Image credit: www.americanspecialops.com
Yes, I know this guy is Coast Guard, not SWAT or an assassin.
I just wanted to illustrate the type of kit I was going for here, and
in hindsight, this was not the best image to use, but it was one of
very few choices in my Google search results that allowed
commercial use.

 *Note: this article was written all in good fun.  If you can't see that, you're wrong and you're gonna have a bad time.  Fair warning.*

I noticed a few new additions to Pyramyd Air's website and as I thought more about it, I decided that I wanted to write about creating an assassin/black ops/clandestine mission/spy loadout.  Not Black Ops, as it refers to the video game, but the black ops from which the video game's name was inspired.  The kind where the lone assailant, possibly CIA, possibly Treadstone, possibly IMF, possibly MI6, possibly something cool that I don't even know about, wears the all black kit, and goes out into the dead of night to send a few unholy souls back to their maker all quiet-like.    I suppose, minus the assassination missions, this could also be perceived as a loadout inspired by special law enforcement taskforce units like SWAT or that special Coast Guard unit guy to the left, who typically wear all-black or dark blue kits.

Why am I talking about this today?  I will be perfectly honest with you.  I love the high-speed operator loadouts, with tons of AOR1/AOR2/Multicam/OD/FDE gear, but there are some things you can do with black kit that can be pretty awesome, too.  I'm an equal opportunity loadout lover.

This is really more of a kit that you'd wear for CQB, especially if you're not part of a larger team with a set uniform standard already in place, unless that uniform has been established as an all-black kit.  This kit would obviously not be super appropriate, nor even allowed in some cases, at an outdoor, MilSim event at a MOUT facility or elsewhere, for example.  This is also not an attempt to do an accurate impression of any sort of agency operator, more of a kit inspired by all the spy/assassin movies I've seen over the course of my 29+ years on this planet. I'm going to play the part of assassin expert despite having zero qualifications for doing so because there is no way that you can stop me. 

To see my list of stealth assassin loadout items, click this link to take the jump.

Papa Bear & Andy Green sent me one of their Elite Force 1911 A1 Tac CO2 GBB Pistols the other day because I whined & complained that Airsoftology, CrazyNCman & the MilSim Junkie all got one to review and I felt that there was some sort of conspiracy against me.  I also sold one of my very expensive saxophones and used the money to buy a sweet new Canon lens for my DSLR camera.  Since they both arrived in the same week, I figured it was the perfect excuse to snap a few photos using both items.  
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I also figured I'd review the gun as well, since that is why it was sent to me in the first place.

You can check out all the photos and the full review after the jump...

When it comes to using Airsoft as a training tool for real steel weapons manipulation and operation, there are a number of advantages.  However, there are also a few limitations that prevent Airsoft guns from being the perfect training tool.  One of those limitation is the fragility and sensitivity of gas magazines.  They are fragile when it comes to dropping them on the ground from a standing height when you eject them from the gun to load a new mag.  They are sensitive to the dirt they fall in after they've landed on the ground.  Reuse a dirty gas mag in your gun at your own peril.  Needless to say, letting your gas mags hit the ground to reload is less than optimal.  

There are several solutions to this for Airsoft purposes.  One could argue that performing a "tactical reload" would be the way to go.  As I was taught by a retired Special Forces operator, this is where you grab a fresh mag from your vest with your off-hand first and then, with that same hand, grab the mag in the gun as you hit the mag release button.  Insert the fresh mag while you have both mags in hand and then once inserted completely, place your spent mag in your dump pouch.  

That's cool.  Especially since it is more of the textbook way of doing it.  Now, I'm definitely NOT saying I know better than a real deal, Special Forces operator, however, let me throw an idea at you from a different angle.  Enter the small dump pouch from 5.11 Tactical.  As you can see in the picture below, I've added it to the front of my battle belt, on my right side so that I can easily drop the empty mag inside of it without needing to use my "off hand."
While I'm dropping the magazine in the dump pouch with my right hand, I'm reaching for a new mag on my vest with my left hand (If you're an openly left-handed shooter, then you'll want to swap this around).  *I know that my pistol mag pouches are empty.  I only had one mag handy for this demonstration.  So just imagine one is there*
 I'm sure there are those out there that would gasp in horror at the thought of having TWO dump pouches on their kit *Oh, the sacrilege!  But I've found it to be very handy, a more natural sequence of movements for me, and a bit faster than performing a tactical reload.  Sure, if I practiced for awhile, I'm sure I could get pretty quick with my tactical reloads.  But I don't want to practice that method when I've already got a good system going.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  If it doesn't fit, you must acquit, too.  I suppose you could just use one large dump pouch for your rifle and pistol mags, but I like to keep mine separate.  Separate but equal.     
I've found that if you've got a bunch of rifle mags already in the big pouch, and then you start dumping pistol mags in there (this has happened during long firefights with a long of bad guys to shoot), the pouch starts to get overfilled and a bit too heavy for my tastes.  Having that second, mini pouch on there takes up minimal real estate on the belt (only one MOLLE webbing slot) and helps to mitigate some of those issues I just mentioned.
So that's what I've got for you.  You don't have to use this method.  If you have another method that you like better, feel free to share it here in the comments.

