Monday, June 29, 2015

RE Factor Tactical: Operator Band, Hostage Card/Wilderness Card, and Blasting Cap

In the "tactical market" today there's any number of companies producing questionable products.  Many of these products only really appeal to type of folks that think a beard and some 5.11 gear makes you an "operator".  One company I've enjoyed following that has been coming up with some great stuff is RE Factor Tactical.  They are a Special Operations Forces (SOF) veteran led company and their products are made in the U.S.A.  Enough said.  If you're familiar with Pineland, don't be surprised to see the flag on some of their products.  I've just about had my feel of Pineland.

I already have a few products from them and like them all.  Rather then write a separate blog on each, I'll just cover them all here.  They still have some more products I'm after.  I really like their bags, but a fella has to pace himself.  They have great shirts as well.  So, on to the products I do have.

Blasting Cap

This is one of my favorite hats, I just need to get a different color.  I was introduced to this hat when my company bought them for use while in Pineland.  It's a flexfit hat with a mesh-style backing.  It's a very comfortable hat with great features.  It's got your typical flag-sized velcro patch on the front but also on the back.  It also has a 1"x1" velcro patch on the top both inside and outside.  This could be used for IR squares.  The reason behind having a patch inside as well is so you can store you IR square while not in use so that it doesn't get faded and ineffective.

The feature that's most handy in the woodline is the VS-17 (bright orange) panel sewn on the inside of the hat that can be used for signaling.  But you might ask why this is called the "Blasting" cap.  That would be because of the RE Factors printed on the inside tape for quick reference.  If you don't know anything about those, you probably don't need to know.  If you want to know, try google.

If you're going for a hat that you can "flag or swag" up, this is it.

Operator Band

The Operator Band was designed with survival in mind.  It's not the same as the other paracord bracelets you see around.  It's made from 12 feet of paracord and you can see it has a can opener on it.  What you can't see that's contained woven into the paracord is the 30 feet of fishing line that's 80 pound test so that it can double as snare wire or other uses.  There's also a fishing hook,45 pound test leader wire and firestarter.  That wire can also be used for snares. But wait, there's more.  It also has a handcuff key that can be easily removed and replaced for use when you don't wish to be retained.

It's a great piece of kit that's easy to throw on and go.  It makes for a compact survival accessory that should be with you anywhere you go.  I recommend having a few.  While they are designed and sized to go around your wrist, they can easily be clipped onto your daily carry bag or whatever you carry.  I currently have one around the shifter on my truck.  Have a few handy and you can stick them where they might be most needed.  You can also get them with an optional Suunto compass.  I don't have that model, but I would recommend it.  They do have a few different models of bands, so go check them out.

Survival Cards

These things are awesome.  They have the Hostage Escape Card and the Wilderness Survival Card.  These are handy little credit card sized cards that contain lots of survival tools.  Again, a nice compact piece of kit.  You can get several items from REFT for survival and take up little to no extra room in your kit.  The cards are made of stainless steel and really light weight.

These Hostage Escape Cards contain several items for defeating locks.  In it is a quick stick, saw, handcuff shim, tension wrench and rake.  I'm not going to break down what each item does, just know they are all handy when you want to defeat locks.  If you want to learn how to use those tools, use google and find some learning elsewhere.  If you know how to use these tools, get one of these cards.  They are handy to have on standby if needed and work really well.  I broke apart one card and was able to get through a few locks.  I honestly was worried about the thin steel parts breaking, but no worries there.

Another great piece of survival kit is the Wilderness Survival Card.  The parts in this one should be more familiar to most.  It includes an arrowhead, small game arrowhead, trident, dual sided saw, four snare locks, two sewing needles, tweezers and nine fishing hooks.  So basically, pack your woobie, operator band and this card and you're good to go.  I haven't gotten to really test this card yet, but I plan to do so next month when I'm back in the field.  I'll update once I've used it some.

So you can see why RE Factor Tactical is one of the companies I keep a watch on.  They don't have a ton of products in their store, but the one's they do have are quality and useful.  They have a blog that has some pretty good reading as well.  Just go give their website a look by clicking here.  If you have any of their other gear feel free to share your thoughts with me and let me know what you think.  I've already identified several things on their website I'm going to budget in, so I'll share those once I get them and get some use in.  For now I've got these few toys to play with.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Are You Good Enough?

