Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Heads up!: Zu Bladeworx Warmonger Releaase for Pre-Order

Zu Bladeworx Warmonger Available for Pre-Order

First published on Breach Bang Clear here:

One of my favorite bladesmith companies, ZU Bladeworx in New South Wales, Australia, is accepting orders for their newest bladed weapon: The Warmonger. Note that I didn't say "tool." I might sometimes use euphemisms when it comes to blades, but this is a weapon.

Apparently styled after the Imperial Chinese dadao knife, this hungry-looking cleaver will, I have no doubt, ship to you straight-razor sharp and ready to cut things in half. I fully expect the single piece construction that typifies ZU Bladeworx blades. That style, which has scales or embellishment, lends itself perfectly to cord-wrapping and multiple attachment options with the well-made Kydex sheathes and mounting hardware they offer, as well as  a number of finishes to suit your MOS.

If the name sounds familiar, you might recall them from this FFSK review.

So are cleavers tools or weapons? I chat with people about this often. Fundamentally it is the human brain that is the ultimate weapon; a knife, gun, or axe is just an inanimate object until the human brain gives it intent.
Some tools have been designed with a primary purpose aimed at combat. Some knives are clearly tools that could be used as weapons if intent was there. I know it grates on me when I watch Forged in Fire and they call EVERY knife a weapon.
As I mentioned to a ZU Nation member the other day, I like to design functional, legal and collectable weapons. Not necessarily for carrying or self defense, but to collect, like coins or watches. I call them weapons not to be a hero, but because I like industrial, futuristic versions of medieval and martial arts weapons.
I was at the cutting-edge knives display at the Sydney Show and was eyeing off some kiku and nemoto knives, very tactical-looking and scary to non-knife people. A guy next to me said, "What would you want that for? It is useless as a tool."
I told him it would be for my collection. What is the use in collecting cheap shit? May as well collect good stuff, or why collect at all. Would I carry a Spectre? No. I don't carry any knives to be honest. Do I play with them at home? All the time. Every knife we make is a functional tool, and an efficient weapon in the right hands.
Recently released and rapidly all-sold-out Omega weapons.
Warmonger preorder opened the 15th of September. Reapers opened July 1 so that makes it mid September for shipping. Machining on the Warmongers began September 15 so that seems like a good day to open the preorder. That way the Reapers and Spectres will be almost ready to ship out. Wave 2 Reapers will ship within days of Wave 1. I am actually trying to get these out a little earlier.
ZU Nation price will be $429 plus post for knife and kydex. Attachments extra.
Installment plan as follows;
1) $200 - (plus you can add attachments if you want them)
2) $229 plus post (about $20) due four weeks later
I've done one of these pre-releases and am extremely happy with my Grunt. It's a decent system and  I trust the folks at ZU Bladeworx to deliver.
Here is a batch of their also-sold-out Reaper weapons, commissioned by the ADF. This lot destined for the soon-to-deply 1RAR.
Happy Hunting, lads!

Late update from Matt of ZU:
"So more details on the Warmonger, subject to change but pretty sure it is right.
100 piece run, I can't see us doing a second wave.
Base blade with kydex is $495 (ZU Nation members get a coupon to take off $66 to make it $429 like I promised). This includes tufftride finish and black kydex (no attachments). Coupon will only work on wave 1 (in the unlikely event we so a second wave).
2 part installment. The coupon will work on installment 1.
Postage is $20 (3kg exp bag with sign sticker)
Cerakote one colour - add $25
Apocolypse Cerakote (red or bronze) add $75
Tek Lok - add $25"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Wish-Lust: TREEO Utiltiy hammock

So, this one is a bit "after the horse has bolted" but I thought it worth bringing to all your attentions as a good looking product. Coming out soon. I've always been a sucker for hammocks, and multi-use items and this is both in one. The TREEO is a "3-in-1" Utility Hammock "that does it all". From hammock to beach blanket to rain fly within seconds, the TREEO is the Swiss Army Knife of hammocks. Designed with the outdoors in mind, we wanted to create a product that could be utilized by anyone, anywhere. From the avid adventure seeker to the family who spends summer nights at the park, the simplified design can be taken full advantage of with it's 3-in-1 capabilities.