-------------------------------------
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High-Visibility-Paracord-Pull-Tabs-for-Tactical-Gear-Rattlesnake-Key-FOB-Pyramyd-Airsoft-Blog-Tom-Harris-Media-Tominator_0002
One of the many uses for 550 paracord is to make super handy little pull tabs to assist you with accessing the contents of your tactical gear, such as bags, packs and/or pouches. 

Today, I just wanted to quickly illustrate how handy they can be.  Not only can they help you get a better grip on the zipper, especially if you're wearing bulky gloves that inhibit dexterity, but if you use a contrasting color of paracord when compared to your bag or pouch, it can really help improve your ability to find the zipper in much less time, in the event you were in a low-light situation or in an emergency where timing is of the essence.  Or maybe you're just impatient and don't like having to hunt around for the zipper while getting into your stuff. 

In any event, high-visibility 550 paracord pull tabs are pretty sweet. 

Yup.  True Story.  Actually, it gets better (for you, worse for me). 
Hokkatsu Thunder B Sound Grenade, 5.11 Tactical Hard Knuckle Gloves, 5.11 Tactical Hard Time Gloves, 5.11 Hard Time Gloves, Hard knuckle gloves, tactical gear, Airsoft gear, Airsoft gloves, Pyramyd Airsoft Blog, Tom Harris Media, Tominator,
Hokkatsu Thunder B CO2 Sound Grenade - The Importance of Good Tactical Gloves
Airsoft photo credit: Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog
 Wanna see what happened to my hand and/or the gloves I was wearing at the time?  Wanna hear what I said right before I threw the grenade that went off in my hand?

...then click here to read about it all after the jump...

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5.11 Tactical Gloves, (L-R): Hard Time Gloves - Black, Hard Time Gloves - Tan, Taclite 2 Gloves
Tactical glove photo by Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog
I generally wear some form of tactical gloves when I play Airsoft and given my track record, it remains very wise for me to do so.  Case in point:

If you haven't done so already, watch the last 2 minutes of this video, where I fall and dislocate my shoulder.  I used my hands to break my fall.  Since I was running fairly quickly, when I hit the ground, I skidded a bit on my hands.  Had I not been wearing my 5.11 Tactical Taclite 2 Gloves, I'd have not only wrecked my shoulder, but my hands would have been pretty torn up as well.  But instead, I had invested in some high quality tactical gloves, which did their job very well.  
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Click to Enlarge for a more detailed view - 5.11 Tactical Taclite 2 Tactical Gloves
Tactical Gear Image by Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog
ESPECIALLY when one considers that the 5.11 Tactical Taclite Gloves are more of a "second skin" material that is very thin.  

 However, as you can see from the photos below, they held up extremely well.  No rips or tears, but aside from the dirt caked on there from my fall, you can see a bunch of scratches from the skid.

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Click to Enlarge for a more detailed view - 5.11 Tactical Taclite 2 Tactical Gloves
Tactical Gear Image by Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog
 The funny thing is that these gloves aren't even their heavy duty, gloves, yet because they are well-made with good materials (5.11 loves to do this), they held up extremely well.  That dirt will come out easily, I'll rinse with a bit of water if necessary, and then I'll be back in business. 
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Click to Enlarge for a more detailed view - 5.11 Taclite 2 Tactical Gloves
Tactical Gear Image by Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog

I don't know about you, my favorite reader, but I freakin' HATE injuring my hands because I use them so often that being impaired like that can be a real hindrance.  So I protect them.  You can do as you please, I try to respect the POV of others, but I thought I'd fill you in on how I roll, in case you cared. 
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As a follow-up to my earlier post about Giovanni's story, here are some items I had in my personal collection of things that I will be sending out to Giovanni Santos so that he can use on the field out in Tennessee. I would have liked to have been able to provide a few more items, but that's what I had available at the moment.


