Elbeco's Meridian jacket was created with one goal in mind: versatility. It's kind of like that old Certs commercial with the tagline "Two mints in one." The Meridian is many jackets in one.
It can be a raincoat because it has a water-resistant outer shell with extra water-resistant material in the shoulders and front panels. And a zip-out liner with Thinsulate makes the Meridian an excellent option for cold weather protection. The design of the liner also adds to the utility of the jacket. It has zip-off sleeves.
Elbeco further enhances the Meridian's range of use by installing Velcro attachment points for pull-down identification panels on the front and rear of the jacket. These panels can match the color of the jacket or you can order them in Hi Viz with reflective lettering.
In addition to its versatility, the Meridian offers excellent comfort. The nylon outer of the liner is soft and won't bind on your uniform blouse or your uniform sweater.
I could blather on about my impressions of the jacket, but as I like to do with the garments featured in Police Product Test, I gave the Meridian to some local officers.
The test officers really liked the Meridian's bomber style look and its fit. They praised its comfort and, like me, they really liked its versatility.
Here in southern Pennsylvania, the nights have turned rainy and cool. The testing officers found that the Meridian kept them warm and dry during traffic stops and on patrol duties.
On the comfort side of the equation, the testers gave the Meridian high marks for freedom of movement. "It doesn't bind across the shoulders," one officer told me.
The chief told me that he really liked the styling of the Meridian. It fits just above the duty belt. In addition, if you need better access to your weapons there are side zippers.
Finally, the testers really appreciated some of the features of the Meridian. For example, they applauded the Meridian's pockets, especially the small pockets behind the primary pockets. They found that these are a great place to put change, gum, a candy bar, and other little things. It never occurred to me that such a small feature would get such rave reviews.
Overall, the Meridian got a strong thumbs up from the testing officers. They liked it so much, in fact, that some of them indicated that they would be wearing the jacket on duty in the near future, and the chief has already bought one.
Blue Dot Flashlight
Brite-Strike flashlights are designed by police officers for police officers. The company is owned by former cops, and their experience is evident in Brite-Strike's new Blue Dot line.
Each of these six-volt (CR123A batteries) lights fits in the palm of your hand with the scalloped light bezel and switch cap protruding. This allows you to use the front or rear of the light as an impact weapon or to break windows. The rear scallops are spaced wide enough to let you easily operate the light without scraping or gouging your thumb or fingers-something that can't be said for some other lights with scalloped switch caps.
Another interesting feature of the BD-2C-3W-MH model that I tested is the light clip. You might say the clip is no big deal; I tend to disagree. It seems that most companies want to put the clip on the light bezel end of the light, making you draw the light from your pocket and turn the light to activate it. The clip being on the switch end puts the light switch in position to turn it on once the light is in your hand. Another benefit of this design is that it allows you to clip the light to your shirt or jacket epaulet so you can use the light hands-free.
The push-button switch on the BD-2C-3W-MH lets you set the light for momentary on or constant on. This means there is no twisting of caps or rotating of bezels to make it stay on; you simply push the button for the light to stay on. Pushing the button is a simple gross motor skill, so it can be easily done in foul weather or under pressure; this means the light can be used when all around you is going south.
All of these features come for a really attractive price. The Blue Dot BD-2C-3W-MH has a suggested retail of $130. It also comes with a nice nylon holster.
RXB-IV Range Finding Binoculars
If you're looking for a great pair of range finding binoculars, check out Leupold's latest. What I've always wanted in range finding binoculars is ease of use and less weight. Leupold's new RXB-IV binocs fit that bill, and they are packed with features that make them ideal for duty use.
What sets the RXB-IV binocs apart from the competition is their Tru Ballistic Range (TBR) setting. This reading incorporates the inclination/declination angle over the distance and the bullet path of various calibers. These numbers all read out as the range you are actually shooting, not the visible/measured range.
Another great function of the TBR feature is the inclination/declination readout. The readout can be used when sketching a terrain map on a reconnaissance mission. After all, most of us can understand numbers better than a lot of little lines. Not only will the inclination/declination aid in creating a recon map, but knowing how steep of an angle you are dealing with on a search-and-rescue mission will help you calculate your equipment and personnel requirements, especially when working in steep angle rescue operations.
Another great feature on the RXB-IV binocs is the Alumina Optimizer, which clarifies images in hazy/gloomy lighting. I thought this was a marketing ploy and was pleasantly surprised to find it really works better than advertised. In dawn and dusk operations the Alumina Optimizer really does make a big difference.
I was really impressed with the RXB-IV Range Finding binoculars. This is another excellent product from Leupold.
Columbia River Knife and Tool
Zilla-Tool and Guppie
Our last tools to look at this month are just that, tools. Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) recently shipped us two new multitools, the Zilla-Tool and the Guppie.
Let's start with the cute sounding Guppie. When I first saw this tiny multitool at the SHOT Show last winter, I thought, What the hell is this thing? Closer inspection revealed that it's a mini toolbox that fits in your hand. The Guppie has a small sharp knife, a crescent wrench, a light, and a screwdriver, all in a very small form factor that lets you clip it onto a D-ring or into a pocket.
The big brother of the Guppie is the Zilla-Tool. The Zilla-Tool has a full-sized three-inch knife blade ala the M16 series of knives, a set of medium needle nose pliers with wire cutters/stripper, and one-quarter-inch drive for the included flat or Philip's screwdriver point.
The Zilla-Tool and Guppie are both great tools. Especially when it comes to field expedient repairs such as tightening a radio antenna, tightening a loose bolt on a white board stand, or tightening down the set screws on a holster shank.
The wire cutters/strippers of the Zilla-Tool truly do work. I used it to install a new CB in my SUV and the pliers' handle was sensitive enough to allow me to strip the power wires without cutting them. The Guppie, while small, gave me enough torque to tighten down the bolts for the radio hanger.
When the job was complete, the blade of the Zilla-Tool handled the most important task; it made short work slicing my Subway sandwich. Seriously though, the blades of the Zilla-Tool and Guppie easily handle cutting seat belt and safety harness webbing, should the need arise.
Essentially the Zilla-Tool and Guppie are powerful little tools that take up very little space in your war bag. Another truly appealing point of these tools is they are priced at less than 40 bucks. You can afford them and, believe me, if you have them, you will use them.