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Archive | Tactical Gear

Button Compasses: Use With Caution!

I learned a lesson today. Thankfully it wasn’t a hard lesson.

I have been wearing a Suunto Clipper on my watch band for a while now. It has generally worked well and the luminous bezel has come in handy when I need a quick direction check in the dark. Everything was fine  until today I glanced down at it while at the office and noticed that it was facing the exact opposite direction that it should be. The north marker was pointed south.

At first I thought that it was just the computer on my desk or perhaps my filing cabinet throwing it off. I stepped away from my desk and it was still way off. When I packed up and left for the day, I checked it outside wondering if there could have been something in the building throwing the compass off. No luck, it was still 180 degrees off outside.

I thought about the situation on my drive home and realized that it could have been my wallet throwing it off. My wallet has a magnetic money clip built in. It is great because it keeps the wallet slim. Sure enough, after passing the compass over the magnet on my wallet, the needle suddenly righted itself. Then I flipped the compass over and ran its face over the magnet. It pointed south again. So simply by varying the way in which I passed the compass over the magnet, I could reliably make my compass point south and then make it point north again.

Lessons Learned:

1. Have a plan B (and maybe even a C, D, E, F, etc). If this had been the only way for me to find direction in my “tool box” in a bad situation, I would have been in trouble. At least learn how to tell rough directions without the aid of a compass so that you can verify that your compass is working properly.

2. Keep your compasses away from magnets!

Spec Ops T.H.E. Pack Review

Spec Ops Brand THE Pack Review

When people are talking about 3 day packs, I generally do not see this one mentioned. I suppose it is probably because it is not a new design. However, it is still a great pack that can be had at a great price if you know where to look. I have been using several of these packs for about 4 years. I recently purchased two more for friends and thought I would take this opportunity to do a review with 2 basically new packs.

Overview
The THE Pack by Spec Ops Brand is a fairly straight forward “3 Day” type pack. It is extremely well made and covered by an excellent warranty. It is made in the USA.

The Stats
Here are the dimensions for the pack and some key features (taken from the Spec Ops Brand website).

  • PACK DIMENSIONS: 19″ high, 13″ wide, 12″ thick at bottom tapering to 9″ at top.
  • MAIN COMPARTMENT: 19″high x 13″ wide x 7″ thick @ 1730 cubic inches.
  • TOP POCKET: 8″ high x 10″ wide x 2.5″ thick @ 250 cubic inches.
  • BOTTOM POCKET: 10″ high x 12″ wide x 3.5″ thick @ 570 cubic inches.
  • TOTAL CAPACITY: 2550 cubic inches.
  • 1000D Cordura® nylon construction
  • YKK #10 zippers on main compartment and large outer pockets.

NOTE: I am not sure if many manufacturers are over stating their capacity or if Spec Ops understates, but the THE Pack, with it’s 2550 cubic inch capacity seems larger than many similar packs with larger stated capacity.

Details
The THE pack has a lot of subtle features that have sold me on this pack even when I have tried newer designs from other manufacturers. One thing that is rarely considered when selecting a bag is the actual shape. The THE Pack is basically a large rectangle with a domed top. This is a very efficient shape for a pack; allowing it to be stuffed efficiently and to stand upright when full.


The THE has a simple and efficient shape.

It also has simple but very effective compression straps. The straps work to compress not only the main compartment, but also both front compartments. They are also mostly out of the way so that you might not even need to release them to access the pockets.


Note the two out of the way compression straps on the side of the pack.

This pack has a lot of MOLLE webbing as you can see in the pictures. It has several areas that have enough rows and columns to be very versatile. Each of the two front pockets are faced with webbing, the sides are covered, and the bottom has a large area as well.


The bottom of the THE is flat so the bag can sit upright and has plenty of MOLLE webbing.

The straps on the THE Pack are extremely comfortable, well padded, and very ruggedly constructed. There is a foam pad that sits in the hydration compartment to pad your back while you are wearing the THE pack. There is also an unpadded, and fairly ineffective waist belt as is the case with most 3 day packs. The pack is not tall enough to put the waist belt on your hips anyway. This pack is very comfortable to wear with moderate loads as is.


Note the well padded straps with quick release buckles, sternum strap, waist belt, and stitched reinforcments where the straps are attached to the pack.

If you need to load the THE Pack a little heavier or just want to make it even more rigid then consider purchasing the frame sheet. It is made from a flexible plastic and has two nylon pockets for bendable aluminum stays. This can be installed in the hydration compartment and works very well to handle heavy loads.

The THE Pack is hydration compatible. You simply direct the hose of your hydration bladder through the one of the ports which are located on either side of the heavy duty grab handle.


Routing your hydration hose is simple with these hook and loop hydration ports.

The interior of the two front pockets is very straight forward. They are simply wide open pockets. The main compartment however, has much more going on. One of my favorite things about the THE Pack is that it is lined with bright yellow nylon. This high visibility lining not only makes finding items easy but also reinforces the exterior 1000D Cordura®. There is also a mesh pocket located at the top front of interior of the bag. The hydration and/or frame sheet compartment is located at the back of the main compartment.


