Category Archives: Gear & Stuff

Equipment reviews and commentary I’ve written through the years based on my experience in the military and law enforcement professions.

The Complete Armory

Recently my son was home on an extended weekend after a deployment with the Marine Corps and we got into a discussion about what guns we’d like to have in our home armory. The discussion soon evolved to be more about what someone SHOULD have versus what they WANT to have. This bore further examination and, because it’s easier to keep track of lists on paper, I soon found myself writing out a list of weapons we felt were necessary. Bear in mind, this isn’t a “soldier” list, or a “cop” list; in our minds, this is an American Citizen list. Continue reading

9mm vs .45ACP: Really? Again?

Yes, again. Amongst avid handgun fans the debate between big and slow versus small and fast stretches back over a hundred years now I’d guess. 2011 marked the 100 year anniversary of the Government Model 1911 .45ACP having been adopted by the U.S. Military (even though it existed in 1904) and the 9mm is even older than that. What makes the debate relatively new (and hopefully interesting) is the addition of what I call “compromise calibers”. There are a couple in between the maximum ends of the debate and recently that has been thrust into my consideration almost against my will. Continue reading

Personal Defense Pistol Selection

Given the number of active shooter situations that have occurred in recent weeks, I felt that it might be appropriate to repost this article. If you have a carry permit and don’t carry your pistol, WAKE UP!! The absolute worst feeling in the world has to be NEEDING YOUR GUN and NOT HAVING YOUR GUN. I’d much rather HAVE IT and NOT NEED IT. Continue reading

Safety Equipment For Travel & Fun

Just this past week I took a road trip with my family to the midwest. We enjoyed the drive and seeing the sights, but never far from my mind was how isolated we sometimes were. On a few of the state highways – one lane in either direction, flat, and no structures for miles upon miles – I realized that it would be bad to break down without having prepared beforehand. As a result, I began to mentally take stock of what we had available in our vehicle and how long we could survive on it. Of course, some of what I inventoried in my mind was what weapons we had to defend ourselves with, and what communications tools we had to contact help. The following is a list of equipment that I try to maintain in my vehicle for such a trip and some justification for each piece. Continue reading

Building a Basic Survival Kit

Depending on your background, whether or not you spent time in the military, what type of family you were raised in, etc. you may or may not have received any training in the basic necessities of survival. It’s okay if you haven’t received any training because there are only about a gazillion survival kits available for sale through a boatload of catalog and online companies. But which one do you need? This isn’t a review of which ones are best, but instead a look at what items such a ‘kit’ should contain. Then you can select which one suits your purposes and/or build one of your own. Continue reading

SnugPak Sleeping Bag 32 Degree

As the faithful readers of the Blackwater Tactical Weekly know I once spent two weeks in New Orleans on contract to Blackwater. I’m home now and have had a couple of days to contemplate the gear I was issued to use while in N.O.. Certainly, the conditions varied from comfortable to, ah, less-than-comfortable, but the gear I was issued was sufficient to keep me at least able to survive. One of those items was a SnugPak Lite Sleeping Bag. Right on the stuff-sack itself it shows that the bag is rated to 32 degrees for comfortable sleeping, or down to 18 degrees for simple survival.  Continue reading

The Irreplaceable Poncho

When I went into the Army as a Military Policeman in 1982, I was issued half a tent, otherwise called “a shelter half”. When I asked what I was supposed to do with half a tent I was told, “Find a buddy that has a matching half.” Together we made a whole tent. When I went into the Maryland Army National Guard some years later – in a Light Infantry unit – I wasn’t even issued half a tent. I was issued two ponchos, one poncho liner and one sleeping bag. When I asked about shelter I was told to make a “hooch” out of a poncho. Then I was told that the sleeping back was optional in the field. “Fight light; freeze at night.” Oh, joy…  Continue reading