As always, elections and major political events influence the firearms industry one way or another. Under the Obama administration the “pucker factor” with every election seemed to impact our industry on epic proportions. Whether it be an incident deemed “workplace violence”, whack jobs stealing firearms and shooting innocent people, an all-out terrorist attack or a simple election; ammo flew off shelves, prices were gouged and as seen with the Sandy Hook incident; anything semi-automatic or perceived “cool” was virtually nonexistent.
Conversations with the most recent candidates (regarding the preservation of our 2nd Amendment) continued through press releases, debates and interviews. With Donald J Trump, us gun people can sleep a little easier. However, I think it is safe to say that if the results leaned in favor of Hillary, those shortages and price gouging would be a reality yet again. President Elect Donald J. Trump has stuck by his stance on the 2nd Amendment throughout the entire process, that could be the precise reason why the National Rifle Association endorsed him from the beginning. Trump has repeatedly stated that he is a staunch proponent of nationwide reciprocity law; thus allowing current concealed carry license holders to transport and carry across state boarders just as a valid driver’s license does.
Illumination is Key
We are all guilty of just tossing a carry gun in a bag or in our waistline and walking out the door. One magazine, a holster and of course…the pistol. We would like to think when situations arise that we would have the tools and training necessary to make the best split second decision. For some that is the case, but for the vast majority of Americans that haven’t been professional shooters (carrying a gun in the name of their profession) haven’t put too much thought into it. Variables play a key role into what happens next. Hours of limited visibility, crowded areas, sitting in a vehicle and the need for instant medical equipment are all examples that may not get thought of.
Surefire has been out in front of tactical lighting solutions for quite some time. We picked up a few products that we felt would be force multipliers in an everyday defensive carry situation. Instead of bulking up our pockets with large hand held lights, we went with the weapons mounted lights or lighting solutions that can be carried on a key ring or flush in the back pocket.
The Lite Fighter
The Sidekick from Surefire is a 300-lumen small flashlight that is designed to attach right to your key ring. Yes, it makes the bundle of keys a bit bulkier than normal, but in the grand scheme of things; the 2.5” long flashlight is not that barring. The Sidekick will hold a battery charge for just about an hour and a half when turned on in its brightest setting and left on. The polymer body and fully rechargeable battery accounts for the majority of its 2 oz weight. Should you ever have to run the battery completely down, the Sidekick is charged by USB which is supplied with the light. The Sidekick is not meant to be a diversionary light or anything other than a general-purpose tool that attaches to your everyday necessities. If the Sidekick is the only light source you have, it can be used as a target identifier in a pinch.
X – Series Tactical
Surefire has been the leading weapons mounted lighting source in the tactical industry for quite some time. There was a short period of time where other manufacturers seemed to be passing them. Surefires ability to adapt to their end user needs did just that; They adapted. We chose 2 lights that can be used on both primary (long guns) or secondary (pistol) weapon systems. Both weapon lights are small, bright as hell. Our go to pistol light is the 300 Ultra. The small light packs a 600 lumen punch with total internal reflection lens; Translation: A lens that produces a tight beam so the end user can get well placed shots into their targets without catching a bunch of peripheral “splash” typically found with flood lights. The X300 Ultra is activated by the ambidextrous switch or pressure pad that can be purchased separately.
We chose a close relative to the X300 Ultra to outfit the SBR’d SCAR 16. Surefire’s X400 V IRc seemed to be the perfect choice since we do not open carry the SCAR and it stays tucked away inside our Arcteryx Khard 30 pack. The X400 V is not much larger than the X300 but it throws out 350 lumens with double the circumference of the X300 at the Bezel which means more of a broad angle of illumination when needed. Aside from the powerful white light, the X400V possess IR capabilities with both laser and LED light. If you have Night Vision Devices and are interested in using the X400 for IR laser engagements, you can paint targets up to approximately 50-75 yards reliably. The X400V is not intended to take the place of a PEQ aiming device. We were unable to obtain a set of night vision goggles to test, once we make our next trip overseas we will be doing a more in depth review of the X400 in non-permissive environments. For the sake of this article the X400 fit the bill of long gun illumination perfectly!
