Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Home Front: just pop to the supermarket

Here's the thing. We (and I presume most of you, my readers) live in the industrialised world. Hot and cold running water, 24/7 power, high speed(ish) internet. A industrialised food transportation system. We have supermarkets, corner stores, grocers and the like, a stones throw from our homes. Perhaps a short drive in your Urban Assault Vehicle.

We can just assume that the shelves will be stocked, the lights will be on, and we'll be able to pretty much do all our shopping in one spot.



The problem is, even in industrial and affluent society like mine, these services can be disrupted but simple things. Power outages of more than a few hours tends to make supermarkets cull their perishable stock (pay attention, urban scavengers, you might be able to pick up a truckload of just-begin-to-thaw frozen goods).

Imagine what fuel shortages, road closures, quarantines or other long time disruption to supply chains would do.

My local supermarket is a marvel of modern convenience, is only 650m from my house. Easy walking distance for a bottle of juice, or a bag of chips, and we even drive when we do a big shop. How would it fare in the event of a disaster? How long would it take to empty of supplies? How long would it hold up if locked down?

It gives me pause for thought,  perhaps it might for you too.

I certainly have a mental list of "what to grab in the first few days of an event" which I will write up and share shortly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Update: 5.11 Tactical - TDU Kilt re-release

The good folks over at Soldier Systems have reminded me (and now from me, to you) that 5.11 Tactical have re-released their Tactical Kilt.

I love mine, in fact, I'm wearing one right now. I brave both weather and the harassment of the ignorant (and actual Scots) to be comfortable and bad-ass. Pants are tyranny and I love freedom. Don't you?

Check them out at:
http://www.511tactical.com/kiltoff
http://www.511tactical.com/tactical-duty-kilt-134360.html
and hopefully on http://www.511tactical.com.au/ soon

Available with the following colors: Khaki (a greenish brown), Coyote (a tan brown), TDU Green, Tundra (a deep green), Charcoal, Dark Navy, Black, original MultiCam, and Realtree Xtra and in sizes 28-54.

If that wasn't cool enough, 5.11 are also donating $10 from every kilt sold to FBINAA and We Salute You Veterans.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: United Cutlery M48 Spear



Here's a fun item that I've had sitting by my front door in the umbrella stand for a while, and thought I should give it screen time. I've had a soft spot for spears for a long time, perhaps not as long as with swords, but still, a good long while. My first spear was a Kenyan Maasai spear, and I've previously shown off my Cold Steel Boar Spear which is as impressive a spear as you're likely to ever wave around and at 208cm (82 1/8"), it's not something you carry around lightly.

This is the M48 Kommando Survival Spear, by United Cutlery. This is another of the M48 family, which I have covered before with the Walking Axe and the very handy Ranger Hawk.
Sharing the same 30% fiberglass haft as the Walking Axe, which measures 92cm (36 1/8”) this is actually quite short for a spear, and reminds me of the Zulu Assegai and Ikiwa spears.

As with the Walking Axe, the haft is about 10-15cm too short for me to use as an effective cane, unless I wanted to grasp the head, never a good idea, really.

With the molded finger grips at the head end, and flared throat to prevent over penetration, the spear itself balances nicely when held here, one handed. Two other grip points, in the form of a series of inset groves about midway and at the butt-end allow for a number of different holds.

 Certainly in the places I'd want to be grasping a spear for close fighting, or in a shield wall, if that were my thing.

With a 20cm (8") head, featuring a rather impressive flat grind bevel on both sides. It manages this by being extremely thick, at almost half an inch at the middle, which features some fluting and holes through the spine, which drops the wight a little.

All up this piece weighs 1kg (2.2lbs), mostly at the head. Given the solid design of the head, I expect that it would take a lot more abuse than the head of the Walking Axe, which as you may have read, experienced some structural failure (but not catastrophically) on my last camping trip, chopping firewood.

