Ammo & Gear Reviews

Gifts For Dad

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Scott Smith

By this time of year shooting season for most competitions is in full swing and thoughts of vacation are on many folks minds. Often for shooters plan their vacations around competitions, so it seems appropriate that we look at gifts for those Dads who spend time outdoors.

Whether we are at home or traveling grilling aka BBQ is a staple for many. One of the items that will make preparing food for grilling or any other cooking is a quality knife. Spyderco’s Santoku  is a knife that I found to be indispensible. With a retail price of $79.95, it is an affordable knife especially when you price out designer kitchen knives.

The Santoku is designed after traditional Asian cleavers crossed with what most would refer to as a chef’s knife. The MBS-26 blade is corrosion resistant and the handle fits large and small hands well. I found this knife to be very versatile, capable of diced a watermelon or onion while having enough heft to cube roasts and fresh chicken breasts. Had I had a deer to butcher, there is little doubt that it would have been up for that task.

After using it for a few months, the blade is still as sharp as it was the day it arrived from Spyderco. This knife gets used regularly and cleans easily in the sink or dishwasher. Whoever you get this knife for they too will find the Santoku to be an excellent knife for the kitchen or at camp.

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Spyderco’s Santoku getting ready to slice the author’s breakfast, cantaloupe.

Another all round piece of gear folk’s use regularly is a simple pair of gloves. This year received a pair of men’s Lightweight Patrol Gloves from First Tactical. This is a new company; but its owner Dan Costa is well known in the shooting and tactical community for taking a pair of pants the 5.11 from the Royal Robbins and building a hugely successful company. Dan has brought those years of experience to First Tactical.

Over the years glove sizes have varied greatly and you had to try on different sizes for a good fit. I found the LPG’s fit to be dead on in large. In addition to the body of the glove fitting well, there was enough adjustment in the wrist closure to ensure it fit small to meaty wrists and it has a cutout to allow you to wear a watch.

The LPG is built from washable goatskin and a snag resistant stretch woven fabric. The “U” gusset, pistol grip design coupled with good tactile feel makes these gloves good for shooting, chilly weather sports activities or for duty. When shooting I did not have to modify my shooting grip as I have done with other gloves. This shows First Tactical is building gloves with the end user’s actual use in mind and input to build gloves built for the user. What will shock purchasers is the price, $29.99. With all of the features and quality of the gloves you are getting your money’s worth.

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First Tactical’s Lightweight Patrol Glove, a good all round glove for duty, training, competition.

Another all purpose piece of kit from First Tactical that anyone who carries a laptop will find useful is the Ascend Messenger Bag. While this is built for the range, the main pocket is large enough to fit a 17” laptop in a padded tab closed pocket. In front of this pocket are two padded pockets that will fit small tablets or two pistols. I found them ideal for an i-Pad mini and my camera. The main pocket divider has loop material to secure magazine pouches or other pouches with hook material backing.  There are also pouch type pockets on the front side that carry glass cases, ear protection or other office items.

Moving to the outside of the AMB there are two zipper pockets large enough to fit two boxes of ammunition in each and two slash pockets which will carry magazines or other gear. When the flap is closed under the handle you will find a protective pocket to carry your cell phone or glasses. The bag flap closes with both hook/loop and two clips to ensure security of the contents. On front of the flap there are two more zipper pockets with the right one having MOLLE straps to attach other pouches. On either end of the bag there are pocket that will accommodate 32 ounce bottles, they also have MOLLE straps. On the back of the bag there is a slash pocket on the outside of a zipper pocket that is divided with more loop material on one side of the hook/loop closed pocket to secure a handgun in a discrete location.

For ease of carry there is a removable shoulder strap with a non-slip pad. For added security there is a removable cross body strap. If I were using this bag for travel in a crowded city this strap would stay on. When you look at the features and color choice; black or coyote, at $89.99 this is a smoking deal.

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If you need a versatile bag, First Tactical’s Recoil Range Bag is good for travel, office, range.

When looking for quality clothing shooting I look to other outdoor sports and this year was no exception. When looking at press releases, HUK Performance Fishing caught my eye. HUK does a number of pieces of clothing in Kryptek Camo because of the water friendly patterns that are offered.

I looked at the HUK Kryptek Performance Hoodie, Hybrid Lite Pant and the Kryptek ¼ Zip Icon. HUK sent the Hoodie and Icon in Typhon Camo which is a black and grey Kryptek pattern ensuring the Icon ¼ Zip, Hoodie and Hybrid Pants would all look good together. HUK uses SPF enhanced fabric in the pants and shirts so fishermen will not get sun burnt which is something shooters appreciate too.


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Huk Performance Fishing’s Icon ¼ Zip and Hybrid Lite Pants, ready for the range.

HUK’s Hybrid Lite Pants while designed for anglers but HUK must have had shooters in mind too. The belt loops are large enough to accept 1 ½” Cobra buckled belts and are placed properly so as not to interfere with a holster placed at the apex of the hip. There are front slash pockets, a zipper close slash pocket on the right buttock and a zipper thigh pocket. The legs and seat of the pants are cut wide enough so they do not bind even when in awkward kneeling positions. At $64.99 these pants are competitively priced.

