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Campfire Chat

May 6, 2019

1) I know I was supposed to do Part Two of the Junk on the Bunk series, but we are unexpectedly (unexpected only to me. I’ve known about this for a couple months, but forgot, until HH6 reminded me of it the other day…)out of town, and I didn’t get a photo taken of the gear I was going to discuss, before we left, so it will have to wait. I will try to get it out later this week, as well as the From the Library article, but, well, it’s spring, which means we are busier than the proverbial one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, so it will probably not happen until next week. I’ve known I was gonna cover a couple of these topics this week, so I am sitting in the hotel room, knocking this one out, while I wait for the kids to fall asleep. I am posting it tomorrow, because it looks like I’m going to be up to my ass in alligators tomorrow, so I know I won’t have time.

2) We are at a social function this weekend, that included a number of preparedness minded folks in the crowd. One of the things that I noticed, a lot, were the number of open-carried guns, in absolute piece-of-shit holsters. I’m not just talking about the abortion that is the Blackhawk SERPA, but the lowest end, gun store table purchased, made in China, single-row stitching, holsters, flopping around loosely on the belt, with four or five different velcro-closed straps barely managing to keep the gun from tumbling out onto the gravel.

One of the things that observant readers will notice, in the Junk on the Bunk series, is the lack of low-end equipment. You’re not going to see Condor, or Voodoo Tactical, or anything else that can be bought at the local big box store sporting goods section.

Why is that? I mean, I’ve read articles/reviews, and seen videos by Youtube Survivalists, heaping praise on Voodoo and Condor as the working, family man’s answer to load-bearing equipment and survival! Guys will tell you they “train hard” with their gear, and they train daily, and it holds up just fine.

You know what I’m reasonably sure I’ve never seen? Anybody with actual combat deployments under their belt, recommending Condor or Voodoo. Gee, I wonder why? Is it because we’re all rich fuckers with gobs of discretionary income, that like to waste it on high-end gear for “tacticool fashion plates?” Or, is it because, having put our lives actually in harm’s way, where having decent equipment that functioned properly, actually made a fucking difference, we realize that cheap gear falls apart under actual real-world, hard use? Hell, quality gear falls apart under actual real-world, hard use!

I’m not independently wealthy. I’m not even dependently wealthy. By most economic metrics, I’m barely middle class (to be clear, I’m not bitching about that. It’s a choice. I know there are things far more important to my family’s quality of life than the balance of a checking account). I drive a 20 year old truck. I buy my clothes at the local thrift store. We built our house, by hand, ourselves, because we got a really nice house for less than $10,000, instead of paying $200K for something that is going to be falling apart in 20 years. I’m about as frugal as you get. Seriously, my biggest fault, spending wise, is my predilection for spending way more than I should at bookstores.

But, I don’t buy cheap holsters and load-bearing equipment, or survival gear. I don’t buy tools at Harbor Freight, counting on their lifetime, money-back guarantee.

When I read, or hear, a guy telling me he uses his Condor/Voodoo plate carrier “hard” in “training,” I can make two educated guesses, really quick: 1) this is a guy who doesn’t have any idea, whatsoever, what “hard training” is, and 2) his idea of training is mag dumps at 10 yards, counting “any hit, anywhere,” as “good enough.”

Seriously. Buying and “training” in Condor gear is the tactical preparedness equivalent of tossing a 10 pound bag of rice in your kitchen cabinet, and calling it “food storage.”

I realize that much of the training industry focuses carbine work on high-round count drills at 10 yards and in. There’s a number of reasons for that, in my experience.

a) most trainers just don’t know any better. There’s a whole fucking metric shit ton of “instructors” out there with no experience whatsoever, outside of the classes they’ve taken from other people, who may have the same type/level of experience, i.e. they learned from another instructor who took a course from someone. If your entire frame of reference is from guys who did nothing but teach you mag dumps at close range, guess what? You’re going to teach mag dumps at close range.

b) a lot of trainers don’t know how to teach anything else. I’ve talked to a lot of guys with infantry backgrounds, both Army and Marine Corps, with trips to the Stan and the ‘Box, who admit, “Man, we did a lot of stuff at other ranges, but I don’t know how to incorporate that into a training program. I teach BRM and CQB, and they have to figure out how to make that work in their context.” Some of those guys, when you get enough beers into them, will even privately admit, that most of the shots they took at longer distances—anything from 50 to 200+ yards—they didn’t even hit anything, because they don’t really even know how to shoot well, under actual combat conditions, at those ranges. The actual enemy KIA at those distances were provided by SAWs and GPMGs, or by CAS and indirect fire support.