I’ve always believed in a little external motivation, so now and then I take to YouTube and look at motivational speeches.  One person in particular I enjoy listening to is Eric Thomas.  He has some speeches where he talks about being “allergic to average” and hating “good”. Click here to see one video where ET talks about this.  I love this because I’ve always believed you should strive for better than just average, but he takes it a step further by basically saying good isn’t good enough.  So what I’m talking about could apply in all aspects of life, but I’m going to focus on shooting.  

I’ve never been one to just rest on my laurels with most things when I felt like I was good.  I always wanted to be better.  This goes back to when I was a young Infantry squad leader wanting to learn how other squad leaders ran certain drills.  Even though I was confident in my techniques, I wanted to know how others did it.  I went out of my way to build a relationship with the range control guys who ran the shoot house on Fort Bragg just so I could weasel my way up on the catwalk to see other squads run the shoot house.  For those of you unfamiliar, you’re typically only allowed a certain amount of people on the catwalk during live fire as per safety regulations.  Even years later when I was deployed with some higher tier units, I was so excited just to get the opportunity to work with them in a close quarters environment just to see how they did it.  Just as I suspected, it wasn’t very different from what I had done all those years ago as an Infantry squad leader in 2 Panther.  

Now here I am with a little over two years left in the Army until I can retire.  I’ve served my whole career in Infantry and Special Operations.  I’ve been a student of marksmanship and tactics both on and off duty.  One might think I know most of what there is to know.  Wrong.  Especially with the explosion of “instructors” out there and the competition world getting stronger, there are more and more folks learning and teaching different things.  I want to know it.  Fortunately I do have enough experience  to filter what works and what doesn’t, or what works for me specifically.  

Most of what I’m going to speak about here comes from DVDs and books, and I realize they aren’t the optimal way to learn tactics or to shoot.  Sometimes they may be your best or only option.  I am a believer that if you have a solid base you can absolutely get better from them.  As it relates to shooting though, just don’t expect to only read or watch material and get that much better without taking some action.  

I’ve been forcing Mike Seeklander to be my mentor for some time now.  Mike has several books and DVDs on his website Shooting Performance.  I recently had the opportunity to review his “Your Defensive Rifle Training Program” book.  Again, this is a topic I should know all about.  The issue is, I want to know more.  If I can read his book and 95% of it is stuff I know, but I can pull 5% of it out as useful knowledge that will make me better then I’m winning.  Don’t get me wrong, Mike Seeklander has an impressive background that I should be able to learn from (except for that Marine thing).  So choosing him as a source to learn from is easy with his depth of tactical and competition experience.  

JJ Racaza is a competitive shooter that has also recently released a DVD titled “Speed Shooting” from Paladin Press.  I downloaded it as well.  This DVD is an awesome start at mastering the basics and I would recommend it to anyone.  Another example of something that I knew probably 90% of the material, but with that extra 10% I gained……..”winning!” 

I liken this to competition shooters that will shave every ounce off their guns they can just to make them lighter.  They know the smallest details will give them the edge in competition.  I want to know those small details that will give me the edge either in a tactical environment or a competitive environment.  So my recommendation to you is to get off your high-horse if you’re on one and try to learn more.  Don’t always take for granted knowledge you might gain by saying to yourself, “ehh….I already know that stuff”.  Get out there and don't let good be good enough.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Alive Day

Alive Day......where do I start with this one. I think the best way to start with this one is by sharing a post from my good friend Dan Metzdorf, because Alive Day is his. Now we are going to share "Alive Day" with everyone.

"My meaning (not websters) of the term "Alive Day" - the day (Jan 27th 2004) I was wounded in combat and the only reason I am Alive today is because of the calm heroism of Tony Southard and his Ace Ventura driving abilities, fast action of George Barbee and his medics stripping me naked and making sure my "package" was still intact, the incredible surgeon Big Rich Ellison and his forward surgical team watching me whine over the IV needle, Dr Ledford and her team in Germany that managed the close calls, and the awesome staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

But for those of you that know me, thats not the only reason I am alive today. These 11 years have been tough to say the least, after the experts put me back together physically other wounds emerged. These wounds people dont see and dont want to see either. These wounds arent in movies or shown on Facebook. These wounds arent sexy and cool. You wont get a hand shake or a free beer at a bar with these wounds. These wounds crushed me, drove me to a darkness unfathomable. These wounds were healed by love! I love living life and for that I thank you all and love you."

