Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: StatGear - SuperVizor rescue hook

I have a collection of rescue hooks, from my EDC Benchmade Figure 5 that sits in my pocket along with my CRKT Eat'n'Tool along with my bigger Gerber model which lives on my webbing, and my dear-departed Benchmade 8Med and Gerber cutters. I've been fortunate not to have to use any of them in a crisis, but I've found great utility in having them for cord, strap and packaging cutting.

The SuperVisor Kickstarter took a familiar concept, and found a particular aspect to improve. The SuperVizor is pitched as an auto-escape tool and was designed by a Avi Goldstein, a NY-City Paramedic who has cut his teeth with several Kickstarter projects now.

It has a sleek, minimalist design which includes a 440 stainless steel seatbelt cutting blade and a tungsten carbide tip window punch at the tip. Having a dedicated window punch was a rally nice addition, especially when considering the likelihood of needing to break glass in similar situations you'd need a seatbelt cutter.

The hook has a molded nylon finger grip for the index and middle fingers and a little tab on the outside for the ring finger to lay on for extra stability and leverage The back of the hook has crenelations for thumb positioning and grip. The blade was wide enough to take bunched seatbelt webbing without an issue, but not so wide as to be a safety worry.

The real innovation, other than the glass-punch is that as part of the set, it includes a nylon sheath with an elastic strap, with hook-and-loop closure to keep the SuperVizor attached to the sun visor of your car.

I have a Zulu Nylon Gear MOLLE visor so if I wanted I could (and have in past) mounted a rescue hook directly to the MOLLE, but in this instance, and in most people's PALS/MOLLEless car interiors, you can securely affix the SuperVizor to the sun visor and have this tool at your fingertips to extract yourself, and your loved ones, in the event of a crash or off-the-road misadventure. The sheath has a small retention tab to hold the hook in place, and secures very firmly to my visor, I've not had any concern wit hit falling out, or shifting in my peripheral vision, even over some pretty poor roads.

There is a current Kickstarter going on, for the same set up, but with an expanded range of colours, so if you're keen, look them up here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Events: Melbourne Gun Club - Come and Try day

I was asked out to go clay target shooting by my step-father, as he is thinking of joining a new club, in order to maintain his shotgun license, and the club he selected puts on a regular "Come & Try" sessions for those interested in trying the sport of clay target shooting.

I've only ever been out shooting once with a .22, target and rabbit shooting with a friend of mine as well as lots of laser tag, paintball and the like, so going shotgunning was a new experience for me. The Melbourne Gun Club is equipped with a variety of ranges:
  • X2 Olympic Trench Grounds
  • x8 Down The Line (DTL) Ranges
  • x7 Skeet / ISSF Skeet Grounds
  • x1 Five Stand Layout

We were shooting Beretta under-over 12guage's supplied by the club, which were very cool, with shell extractors and nice actions, as far as I could tell. They had heated up a fair bit by the time the end of the hour and a half of shooting came to a close, with many hands having used each gun, there was a visible heat shimmer, and the metal parts had heated up quite a bit, making them uncomfortable to hold off the wooden parts, no surprises there.

To participate in the MGC "Come & Try" events you must be over 12 years old, wear closed shoes and no camouflage clothing or singlets, and adhere to a strict no alcohol policy. A firearms license is NOT required, which is very convenient given the difficulty in acquiring one here. Upon arrival and payment will need to sign the visitor's book for insurance purposes, but again, this was a very relaxed process, and my ID wasn't checked. Perhaps this was a mistake on the day, or I slipped through, but I found it odd, given the rather draconian personal ownership laws here.

The "Come and Try" introduction includes coaching and supervision by experienced members of the Club who were keen to make sure my time was safe and rewarding. That said, my safety briefing was "wear earplugs" and "point it that way" as two instructors flanked us, and hand-loaded us one round at a time. I was really surprised at this very lax seeming methodology, and can only presume it was because of the location and number of staff on-hand.

I got to shoot at two of the Down The Line ranges, where the targets come straight at you, arcing up and hanging in front of you, ready to blast into dust. We then moved down to the skeet range which was really challenging, as they were far less forgiving, and required a higher level of gun-skill, especially in calculating leads, something that laser-tag doesn't help with.