c) a lot of trainers, who do know that gunfights happen at more than muzzle contact distances, and know how to teach shooters to shoot at longer ranges, don’t. This is generally, as far as I can tell, for two reasons. The first is because many of them are convinced that their students are never, ever, ever, ever going to actually need to pick up a rifle and shoot anyone, and if they do, it will be in their own house, protecting it from a single dude who will probably piss himself, and run away, as soon as the homeowner announces that they have a gun. The second is because the students generally, through discussion on forums, and reviews, let it be known, very clearly, they want to focus on “fun stuff.” There is an entire genre of students out there who believe if they shoot less than 1800 rounds in a two day class, it was a waste of their time.

None of this is “bad,” as far as it goes. The fact is, most Americans cannot conceptualize the idea that an actual collapse of socio-economic norms could actually happen in this country. Gawdammit, this is ‘Murica! We got God on our side, and he ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen to the Promised Land of milk and honey!” Even a lot of “preppers” I meet are convinced nothing is ACTUALLY going to ever happen. They treat preparedness as a hobby, or as something they can pay for, like insurance.

“I bought my year’s supply of food, and my ten AR15s. Now, I can drive 20 over the speed limit, because if I get in a wreck, I’ve got full coverage insura…” Shit. Sorry. I slipped trains of thought there…

If some dude manages to make a living, trading on war stories from Iraq or Afghanistan, and teaching people how to do something they want to do, I’m not going to chew his ass about it. Hell, if he gets endorsements, and makes lots of money doing it too, more power to him (unless he’s endorsing shit that will get people hurt or killed. Then, fuck him.)

Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo (I made that last one up, I hope) tactical gear may work alright, even for “hard training,” if your “hard training” is mag dumps and speed reloads, on a gravel or dirt or grass range.

Here’s what I’ve seen happen to that type of gear, in my classes…

I watched the drag handle, on a brand new Condor plate carrier (seriously, brand new. Dude pulled the tags off, and had me help him put the shit together, the night before the class started), get ripped off, as soon as somebody started to drag the wearer. Dude weighed, MAYBE 170#. Now, some might say, “well, so what? It’s just the drag handle!”

Dude, do you even know what the fuck the drag handle is for? It’s not a handle to make carrying your loaded vest around easier. IT’S SO A BUDDY CAN DRAG YOUR WOUNDED ASS TO SAFETY!!! Yeah, probably not a part you want ripping off the first time it needs to be used, right?

That was one example. I’ve seen it happen dozens of time.

I’ve watched a dude running to a new firing position, leaving a trail of fully loaded magazines behind him, as they fell out of the pouches, at each step, because there was no retention worth the name, or because the velcro on the magazine pouches was so shitty it wouldn’t actually keep the flaps closed.

I’ve seen guys hook the shoulder strap of a chest rig on a tree branch, running past, and rip the strap stitching loose. I don’t care how good your reloads are out of your chest rig…when it’s hanging, upside down, and inside out, in front of your dick, it makes reloads a pain-in-the-ass.

Now, to be sure, this kind of shit CAN happen with quality gear, from companies like Eagle, or Tactical Tailor, or ATS, or HSGI. It generally doesn’t however, and I’ve literally NEVER seen it happen on a brand new piece of gear…which I have seen on Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo gear.

If you think your Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo gear is real-world “adequate,” fine. Go ahead and run with it. If you’re telling other people, based solely on your admitted lack of actual experience, that they should be buying and using it, instead of quality gear, and fuck the opinions of the “tacticool” guys with, you know, actual fucking experience? You’re a fucking retard.

You want to test your gear, and see if it will actually hold up? Go take a class with someone who knows what the fuck they are doing, and is teaching more than mag dumps at 10 yards. Then, practice what they taught you. Put in a minimum of two hours daily, for the next six months, practicing what they taught you, but also incorporate 200 yards of 3-5 second rushes, 100 yards of low-crawl, and 800 meters of running through the woods, with that gear on, at least three times a week. If your selected piece of gear holds up? Then you can honestly say, “Hey, this is what I did, and my Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo brand chest rig survived, and is still going strong! I recommend it!”