For every EDC load, there is a need for a general-purpose flashlight. Everyone needs one close to; if not on their person, for the situations that it’s not appropriate to pull your pistol out and use the light attached to help someone change a tire. Surefire’s E2D defender is a slim and short hand held flashlight. The Defender is a dual output piece of kit with 500 lumens maximum output. Ten times the amount of light needed to overwhelm an aggressor who has night adapted vision. The Defender has a cut and beveled strike bezel that can aide its user in a solid striking surface should the need arise. Other than the bad ass features tailor made for defensive situations, The E2D has a 5-lumen output setting for sustained operations. We recently used ours to track a blood trail from an Illinois Whitetail that was shot and ran. The Defender flashlight comes standard with the Total Internal Reflection lens just as the X300 and X400V. Total tactical run time for the E2D is just under 2.5 hours of continuous power at its highest setting. We never leave the house without having the Defender close by.
Finally, the last piece of gear from Surefire that we carry religiously is one of their newest products appropriately named the Firepak. Some will disagree with our decision simply due to why it was made. Surefire brought this smart phone illuminator/Charger to market for those of us that create content primarily with our cell phones and constantly run our batteries dry. Aside from a mobile light source for images and video content, the Firepak packs one hell of a punch with general illumination. I have found myself using it in general use while charging my iPhone 7. The Firepak kicks out 1500 lumens on high end shedding an effective light source to 50 feet and 100 lumens on the low. Spreading the tape at just over 4 inches and tipping the scales at 4.5 oz, the Firepak isn’t ridiculously large like most mobile chargers. Surefire has created a Bluetooth app to sync to whichever mobile device you have, so you don’t have to manually operate it. Equipped with an editing program the App is free and handy as hell!
Galco gun leather is unarguably one of the most revered manufacturers of holsters out there. There are many reputable companies that make quality and practical holsters, especially for every day carry. Method of carry, what you carry and day to day “operations” all play equally important roles in your decision to pack some heat. For this test, we went with Galco’s KingTuk2 IWB (Inside the Waistband) holster/magpouch combo. Constructed from genuine steer hide and kydex equipped with a magpouch that can be adjusted to your preferred positioning.
The Kingtuk system is of course tuck able, meaning you don’t have to worry about wearing specific clothes just because you carry. Equipped with 2 removable belt clips that can be adjusted; fitting the end users unique carry requirements and preferences. The metal clips accommodate 1.75” belts perfectly. Our EDC belt is 1.50” from High Threat Concealment it is a perfect match. This holster comes with optional injection molded C clamp hooks to replace the metal clips if the end user prefers. The C hooks offer a lower profile on the belt that enhances the KingTuk 2 already impeccable concealability. Galco recommends carrying in between the 3 and 4 o’clock position with the Kingtuk2 holster system.
Its All in the Pants
Aside from hipsters wearing skinny jeans it is a semi safe bet in saying that the clear majority of “gun people” wear the appropriate pants to carry their essential EDC kit. S&S precision came out with their 757 denim jeans. Literally made for like-minded gun people. The jeans fit perfectly and are chalk full of compartments to store anything from pistols, magazines, knives and other defensive equipment. The oversized belt loops will accommodate just about any belt made to weave between them. S&S precision includes a multi-purpose holster that attaches inside of the waistband with precut slots for your preferred method of carry should you decide to use the included thermoplastic holster. Disclaimer: The included holster was made to fit mid to full sized Glock and Sig pistols.
S&S precision had enough forethought to equip their “active wear” with slots just above the back pockets perfectly stitched to accommodate M4 magazines. We have put the 757 denim to work in Afghanistan while providing close protection to people needing it. The 757 denim performs to the same standard as S&S Precisions plate frames; impeccable. We wear both on operations in Afghanistan providing security to people who need it.
The argument of “what is the best blade to carry” is one of the most frustrating yet reasonable to have; Like what gun is the best…There isn’t a specific answer per se. The best blade for the job essentially comes down to “how will it be used”. Benchmades SOCP rates up in the more versatile blades that we have had the experience to use. The coated blade is just over 3 inches long which makes concealing it with the sheath easy and un noticeable. Greg Thompson designed the blade to be conducive to the everyday carrier as well as for combat operators. Sheathed, the SOCP blade is molle compatible. The injection molded sheath is contoured to fit perfectly on any part of the warfighters gear.