I expect the M48 spear to pack a lot more wallop, but a spear is not an axe. I'll have to give some thought to how to demonstrate this effectively. Once again, the length of the spear gave me pause. Longer than a knife, longer than a sword, but not really long enough to keep a foe at more than "arms length". The other option was hunting medium sized game.

I haven't had a chance to go out far enough away from prying eyes to fling it around, but at 1 kg, it makes for a pretty dense package for a thrown weapon. It would make a very substantial club though.

Still, it's size allows it to go a lot of places a full length spear like the Cold Steel Boar Spear just can't. Like across your back whilst scrambling up a ravine, or climbing through a building.

It will fit in a car boot, or even lashed to a bike. That big broad head isn't suited to spear-fishing, but I can imagine that in survival situations it would work nicely for both sea-side wildlife and deterring land predators.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of this spear is its cross section.

I used a pizza box to demonstrate the cross section, and you can see just how solid the M48 blade is. This thing pokes big holes.Perhaps not as wide or deep as the Cold Steel, but certainly broadly.

I've not really had much opportunity to put it thought its paces, the fox that took my last bunch of pet rabbits hasn't been back since I threw the Walking Axe at it (close is NOT a hit, in this case) but I think that local livestock protection and vermin control might well be the best option for this piece, until it comes time to go house-to-house and ventilate a horde.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Home Front: Bug Out Jar

I've been looking at putting together Bug Out Kits, to offer online, and possibly put up on Kickstarter, to get out to a wider market.

I've been thinking about what to include in such a kit, and what to put it in. My thought was to have something that could rattle around in the boot of a car, in the corner of a ruck or by the front door at home. It needed to be small and unobtrusive, rugged, easily identified but not standing out as a prize.

I happened to have a stash of bio-bottle containers, not unlike the Patho-Pack containers (or as we call them at home, "Dead People Jars"). The Bio-Bottles are biohazard rated, air and water tight shipping containers, 850 ml capacity, with a "size in carton" of 12cm x 12cm x 17cm, which meets UN3373 regulations, meeting 95kPa pressure testing. Good solid containers!

The contents of the kit I have been pondering, based in part on my own EDC and adventuring kits in past, and my experiences camping, LARPing and travel around the world. I have also been working on a tight budget, so have kept the items pretty generic where possible.

I've included in this beta version:
A wire saw
A space blanket
A fire starter (which includes a button compass)
A 100' length of paracord
A knife (which includes a rescue hook/strap cutter)
A steel paracord shackle
A WTF multitool
A multifunction spork
A 850mL Bio-Bottle

I may include some other contents as options, including a couple other excellent items, as well as carry-pouches, and even upgraded, expanded kits.
Hopefully, there will be some interest in these, and I'd love your feedback as to contents, carry and packing thoughts and I can make this happen.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: Original SOE Gear - Combat Cock

Awaiting me when I got home recently was a package from Tay of Hornest, Singapore. Tay and I have worked together looking at some cool kit previously, like the Helinox Packable folding chair, the Jil Lite UV light and the Jil Lite Constel LED lantern as well as a bunch of other cool things.

This most recent item is a lot of fun, just for fun. It's time to rock out with my cock out, behold, the SOEGear Combat Cock.

Crafted from 1000d cordura nylon, the Combat Cock is fitted with a length of 1" webbing and a tri-glide buckle under the tail-feathers to facilitate attachment to any number of items.

Each flank of the Cock is fitted with a 75mm x 50mm (3" x 2") colour-matched loop field for attaching your favorite patches, I've thrown on one of my also-new MOTUS/Hornest exclusive patches.

With drainage grommets for eyes, and a hook-and-loop opening on the underside to access the stuffing, for either re-fluffing, or replacing it with what-have-you. It could make an innocuous stuff-sack for secret needfuls, even SERE gear.

I've been thinking about stuffing mine with a Headover to give it double duty as a fun accessory, storage as well as an impromptu travel pillow.

I really like this little guy, and look forwards to photo-bombing a bunch of things, places and events with my khaki Combat Cock! Get yours now, we'll see who's has been more places ...