The night of January 27th, 2004 would become a rough night for most of us. We were in Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Probably the greatest group of men I've served with in my over 17 years of service across the tiers. That night would be the first loss of life in combat for us. We had been dropped into Iraq off-loading CH-47s onto Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kalsu just 10 days prior. We had just returned from Afghanistan a few months prior to getting the call to Iraq. FOB Kalsu at that time was pretty new and only contained what amounted to an Infantry company and a MP platoon. We were given humvees to operate with. These were unarmored "soft-skin" humvees. Keep in mind that Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D.) had not been the threat they would become at that time. We hadn't really trained much for mounted operations, so we learned as we went and relied on the experience of our Delta Company folks that were used to being mounted. The night of the 24th 1st platoon would go out and conduct some drivers training on the Main Supply Route (MSR). I was back at the FOB, can't remember what I was up to. I don't remember the time, but we heard the explosion. Immediately we were concerned because it was close. Soon the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) came alive.

Word of the worst kind started coming in. I'm not going to go into great detail about the events of that night in this forum for my own reasons. What we would come to find out was that six of our people were around an IED when it went off. We lost three of them immediately. 2nd LT Luke James (1st Platoon Platoon Leader), SGT Cory Mracek (1st Platoon Forward Observer), and SSG Lester Kinney (Delta company) were all lost that night. Injured were Dan, SSG Robert Jepsen, and SPC Jamie O'Connell.

Aid Station at FOB Kalsu
What you need to know is that thanks to the efforts of Tony Southard and the 1st Platoon Paratroopers, no more lives were lost that night. Dan was injured the worst of the three and Tony took quick action to rally the troops and get them all back. Dan and Jamie were put in the back of an open top cargo humvee and Jepsen rode back secured to the hood while others stayed to secure the site. I was there when the vehicles arrived to the aid station and things didn't look good. Just one of the several memories seared into my mind from that night and the coming days. The efforts of everyone involved and our medical folks were amazing. It seemed like forever, but in reality it probably didn't take that long for the MEDEVAC bird to get there. The rest of us were just helping out any way we could. I was on one end of the stretcher carrying Jepsen to the MEDEVAC.

I'll just tell you, putting your comrades on a helicopter knowing the state they're in and watching it fly away isn't a good feeling. On one hand you have faith in God and the medical personnel that will take care of them, but on the other you're worried you'll never see them again. Dan was the worst of the three and his condition was part of what left the knot in my stomach that night. The other was that, here it was 10 days into our deployment and we lost three brothers. More so than ever, it was game on.
Dan in recovery
Dan being Dan
If you know Dan, you know he has personality for days. I had known Dan for awhile before this happened. Knowing his big personality and constant humor, my thoughts that night were "I never wish this on anyone, but if it's going to happen to least I know Dan can handle it." I guess that was my way of coping with the worry for my friend.

Dan and Robert were taken back to Germany where they could get the medical attention they needed. Through conversations with Dan's surgeon, the phrase "alive day" was born. Since that time Dan has had some struggles as he stated above in his post. Every year, on the anniversary of the events that took place that night is Dan's "alive day". Those of us who know him have come to know that. It's a phrase that's stuck.

Robert Jepsen on the left looking to his left, and Dan on the right with the cane.
This was at Pope AF Base on our return from Iraq.   We wanted them to come out
to the plane and lead the formation walking back in.  It was important and meant a lot
to everyone involved.  There's no feeling like arriving back home and being able to
see our friends alive and well made it that much more special.
Talking to Dan after our return from Iraq

Fast forward to this year's "alive day". I had just recently ordered some patches for my company, so patch ideas where in my head. I hit up Dan in a message and brought up the idea of making a patch. From there our ideas began to spread like a wild fire. "Alive Day" was not born, but officially branded. We brainstormed the logo quite a bit and based off our ideas came up with what now is the logo.

