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Archive | EDC

New from TOPS Knives: The 3 Bros

TOPS Knives just rolled out the 3 Bros – a trio of compact fixed blade knives that they have shown at trade shows. These knives feature really interesting handles that you have to hold to understand. The thick micarta disks on the handles add enough swell to anchor these minimalist knives in your grip.

From TOPS Knives:

These tiny fixed blade knives pack a lot of use into a very small package. With an overall length of less than four and a half inches, they’re also very easy to carry every day. Each blade is about two inches long and TOPS has decided to offer it with three different styles: Hunter, Tanto, and Sheep’s Foot. They may be small, but TOPS didn’t skimp on the quality. When you need the functionality of a utility knife with the strength of a fixed-blade, the 3 Bros are what you’re looking for.

Pick up the 3 Bros from a TOPS authorized dealer or from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/3-bros

Details:

Overall Length: 4.27”

Blade Length: 2.0”

Cutting Edge: 2.0”

Blade Thickness: 0.13”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Tumble

Handle Material: Black Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 1.9oz (per knife)

Weight w/ Sheath: 2.8oz (per knife)

Sheath Material: Kydex

Sheath Clip: Injection molded nylon

Designer: TOPS Team

MSRP: $90 each or $180 for all 3

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Review: Alpha One Niner RECON THREE Backpack

Way back in 2013, I started using a backpack called the Penumbra from SERT. It was the best EDC/office/travel backpack I had used up until that point and it continues to serve me well. I moved to the Alpha One Niner (SERT’s decidely less tactical sister company) EVADE pack in 2015. I still use the EVADE daily. You could say I have a long history with the travel/EDC of SERT and Alpha One Niner and that history is about to have a new chapter with the introduction of the RECON THREE.

I have been using this as an EDC pack and for travel. It was with me on a recent trip where I spent far more time in airports than I did at any one location. It has been carried in rain, stuffed in overhead compartments, hauled through airports, and generally tossed around. Now its time to take a closer look.

Overview

The RECON THREE is a designed as a kind of minimalist travel backpack. It blends sleek urban styling with rugged tactical materials.

While previous packs from SERT or Alpha One Niner have been heavy on organization features, the RECON THREE goes heavy on big empty pockets and accessibility. There are no pen sleeves, mesh pockets, bottle holders, or anything like that. In the place of all that are 5 very accessible pockets in key locations and a cavernous, bucket like main compartment.

  • Materials: Solid Color 500D Nylon in Wolf Gray, Multicam Black, Kryptek Typhon and 420D Diamond Ripstop Nylon with 210D Nylon lining.
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ (H) x 10″ (W) x 5″ (D)
  • Volume: approximately 15 liters / 925 cu2
  • Weight: approximately 2.2 pounds (1.00 kg)

If you like to travel with a few key items at your finger tips and you are more of a tablet guy than a laptop guy, this bag was designed with you in mind.

Observations from Use

In my mind, there are two hallmarks to Alpha One Niner bags – style and durability. The RECON THREE delivers both. It is one of those designs that manages to look sleek, stylish, and not the least bit “tactical” in spite of the Multicam Black fabric and ITW Cobra Buckle closure. I think the bright red interior pack cloth lining and angular shape make it look at home in a variety of settings without screaming TACTICAL.

Regarding durability, the RECON THREE seems to have it in spades. The bag in constructed from durable materials like 500D nylon and fully lined with 420D pack cloth. The zippers are all #8 reverse zippers from YKK. The main compartment is closed with an ITW Cobra Buckle and the entire pack is stiffened with closed cell foam between the outer layer of fabric and the inner lining. It’s rugged.

I tend to like packs that leave the organization to me instead of having fixed organization features. The RECON THREE is that kind of pack. There are 5 pockets in total and none of them have any features other than being a pocket and great accessibility (which is key). All 5 pockets are closed with a zipper.

The lid features 2 pockets which can be accessed from the side of the lid. This pockets are not connected inside the lid but they do overlap each other. They basically turn the entire lid into storage space that can be accessed without opening the pack. These two pockets are perfect for things like keys, pens, cables, chargers, and similar items that you want at your finger tips when traveling.

The front of the bag has a large stash packet that is accessed via a vertical zipper on the left side of the pack. This pocket is tall and as wide as the pack itself so it is perfect for documents. I like to keep a sheet of paper with all my key information on it when I travel and this externally accessible pocket was the perfect place to store something like that.

