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ATLAS Gen 5 Achilles Trauma Kit Ankle Band

ATLAS is now offering the 5th generation of their Achilles Trauma Kit Ankle Band. The new version adds capacity and retention features while still keeping a thin, minimalist profile.

The new features include an additional 1.5″ sleeve and a removable retention strap for the 4″ bandage pocket. The Achilles Gen 5 retains the clever internal rescue hook sleeve of its predecessor. It is available on its own or pre-stocked with supplies as a kit.

StrongLikeBeetle.com

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Amtac Blades Introduces the Magnus

If you have ever looked at the Amtac Blade Northman and wished it was bigger, the new Magnus might be for you. The Magnus features a 5″ blade ground from 3/16″ thick CPM-20CV steel and comes in at 8 5/8″ long in overall length. Like the Northman before it, it features textured G-10 handle scales.

The Magnus will be available to order on Thanksgiving Day. It will also be available for a special price on that day ($50 off).

Stay tuned for more details.

AmtacBlades.com

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TOPS Knives Adds 90 Degree Spine and Firesteel Option for Fieldcraft 3.5

TOPS Knives is now offering a new optional upgrade for the Fieldcraft 3.5. They will grind the spine to a sharp 90-degree edge and include a firesteel for $25. The scraping edge is applied to the spine from just forward of the spine jumping, all the way to the tip.

TOPSKnives.com

Stocked Tourniquet Ankle Band from Gadsden Dynamics

Gadsden Dynamics is now offering their Tourniquet Ankle Band with a stocked option. The package includes the Tourniquet Ankle Band in your choice of colors, a QuikClot Combat Gauze, and a Combat Medical TMT Tourniquet. All you need to add is your ankle and some training.

GadsdenDynamics.com

On Foot, Off Grid: Suntactics sCharger-14

I’ll just say up front that this sCharger-14 is easily the best portable solar charger that I have used and then I’ll spend the rest of this article telling you why. The bottom line is that the quality is excellent, they are assembled and supported here in the USA, and they have a feature that is an absolute game-changer (more on this later).

sCharger-14 Specifications:

  • Output: 2800mA, 5.1V, 14Watts
  • Circuitry: 2-USB Ports, Patented Auto-Retry (Auto-Reset)
  • Weight: ~21oz (596 Grams)
  • Water Resistant: 40 Feet, Corrosion Resistant, IPX7 Rated
  • Dimensions: 11.6″ x 7.25″ x .25″in (closed) / 11.6″ x 14.5″ x .125″ in (open)
  • Solar Cell Efficiency: ~20%, Mono-Crystalline
Suntactics sCharger-14 (upper right) shown with another panel during testing. There will be a review available on the other panel soon.

Observations from Use

To understand what makes the Suntactics panels so great, it helps to have some context for the state of the solar charger market and some experience with the challenges of solar charging devices in the field. I’ll try to provide that context before explaining how Suntactics addresses both.

Regarding the state of the market – It only takes a quick search on Amazon to see solar chargers from a variety of names you don’t recognize and a few that you might. Many of these brands are based in China and appear to exist solely for the purpose of selling inexpensive electronics on Amazon. In my experience, their quality is often dubious and their specifications aren’t trustworthy.

Suntactics, however, has been making excellent portable solar panels since 2009 and their panels have been very well vetted by several demanding user groups including the through-hiking community and military personnel They work. Their panels have no moving parts. They are laminated in such a way that they submersible and they shrug off poor weather conditions. I have used a USB voltmeter to verify their output claims and this panel will often deliver a charge in conditions where my other panel gives up the ghost which speaks to its efficiency. On top of that, their electronic design is superior to anything I have tried… which brings us to the game-changing feature.

Regarding the challenges of solar charging in the field – You may be aware of the fact that the sun’s position in the sky changes throughout the day. You may also be aware that things occlude the sun, like clouds, exist in significant numbers. What you may not know is that many devices like battery chargers and cell phones just aren’t built to handle the realities of solar charging and the voltage changes that come with it.