Made from a 2.75cm x 2.25cm  (9'x7.5') rectangle of Diamond Ripstop Nylon Material known for being lightweight, durable, and waterproof with triple-stitched & taped seams preventing any rips or tears. The TREEO  features a paracord drawstring through the two  7.5 foot sides, which allow it to quickly convert from a sheet to a hammock. The nylon is 1,000 PU grade waterproofed and the hammock is rated to carry 226kg (500 lbs) thanks to the stitching and use of paracord as the strapping. With its own sewn in stuff bag to keep your valuables at your side when in use. it packs down into itself to a  23cm x28cm (9" x 11") and including its compliment of  2x 6' tree straps with 8 loop, its 2 carabeiners and 4 stakes for ground cloth mode. it weighs in at a meager 1.27kg (2.8lbs) 

So, as well as a hammock, it will work as a ground sheet, a rain fly and a shade cloth. Webbing loops at each corner allow  a variety of attachment and set-up positions.

 The Range Travel Goods team are a group of passionate travelers that together have visited over 60 countries. They are now committed to creating products to make travel more simplistic and easy. The Boise, Idaho brand was born on Kickstarter with their first product, the Duo Travel Pillow and now continue working on other travel essentials.

 I really liked the idea and look forwards to mine arriving once they've made it through production ,adding to my array of hammocks.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Home Front: storm's a commin'

I'm really proud of this post, which I'd delayed publishing for logistical reasons, but found out had been picked up by 5.11 TACTICAL, as a "Breach-Bang-Clear Senior Staff Contributor" , which I am doubly proud of! So, without further ado, here's my take on being ready to be smacked with several mega-storms one after another.

Recent meteorological events in my old hometown of Houston, and the subsequent humanitarian concerns that came with the destructive flooding being experienced in the lowlands of Houston, have all gotten me thinking. Irma GERD is hitting Florida and the Caribbean, and... Well piloted, Captain, Delta DL302!

I've had the good fortune never to have had to evacuate an area, though my family's rapid departure from Dubai on December 31, 1990, some three weeks before one of the grandest fireworks shows in history happened just over the horizon in Iraq, was close. I've also had the need to be ready to go, when I lived in the forested Dandinong ranges following the black Saturday fires of 2012. However, frequent moves and travel while growing up equipped me with a certain mindset. Pack light, take only what you can carry, and carefully choose what valuables you really need. When things took a turn for the worse for me emotionally at the end of my marriage, I packed bags, loaded essentials in my car and was out of there that same evening. Better for everyone in the end. I was lucky that some good friends of mine had a spare room and the open hearts to let me crash with them for a couple of months so I could get my life in order. I'm deeply indebted to the Moffits and will be for some time.

I'd hope that if I lived in a disaster-prone area I'd be ready whenever hurricane, cyclone, tornado or volcano season rolled around, and not only would I have a bugout destination but also a route and plan. However, nature gives not one damn for me or my plans, nor (I suspect) for yours. It's up to you and me to rescue ourselves.

The Houston floods have shown that freak events can essentially turn a modern metropolitan city off, and reduce it to third world status. Without wanting to go into the politics of civil engineering and infrastructure shortfalls, I think it's fair to say that while some of what was happened in Houston or New Orleans could have been mitigated, nature will find a way. So what can we do about it? I think the answer to that is threefold:

1) Threat assessments;
2) Risk mitigation & planning; and
3) Practice.

1) Threat assessment.

Where I live several state and federal agencies exist to deal with this kind of thing. The SES (State Emergency Service) and CFA (Country Fire Authority) have great resources available to determine whether certain areas are at risk from fire or flooding, and can deal with those threats. Victoria has occasional very mild earthquakes, nothing to brag about. We do occasionally get heavy storms pushing up from the Antarctic but again, pretty mild compared to the North Sea gales or Atlantic hurricanes. We're well too far south for any tropical action, unlike our Queensland bretheren. We do get some big winds and heavy rains occasionally though, so in the Hills (to call the Dandinong ranges mountains is generous) power is often cut due to tree-falls. A caved-in roof during a winter storm is never a good thing, nor are washed out roads. In the lowlands that water has to go somewhere, and we are pretty lucky in that current and former governments have maintained infrastructure to deal with it. However. Knowing is the first step.

