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Archive | Tactical Gear

Review – Bogota Titan Entry Set

Matt at SerePick.com graciously provided me a set of the Bogota Titan Entry Tools. My recent review of the Stainless Bogota Entry Tools turned into one of the most successful posts we have ever had here on Jerking the Trigger. That is due in large part with how impressive these tools are.

 

This is how your picks look when you remove them from the shipping container. Everything is neatly bagged.

 

 

Lock Bypassing Simplified

How do you know when you have been successful at improving a tool? When you have simplified it without losing any function. Bogota Entry Tools do just that. These two small tools effectively replace an basic pick set and in my experience they are just as functional, if not more. This extreme functionality comes from the innovative design of the Bogota rake.

Purpose Built

The Bogota rake is purpose built to bypass 5 pin locks. These are the type of locks that you typically find in an entry door or a padlock. The shape is reminiscent of the mountains in Bogota, Columbia for which the rake is named. That sounds cutesy but the shape is for good reason.

If you could see inside the lock that you are trying to bypass with the Bogota Entry Tools you would see the the rear most pin is sitting inside the first “peak” of the rake. The next pin would be sitting in the “valley” between the first and second “peak”. The middle pin would be centered on the middle “peak”. The fourth pin would be in the “valley” between the second and third “peak”. And finally, the last pin would be sitting just inside the last “peak”. All of that means that you can quickly move all pins through their full range of travel just by using small movements of the rake. These tools are very efficient.

Effective

The user has two options to bypass a lock using the Bogota Entry Tool Set – you can pick or use the Bogota rake. The Bogota rake is the main attraction to this set. Each of the two pieces of the set is two tools in one. The first piece is a feeler pick and a tension wrench. The second piece is a Bogota rake and a tension wrench. When you are using the rake to bypass the lock, you use the feeler pick as your tension device and vice-versa.

There is no shortage of information about how to use a feeler pick so I will focus on using the rake. The user simply sets the tension on the lock. I find that lighter tension is better though with older, dirty locks you may have to apply more tension. Developing a touch for setting the tension can be one of the most challenging parts of learning to bypass locks. After the tension is set, the Bogota rake is inserted and moved up/down and in/out quickly, almost as if you have had too much coffee. Eventually you will feel the lock core start to turn as the pins are pushed up to the sheer line. It sounds simple but it take practice.

If you already know how to bypass locks, you will be amazed at how simple and effective these tools are. The Bogota Entry Set won’t make you a lock picking wizard. These tools still require a practiced hand to be used most effectively. However, I am always amazed when I put the Bogota Entry Tool Set in the hands of someone who has never bypassed a lock and they are able bypass a 5 pin lock with minimal coaching.

 

 

Note the small size of the Bogota Entry Tool Set. They are shown with a standard business card for scale.

 

Size

These tools must be held if you want to truly understand their size. They are little longer than a house key (see the pictures HERE) yet they offer all of the grip you need in order to bypass a lock. In fact, their handles are very intuitively shaped. They lend themselves well to excellent feel and to the motion that is required to use the rake.

Why Titanium

So far, everything I have written about can be said of both the Stainless and the Titanium (Ti) Entry Tool Set. So why would anyone spend extra for the Ti version? There is one BIG reason. Titanium is non-ferrous, which means that there is no iron content. The lack of iron makes them rust proof. It also makes them non-magnetic which can be useful for certain people.

The rust resistance is excellent news for those who plan to carry these using the safety pin method (shown in the pics). You can carry the Bogota Titan Entry Tool Set all day, close to your body, and sweat all over them. They will not rust. Even “stainless” steels are more accurately stain resistant. They can and do rust. These tools are designed to be discreet and being rust proof makes all the sense in the world for a tool that may be carried close to your skin.

 

 

The Titan set (bottom) has a slightly darker gray finish than the stainless set but still exhibit a high degree of polish which helps them glide inside the lock.

 

Stainless Versus Titanium

The one thing that I really hoped to accomplish in this review was to determine if there was much of a difference in the feel of the steel sets versus the titanium set. I was afraid that the titanium set would lack some of the excellent flex and feel of the stainless steel version. Feel is everything when it comes to bypassing locks and I am happy to report that the Bogota Titans lack nothing in terms of feel. They have just a bit of spring or flex when used as a tension wrench which I like and you can easily feel the pins as you manipulate them. They feel remarkably like the stainless set that I already know and love.

Conclusion

If you start with something that is already excellent, like the stainless Bogota Entry Tool Set, and then add the unique functionality of titanium; you have created something really special. These tools work. Setting aside function for a moment, let’s just admit that anything made from titanium is automatically cool. I do not know of a more compact, easier to carry, or more effective set of lock bypass tools than the Bogota Entry Tool Set.

