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Archive | Tactical Gear

Batuca Battery Cases

I have been using these Batuca battery cases for about 2 years now and they are the best that I have used. They can be used to hold and organize AA and CR123 sized batteries. It splits into two sections and each section is a contrasting color. There are several different colors available. The lid snaps shut securely and opens easily by lifting a small locking tab. They are even made in the USA.

The split sections allow you to tailor the amount of batteries that you need to carry. They can also help you organize your batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries you can keep fresh on one side and spent ones on the other side. There is a ton of organization potential.

These make a great addition to your hiking/camping gear or your EDC gear.

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Mountain Ridge Gear

I came across Mountain Ridge Gear recently. They make some extremely interesting gear right here in the USA. The quality looks great and the prices are very reasonable.

The Tactical Man Purse looks especially interesting. There is some serious functionality built into these bags. I especially like the mesh interior pockets and the “pull-out” pocket (ala Kifaru). The exterior looks somewhat low profile even though there is some PALS webbing on on one side.

Eric at Mountain Ridge Gear has graciously agreed to loan me a Tactical Man Purse for review. Stay tuned for the upcoming review.

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Surefire KX-4

The Surefire G2L is getting an upgrade. The Surefire G2L has become popular for weapon mounting thanks to it’s quality at a reasonable price and light weight. It is also a popular carry light among those who see the value in carrying a light daily.

Now, with the release of the KX4 conversion head, Surefire is increasing the output to an impressive 120 lumens while still delivering decent battery life. There is also a crenellated version called the KX4D.

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Patch Collecting: Send a GI a G2

Do you like helping worthy causes? Do you like unique morale patches? I thought so. The Peace Keeper Support Network has a program that puts quality Surefire G2 flashlights in the hands of deployed soldiers that really need them. All you have to do is make a donation or purchase a patch.

Click here to purchase a unique morale patch and help send deployed soldiers Surefire G2 flashlights all at the same time!

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Review – Kifaru MOLLE Express

I think I have finally spent enough time with my Kifaru G1 MOLLE Express (Mollex for short) to be able to talk about it with a reasonable amount of depth. I have used this pack on several day hikes, an orienteering course, car travel, air travel,  car camping, and a multi-day hike. It has seen rain, snow, heat, and cold. It has been on the trail and it has been out breaking brush. I haven’t spent years under it yet but I have formed some opinions.

Note the wedge shape and zippered access at the top and bottom. This is part of the magic of the Mollex.

Overview

The Kifaru Mollex is a newer version of their well loved Express. The main difference is the addition of MOLLE webbing on the body of the pack. The Mollex has a pocket on top of the lid (with a Velcro field for patches) and an mesh pocket on the underside of the lid. The regular Express lacks these two pockets but adds a front slip pocket.

The Mollex features 1000 denier Cordura nylon construction. The lid and body of the pack are constructed from a single layer of nylon, while the bottom of the pack is constructed of 2 layers of nylon for added durability. The top and bottom zippers are large, durable #10 YKK brand zippers that have para-cord pulls instead of noisy metal pulls. All hardware (buckles, sliders, etc.) appears to be from ITW Nexus. The construction and materials used in the pack are confidence inspiring.

There is a hook & loop field for affixing patches and name tapes on the top of the lid.

The Mollex blurs the line between day pack and 3 day pack. It boasts 2300 cubic inches of storage space which can easily be expanded through to use of additional MOLLE or “Dock & Lock” pouches. I especially like to use the Kifaru E&E to quickly add 1000 cubic inches of storage. The magic of the Mollex is that it feels small when you are wearing it but will surprise you with how much gear you can cram into it.

Unlike most packs this size, the Mollex has a true suspension system, not just a plastic panel stiffener. The suspension system is designed to transfer the weight of the pack off of your shoulders and onto your hips. It accomplishes this with 2 long aluminum stays that run vertically from the top of the pack to the bottom. These stays are ergonomically shaped and can be bent to fine tune the fit to the individual wearer of the pack. The stays run from the top of the pack, down to the waist belt. I opted for the padded MOLLE belt on my Mollex. The waist belt is wider and thinner than many people expect from a “padded” belt but the extra width effectively spreads the load of the pack over the hips without the need for the heavy padding. It doesn’t need the heavy padding that larger packs use since the loads will be somewhat limited by the size of the pack.

Additionally, the Mollex features an internal hydration compartment so you can easily add the bladder of your choice. There is a covered hydration port that make routing the hose of your hydration bladder easy. You will also find numerous other external loops for attaching Kifaru accessories like Pods and Cargo Chairs. The Mollex comes with a Chamber Pocket that can be suspended inside the pack. There are also provisions to hang a second Chamber Pocket and mounting points in the bottom of the pack for Lock and Loads that can be purchased from Kifaru.

The interior of the Mollex is more cavernous that you would expect on a pack this size.

The Good

The Mollex carries very well. The size and shape of Mollex is where the magic starts. It is not just a basic cylinder or cube shape like most packs. It is narrow at the top (about 30 inches in circumference) and flares at the base (about 40 inches in circumference). The resulting shape is like an upside down funnel or a wedge. This shape promotes placing the largest, heaviest items at the bottom of the pack where they will be riding directly on the waist belt. This low center of gravity makes the pack feel like part of you which is especially nice when you are off the trial. This is probably the most important asset of any pack. If a pack is unwieldy or uncomfortable, it fails as a pack.

It holds more than you think. As I said in the overview, the pack feels small when you are wearing it but carries a surprising amount of gear. It is small enough to use as a day pack and large enough to pack out for 3 day trips (it might be tight multi-day trips in the winter). If you find yourself running out of space, you can just bolt on more storage in the form of a MOLLE or “Dock & Lock” pouch. The suspension should keep you pretty comfortable up to 60-65 pounds (and probably more).

The top pocket on the lid provides some much needed organization capability. You can also see the covered hydration port below the pocket.

The Mollex gives you great access to its contents. There are two zippered access points to the main compartment (one at the top and one bottom of the pack). If you pack in a somewhat organized way you should be able to access anything in the pack using one of these two access points without having to dig around too much. I tend to prefer the least amount of zippers possible so a bottom zippered access point makes me a little nervous. However, Kifaru uses top quality zippers and has provided some redundancy to the zipper in the form of 2 side release buckles. Even if the zipper fails, you can buckle the bottom of the pack closed.

The wedge shape of the pack also makes it an excellent field improvised shooting rest. I turn the Mollex on its side which allows me to adjust how high I have to sit up in the prone simply by shifting left or right. This is great in the field or when you are zeroing your rifle at the range.

The mesh pocket under the lid and included Chamber Pocket add more organization potential.

The Bad

It can be warm to wear. The Mollex is designed to ride right up against the wearer. There is no mesh between the pack and the wearer to promote airflow. It is not unbearable thanks to the padding in front of the stays which raises the pack slightly off your to allow some airflow. It just doesn’t breathe as well as some packs.

Organization of small items is a bit lacking. This isn’t as big of a deal for those who are using this pack outdoors but those who wish to use it as a travel bag or EDC will find it lacking organization features. The Chamber Pocket and 2 top lid pockets do help but some pen slots or small slip pockets might be appreciated by some users. You may want to check out this organizer from TAD Gear if you need more organization (yes, it works perfectly with the internal chamber pocket hangers in Kifaru bags).

There are no provisions for strap management. Once the Mollex is adjusted to you and your load, you will find that you have the excess ends of several straps dangling everywhere. This can be a pain when you need to adjust something while wearing the pack and you give a strap a pull only to find that you are pulling the wrong strap. It can be partially cured using a ITW Web Dominators or by wrapping the excess straps up in duct tape. The amount of straps on a Kifaru bag is a blessing and a curse. They provide a lot of adjustment but they end up dangling everywhere.

The bottom access to the main compartment of the Mollex opens all the way back to where the waist belt connects to the bag to give amazing access to your gear.

Conclusion

Kifaru makes some great gear, but it is not inexpensive. I never dreamed that I would ever own a Kifaru pack but thanks to the G1 closeout sale (still going on) and some buying/trading on the secondary market, I have had the pleasure of owning 5 different Kifaru packs and several accessories. The Mollex is my favorite of the sub 3000 cube packs that I have tried. It is over built, offers great access, carries a reasonable load very comfortably, and offers extreme modularity. I am very happy with this pack.

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Sharpie Mini – Handy on the Range

I always try to bring writing implements with me to the range. For me, they are a necessity for recording times, scores, drops, holds, and taking notes. This is especially true when you are in a training course. I spend hard earned dollars on training and want to get the most out of it. Surprisingly, at least to me, not everyone brings something to write with to the range.

 

 

Sharpie Mini shown with a familiar full size Sharpie for scale.

 

One of the handiest writing tools for the range that I have found is the Sharpie Mini. A pen or pencil might be better for writing things in your notebook but you can’t beat a Sharpie for marking hits on a target between strings, for scoring targets, marking magazines with your initials, and many other tasks. I have even used the end to start stubborn take down pins. The Sharpie Mini is a little more than half the size of a full size Sharpie so it tucks away easily into your admin pouch.

Remember to bring your Sharpie Mini next time you hit the range.

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Patch Collecting: FUBAR Jolly Roger

I like to collect are Velcro backed morale patches and I’m always on the look out unique patches to add to my collection. So, in this series called Patch Collecting, I will highlight patches that I own or come across in my travels.

The first patch in this series is from a friend on the Usual Suspects Network and it is one of my favorites. I love the Stanley FUBAR tool and always have one in my truck. This patch features two FUBAR tools in place of the crossed bones of a typical Jolly Roger flag. Sadly, I don’t think these are available anymore.

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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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