Melbourne Water is proposing to update existing planning controls for land in Bayside that's susceptible to flooding. The controls, called the Special Building Overlay (SBO) and Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO), aim to ensure that land covered by the overlays is developed in a way which reduces the potential for flooding and minimises the risk of flood damage to property. Since the planning controls were introduced in the early 2000s, Melbourne Water has developed better mapping and more accurate flood modeling. As a result, the SBO boundaries are being updated and the LSIO removed from the Bayside Planning Scheme.

The changes to the boundaries of the SBO mean that some properties will be within the overlay boundaries for the first time, some properties will no longer be covered, and other partially-included properties may have more or less of their land covered by the overlay.

For properties within the SBO boundaries, a planning permit is required to construct a building, carry out works and subdivide land. This enables drainage and flooding issues to be addressed early in the development process by, for example, raising building floor levels. It also ensures that flood waters are not obstructed or diverted by new development, causing an increased problem for existing development.

2) Risk mitigation & planning.

What are my big threats to house, home and family? Well, my ex-wife and our 9-year old daughter live in the Dandinongs, in the midst of very tall trees in the temperate rainforest. There is a summertime fire risk mitigated by maintenance of the grounds to remove deadfall and reduce fuel sources, plus they have an evacuation plan and use the CFA fire-risk scale system as a guide and routinely "get off the mountain" in times of high risk. In winter they face storms and damage from runoff. Frequent power outages are a hassle, especially as the water to the house is via an electric pump from a rainwater tank. Landslides are a potential risk but more substantial is the risk of a tree falling on the house. Aggressive tree felling is not much of a solution given the local ordinances. When I collect and return our daughter, I'm mindful of the risk of roads being cut by treefall and associated downed power lines or washed out roads, but day to day it's not much of an issue. In the case of my own home, having checked the floodplain maps of the Melbourne Water Board, I can see we're just outside a predicted 100-year flood area. One end of our street is not though, so I'm going to err on the side of "Yep, we'd flood."

Where I live is fairly suburban so I don't have to worry about bushfires come summer, but we're not far from the beach, just above sea level, so a hefty storm surge could potentially reach us. I don't worry about a tidal wave as the Port Phillip Bay is shallow and protects us from the Bass Straight, so anything big enough to cause a tsunami would bring its own special dooms. Knowing that, if a big flood event was coming, or even imminent, our best bet would be to pack up and bug out. The house, being old and rickety, couldn't be trusted to withstand even a knee-deep flood, let alone the hip, head or street sign deep waters as in Houston.

The question then becomes "what to pack?" Assuming the house would be a write off and most of our possessions would get trashed it might be tempting to try to take everything, but that's just impractical. A moving van would be needed and would take a day or two to load up anyway. Alternately, in a "do it NOW" situation, the decisions become easier. Only the most valuable and irreplaceable things would go, as well as things needed to get us through the disaster. Photo albums, back-up HDD's and some heirloom antiques are a good start, along with some important legal documents: deeds, birth certificates, divorce papers and the like. Clothes and day to day essentials like toiletries and medications are no different from any vacation packing and need to be weather appropriate. We'd be bugging out in my Toyota RAV4, not much of a bug-out vehicle but comfortable even crammed full of family and gear when we go on our camping holidays, so we have an idea how to pack it. This brings me to one of my bug-out or camping packing tricks.

Tactical Milk Crates. These seemingly ubiquitous, stackable, skletonised plastic boxes, designed to carry sixteen 2L jugs of milk, are often repurposed as student household furniture and storage. The modularity of these makes them good for packing anything small enough to fit. They'll hold 42 regular 420g-sized cans. That makes for 17kg of beans and diced tomato, in one big water-insoluble brick. That's a lot of meals. Two people could carry it fairly easily between them.

I also pack my camping gear in them: hammocks, lanterns, propane store and fuel canisters, pots and even pans. I have one for sleeping bags, one for power generation technology and one for "household" camp-accessories. Coupling this with our big-assed tent and camp bed, I'd say I could bug out in relative style with my whole family using about six milk crates of gear. The boot of my car can fit none to twelve crates with relative ease, so that leaves us with, let's say, three to six crates worth of refugee loot we can pack and go with, less if we pack extra food and water .