I found that shotguns were quite forgiving to aim, at the ranges and target situations we were using, which was also no surprise, but I had anticipated more than a simple dot sight at the muzzle end of the guns.

I hit more than I missed so I'll call that success. Proper shoulder placement and cheek weld was crucial, not only for repeatability and accuracy, but also recoil mitigation and cheek slap.I've heard all about it, and we've all seen some hilarious YouTube clips, but it was quite a different thing to see and feel it in person. Watching some little people get bucked around in their attempts made me glad each gun was only being singly-loaded, but experienced instructors.

I asked about the effective range of the guns and loads we were using, and unsurprisingly was told that it was around the edge of the ranges, up to the berm that marked the boundaries. "you'd feel it if you were up there, that's for sure". We were shooting 12ga #9 1250fps loads, which seemed to be very light, and my step-father agreed, commenting the rapport of the shots was quite a lot sharper than he was used to. Most of the rounds we fired were fresh, but some instructors also did reloads, which we could tell by the slightly differing rapports we heard.

I also asked about the chokes used, and was told they were set up specifically for the kinds of shooting offered, which was no surprise either. One interesting tidbit I asked about is that in side-by side, dual-trigger guns, each barrel often has a different choke pattern, giving the user a selectable option based on situation.

There were a range of people in attendance, from a gaggle of blokes all out for a lark, to several families with mum, dad and the kids all out for a blast, some for the first time it looked like, as well as some loners, and us. Apart from some of the little folks and less prepared, who sometimes took a bit of a heavy kick or cheek slap, everyone seems to have a really good time, and the cheers and applause from the gaggles at different ranges certainly made it seem like everyone was having a good time.

Unlike many other sports, there are very few physical limitations to participating, Gender is all but irrelevant, you need to be strong enough to wield and shoot the guns, and agile enough to track the targets as they cross your line of sight. You may fire up to 25 shots whilst at the "Come & Try" session, although I think I only got about 20, due to circumstances and crowds on the day. I also got to meet with a member of the Australian shooting team, going to San Antonio TX next month, good luck!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Platatac - Cool Under Tactical Shirt

Here's an item I had completely overlooked in the back of Tactical Baby's wardrobe (where I've taken to storing my less-often worn gear, as she hasn't yet accumulated a whole lot of outfits, and only the one camo vets ...) I pulled it out as part of a upcoming post detailing different camo in an Australian setting. I wanted to test out DPM pattern and remembered I had a shirt to go with my pants. It turns out that shirt was one of the very cool 
Platatac’s CUTS (Cool Under Tactical Shirt) and I wanted to tell you a thing to two about the CUTS design.

The CUTS Special Projects is Platatac's next generation in under armour tactical uniform shirts.

The CUTS are specifically designed as an improvement over standard BDU shirts, with lightweight, moisture wicking fabric in areas where body armour contacts the body. This aims to promote cooling when using body armour in hot environments.

The shoulders are constructed from 3D air mesh giving padding for both comfort when using load bearing equipment and airflow.

The sleeves are constructed from a heavy 100% Cotton ripstop fabric which is built to last. The sleeves also feature upper arm pockets with two sets of loop-fields each allowing the attachment of multiple patches and also include a webbing flap allowing the wearer to secret a IR Square with minimal effort.

On the version I have, there is also a axillary pocket on the left forearm for use as a map panel, much like the wrist mounted Recce wrist pouch , as well as twin elbow patches, which will take elbow pads, and are held in place by hook-and-loop tabs.

The cuffs are able to be cinched in with hook-and-loop straps to eliminate drafts and cover up exposed skin.  The neckline has a half-zip, to give you good venting when you need, and also features a hook-and-loop fixing mandarin high-collar, which keeps stray brass, grit and bugs out.
It has a really good, long fit, something I really look for in a shirt, as I have a long body, and even longer arms so having a full length shirt keeps my shirt tails tucked in, and my wrists covered up.

The material on the torso is very comfortable, especially under load, and whilst the cotton of the sleeves is fairly heavy, they bear up to rough use really well. I've crawled around in the scrub and run through brush with this, and had not had any trouble.

These are a pretty technical garment, but if you find yourself in rough environments, wearing packs or chest-rigs this is the kind of shirt you'll want to have.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Events: Security Expo 2015

I had the good fortune to be invited to attend the 2015 Australian Security Exhibition & Conference a couple of weeks ago, which shows it pays to stay in touch with local industry events, so I took a long lunch one day and attended.