In many cases, a cloud passing in front of your solar panel will cause the output of the panel to drop which induces a charge error and the device stops charging. Many cell phones are also a little picky about their charge level and will simply not adjust as the panel output changes with the solar conditions. This can lead to more charge errors or slower charging than is necessary. Basically, all of this means you have to babysit your solar charger at all times so that you can unplug and replace the USB device as necessary to reset any potential charge errors.

All Suntactics panels have a feature that addresses this issue very elegantly. They call it “Auto-Retry” and it basically means that the panel automatically restarts the charge every 5 minutes. It is as if you are standing there unplugging the device and then plugging it back in every 5 minutes. You can leave Suntactics panels unattended with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that charge errors will be dealt with automatically. It’s basically magic.

This photo was taken during testing to illustrate some very challenging conditions. See the next image for actual multimeter readings during these conditions.
In this real-world test, the sCharger-14 was still putting out 4.59 volts at .44 amps with the sun occluded by clouds. The other panel tested during this time was producing charge errors.

I originally purchased my sCharger-14 as more of a preparedness item than a backcountry item. It is the largest panel that Suntactics makes in the sCharger line but I still find it to be quite portable and lightweight compared to many panels so it has seen time in the mountains. That said, I would like to pick up one of their smaller and lighter panels eventually for backcountry use with my preferred power banks (see previous article regarding power banks).

I’ve done things like charge 2 cell phones at once (though only one USB socket will have the Auto-Retry feature). I have charged 18650 batteries in the field at 2 amps (the panel will do it if the charger and solar conditions allow)! I can’t do either of those with the other chargers I have tried. I should also note that this particular panel tops off my battery banks relatively quickly which I appreciate.

Wrap Up

I am not an electrical engineer so I likely won’t dive that much deeper into the stats or tech for this panel. I’m just a guy who has spent too much time screwing with other solar chargers before stumbling on a brand that works. The Suntactics panels are efficient, exhibit great quality and efficiency, and that is all great but… What really sets these apart is that they have obviously been designed to address the challenges of solar use in the field.

Suntactics makes a number of sizes and configurations in the sCharger line. They seem to be made in batches and their website is kept up to date with only the particular panels that are available at that time. Suntactics.com

They also sell direct via Amazon with Prime shipping which is where I purchased my panel: Suntactics on Amazon.com.

Gadsden Dynamics Adds Combat Medical

Gadsden Dynamics is now a Combat Medical dealer. They currently offer the TMT Tourniquet, a CoTCCC approved TQ, with plans to carry additional Combat Medical products soon. The TMT fits the Gadsden Dynamics Tourniquet Ankle Band and Elastic Tourniquet Holder perfectly.

GadsdenDynamics.com

The Best Things No One Has Told You About the HPG Umindi

There are probably a few hundred reviews of the Hill People Gear Umlindi out there already. All of them are going to tell you that the Umlindi is versatile enough to slide from daypack to overnighter thanks to HPG’s system of pockets, comfortable thanks to their unique suspension, and durable thanks to their materials and production in the USA. That’s true of all the HPG packs. This article is about what no one else told you…

Overview and Background

The Umlindi is a mid-sized pack with a capacity of around 30L/2000ci (the capacity can be greatly expanded with HPG’s Pockets). The pack can be worn without a belt as a backpack or paired with HPG’s Recon or Prairie Belts (which I highly recommend) to be worn as a lumbar pack. It features HPG’s excellent compression design and harness which is a key to the comfort of any HPG pack.

I purchased a Kifaru G1 Molle Express (MOLLEX) more than 10 years ago and it really opened my eyes to 1) how versatile a mid-sized pack with a well-designed suspension system could be and 2) to a very different concept in suspension (different to what I was used to at least). The MOLLEX was the first pack that I owned that relied heavily on “delta” straps to pull the weight of the pack close to the wearer and into the hip belt rather than load lifters.

About a year ago, I bought an Umlindi to serve as the lighter, less tactical, cooler-to-wear MOLLEX replacement that I have always wanted. Both packs use wrapping shoulder straps and waist belts rather than heavy padding, both rely on delta straps instead of load lifters to direct the weight into the belt, and both carry the weight of the pack low. The Umlindi suspension is really only similar in concept as the HPG shoulder harness really sets it apart with additional comfort and increased mobility.

