How tough they are exactly I can’t say for certain just yet since I don’t have a spare to smack with a hammer or run my car over, but I’m confident HSP have done good testing already in that regard.  There are drainage holes built in to the bases which should align nicely with the grommets fitted to most pouches and I feel that in general the entire geometry is very well thought out, both in terms of the internal ribs to aid mag retention (beyond just friction) and external shaping to ensure the inserts stay where you put them.

If I had my own tactical soft goods business I’d already be churning out 1/2/3 mag pouches in various colours and camos that used either FirstSpear 6/9 or Blue Force Gear hypalon backers for attachment and mimicked the D3CR with a single row of PALS to retain these inserts with the best possible security.  They are an extremely fast and versatile solution and bring a very interesting answer to the old question about which way is best to carry mags both securely and yet also allow for quick and unfettered reloads when the situations calls.

All the Pews

After my devastating equipment failure on my first visit to Battlefield Vegas, I resolved to go back a week later (2 days before finally leaving Vegas) and shoot just as many guns again, but make damn sure I got the footage this time.

I didn’t want to pay to fire all of the same things again so I’ll possibly have to shoot some things like the Uzi, Stg44 and M1928 again next year if I go again, but I did really want to get the Garand on video and it was the best option there in terms of $/Time ratio, so I doubled up on the 30.06.  The AKM was obviously rather ‘bland’ as it were and unoriginal in terms of choices, but having never fired any AK variant before I really wanted to get a little trigger time on the rifle, and more specifically cartridge, that’s been used against British and allied forces by far the most in recent conflicts (and indeed a large portion of conflicts since WW2).  Of the lot though the M3A1 ‘Grease gun’ has to stand out as my favourite.  SMGs are always the most balls-out fun weapons to shoot to my mind because they’re easy and just look and feel cool.  I also really like guns with a low rate of fire in fully-automatic mode, it just seems more satisfying, visceral and meaty than weapons like the Minimi or MAC-10/Ingram.  Of course I’d hate to go to war with an SMG and at the opposite end of the scale I really love the full power cartridge firing semi-only rifles and bolt actions; though I’m yet to actually fire one of the latter, I simply enjoy the visceral sound and feeling of running the bolt and the inherent accuracy that comes with knowing you really have to make the shot because you don’t have the facility to immediately squeeze of another one as soon as you’ve fired.

 

SHOT Swag

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There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to pick up some swag at SHOT, so I thought I’d feature some of what I picked up (couldn’t fit nearly of it in view) for this weeks’ MoraleMondays.  I don’t plan on using the patches that just feature a retailers’ logo for any future features, so I figured I’d chuck them all in now with the rest of the stickers and t-shirts etc.

I’m particularly proud of my 1947llc cap in MC Black with the prison pink embroidery.

So totes tactical.