You can purchase your own Bogota Entry Tool Sets at SerePick.com.

DisclaimerJerking the Trigger does not advocate using these for anything illegal. Never bypass a lock that the owner has not given permission for you to bypass. Check your local laws before carrying these tools.

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Brunton 15TDCL – A Little Dissapointed

I recently bought a Brunton 15TDCL Compass based on online research. An old, beat up, second hand Silva Ranger was my first “good” compass as a boy and I loved it. I wish I knew where it was.

The compasses that are sold in the USA these days as Silva compasses are not true Swedish made Silvas at all. A company called Johnson Outdoors Inc owns the rights to the Silva name in the US. They sell compasses that are made in various Pacific countries that are branded with the Silva name. I have a couple of recent Silva products that work very well but they have a reputation for poor quality control so you might be rolling the dice when you purchase a Silva compass.

People in the know knew that if you wanted a real Silva Ranger, you could purchase a Brunton 15TDCL (AKA Elite 360 or Nexus Elite). The 15TDCL was the Swedish made Ranger type 15 compass, brought into the USA under the Brunton brand. I thought this was the case when I purchased a 15TDCL recently.

Sadly, it appears that now the 15TDCL is also not made in Sweden. My recent example states that the compass was made in China on the packaging. The older models used to state “Sweden” proudly right on the baseplate of the compass. Now they list no country of origin on the compass itself.

The good news is that the 15TDCL appears to be a decent compass in spite of the manufacturing change though it is definitely not the equal of my old Silva Ranger. If I were going to spend the money all over again, I would have just purchased another Suunto MC-2.

I hope to do a review of the 15TDCL and the EXCELLENT Suunto MC-2 Global in the future.

If you are looking for a quality compass that is not made in the Pacific somewhere you could choose a Suunto (Finland) or a Cammenga (USA).

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Viking Tactics Brokos Battle Belt

The new VTAC Brokos Belt has an interesting feature that I have never seen before on a battle belt. The MOLLE webbing is broken into 2×2 panels which allows you to thread the belt under or over a panel. This allows users to mount both MOLLE and belt mounted pouches. That is some serious innovation.

It also makes more use of mesh than I have ever seen in a battle belt. The pay off is that it weighs less than 8 ounces and should breath better than any other battle belt that I have used. The use of 500 denier nylon also helps keep the weight down.

Kudos to Kyle Lamb and VTAC for bringing some truly new and exciting features to the battle belt concept.

It is available on the VTAC website for pre-order.

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ATS Low Profile Chest Harness – Compact Chest Rig Perfection?

Experience changes your perception of what works. When I first started shooting, I built a MOLLE chest rig in anticipation of my first carbine course. Nearly every column of webbing on that rig was filled with a pouch of some sort. I could cram 8 magazines into it and it looked awesome. That chest rig didn’t survive the transition from looking cool in the living room to actually being used on the range. It was bulky, heavy, and hot. It interfered with my draw stroke, my sling, hydration back pack straps, and anything close to natural movement. Lesson learned.

I am a slow learner and, while my chest rig choices have gradually gotten smaller, simpler, and lighter, I feel like I have still been trying to learn the lesson from that first chest rig… until now. Several months ago I picked up an ATS Low Profile Chest Harness. The “Low Profile” part of the name is very fitting. It is a very different rig from that first rig all those years ago.

 

 

The ATS Tactical Low Profile Chest Harness is everything you need and nothing you don't.

 

The ATS Low Profile Chest Harness (LPCH) is definitely an exercise in “everything you need, nothing you don’t”. It can hold 3 primary magazines in “shingle” style on the center of your chest. There easy to use shock cord retainers on each magazine pouch. On either side of the magazine pouches is a utility pouch that is roughly the size of a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. These pouches can be used for your blow out kit (in fact, ATS makes a medical insert for the pouches that is sold separately), various range items, extra magazines, or what ever else you can fit. The body of the rig is made from double layer 1000 denier Cordura and the space in between the layers can be used for storage as well (small, flat items work best here). The entire rig is covered with PALs webbing so you can add additional pouches.

 

 

Note the Velcro field on the harness and the way the straps are adjusted with no loose ends.

 

The harness on the LPCH is basically perfect in my opinion. It features a non-padded “H” harness with a generous Velcro field in the center of the back for adding patches. The loose ends of the straps can be tucked into the body of the body of the chest rig which is an excellent feature. Many chest rigs have heavily padded shoulder straps or harnesses which may be necessary for an over loaded rig but they make using wearing a backpack a real pain. “X” harnesses also tend to pinch the neck, especially when you are wearing a pack so the “H” harness design of the LPCH is a welcome change. I tend to prefer flat, wide, non-padded shoulder straps, especially now that I have learned my lesson about overloading a chest rig. For those who feel that they need a padded harness, ATS makes one that can be purchased separately.

 

 

The utility pouches will nearly close on a 32oz Nalgene bottle.

 

The LPCH is lightweight and very compact. Its footprint is very small on your chest. This is what initially drew me to this chest rig. The chest rig is small enough that it doesn’t really wrap around your chest like many chest rigs. It almost fits perfectly between the straps of my backpack. That, coupled with the thin “H” harness, makes wearing a pack with the LPCH much easier than with other rigs.

The magazine pouches are well designed. They are deep enough to retain the magazine quite well (even without the shock cord retainers) but they still allow you to get a good grip on the magazine body. A good grip on the magazine is essential to a fast and sure handed reload. No one wants to be the guy who is throwing magazines down range because their magazine pouches only allow a finger tip grip. The pouches even work reasonably well with AK Magazines (though some AK mags will be a tight fit).

 

 

If you need to carry more magazines, you can easily fit 3 spares in a utility pouch.

 

I like to wear my chest rigs pretty high on my chest. This accomplishes 2 things: 1) it is more comfortable in the prone position and 2) it minimizes interference with other gear like your handgun holster. Some rigs are limited as to how how they can be run because of their padded shoulder straps or harness. This is not the case with the LPCH which can be adjusted to ride very high on the chest. The LPCH works very well with a belt rig. I find that I reload fastest from my belt, so having a chest rig that can be used effectively with my belt rig is big positive for me.

 

 

You can utilize the pocket inside the body of the chest rig for flat items like maps and field note books.

 

The ATS Low Profile Chest Rig probably won’t make your reloads any faster. It won’t make you lucky with the ladies or help you re-grow hair. It will do a very good job of carrying magazines and other essential gear on the range without over loading you or getting in the way. If you too have learned that less is more when it comes to chest rigs, then you might find it to be a good choice. I liked it so much that I bought one for my wife too. Even she likes it.

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ESEE and DPx

Jeff Randall, co-owner of ESEE Knives and Randall Adventure Training (RAT), has announced that DPx will spawn its own brand in the ESEE Family. DPx is the collaboration of renowned adventurer Robert Young Pelton and ESEE Knives. The DPx Gear H.E.S.T. was the first fruits of this joint venture and now we can look forward to many other items.

 

DPx Gear HEST

 

The new DPx line will feature items that are targeted towards adventurers and a the tactical market while ESEE Knives continues to serve the survival market. You can look forward to a H.E.S.T. Folder, DPx soft goods, and other items. There will also eventually be DPx specific training courses offered.

I am really looking forward to seeing what comes of this collaboration. I will keep you up to date as products are released.

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MagCinch Tool – Great Gear for the Range

The MagCinch Tool has many functions that Ar15 shooters will find useful even though you wouldn’t know it by its modest name. It has been an invaluable tool that I have been using for several years. I suppose that since it is made by MagCinch (Buffer Tech) that its primary function is to tighten MagCinch magazine couplers. I don’t own any magazine couplers and generally do not care for them but it is the multiple other functions of the tool that I use most often.

The MagCinch Tool has a set of screwdriver/scraper tips that I use frequently. One is angled for use with Phillips head screws or for scraping tight spaces. The other is sized to scrape the front of a AR-15 bolt. I rarely use them as scrapers but they are great for adjusting an Aimpoint or other optic. If you have to use them to turn more than a couple of screws, you will wish you had a real screwdriver, but they work quite well in a pinch.

The front sight adjustment tool works extremely well. It has a square hole that slips over the front sight and a small pin that you use to depress the front sight detent. You simply place it over the front sight, depress the pin, and twist. It is easy and it beats mauling the tip of a bullet.

There are also 2 different sizes of pin pushers. These have come in handy several times to push pins especially on new AR15s with very tight upper receiver to lower receiver fit. They can be used to push the pin just enough to get your fingers on it.

There is also a lanyard loop that can be used to dummy cord the tool to your gear. It would be a shame to lose such a useful tool in the field. I rarely use this feature but I can see the value.

The MagCinch Tool isn’t nearly as full featured as some of the “Leatherman” style tools that are coming to market for the AR-15, but it is much less expensive, much lighter in weight, and still extremely useful. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked to pass the MagCinch tool down the firing line to fix some small problem. It is a worthy addition to your gear.