The Security Exhibition Conference is the most highly recognized security industry event in Australasia. This year was its 30th anniversary.   The event is billed as the must-attend event for all security professionals from installers and integrators to end users. It's not exactly my comfort zone, and it was great to see what other new industries show themselves to their peers.

The Security Exhibition showcased  170 leading brands in one place and allowed visitors to identify the newest and brightest industry innovations. My best explanation for what I saw, is that there were cameras. Lots of cameras. 3/5 of the expo was camera or camera related.

Thermal cameras, low light cameras, super hi-def cameras. Cameras in does, cameras on poles, cameras on drones. All the downstream systems to process all of that, facial recognition systems, networking, storage, scanning systems. A lot of camera stuff.

About 1/5 of the expo was access-control: ID badges, doors, code-pads, RFID scanners, readers and writers, and the like. Some locks and barrier systems too.

One thing I noted that was curiously absent, from my way of thinking was any counter-technology. There were no lock-picks, code-breakers, spoofers or any other sort of bypass tools, but I suppose that kind of thing might be at an even more secret expo.

Even then, getting into the Security Exhibition & Conference isn't that easy. I had media-type entry, but otherwise they accept professionals in the security industry and end users responsible for sourcing the latest products, services and technologies to manage security threats and protect vital business assets. Entry is otherwise restricted to industry professionals only. People not in this category are not be admitted at any time. Proof of identity and industry involvement may be requested at the door, I had my patches on, and cards at hand, but wasn't challenged, having been invited.

It was a very interesting event to visit, and I made a couple of contacts that I will be following up, such as with Defence Systems Australia, so stay tuned for a post about them. If you are interested and actively in industrial and corporate security I'd heartily recommend attending.

Probably not too useful to the backyard prepper and urban scavenger, unless you're into grey-hatting.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: Smart Wrench

Here's a little tool that I backed on Kickstarter, and was really expecting big things from. The idea was elegantly simple. A CNC milled titanium ratcheting wrench, with storage for additional drivers built-in the housing. 

It was a relatively small project, and only had low numbers, due in no small measure I suspect to the high price, but at the time I was flush, and eager to add some more multi-capable titanium tools to my collection.
The development was a bit slow, but we had design and prototype pictures along the way, and this is often the case with first-time Kickstarters, so I didn't worry much. Eventually, the tool arrived, and I was really impressed with the beauty of the thing. Smooth lines, lovely graduations and a very smooth screw-on tool housing in the handle. The tool bits were also very nicely produced, and nested really well, without any significant rattle when fully stowed.
The bits included are: 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm hex bits, and a flathead bit, all CNC turned from the same Grade 5 titanium alloy (commonly known as Ti6Al4V) as the rest of the tool.

The extender bar that marries to each of the bits to the wrench body has a rubber o-ring on the tool-mating head, as well as the two sides where the extended marries to the wrench. These bind the bits to the bar, and the bar to the tool by friction, some other users commented eu were disappointed that a ball-bearing indent attachment wasn't offered, but it seems to work well enough for me.
The ratchet has a cute engraving to indicate the direction of ratcheting to use, but here is where the tools biggest fault lies. The ratchet slips extensively, and either doesn't catch at all, or slips under what I would call "normal use" in hand tightening or loosening bolts, screws and the like. 

I was really disappointed with this, and it seems my fellow backers were too. Such a beautifuly put together tool, and when it comes to the primary action, such a disappointment. With some angling, you can get a better or worse ratcheting action, but even then, it's barely functional. 

Considering I'd want to be using for small electronics and devices access, where bolts are often held in with Loctite glue, and need a fair amount of delicately applied torque to initially shift. Outstanding ergonomic and practical design, such a let down for the functional basis of the tool.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Events: Nagasaki 70 years on

What if the 1945 "Fat Man" bomb was dropped on Melbourne today?
Following on from my "Trinity Day" post a few short weeks ago, a chilling reminder. It is now 70 years ago since, on August 9th, 1945, at 11:01:47am the Fat Man bomb exploded some 500m above Nagasaki, Japan, outright killing between approximately 39,000 and 80,000 people. The blast was estimated at around 20kt, and it set fires through the mostly wood and paper construction of the city that left it devastated, even before the radiation effects began to manifest.
What if a 10kt "dirty bomb" was detonated in downtown Melbourne?

