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Cold Weather Basics – Layering

I love the outdoors. Even in the coldest weather, I would much rather run or ride my bike in the woods or on trails than stay inside slogging out miles on the “dreadmill” or spinning away going nowhere on my bike trainer. Cold weather means preparation, though. You can’t just slip outside in nothing more than a pair of running shorts when the wind chill is -30° F. Doing so could have truly disastrous consequences.

Outside Temp
Baby, it’s cold outside!

If you feel the same way about treadmills and trainers but don’t like the cold … you’re in luck. This is article will capture my years of trial, error and experience to help you stay relatively warm even in sub-zero temperatures. We’ll start with the basics and work toward more specific and advanced topics.

The first, and most important, concept in preparing for cold weather is layering. There are three basic layers in a cold weather system – the Base Layer, the Insulating Layer and the Environmental Layer. (You may hear others use different terms, but the principles are the same.)

layering for the cold
Cold Weather Layering

The purpose of the Base Layer is to remove perspiration from your skin to help stave off the compounding effect of moisture on cold. Cold is bad enough. Cold and wet can be deadly.

The purpose of the Insulating Layer is to create a space to retain as much body heat as possible while keeping out as much cold as possible. Often, bulk is utilized to create the insulating layer. The challenge with active outdoor gear is that bulk usually equates to clumsy and clumsy is counter-productive to most athletic endeavors.

The purpose of the Environmental Layer is to minimize the effects that the environmental elements, like snow, rain, wind, sleet and the like, have on robbing you of your body heat. Generally, the biggest challenge with the Environmental Layer is letting perspiration out while keeping precipitation (and wind) from getting in.

Cold Weather Basics – Base Layer

Recently, the process of pulling perspiration away from the skin and through a layer of clothing has been dubbed “wicking”. “What’s the point of wicking?” you may ask. Moisture on your skin exacerbates the negative effects of cold temperatures. Keeping moisture away from your skin helps alleviate this problem, keeping you warmer. A debate rages among the members of the cold weather outdoor community whether Merino wool or man-made wicking fabrics make better base layers. Wool does a good job of pulling moisture away from the skin, but it traps and holds the moisture rather than passing it through like newer, “tech” fabrics. Holding moisture is called absorption and it is different from wicking.

layering for the cold
Base Layer

In my opinion, the sole purpose of the base layer is to keep me dry. In which case, there is no debate. Man-made, wicking fabrics do a better job of pulling moisture away from your body and passing it through than does wool because wool absorbs moisture. I will grant that wool is probably better than any man-made fiber at maintaining its ability to insulate when wet. However, that is not the point of the base layer. To do its job (keep you dry), the base layer must fit close to the skin and pull moisture away from the skin, through the fabric and out into the air, period. In slightly warmer temperatures, it may be acceptable for a single garment to act as more than one layer. In these cases, Merino wool is an excellent choice for a combined base/insulating layer.

Cold Weather Basics – Insulating Layer

In this realm, man-made materials struggle to keep up with natural fibers like wool and down. For active cold wear, it’s hard to beat wool as an insulating layer. Wool continues to insulate even when it gets moist. If you’re going to be active in the cold outdoors, you will probably sweat. Wool is exceptional in this regard. Down is exceptional when it comes to providing dry insulation. A number of man-made, down-like fibers, however, perform better when wet than does down.

cold weather layering
Insulating Layer

One of the key principles in any type of insulation is the “air barrier”. An air barrier is no more sophisticated than an empty space between two layers. In general, the larger the air barrier, the better the insulation. This is one of the reasons that down is so good at insulating – it creates a large air barrier. This is also one of the reasons that mittens are generally warmer than gloves – they create an air barrier around your fingers.

The goal, then, of the Insulating Layer is to create an air barrier between the Base Layer and the Environmental Layer. This is accomplished in two ways. First, your layers should be loose. Tight layers compress the air barrier. Second, the Insulating Layer needs “loft”. Loft is essentially space, filled loosely with insulating material, e.g. goose down, wool, etc. The combination of an air barrier with a material with high thermal qualities (an ability to keep in heat and keep out cold) creates the best Insulating Layer. Thanks to advances in materials, both man-made and natural, the amount of loft required to create good insulation has decreased over the years

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. A quick look at today’s puffy coats as compared to the puffy coats of the last couple decades is obvious proof.

Cold Weather Basics – Environmental Layer

The biggest challenge related to the Environmental Layer for the active, cold weather outdoorsman (or woman) is letting perspiration out while keeping precipitation (and wind) from getting in. Historically, Environmental Layers have been made of vinyl, neoprene and similar materials that don’t breathe very well … or at all. Because these materials don’t breath, they do an excellent job of keeping the elements from getting in. They do a horrible job letting perspiration out. The end result is moisture build-up inside the Environmental Layer.

Thanks to relatively recent advances in technology, new fabrics like GoreTex®, eVent® and NeoShell®, combine the “keep it out” capabilities of the old materials with the “let it out” capabilities necessary to allow perspiration to escape.

Environmental Layers generally come in two types – soft shells and hard shells. As you might guess, soft shells have a softer feel (garment exterior) while hard shells have a harder feel (garment exterior). There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing hard or soft. It’s really a matter of the intended use and the associated conditions. The three primary deciding factors, when picking a hard shell or soft shell are: 1) Precipitation; 2) Perspiration; 3) Packing. Generally speaking, more precipitation means you should lean toward the hard shell. Less precipitation and more perspiration means you should lean more toward the soft shell. Your packing requirements, i.e. how much weight you want to carry and how much space you want to consume by packing your jacket, will provide you with an additional determining factor to help you make your decision. Historically, hard shells weighed more and took up more packing space than did soft shells. Recently, that has changed, however, and it’s more of an equal race that comes down to the specific jacket rather than the jacket’s category.

cold weather layering
Environmental Layer

A word about maintaining your shell …. Most environmental layers (hard shell or soft shell) are coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR). As with most things, the DWR wears off over time. Keeping your shell clean and re-coating it with a high-quality DWR are the two most important elements to maintaining your shell’s capabilities. Machine wash your shells utilizing soaps like ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner, Granger’s Performance Wash or Nikwax Tech Wash. DO NOT use a liquid fabric softener or dry your shells in the dryer. Once your shell is clean, spray it with a quality DWR like Nikkwax TX Direct Spray-On or ReviveX Spray-On.