The Umlindi is more of a lumbar pack than a backpack when used with a hip belt (I use the Prairie Belt) unless the wearer has a shorter torso. It rides low on the back. This lumbar pack DNA is what makes it somewhat unique, one of the major keys to its usefulness as a pack for me, and the source of the unique benefits that I have been alluding to all along.

The Best Things No One Told You About the Umlindi…

As a reviewer, I am often guilty of spending so much time wrapped up in features that I don’t adequately relay the benefits of those features. I suspect that is true for a lot of reviewers and maybe why some of these benefits haven’t been put to paper:

Plays Well with Rifle Slings – If you have ever tried to sling a rifle while wearing a backpack, you know what a pain it can be. This is doubly true for 2-point slings that wrap over the shoulder and across the back of the wearer. With a traditional pack with load lifters, the must either be run under the pack or it rides on the wearer’s neck if worn over the pack. The Umlindi keeps the wearer’s shoulders and upper back mostly free except for the harness which lays completely flat. It allows a 2-point sling to worn completely normally over the pack and even makes it more comfortable as the sling rides on the harness!

It is a little hard to see what is happening in this picture. It shows my shoulder from above and right. My 2-point sling is ridding on the padding of the HPG harness and wrapped naturally around my back while I snowshoe.

Keep It Cool – The Umlindi does a better job of keeping me cool than any of the ventilated packs I have tried. My shoulders and upper back are more exposed and when the pack is properly fit, the wearer can create an air gap above the lumbar pad that can be opened up based on the delta strap adjustment.

Ruck n’ Roll – The Umlindi is a great training pack. This is due in part to the ventilation mentioned above and because it carries weight low and focused into the belt. I have used a kettle bell as weight but more recently I’ve been using a cheap ruck plate which carries more naturally with less shifting. This pack is a real back-saver if you spending a lot of time with a weighted pack.

Don’t Touch My Hat – This is one is fairly off-beat but it has turned into one of my favorite things about the Umlindi. It doesn’t bump into hats with wrap-around brims like a Tilley or cowboy hat. That may not seem like a big deal but when it is 100+ degrees, bone dry, you are above tree line, and the sun is absolutely relentless… its a big deal.

Clearance, Clarence – Finally, I live in an area with a TON of trails. The agencies and volunteers that maintain these trails can only do so much in a season. Additionally, we tend to have thick second growth of tree species like Grand Fir in off-trail areas that have been logged. This means ducking under a lot of thick branches and deadfall when hiking on and off-trail. The Umlindi provides plenty of clearance for when you need to duck under objects.

Wrap Up

When you combine everything that has been written a million times about all Hill People Gear packs with anything above that might be important to you, I hope you are getting the picture that the Umlindi is a great pack. I like it so much that I am sorely disappointed when my loadout necessitates a larger pack.

Umlindi at HillPeopleGear.com

Review: Boonie Packer Safari-Tac Multipurpose Sling

Mounting a modern 2-point tactical sling on an AR-15 is easy. Many stocks and handguards can accept a side-mounted sling by default or at least with the addition of readily available accessories. If you want to do the same thing on a rifle or shotgun with a traditional buttstock, it becomes a little more complicated… unless you know about a sling that has been around forever: the Safari-Tac Multipurpose Sling from Boonie Packer/Redi-Mag.

Overview

The Safari-Tac Multipurpose Sling is a 2-point sling that allows rifles and shotguns with traditional stocks with bottom mounted sling swivels to be carried across the front of the shooter in the same way a modern 2-point tactical sling would. It accomplishes this with a unique attachment method that requires no modification to the host rifle.

You can see the attachment method in this video:

Observations from Use

I’ve been using these slings for more than 12 years. They absolutely solve a common problem in a simple (and affordable way and I am ashamed that I haven’t reviewed this sling until now. This sling does not get enough credit.

The sling attaches via two hard plastic bars that can be tucked into standard sling swivels easy but can not slip back through without intentional manipulations. At the front, the sling just attaches to a button mounted swivel in a fairly standard way with the sling just running out from the bottom. The rear swivel is where the magic happens. The rear swivel is used as a stop that prevents a webbing loop that is wrapped around the buttstock from sliding forward and back. The sling is attached to the loop on the side of the buttstock rather than the swivel itself. This is what allows the rifle to be carried flat against the wearer’s chest.