Some very clever people at Stevens Institute of Technology, namely nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein developed  “NukeMap” which allows you to overlap various atomic and nuclear events over a regular GoogleMaps view. You've seen this kind of effect with the Sea-Levels which I discussed in my Rising Sea-Levels post. The NukeMap application demonstrates the estimated (and extrapolated from actual tests) effects of these weapons on built-up areas, including "Fireball radius", "20psi Air Blast radius", "5psi Air Blast radius", Radiation Radius" and "Thermal Radiation Radius", each with a descriptor of the kinds of damages you could expect to see, and survivability of those effects.

What if the currently deployed 800kt Russian "Topol SS-25" ICBM munition was dropped on Melbourne?
It also then overlays that with estimated population density in the areas covered by the various zones, and estimates immediate fatalities, and injuries. For explosions of either sufficient size, or proximity to the ground to kick up fallout (high air-busts hit harder, and wider, but don't kick up as much fallout, it's inefficient to do so, apparently), NukeMaps will also plot prevailing winds and density of fallout.
What if the currently deployed 800kt Russian "Topol SS-25" ICBM munition was detonated in downtown Melbourne?
You can pick your location, and from a variety of historically documented devices, from the North Korean tests, Pakistani and Indianweapons, the Trinity and WW2 bombs, all the way up through the Cold War era tests and production weapons, from estimated improvised terrorist weapons to the state-irradiating Tsar Bomba weapon.

Its a very sobering tool to visualize both the destructive capacity we have been capable of for the past 80 years, but also as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have only ever had these forces brought to bare in anger only twice.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Review: Platatac - S&M Side Opening Pouch

I follow a couple of gear swap-buy-sell groups online, and every now and then something comes up that piques my interest. The last time was my Condor Plate Carrier, which I've enjoyed running in at a few events, and was value for money second hand, for my purposes. A bonus from that deal was the carrier had a couple of extra pouches that the guy "threw into the deal". One of these was the pretty recent Platatac S&M Side opening pouch. I hadn't thought to get one of these of its own merit, but having had one in my collection now, I can see this may have been a mistake.

One of the first things I noted was that it looked quite different to my other Platatac pouches, which mostly run into the magazine pouch category, but certainly had the same quality of construction that I'd expect of their products. Constructed of 1000d Cordura, and double stitched throughout. The big-enough to be strong, small enough to keep grit out No.10 YKK zipper wraps around three of the four sides, but interestingly, not top to bottom, but from the side. The twin zipper pulls are equipped with nylon extenders which are grippy, but snag-free.

One of the things I really liked about this design is that the front panel has a broad lip, that can completely wrap over the zipper, giving you a fully Cordura enclosure, even of the pouch isn't fully zipped up, and eliminating rattle, and giving further dust and water protection. Inside, the pouch measures 15cm (6") x 10cm (4") x 4.5cm (1.75"), giving you quite a lot of capacity for personal electronics, like a GPS unit, strobes, a survival tin or small medical kit, or even snacks or drinks.
The internal of the pouch only has one feature in particular, a wide, broad band of elastic webbing, too big for the strobes I have, but perfect for a 600mL bottle sized item. No extra flaps, pockets or anything to get in the way. One thing that was obvious though is that all the seams were really well finished off, no bare edges or seams to catch or fray. The non-zipper side features a big chunky drainage grommet, which even though it's on a vertical face, gives a good headphone jack access point, or dummy-cord lashing point.
Attachment is via twin channel PALS/MOLLE straps and takes three rows, to give a pretty solid connection. The "handedness" of the pouch is simply governed by flipping the way you attach the pouch, with the PALS/MOLLE connectors feeding "up" rather than "down" to have the opening side either way. I've been using this pouch on my baby-poo khaki-green gear, and Multcam, but threw it onto my black pack for contrast, but really, it's smooth lines and snag free profile don't really make it stand out. Perfect for all your small S&M needs. Cuffs and gags, anyone?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reblogging: Target as a bug-out-locaton

My awesome partner Omega is constantly on the lookout for articles and gear for me. She turned up a great one, from Kayla of Chicago who has a Tumblr blog. Kayla came up with a very similar assessment for Target as a bug-out-location as I have done for Bunnings, and Ikea

If there was a zombie apocalypse the best place to go would be Target.
Lets look at the facts:
  • Targets have at maximum 3 windows. And those windows are also doors. Otherwise they are giant concrete cinder-blocks of prison like retail. 
  • Target is filled with things to quickly barricade those window-doors. such as entire gazebos, lawn furniture, exercise equipment, etc. 
  • From that point forward all you have to do is worry about the zombies that are inside.
 Follow the rest of Kyla's post here:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Too much pistol?