The main compartment is cavernous and features a high viz lining.

This wouldn’t be much of a review if I didn’t show you what you can do with all that MOLLE webbing. I keep mine covered with Diamondback Tactical (DBT) utility pouches (tall on the sides and short on the bottom front), a Maxpedition flashlight sheath on the clever horizontal webbing between the front pockets, and a DBT abmin pouch on the top front pocket. These pockets easily add around 650 cubic inches of storage. The compression straps are designed in such a way that they can easily reach around side mounted pouches to compress them as well.


Plenty of pouches and room for more!

Conclusion
This is a very straight forward and simple pack but it allows you to add as much complexity as you want with its ample MOLLE webbing. It is certainly big enough for its intended purpose and can easily be expanded. This is an efficient, functional, and well made bag that will work well for the camper, casual shooter, or soldier.

This is more of a true 3 day pack made for wearing with armor and possibly a load bearing belt. For a different style of 3 day pack stay tuned for the Kifaru Molle Express review.

US Palm AK Magazines

I have been looking forward to the release of these magazines for some time now. US Palm has finally brought their US made AK-47 magazine to market and they are in stock at SGC.

This magazine is brought to you by the same folks who make the excellent Tango Down ARC Mags for the M16 family of weapons. In fact, it shares many of the same features like ribs on the front and back for grip, deep waffle texture on the sides for additional grip, low friction follower, and permanently sealed polymer construction. The AK mag also has metal reinforcements in key places.

You can also keep an eye on US Palm for more products built around the venerable AK. They are bringing a great looking AK specific chest rig to market soon and I hear they are working on a grip that will likely be the best thing going in AK grips. Hopefully they will bring a 20 rounds version of this magazine to market. I much prefer the size, weight, and handling characteristics of 20 round mags for the AK-47.

These mags have been tested by a lot of pretty serious AK users during the development stages and passed with flying colors. I very rarely run my AK but I still appreciate a great product when I see one. If you run an AK with any regularity you will want to check out these mags.

If you have these in hand already, I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment.

Girls and Their Bags

I recently picked up a new Kifaru Molle Express. It is a great pack and I have had a few chances to wring it out already so look for an upcoming review. Until then, enjoy these pics of my highly paid fashion model wearing the pack.

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It passed the taste test.

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Tactical Handyman: Tournequit Retention Doohicky

So you need a way to keep your tourniquet at hand? Well the Tactical Handyman has the simple (and cheap) way to build your own Tourniquet Retention Doohicky or TRD (pronounced turd). If you are anything like the Tactical Handyman, you have the stuff to make one laying around already. Why pay $5-12 plus shipping for something you can make on the cheap?

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Necessary Materials:
– Short piece of mil-spec shock cord

Optional Materials:
– Cord End
– Cord Lock

Instructions:
This isn’t rocket science. This is simply a loop of shock cord. The cord ends are nice since shock cord will fray readily but a simple knot will do. You will have to experiment with different lengths in until you find a length small enough to really secure your tourniquet. The cord lock allows you to make your TRD a bit more universal. You can cut it a little bit long and use the cord lock to take up the slack.

Simply thread the TRD behind two rows of webbing like so:
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Now you can stretch the ends over your tourniquet. I found that the cord stayed out of the way well if I twisted it so the ends were to the side like so:
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Or, you can loop the end onto the windlass or other part of the tourniquet:
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I found that spanning 2 rows works best because it allows the cord to be placed toward the center of the tourniquet but still have a couple of inches in between straps for stability. If you get the straps toward the center of the tourniquet and make them tight enough the tourniquet is locked down and isn’t going anywhere. This type of design is common to most tourniquet holders. The ability to loop the small tab onto something like the windlass gives a 3rd contact point and even more confidence that you will not lose your life saving gear. If you felt the need, a third strap could easily be added, but I think it is unnecessary.

To remove the tourniquet quickly, simply pull on the cord end (or knot) which will free the top (or bottom depending how you have it positioned). Once one end is free the tourniquet can be tugged to be released from the remaining loop. This can easily be accomplished with one hand.

This sure beats rubber bands. The Tactical Handyman has your back.

I am using the SOF-T Tourniquet in the pics but this should adapt to just about any model.

PS – This works great on the webbing that is sewn on the side of many blow out kit pouches like the HSGI Bleeder Pouch.

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Clean, Fresh, Water

We all need water to survive. A healthy adult can only live about 3 days in ideal conditions without water. Water should be at the center of your preparedness plans.

A site called Monolithic Marketplace is selling a very simple and inexpensive water filter that really works HERE. This filter can be purchased as an entire kit, ready to assemble, or you can purchase just the filter and fit it to your own containers. With proper maintenance a ceramic gravity filter like this will last a long time.

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