So our idea is to bring "Alive Day" to everyone. To make it mean something to everyone. As we brainstormed it we came up with many more examples of what "Alive Day" could mean for others. Of course most military guys can get the concept. Their "Alive Day" could be a day that they survived an IED blast as well, lost a friend, survived a gunshot, on and on. But "Alive Day" could also be applied to cancer survivors. It could be the day the doctor told them they were cancer free. It could apply to someone that survived a car wreck, overcame a life threatening illness or injury, or any other "close call". It could also be they day of someone's divorce decree from an abusive relationship, the day someone got out of jail and declared they would start a new life, the day someone kicked an addiction, the day someone retires. It could be every day for those that are just thankful to be alive every day.

We want to spread the concept of "Alive Day" and give everyone something they can identify with. And through products they'll have a gentle reminder to "Remember the fight, and honor the memories".

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Range Time: Are you being effective or wasting ammo?

I can and probably will write more than one post on things I see at the range that make me wonder what people are thinking at times.  Let me start by saying though, I applaud people for just getting out and going to the range and shooting in a safe manner enjoying themselves.  I don't want to be the person standing in the corner of the gym talking about the overweight person you see in there, at least they are there is usually my thought.  Same with the range.  

Many times I see people go shoot and just throw a target up and see how many holes they can put in it.  Zombie targets are popular for that.  Not everyone needs to be a bullseye shooter, but if you're going to shoot make sure you are accountable for where your rounds hit.  I like Larry Vickers slogan of "Speed is fine, Accuracy is final".  You don't have to take the fun out of it, just ensure you have some training value included.  

If you're someone trying to improve your skills either for defensive or competition shooting, make sure you have some goals and a way to judge how effective your training is.  I have to give Mike Seeklander of Shooting Performance credit for showing me the way to be more effective at the range through his books on competition and defensive shooting.  He introduced me to keeping a log book.  I now always record times and different data to judge if I'm getting better.

So here I'll give you some of what I use at the range and my recommendations:

First, have a plan prior to going to the range.  Know what skills and/or drills you want to work before you go.  The night before is a good time to figure that out.  If you're going with a friend/friends, work that out with them so everyone is on the same page.  Also, do some dry fire in preparation.  When it comes to keeping good records and judging progress, you can't do different drills every time at the range.  There are hundreds of great drills out there, but I recommend narrowing it down to as few drills as possible while still working all the skills you need.  Use drills that work different skills within if possible.  If you continually use different drills it will be hard to go back and look at times or accuracy measures to see if you're improving.  

Always have a log book.  To start out, just use a notebook and write down things as you go.  Keep detailed records.  Write down at a minimum, the drill, misses/hits, times and the date.  It's best if you can record more data like split times, weather, equipment used, and a more detailed analysis as well as things you found you need to work on.  This can help drive your dry fire sessions between range time.  Later as you narrow your drills down you can create your own logbook using excel if you like.  You can record in your notebook at the range and then just enter the data later.

As for equipment, I always take my GoPro so I can film myself for critiques later.  I have a tripod I use to get it up to the level I need it.  The wide view of the GoPro is great for not having to worry too much about setting up a shot properly.  You can also put the footage in slow motion later to really see things like trigger squeeze and recoil control.  If you want to improve, a shot timer is crucial.  I use a CED 7000 and have been pretty happy with it.  Of course you want to have plenty ammo to conduct your drills.  I shouldn't have to mention bring your mag pouches and whatnot.  Just ensure the equipment you're using fits your goals.  If you're working defensive drills with your carry gun, then wear your concealable holster and a cover garment.  It does bother me when I see civilians always shooting with plate carriers and battle belts.  Train as you would fight applies even to when you may get caught in a mall shooting.  

Of course have some cleaning and lubrication items and tools.  I always have a Multitasker tool on hand at the range if needed.  Other little things like a speed loader and items for targetry.  I often just use cheap paper plates for targets and use a black marker to put an aiming point in the center.  Some pasters to paste target holes as I go.  The reactive targets are great for shooting at distance and being able to see where you hit.  I now have a handy red folding "wagon" that's great for just throwing everything in and pulling into the range.