When you lift the flap, it exposes the main, top loading compartment and another tall slash pocket. Since every panel of the bag is padded with closed cell foam, this slash pocket actually works really well for a tablet or even a 13″ notebook computer.

Imagine a brown paper lunch bag and scale it up to backpack size and you will have the general idea of the main compartment. It loads from the top and has the 5th pocket hanging in side it. It is basically just a big open pocket that can easily carry a change of clothes and more. The top of the main compartment can be compressed with two large snaps. These snaps are very handy because they pinch the top of the main compartment so that the flap completely covers the opening.

The shoulder straps are relatively minimalist. They are slim, straight, and padded with a relatively stiff closed cell foam which makes them surprisingly comfortable. They include a sternum strap and side release buckles that you can use to get out of the straps quickly or tuck them away inside the rolling luggage sleeve on the back of the pack. When the straps are packed inside the sleeve, you can use one of the two carry handles on the bag (one top and one side) to carry the bag kind of like a briefcase.

The RECON THREE holds its shape very well thanks to all the closed cell foam used in its construction. You can stuff it full and it still looks relatively rectangular and sits mostly flat on your back which is nice if you ever need to overload it. It even holds its shape when it is relatively empty.

Wrap Up

I think the best way to describe this bag is as a minimalist EDC or travel bag. If you are the type of person that uses your own organization inserts and doesn’t need to carry a larger laptop every day, you’ll like this pack. The pockets offer excellent accessibility, there are good provisions for smaller notebooks or tablets, it is well made, and it looks absolutely great in my opinion.

Check out the Alpha One Niner RECON THREE at AlphaOneNiner.com


Disclosure: This pack was sent for review, free of charge, by Alpha One Niner.

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Fix It Sticks Universal Choke Tube Wrench

The Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition just took another step toward being a universal gun tool (and possibly world domination). Their new Universal Choke Tube Wrench allows shotgun shooters to install or uninstall just about any brand or size choke tube. It attaches to the Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition like any other 1/4″ shank bit which means it can also be used with other bit drivers.

FixItSticks.com

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Black Arch Holsters Rev-Con Reversible Convertible Holsters

The new Rev-Con Holster (Reversible Convertible Holster), from Black Arch Holsters, offers some potentially useful functionality. As the name implies, it is reversible for left or right handed use and convertible from IWB to OWB and even AIWB with the optional concealment wing. Unlike most “convertible” holsters, the Rev-Con is actually real molded kydex with compact design (and an attractive price).

The Rev-Con is currently available for several popular handguns with more being added in the next couple of weeks.

BlackArchHolsters.com

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Fury Carry Solutions – Flannel Holsters?

It is that time of year when everyone slips into a flannel state of mind. I guess that includes Fury Carry Solutions because they just rolled out a new kydex option with a very timely pattern…

The new Buffalo Plaid option is available in red or gray. You can choose it as an option across their entire line of holsters. Check out FuryCarrySolutions.com.

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Review: Bravo Concealment DOS IWB and BCA OWB Light Bearing Holsters

I’ve recommend Bravo Concealment’s holsters for a long time on the basis of their solid quality, very competitive prices, and very short lead times. They represent an excellent value. It’s time we take a closer look at the two holsters from them that I use most often.

BCA Light Bearing OWB

Glock 17 TLR-1HL BCA Holster

The BCA outside the waistband holster is the first holster I ever owned from Bravo Concealment and it is likely the holster for which they are most well known. My original BCA, a 1911 holster, was given away to a friend years ago but now I use a BCA Light Bearing OWB for my Glock 17s and 19s.

The BCA is a pancake style holster made from two separate layers of .080″ thick kydex that are riveted together. This allows the injection molded belt loops to be spaced out to promote a very close to the body fit and stability on the belt. Currently, Bravo Concealment only offers the BCA with loops for 1.5″ belts but the standard hole spacing allows the end user to purchase aftermarket loops for larger belts.

The BCA conceals extremely well thanks to its slightly curved design, how close it rides to the body, and 10 degree forward cant. I also find that it is an excellent holster for use on a so-called “battle belt” if you do not need any drop.