Do you own a pistol? If so, I'd love to hear your feelings about it. I don't, as legislative requirements (and costs, to be fair) to do so are more than I want to go through for what would be for me, just a hobby. However, I know that some of you readers do, so I have some honest questions for you, regarding how, what and why. I'd love to hear your stories, and to report them back in a future article, with your permission.
What it come down to is:
How much pistol is too much pistol?

-"I'm looking for a really big gun, that holds a lot of bullets" - Kuffs (1992)

what is your current go-to pistol?
what caliber and cartridge, and was this a deciding feature?
what is your motivation to own a firearm?
what was your motivation to carry a firearm?
do you open-carry, concealed-carry or store-secure?
what features of your pistol made it appealing for your use?
what training have you had?
what regular training do you perform?

Feel free to comment below, or send me an email at if you'd like to answer some, any or all of those questions for me to use in an upcoming article.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wish Lust: Bomber Paracord Keychains

I'm a big fan of paracord, not only as a rope for binding, tying, strapping, load-lifting and shoe-lacing, but also as a construction material.

I also love my Kickstarter community, and was contacted by Sarah Buckley of Bomber & Company who wanted me to look over their current project, the firestarter-paracord-bracelet-and-keychain set.

They offer two paracord items, a keychain, with a H&K style metal clip , a split ring keychain and 1.5m of paracord, woven in a Portugese Sinnet / Solomon Bar style construction, and most uniquely, includes a small bar of ferrocerium firestarter woven into the cord, it weighs a mear 35g so isn't going to add much to your load.

The bracelet is equipped with 3m of paracord, in a 19-22cm loop and offers the same firestarting capabilities as the keychain, swapping out the H&K clip for a steel washer to terminate one end, and the ferrocerium bar to "button" the bracelet closed. The washer becomes the striker for the firestarter. the bracelet weighs in at only 20g.

Due to popular demand, Bomber & Company are also bringing back the Bomber Barrel Duffle bag Set along with th Bracelet and Keychain rewards in this Kickstarter campaign.

The complete Bomber Set includes the original Bomber Barrel Duffle Bag, Mini Bomber Travel Kit, Bomber Survival Bracelet, and Bomber Survival Paracord Keychain.  Well worth the look-in.

All of the original tooling and pattern costs have been set up. Now, they're just in need of funding to get started on the new production runs.

I like the looks of the keychain, and bracelet, especially the inclusion of firestarting functionality. They certainly look like an easy and unobtrusive way to keep some in your person, and are totally waterproof.

Keep your eyes on Bomber & Company, they may be small, but I think they'll be coming up with more products as interest grows.

Reblogging: Focus on the 25M target.

I came across an article by John Mosby, who is a U.S. military veteran and current instructor, who's school covers a range of hooah courses such asCombat Rifle, Clandestine Carry Pistol, Grid-Down Medical Care, Security Patrolling, Close-Quarters, Battle (CQB)/Fighting in Built-Up Areas and Vehicle-Based Patrolling

I don't have any personal experience with the fellow (or in-truth the kind of courses he offers) but I do have some experience with the mindset he has. The article in question relates to situational awareness, and he occasional propensity of people who either should know better, or at least present a front of should have known better to be less than attentive.

Mr Mosby has some honest opinions around people's physique that I might not have expressed the same way, but he's entitled to his opinion and probably knows better when it comes to the physical requirements and standards certain callings should have.  This said, I find his observations on people's behaviour very telling.

I may well be one of the gear-collecting, Dungeons & Dragons playing types who needs to do more realistic training  fundamentals well before I move on to being a Delta Force, Ranger, MASOC operator, but I think we can all agree, we could all do well to "hone the edges on your ax." 

Me in D&D mode. 

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