Cold Weather Basics – Footwear

Keeping your feet warm in cold weather can be a major challenge, right up there with keeping your hands warm (Stay tuned for more on this in our next installment of Cold Weather Basics.). Most people make one of three mistakes with their cold weather footwear: 1) They wear their “normal” shoes and socks, 2) They wear too many socks making their shoes or boots too tight or 3) They wear the wrong kind of “cold weather” footwear.

So-called, “normal” shoes and socks generally don’t work because they’re intended to be worn inside, in controlled temperature environments, or outside in relatively warm and dry environments. If you’ve read our previous Cold Weather Basics installments, you know that cold and wet is a recipe for disaster. If you’re out in cold, wet weather, wearing footwear that was never intended to keep your feet warm or dry … you just pulled out the cookbook and measuring cups to whip up that recipe. Save the crocodile loafers and cotton socks for the office.

cold weather layering
Cotton Kills

You’re not like those idiots that wear their summer shoes out onto the winter trails. You went out and bought real winter boots and big, thick wool socks but your feet are still miserably cold. What went wrong? Simply put, you probably packed things too tightly. If you read about the Insulating Layer, you know that you need “loft” to keep you warm. What do you suppose happens to the loft of your thick, wool socks when you cram them into boots? You guessed it. The loft – along with its insulating capabilities – disappears.

If you didn’t make either of the first two mistakes but your feet are still cold, you may have the wrong type of cold weather footwear. Take a look back at the principles we’ve discussed over the course of this series of Cold Weather Basics articles. Are you wearing a Base Layer, Insulating Layer and Environmental Layer on your feet? Do the socks you wear wick moisture away as your feet perspire?

cold weather layering
Cold Weather Footwear

Picking the right footwear for the conditions is paramount to keeping your feet warm. Follow the same basic principles laid out in the previous installments of this series and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your feet warm and dry.

Cold Weather Basics – Handwear

I admit it. I made up the term handwear. It makes sense to me. It encompasses gloves, mittens, lobster gloves and a host of other items worn on the hands that no other term, to my knowledge, comprises.

Now that we have that out of the way … let’s deal with the challenge of keeping your hands warm and dry in the cold. It seems that I hear more complaints about cold hands than any other body part. All the same principles discussed in previous articles apply. Use a Base Layer, i.e. a glove liner, to wick perspiration away from your hands. Use an Insulating Layer to create loft, keep warm in and cold out. And, use an Environmental Layer to keep out the elements.

“Three gloves?” you ask. Well, yes, if you’re out in extremely cold conditions or fairly cold conditions but not moving. Movement keeps your entire body warmer and that warmth will extend to your extremities.

cold weather layering
Cold Weather Handwear

Dexterity is an issue. Gloves provide more dexterity while mittens provide more warmth (larger air barrier than gloves). Everything in life is a trade-off.

cold weather layering
Mittens when Dexterity Isn’t Required

Fortunately, necessity being the mother of invention, several companies have come up with a product category called “lobster gloves”. These gloves are really a cross between an glove and a mitten that ends up looking a lot like a lobster claw. Instead of encompassing all four fingers in a single air barrier space, the space is divided into two sections. Lobster gloves provide much of the warmth of mittens with a good dose of dexterity.

cold weather layering
Lobster Gloves

Cold Weather Advanced – Heat Reflecting Fabrics

Heat reflecting fabrics have been around for a while. I bought my first pair of heat reflecting glove liners and sock liners probably twenty years ago. Not much has changed, as far as the technology goes, but heat reflecting fabrics have seen a rise in popularity over the last few years. Columbia’s Omni Heat® product line is largely responsible for this gain in popularity.

cold weather layering
Heat Reflecting Glove Liners and Socks

Heat reflecting fabrics typically have thin, shiny metal threads woven into the main fabric. The metal threads act like a reflector bouncing your body heat back at you (much like a ‘space blanket’ does). The technology is interesting. I can definitely vouch for its effectiveness but there are some drawbacks.

The metal threads in heat reflecting sock liners will quickly cause blisters for hikers and runners. Often, the main fabric of these garments is not particularly durable. I’ve found that the glove liners tear easily. Columbia has done a good job of minimizing most of these problems with their Omni Heat® lineup. I’m going on two years with my Omni Heat® coat and beanie with no problems.

cold weather layering
Columbia Omni Heat Beanie

Well, that pretty much sums it up. If you want to keep warm when it’s cold outdoors … stay indoors. If you don’t mine a little bit of cold, bundle up in layers and take advantage of technologies like Columbia’s Omni Heat® to keep you relatively warm in absolutely frigid temperature.

The Equilibrium Family

Like a batch of relatives showing up for a holiday gathering, the Equilibrium (EQ) family of mid-layers from Triple Aught Design (TAD) showed up on our doorstep the day before Christmas … just in time for some nasty weather.

If you’re not familiar with TAD’s Equilibrium jacket, vest and hoodie, they are key components of TAD’s mid-layer collection heralding “active insulation, moisture management and packability.”

The EQ’s Polartec Alpha insulating material is an advanced, breathable insulation technology claiming to work during both rest and periods of activity

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Moisutre management across the EQ family is delivered through a stretch nylon shell with Schoeller’s 3XDRY textile finishing technology that proclaims, “dry on the outside, dry on the inside, dry in a flash.”

Finally, the EQ family of mid-layers is compressible, easily-layered and storable in small spaces. Each member of the family sports a rear hunter’s pocket to be used as a stuff sack.

For this review, we utilized three product testers.

About the product testers:

Tester #1: EQ jacket and vest – active daily wear in a light physical work environment

Tester #2: EQ hoodie – school wear with the need to wear the jacket both indoors and outdoors

Tester #3: EQ jacket – active daily wear in a law enforcement environment (under body armor carrier)


To determine the EQ’s ability to deliver on its three primary promises (insulation, moisture management and packability), we tested the EQ for warmth as an outer layer in temperatures as low as 15°F. We tested the EQ for warmth as a mid-layer in temperatures as low as -8°F. We tested the EQ for comfort and moisture retention in normal indoor temperatures while performing activities like climbing multiple flights of steps. We tested the EQ for wind and precipitation resistance in winds up to 30 MPH and in light snow and freezing mist. Finally, we tested the EQ’s packability by stowing it within its pocket and carrying it in a backpack for the better part of a day. We repeated this test several times.


The EQ family of mid-layers provide excellent insulation when worn under a soft shell, hard shell or other outer layer garment such as the TAD Talisman jacket. When compared to only the outer layer in the same conditions, comfort and warmth increased significantly. The EQ jackets (and vest) certainly rank near the top of the list of the mid-layers we have tested over the years in their ability to insulate without adding considerable weight.

