Author Archive | Matt

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.

Benchmade Snody Shakedown – 14205, 14210, 420

14205, 14210, 420… A Benchmade/Snody Shakedown!

I just reviewed the 14205. I was taken with it how it mixed tank like toughness with refined EDC-ability. So I thought that I check out some of the other Snody designed Benchmade offerings.


The 420 and 14205 have similar blades while the 14210 sports a subtle recurve (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

As you can see, the 420 and 14205 are very similar in the size of the blade. Both measure about 3.4″ and both are made from .150″ thick 154CM. The 14210 is smaller with a 2.95″ blade. You can also see the differences in handle size. The 420 has a longer, thicker handle than the 14205.


Note the beautiful texture on the 14210 (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

Here you have a better look at the handles and handle scales. Again, the 420 is the largest, while the 14210 is VERY compact. The 14210 would be a great compact choice for locals that require a sub 3″ bade. Also, notice the striking appearance of the 420. The black G-10 overlays on the gray anodized aluminum scales makes for a very unique appearance and give great grip.


Very classy open construction with sculpted stand-offs (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

All three knives feature open construction using stand-offs instead of a one piece back spacer. This gives a very classy look. In this picture you can really see the thickness of the 420.


The 420’s pocket clip

Finally, check out the great pocket clip on the 420! It absolutely disappears in the pocket because it rides so low. The clip actually fits in a milled groove behind the G-10 scale and screws to the aluminum. It can be attached to either side for left or right hand carry. This is a very elegant solution. What a great design!

I am really coming to appreciate the Benchmade Snody designs. They give you a whole lot of knife for the money. They are nice to look at and easy to use. What more could you ask?

Benchmade 14205

The HK 14205 – A Serious Sleeper
I have been able to spend some quality time with a knife that isn’t really new to the market but you don’t seem to hear a lot about it. It seems to be overshadowed by several other “hard use” knives and never comes up in EDC conversations, yet it will fill both of those roles easily. So why should you pay attention to the Benchmade HK 14205? Let’s take a look.

Stats and Features
The 14205 is designed by Mike Snody, the money man himself. His finger prints will be obvious to anyone who is familiar with his work. It is manufactured by Benchmade and features their excellent Axis locking mechanism.

The blade is made from .150″ thick 154CM steel and is 3.40″ long. The blade features a spear point shape with an unsharpened swedge which renders a very sharp and usable point. The handle slabs are thin, textured G-10 over full steel liners. There is a large, aggressive thumb ramp. It is 4.5″ long when folded and 8.19″ long opened.

As you can see, this knife was made to be used, and used hard. However, it is also very slim and refined. So is this a hard user, an edc, or both? Maybe we can find out by comparing it to a more well known Benchmade folder.


14205 top, 520 bottom

A Comparison
The Benchmade 520 is a knife that does get talked about, at least more so than the 14205. Before I saw the 14205 in person, I figured it would just be another 520-like knife. While there are some similarities, these are two very different knives.


Note the blade thickness and large stop pins – these are beefy folders!

Both knives have 3.40″ blades made from 154CM. However, the 14205’s blade is thicker .150″ versus .130″ on the 520. Both have the large, beefy stop pins and rock solid lock up. Both offer a good grip and enough handle for your whole hand. This knife, like the 520, is obviously built for abuse.


Open construction and classy stand-offs of the 14205 versus the closed back spacer of the 520

However, the similarities end there. The 14205 features beautiful, sculpted stand-offs. This open construction is attractive, makes it easy to clean, and keeps the weight down. It is slimmer than the 520 without really sacrificing grip. It weighs only 4.92 ounces versus the 5.68 ounces that the 520 weighs. So not only is this a hard user, but it is also a refined EDC worthy knife.

Nitpicking
I am going to pick a few nits. I think the 14205 falls just touch shot of what it could have been were it not for two small items. If the full steel liners were skeletonized (like they are on the 520), it could have been even lighter without sacrificing strength. Also, it would be great if the pocket clip was attached as high as the one on the 520. This would allow the 14205 to sit lower and more discreetly in the pocket. In the scheme of everything that this knife has to offer, these are very small issues.

Conclusion
I really like this knife. It is capable of everything the beloved 520 is capable of, but it is far more pocketable. It almost seems to be having an identity crisis. Maybe that it why it doesn’t really get mentioned often – it just fits too many categories. This knife is definitely worth talking about mroe often, especially for the price. These can be picked up from very reputable sources for just over $100. This is one serious sleeper!

A Visitor

Over the last several weeks we have been blessed with a very cool visitor. We have had Barred Owls in our woods for years but usually they would never come any closer than the creek which is about 30-40 yards from the back door. That has changed recently probably due to us using the back door less frequently in the winter. Now the owl has been roosting on our deck, patio furniture, nearby tree limbs, and bird feeder poles while it hunts moles and chipmunks.

We have actually been able to watch it hunt from less than 10 feet away. We have a few picture windows that look out over the woods in the back and these have allowed us to be up close and personal with these amazing creatures. They are so mellow that I can actually walk right up to a window in full view of the owl while it watches no more than 10-12 feet away!

Being able to get that close makes for some great pictures…

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes