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TAG always has a BLAST at SHOT Show, and this year was no different - IT’S VEGAS BABY!
Getting to meet the Operators & LEOs that use our gear on a daily basis just reminds us why we do what we do.
We also love having the opportunity to introduce our NEW Gear for 2017...
&&& Show-Off some of our existing gear that you might not have seen yet…
Not-to-mention, getting to highlight some of our new Vendor Partnerships with GREAT Brands like Crye Precision.
All-in-All SHOT Show 2017 was a success and we hope to see you all there in 2018!
P.S. - Check Out More Videos from SHOT 2017 on our YouTube Channel!
TAG PRESENTS - TACTICAL HACKS
In our next TAC Hack Video, we're showing you howto REFRESH you Velcro gear.
You love your Tactical Gear, but the Velcro is full of fuzz and lint. Run over the Velcro with your razor, and it’s new again... If only real shaving took away years...
More TAC HACKS to come, so stay tuned!!!
TAG PRESENTS - TACTICAL HACKS
In our next TAC Hack Video, we're showing you how to pack your 3-Day Pack.
Preparation is key to any successful operation. So what should you always keep in your assault pack to stay ready? This is what we suggest.
Our 3-Day Pack must haves:
These are our must-haves for a 3-day Pack. Shop this packing list, or tell us in the comments what favorite must-haves are for a weekend mission.
More TAC HACKS to come, so stay tuned!!!
TAG PRESENTS - TACTICAL HACKS
In our next TAC Hack Video, we're showing you how to make a Skivvy Roll with a Baselayer Set and Tactical Socks.
Another simple, yet helpful HACK to simplify your life and help you PACK-IT-DOWN!!!
More TAC HACKS to come, so stay tuned!!!
“ Uncle Chris, I have a question; should I join the Army and be a Ranger to get myself ready for BUDS or go to the Marines and go to the Recon community because they work in the water too?”
Answer: Neither!!! The other service branches are not f&%*ing stepping stones for BUDS. These highly successful units are not some weekend getaway experience so you can find yourself. Tony Robbins (who I love just FYI) would tell you to go f#$% yourself for being so stupid (watch I’m Not Your Guru on Netflix). His advice is really no different than mine. Do some research; watch the documentaries, and speak to the recruiters at all the branches. Be careful, they do not care about you or your future; they have a monthly quota to hit. It’s like a sales goal at a used car lot, they will tell you whatever you want to hear and make you believe that the job you are signing up for was really your idea. Do not sign anything unless it is exactly what you want. You will be doing this job for 4 years at a minimum or at least 3 years if you fail selection.
If you want to be a Ranger, SEAL, MARSOC, Battalion Recon, Force Recon, PJ, CCT, Special Forces etc. Pick one and do it. That’s it. That is the magic answer. I personally did not go into the Marines because I wanted training. I had to because I was a criminal with a record and drug use. I never thought of being a Marine until the Navy said “you’re a shithead; we have plenty of those already, thanks but no thanks.” So I went next door and 5 days later was stepping on the yellow foot prints at building 622 aboard MCRD, San Diego. I had to get a waiver FROM a 2 star General who chewed my ass out over the phone while I begged him to give a chance to prove myself. This is what is called A REALITY CHECK. I was in artillery for 4 years and I am here to tell you it sucked. I paid my penance in the desert of 29 Palms for years. But it’s what I needed and I am extremely proud to have served as a Marine. I took to their discipline like a fish to water, pulled my head out of my ass and when my 4 years was up, left and joined the Navy.
You need to do some soul searching ask yourself these questions and answer honestly;
There are no right answers to these questions. It’s up to you and you alone if this lifestyle is what you really, really want. Branch of service does not equate to bravery. The different branches offer a different job, that’s it. It’s a job nothing more, nothing less. If you cannot decide what service branch to join, trust me you’re not ready for any of them. Get focused, get ready; stay ready so you will always be ready.
TAG PRESENTS - TACTICAL HACKS
In our introductory TAC Hack Video, we're showing you how to make a Lantern out of a Headlamp and an empty Water Jug/Milk Container.
It's really simple:
See, so easy even a Window-Licker can do it!
Don't have a headlamp? SHOP OUR TOP BRANDS NOW
More TAC HACKS to come, so stay tuned!!!
What is the best plate carrier for me?
This is a very common question. I have always deferred to this question; what are you using it for? Do you need it for work, play, home protection or so you feel better having it in case something catastrophic happens and you want to be prepared? My answer is the same. PAY FOR THE BEST. Why? Because if you really need it, your life or someone else’s life is at risk and you are now holding a weapon in your hands. Plate carriers are more than just a convenient way to carry a few magazines. It holds the only thing that will save your life from multiple ballistic threats, which cannot be stopped by soft armor alone. You do not want to leave it to chance or buy something cheap because it looks cool but in reality is not used by the professionals.
What size should I get?
Size your carrier correctly by first buying the right sized armor plates. 10” x 12” is the most common size sold today. If looking online this will be a size Medium plate. If you are larger you need to use a large plate. Buy the carrier for your plate size, not body size. The cummerbunds on all the brands I will recommend are fully adjustable and come in multiple sizes. This is how you size the carrier for your torso circumference. If you then plan on adding soft armor to the sides and wearing internal magazine pouches I would highly recommend bumping up one size for a proper fit. I personally use a medium plate carrier and a large cummerbund set for this reason.
What Armor Plates should I use?
This is a great question and one that has been debated since man first hand-hammered metal and hung it around his neck. This is based solely off of the projectile threats you will most likely face. For decades, the military has gone overboard and created threat requirements for armor that will stop armor piercing 30.06 rounds. When has this round ever been shot at an American in combat….well, NEVER. So now the government has spent millions of dollars over-engineering armor our troops really don’t need. Currently, they are working to change the scope to defeat actual threats in an effort to reduce the overall weight of the armor issued. I will leave it up to you to decide what threat you are trying to stop. Here is your dilemma, do you buy level 4 stand-alone armor plates (which are cheaper and require no soft armor behind them) to reduce your financial costs, while weighing significantly more, OR do you buy Level 3 In-conjunction armor, which is lighter but requires soft armor behind it, defeating less threats and costing a lot more? I carried over 40lbs. of light-weight equipment when I was active duty, so in reality one component may be lighter but as a whole you are not going to be light. Armor, gear, water, medical equipment, batteries, ammunition (depending on caliber and how many you carry) and your weapon all adds up to be anything but light-weight. If you can combine all the above (minus your weapon) into a system that weighs less than 25lbs. you will be in great shape.
What should be on my carrier?
I recommend a minimum of 6 magazines (5 on gear 1 in gun) 28 rounds per magazine (5.56) for 168 rounds. Pouch for a GPS/radio system, water system (usually, 70-100 ounces), medical kit (within reason do not go overboard with a massive medical kit), an admin pouch for a multi-tool, pen/waterproof paper etc. You can and should wear your pistol on your pants belt along with your pistol mag pouch. Depending on mission type (military) and how often you are in and out of vehicles I would also recommend wearing your medical kit and (2) hand grenade pouches on your pants belt. Remember, just because you have free space it doesn’t mean you need to make up a reason to add more pouches and weight! Carry what is needed to do the job, do not “What-If” yourself into carrying 10 pounds more kit than you need. Now, for companies that I think are the best in the industry. My opinion is formed from using products from most if not all of them, years of seeing bad products fail in the field and not work as advertised, company experience, quality of raw goods used to make the gear and company reputations from within law enforcement and military units respectively. Most importantly, I base it on long lasting gear that has a combat proven reputation for not failing when needed the most.
S and S Precision - Plate Frame – Retail Starts at $423.00
Crye Precision - Jumpable Plate Carrier (JPC) – Retail Starts at $248.00 (ONLY $229.99 on TAG!)
TAG (yes I founded the company, so there will always be bias) - Vanguard Plate Carrier - Retail Starts at $299.00
First Spear - Strandhögg SAPI Cut Plate Carrier – Retail Starts at $441.32
London Bridge Trading - 6094 Plate Carrier – Retail Starts at - $442.92
TYR Tactical - General Plate Carrier – Retail Starts at $339.95
Regardless of what brand you choose, BUY QUALITY. Train in
your equipment often enough that you can comfortably shoot, move and communicate in it effectively for an extended period of time.
As a small child I watched the movie First Blood with my father (I was in second grade - Thanks Dad, nothing like quality parenting!). Seeing the American Flag on Sylvester Stallone’s OD Green M-65 field jacket not only had a huge impact on me and what it stood for; but this movie and image is the catalyst for my wanting to join the military.
This jacket was a movie prop; the Army never had this as a regulation.
During my childhood, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) attempted a daring mission; named Operation Eagle Claw to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. Part of their mission uniform was the flag sewn onto the left sleeve of their black M-65 field jackets.
Delta Force 1980 boarding a cargo plane for Operation Eagle Claw
Because we did not have subdued flags like today, they were covered up with duct tape until needed.
Not until 1989, during Operation Just Cause, did America really see for the first time troops openly “flying” the flag on their uniforms. Again, Delta Force sewed the Red, White and Blue flag to their left shoulder.
Delta Operators prior to the Carcel Modelo Prison raid to rescue American hostage Kurt Muse in Panama during Operation Acid Gambit.
During Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm (2 August 1990 - 28 February 1991) Special Operations units (from all branches) were used largely for reconnaissance missions. All of the uniforms were “slick” with no flag patches due to the nature of that type of mission. Somalia was the next place we would see the American flag flown in the face of the enemy. This time by SEALs, Delta and Rangers during Operation Gothic Serpentin 1993.
Navy SEALs, Somalia 1993
Delta Operators, Somalia 1993
Army Rangers, Somalia 1993
From 1995 (when we officially left Somalia) until 9-11, units and individuals in special ops units had no rhyme or reason to the use, color or placement of the flag on either body armor or the uniforms. It was mainly a personal decision and was not mandated. Most units still chose to run slick with no country identifiers.
Navy SEAL platoon, March 2001, I am front row, kneeling second from the left with my .300 win mag sniper rifle.
Post 9-11, almost immediately every special operations unit put the American flag on without orders or official uniform regulation; we took a "Pride Conquers All" approach.
Same Platoon Dec. 2001 Afghanistan. All of us have a subdued flag on our left shoulders. I'm in the front row, standing, 1st on the left.
Now that it is a part of the uniform regulations, special operations units allow individuals to put the flag where they want (another benefit of being in spec-ops). Regular ground forces do not have this type of flexibility and wear the flag on their right shoulder per uniform regulations. Big center mounted flags are starting take over again, as well as people going overboard with them on their helmets, shoulder and body armor. But, can you really bring too much American freedom to a firefight? No!
Navy SEAL, Afghanistan
Navy SEAL, Afghanistan
Army Ranger, Iraq
Army Rangers, Afghanistan
Delta Operators, Iraq
Delta Operators, Iraq
The U.S. Code states "no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica should be worn on the left lapel near the heart." The U.S. Code does not address the positioning of the flag patch. It is appropriate to wear an American flag patch on the left or right sleeve. When worn on the left sleeve, the union would appear towards the front and the stripes would run horizontally toward the back. When worn on the right sleeve, it is considered proper to reverse the design so that the union is at the observer's right to suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. Army Regulation 670-1 states, “The American flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.” The flag may only be worn on the utility and organizational uniforms. The flag may only be worn during joint-duty and multi-national deployments. When the service member returns to home station, the flag must be removed. A new message and amendment to this regulation went out in February 2004 changing this restriction, and making the U.S. Flag a mandatory uniform component for all soldiers, effective October 1, 2005. Whatever you do, however you are allowed to wear it, wear it with pride in the face of our nation’s enemies. No retreat, No Surrender!!!!
Today's world is plagued by violent acts. We as a law abiding society need the ability to defend ourselves, families, friends and innocent people. Most people do not have any real training, have never been in a gunfight or a loud non-permissive environment where chaos, confusion and casualties are and everyday reality.