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Free Map Tools at MapTools.com

Recently I found myself 2 days before a hike without a map ruler for 1:24000 scale maps. I didn’t know of any retailers locally that would have what I needed and I didn’t think that an online retailer would be able to get the ruler to me in time for the hike. Sure, I could get by by just using the scale on the map, but those are often scaled in miles and I prefer to have the option to measure things out in yards or meters if possible.

MapTools.com to the rescue! I was already on their site to order some other tools (which will be reviewed in an upcoming article) when I noticed that MapTools.com has a free download section. They have a ton of great tools in .PDF format that can be downloaded for free. I downloaded a 1:24K map ruler and had several printed on overhead transperancy sheets at a local office supply chain. You may also want to consider laminating your ruler since the printing may rub a bit under field conditions. The rulers worked perfectly and I was able to share some spares with others on the hike.

Check out the free tools here.

While you are there, check out their line of unique, very useful, and not free map tools.

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USGI Cammenga Lensatic Compass – Washer and Dryer Test

I recently sent a USGI Cammanga Lensatic Compass through the washing machine and briefly through the dryer in the name of science (or maybe I just forgot to take it out of my pocket). I am am happy to say that it passed the washer and dryer test with flying colors. These are compasses are TOUGH.

The compass displayed no additional paint chipping (it was already quite well worn). No moisture made it into the capsule and there was no fogging. The sighting wire is still straight and intact. All of the tritium elements are still intact and working. The rotating bezel is still in place and clicks positively.

 

USGI Lensatic Compass after going through the washer and dryer.

 

 

There are compasses that are lighter in weight. There are compasses that have more features. There are compasses that require less additional map tools. But there are few compasses as tough as the USGI Lensatic compass and few that make taking relatively precise azimuths as easy. I own other compasses, but I often find myself reaching for one of my old USGI Lensatics because I know them and trust them.

Note: Stay tuned for some upcoming compass and map tool reviews. I hope to take a look at some of the excellent UTM tools from MapTools.com, the venerable Brunton 15TDCL (AKA the real Silva Ranger), and the superb Suunto MC-2 Global.

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BooBoo Kit Versus Blow Out Kit

I hope that you know the importance of having a blow out kit on your person whenever you are at the range. We previously discussed a basic kit that could be contained in the HSGI Bleeder Pouch. Blow out kits are serious gear for serious situations. A blow out kit can literally save your life but how will you handle injuries that are less than life threatening? Build a booboo kit.

A booboo kit is just another name for a first aid kit. It should be compact and comprehensive. Think about all the common little injuries and issues that you deal with when you spend a day (or days) outdoors, at the range, or in training. You will probably deal with things like headaches, cuts, burns, scrapes, stomach aches, blisters and more. These are all things that can ruin a day at the range and can not (and probably should not) be treated with the items in your blow out kit.

You will also find this type of kit to be useful when you are not on the range. You may want to add it to your hiking pack, your hunting pack, your vehicle, or even keep it at the office.

A basic booboo kit should cover the most common injuries you encounter. The following list will not be comprehensive. You will want to consider adding and deleting items as you see fit.

Cut Treatment – Band-aids, gauze, first aid tape, triple antibiotic ointment, butterfly band-aids, medical grade super glue

Medications – Pain relievers, antacids, anti-diarrheal,  cold meds, allergy meds, anti-itch ointment

Sprains and Breaks – Ace bandage, SAM splint, chemical cold compress, triangular bandage (used as a sling), finger splint,

Burns – Burn gel, burn dressings

Sanitation – Hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves, cleansing wipes

Other – Tick removal tool (tweezers or dedicated tool), mole skins for blister treatment, snake bite kit, scalpel blades, glow stick, space blanket

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Rite in the Rain Notebooks

Rite in the Rain is famous for their paper. While most paper turns into a mushy mess in the rain, Rite in the Rain paper remains intact and you can still write on it even when it is soaked (if you have the right writing utensil). This paper is amazing stuff.

I have been using Rite in the Rain’s pocket notebooks for years. I used one most recently to record distances, azimuths, and pace counts on an orienteering course. There was a threat of a rain all day and while little more than a sprinkle ever fell on us, the Right in the Rain notebook handled it easily. These notebooks are a must whenever I am outdoors. It seems that I am always finding a use for them. I often use them in carbine training classes to record information and take notes. The notebooks also have rulers and map scales printed on the plastic covers. The rulers often come in handy on the range.

If you need to write in the outdoors, there simply is no substitute for Rite in the Rain products.

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