The Icon shirt is cut broad across the shoulders and chest for freedom of movement. I found the tail long enough that it did not pull out while shooting or just out and about. Unlike some trendy outdoor clothing with loose baggy cuffs these were snug enough they felt fitted while being loose. They just felt right and at $54.99 you will get your monies worth.

Last but not least is the Hoodie. The tight weave of the Hoodie fleece is warm and water resistant, a real bonus on damp chilly spring mornings. The large tunnel pocket keeps the hands warm and has plenty of room for you cell phone and any other stuff you wish to carry. Like other performance fleece of this quality the Hoodie priced at $54.99.

To hold up the Hybrid Lites, I chose Galco’s new Cobra Tactical Belt in flat dark earth. This belt is built from heavy duty Type 13 nylon web. What that means is this belt is stiff yet flexible and will keep any holster with nearly any size pistol from flopping over.

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Galco’s Cobra Tactical belt while being comfortable easily supports a full size 1911.

The Cobra buckle will not move when the belt is threaded because the friction stay locks the belt when stressed. Galco adds hook/loop closure to keep the belt tip from flopping around and add increased security ensuring the belt will not slip through the buckle. I have found this belt to be a good daily wear, range and competition belt.

Speaking of competition, if you are a competitor one of the most important items you can have for your handgun in this case Glock or your AR15 is magazines. It is imperative that your pistol has a reliable source of ammunition. Recently I obtained magazines from Elite Tactical Systems-ETS.

What you will notice first about the magazines is you can see the cartridges in the magazine. I know if the world falls apart around us that will be the least of my concerns. In training, just plinking or competition you can sneak a glimpse and see if you need more ammunition. It is also nice to see that I need about XYZ rounds to top off the magazine.

What impressed me about ETS’ Glock magazines even their 31 round 9mm model ($21.99) functioned in my two decade old G17 and G19 ($16.99). Some of the third generation factory magazines had issues, infrequent but I did come across some that were problematic as were some of the Korean magazines I tried at the range. Over the years there have been issues reported with various 30+ round Glock magazines. I wrote off the standard capacity issues as flukes, but do mention it so folks know it happens. Right of the box the ETS magazines seated easily and ejected on command. The AR magazines ($17.99) had no issues in any of my AR/M4s or my Tavor.

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ETS magazines for Glocks and AR15s, you can see the cartridges through the translucent mag tubes.

At the range I ran a couple hundred rounds through the G17, G19 and AR magazines. All of the magazines worked flawlessly. All of the firearms bolts locked back lie they are supposed to and did not when the magazine were loaded. While I don’t recommend it, we did drop some fully loaded magazines from the overhang at the range. The magazines did not show signs of damage and they did not drop any cartridges; these magazines should be durable enough for most people’s uses.

ETS has two features that are really cool and functional. First is the optional colored follower and locking base of the AR magazine. These are referred to as the Rapid Recognition System. The RRS can be had in blue, red, yellow, orange and green; all are bright and are easily visible through the translucent magazine walls. You can purchase these as two packs ($6.99) or a five pack with one set of each color ($10.99).

The last item we are going to look at is from Lloyd Mats, Llyod’s Camo Mat, Custom Fit at $99.90 through their vendor Car ID. Lloyd’s Mats makes stock and custom fit mats for virtually any vehicle you can think of. The mats are computer cut to the area you specify. In my case I wanted a mat for the back area of my SUV when the third row seat is folded flat. Since I drive a Kia Borrego that becomes a challenge; not for Lloyds. According to Car ID, the mats will ship within three days; for a custom fit mat, that is impressive.

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Lloyd Mats Mossy Oak Break-up Country Camo Mat; this commercial grade carpet fits your vehicle like a glove reducing noise and making a comfortable place to sit.

What was even more impressive about my Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Mat was it fit like an OEM part only better. This mat filled from the back of the seat all way to the lift gate and fully from side to side. The OEM accessory mat I purchased did not do that.  This mat is made from commercial grade carpet and cleans up well; I can say this because it has already had its share of range dirt on it.

The other benefit of this mat is it reduces noise when the cargo area is empty. If you have a SUV you know that hollow sound, it can be annoying at highway speed. With this mat in there, I did not notice it. I found it also makes sitting in the cargo area most comfy, a big bonus when you need to pass time a match.

If you do not need a cargo area mat but need floor mats for the front of your vehicle fear not, Lloyd Mats has you covered. You do not have to get them in Mossy Oak like I chose you can find a rainbow of colors and a wide range of materials to meet your needs. Lloyd Mats prices are more than competitive when you are talking about custom fit and the workmanship is second to none. They are a vehicle product I would gladly put in another one when the time comes. I have faith dad would like a set in his vehicle too.

Hopefully this article will give you some ideas for gifts for Dads. While we spend a lot of time on the range or in the field, it is good to get our family and friends gifts they can use more than that. I hope you all have great weather to enjoy picnics are trips to the range. Get out there and shoot straight, shoot safe and have fun.

Scott Smith is a Disabled Veteran serving in the Army and USAF Reserve. He has been a federal police officer, is a charter member of IDPA and is actively involved with USPSA and various three gun competitions.