The fear hyped up by politicians and the news media should largely be ignored. Why? Because they are no different from what I have just described. The difference between you and a politician is that politicians are surrounded by the very weapons they want to ban you from owning. Ask yourself why is an AR-15 style rifle "Okay" for their family and for their personal protection, but not yours. Our elected officials are elected by us...the US citizens, by a political system that is, of the people, by the people and for the people. You cannot argue, control or eliminate an active threat with words. No society in modern history has been able to fight armed combatants with words. The first thing dictatorships do is take the weapons away from its people. Why? So they cannot defend themselves from tyranny and oppression. This is why the United States traditionally in the last 100 years has sent its young men and woman to war, to defend those who cannot defend themselves. What do we bring to these places of conflict and war? Weapons. It's OK to have situational awareness, to ask questions, to get the best training you can afford, to arm yourself and protect the very rights our men and woman die to give total strangers in other countries. Take a look at Mexico and the war on drugs. Mexico has a total ban on any and all weapons and the possession of bullets of any kind. In Mexico the murder rate has steadily, if quietly, outpaced the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Mexican government released new data showing that between 2007 and 2014 — a period that accounts for some of the bloodiest years of the nation’s war against the drug cartels — more than 164,000 people were victims of homicide. Nearly 20,000 died last year alone. Why does this happen? Because only criminals have weapons in Mexico. You cannot stop criminals from being what they are and Mexico is a border state. This is not happening 8K miles away in a mountain top outpost you cannot see on a map. This happens every single day and is a very real reason and reminder for you the US citizen to exercise and protect your 2nd amendment rights that millions of men and woman have died to enact and protect. Dom Raso a fellow SEAL, firearms, combative and training expert has released a video that will give you an even better understanding of what I have talked about here. Dom is a Patriot an American by birth an Operator by choice and I am proud to call him a friend. Please watch his video and share it with everyone you know. You're welcome America!!!
MOLLE is a latter locking attachment system, more commonly referred to as “basket weaving.” You take any pouch place it where you want it and begin weaving the straps in and out. If you have pouches with tuck tabs (also called soft snaps) once there is roughly 1.5 to 3” inches hanging out, you will tuck the plastic tab back in under itself locking it into place. If you have an older style snap system there will not be any excess length. You will simply weave the 1” strap until you can snap it down. The video below give you a good look at how both systems work:
I am often asked "What should I do to prepare for BUDS?". Great question, it can be answered very simply. NOTHING. Nothing you do will prepare you for BUDS. BUDS sucks, it's filled with challenges testing your mental and physical commitment to a process designed specifically for you to not succeed at it. Training your mind, in my opinion, is more important than the physical aspects of BUDS. You will need to have both and understand that BUDS is like the game of golf. You cannot beat it, you can only play it. What I mean by that is, there is no great or best run time; you cannot run fast enough ever. Same goes for the swims, the obstacle course etc.…For example, say you go out for a 4 mile timed beach run and you beat everyone and finish in 25:42. Great right? Well, the next time you run that, say you get 25:58. You will be crushed by the instructor staff for going slower than they know you can go.
BUDS is about total commitment to self-improvement, team work and a never ending process of constantly improving both as an individual and as a class. You are also there to prove to the instructor staff, at all three phases of training, that you deserve to serve in a team. Remember their teammate’s lives will depend on your ability to perform under extremely difficult circumstances and they have a responsibility to thin the herd of turds. So here are some tips to help you prepare physically for BUDS:
All exercises are done at a basement level then build from there. You do not need to be able to do 30 pull ups and 200 pushups non-stop. My suggestion for pushups is to start by doing 10 sets of 20 reps resting 1 min between sets. Once this is relatively easy, increase to 30 reps, then 40, than 50. You should be able to knock out 8-10 sets of 50 pushups with a 1 min break between sets before going into training. Pullups, start with 6 dead hang pulls ups, clean reps kipping is not allowed, so never train like this. 6 reps, 10 sets with a 2 minute rest between sets. Increase to 8 reps, then 9, then 10. Break it up and test your one time max once per month, your goal should be to do 20-25 in clean pull-ups and 90-120 push-ups. If you can do 6 sets of pull ups 12 reps each you will be just fine. You should be able to run 10 miles at a decent non heart popping pace once every other week. Run 4 miles in under 30 min. consistently once per week and run 2 miles in under 11:30 no matter what 5 times a week.
My personal times when I did the BUDS screening; Pushups 112, sit-ups 90, pullups 18, 500 meter swim 10:20, 1.5 mile run 11:00. These scores are real, and they really sucked but my final PT test at BUDS scores were; Pushups 130(max for the test) sit-ups 120(max for the test) pullups 29, there was no swim, 1.5 mile run 9:15. 2 mile run 13:57, 4 mile run 29 min.