DOS-Light Bearing IWB

Glock 17 TLR-1HL DOS-L Holster

I have less experience with the DOS-Light Bearing IWB holster than I do the BCA but I have come to use it quite a bit. My holster is for the Glock 17 but I mostly use it to carry a Glock 19 with TLR-1.

This holster is a tuckable, IWB design that can be used with 1 or 2 belt clips (2 clips are included). It is also a two-piece design with a slight curve molded into the overall shape of the holster. It is a straight drop design though some cant can be adjusted by the user via the belt clips.

A Glock 19 or 17 with a TLR-1 is not an easy handgun to conceal for everyone but the DOS-Light Bearing IWB makes it work for me. I prefer to wear it somewhere near my hip. I have tried it in the AIWB position but found that a holster like the Torsion is better suited to appendix carry.

Observations from Use

There a number of things that I look for immediately with kydex holsters like clean mold lines, finished edges that won’t cut into the wearer, straight site tracks, and mold blocking built in for gun parts that might otherwise drag during the drawstroke. Then there are things you have to feel more than you can see like how positive the retention is, whether the handgun drag due to poor molding practices, and to what extent the design of the sweat shield interferes with the grip. Bravo Concealment has all of these considerations ironed out and their holsters offer excellent fit and finish.

The molding is particularly good. It is well thought out with proper blocking, plenty of space for aftermarket sights, and very cleanly executed. The way they blend mold features like the sight track into the barrel relief is actually pretty slick. This is really only possible because they machine their own molds. They even go to the trouble of building in space for some of the most common aftermarket accessories like extended slide releases.

Those of you with handguns with red dot sights will be pleased to know that both holsters are cut to accomodate dot sights. They also mold in space with extended or threaded barrels in both holsters.

I have found Bravo Concealment’s belt hardware to be excellent. The early days when kydex benders would bend their own belt hardware are long gone (thankfully). Injection molded hardware is the way to go for long term durability and Bravo Concealment’s is very good. Their OWB loops tuck completely behind the holster itself and sort of rake back to match the curve of the holster. Their tuckable IWB clips offer a ton of adjustment and loop around to the back of the belt to ensure they don’t come off until you release them.

I prefer holsters that DO NOT have adjustable retention but this isn’t always possible with all types of holsters or gun/light combinations. Adjustable retention holsters can often loosen over time and use. I prefer to just have strong positive retention molded into the holster so I don’t have to worry about getting the adjustment just right and then thread locking the screw. These two holsters (and the others I have used) from Bravo Concealment have strong, positive retention without needing an adjustment.

The sweat guard design on both holsters is identical and it is quite good. Bravo Concealment calls it is “medium” sweat guard. It is an almost full coverage guard that tapers so that the user can establish a full firing grip with the handgun still in the holster.

As much as I like these holsters, there are some changes I would like to see. The BCA does so well on battle belt set ups that it would be nice to see it offered with a wider variety of belt loop sizes, especially 1.75″. The DOS-Light Bearing Holster does an admirable job of trying to turn in the grip of my handgun, but the TLR-1 light is wide enough that the double clip set up can’t turn it in on it’s own. It would be nice to see some sort of a claw/strut offered as an option to help turn in the grip for these handguns with larger lights.

Wrap Up

These are excellent holsters made in the USA by a completely modern holster maker. I highly recommend them especially considering what a good value they are. Bravo Concealment often has sales and they offer various combos that make their holsters an even better value than what they initially appear to be.

Bravo Concealment

RE Factor Tactical and Toor Knives Collaboration Knife – The Sicario

RE Factor Tactical and Toor Knives have collaborated on new knife design called the Sicario. This serialized, limited edition knife will only be available to pre-order until November 18th. The knives will then be handmade in the Toor Knives shop and shipped around the end of the year.

This limited edition collaboration between RE Factor Tactical and Toor Knives brings you one of the stabbiest knives on the market.  We set out to design a knife specifically crafted with the warfighter in mind. We are excited to offer this collaboration through Toor Knives, a Veteran owned and operated business that specializes in hand crafting some of the best knives around.  All Toor knives are hand made in their facility out of California.

We based the Sicario off a Persian Fighting Blade that offers the user both slashing and stabbing capabilities.  The 4″ blade is long enough to offer the user the ability to reach vital organs while still having a small enough blade to conceal if needed. The knife is hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 60 and is coated in H-series graphite black Cerakote. The handle is black textured dymalux giving the user ideal grip regardless of the circumstances.