Given those numbers, each member of our four-person family gets about one crate of space as their allowance. Extra space can get stuffed full of blankets and jackets, filling all those gaps and pockets with padding and the like. One thing to note is that milk crates, being skeletonised, are not even remotely waterproof. Lining them or wrapping them with heavy duty trashbags should do the trick, and includes some trashbags in your gear by default.

As an addition to our bugout plan for floods, we have my two-person kayak. Having a non-wading means to cross waterways is key. We have maritime-rated flotation vests for everyone in the family, especially the kids, plus helmets, be they bump or bike helmets (remember: expanded foam floats). Rope and climbing harnesses don't go astray either, and I figure I have enough rigging gear to set up a rope bridge over any river narrow enough to sling one across. Take a page from the SES floodwater guidelines: "Never drive ride or walk through floodwater - if it's flooded, forget it."

Have a go-to destination in mind, maybe more than one, and plan out different routes, in case of traffic snarls, cut roads or bridges or obstacles to your egress. Keep your vehicle fueled and fit for travel. Stock up on packable food. A couple of bricks of cans at your local big-box produce store per trip will put you in good stead.

Bear in mind that in most cases the milk crates yo use stacked behind a grocery store are not abandoned but remain the property of the milk company. That's why I suggest them as as evacuation expedient solution. Should the situation arise getting it done is key. There are commercial options for packing gear, look into those if your budget allows.

3. Practice

Evacuations are not easy things; they're panicked, rushed and anxious times. Much like in combat, fine motor skills will be affected, rational thought will be interfered with. Kids will cry. Things will be left behind. Organize your bug-out kit early and have it sorted and ready to go. The more you can do early, the better off you'll be under the pressure of "time to go!" Remember, it's going to be harder if it's night, or storming and wet, more so again if the water is already at your ankles or the embers are falling.

There's no harm in doing dry runs either, especially if you can get the whole household in on it. Packing for a camping trip is a great opportunity to do so, with the payoff of the trip itself and "let's get on the way quickly" as incentive. This needn't be a "duck and cover" air-raid drill with stopwatch and sirens but instead some trial runs, from a dead stop to a "half the gear is already packed." I'll let you gauge how long it will realistically take you to be on your way, with the barest of essentials from when you decide that your position is no longer tenable and it's time to make a move. Make tasty meals from your stashed bug-out meal ingredients to get a handle on what you can do to keep morale up whilst on the go.

Lastly, have plan for your pets. Take them with you, or set them free to fend for themselves, whatever your conscience allows.

Be safe out there, and be prepared.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick review: Gloax - MP Magic socks!

Everyone loves a pair of good socks. Your feet will thank you and it can really make a difference to your effectiveness. Regular socks, be they woolen, cotton or more exotic materials like bamboo or the like are a big step up from nylon or acrylic blend, especially when it comes to smell. However, science has advanced and offers some other alternatives.

After a sweaty work out, or a long travel, or in the morning, you will definitely appreciate the difference a pair of clean dry socks. even more so if they're not stinky and are comfortable. The clever minds behind the Glovax gloves would like to introduce their MP Magic socks, they claim as "world's best odorless socks".

These socks are made from some very unique materials; This fabrics are infused with not one, but three antimicrobial metals: Silver, Copper and Zinc! Multiple metals can kill more types of odour and disease causing microbes. The the antibacterials effects will be much better than single. Silver is known as a great antibacterial meta, featuring in everythign from bandages to homeopathic potions, copper can kill bacteria too and it is also a key component of many enzymes, Zinc can reduce bacterial loads and thus odour too! This three metal infused technique takes existing techniques and layers them for increased coverage and effects. Based on a specially treated cotton, with a proprietary blend of mineral substances, enhance the performance of the metal elements, and  are never washed away.

I wear boots. all day, every day. That's a pretty rough task for any sock. I hike, train and work in my boots. In winter time I like to leave my socks on because I'm very tall and my feet stick out of the covers. even with daily sock changes and foot washing, that takes a toll. I was sent some of these socks and tried them out. I wore the same pair for a week. I chose the ankle socks because I was purely interested in the foot effects. They were great!