Consistency is key, do not get down on yourself, listen to your body, sleep a lot, do not over train and injure yourself. Drink a lot of water, a gallon a day if you can do it. DO NOT TRAIN 7 DAYS A WEEK. Take days off, no more than 5 days a week. If your body is hurting, rest more.
Be smart about your training and most importantly - DO NOT TAKE TRAINING ADVICE FROM ANYONE WHO HAS NEVER BEEN TO BUDS, GRADUATED BUDS AND WAS A SEAL. Why? Because they have no frame of reference, and do not know what the F@!K they are talking about.
I am constantly bombarded about this subject by young hopefuls wanting to join the military. Some do not believe that I did both and I am lying. There is nothing better in this world than a disabled veteran with 3 combat tours, being called out by people who are either in high school, never served or worse, literally couldn’t even qualify to join the military due to being overweight. But I digress, yes it is possible to serve in multiple branches. The question I ask most often is why? If you want to be a Marine join and be a Marine. If you want to be a SEAL, join the Navy and become a SEAL. If you are already in the Marine Corps, do not get out. Screen for MARSOC, build your operational reputation there. If you leave the Marines and fail out of BUDS there is no going back.
From my experience, the biggest ego shattering experience in life would be to go from being a Marine in any MOS to being in the fleet Navy after failing BUDS (you are fleet bound) to get ordered around by some fleet shoe fat bastard. Good luck with that. The likelihood is very great due to the sheer historical percentage of all who fail the program. Since 1943, roughly 17%-19% have graduated. To put that into perspective, more guys are drafted into the NFL every year than graduate BUDS. Currently, there are more Green Berets on active and reserve duty today than all the living men who have graduated BUDS. The numbers do not lie; the program is difficult at best and crushing at worst. The good news is there is a ton of info about BUDS today. There is no reason to not be physically prepared to take this on. The mental game and the water are a whole other animal. No one likes to be cold. To be in a constant hypothermic state, wet and shivering absolutely sucks! I say it all the time; "Anyone can carry a heavy pack and do land navigation or shoot on a flat square bay range, not everyone is able to handle the water." If you want to go to BUDS be mentally prepared to be wet and cold every day for 6 months. No, the Marine Corps will not prepare you for BUDS. I get asked this question all the time. Or I will hear “hey man, I’m going to do what you did, join the Marines and get ready for BUDS, then join the Navy”. My answer is always the same. I joined the Marines because I had to. I had a criminal record and drug use. I paid for my transgressions in the Marine Corps. I served in Artillery for 4 years doing back breaking work so I would have a clean record of performance to qualify for BUDS and to get a contract. I would never change it because of the experiences and combat in Somalia, but I do not recommend this route. Why? Because the Marine Corps does not exist to train BUDS hopefuls, its sole mission is to make Marines and support the warfighter. Nothing you do in the Marine Corps will prepare you for BUDS, other than cleaning the barracks and standing duty. From the moment you join the Navy you will feel out of place, because the Navy (while it is the military) is NOT like being in the Marine Corps. Here you can see how weak even Army boot camp is compared to the Marines.
This is why if you have been a Marine you can join any other service without going to boot camp again. However, if you want to be a Marine you must, there are no waivers or exceptions YOU MUST go through Marine Corps boot camp. Here is a link to Navy boot camp. It is basically a joke to say the least, and if you want to go to BUDS, you must endure possibly the worst part of the process…Navy boot camp.
...this is a short video with a small taste of BUDS. You will notice it’s not a “screaming at you program.” You either perform or you do not, that’s it. You make the standards or you are out. By their very nature, SEALs are a lot of things-but the rebellious, think-outside-the-box with a general disregard for traditional military discipline, is what makes SEALs…SEALs. It is exactly what the Marine Corps hates about the Navy and the SEALs, the two services and communities are basically polar opposites in every way. SEALs are their own animal, with a very small community. 30,000 people become Marines every year. There has not been more than 18,000 men to graduate BUDS since 1943, that’s roughly 232 a year
Cleaning tactical gear should be a part of your daily habit, whether you’re training or working. The saying “take of your gear and it will take care of you” is very real and very true. Nylon gear, by its very design and construction, is engineered to be extremely abrasion resistant as well as having a limited ability to repel water, dirt and mud. However it’s like anything and has its limits and should be taken care of. Most people are just lazy and after use, throw it on the ground, in the back of the car/SUV and never think about it until they use it the next time. Gear stinks, why because your sweat is trapped in the fabric and stays there to rot like it would in an unwashed arm pit. Inspection of your gear is critical, you should know your personal kit like you know yourself, other than your mind and weapon it holds the key to your survival in combat, carries all of your mission critical gear and should be treated with the respect it deserves.