3) “But John, I legit cannot afford ATS/Tactical Tailor/HSGI/London Bridge Tactical! What should I do?”

Well, good question. It’s a legit question. I have two solutions I offer to people. Both are suboptimal, but either will work better than blowing money on a piece of shit that IS going to fall apart on you the first month you use it for real, under hard use conditions.

The first is, do what I do during rifle classes, for most of the class, and go absolute minimalist. Get a decent blow-out kit pouch that you can wear on your trouser belt. Wear it on your trouser belt…or, tuck a set of chest seals and tourniquet and rubber gloves in a pocket where they will be secure…

Carry your pistol mags on a decent kydex or injection molded plastic belt pouch (and no, that forward and backward abortion that comes with the Springfield XD is NOT a decent mag pouch design!). Tuck your spare magazine for your rifle in the back pocket of your jeans. It works just fine.

If that’s not adequate for you? Get on Ebay, or go to your local Army surplus store, and buy an old, surplus ALICE/LC-2 suspenders set up. I recommend a belt, suspenders, two one-quart canteens in pouches, and five magazine pouches. You can use one of them for your BOK/IFAK, one for your pogey-bait, and one for a general purpose pouch, with the other two for magazines. Add a compass/first aid dressing pouch as well, for your compass (because seriously, if you need LBE, you need a compass). You can still get into a LC-2 LBE for less than the cost of a single Condor battle belt (at our local surplus store, I’ve priced it out….$5 for an LC-2 belt, $10 for suspenders, $2.50 each for canteens in pouches, and $1.00 each for mag pouches in various levels of useability. So, $25-30. Even on Amazon, a Condor battle belt will run you at least $25, and it’ll be closer to $40 at the surplus store).

Is an LC-2 suspenders and belt the going hotness? No. Is it the ideal solution? Contrary to the screams of the geriatrics, no. There’s a reason we switched over, way back in the ‘90s. Will it work, more than adequately? Fuck yes.

As a young Ranger, we had the old RBA (Ranger Body Armor). They were slick-front body armor vests with a hard ceramic plate front and back, that—as I recall, two and a half decades later—closed with a cummerbund system (any of you early-to-mid ‘90s era Batt Boys want to correct my memory, feel free. I legit am trying to remember, and that’s the mental image I keep getting. I’ve been hit in the head a lot since then though…). We slung our LC-2 suspender system over them. It worked fine.

I wouldn’t really want to go back to it, but if I was so broke I had to consider that versus a Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo set up, I sure as fuck would!

4) We did a new drill last week, for our weekly range day. It focused on developing muzzle awareness and footwork awareness, while moving fast, with a loaded rifle. It has also rained pretty much every single fucking day for the last two weeks, so the ground was muddy and SLICK. Running a slalom course, on the range, in slick mud, will do wonders for making you aware of your foot placement and balance…

The real point though was that this drill was specifically set up in such a manner that you could either wait and conduct a speed reload, when you HAD to, which would be in the middle of a string of fire, at the end, or you could conduct two tactical reloads/reloads with retention, when you WANTED to. If you waited for the emergency reload, it would not only catch you by surprise, it would actually slow you down, even if you somehow magically managed to keep track of your round count (which nobody actually ever does in real fights, or in real drills designed to train you for real fights). On the other hand, since you knew you just fired most of your first magazine (mags were loaded to 10 rounds each), if you took the time to conduct your reloads as tactical reloads, while you were moving to your next firing position, it would not slow you down at all, and you would be able to shoot all the rounds you needed to fire to achieve the task…

Emergency reloads are important, but tactical reloads need to be practiced more often, and they need to be practiced under adverse conditions.

So, what happened? A couple of our more experienced guys did “speed reloads” on the move. They simply dumped the partially expended magazine, and topped off with a fresh magazine while moving. Several of our people—the majority, probably, although I don’t remember for sure—completely forgot about the need for a reload until they felt the BCG lock to the rear. The guy who got the fastest time, with the least hits outside of the A-zone (none. All were solid, center of A-Zone hits, thank you very much), did it in five seconds under par, and managed to perform tactical reloads each time, maintaining control of his partials, and managed to get his dump pouch opened in the process (since this is the first time I’ve ever run a dump pouch, I was particularly impressed with myself for that, when our MARSOC veteran was yelling at me to just dump the mag, because my dump pouch was closed…).