As one might expect, the EQ vest leaves the wearer’s arms exposed providing less insulation than the jacket and hoodie. We found the EQ vest worked very well with the TAD Talisman in temperatures down to about 20°F. Below this temperature, the Talisman lacked sufficient inherent insulation to keep the wearer’s arms comfortable. When combined with the EQ jacket, however, the Talisman-EQ combination kept the wearer comfortably warm at temperatures approaching 0°F as long as winds were not too much of a factor. When combined with a quality soft shell, with excellent wind resistance, wearers were comfortable even with relatively high winds.

When worn alone (no outer layer), the EQ jacket and hoodie provided adequate warmth down to about 25°F if the wearer was active (at least a brisk walk).

We did notice that the EQ’s ability to provide insulation was decreased slightly after being packed for some time. This is fairly typical of similarly-insulated items and was easily rectified with a quick fluff in the dryer on the cool temperature setting. We have found that this is often necessary with items like synthetically-insulated sleeping bags.

We found the EQ’s moisture resistance to be adequate for a garment designed to be a mid-layer. In light snow and freezing mist conditions, wearers remained dry after as much as 30 minutes out in the elements. Beyond this, it would be reasonable to add an outer layer with more advanced moisture resisting characteristics. However, the light precipitation described essentially beaded up and rolled off of the EQ.

The EQ’s breathability and adaptability exceeded our expectations. As mentioned, one of our testers frequently wore the EQ hoodie inside his school building. He noted that the only time he felt the need to remove the hoodie was when he was involved in a mildly strenuous activity (more than climbing a few flights of stairs). This same wearer also utilized the EQ hoodie as his only outer garment when walking home from school in temperatures as low as 10°F. He noted some discomfort below 25°F, however, and also noted that the hood provided very little warmth or protection against wind. The hood does not fit tightly around the head allowing wind in the front to reach the wearer’s ears quite easily.

As for packability, once the wearer is familiar with the procedure to stuff the EQ into its pocket, it is quite convenient to be able to put the EQ into a small backpack with other items or even into a large cargo pocket. As noted above, long-term stuffing compresses the Alpha insulating material reducing its ability to provide insulation.

One factor not touted by TAD in their marketing materials for the EQ is durability. Normally, one would expect a nylon mid-layer to be somewhat “fragile.” That appears not to be the case with the EQ family. One of our testers wore his EQ jacket under his Cordura body armor carrier daily for several weeks. Surprisingly, the EQ jacket showed no real signs of wear. Our tester did snag the sleeve on a thorny plant but one can hardly expect a nylon mid-layer to resist such incidents.

Equilibrium Jacket Under Armor Carrier
Equilibrium Jacket Under Armor Carrier

An oddity that we discovered when reviewing three members of the Equilibrium family is that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the locations of the zipper pulls. Some were on the main zipper. Some were on pockets. The only item that had pulls on all of its zippers was the Equilibrium Vest.

No Zipper Pull
No Zipper Pull
Zipper Pull
Zipper Pull

Overall, the EQ family were wonderful guests. One can hardly imagine a place where they would overstay their welcome. We have integrated them into the Trek Tech Black family as permanent members in our fall, winter and spring daily wear.

Active Killer Survival

Fight, flight or freeze … what will you do? Your initial reaction during the first moments of an “active killer” situation may be the difference between life and death for you, your family, and those around you.

Traditionally, civilians have been told to deal with these incidents through “target hardening” and sheltering in place. Historically, instructors taught students to get indoors and lock down an area that was difficult to access.

This is partly true, a harder target is better; however, as recent history teaches us, if the crazies want to get past the locked door/window they will.

As human beings, we all have the primal “fight, flight or freeze” reactions when it comes to danger. By practicing the traditional “shelter in place” model for many years, we have essentially taken away our “fight and flight” instincts leaving most people only with “freeze.”

The “new school” mindset that is being adopted by many organizations around the nation: You are not a victim, do whatever you need to do to survive. The two main models being taught are the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) model and the Run, Hide, Fight model.

The ALICE model works as follows:

Alert everyone in the area that an incident is occurring. This can be done by security staff, office staff, administrators or anyone who can get to a communication device. Use the PA, radios, overhead, alarm system or phone systems to alert everyone in the area. Then call 911 to summon emergency personnel.

Lockdown secure areas as soon as the alert is sounded. This method of lockdown differs from the traditional method in that, in addition to locking the doors, is the room is actively barricaded by stacking desks, tables, cabinets and chairs to block entry through the doors and windows.

Inform those involved of the perpetrator or perpetrators’’ actions and location(s). Preferably this is done by someone who has camera access or a view of what is happening. This is accomplished by whatever communication means the location has. Inform is important because it enables potential victims to evade the perpetrators.

Counter any perpetrators who get past the locked doors, windows and barricades. Do whatever has to be done to live. This is a life and death situation and to live you may have to fight. The perpetrator may kill one or two of the people in the room but it is unlikely he can kill everyone before he is subdued.

Evacuate If you can safely evacuate, do so as quickly as possible!

The Run, Hide, Fight model, current taught by the FBI, works as follows:

Run to a safe place as soon as you are aware that an incident is taking place. Keep running, get away as fast as possible. Encourage others to run as well but if they don’t come with you, get away without them. Once away and safe, call 911.

Hide in a safe place if you are unable to run. Lock the doors, turn off the lights, shelter in place. This is more than just huddle in the corner. Conceal yourself, pile up things and hide behind them.

Fight as a last resort. Attempt to take down the perpetrator(s). Use whatever improvised weapons you can. Remember this is a life and death situation, to live you will need to defeat your attacker.

So how do you prepare yourself for this kind of chaos?

Mental preparation: Try thinking about worst case scenarios and what resources you have on you and around you. Such as, “What would I do if_______ happened? Where would I go if the guy at the super market began shooting people? What could be used as cover or concealment? What improvised weapons are around me?”

Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Keep your head on a swivel, look around often. Trust your gut. If something or someone looks strange or makes the hair on your neck stand up, get out of there.

These skills do not come naturally to most people and should be practiced to improve your awareness and get you into a more vigilant state of mind.

Physical preparation: If you can’t run a few blocks, it’s going to be hard to save yourself or others. If you have never thrown a punch or wrestled with someone, fighting for your life may prove difficult. Physical fitness is a no-brainer, if it isn’t one of your priorities, it should be.