Saltwater exposure: Empty your entire loadout from your kit. If you are constantly working in salt or fresh water, your gear needs to be rinsed in fresh water (yes, even after fresh water exposure) and left to hang and dry. All of the equipment in your gear needs to be taken out and cleaned individually and wiped down. Anything with batteries should have the batteries removed and wiped down inside and out and left to air dry as well. Saltwater destroys everything, nothing is safe. There is no such thing other than gold, titanium or carbon fiber that is safe. The Navy has tens of thousands of sailors whose sole job is ships preservation, basically 80% of what they do is keep the rust from destroying the ship. There is also nothing from my experience that is 100% waterproof at all times. Eventually “O” rings and seals fail, get pinched or rot and loose waterproof integrity. After your nylon kit is dry hit it with a nylon bristle brush to get the dry salt off of it.
Muddy Gear: Empty your entire loadout from your kit. Again fresh water rinse, you have to try to your best ability to wash off the environment you were just in. Hang dry and use a nylon stiff bristle brush to get off the heavier caked on mud, this can also be done during the rinsing process.
Sand: If you are working in the desert, your gear is exposed to the harsh sun exposure and constant beating from sand, gravel and rocks. Your biggest enemy is the smell from your sweat in this environment. Everything stinks and eventually smells like ammonia. Because water sources are extremely limited unfortunately, you will more than likely have to wait until you are home to clean your gear properly. So the best thing to do is literally brush off your gear with a nylon bristle brush, and let it air dry every day. Lay your armor carrier our exposed so the inside front and back that touches your body has a chance to air out. Empty your kits contents, wipe it all down. Turn your gear upside down and try to get the loose gravel and sand out. You will never get it all out (trust me).
You are doing all of this to help preserve your gear from the abrasion happening from the inside of the pouches and pockets. The thin “shiny” side of your nylon that you see in your pouches is polyurethane. That is what gives nylon its ability to repel water, as well as add to its abrasion resistance. If that gets destroyed and starts to crack and break apart, it’s the start of the pouch being destroyed, from the inside out. You will never get rid of the “gear smell” you can only minimize it and protect your gear to last for years of use. Bottom line, be a professional and take care of your S@!T. There is order to everything: 1) Team gear 2) Personal weapon 3) Personal gear 4) Self…your comfort, hunger, family, wife, girlfriend and mistress are always last. The people you are spending time with instead of taking care of your gear will not be with you when you’re getting shot at.
Armor carrier size and plate size are not always the same. You may have a larger build and need a large plate carrier but choose to use a medium set of plates. The most common size of a ballistic armor plate is 10.5” x 12”. If this is enough to cover your vital areas (as pictured below) then the plate size is right for you. Do not use under sized armor plates because you want to save weight.
If you want to lose 2 pounds, eat some oatmeal for a few days and take a good Sh@t, or take 6 magazines instead of 7. The armor is designed to withstand the impact and effects of high velocity handgun and rifle rounds. Most importantly it is designed to keep you alive and in the fight. I have always believed that you should stay as light as possible with as little armor needed. In combat, movement is life. If you are slow and all of your available energy stores have been depleted because you have been carrying too much weight, then you have just diminished your capabilities. If you are not at your best and able to fight then you have just let your team down, making the entire unit more susceptible to whatever the enemy is throwing at you. My personal choice is large plates depending on cut and manufacturer. I may wear a medium; if I wear a medium plate I use a medium plate carrier because it fits the plates. I then put on large cummerbunds. I like the ability to adjust my carrier for cold weather gear, wetsuits, water exposure suits, chemical suits, internal radios, side plates (if needed) and mags. Test fitting and training in your gear is the best way to know if your plate carrier is set up correctly. Do not wait until you have to use it for real to find out it doesn’t. Again you have a personal responsibility to your team…they are your family by choice, it’s your duty to show up prepared and ready to fight so they come home to their families.