All knives come with a durable kydex sheath with a 5lb draw retention.

Each knife features an individual serial number that will be given to customers based on the order in which the knife is purchased.

  • Manufacturer- Toor Knives
  • Blade Length- 4″
  • Length overall- 8″
  • Thickness – 5/32″
  • Steel – CPM154
  • Weight- 3.6 oz
  • Country of origin- USA
  • Blade Rockwell Hardness- 60

Check it out at: REFactorTactical.com

Teaser: Hill People Gear Designed Knife

Hill People Gear is teasing the potential release of a knife of their own design. This back-country traveller’s knife has very specific features included and omitted on the basis of the Hill brother’s backgrounds and experiences as outdoorsman. That is an approach to gear design that has worked out pretty well for them so far…

Here is what we know:

The knife will come with a kydex sheath that includes two snap loops. This will offer a wide variety of carry methods and it is always nice when a knife comes with a sheath that is actually functional.

Many of the design elements come from the Hill brother’s experiences in the outdoors along with some Kali training. The squared butt is specifically designed to work with a reverse grip in a nod to their edged weapon training. Much of the romance of bushcraft is exchanged for the pragmatism of modern back-country travel. The spine is NOT a squared, 90 degree spine as the Hill brothers find that feature to be more of a help than a hindrance in a cutting tool. The blade has a pronounced guard for safety. This is clearly not a “bushcraft” knife.

The handle slabs are made from G10 for toughness. Hill People Gear states that toughness will key because of the thinner section of handle material that run up into the guard area of the knife. You can also see that care has been taken to scallop the grip near the blade which can help with various grips like a pinch grip.

This knife will make use of 1/8″ thick blade stock from an undisclosed steel. It features a high saber primary grind with a 17 degree secondary edge. This is relatively thin stock compared to many knives on the market and a relatively fine edge. It is obviously made to cut.

Specs:

  • 8.25″ overall
  • 3.5″ cutting edge
  • 1/8″ thick blade
  • 5/8″ thick handle
  • 17 degree final edge

There is an excellent discussion of this knife already in progress on the Hill People Gear Owners Group on Facebook. They have already discussed the included and omitted features as well as the reasoning behind those decisions at length. If you use Hill People Gear products, I highly recommend the group as there is a lot of knowledge to be gleaned there.

Stay tuned for pricing and availability.

HillPeopleGear.com

Snake Eater Tactical IWB Mag Pouch Update

Snake Eater Tactical has updated their IWB Mag Pouch once again. This mag pouch has been through a few iterations now with the the originals being IWB only with an integral belt loop. Then the laser cut panel was added so that the loop could be routed through it to form an OWB belt loop. Now, they are receiving another update – a removable belt loop.

The removable belt loop makes the IWB Mag Pouch more user serviceable and adds PALS compatibility. If you do manage to wear out the Onewrap belt loop, it can be replaced. They even ship with an extra loop. Additionally, the removable loop means that the pouch can be mounted on PALS webbing via a MALICE Clip (or similar, not included).

I use one of these pouches almost daily with a Glock 43 and have yet to wear out the loop. The elastic pouch is ultra-thin, lightweight, and very comfortable. I believe they are the best IWB magazine pouch available (most affordable too) and it is nice to see Snake Eater Tactical continue to improve them.

SnakeEaterTactical.com

Wheelgunners Take Note: PHLster City Specials Are Now Available

We let you know about the update and return of the PHLster City Special a few weeks ago and, now, the time has come. They are now available to purchase and shipping from the PHLster website.

This AIWB holster is designed with revolver specific details. It is available for the S&W J-Frame and, new for this updated version, the Ruger LCR. Both versions are compatible with Crimson Trace Laser Grips and feature mold elements near the muzzle end which help prevent the grip from pushing outward. The City Special also utilizes the PHLster TuckStrut belt hardware which provides a tuckable, IWB soft loop as well as a strut/claw that turns the grip of the gun in toward the wearer for improved concealment.

The biggest news is that both version also feature PHLster’s clever reload cut. This cut allows the user to wedge the revolver into the holster with the cylinder held open to facility a one handed reload. This was one of the most innovative features of the original City Special and it is nice to see it retained on the new version.

PHLsterHolsters.com

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