One thing you won't see in these pics is that I'm wearing a type of heart monitor that will evidently give me some good feedback on stress levels and whatnot.  I have the fortune of working with some great sports psychologists and they've taken an interest in letting me use some of their gear while I shoot and giving me some feedback.  I have to keep a detailed timeline of what I'm doing so when they download the data they'll be able to give me quality feedback.  I'm also being their guinea pig for a new system they have, but I don't mind.  I welcome the opportunity to get better.  

It's a little more work to prepare this much for the range, but in the end it's worth it.  If you want to be successful and you have a "why" for going to the range, ensure you're being effective in your training.  Ammo isn't cheap anymore, make sure you're not wasting it or your time.  Any questions, reach out to me.  I'm more than happy to chat about it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violence in Public: Are You Prepared?

When I was a young "Joe" learning and perfecting my craft of Close Quarters Combat, I used to do a lot of mental/visual training.  Whenever I would go somewhere new, I would look around and imagine how I would enter and clear.  I still do that today at times, although not quite as much since I'm fairly seasoned at it.  I would look at details such as entryways, high and low threats, dynamic corners, on and on...  Part of this was because I knew the mock-up block "cities" we trained in weren't that realistic, but mainly just to get in some mental reps to help be ready for any situation.  I had the foresight to see that I needed to be ready for whatever.  Once you go through that doorway, you could encounter any number of different sized/shaped rooms and obstacles.

These days, I lean more towards mental reps of how I would react to a threat and secure my family.  My wife knows that when we go somewhere to eat I need to sit facing the main entrance and on the outside if it's a booth.  I prefer a booth due to the extra cover they provide.  Once we sit down I then survey the area and make mental notes of what I would do if the proverbial shit "hits the fan".  My point here is that, anywhere I go I imagine what I would do if something happened.

Am I paranoid and does this consume me?  No.  As an example, we were just at an outlet mall last night.  Since I've done this plenty I typically know how I will handle things in a place just based off past experience.  Do I do this in every store you walk in?  No.  It's just natural for me to know my surroundings at all time, so it's not like it's something that takes a lot of time.  You can't have a plan for every situation that might arise, so you shouldn't burn yourself out thinking.  You don't need to go stand in the center of the store and stand around surveying the place like a weirdo.  Part of this exercise is that your family, mainly your kids don't necessarily need to know you're doing this everywhere.  Some may disagree, but I'm not one for taking away their innocence just yet.  My family knows that I'm well trained for bad situations.  My kids know that I have the means to protect them if need be.

All that said, I could probably do a better job of preparing them to react for certain situations.  For instance, I haven't gone over how we would react if someone started shooting in a mall.  A wide open space that would get really clustered and confusing really quick.  Just this morning on the news there was talk of a terror group linked to Al Qaeda pushing propaganda for their supporters to attack malls.

Are you prepared?  Is your family prepared?  What will you do?  Will you move to the sound of the guns to try and eliminate the threat?  Will you secure your family and stand guard over them until the place is secure?  I can tell you, my first priority is my family.  All this hinges on how close to the threat you are.  There are a plethora of scenarios we could cover here, but I'll save that for training folks in person.  There are also many ways to "skin a cat".  So again, I won't get deep into that here.

The purpose here is to get you to think, be prepared, and get trained.  If through this you realize your preparedness is not where it should be, then that's great awareness.  Now fill the gap and get your mental reps in or get trained with a competent trainer if you need to.

So next time you're in public, do this:  Take a quick look around inconspicuously and think about how you would react if someone came through the door guns blazing.  How would you secure your family?  What location provides the best cover? How would you go about eliminating the threat if need be?  What are you going to do if you're approached by a "nut job" and a gun isn't the answer?  Are you prepared to "talk someone down"?

Call it paranoid if you want, but understand that the threat is real and it's closer than you think.  You don't have to go "full retard" and join a militia or wear your plate carrier in public, you just need a little situational awareness and general preparedness.  If you're interested in training or would like to talk more about the topics in this blog, I'd be more than happy to chat.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CLEER Medical-Mini Blowout Kit (MBOK)

It always baffles me when people have negative comments on a product and make comparisons ........that aren't really comparisons.  Enter the Mini Blowout Kit (MBOK) by CLEER Medical.  This is a purpose built medical kit.  The Facebook posts I've seen about this are reminiscent of comments I hear at gun shows when folks compare EoTechs to ACOGs.  What I'm trying to say is that they aren't the same can't compare this kit to many others, because there aren't many on the market like this.  But I digress, now let me tell you about this small wonder.