I also highly recommend getting a concealed carry license for a firearm. Go get training on how to use your firearm. There is no such thing as overtraining when it comes to weapons skills. The advantage of being armed in a mass casualty incident is enormous. These incidents tend to last an average of about two minutes. History has shown us that many mass shooters take their own lives upon meeting armed resistance. If you have the means and training, you could possibly save an untold number of lives by putting up armed resistance.

We are not sheep

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SHOW Show 2016 Day 3

Today is the final day of SHOT Show 2016. We’ve covered at least a double marathon on foot to bring you what we though were some of the most interesting and most unique things on the expo floor and we hope you have enjoyed the coverage.

Here is our parting shot ….

Petzl has been doing some interesting things with headlamps for quite a while. This year, they’re bringing the infrared, distance-sensing technology, available in their STRIX IR military line of lamps, to the sport market. According to the rep at their booth, the TIKKA XP will soon have the ability to adjust lighting intensity based on distance sensed by an IR beam.


Another company known for their headlamps, Brunton, is branching out into soft goods. (We’re seeing a theme with traditional hard goods companies branching out into soft goods.) Brunton has launched a line of battery-powered head and hand gear extending their line of battery-powered products.

Brunton Heatsync Glove Liner
Brunton Heatsync Glove Liner

While we like the idea of battery-powered glove liners for those really cold days in the field, the battery, stored in the cuff, seemed large and unwieldy. We hope to get a pair or two to test in the next couple months.

Speaking of companies branching out, Cammenga surprised us with AR-15 magazines and loaders.

Cammenga EasyMag
Cammenga EasyMag

The Cammenga EasyMag is a heat-treated steel magazine with a stainless spring and steel, non-tilt follower. The unique thing about this magazine is that the front portion slides downward making loading easier (in theory). Since it’s made of steel, the EasyMag is heavy and likely prone to rust. We’ve asked for a couple test subjects.

In addition to their EasyMag, Cammenga also now has an Easyloader. The Easyloader quickly loads up to twenty rounds in an AR-15 (5.56 or .223) or AK-47 (7.62) magazine. Interestingly, when I asked Cammenga’s booth rep to compare and contrast the Easyloader to Maglula’s product line, he confessed that he was unaware of Maglula.

Cammenga Easyloader
Cammenga Easyloader

Meanwhile, not far away, Maglula offers a variety of magazine loaders in a rainbow of colors.

Malula's Color Choices
Malula’s Color Choices

After seeing Cammenga’s innovations in magazine loading and Maglula’s wide array of colors, we searched out new packs and pack innovations. On Day 1, we reported that SOG had expanded their offerings with some relatively high-featured packs. We also found some new(er) releases by traditional pack makers and an innovation or two that intrigued us.

Eberlestock has released a range bag called the Bang Bang, a messenger bag called the Combat Office and a three gun competitor’s bag called the Up Ranger. The Bang Bang also appeared that it might make for a good photographer’s bag as it had a padded internal divider system (pictured below).

Eberlestock Bang Bang Bag
Eberlestock Bang Bang Bag

Eberlestock also now offers a line of tents and sleep systems.

Eberlestock Sleep System
Eberlestock Sleep System

Under Armour also appears to have expanded their backpack line into the bushcraft/tactical arena. The display pack was filled with a variety of field craft items and appeared to be a slick-sided version of their Storm pack.

Under Armour Field Pack
Under Armour Field Pack

Sandpiper of California (SOC) showed us a fairly unique design in pack frames. Their Pack Mule frame has a section that folds out to create a seat. If you’re one of those that carries a portable seat with you on camping or hiking trips, the Pack Mule might be worth a look. The entire frame is only 4.5 lbs. SOC had a pack loaded up with 30 lbs of weight. I carried it around for a couple minutes and felt absolutely no discomfort. The frame is a good frame, regardless of the fold-out seat.

SOC Pack Mule with their Three Day Elite Pack
SOC Pack Mule with their Three Day Elite Pack

We also visited the Hill People Gear booth to take a look at their latest pack, the Connor. The Connor started out as a pocket that could be strapped onto the back of another pack and has morphed into a full-fledged pack in its own right.

Hill People Gear Connor Pack
Hill People Gear Connor Pack

Similar to most of HPG’s packs, the Connor has a simple main compartment that allows the contents to be placed in compression sacks. In addition, the front of the main compartment is lined with a MOLLE panel made from loop material allowing attachment of MOLLE compatible gear or hook and loop gear. The pack also has side wings with MOLLE attachment points and twin mesh pockets on the back of the pack. The mesh pockets can be used to hold water bottles or ..

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. as Evan, of HPG, uses them … to air out wet socks.

Next to the HPG guys, we ran into Bart Combs, President of SOLKOA. If you aren’t familiar with SOLKOA, it’s probably because they’ve been running under the radar for their company’s entire history providing service to some of our country’s elite units. As federal training and equipment budgets have shrunk, Bart has had to branch out into the civilian market.

One of SOLKOA’s unique offerings is a line of first aid/survival kit modules. Most vendors in this arena either offer full kits or individual components – sometimes both. Bart has assembled modules, like the fire module pictured below, that allow the buyer to augment their existing kit without having to purchase individual components one at a time.

SOLKOA S3 Fire Module
SOLKOA S3 Fire Module

We also had some really good discussions with Bart about an ultra-light kit for trail runners and ultra-light hikers.

We didn’t see a lot that jumped out at us at any of the knife vendors’ booths but ESEE’s had a couple new offerings. They have slightly re-designed their standards, the ESEE 3 and 4, and released a laser-etched version of the Izula. Reportedly, the ESEE CR (Cody Rowen) 2.5 knife was available for pre-order by dealers as well.

Modifications to the ESEE 3
Modifications to the ESEE 4

The new ESEE 4 has thicker, more rounded scales and no finger guard. The ESEE 3 has been similarly modified.


The CR 2.5 looks like a handy little knife for small tasks around the campsite.  You can see the size of its blade as compared to the ESEE 4 above.

All the New ESEE's Together
All the New ESEE’s Together

That’s it for 2016. Stay tuned for deeper, longer-term reviews of many of these items over the course of the year.

SHOT Show 2016 Day 2

Two of the top billed items this year are the Glock MOS and Magpul’s new PRS rifle stock. Yesterday, we took a look at both.

Glock’s new Modular Optics System (MOS) pistols (Glock 17 & 19) provide the ability to mount popular optics or reflex sights directly to the pistol’s slide. The pistols come with four mountable plates. Previously, the ability to mount optics to pistols required customization. The MOS system puts that power in the hands of the gun owner. With a MSRP of $726.00 and very limited availability at this time, it’s a tossup as to whether Glock’s MOS solution is actually less expensive than relatively minor customization.