Practice your tactical reloads. Come up with, or find drills, that force you to make the conscious decision to either wait for an emergency reload, or to use tactical reloads, and make it a point of practicing your tactical reloads.

Second…don’t wait just for nice, spring days, with clear skies and fair weather to train and practice. Our range day last week, an hour before people started showing up, I was horribly tempted to call and cancel the session, because of the weather. We were socked in with fog, and it was raining intermittently, but when it was raining, it was coming down in sheets (we got like 4.5” of rain in less than 24 hours, and most of that came in less than 12 hours).

I didn’t, fortunately, because the shitty ground conditions made the drill more useful.

5) “You might like asolo boots too. I have a pair with all leather uppers that has about 1500 miles and they’re comfortable as can be. The soles are holding up very well. Good support under my full ruck too.”

I’ll second the recommendation on Asolo. I’ve worn Asolo, Merrells, Vasques, Salomans, and more. Much like the Condor/Voodoo/GunShowCo gear, if you’re buying cheap boots, you’re fucking yourself. All of those brands do good, and hold up well. Yes, they’re expensive, but speaking as a guy with serious, significant nerve and joint damage to his legs and knees and feet, you only get one set of legs (well, you CAN replace your legs, but every single dude with a prosthetic, that I know, would rather have his own legs back…), and they’re pretty critical to survival. Take care of them, and buy good boots.

Don’t order boots online. Go to your local mountaineering shop and ask for recommendations. Tell them you’re going to be carrying a reasonably heavy pack, in rough terrain. Don’t go to the local big box shoe store, and don’t go to fucking Academy, or somewhere like that. Go to an actual mountaineering shop, where the staff are mountaineers, who are only working there to save money for their next climbing trip. If they smell like patchouli, and have dreadlocks, you’re probably going to get good information on boots and how to fit them.

If you’re so unfortunate as to not live in the mountains, find a backpacking shop, or take a road trip to the mountains (Option Two is better. The mountains are good for your soul).

6) “Great article as always. I’d like to get your opinion on AR pistols. Palmetto state has had kits for $279. I ordered one but also ordered one of their premium BCGs to go in it. I have about 300 trouble free rounds through mine. Do you see these as viable tools? They seem to be a great weapon to have in a vehicle or to cache for the price. Thanks!”

I have one. I like it. I prefer my 14.5,” but that’s because it has a 15” rail, and there’s more room for a white light and an IR laser on that amount of fore end, without interfering with my position on the gun, and because I live on a farm, and shots in excess of 100 are common, even at night, and in excess of 200 are not uncommon, and I can keep a bipod on the long gun (which I will discuss a little bit in the “bump in the night” kit article of the “Junk on the Bunk” series…).

My wife’s go-to AR is an AR pistol. She calls it her “Barbie Doll gun,” because it’s so light and handy for her. She loves it. We’re building another one, with a 7.5” barrel, and dropping a .22LR conversion in it for my oldest for her birthday this summer. Which leads me to….

7) I read an article last week, online. I don’t recall the website, but I do know it’s one I’ve read a lot of really good stuff from in the past, so this disagreement with them is not me badmouthing them.

The gist of the article was talking about what we should be training our kids at what ages, and their stance was that teaching young kids (pre-teenagers, basically), to run around doing “tactical” drills, with a chest rig and .22LR AR was irresponsible, because “children at that age cannot conceptualize death, and etc…”

I don’t see any difference, myself, in teaching an eight year old to train with a fighting rifle and pistol, suitably sized for them, and the practices of my ancestors, teaching eight year olds to fight with swords and spears. It is part of life, and youth is when we teach our children how to live their lives. I don’t want to raise “shooters.” I want to raise adults who can fight and protect themselves, their families, and their communities, with the most efficient weapons available.

My kids take boxing and jujutsu, and they learn to shoot and to fight with guns. Part of that teaching however, is helping them to learn when it is appropriate and when it is inappropriate to do so.

