Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some of my favorite tactical things

My name is Neal and I am a gear geek.

These are some of my favorite things. Tactical is a word with a variety of meanings. IMHO tactical gear is anything designed for getting shit done.

Cable Ties

My favorite piece of tactical gear is the humble cable tie, aka zip-tie. They are tough, light, small and cheap... the ideal tactical item!

 Working the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival has taught be the millions of uses of cable ties. Not only are they handy for building bike corrals and securing scaffolding, but you can use them as handcuffs or to tourniquet a traumatic amputation or as a field expedient ponytail holder.

EMT Shears

Zipties are easier and safer to cut with scissors or pliers than with a knife actually. Trauma scissors (or EMT shears) are fantastic. |Amazon|

 Like zip ties, they are tough, light, small and cheap. What's not to like?

They are also helpful for treating people with serious injuries. You'll want to remove some of their clothing to treat their obvious wounds and inspect them for other injuries.

Trauma scissors are part of my everyday carry (EDC). I usually have a pair in my "tactical bag", which is a 5.11 SERE uber-tactical man-purse.

First Aid Kit

Trauma scissors should also be part of your first aid kit (or kits)!

After 9/11, people reacted in different ways. I reacted by buying first aid kits and reading first aid manuals. 

For an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK), I currently run a Condor tactical EMT pouch. I've been running this minimalist version when I work the bike race. |LA Police Gear|

Some people denigrate Condor gear for being cheap... I've found it reasonably tough and I'm not going into battle, so it's good enough for me. There are lots of first aid kits on the market.

Some first aid kits are pre-filled while others are DIY... suit yourself and your budget... but I definitely recommend assembling a first aid kit!

I also recommend collecting first aid supplies for your home. There's no need to go crazy, but a well-stocked first aid kit never hurt anyone... unless they dropped it on their toes.

Pepper Spray

I almost always have pepper spray. I like Sabre pepper spray, especially in a small, hard case. |Amazon| It fits in my pocket well next to the cell phone.

The clip makes easy aiming and by indexing it in your hand.

Pepper spray is a less-than-lethal weapon, actually making it more likely that I would use it to defend myself in a self-defense scenario than a knife or a gun. Under American common law principles, you can only use lethal force when your life or safety are imperiled (i.e. a high risk of death, dismemberment or rape -- robbery is not enough).

But pepper spray is rarely, if ever, fatal, So I can use it much earlier in my threat assessment process! If someone starts acting belligerent or unstable around me, I get my pepper spray out of my pocket and hide it in my hand.

Smart Phone

Being able to call 911 is always handy. And I'm a cyborg... I prefer having a connection to the Internet whenever possible. I currently am running a Samsung Galaxy II. I like everything about it except the battery life. Enough said.

Tactical Pen

This year, I stopped carrying a pocket knife as part of my EDC and switched to a tactical pen. I love knives, but the pen is more practical for my urban lifestyle.

As a germaphobe, I like using my own pen instead of other people's nasty pens. The pen is also a less-than-lethal weapon, so again, I'm more likely to get it out and actually use it in a threatening situation than a knife. 

I'm also less likely to cut my own finger off with it. Using a folding pocket knife in a life-or-death struggle is going to subject the knife to significant strain and if it breaks, it's likely it will cut into you and your opponent.

Tactical Flashlight

Darkness makes it difficult or impossible to see. We are sight-oriented creatures, therefore light is helpful and makes you more proficient. Therefore, another part of my everyday carry is a tactical flashlight.

Unless I am in the shower or my pajamas, I generally have a Fenix flashlight tucked in my pocket or man-purse.

Mainly I carry a PD-31 |Amazon|YouTube Review of 4 Fenix flashlights|.

 Fenix has since come out with a PD32, which is what I would likely buy if I bought another one.

 There are lots of great tactical flashlights out there. I would suggest checking out the reviews at Candlepower forums.

 My backup lights tend to be Surefire G2's. I run big lithium batteries in them, but they are designed to run on two (2) CR123 batteries.

CR123s are advertised with a ten (10) year shelf life. I think they're likely superior in terms of shelf life to alkaline batteries but YMMV (your mileage my vary).

Update: Firestarters

A firestarter is not a bad idea. This suggestion comes to us from Cliff's son. Magnesium bars are definitely on the list. Light, small, relatively cheap and tough! I like Swedish fire steel as well, which comes with its own scraper. I am a bit concerned about cutting myself if trying to use a magnesium bar when my fingers are wet and cold, so a blunt scraper (like a screwdriver) would be handy as well.

To be candid, I am not an expert firestarter, so I like to include a simple bic lighter and some waterproof matches as well in my firestarting pouch of my bug-out bag.

Dryer lint makes great kindling for firestarting. Char cloth is ideal of course.

I like tea lights as minimalists candles.


So those are some of my favorite pieces of tactical gear. Feel free to share your thoughts of favorite pieces of tactical gear in the comments.


Joe6paq said...

Cliff here - you have written the perfect blog post for my son. The only thing missing is a discussion of fire starters. He is a big fan of the humble magnesium fire starter.

Joe6paq said...

Cliff here - you have written the perfect blog post for my son. The only thing missing is a discussion of fire starters. He is a big fan of the humble magnesium fire starter.