Glock MOS
Glock MOS

Like Glock, Magpul certain has its fair share of followers. Many of those followers have been waiting with bated breath for the third generation of Magpul’s Precision Rifle Stock (PRS3). We’ve utilized the second generation PRS and found it to be adequate if heavy and expensive. The third generation appears to follow the same path. Magpul has changed up the look and feel a bit. The new texture was grippy without being rough. The color appeared slightly different than past stocks but that may have been due to the expo floor lighting. The clicks of the adjustment knobs for the cheek piece and length of pull (LOP) were somewhat soft and seemed to make rather large adjustments. In addition to the cheek piece and LOP adjustment available on the original PRS, the PRS3 adds a cant/height-adjustable rubber butt pad – something we’ve seen for a while on other precision-focused AR stocks. Finally, the PRS3 can be mounted to a full-length buffer tube as well as mil-spec and A5 carbine length tubes. The PRS3’s MSRP is, interestingly, $0.05 cheaper than the PRS.

Magpul PRS3 Stock
Magpul PRS3 Stock

Magpul did pull off a bit of a surprise with their new soft goods line. We know one of their designers so we knew something was coming but we had no idea of the extent of the line. There are fifteen new items including casual shirts, pants, T-shirts and hats. More casual than tactical in nature, the clothing items are, nonetheless, configured for freedom of movement, carrying concealed and lugging around packs and messenger bags (Perhaps coming soon?). The pants have a Vertx-inspired look to them. The casual shirts are a little more Columbia-esque.

Magpul Soft Goods Line
Magpul Soft Goods Line

Focusing on soft goods for a moment, we came across a couple companies new to the market with products that will most likely interest our readers.

Hanz produces waterproof socks and gloves

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. The socks were of particular interest because, no matter how good your waterproof boots are, they’re likely to get water inside. In theory, unless the water is deeper than your socks, waterproof socks would aid considerably in keeping your feet dry. We hope to be able to test Hanz’s socks in the near future.

Hanz Waterproof Socks
Hanz Waterproof Socks

Another interesting entrant into the U.S. market is Jaghund. Jaghund clothing has been sold exclusively in Europe but is now being represented by Rein Outdoor in the U.S. The clothing appears to be very well made with European styling. The look is a blend of Filson and Kuhl. We, of course, volunteered to run a few of their items through the wringer and let the American market know what we think.

Jaghund Clothing Line
Jaghund Clothing Line

While we were in the camping/hunting area, we stopped by the Klymit booth to take a look at their very non-traditional sleeping mats. Klymit’s sleeping mats utilize body mapping technology to create air dispersion, air volume control, dynamic flow control and anatomical neutrality. Klymit also has mats that offer “loft pocket technology.” The loft pockets allow the insulating material of one’s sleeping bag to fill the pocket and maintain its insulating capabilities – and interesting theory that we hope to be able to test.

Klymit's Loft Pocket Sleeping Mat
Klymit’s Loft Pocket Sleeping Mat

Sticky Holsters was another soft good company making an impact. Their neon green and block color scheme stopped browsers in their tracks as they passed the Sticky booth. Most people spent several minutes looking over the holsters which are made to fit dozens of handguns. Eric, with Sticky Holsters, was very accommodating and promised to send us a number of test items when he recovered from SHOT.

Sticky Holsters
Sticky Holsters

From soft goods to about as “hardcore” as it gets, we navigated our way to the Standard Manufacturing Company booth to take a look at their DP-12 … because everyone needs a double-barrel pump shotgun. The DP-12 has a sixteen round capacity and handles like a houseboat. Obviously not targeted at states with magazine capacity restrictions, it is fairly well-balanced but VERY heavy. The DP-12 was displayed with door-breacher choke tubes and that may very well be its most practical application.

Standard Manufacturing's DP-12 Shotgun
Standard Manufacturing’s DP-12 Shotgun

After the double-bore assault of the DP-12, we moved on to visit a couple vendors whose products we have used or tested in the past.

We’ve utilized Daimondhead handguards on a couple AR-15 builds, including our Run and Gun build, and have been pleased with their ease of installation and good looks. Their most recent release is the VRS T-556 Keymod handguard. It looks very similar to their other VRS T handguards but with an added, horizontal row of keymod openings running horizontally along each side. This provides flexibility for the installation of accessories while reducing weight. We’re hoping to give one a try on an upcoming build for an ultra-lightweight AR.

After visiting with the folks at Diamondhead, we circled around to the Liberty Suppressor booth to see what was new. (We’ll be running Liberty Suppressors in our upcoming suppressor cover review.) Liberty has released a new, shorter version of their Centurion suppressor for better balance when mounted on a handgun.

Liberty Suppressors' Shorter Centurion Suppressor
Liberty Suppressors’ Shorter Centurion Suppressor

We’ll end today’s coverage where we began – at the Pelican booth. We’ve long known that Pelican provides top-notch protective cases. They have now branched out into coolers and lighting products. Keith, their media contact, walked us through the entire lighting product line from flashlights and headlamps all the way up to large area lighting.

We have a headlamp shootout on the 2016 editorial calendar and we’ve invited Pelican to participate. For portable remote area lighting, we were impressed with Pelican’s 9490. Roughly the size of a small suitcase, this portable, battery-powered area lighting system pushes 6000 lumens of light. The price point, at $999.95, is a little high for the average hobbyist but is certainly reasonable for law enforcement, fire or military units looking to shed a little light on their respective subjects.

Pelican's 9490 Remote Area Light
Pelican’s 9490 Remote Area Light

SHOT Show 2016 Day 1

SHOT Show 2016 kicked off with a bang. All bad puns aside, there was actually a vendor setting off small explosions throughout the course of the day. He yelled, “Fire in the hole.” A fairly sizable boom followed shortly thereafter. The vendor to whom I was speaking at the time was only a few booths away and was clearly tired of the show.

Speaking of that vendor, it was an upstart company called Advanced Ballistic Concepts with a solution to low probability hits on target in high-pressure, self-defense situations.

The Mi-Bullet by Advanced Ballistic Concepts
The Mi-Bullet by Advanced Ballistic Concepts

According to Advanced Ballistic Concepts’ literature, 93% of first shots fired in life threatening engagements miss the intended target. (Source not cited.) Theoretically, the fragmenting Mi-Bullet, with a hit profile of 14″ (pistol) or 24″ (shotgun) “will allow a user to fire sooner during target acquisition, knowing that they will deliver a hit.”

The concept looks interesting and the booth was fairly busy. We have requested some ammunition for our own testing.

