By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Tactical gear is really popular in the gun/shooting community, and a lot of it is sold to absolute suckers.
If you got mad about that headline, you’re probably one of them. Don’t feel too badly, though. We all get taken in by something at some point. Good government, GM promising they didn’t make a lemon this time, a college degree will be worth it, etc.
So, if you’re contemplating getting a vest or some other tactical gear it might pay to pump the brakes.
The idea is not so much to put down the tactical gear industry or the people who work in it. It isn’t to put down people who like gadgets and cool clothes and so on, nor certainly the valiant GunTubers who nobly promote their corporate sponsors.
The idea instead is to promote smart choices of gear and gizmos, so hopefully some people out there will look at the various offerings on the market with a critical eye and think “is this something that I will get real use out of or is it a pig in a Multicam poke?”
So let’s state the obvious.
Police officers in a tactical unit or perhaps SWAT and soldiers have a definite use plate carriers and helmets and so on and so forth.
Jerry in accounting? Unless he’s in the reserves or the National Guard, he’s cosplaying and rationalizing it, and probably badly. Halloween is fun. So are comic cons. But the people who dress up for Halloween or for ‘cons know they’re just doing it for kicks and giggles.
A “nerd” knows he isn’t Boba Fett. That girl knows she isn’t Lara Croft. Jerry in accounting just might not fully understand that “Red Dawn” is just a movie. Hopefully he’s watching the original, because the remake is trash.
Most people who buy tactical gear don’t have anything other than a passing use for it at best, though there are some practical applications, which we’ll get into momentarily. As it is with the stuff related to any hobby or passion, get gear that suits your purposes.
Here’s what that means.
If you’re going on a backcountry hunting trip where you’re living out of a pack for a week in the elements, having high-tech (and high cost) clothing like what you’d get from Crye Precision, Vertx and so on is a great idea. (Ditto Sitka, First Lite, etc.) Heck, it’s plumb necessary.
You might be miles from cell phone reception, let alone a road or, worse, a hospital. You need gear that’s going to keep you at 98.6 degrees, resists water and blocks wind, especially since hunting seasons tend to take place when the weather can turn not only nasty, but dangerous.
If you live in the suburbs and you’re really only outdoors in your yard, the golf course and in the parking lot at the office then you’re buying that stuff because you saw someone on YouTube wear it.
A vest or chest rig presents at least the plausibility of practicality if you’re using it as a magazine carrier but that wears thin outside of the range and/or competitive environment.
A chest rack full of AR-15 or pistol magazines is great for giving yourself more storage space overall and/or freeing up the waistband. Maybe it saves you from having to wear a belt or what have you.
On the one hand, that’s very practical, and there are plenty of action shooting sports that would give you occasion to use it, but on the other, if you’re just training/practicing to keep skills up for defensive purposes (ie home defense) it’s something of a moot point.
There aren’t many defensive shootings, period, that involved a reload of any kind when a civilian (rather than a police officer or soldier in a war zone) was the shooter, and none that spring to mind involving the reloading of a rifle.
Since the most common rifle kept for home defense purposes tends to be either of the AR-15 or AK variety, which have 30-round standard capacity magazines that would be quite the domestic firefight.
Is that to say you shouldn’t practice reloads? Of course you should; it’s one of the most fundamental skills when it comes to practical shooting. However, it’s also that you should bear in mind that it’s low on the totem pole, so to speak, when it comes to shooting skills that the armed civilian will ever use in an actual fight.
If you’re in an infantry unit? That’s a whole other ballgame, but this is about the armed civilian, the average Joe or Jane that keeps a gun to defend themselves and their home and/or carries one on their person for the same reason.
The point is that your training and practice regimen needs to be built around the skills you need the most, and your gear should reflect that.
If you’re going to invest in some gear beyond stuff like ear/eye pro and a range bag, make sure that you’re getting the right gear for the right reasons because it’s something that actually helps you in what you’re doing.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.