As I stated above, the MBOK is a purpose built kit.  I first heard about over a year ago and couldn't wait to see it come into production.  For the kind of environment I've worked in and now train people to work in, this thing is great.  Let me start out by telling you what this kit isn't for.  It isn't a "go-bag" kit, it's not designed for overt missions such as a movement to contact or direct action in austere environments/conditions (this kit is good for  direct action and CQB thanks to it's low profile helping it not snag on anything, but I would recommend it only in a situation where you have access to more medical gear within distance.  So when I mentioned not in austere environments, I meant not where you may be stranded with only this kit if things go bad) , etc.  I think you get the point.  I will caveat that statement by saying this kit CAN absolutely be used for any of those things.  That's just not what it's specifically for.  I would say it's not even necessarily what it's for that makes this kit unique and valuable, but who it's for.  This kit is for someone who needs to keep a low profile and not look like they're there for a fight.  If you're running a low-vis mission and/or need to be dressed in formal attire, this kit is for you.  If you're on a personal protection detail and want your primary to have a kit on him, this is a kit that could be easily placed yet still comfortable.  This is also for someone who may need to wear it for comfort, but doesn't necessarily need a full blowout kit.  I could go on here, but again I think you get the point.

MBOK with 30 round Lancer Mag
MBOK with 20 round PMAG

So let's talk about the kit itself.  Take a look the website to see more pictures of the MBOK in size comparisons, but clearly it's a small kit.  It weighs in under 9 ounces (8.2oz fully packed) and measuring 5" x 3.5" x 1.75".  As you'll see on the website, it's just a little thicker than a PMAG.  Easily concealable and easy to wear from the 3 to 9 o'clock positions on your belt and not be uncomfortable.  I've worn one in about the 5 o'clock position on a long car ride without any discomfort at all.  You can carry it vertically or horizontally and it can be deployed by pulling it from either side of the kit using the pull tabs.

Back of MBOK showing Blue Force Gear's
Helium Whisper MOLLE attachment system

End of MBOK with pull tab showing next to Eleven 10 Rigid TQ

The "casing" of the kit is made from nylon with elastic sides that will allow for a snug fit of the inner pouch.  The inner pouch is made of laminated Ultracomp material and the attachment is the BlueForce helium whisper material.  Now if you don't know what those are, in short they're good to go.  The materials are light but tough.
MBOK Deployed

The deployment of the kit is fairly simple.  As with anything you should do some "dry runs" with this kit if you're going to have one and rely on it.  See what position works best for you and how to employ it under stress.  As we know, when the proverbial shit hits the fan things get complicated.  There are no snaps or velcro to deal with on the kit.  I could see this kit being no issue to deploy in a high stress situation.  The other benefit of no velcro and the easy deployment of it is that in a situation where you need to conceal your whereabouts and remain discreet, it's noiseless.  Such features are appreciated by those that would need this kind of med kit the most.

What's in the kit?  Medical stuff of course.  The kit can come two different ways.  As stated on the website, to get the advanced version they require medical device authorization.  I won't get into the contents in detail in this blog or giving you medical advice, but I can tell you they've all been reverse engineered to be as small as possible, but still be effective.  The CLEER team spent quite awhile traveling and talking to find out what the minimum would be needed in the kit, and what the minimum size could be on the components.  To learn more about these components look at the CLEER website or google the individual product names.  