Getting lots of rounds on target was definitely a theme. Roth Concept Innovations (RCI) had their XRAIL high capacity shotgun solution on display. The XRAIL allows for a capacity of up to twenty-three rounds on board without the added length of traditional extension tubes.

RCI's XRAIL High Capacity System
RCI’s XRAIL High Capacity System

Not surprisingly, the XRAIL throws off the balance of a shotgun considerably. If high capacity is your main goal, you might still want to take a look.

After being blasted by Mi-Bullets and XRAILs, we stopped by to see the folks at Rise Armament. Rise was featuring their newly-released RA-140 Super Sporting Trigger and RA-701 Compensator.

Rise Armament RA-140 Super Sporting Trigger
Rise Armament RA-140 Super Sporting Trigger
Rise Armament RA-701 Compensator
Rise Armament RA-701 Compensator

The RA-140 is Rise’s value-priced entry into the AR-15 drop in trigger market. While it is nowhere near as light and crisp as their RA-535 trigger (used in our Run and Gun AR-15 build), the lower price point ($129.00) tends to also lower one’s expectations. We hope to have one in hand to test in the not-too-distant future

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We have not had the opportunity to test Rise’s RA-701 compensator on its own, we have had the opportunity to shoot one of their rifles in competition. The phrase, “Set it and forget it,” comes to mind. The RA-701 flat out works.

Down the aisle from Rise Armament was clothing manufacturer, Vertx. Traditionally, Vertx has gone after the low-profile “tactical” market. This year they announced a line of more casual clothing. Their Delta Stretch pants were displayed with Vans shoes. They also had on display a plaid, square-tailed “concealed carry” shirt with faux buttons (actually snaps), a small pocket for a weight and grommets through which a length of paracord could be threaded – all in the name of a quicker draw from concealment.

Leather-trimmed Tool Pocket on Delta Stretch Pants
Leather-trimmed Tool Pocket on Delta Stretch Pants
Concealed Carry Detailing on Vertx's New Shirt
Concealed Carry Detailing on Vertx’s New Shirt

From the Vertx booth, we headed to the Luth-AR booth. We’ve utilized their MBA-1 stock on a couple rifles and have been impressed by the features, quality and price. The Luth-AR family was enthusiastically welcoming and even sought feedback on a prototype pistol grip fresh from their manufacturer’s temporary mold.

Luth-AR Prototype Pistol Grip
Luth-AR Prototype Pistol Grip

Next door to the Luth-AR booth, we found an interesting concept in bipods. Manufactured by Accu-Tac, the SR-5 bipod had several interesting features beyond its rather unique look. Rather than having spring-loaded tension to extend the arms of the bipod, the SR-5 has spring-loaded tension to retract the arms. Additionally, the arms must be pulled past a detente to position them to the desired angle. The SR-5 is manufactured entirely in the US by Accu-Tac. We tried to wrangle a test unit but their booth staff was non-committal.

Accu-Tac SR-5 Bipod
Accu-Tac SR-5 Bipod

Not far from the Accu-Tac booth was the Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) booth. As usual, they had a magnificent display of dozens of knives. On a pedestal, all by itself was the new Trencher tool. CRKT is also usually a bit stand-offish when asked to commit items for review but we’d really like to get our hands on this item. It’s long and heavy (when compared, for example, to the Cold Steel 92SF shovel) with a polypropylene handle.

CRKT Trencher
CRKT Trencher

Secure storage solutions were everywhere. We stopped by the SecureIt Tactical booth, down the aisle from CRKT, to talk to them about their take on secure storage. Historically, SecureIt has targeted the law enforcement and military markets but has several new products for the civilian market.  The Fast Box is intended to provide secure, under-bed or mobile storage.

SecureIt Fast Box
SecureIt Fast Box

The Fast Box 47 can accommodate a firearm up to 46.5″ in length while the Fast Box 40 can accommodate a shorter firearm. The 47 can be bolted to your floor. The 40 can be securely mounted in a vehicle. Both are intended to be mounted horizontally but can be fitted for vertical installation as well.

We’ve always loved Nite Ize gadgets and doohickeys. They make so many cool little products, it’s hard not to integrate them into your daily life once your discover them. Well, now Nite Ize finally has released a product called … wait for it … the Doohickey. The Doohickey is a “6X Key Tool featuring a carabiner clip for convenient accessibility and 6 compact, but incredibly useful tools: a bottle opener, scraper/tape cutter/scorer, flat-head screwdriver, pry tool, ruler, and wrench.” Personally, I’m not a big fan of key ring tools but I might just give this one a try.

Nite Ize’s marketing director was really excited about their Financial Tool. I knew that Nite Ize made tools for almost everything but financial tools? Rest assured, they haven’t strayed far from their primary focus.

Nite Ize Financial Tool
Nite Ize Financial Tool

The Nite Ize Financial Tool may not help you maximize your IRA’s returns but it is a handy wallet-size tool meant to actually replace your wallet. “This 7-in-1 multi tool can be a wrench, screwdriver, bottle opener, ruler, and securely hold your cash and cards without breaking a sweat.” Stay tuned for a review.

Our last stop of the day was the SOG booth. We expected, of course, to see a vast array of knives and tools. What we didn’t expect to find was … relatively high-end backpacks and day packs. Apparently, not content to constrain themselves to knives and tools, SOG – like others – is going after the soft goods market. Their booth was jam-packed so we didn’t get a chance to try on the packs but they have all the latest bells and whistles that one would expect from a market-leading pack.

SOG Tactical Backpack
SOG Tactical Backpack

Stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow morning.


Crocodile Tears – Obama’s Recommended Steps to Reduce Gun Violence

On January 4th, 2016, President Barack Hussein Obama stood in the White House, wiping away tears, and outlined his recommended actions to “reduce gun violence and make our communities safer” in the United States.

According to the White House Fact Sheet, our president, in his infinite wisdom, has recommended the following steps to reduce gun violence across America:

1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks (for people trying to buy some of the ‘most dangerous’ weapons … through a trust or corporation or for people ‘in the business’ of selling firearms)

2. Focus on “smart and effective” enforcement of our gun laws

3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system

4. Shape the future of gun safety technology

Let’s break down these four steps by applying a few facts and a little logic.

First, a few statistics. President Obama suggested that more than 100,000 people were killed as a result of gun violence over the past decade. Fortunately for us, the FBI publishes gun crime statistics every year. As most of our readers know, violent crime, including gun death crimes, has been on a sharp decline since the early 90’s. Although statistics prior to 2006 are no longer available on the FBI website, based on the numbers from 2006-2013, the president’s statement is reasonable.