This is a great question and has so many different answers. First off what are you using the carrier for? Full blown combat missions? Active shooter situations? Home defense? Airsoft? Or do you just want something hanging in your garage so you can tell the neighbors wife you used to be an operator? Either way, I will try and address all of these options.
This would suggest that you are a professional and want the lightest weight products with the best construction to survive years of abuse in a kinetic environment. Plus you definitely need a bit of cool factor to go along with this…I mean why on earth would you be in special operations if it wasn’t Fu#@ing cool to begin with. There are many companies around that fall into this category that I would personally use, been issued and used in combat many times. Eagle Industries, Crye Precision, Tactical Assault Gear, S&S Precision, London Bridge Trading, First Spear, TYR Tactical, Velocity Systems and Blue Force Gear. All of these companies use the highest quality raw goods and hardware with superior construction. You will not have any issues with quality when choosing any of their products. Typically it boils down to a personal decision on product design, product features you are personally looking for, brand trust, brand loyalty as well as customer service when you are working with companies at this level. All of these companies have been at the fore-front of issued gear to all branches of service since 9/11, have outstanding reputations in the tactical industry with battle tested products.
TAG Gear for Combat Missions. Image Courtesy of Straight 8 Custom Photography
Nothing can be scarier. Innocent civilians being attacked by a gunman or multiple gunmen, typically in highly populated area like schools, office buildings, malls and movie theaters. The assailant(s) is(are) looking to inflict the maximum amount of damage before law enforcement arrives to stop them. Most of these end the same, with the shooter(s) committing suicide or being killed by law enforcement. Because these attacks are sudden and with little to no warning, responding officers do not need and most often cannot afford the best gear in the world. Not because the situation doesn’t warrant it, but more often than not, the departments have limited budgets and are trying to fill an immediate need to equip people who literally are already paying for their own gear. Unlike the military, many state and local police departments do not require that the gear and equipment the police use is made in America. The responding officers are already wearing the daily duty gear, so they literally need an armor plate carrier and a few magazines for their patrol rifle. Here is a list of companies that meet such a need - Blackhawk, 5.11 Tactical, Condor Gear, all make gear overseas and have decent price points. However, if you want to use American made gear that is not going to break the bank of either you or the department, some great deals can be found FROM a few companies that have simple carriers to fill this need. First Spear, Tactical Assault Gear, Point Blank and Blue Force Gear.
Do you need a full combat load out for home defense? That’s up to you as the home owner especially if you want to go full retard and try and talk your wife into the fact that you need 4 grand worth of nylon to protect her…be my guest. Personally I prefer a simpler approach. Spend that money on a quality handgun or shot gun and the rest on training. You need basic things like a flashlight, pistol with a laser aiming device or a good light attached to the shot gun. If you have the time to put it on maybe an armored plate carrier or something with soft armor only. If someone is going to break into your home, it’s coming without warning. Your reaction needs to be swift, violent and without hesitation to protect your family. Your primary concern is to get to your kids and other family members to ensure their safety; a shootout with robbers is not the priority. If it cannot be avoided be first, shoot to kill and then dial 911. Do not be the person who calls the police first and waits up to 7 minutes for law enforcement to arrive and gets killed waiting because you have a sh$#@ty signal. Protection of your family is first, getting on the phone is not even a close second.
This is a tough one. Some folks just want to go out have some fun and experience what airsoft was intended for. Their need for the most expensive gear in the world in non-existent, they want basic products that will do the job. Basically the game is the experience not the gear. Then you have the “milsim” types who literally buy and use what real operators use. They pick different units they represent and spend thousands of dollars on authentic kit FROM companies listed above. For this type of airsoft player they will only use what the units were issued for the time period they are representing. What I’m trying to say is I can offer no advice about gear to “milsim” people. Why you ask, because the basic rule is you can tell them nothing, and even though they have literally never served a day in their life…they will spend all day banging away on a forum somewhere telling the world they are right.