Considering the number of accounts in recent years, of very young kids, using household guns to protect their family members from threats, this seems like a particularly important skill to teach. But again, learning to fight and protect self, family, and community, is not some novel concept. It’s part of the human experience. Do not be shy about teaching your children to shoot, and to fight with their guns. Just be sure you’re also teaching them when and why we fight…

(and to be clear, all the guns in the house, that are not in immediate use, or at least in the immediate physical control of an adult, are secured in a gun safe. Oldest knows where the key is, and how to open the safe, but…)

7) The tourniquet and first aid kit actually live in my day hike bag, which is in my trunk. So it goes with me in the woods and covers my car.

I work in a small office so I’m talking 25 yards, the longest distance would be grocery store/ Walmart.

On one level, I get this. Much like carrying a gun on your person, some people, for various reasons, legitimately cannot conceal survival gear on their body, during work hours. I really do get it. As I talked about in The Guerrilla Gunfighter, instructors who tell people to “dress around the gun,” need to get a serious reality check. They need to follow Claude Werner’s advice, and “get a real job.”

That having been said, in my experience, folks that cannot effectively conceal a gun because of workplace dress code considerations typically carry some sort of external load bearing, in the form of briefcase, laptop case, etc. I know for a fact, that you can fit a small blow-out kit in a laptop bag or briefcase, even with a laptop and a notebook in it.

25 yards to the car doesn’t seem like much…until a workplace violence occurs at the hands of an active shooter, and you catch a round to the thigh…that’ll be the longest 25 yards of your life….or, more likely in that scenario, you catch a round through the upper chest, and desperately need a chest seal…and it’s 25 yards away in your car….

8) Question: why not a Glock 43 or other sub-compact? I carry a Glock 19 and it feels like a lot of gun to me, I’m just itching to downsize.

Honestly, for me? Because I don’t need to. I shoot a -17 better than a -19, and I shoot both better than I shoot my wife’s -43. I’m also big enough, and have enough discretion in my daily attire, that I can comfortably carry and conceal a -17.

On the other hand, you’ll notice I said “my wife’s -43…” My wife’s clothing doesn’t allow her to reliably conceal a -19. So, she (open) carries a -19 on the farm, and switches to a -43 when she’s in town. If you need to downsize, downsize. I talked about that a lot in The Guerrilla Gunfighter.

9) You sound like a sales rep.

Ha. Okay. Well, I’m not sure if that was intended as a compliment or an insult, but for what it’s worth, I don’t get kickbacks or commissions from any manufacturer, for anything.

10) How’s the edge retention on your Izula been. This post reminds me of something I’ve said many times in knife discussions, “I don’t remember dying because the only knife I had in the middle of nowhere was a trapper slip joint on my chinks”.

So, to start this, I’m one of those guys, when some knife geek asks me, “What kind of steel is that blade?” I respond with, “the metal kind?”

I’m not a knife geek. I’m not a metallurgist. I do know the Izula is 1095 steel. While there are, reportedly, better knife steels available, I also know the Kabar has always been 1095 steel, and my Kabars have always sharpened easily, and maintained a good edge more than adequately. So, my answer would be, “the edge retention is fine.”

I normally sit down and sharpen my pocket knife and belt knife once a week. If I notice it getting dull in between, I’ll touch it up, but it usually takes about 5 minutes to sharpen it, total, and it will pop hair off my arm when I’m done. I’ve never noticed it getting particularly dull, except the time I used it to cut up 12 big packing boxes from Lowe’s to use as target backers…then, I had to resharpen it right away, but again, it took me less than 5 minutes…

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  1. It’s nice to know I’m pretty ‘on target’ with my Training… though I learned QUITE a bit reading this; Thanks!

  2. Frank Devan permalink

    John you are correct about the body armor straps, but it only had a front plate. A belt extender was also necessary for the LBE/LBV. RLTW!

    • Thanks, dude. When you mention it, I do sort of remember it only strapping on one side (from the right?). Not sure why I remember a back plate too. CRS Syndrome is real.

      • Frank Devan permalink

        CRS happens to us all.

  3. anonymous permalink

    Thank you for your comments about ‘tactical that don’t work’. You rarely (if ever) hear bad feedback about that. I’m not a military vet or LEO, so much of this information is not 1st hand material for me. Tactical Practical.

    Most of my materials are genuine surplus military, both U.S. and foreign country. M12 flap holster (Bianchi), some ALICE gear, pretty much the normal 1990’s shopping list :^)

    Thanks for the keeping it real thoughts.