This Safari-Tac has a plastic slider to adjust the length of the sling. This slider can be operated while the rifle is slung but I still wouldn’t quite call it is a “quick-adjust” sling. The slider is there to aid in length adjustment and for the sling’s use as a shooting aid more than it is for left/ride side transitions or cinching the rifle close to the wearer. It can be used for those purposes. Just don’t expect it to slide like a quick-adjust mechanism.

In addition to the 2-point sling functionality, the Safari-Tac can be used as a shooting aid. The slider creates a loop in the sling that can be looped onto the support arm to help the shooter build a more stable shooting position. This can be something of a lost art these days but it is very handy for those who know how to fully leverage the functionality.

This sling is excellent for bolt action rifles, shotguns, .22 rifles, and any other traditionally stocked weapon that you want to carry in a manner that keeps it comfortably away from a backpack and readily available. Shotgunners may find it especially useful as mounted a modern 2-point sling to a pump-action shotgun can be frustrating. I particularly like it for a longarm that I might carry while hiking like a shotgun or lever-action because it works so well with backpacks thanks to its flat, wide webbing and positioning.

Wrap Up

The Safari-Tac Multipurpose Sling likely pre-dates most of the modern 2-point slings that JTT readers are familiar with but that doesn’t diminish its relevance today. This sling is incredibly useful and solves a common problem in an elegant way. I should also mention that it also happens to be very affordable.

Check it out at the Boonie Packer/Redi-Mag website: Redi-Mag.com

NOTE: Be careful if you plan to purchase one. Boonie Packer/Redi-Mag make other slings with the term “Safari” in the name. I am sure those are fine sling too but this review and the functionality described pertains to the “Safari-Tac” sling.

Guest Post: The Modern Minute Man and Other Standards – Bill Rapier of AMTAC Shooting Instruction LLC

Today’s guest post is penned by Bill Rapier of American Tactical Shooting Instruction LLC (AMTAC Shooting). Bill is “retired after twenty years in the Navy, where his duty assignments included several years at SEAL Team 3 and over 14 years at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Positions held include assaulter, breacher, sniper, team leader, troop chief and military working dog department senior enlisted adviser. He has always been an avid shooter and is heavily involved in combatives.” Now he is lead instructor at AMTAC Shooting and designer of the AMTAC Blades Northman.


For the last two years I have done the Sniper Adventure Challenge Race.  It has been a great way for me to have a goal to train for and to keep pushing the boundaries with training, fitness, shooting and gear.  New for this year, one of my local friends (Jake Hoback) and another local buddy were going to team up and do the race.  This was great for me as it gave me other dedicated training partners.

Eventually one of the guys had to drop out so I started trying to find my buddy Jake a partner for the race.  As I started going down the rolodex of guys to call as potential race partners for him the conversation would usually go something like this: “So, are you up for doing a race next month?  You need to be prepared to walk 40-50 miles, carry a 40-50lbs ruck, shoot out to 1500 yards, be proficient with pistol, navigate with map and compass (no GPS) and be prepared to perform a wide variety of other tasks.”

Usually what followed was a long pause, a “maybe”, a “next year” or a “no” with laughing.  As I was talking with my friend and race teammate “Chainsaw” about my frustration with the lack of guys that have the willingness, ability, time, and resources to do the race he said, “Yeah, that is modern minute man stuff”.  That got me thinking.

The term “minute man” comes from the time just prior to the American revolution.  Basically, the minute man was someone skilled at arms with a base of physical/ martial prowess, able to be “ready to go” in a minute.  This is what the National Parks Service has to say about the minute man:

Old school minute man

Minute men were different from the militia in the following ways:

  1. While service in the militia was required by law, minute men were volunteers.
  2. The minute men trained far more frequently than the militia. Two or three times per week was common. Because of this serious commitment of time, they were paid. One shilling per drill was average. Militia only trained once every few months (on average) and were paid only if they were called out beyond their town, or formed part of an expedition.
  3. Minute men were expected to keep their arms and equipment with them at all times, and in the event of an alarm, be ready to march at a minute’s warning – hence they were called “minute men.”