But the president suggests that we go after the gun owners who have gone to the effort and expense of creating a trust, paying for a $200 tax stamp (per item) and placing themselves squarely in the ATF’s crosshairs … because those silencers, short-barreled rifles and other items that these law-abiding citizens are purchasing are so dangerous!

How many murders were committed with “other guns” (the only category tracked by the FBI that might reasonably correlate to these ‘most dangerous weapons’)? Between 2006 and 2013, a whopping 829 murders were committed with these “most dangerous” weapons – out of a total of 73,959 firearms murders during the same period

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So … we’re going to reduce gun violence by going after the 1%? I must have missed the statistics class where they taught that you could make the biggest impact by going after the smallest percentage. I smell something fishy.

Now, let’s discuss “smart and effective enforcement of gun laws.”

Although gang-related murders are not tracked as a specific category by the FBI, a number of city police departments do track gang-related murders. Data from a several of our larger cities’ police records suggest that gang and drug-related firearms murders comprise anywhere from 55% to more than 90% of the firearms murders in our cities – which, of course, is where the bulk of firearms murders take place.

It would seem that “smart and effective enforcement of gun laws” would include enforcement targeted at known and suspected gang members with punishments that kept gang and drug-related murderers off the streets forever. It would also seem that the theft of guns and straw purchases of guns would be associated with harsher penalties and longer prison sentences.

Instead, U.S. Attorney, B. Todd Jones admitted, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013, that of 48,321 cases involving straw purchasers (those who knowingly purchase firearms for prevented persons) only 44 were actually prosecuted. Yes, you read that right – only forty-four (44)!

The Obama administration has clearly demonstrated that prosecuting criminals with actual ties to gun violence is not a priority. They would rather go after individuals who conduct a few private gun sales every now and then. They would rather lie about internet gun sales not requiring background checks. (There’s already a federal law on the books that requires a background check for this type of sale.)

That fishy smell … I think it’s a Red Herring.

And, while the Obama administration claims that it doesn’t have the resources to prosecute straw purchasers, they want to “increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.” I wonder what would happen if the proposed $500 million investment in increased access to mental health care was spent on prosecuting and jailing gang bangers and straw purchasers? (Not that we don’t need better mental health care in this country.)

Admittedly, we don’t have all the information on the Social Security Administration rulemaking and Department of Health and Human Services reporting, but on the surface this sounds a lot like violations of HIPAA regulations and trampling of the Fourth Amendment.

Finally, the Obama administration wants to “shape the future of gun safety technology.” When has it ever been a good idea for the government to shape the future of any technology?

The level of intellectual dishonesty and barefaced lying is both shocking and disappointing. What is even more disappointing is the American people’s willingness to believe and embrace these “common sense” distractions. If, as a nation, we really want to reduce gun violence and protect our communities, we need to focus on root causes and major contributors rather than chasing after law-abiding citizens and 1% contributors. If we “must do something,” do something that will have a real impact.

Oh, devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with [President’s] woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.  –Othello

Common Sense Gun Laws

Photo Credit: Washington Times

It’s time … well past time … for us, as a nation, to have an intellectually honest conversation about these so-called “common sense gun laws” that are so frequently mentioned in the wake of tragic events.

In the most recent round of rhetoric, President Barack Hussein Obama suggested that preventing individuals on the “No Fly List” – who have been adjudicated of … absolutely nothing in most cases … be prevented from legally purchasing firearms. Of course, that doesn’t prevent them from illegally purchasing firearms as the perpetrators of the San Bernadino shootings did.  (The long guns used in the shootings were acquired illegally through what is called a “straw purchase.”)

Since this most recent event took place in California (home to the nation’s most Draconian gun laws), let’s take a look at some of California’s “common sense.”

California’s gun laws make all of the following illegal in the state:

  • Carrying a concealed firearm without a license to do so – which is nearly impossible to obtain – is illegal
  • Carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person or in a vehicle while in a public place is illegal
  • Carrying an exposed firearm while in a public place is illegal
  • Purchasing a firearm that the state has classified as an “assault weapon” is illegal
  • Purchasing magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds is illegal
  • Selling any new handgun, unless it is on the state’s roster of handguns certified for sale, is illegal
  • A ten day waiting period is required on the purchase of any firearm
  • Virtually all firearm purchases must be conducted through a California licensed dealer under the Dealer’s Record of Sale process (which requires a background check)
  • Generally, individuals are limited to purchasing no more than one handgun per 30 day period
  • Private party transfers of firearms are generally prohibited (antiques, curios and relics more than 50 years old are generally excluded)
  • All firearms purchases conducted through a California licensed dealer must be accompanied by a Firearm Ownership Report (essentially registration)

Those are the biggies. There are hundreds more laws on the books in California – at both the state and local levels – related to firearms purchase and ownership.

Simply stated, however, these laws do not work. Time and time again, determined killers have proven that they will walk through and around laws intended to hamper their ability to wreak destruction. Even the president’s press secretary admitted that supposed “common sense” gun laws would have done nothing to stop the San Bernadino killers … “Of course not.”

The time has come to drop the reflexive “more gun laws” mantra and step up to the plate with intellectual honesty to address the underlying root causes to violence in our society

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Radicalism, mental health issues, narcissistic entitlement mentalities … these are causes. Deep, beneath their surface, lie the roots – roots that have taken decades to grow into every corner of our society. Identifying these roots and admitting our own culpability is difficult and uncomfortable. As difficult as this may be, it must be done if we want to reduce mass murder.

Those who continue to parrot the need for more “common sense gun laws” are doing nothing more than deflecting attention away from themselves, and their own responsibility in these matters, with an emotionally convenient red herring.

Run and Gun AR-15 Lower Build

FTC Disclosure: Some of the items reviewed in this article were provided at no charge.

If you’ve been following us for a while now, you know that we’ve been working on a series of articles focused on assembling a purpose-built AR-15.

Yeah, we know, everyone and their brother has done AR-15 build articles and videos. Many of those articles and videos have been produced by people building their first AR. We also know that you expect more from us than to simply follow the crowd of other evil black rifle builders. Fortunately, because we know that you expect more from us, we intend to provide something a little different in this series of articles.

This is the third and final article in our series covering the build of our “Run and Gun” AR-15. In this article we cover our run and gun AR-15 lower build. If you would like to read the first article in the series, click here

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As Yogi Berra (may he rest in peace) used to say, assembling an AR-15 lower isn’t “rocket surgery.” OK, maybe he never said that about building AR-15’s but we like the rocket surgery part.