All you need to pull this off is get a couple pieces of gear FROM any company and a little coaching FROM Uncle Chris. It doesn’t really matter because anyone stupid enough to believe your dumba$# won’t know the difference. Now get some pins and patches off the internet for the unit you wish you tried out for and make your own little shadow box for the house. When girls, family and friends come over use words like, SOCOM, JSOC, SEAL, Team n Shit, Sniper, Frogman, these are all sure to impress your intended target. When pressed for details like how long did you serve the best way to respond is 8 years. Do not talk about BUDS, if you do make them watch BUDS class 234 on the Discovery Channel. Tell them you were not picked to be on camera because you were such a stud that you were pre-selected for classified programs, so your identity couldn’t be compromised. Never and I mean never say SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU. This is an elite unit within the teams and there is no way in hell anyone would ever believe you had the wherewithal, intestinal fortitude, commitment and courage to go to that level (better to just avoid that altogether). When asked about being a SEAL, be sure to name drop people like Marcus Luttrell, Chris Kyle, Mark Owen, Chris Heban, Chris Osman, guys who have been in the public eye, yet have zero chance of ever talking to someone you personally know. Make sure you say stuff like “when I was down range”, “before I came home”, “last time I was at the VA they said”, and my personal favorite “man, I just wish my ex didn’t throw my stuff out during my last deployment, I would love to show you my pictures.” Make sure you buy our books and wait in line for hours at the SHOT show for an autograph and picture, if you do there is no way they won't think you know and served with all of us. If you talk about your “service”, remember to never commit too much into the lie. It’s very important to leave your victims wanting more so they can tell their stupid friends to help perpetuate your lies until they become truth. Now, no matter what never mention Stolen Valor, it draws too much attention to what you’re doing. Never ever mention Donn Shipley, because he will for sure bust your ass and ruin all of your hard work. Under no circumstances should you ever find yourself at a range shooting a real gun around your victims. Trust me they are expecting a miracle when you shoot. Even amateurs will see immediately that you are no professional and this needs to be avoided at all costs. But if you do find yourself outside, and not in your moms basement licking the glass windows, you have to say “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Not because you have ever been around a battle field, an explosion of any kind or even have a clue what it smells like…you say it to draw the victim in closer and build more trust. If you have to touch an assault rifle (which again, I caution you against) you need to use classic military words like sight alignment, sight picture, squeeze the trigger, DOPE is always a good one. No one around you will know what it means (even you) but they won’t actually ask you either because it’s so cool, and let’s be honest who the f!@k are they to question you anyway. Now this is where the suspense builds before your fake flashback happens in public. Start to reminisce about your M4, how it had a 10” barrel, with a suppressor and a Surefire light on it and an EO Tech before they were recalled and banned for use. Never commit to the number of enemy combatants you have killed, just let your victims assume that you are just a couple away FROM breaking Chris Kyle’s record. Once the shooting starts the sweat FROM your lies should be enough to let people think you’re having “issues” being around the sound of gun fire and when the sweet smell or cordite hits your nostrils, inhale deep so you tear up. This is where you lower the boom. Tell everyone you are having some “problems” and need to sit in the truck for a few minutes. Whatever girl comes over to you to ask “what’s wrong?”…well that’s your future baby’s mama. At this point you are fully committed. The right gear no longer matters, you have won.
MOLLE (pronounced molly, yes just like the drug) is an acronym which stands for Modular Lightweight Loadbearing Equipment. Now over the years since this invention everyone has seemed to forget about the gear being lightweight. The military keeps buying more and more gear adding it into larger and larger kits for special operations units. As I like to say, “I have on 65 pounds of lightweight gear.” The point is that regardless of manufacturer or materials, weight is weight. It’s the total modularity of pouches for the individual user and more options for mission configuration, which makes this system dominant over permanently sewn pocket systems.
A common mistake that people make is referring to the 1” webbing sewn onto vests, plate carriers, full armor carriers and belts as MOLLE webbing. In fact, this layout is actually called PALS which stands Pocket Attachment Latter System. Over the years this system went from having a strip of plastic sewn in between 2 layers of 1” webbing with a snap closure to a single layer of webbing with small plastic tuck tabs to keep the pouches and pockets on. The future of this attachment system will be very lightweight rubberized products like Hypolon laser cut into single pieces, all but eliminating 1” nylon webbing. All major manufactures will need to eventually switch to this as a permanent attachment solution or be left behind in the non-stop ever changing nylon landscape.