With these functional fabrics, you can take off your shoes without any hesitation over worrying about their smell. A weeks worth of almost constant wear,including a 4 hour hike and a few hours of Viking training. My feet felt great and smelled pretty good too. The socks are breathable and even when my feet got hot and sweaty, a quick pull out and wave around both cooled them and dried then off. Think that comes down to the metal infusion of the fabric but also the design and cut of the sock certainly comes into it. More than just a modern miracle textile, these specially designed the socks at the toe and heel area, perfectly match the human foot shape, make that part super breathable and durable!

With their metal infused fabric these socks are designed to transfer heat more efficiently, and be more durable! Odorless, Comfortable, Antibacterials, super durable,Breathable. I gave them a pretty solid thrashing and they bounced back well. They work well as advertised, are comfortable and resilient day after day.

The Glovax team, just finished a campaign about a set of rugged cool work-gloves. Which are well worth checking out as well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Home Front: Shooting in Melb

When I came home from work Monday night (6/6/17) a couple of months ago now I walked down the dark street to my car, before driving to collect my littlest one from after-school care, secure in the knowledge that I was probably the scariest thing walking the streets of my green-leafy, upmarket suburb. The fact that there was a helicopter holding station not far away didn't bother me in the slightest. We live near a major highway and there are often accidents. They didn't have a spotlight going so I figured they weren't looking for anyone, nor were they in a search pattern, but were just hovering at altitude. After I collected my little one they were still up there, so I cheerfully pointed them out and she asked if they were chasing robbers. I replied I didn't think so, and we headed home.
Dinner was hot out of the oven and we sat down to lasagna and cartoons, with candles just for the hell of it. Halfway through the second episode of The Croods, a loud pop got our attention. We thought it might have been one of the candles, and gave it little further thought. About twenty minutes later our eldest daughter, media savvy Mz19, burst in from her Overwatch gaming saying, "There's been a shooting in Bay Street, it's on the news". We scrambled for our devices and checked. The last time someone had said "Turn on the news!" like that had been on 11th September, 2001. The news that was unfolding was that in our quiet, little, rich old retirement home suburb of Brighton, a hostage situation had ben unfolding.

We had missed the drama in its entirety, apart from the buzzing helo, by virtue of the fact that our slow-cooking Lasagna had needed nothing from the Coles supermarket down the street. I had turned left instead of right, so had missed the police cordon and shootout.

A Melbourne man, who was later named by Chanel 7 News as Yacqub Khayre, a young Somali refugee, had booked an escort from an escort agency, and had shot and killed an Australian national born in China who was the clerk at an apartment complex. The escort had been tied up and taken hostage and the gunman also placed a call to Chanel 7, in which he made a declaration on behalf of ISIS. Police were alerted by Chanel 7 and reports of an explosion at the apartments, and responded rapidly. The area was cordoned off, locals were instructed to stay in their homes, and foot traffic was directed to the local Coles supermarket.
The ensuing two-hour siege ended when the gunman emerged and began firing at police with an illegal  sawed-off shotgun. Two officers were injured in the hand and one in the neck. “Fortunately they are okay,” reported Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. “Two of them are currently at hospital. One was treated at the scene and [the others] are still going under medical treatment. They are non-life-threatening [injuries] which is what we’re grateful about.”
Khayre was killed at the scene. Twenty to thirty shots were reported, with some new sources reporting it as "like machine gun fire." Given the solid professional reputation of the Victorian State Police, especially their SWAT-equivalent Special Operations Group, I was filled with relief that not only had they gotten the bad guy but that we, two blocks away, were never in any danger of him having gotten away and interfering with our quiet evening. As the saying goes. "Don't mess with Victorian cops, and especially don't mess with the SOGgies!" The hostage was released, distressed but unharmed.