  4. bruce buckman permalink

    I gave myself a chuckle when you were talking about condor. I am in the middle of getting ready to move and I’m packing. I found a box of tactical crap that i used to buy, (pretty much all HSG now), anyhow, I literally through the junk in the trash. Buy once cry once. I thought about how much I spent on the crap and for the cost of those 5 mag pouches, I could have bought another 2 HSG s that I would still own instead of shit I am going end up throwing away. As always, thank you for your insight and sharing of your experience in the real world.

  5. Vagus permalink

    After consideration of your advise, I do have a field bag (at my desk) that needs a tourniquet and chest seals. Same for the center consul of the car, if I’m going to be honest even though I know exactly where the trunk bag is it would still take time to grab it and the tourniquet there.

    I’m not allowed to carry at work, so in certain situations I’m just screwed.

    • KJE permalink

      To JM’s credit in the Gunfighter book, he acknowledges that some people, just to make a living, will have to abide by that employment limitation.

      I’m in the same boat.

      • Vagus permalink

        I think JM covered it pretty well, not trying to argue. I’ve made my peace with it; While catastrophic, a gunfight is not likely to happen most of the time, I just have to maintain a heightened SA.

        I may be off the reservation here, but I always thought that if a team of shooters with rifles got the drop on me at the mall, my carry pistol was likely to do fuck all anyway at that point. Generally I carry in the woods and when I’m out and about at night, traveling, etc.

      • It depends. I don’t carry my pistol to deal with a team of riflemen. I deal with it to deal with a pissed-off social misfit. I do practice shooting my pistol at distances past 100 yards though. At 50 yards? Shit, I’m willing to wager a lot of money on the fact that I can get head shots on them with my -17, faster than the average AR15 owner can get ANY HIT on me. I’ve seen too many people that either couldn’t hit shit, or took a month of Sundays to get set up for even easy shots.

  6. Boondocker permalink

    Great article. I work in a NPE where my only choice is briefcase carry. Full size Glock, 3 mags, blow out kit (2 tourniquets, 4 chest seals, lots of packing material). We just completed “stop the bleed training” and are putting together kits….it didn’t take much to convince management it was worth the effort.

  7. Daniel permalink

    Concerning chest seals, what’s the best way to self apply one on the back where it’s hard to see and reach?

  8. Curiosity permalink

    20 years in Marine Recon, 4 years off & on in Iraq, Extensive security work in the Philippines, & now prepping here in TN, has taught me to never buy/wear anything that you are not willing to part ways with w/o crying too much at a check point, airport, or other venue where either you have no choice but to give your gear & weapons up, or it is better to deep six it IOT keep from going to jail…

    So it is cheap gear, buy 2 or even 3 pieces, as it is still functional…

    Go to ‘Saigon Sam’s’ & stock up on excess military items…

    Buy used weapons that people got tired of taking up space,..

    Newsflash, one is not going to be ‘Running & Gunning Gear & a Gun’ as if it were the sand box, when the situation here in the USA gets that bad, but by being the Gray Man, staying under the radar…

    Weapon under a coat, mags in pockets, low level ‘Get Home Bag’, etc.

    BLUF: NPA Sparrow ‘Hit’ Teams in the Philippines carried/carry a 1911 w/front sights filed off for ease of deployment. No fancy holsters, pouches, etc. Poachers here in TN & many other places in the U.S. routinely carry their weapons disguised as nothing more than hunting rifles, to include AR’s. Save your ‘Good Shit’ for the defense of your Homestead…

    • 1) We’re not talking about doing the contractor thing, and going through customs inspections with shit.
      2) None of the Iraqi muj were carrying LBE to support their equipment there? How about Abu Sayyeff? Because the Talib were in the Stan, and the Flips were last time I was there….and yet, they all tended to live in urban areas…
      3) It’s not going to be “running and gunning”….except where and when it is…just like Iraq for Iraqis, Afghanistan for Afghans, Yugoslavia for Serbs and Croats, Somalia for Somalis….
      4) Sparrows were doing something dramatically different than what we’re talking about. The rank and file AS were mostly carrying some form of LBE as soon as they weren’t in an urban area anymore. And in the Ukraine and Syria, even in urban areas, fighters wear LBE. Don’t let a lack of imagination get you killed for lack of adequate support equipment.
      5) As for poachers, last time I checked, the deer weren’t carrying guns to shoot back, when you smoked their buddy. I don’t know what county you’re in, but ya’ll must have some badass deer there, compared to here.

