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Reviews : Police Product Test

Police Product Test: 5.11 Tactical Aggressor Jacket

If you're looking for versatile outerwear for on- and off-duty activities, check this one out.

November 01, 2007  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author


My friends who are working cops-not disabled military police like me-all say that one piece of gear they would love to have is a "stealth jacket." Now, I don't mean a jacket that would make them invisible. That would be cool, but let's stay in the real world. What they want is a versatile jacket that does not scream "cop," "fuzz," "John Law," but provides plenty of weather protection and the special features that police need on and off the job.

Issue jackets scream "cop" even without the patches, and they don't give you places to carry cuffs, a small notebook, or conceal a firearm. What's needed is a jacket that's available in a duty configuration or in an off-duty version. 5.11 Tactical's Aggressor parka may be that jacket.

Overall, the 5.11 Tactical Aggressor is a great jacket. It fits well, has plenty of shoulder room, doesn't bind when you draw a handgun or shoulder a long gun, and it's long enough to conceal a handgun. In a few recent downpours, I found the Aggressor kept the rain off and was waterproof as advertised.

The Aggressor features a zip-out fleece liner and full-length side zippers that allow easy access to your duty weapon or off-duty gun. It also boasts concealed ID pullouts on the chest and back, concealed discreet carry pockets on the chest and right rear hip, and a two-way main zipper. When you toss in the fact that this jacket can repel the wet stuff, you could argue that it is the perfect police parka.

To say I was impressed with the Aggressor would be an understatement. I purchased one; that's how much I liked it.

Pentagon Light: L2 LED Flashlight

The Pentagon Light L2 LED is one of the most versatile lights in the company's catalog. It is a 5.5-inch-long flashlight that runs on two CR123A, 3-volt lithium batteries and produces 90 lumens for an hour and a half and useable light for three hours. That may not seem like a lot of time; however, in most instances you are not running the light continuously.

The LED bulb should last virtually forever. From what I have been told a set of batteries lasts a couple of weeks if you use the light for checking IDs, under vehicles, and other quick off/on operation.

And it's built to take whatever you can dish out. All metal parts of the L2 (and all other Pentagon Lights) are CNC machined from aircraft-grade aluminum. This makes for tight tolerances and exact fits for the parts. One nice touch is that the tail cap is pentagon shaped to keep the light from rolling away when you set it on a sloping surface. To help dissipate the heat of the LED light, concentric rings are machined into the lamp bezel.

The L2 also has Pentagon Light's unique tail cap feature. The tail cap offers the user a flash of light with light pressure, or it can be fully compressed for constant light. That means that there's no need to twist and turn the tail cap and only gross motor skills are required to make the light work. The guys I shoot with found this to be a great feature and a big selling point of the L2.

To ensure your light will work in the wettest of conditions, the tail cap and light bezel have double O-ring seals. I tossed my L2 into a bucket of water and let it sit for 30 minutes. When I pulled it out of the water and pushed the tail cap; the L2 worked flawlessly.

If you need different types of lights for a variety of applications, the light bezel of the L2 can be changed with other bezels. For more direct bright light you can swap the head out for the 6-volt Xenon head. If you need to maximize the run time of the L2, say for search and rescue, you can use the multi-LED head, which will give you usable light for up to 48 hours. Other lamp head options include blue light for blood tracking, red and green light to preserve night vision, and a gold lamp to cut through mist and fog. Through this system, a single Pentagon Light can serve a wide range of light needs.

BlackHawk: Generation III Rain Jacket

For those times when you know you are going to be in the rain, especially in a tactical environment, I suggest the BlackHawk Generation III, Level 5. This jacket is the fifth layer of the new extreme climate system to be fielded by the Army. And I found it to be a fine piece of standalone outerwear.

Waterproofing in the Gen III L5 is provided by Epic fabric from Nextec. Unlike many other waterproof fabrics, which use a layer of laminate to make them waterproof, every thread fiber in Epic material is encapsulated in silicone. This means the material is waterproof for the life of the fabric, is very pliable, and quiet. All of these features are desirable in a tactical or field use foul weather jacket.

BlackHawk has built the jacket with the end user in mind. The comfort of the jacket is the first thing I noticed. It was soft and supple next to the skin. Even the collar, which stores a hood, was comfortable next to the necksomething many other rain parkas' collar/hoods are not.

To keep you even more comfortable, there are armpit zippers to vent heat and the main zipper has a Velcro storm flap. This not only keeps out water in harsh conditions, but also allows the jacket to vent more body heat. To keep out really foul weather, the Gen III has a waist drawstring and to help ensure the jacket stays shut there is a snap at the bottom of the zipper. I haven't noticed such a snap on any other rain jacket that I have looked at over the years. It's a nice feature.

BlackHawk uses Velcro strips on the chest and slant sleeve pockets for easy attachment of name tapes, unit patches, or other types of ID. These pockets can easily carry a 6-volt light, a pressure bandage, and other small gear. To carry bigger items or to keep your hands warm, there are two chest pockets. They zipper shut and are easy to access under a raid vest. Because of the nature of the pocket lining in the Gen III, if you leave the pocket zipper open, this will also vent some excess heat.

I have worn the Gen III jacket in many downpours and it kept me dry. I also noticed the jacket didn't have that sticky/clingy feel of other rain coats.

The Gen III is lightweight enough that it packs into the pocket of my range bag so it will not be left in the SUV where it serves no purpose if the rain hits when shooting. Because of the quietness of the jacket, I am sure it will get used this year during bow season. The Gen III is available in ACU Camo, black, or foliage green.

Rudy Project USA: Rydon Tactical Glasses

In this day and age, you have to protect your eyes 24/7. With most sunglasses you are stuck with dark lenses, which are not good at night or in poor light conditions. That's the idea behind Rudy Project USA's new Rydon tactical glasses.

The Rydon Tactical is an awesome pair of glasses. It offers numerous options for lens colors to meet your needs as lighting conditions dictate. For those of us who are optically challenged, there is an Rx insert or Rudy Project offers Rx Direct, which means the company will grind the lenses to meet your prescription. I prefer the insert in case you damage the outer lenses (shields).

I call the outer lenses shields because Rudy Project's lenses are ANSI rated Z87.1. This means the glasses will protect you from various airborne objects. My shields have survived tree branches while mountain biking, the cooper jacket from a bullet that ricocheted off a steel target, and general crap from yard work. The shields are fairly indestructible to daily use.

What really impresses me about Rudy Project glasses is the company's lens replacement guarantee. Box up your damaged lenses, tell them what the issue with them is, and forward a check to cover the cost of shipping and handling and you'll get a new pair of lenses no questions asked. This is customer service, and is much cheaper than buying new glasses or lenses.

I know local cops who are wearing various Rudy Project glasses on duty. The users vary from bike cops to general patrol and firearms instructors. Most of them wear Rudy's on all shifts, thanks to the ease with which you can change lenses. You can use a wide variety of lenses, ranging from clear lenses for after dark operations to laser-coated mirrored lenses for the brightest conditions.

Rudy Project USA's Tactical Rydons and the other glasses in Rudy Project's "tactical" line and their entire line of glasses will serve you well on duty and off. I have used them for years and so have many of the local guys I shoot with. Rudy Project glasses will serve you for years; check them out.

Tags: 5.11 Tactical, Product Reviews, Outerwear, Flashlights, Blackhawk, Rudy Project

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