What does a “modern minute man” look like?  What would the standard be?  Should all American men be able to to meet the “modern minute man” standard or are there different levels, standards or roles that we are called to fill?

As I started digging deeper with this concept and discussing it with friends and mentors, it started to make sense that it should be broken up in to different levels with the “modern minute man” just being one of them.  Here is a breakdown of the different levels and the standards that should be associated with them:

Responsible Armed Citizen (RAC)

This is the baseline that every American man should be at.  The RAC standard is:

  • A high level of situational awareness
  • A foundational ability to fight/ use a blade,
  • A baseline level of competency with a pistol (perform the Amtac Shooting Pistol RMD or similar task)
  • A commitment to carry your tools.
Controlling hands and feeding with a blade
Framing
Spear elbow, weapons retention shooting position

Follow Me (FM) :

Still working on a better name for this as the infantry has been using this term for a long time.

  • Be proficient with a carbine (Amtac Shooting Carbine RMD or KD4 Carbine hat qual)
  • Have the ability to follow someone, walking for 6 miles while carrying your carbine, 6 mags and water (10-15 lbs)
  • Be physically in shape enough to run your carbine after the walk
Working carbine drills with plate carrier
High kneeling shooting position
Roll over prone shooting position

Modern Minute Man (MMM): 

  • Be able to navigate 20 miles while carrying a 25-30lbs load
  • Have a base level of bushcrafting skills
  • Have a base (line of sight) comms ability
  • Be able to shoot out to 600-700 yards.
Hill People Gear Umlindi Pack with heavy Recce strapped to back
Improvised shooting position, sling wrapped around the tree, engaging target at ~800 yards.
Working yard lines with a hybrid carbine

Jedi Modern Minute Man (JMMM): 

  • Be able to navigate/ walk 40-60 miles
  • Carry 40-60lbs
  • Shoot out past a mile
  • Make your own ammunition
  • HF comms ability
  • Ability to work/ travel/ live in the winter in the mountains
Snowmobile supported kneeling, shooting BC steel around 500 yards with a Recce rifle.
Medium ruck day (50 lbs) running a BPT Outback chest holster to ensure a fast draw stroke while wearing a ruck waistband.
Amtac Shooting Fall Course 2018. Guys working land nav and field shooting positions. Terrain was challenging.

Where do you fall out in these standards?  Where do you want to fall out? None of these standards are easy and none of the standards once achieved do not require continued training to maintain.  Regardless of if you are just starting this journey and want to achieve the RAC standard or if you have been doing this for years and have your sights set on the JMMM standard the only way you will get there is by deliberate intensive training.  More to follow on training and gear as it relates to the MMM concept.

Amtac Shooting Fall Course 2018. Improvised shooting positions, men honing modern minute man skills.

New from TOPS Knives: Fieldcraft 3.5

For years, the Fieldcraft by Brothers of Bushcraft (aka BOB, aka BROS) has been a top selling model for TOPS. It’s a great all-around mid-sized knife for bushcrafting, survival, and more. Of course, many people have asked for larger and smaller versions of the knife for different reasons. This was the driving force behind the Fieldcraft 3.5. Its blade length is slightly over 3.5”, which is the sweet spot for many people in small camp knives, EDC fixed blades, and hunting knives for small game, fish, and fowl. You’ll be glad you picked this one up.

Pick up the Fieldcraft 3.5 from a TOPS authorized dealer or from TOPS at https://www.topsknives.com/fieldcraft-3-5

Fieldcraft 3.5

  • Overall Length: 8.25”
  • Blade Length: 3.75”
  • Cutting Edge: 3.63”
  • Blade Thickness: 0.16”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58
  • Blade Finish: Black Traction
  • Handle Material: Tan Canvas Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 5.5oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 7.7oz
  • Sheath Material: Black Kydex
  • Sheath Clip: Rotating Spring Steel
  • Designer: TOPS Team
  • MSRP: $145.00

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