  9. SharpsShtr permalink

    Concerning the above discussion on gear, right now on eBay there is a used, but good condition, Tactical Tailer plate carrier for $90. TT sells them new for $140, so you’ll save $50..


  10. Swamp Fox permalink


    Roger That on the RBA and LCE. Then TT came out with the Ranger Chest Rig.

    Gear should be considered what we refereed to a Life Support Equipment, like parachutes, HALO O2. breathing rigs or as a diver the Dreger LAR V. You want it to work when you need it.

  11. SharpsShtr permalink

    Chinook Medical has an overstock sale on HALO chest seals (packs of two) for $5.00 each. Normal price is $18.99.


  12. Dan permalink

    I just ordered a HSG holster for my G19 to cycle out my SERPA holsters. Thanks for the informed advice!

  13. Garry F. Owen, Trooper permalink

    Regarding #7 above, and earlier about blowout kits: I met a guy in Meatspace who runs safety and security for his local church. I couldn’t help but notice the 3 inch nylon cube on his belt. It’s a zippered pouch, don’t recall the brand, but it contained 2 pairs of gloves and 3 RAT tourniquets. 2 chest seals in the back pocket to prevent creasing, and he was effective. Now, a RAT is not a CAT, other options are better, but with specific practice this setup gets big bang for the buck and the available real estate.

  14. Diz permalink

    Hoo boy. Tactical nylon. Yeah that’s a sore subject for me as well. I have been making stuff for many years now, and am still amazed at some of the shit I come across. I (and many others) have preached repeatedly on various sites about what constitutes legit LBE, and what doesn’t. So the info is out there; people just choose to ignore it. Or maybe not bother to find it. If you can’t afford Gucci gear, besides older ALICE stuff, there is a lot of the newer Molle stuff floating around as well.

    No excuse for shit holsters. There are decent kydex holsters and mag pouches on ebay from various custom makers. And the prices aren’t that bad either.

    Realistic training when the weather isn’t perfect. That’s the next level.

    Boots. Yeah this is so specific, you need to get fitted at a real boot shop. Find out which brands really fit your feet. Walk in them under load. I think REI has expanded to damn-near everywhere so go there if nowhere else.

    Training kids. Well, you know, looking at all the crap they are shoveling at them these days, a little self-defense training is a breath of fresh air. Done safely, scaled to their level(s), why not.

    On TQ’s the RAT is no longer certified for mil-spec use; stick with CAT, Gen 7, or SOFTT-Wide. Also new Ranger Batt SOP is carrying 2 TQ’s, and applying them both together, as necessary. And using a full pouch to prevent UV damage to parts.

  15. Simon permalink

    I always got the advice when buying boots to go there in the afternoon, not in the morning because your feet swell up some during the day. It sounds logical, so I have always done it, but I have never tried to carry out measurements on the matter, and I don’t know anyone else who would like to measure my smells feet.

  16. Simon permalink

    I always got the advice when buying boots to go there in the afternoon, not in the morning because your feet swell up some during the day. It sounds logical, so I have always done it, but I have never tried to carry out measurements on the matter, and I don’t know anyone else who would like to measure my smelly feet.

  17. Bill permalink

    Good stuff.

  18. Boat Guy permalink

    I keep the RAT’s for our dogs. Only reason I ever bought them.
    As an aside; if I’m open carrying I’m using leather. I don’t wear LBE to social events. Does anyone?
    And yes, it’s good leather. I’m partial to having John Bianchi’s Frontier Gunleather run up some of his older designs.

  19. Boat Guy permalink

    I keep RAT’s for our dogs; that’s the reason I bought them.
    As an aside if I’m open carrying I wear leather – good leather. I don’t wear LBE to social events, thanks very much.

  20. KJE permalink

    If you need to keep your gear cheaper, you can put a modern 1606-AC frame, along with modern pack straps and kidney belts on the ALICE medium and large. You have to be a bit creative with the webbing, but it took a buddy and myself one scotch each to figure out how to make it work.

    Makes the pack far more comfortable to wear and carry a load than with the stock ALICE frame and straps.

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