AIRSOFT JOB OPPORTUNITY ALERT:
Pyramyd Air is looking for enthusiastic individuals who have a good knowledge of Airsoft products to help them assist their customers while shopping at Pyramyd Air. You'll get paid to talk about Airsoft stuff AND you can do it from the comforts of your own home!  Click the following link to register with Needle and get all the details. 
 
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Also new from 5.11 are the Screen Ops series tactical gloves, whose claim to fame is that they feature silver-threaded finger tips which somehow allow the wearer of these gloves to operate his or her touchscreen devices such as iPhones & iPad, Android phones & tablets, as well as eReaders like the Nook & Kindle.  The concept is pretty awesome to me, since I hate having to take my gloves off while I'm out on the field when I just need to check something on my phone quickly. 

I was a bit skeptical about how well these things really worked, but luckily I had my iPad with me to see if these gloves could put their money where their fingertips were. 
Sure enough, navigation of a little website I like to frequent at Pyramyd Air was a breeze with these things on.

Response from the iPad was excellent, as was the response from my Android phone, which I did not bother to photograph. 
I don't know what it is about that silver threading that allows the touchscreen devices to function while wearing the gloves, but I can't say I care too much.  I'm just glad they (5.11 Tactical) figured something like this out as I frequently find myself needing access my phone and don't like having to take at least one of my gloves off in order to use it.  If you want to know why it works, I'm sure doing a Google search would net you some knowledge. 


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

New IFAK Tactical Pouch on the Horizon

5.11 Tactical Series is set to release a new Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) pouch and I got to snap a few shots of the pre-production sample during my visit to the Modesto HQ of the tactical gear maker earlier this month.  Since this is a pre-production sample, don't get too attached to the design as is.  It could very well change before the final product hits our shelves later on this year.   

While I did have permission to photograph this stuff, I didn't have an appointment to talk with anyone while I was there because I don't believe in taking the time to plan for things like that.  Therefore, no one who knew anything about this pouch was available to speak to me.  Thus, I have no information about it other than it will be made by 5.11 at some point, probably this year.  I know, I'm a terrible Airsoft blogger.
That red cross is actually a detachable velcro patch.  Not sure why they made it a patch, since the loop side is also a cross shape, so unless they plan on producing this red cross patches in separate colors, this seems a bit silly to me.  However, as I mentioned above, this is a pre-production sample and, therefore, the design is subject to change without notice. 

Here is the rip-away pull tab which allows the user to quickly access the internal compartment without having to horse around with the zippers during an emergency where seconds could mean life or death. 
Not sure what the red paracord stuff is for, but since red is my favorite color, I'm obviously a big fan of whatever it's supposed to be used for. 



Backside, which includes 5.11's patented slick stick system, which, I can say from personal experience, is definitely a slick system. 


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Back in December, I traveled up north to Central California for an all-weekend Airsoft MilSim event. During the evening portion of the event, there was an IPSC-style Airsoft pistol competition to see how could hit a set of targets the fastest. The x-factor here was that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Suffice to say, it was frickin' cold and I wasn't sure how we were going to be able to do the competition, since most everyone had green gas Airsoft pistols, rather than CO2, which is supposed to perform better than green gas in colder temperatures. But the competition went ahead anyway and I was actually surprised with the results. There were quite a few guys who had great success using their green gas Airsoft guns. However, there were also quite a few who couldn't finish because of equipment failure. Here are some shots I took. All are green gas pistols except for the Desert Eagle Airsoft pistol, which was CO2 and naturally, had some of the snappiest recoil of the entire group despite the FREEZING cold conditions.

Here are some shots of some of the participants who braved the freezing temperatures to try their hand at winning some awesome prizes (which included several hundred dollars worth of 5.11 Tactical gear).

Scenario: 4 A.M. Thursday Morning. In my home office. Standing at my desk. I picked up my new folding knife and flipped it open. In doing so, the knife slipped out of my hand, falling straight down from a height of about three feet, landing with the tip of the blade first on the top of my foot. The defining factor here was that my brother, who is an Eagle Scout and very handy with knives, had recently taken the liberty of THOROUGHLY sharpening my new knife for me. We're talking razor-sharp, like a hot scalpel through water. So naturally, when the tip of the blade arrived at my foot, the momentum of the knife and that sharp blade separated my soft tissue without so much as a stutter and quite frankly, the only thing that kept the blade from from passing through my entire foot was my bone structure. Yup. The tip of that damn knife made it down to the bone of my left foot. I realize there's not much material between the top of your foot and the bone inside of it, but still, that blade went in at least a good 1/4"-1/2" into my foot. Since it's not every day I suffer a stab wound, I decided I better document the issue. I have included a photo below.