Basic Kit Contents

Here are the components in the basic kit:

CLEER Medical Trauma Bandage (4" x 24" Flat Packed compression dressing)
Celox Rapid (3" x 24" Z-Fold)
FOXSeal Occlusive Dressing (Contains 2 Chest Seals)
North American Rescue Tan Bear Claw Gloves (1 Pair of Large sized gloves)
CLEER Medical Easy Tape (4 - 2" x 12" Strips of 3M Durapore medical tape on easy release backers)

Advanced Kit Contents

The advanced version contains these two extra items:

North American Rescue ARS for Needle Decompression (14 gauge x 3.25")
Rusch Nasopharyngeal Airway (28FR with lubricating jelly)

It doesn't pack all the items of larger kits, but there's a reason for that.  It helps keep it low profile and minimalist.  One thing that kills me with folks today is needing a gadget to do everything.  We've almost lost the art of field-craft.  I could write a whole story on that alone.  Don't forget the items on your person and around you that you can improvise with when more is needed than what this kit has.  That said, pairing this kit with the Eleven 10 Rigid TQ case makes it an even more versatile kit.

MBOK with Eleven 10 Rigid TQ Case

Bottom Line Up Front:  I'm not going to go on and on about this kit.  I've worn it quite a bit and you just don't know it's there most of the time.  It's easily concealed and comfort is not an issue.  If you're someone who needs a kit like this, comfort can be a big this kit will fit the bill.  The price on this kit isn't low, but when you understand what all it took to bring this kit to the market you'll understand the price point.  I highly recommend this kit to anyone, but especially those in a line of work that need a low profile or no profile med kit.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Raven Concealment Systems: Eidolon

The Raven Concealment Systems folks have successfully conducted a teaser campaign for their new  holster with the hashtag, #they'llneverseeitcoming.  Pretty clever for a concealable holster if you ask me.  The guys at Raven are always looking to innovate and they've done a pretty good job at it thus far, so enter the Eidolon holster.  This holster has been years in the making.  One of my first conversations with Michael Goerlich at RCS a few years ago was that they were looking to break into the injection molded market, and now they have.  RCS products have typically been kydex.  RCS set the standard for which most kydex holsters are now measured by.  They developed the Eidolon with help from Kyle Defoor of Defoor Proformance Shooting.  Kyle has a solid reputation as a shooting/tactics instructor.

I have to give Raven Concealment the credit for all the pics here, theirs are
way better than mine.

I was privileged enough to be one of the testers of this product and have been running mine for a few months.  What I like most about this holster is the versatility.  You can configure this holster several different ways, it's ambidextrous, and it will accommodate RMRs!  What else do you need?  With this review I'm just going to post several pics to give you some idea about the holster.  As far as the performance of the holster, it's a RCS holster.  It works.  The retention is good and it provides a nice, smooth draw stroke.  The guys at Raven have been in the holster game for awhile, so the Eidolon is the quality you'd expect.  

The video below shows my first time going live with the holster.  I got a couple dry fires in and then went for it.  Like I said, not much to see here.  Just a quality holster that works.  

I've carried this holster with two different Glock 17s.  The first one I used it with was a Salient Arms International model with a large magwell.  Even with the large magwell the Eidolon's features aided in hiding it.  Admittedly, I got the Eidolon about the time it got cold so I've been dressing for cold temps.  If I only had a t-shirt, the magwell would have shown.  Moral of the story, if you're built like me there's not a holster out there than can conceal a full size handgun with a giant mouth magwell on it.  The Eidolon easily conceals a Glock 17 better than any holster I've used for appendix carry.  

As far as models, this is taken directly from the RCS website.


  • The Glock 26/19/Universal model has a pass-through open bottom design and will fit any 3rd or 4th Gen Glock 9mm/.40cal pistol.  The holster shell itself is equal in length to a Glock 19 pistol.
  • The Glock 17 model has a closed bottom design, but will fit any Glock 26/27/19/23/17/22 3rd or 4th Gen.
Body Shield

  • The Ambidextrous Short body shield option can be configured for right or left hand shooters.  The body shield is cut to clear the hand completely but yet still help prevent clothing from entering the mouth of the holster and provide a visual and tactile guide for reholstering the weapon.
  • The Ambidextrous Long body shield option can be configured for right or left hand shooters.  The body shield extends to the rear of the slide to help protect the user from the weapon and the metal of the slide from the user.  The long shield is cut and profiled to minimize interference with a full firing grip.