Weighing in at just over 2 oz the knife itself is one that if you’re not careful, you will forget it exists. We chose the SOCP blade for everyday carry simply because it is small enough where concealability is of upmost importance. This knife can be carried virtually anywhere on the body or off the body. It is optimal where discretion is paramount. In just about every instance the SOCP was enough blade. If you are looking for something to help forge your way through a forest or jungle, the 3.22” blade may not work. For everyday carry and in tactical situations the SOCP is one of the best knives on the market.
Everyday Tactical Belt
Our friends at High Threat Concealment sent us over one of their Everyday Tactical belts to hold all our essential gear in place. The words everyday and tactical are not typically synonymous with each other, especially when speaking to permissive carrying of guns and defensive equipment. HTC’s EDT belt is rigid, yet small enough for the end user to get away with wearing it with just about every type of clothing.
The EDT belt is a stiff double layer of 1.5” dive material, spanning from each hip point around the back and tapers to a single layer; which allows for crossing over itself without being overly bulky and restrictive. The EDT belt attaches together with two small Austrialpin cobra buckle. Slack can be taken out or added to the overall length of the belt by simply pulling one end of the 1 inch webbing. All in all, the belt itself does not print as most with cobra buckles do, simply due to the size and thickness. If there were one complaint about the belt it would come from those who do laundry, one of the buckles must be taken off for the belt to be removed. I’ll take the small inconvenience of laundering for the rigidity of the belt and the peace of mind that all my EDC gear is in place as I intend for it to be.
On the Go
Broaching the threshold of how much is “enough” in perspective of defending yourself, your family or those around you is relative. In everyday defensive situations, 9 out of 10 times a pistol will get the job done. Now, take a shitty situation and use your imagination in turning it into the absolute worst case scenario. Is your pistol with assumed limited ammunition and limited ballistics in fact; “enough” gun? Anyone with a mind for security or defense can give more examples where not having an alternate means to defend themselves than they can where minimal tools are required.
Arcteryx has provided the outdoor and tactical industries with products for quite some time! Personally, I am a fan of Arcteryx and their products. Their products hold up in the shittiest of environments and are all practical as hell. When there is a chance where a pistol isn’t enough, we throw our SBR’d SCAR 16 or Sig MPX in our Khard 30 to have close by. Research your state laws and make sure that you are in accordance with them before you throw a rifle in a bag and carry it around with you. In our case, The Khard 30 stuffed with additional equipment to fight with is usually found in the back seat of a truck or slung across a shoulder if we are out hiking, hunting or anywhere that our vehicle is not readily accessible. The Khard pack comes in 30, 45 and 60 liter sizes. There does come a staunch difference and standing out like a sore thumb if you’re humping around a glorified ruck sack. Remember, the object of the game is blending in. The 30 liter accommodates everything that we need to get off an X. Constructed with 500D cordura that has proven itself in the harshest of environments. The Khard has two side pockets that will accommodate anything from water bottles to extra skivvies, a top lid where we keep a small blowout kit with RATs tourniquets, quick clot and some other essential emergency medical equipment. An open compartment accommodates our rifle or other shoulder fired system with enough room for extra magazines. Arcteryx has made the Khard available to LEAF members only, so if you are not Military or Law Enforcement you may experience some difficulties getting your hands on one. The Khard is available in grey, tan and multicam so there is a color scheme for just about everyone…in the tactical world. There are 3 elongated pieces of looped Velcro on the inside of the pack that will accommodate LBX zippered pouches perfectly; if you want to outfit this glorified go bag with everything up to and including the kitchen sink.
Home for Holidays
We cannot express enough that what we have selected for this permissive EDC loadout may not be for everyone. The object of the game here is to stay prepared. For what? Again, use your imagination. The world and country that we live in now is not what it was 20 years ago. There are more and more bad people who are willing and able to do bad things to good people, are you ready to combat them? There are hundreds if not thousands of products to choose from out there, again, this is not an end all be all, but more as a base to build from or take what works for you and apply.
As the Holiday season quickly approaches many will be traveling, if you are driving to your Thanksgiving feast and get stranded with your family are you prepared to defend them? Are you mobile? As gun people, we can never have too many tools for our tool boxes, so long as we have the appropriate training that go along with them. We would like to hear your thoughts and input as to what your EDC gear entails. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday season!
X300 Ultra: $299
E2 Defender: $265
S&S Precision 757 Denim: $177.35
Hight Threat Concealment Everyday Tactical Belt:$72
Khard 30: $359
SOCOM 2 SB556: $1095