Contrary to popular belief Tactical watches don’t have to be rubber, plastic or digital
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!
Arena Flakjak Goggles and War Gear
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.
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
Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin Pouch With Optional map pouch on Authors Rig
I have been looking for this exact piece of gear since before its inception, I am a convoy escort leader and have to sift through far too many bits of administrative paperwork than need be, but the Zulu Nylon Mega Admin pouch keeps my crap seriously accessible and organized.
Before this gem found its home on my plate carrier every admin pouch I have stuck on my MOLLE always left me still putting admin crap in pockets or crammed in a GP pouch because of design limitations, but not the Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin Pouch.
One big cool factor is the detachable map case (sold separately) that stows in the unit. I keep my phone list, LOA copies, cheat sheets and maps all handy inside this case. I even bought a second one to keep stuffed in there with my GTRs/MRFs, mission planning notes, and other operational materials.
Tactical Assault backpack – Nepalese style
TACTICAL GEAR: Bag Whores – Part 1
This is a small selection of bags I consider interesting. And if you’re wondering, why is model ABC from company XYZ missing? “Because I never owned one,” would be the easiest answer. There are simply too many bags and companies out there to mention every model ever produced. So please, forgive me if I do not mention your trusted LoadMaster 5000 from Beta Industries…
In addition I cover everything price-wise but I already hear people asking: what about this alternative from Rip-Off Industries for USD 30 – it’s the same design but cheaper? Not my cup of tea my friends unless you want to store you valuable gear in a cheap bag. I know how much works goes into R&D and I value innovation.
I also recommend you to check out technical details on their website as I wanted to avoid copy-and-pasting of technical data. You’ll also find pricing and color options on those sites.
Attention Tactical Gear Manufacturers: Not only do I not believe that Special Forces guys carry your 3-foot long Tactical Tomahawk or 8000D MOLLE checkbook cover into combat – I just don’t give a shit.
Every time I read a new tactical gear product description I am hoping in my mind that: “this will be the one, the 200-pound catfish of Tactical Gear Ads, the one that will not have a single mention of Special Forces or (insert High Speed ninja-like tactical group) using it to fight for freedom in faraway lands”
But, alas no sooner I am thinking “this is a pretty cool piece of kit” BAM! There it is in all capital letters – “used by Navy SEALS in Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda” at the bottom.
I am not sure what Tactical Gear Manufacturers are thinking when they take out adds like this in magazines and online. Do they seriously think someone will look at their MultiCam nalgene bottle case and think “man, if this was only used by Force Recon Marines I would totally buy it”?
Plus – I am not an SF guy jumping out of an airplane into East Germany. That’s great if your kit works for high-speed SF dudes who have the budget to replace their gear every mission or use it for extended combat, while living in caves for months at a time with the Northern Alliance.
The tactical gear bag, no Starbucks trip is complete without one
Unfortunately I collect too many things but fortunately my small flat forces me to swap things instead of dumping them in the basement after a several months.
This advantage allows me to always upgrade while patiently annoying good friends into forcing them to buy my used gear for a bargain… Welcome to my life!
There are several types of tactical-gear collectors (similar to the blade/cutler world) and I have lots of fun writing about them – they are fictional versions of people I know for real and you know for sure as well, so if you happen to identify someone it’s just pure coincidence:
U.S. PALM AK Attack Rack (tight ass jeans not included)
The U.S. PALM AK Attack Rack is a low profile AK rig made of 500d Cordura Nylon that has 4 integrated AK mag pouches and 4 pistol mag pouches (the pistol mag pouches will also hold other stuff like lights, chemical sprays and large folding knives).
The rig is bar tacked on stress points, has boxed stitched Velcro panels (for your ninja patches), the pouches have oversized drain grommets and uses Mil-Spec ITW Nexus hardware (ITW Nexus is a high quality manufacturer of closure components).
Some folks prefer tactical gear that is made of 1000d Cordura Nylon, but lately I have been thinking that the weight savings VS long term lifespan of using 500d instead of 1000d may be a good trade off.
HSGI Releasable H-Harness for Chestrigs (Rear View)
For those of you who have been reading DVM from the beginning you will know the first gear review we did was on the HSGI Warlord V-4 New Version. In that article I complained that the (discontinued) padded harness was uncomfortable so I used the un-padded ones that came with it.
Well now HSGI has come out with a Releasable H-Harness that is compatible with most chestrigs (you can choose the size of the side-squeeze buckles to fit your rig). Personally I dislike the cross-back strap system (no reason really) so I was glad to find out that HSGI made a Releasable H-Harness for my Warlord V-4 New Version.
HSGI graciously sent me over one of their Releasable H-Harness for Chestrigs for review and so I could use it on my upcoming deployment. The harness appears to be made of 1000D nylon and has the usual high quality stitching and construction you expect from HSGI stuff.
Another “NTOA Member Tested and Recommended” tactical product
So your new tactical-groovy toy comes complete with a NTOA Member Tested and Recommended seal of approval on it – guess what that means?
Before I get into why let me explain to the folks here what “NTOA Member Tested and Recommended” means. NTOA (National Tactical Officers Association) is a trade organization (mostly) for police officers and trainers who work in the tactical realm.
What “NTOA Member Tested and Recommended” means is one of their members has reviewed a piece of gear and given a score on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best. The testing and scoring system is mandated by the NTOA.
Sounds good right?
Well here is where I have a problem with “NTOA Member Tested and Recommended” products and the NTOA itself. First off the NTOA clearly states on their website that:
“Please note that this is not product endorsement from the NTOA. It is a recommendation by a field tester for the law enforcement community”
If that is so, then why do they put the NTOA seal on products their members test? Seriously if they are willing to use their name and logo to endorse a product then why do they then distance themselves from a product that they endorse with their seal of approval and logo? (confusing right?)
I am guessing it has to do with the Fees they charge for listing any product that gets the “NTOA Member Tested and Recommended” seal on it – anywhere from 50 dollars to 10% of the products retail value.
So the NTOA won’t even stand behind their own members’ decisions on gear they have reviewed using NTOA testing standards, that they put the NTOA seal/logo on and charge companies scale based fees to list.
Am I the only person here that finds that to be odd and even contradictory?