As it turns out, the gunman was known to police already and was on a terror watch list. Yacqub Khayre had faced court in 2009 over a plot to bomb a Sydney army base. He was acquitted of these charges, but was later convicted on other violent offenses. Reportedly it was a clumsy plan, hatched in Melbourne in 2009, which, if successful, could have lead to the deaths of many Australian soldiers at Sydney’s Holsworthy army base. A 2010 trial revealed that Khayre had traveled to Somalia to look for clerics to give their blessing for the plan. His legal team had argued that he was looking for religious enlightenment and harbored no plan to wage jihad in Australia.Three other men were convicted over the plot to open fire on service people with high-powered weapons. The response by the counterterrorist branches has been comforting and  reassuring and as yet, no solid links have been released to the public.
"At the scene, when this person first arrived there, a man was shot, we believe, by the gunman," Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton revealed on Tuesday morning. “He was an employee of the serviced apartments, so he appears to have been in the wrong place at, unluckily, the wrong time.” It has also been supposed that the incident was contrived in a bid to lure the police to the Bay Street complex, which it did, thankfully to a fairly mediocre end result.

Commissioner Ashton also told Channel 7 news, “Nothing thus far will suggest to us that this was planned or done in concert with others." Asked if he believed the gunman lured police to ambush and kill officers, Mr Ashton said, “It’s a possibility (but) we don’t know whether that was the case. Certainly a booking was made to see an escort at the premises. He then turned up at the premises with a firearm. That’s all been weighed into the calculations but we haven’t found anything like a note or any comment around that so far." Counterterrorism police have investigated Khayre's background, with enquries ongoing. The crime scene has been handed over to the coroner with homicide police assisting with the investigation, Commissioner Ashton added.

So the mystery of the hovering helo and the strange dinner time pop had been solved, our parents had been rung and reassured that nothing was amiss, and we bundled off to bed. I locked the screen door and fitted the extra latches, mostly so I didn't "accidentally" open the door, tomahawk in hand, and end up face to face with a SOG patrol if they decided to go door to door, rather than out of any particular fear of late night Jihadist door-knockers.
Tonight I stepped off my train from work and came face to face with a couple of strapping lads from the Protective Services branch who were on duty at my station. I was very pleased to see them. It's reassuring that we have patrols at the stations at night, which can be dark and lonely places, especially in light of our little local excitement the day before. This service had been ongoing for  number of months now. It's not a knee-jerk and North Brighton where I live isn't especially needful of it, but it's reassuring all the same.
I had an email from my daughters school, letting us all know about counseling services available if needed, which was also really nice. A couple of good links for helping kids with coping with terrorism are here:

Given we don't watch TV news as a general rule and we didn't witness anything directly, the only thing my little one was exposed to was an always-exciting helicopter in the night sky.
So in closing, even though he himself claimed it and the Daesh-heads themselves then claimed it, I think this was more a case of chip-on-shoulder suicide by cop than anything more sinister. My sympathies for the family of the wrong-place wrong-time clerk, and the now-named and publicly shamed gunman's family, and of course, the injured officers. I hope their scars earn them free drinks at the pub for years to come. Lastly and certainly not least, spare a thought for the traumatized escort who was held hostage by the dead asshole. I wish her a speedy recovery and many easy-to-work-with and big-tipping clients in the future.

Congratulations asshole, you murdered a bell-hop and brutalized a sex worker. You're not a martyred soldier, you're barely even a season ending episode of SVU.
We're not terrorized, we're barely even annoyed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Cinch'n'Clinch gear hangers

This was a Kickstarter that was a really simple idea, that was really just polishing up and producing a marketable product. The concept is simple enough, ad looped cord, with two slipping barrel knots forming a loop that tightens to bind in tightly around whatever piece of gear you want to hang. The creators of this Kickstarter just took a pretty common way of lashing items, and added a little flare, with shrink-wrapping around the knots and at the "handle" end of the over loop.

The idea with this is that you can drop the slipping loop over whatever you want to carry, and tighten both sides of the knots to bind it tight and give you a secure grab around your bottle.

We are currently using Type III mil spec 550 parachute cord. This is an inexpensive, lightweight, tough, and durable Kernmantle rope with truly extraordinary breaking strength, especially relative to its small diameter. We continue to research the best materials for the Cinch-N-Clinch, but our four most important factors in our decision will never change: durability, resistance to abrasion, UV resistance, and environmental footprint.

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