Before I start this review let me say upfront that I hate wearing shorts, been that way for as long as I can remember. I am the guy you see at the beach walking around in the middle of the day wearing slacks. And despite working in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for the past decade in a half I just never wore shorts no matter how hot it got, just not my thing.
I think my distain for shorts came from my pops who is old school, I remember seeing him wearing a tie while mowing our lawn in the great Commonwealth of Virginia when I was a kid – Old School Man proper style. The memories of my pops combined with seeing how ridiculous Brit soldiers looked wearing cammo combat uniforms with shorts walking around base in Iraq, I just wrote off shorts as a negative for my personal and professional wardrobe.
But about a year ago my buddy and one of the OG’s here at DVM, Thomas Moore told me about an outdoor clothing company called Railriders that he likes. Considering how I am a bit of a connoisseur of outdoor and tactical clothing he introduced me to them thinking it would be a good fit (no pun intended).
After talking to the good folks at Railriders they sent me some samples of their outdoor clothing to check out. I was impressed with the quality of their clothing and to this day I wear their pants pretty much every week – but in the bottom of the box I saw a pair of shorts that immediately got sent to the storage room at DVM Manor (Think the storage room at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark) where they sat for a year collecting dust and stripper glitter.
Fortunately for these fine shorts when I was putting together a list of gear I would need for the Death Valley Expeditionary Corps Humanitarian Aid Mission to the Philippines, shorts ended up on the list. It would turn out I would be traveling by boat in order to reach our destination. Depending on what time our team ended up arriving at our island of destination it could be low tide – and generally operating in a marine environment I knew that I would need a pair of shorts/swimming trunks.
I was going to just pick up a pair of cheap trunks at Walmart until I remembered that I had a pair of Railriders Jammin’ Shorts stuffed away in a gorilla trunk.
James G. pimping the Drop Zone Recce Smock in Baghdad
After publishing an article throwing some love to the classic M-65 Field Jacket the guys over at Drop Zone Tactical challenged me to try out their updated take on the Field Jacket, the Recce Smock.
So they were kind enough to shoot one out to me here in Iraq to try out, I had actually already heard of Drop Zone and the Recce Smock from our correspondent Rob Krott who has previously raved about them.
After looking it over on their website I was first concerned that it was a really heavy jacket, something I would have limited use for here in Iraq even during the winter. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised that it was not a bulky jacket like I had previously thought, but a well engineered unlined mid-weather jacket.
The first real thing I noted was the Recce Smock is designed around someone who would be wearing a full kit and helmet. It fit like a glove while I was wearing my armor carrier and chest rig allowing me full and unobstructed movement. Even the hood was designed for someone who is wearing a helmet, it is actually the only jacket I have ever known where I can wear my helmet with the hood over without feeling I am in a neck brace.
2 days of light use is all it took for these Oakley gloves to come apart
After years of just using cheap construction work gloves [Stanley is my favorite] as tactical gloves I was convinced by one of the guys on my team to buy a pair of “real” tactical gloves. So I hit up the PX and looked at the different brands of tacticool gloves they had.
The first thing I noticed were the prices, fucking 60 bucks, 100 bucks – all I could think was “come on, these cost 4 dollars to make in China”. The second thing I noticed was they all looked stupid, when did tactical gloves have to have all sorts of plastic shit all over them, I threw-up in my mouth a little when I saw the carbon fiber knuckles they all had.
After washing my mouth out I went with a pair of Oakley “Factory Pilot Gloves’ because I have used Oakley sunglasses before and I was satisfied with the quality and brand [they also make some pimp fedoras]. They were also the cheapest at 45 bones.
Then next day I spent about 10 hours on the range here in Iraq training a group of guys to shoot the AK. That included shooting a bit myself, loading up the gear, prepping the range, cleaning the range, opening a dozen sardine cans of ammo and loading a couple hundred magazines. The next day was the same except no training, my team just shot a few thousand rounds each and did the usual loading a couple hundred mags and prepped and cleaned the range.
The next day I was sitting around our team room playing some Call of Duty Black Ops with my teammates when one of the guys said “Damn bro, you need to get some new gloves”, I thought he was talking about my old Stanley gloves so I said “Already dude, I gots a pair of pimp ass Oak’s”.
He said “Bro, these are your new Oak’s” and tossed them into my lap
LA Police Gear Operator Tactical Pants Being Field tested in Iraq by James G.
No matter how much I loathe tactical clothing it is something that is a part of my daily life, especially considering my occupation as a Security Contractor in Iraq. I remember getting a big box of 5.11’s on my first gig in Iraq and thinking “cool, free Tactical Clothing for James G.
And after a week of dealing with the saggy ass, flat leg pockets that were just small enough that nothing really fit in them, the “grandpa height” waistband that rode half way up your stomach and the tons of metal hardware that sets off every other airport metal detector I was pretty much sick of 5.11’s.
But at that time I really didn’t have any other option outside of buying pricey climbing gear pants like North Face, and being the cheap type that idea passed in and out of my mind in like 3 seconds.
Fast forward a few years and the Tactical Clothing market was flooded with Tacticool pants… At prices that would make you piss your ill-fitting 5.11’s. So I was pretty much content with wearing issued Tactical Pants that even had my grandfather making fun of me because they rode too high.
Ahhh… but then the Tactical Fairy came and visited me one night right before my latest gig in Iraq and stuffed a pair of LA Police Gear Operator Tactical Pants under my pillow.
I tell ya, it only took a week of wearing them for me to give away all but one pair of my 5.11’s [got to have something to wear on laundry day] and replace all of my work Tactical pants with LA Police Gear Operator Tactical Pants
These pants have every feature that an active Security Operator working in War Zones would need. Diamond Gusset Crotch [great if you have a big package], Double Fabric on the Knees and Ass, fits riggers belts like a glove, a lower leg pocket on each leg right around the calf [I keep my smokes in them] and are tough as nails.
You talking to me – or my pimp ass m-65 field jacket?
Back before 800 dollar Velcro covered designer tactical clothing was all the rage – the original “tactical” jacket was The M-65 field jacket. The M-65 had no need for fancy materials, 400 zippered pockets, gigantic slabs of Velcro (sorry, “hook and loop”) on the arms or cheesy names like “Super Commando Assault Jacket”
The M-65 is just a cotton/polly mix jacket with these amazing inventions called “buttons” to keep the pockets closed, it has a brass zipper (yes, they used to make zippers out of brass, not plastic), brass snap buttons and a hood that easily stuffed into the collar area.
And even better – it keeps you warm for the cost of a few DVD’s.
I first started using The M-65 field jacket as a ski jacket back when I was in high school, unlike the other kids I could not afford a fancy name-brand ski jacket so I picked up an M-65 and liner from the local army surplus store for 50 bucks. It kept my ass nice and warm on the slopes, sure some of the rich kids made fun of it – but that shit stopped after I snow-curbed a few fools in front of their preppy fag friends.
Since then I have used The M-65 field jacket to keep my ass warm while sitting in cold ass cars on CP* gigs to keeping the frost off me during chilly Middle Eastern winters. I also have one in Russett Vintage (sort of a dark tan) to complete my “Professional Adventurer” look for when I am trying to impress drunken female stringers in expat bars (Ray-Bans and Safari Shirt not included) – think Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamonds, but more drunk me saying “fuck” 4 or 5 times a sentence.