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Tactical BBQ apron


I've been holding off posting on this one till an appropriate juncture, and I think this day has arrived.

This is the Tactical Chef Apron by ThinkGeek, and I just had to tell you about it today.

I'm all for being equipped, and being caught out at the fire-line without the right loadout can mean the difference between slabs of hot steaming, bleeding meat, and charred inedible ruination.  That is when having this kind of kit is essential, if not life-saving.

Made of 100% cotton, you can expect the apron to protect your thorax and groin from all but the worst boiling-oil splashbacks, and flare-ups, and perhaps even the exploding kernels of maize.

Featuring a top section of 6 rows of MOLLE loops, with 6 usable channels in the mid chest, and 10 channels at the rib-line, and a further three rows of 10 at the bottom of the apron, this is a modular combat chef's dream.
Twin sets of triple D-rings, mounted  at the upper regions allow for a variety of hung items, and twin snap-clasps at the the waist line give direct attachment and retention options. Three PALS/MOLLE compatible hook-hand-loop fastening pouches, one triple set and two larger sets, one with a look-filed for ID, unit or morale patches offer a variety of mission specific load-outs.

The lower section of the apron features three dump-pouch pockets, for a variety of accessory and brain-grenade carriage capacity.  Watch out for the pocket stitching cutting through MOLLE loops though.

The wide shoulder straps are not adjustable, but come "hero-sized". Fastex style clasps secure front and back, with webbing sliders expanding to allow for the more substantially proportioned combat-chefs.

The back features even more MOLLE loops as well as a broad loop-field for further ID and insignia.
Tactical Chef Apron 
Click the picture to be taken to ThinkGeek to buy one!

This is a fun piece, which I enjoy throwing on whenever I face flames, steaming flesh and the wailing of mouths, screaming for blood.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: First Spear - Walt holster

I had a flash of madness a while back, and bought myself something fairly silly, for me. A very specific purpose piece with very little chance of cross-purposing. But so damn cool looking.

This is the Walt torso holster from First Spear. I've been extremely happy with my First Spear OAGRE vest, which I've taken with me on my adventure and obstacle runs. These folks make some good gear, well thought out and put together.

The Walt will apparently fit the 1911, M9, 226, Glock, M&P, XD and other similarly sized pistols, none of which do I own, or have any reasonable expectation to do so any time soon (awww).
That said, its a really nice piece, and I wanted to have it to have an alternative to my Hazard4 RG Harness or the venerable EDC harness before that.

The holster is skinned in a grippy hypalon, which keeps it snug and slip free in position, and is lined with a micro-suede finish. Sewn to accommodate the trigger-guard, but reported not to take any optics or lights, a shock-cord and hypalon tab is set up for weapon retention. I found that the holster took my Strike Industries iPhone 5 SHOX case nicely.

Loops on the top and side of the holster are to affix the ITW G-hooks which give a quick but secure attachment for the baldric which as it happens, is set up with a single row of PALS/MOLLE loops along its length, until the webbing finishes of in an adjustable loop, for fitting. I mounted my awesome little ODDJob knife by SAR GlobalTool to mine, because it was a perfect addition to the rig, for the uses I have been putting it through.

The holster is designed to be worn under the right armpit, giving a left-hand pistol draw, which I thought was a little odd, but that's where I put my phone, anyway, so it worked out nicely for me.
I'd have to put the question out to the serious pistol carriers out there, as to your thoughts on this kind of set-up.

The bottom of the holster was open, to allow for longer barrels, and options for those of you who don't want to disturb your neighbors when shooting geckos and the lowest edge is set up for belt connection with the same kind of Quick Release buckle as seen on the OAGRE chest rig, being a looping hook-and-loop with press-stud to ensure a very secure connection, especially of the belt you are wearing features loop-fields to do just that.

Between the materials, the construction and the form, this is a pretty cool holster, with the gnarly First-Spear logo on the side, and its wrap-around PALS/MOLLE loops makes this a sadly under-utilised addition to my collection, but I like to pull it out from time to time when I can get away with a bandoleer ...





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