Once documentation was complete, I further assessed the damage and determined that a trip to either the ER or Urgent Care would be an unfortunate necessity. I had a gaping wound that, before that bright red blood they warn you about began oozing out, allowed me to easily view the inner contents of my foot. I'm not joking, it was a surreal sight. Not long after I snapped the photo, my blood loss began to accelerate, so I hobbled around the house, trying to find where my wife keeps the first aid kit to use to stop the bleeding with no success. Therefore, as timing was of the essence to stop the blood from getting all over my house, I fashioned my own temporary wrap out of the materials I had readily available: duct tape and several sheets of Kleenex tissue. Adapt and overcome, right??? Turns out this is not a recommended method of stopping a hemorrhage, according to various medical professionals I spoke with, but it DID stop the bleeding. Dollar says Dr. Airsoft of Airsoft Medicine is shaking his board certified head right about now.  Good thing I'm an Airsoft blogger and not in charge of saving someone's life now, huh? Oh well.  Once I had successfully wrapped my foot up like a village idiot, I made the call to wake up my wife up from a deep sleep at about 4:22am PST and inform her of my exciting news. That conversation went a little something like this:

ME: *whisper voice while gently nudging her into a mild state of consciousness*  "Hi sweetheart."
WIFE: *Agitated and groggy*  "WHAT?!?"
ME: *still whispering despite my wife's elevated decibel level*  "I stabbed myself."
WIFE: *Fully awake now*  "ARE YOU *(@#$&! KIDDING ME?!?!"
ME: *still whispering despite the f-bomb just being dropped*  "No.  I probably need to go to Urgent Care or something."

After showing her my fresh stab wound, she agreed that I most definitely needed to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.  However, since I had yet to obtain any sleep in probably close to 24 hours, I wasn't too interested to spend the next 8 hours waiting in the ER and since my local Urgent Care facility didn't open for another three hours, I opted to grab a couple minutes of shuteye before I began my quest for structural repair.


Once I arrived, I got the red carpet treatment (because I was bleeding on their carpet and they wanted me to stop) *rim shot*.  Not really though.  Although, I didn't just get stitches, I even had to get an X-Ray to verify that I had not caused any damage to the bone structure in my foot due to the not-so-blunt-force trauma it had recently sustained. Also, the doctor was concerned that a part of the sock I was wearing got shoved down into the large cavity that I had created in my foot. Luckily, neither were an issue. A few stitches later plus a prescription for antibiotics and Vicodin & I was on my way to Lala Land.

If you're the type who likes to slow down traffic on the freeway whenever you see a car accident in hopes that you will get to see some blood & guts lying around, feel free to click on this thumbnail to view at a larger size in a new window or tab.  If you're squeamish at the sight of blood and/or gore, do NOT click on the thumbnail image.

I wasn't not able to get my phone's camera ready in time to see very deep into the wound before it filled up with blood, but you get the idea.  

In light of this recent occurrence, I thought I'd share some knife safety tips with you that may help to prevent a similar injury like this in your life.
  • Cut away from your body, not toward it.
  • If you drop your knife, let it fall. Don’t attempt to catch it.***
  • Never run with a knife.
  • Don’t throw a knife to anyone. Hand it to them, handle first.
  • Never point a knife at anyone.
  • Do not use a locking blade if the lock will not lock open. Make sure the lock is working before using it.
  • Keep your knife folded or sheathed when carrying or storing.
  • Use a sharpening stone, not a power grinder to sharpen your knife. A power grinder can make the edge brittle and will void the warranty.
  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Don’t use a knife for prying. It can cause the tip to break, possibly causing injury.
  • Use in a well-lit area, so you can see what you’re doing.
  • Do not use a knife on “live” electrical items like appliances.
  • Keep your knife clean, particularly the locking mechanism.
  • Keep your knife oiled and sharp. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one.
  • If you get cut, seek first-aid immediately.###
While it seems everyone pretty much lists the same tips for knife safety, I do feel the urge to cite my source, since I did not come up with those bullet points on my own.  http://www.buckknives.com/index.cfm?event=about.use

***I would like to add to this point, as this was the most applicable point on that list to what happened to me.

If you drop your knife, MOVE YOUR FEET OUT OF THE WAY ASAP!!!!

###Probably not a good idea to stop & take photos of your wounds to post on Facebook or your Airsoft blog before you've properly attended to your wound(s). 

Sooooo, with all that being said, if you're into knives and think you can handle them safely, unlike some of us in this one-sided conversation, you ought to check out the selection of knives & multi-tools that Pyramyd Air has to offer.

Here are a few very affordable options that I recommend:









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