UPDATE:  I've had so many questions on the body shield that I thought I'd update this.  The model I'm running has the full body shield.  I have no issues with it.  It's as comfortable as any holster and I think at times when drawing and reholstering the full body shield actually helps keeping clothes out of the way.  I'm a tall, slender guy and had reservations about the full body shield myself.  If/when I get another Eidolon, I'll get the full shield again.  I will caveat that if you're someone who hits the buffet quite a bit, I might try the half body shield.  I can't really say though if that would be better.  One recommendation may be to try the full body shield, and if you're handy could trim it down if you wanted.  This of course would void your RCS warranty, but that's on you.  

So let's get on with it, the beauty of this holster is the adaptability.  

The multiple holes seen here aren't for drainage.
They're for the several different mounting options
that allow you to run this holster ambidextrously
or with different attachment options.
Seen here are the clips set up for right side
ambidextrous carry.  The "claw" looking object you see
of the left side of the holster as it sits in the picture is for
pushing the holster back against your body helping conceal
the handgun.
In this picture you can see just how close the Eidolon hugs the handgun
to your body.  Notice how the claw sits on the left of the holster.

Offset wings shown here for mounting similar to the Phantom.

This shows the several different options for mounting
and options that help with concealment.  The "L" shaped piece you see
center of the picture below the "muzzle" of the holster aides in concealment.
The two pieces are so you can mount it to either side.  It will help push the muzzle
away from the body again helping the frame of the handgun push closer to the body.

Here the different mounting options are shown.

The Eidolon full kit pre-release is currently selling for $99.99.  You can buy cheaper holsters out there, but that's just what they are.  The versatility of this holster makes it worth several.  It's kind of a "one size fits all".  If you get it and decide you don't like appendix carry, then you have other options.  If you're in the market for a good holster for your Glock, you won't be disappointed with this one.  As far as other options besides the Glock, I'm sure they're coming.  I just don't know when.  Personally...I'll be standing by for the M&P model.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Harvey Deprimer Review

If you reload ammunition you know depriming can be a boring task at times.  I usually only used my Dillon 550 press to dreprime my brass as I reloaded, but recently I decided to deprime before cleaning the brass so that I get the primer pocket cleaned.  I also recently bought a Hornady Sonic Cleaner to help with the cleaning task, and they recommend you deprime the brass first.  So my only option to deprime prior to cleaning was to use my press.  As I'm sure you can imagine, this was a tedious task.  I had to load a piece of brass, rotate the lever, and then pull the brass out and put it away.  The additional part of this that was a hindrance was that the uncleaned brass left residue all over my press.  The process wasn't fast and kept me sitting at my press in my storage room for more time than I wanted.

Enter the Harvey Deprimer.  I found it just by searching the interwebs for a hand-held deprimer.  It's a simple tool machined from a block of aluminum with a black anodized finish and made in the USA.  Enough said.  And in fact, there's really not much to say about it.  It's a hand depriming tool that allows me to be in the house while I deprime.  This way I can watch TV or talk with the family while I do work.  It's relatively fast to use.

I'll explain it's use and some points about it through pictures.

First let me say that my dog is not impressed, f
or some reason he is somewhat alarmed as I use
it and stares at me with a concerned look.

I recommend having a container of some sort to use the deprimer.  Some of your primers
will just fall out of the tool and some will shoot out.  I use the container's top to set my
deprimed brass on.

Step 1:  Put your brass on depriming pin.  You'll want to "find"
the flash hole with the pin and make sure the pin seats.
Step 2:  Push the depriming pin with brass into the
body of the deprimer.

Step 3:  Press the lever into the main body of the deprimer.
During this, the pin will push the spent primer out.  As I said
before, I recommend having a container to "shoot" the spent primers in. 
You'll notice the pin popped through the primer pocket.

Step 4:  Rotate the depriming pin back out of the body of the
deprimer and you'll see that the primer has been unseated from
the brass.  At times the primer may be stuck on the end of the
 depriming pin, so just pluck it off withyour fingers.  Separate your
deprimed brass and you're ready to go again.

The process is that easy.  Go through those steps, rinse and repeat.  I only reload 9mm and .45 ACP currently, but have deprimed some 5.56 as well.  Below are some pictures of that just for show.  All in all, the Harvey Deprimer is a great tool that is built well and works well.  It retails for $49.95 plus shipping.