In our first article, we reviewed the components of our build as well as some of the tools that make the assembly much easier. One of those tools is a lower receiver vise block (pictured below). The vise block helps protect the lower receiver from damage and provides a solid work space for your assembly.

Vise Block
Vise Block

Place the lower receiver on the vise block and install the magazine catch/release assembly. We used a pencil eraser (see photo below) to press the release button into the receiver while threading in the catch lever. The eraser won’t scuff or damage the button while providing a “stop” for the lever as it is threaded into the button.

Pencil Eraser to Assist with Magazine Catch Install
Pencil Eraser to Assist with Magazine Catch Install

Improper installation of the trigger guard can result in a broken rear guard tab. Be sure to support the tabs when driving the pin into the rear tabs.

We used the vise block as a support.

Use the Vise Block to Support the Trigger Guard Tabs
Use the Vise Block to Support the Trigger Guard Tabs

Next, install the bolt catch lever.

We used an awl with a plastic handle to hold the lever in place while we started the roll pin (see photo below). The plastic handle won’t mar the finish of the receiver.

Holding the Bolt Catch Lever in Place
Holding the Bolt Catch Lever in Place

Use a roll pin starter punch to start the pin (see photo below). Allow the roll pin to push the awl out of the receiver as you drive the pin through the lever. Use a roll pin finisher punch to complete the assembly. This method saves you the time associate with putting tape all over your receiver to protect it from scuffs or nicks during the process.

Roll Pin Punch
Roll Pin Punch

One of the tricks that we use when installing the front take-down pin is to rotate the vise block 90° in the vise so that the opening for the take-down pin spring is facing up (see photo below).

Rotate the Block in the Vise
Rotate the Block in the Vise

Drop the spring into the opening (see photo below) and carefully insert the detent pin. Use a razor blade to hold the spring and detent pin in place as you slide the take-down pin through the tabs on the front of the receiver.

Detent Spring in Vertical Opening
Detent Spring in Vertical Opening

The RISE Armament trigger is a simple drop-in installation. No external springs to mess with.

RISE Armament Trigger
RISE Armament Trigger

When installing the fire selector switch and hand grip, flip the receiver upside-down on the vise block. Drop the detent pin into the opening (see photo below).

Fire Selector Detent Pin
Fire Selector Detent Pin

Place the spring in the hand grip and utilize a long screw driver or Allen wrench to tighten the screw.

A Long Allen Wrench Helps with the Hand Grip Installation
A Long Allen Wrench Helps with the Hand Grip Installation

Install the buffer tube and rear take-down pin. Use a razor blade, again, to hold the take-down pin’s detent pin and spring in place while threading the buffer tube into the receiver. Be sure to put a little grease on the threads of the receiver and some anti-seize on the face of the receiver where it contacts the stock tube.

Be Careful with the Rear Take-down Pin's Detent Spring
Be Careful with the Rear Take-down Pin’s Detent Spring

Finally, insert the buffer and spring into the buffer tube. Depending on your stock, you may still have to install the actual butt stock. Our Ace Ultra-light needed no additional installation other than tightening the clamp screw.

Ace Ultra-light Clamp Screw
Ace Ultra-light Clamp Screw
Install the Buffer and Spring.
Install the Buffer and Spring.

And … the proof is in the pudding (or the ‘putting’ of rounds down range). Here’s a typical 4″ target at 100 yards with Hornady 55 grain practice ammo.

Typical 100 Yard Target
Typical 100 Yard Target

2015 Walker Draw Tactical Challenge

On a cool, foggy morning in late August, the 2015 Walker Draw Tactical Challenge was already facing some challenges of its own. The heavy fog shrouded the rolling hills making even close-range targets invisible.

Fog as Thick as Pea Soup
Fog as Thick as Pea Soup

Competitors milled about as the match directors conducted the safety briefing. About an hour after the scheduled start time, the safety briefing was over and competitors were on their way to the various shooting stages. Perhaps a half hour after that, the fog had lifted and the long-range targets were visible.

The Competition Gets Underway
The Competition Gets Underway

The Walker Draw Tactical Challenge is put on by the Old Breed Gun Club (OBGC) on private property near Bloomfield, NE. The property is exceptional and the guys from the OBGC are top-notch.

Several Junior Shooters Competed in the Challenge
Several Junior Shooters Competed in the Challenge

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Walker Draw are donated to The Battle Buddy Foundation. This year, the OBGC donated more than $3000.00 to Battle Buddy.

One of the organizers, D.R. Herrold, said, “We are honored to do what we can to help out such an important organization. The Battle Buddy Foundation is quietly battling a vicious enemy, and winning.”

Obviously, Battle Buddy is a veteran-oriented organization. Even though all of the members of the OBGC are veterans, the event is open to those without prior military service. The overall feeling is one of inclusion and brotherhood, regardless of military service. (OK, there might be a little ribbing that goes on between former Marines and ex-Army, but that’s about it.) There were several junior shooters at the event, all of whom seemed to feel right at home.

The competition itself is pretty much what one would expect from such an event. The course of fire was comprised of fifteen stages with scenarios that challenged competitors and mimicked real-world situations – “rooftops,” pistol-to-rifle transitions, moving targets, “floating” shooting platforms, VTAC boards, long-range, close-range and much more.

Multi-position Shooting Challenges Abound
Multi-position Shooting Challenges Abound

The organizers also recovered exceptionally well from the fog delay. An hour and a half delay in an eight-hour competition is significant. By lunch time, however, the organizers had recovered nearly half of that time. With an eat-on-the-go lunch, the competition wrapped up by around 6:30 p.m. Dinner and the awards ceremony were finished and most everyone was on their way home by 9:00 p.m. or so.

Floating Platform for the "Captain Phillips" Challenge
Floating Platform for the “Captain Phillips” Challenge

Speaking of the awards ceremony, the prize table was impressive for such a young competition.

According to Herrold, “OBGC is comprised of four main members. All four of us reached out to the shooting community to get the best prize table possible. Numerous emails, phone conversations and a lot of time went into reaching out to the sponsors. All of which were an absolute pleasure to deal with

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Almost as importantly, the food was excellent featuring beef raised on the property and venison harvested on the property. I can’t think of another shooting competition that offers food raised or harvested on property!

The OBGC is looking to keep the Walker Draw at about the same size as this year’s event. So, if you’re looking to get in on a great event hosted by some great guys on some great property, get your registration in early for next year’s competition.