Working most of my law enforcement time in a plainclothes capacity, I do not have bags full of old holsters, duty belts, and other equipment usually associated with law enforcement lying around the house.
It's not that I don't agree that retention holsters and other equipment designed to make our jobs safer are a bad idea, but working cases that require the illusion of being "Joe Citizen" or the need to conduct 10-hour surveillance has always hindered my ability to mix traditional police gear with these types of operations.
Although there are a number of high quality and professional concealable holsters and other gadgets on the market, I have always preferred to carry my weapon in the small of my back or simply concealed in a pocket. Note, I am by no means saying these are the ideal locations to carry a weapon, but rather unconventional locations that I have not only trained countless hours drawing from but have grown proficient with.
In addition to the small of my back and a number of jackets and other outerwear that provide hidden pockets and other concealable areas, I was led to BlackHawk's Operations Jacket.
Although the folks at BlackHawk do not promote their Warrior Wear Operations Jacket for covert operations, after months of use, I have found it to be one of the finest quality overt/covert jackets I have ever owned.
The Warrior Wear Jacket System consists of three jackets designed to be used separately or layered in combination with each other depending on the temperature, elements, and the wearer's need for insulation, ventilation, and wind or water resistance.
Although BlackHawk offers an outer shell that is designed to be worn over the operations jacket, myself and most of my colleagues who have worn the operations jacket agree, with its ability to provide both wind and water resistance, there is no real need to add additional layers as long as temperatures don't drop to the 20s and 30s.
While the jacket offers a number of different pockets, the large rear (tailbone) pocket has been by far the most useful and functional of them all for my type of plainclothes work.
For the past few months, I have been able to engage in a number of incidents, in which both the suspect and fellow officers were unaware of the fact that I was carrying extra magazines, my badge, pepper spray, and last but not least…my weapon.
Interest in concealed carry is at an all-time high for both the law enforcement and civilian markets. As a result, we have many choices in compact handguns and accessories. As a general rule, the looser the cut, the less bulges will be noticeable. However, the BlackHawk Warrior Wear Operations jacket has a slimming fit with "deep" pockets which I have found to limit bulges and detection of most "objects" almost totally.
Remember, practice, practice, practice drawing the handgun and sweeping out and away in a fluid and smooth motion. With one hand or two the drill will become second nature. Consider your movements made every day, and the type of gun and equipment combinations you carry as an outer garment will dictate the mode and type of carry.
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OTB Footwear: Bushmaster Boot
Every once in a while you'll find a new product that makes you go hmmm; such is the case for me with the Bushmaster from OTB Footwear. It looks distinctive and stylish, and it's especially useful for those who work in warm weather year round.
When I initially read about the Bushmaster, it seemed like the cat's meow for duty. Lightweight and cut on a last much like your favorite athletic shoe, the boot is comfortable and fits well. That sounds like a boot built for duty use to me.
When my Bushmasters arrived I was not let down. The boots look good, are lightweight and flexible, and when I slip them on they feel like athletic shoes. The difference is these are athletic shoes on steroids. They feel solid under foot, the uppers hug the feet and ankles, and the tread looks like it would keep you from slipping and sliding on the steepest slope.
OTB's boots got their test drive over the halls of the local mall and at work. The Bushmasters truly did feel like my favorite pair of walking shoes. Because we have had two kinds of weather here in southwestern Pennsylvania—monsoons or arctic chills—I only wore them enough to determine the outsoles will grip in the muddiest conditions. I know they will see more wear once the weather is a bit more temperate and drier.
Overall I think OTB's Bushmaster is a good boot. The sizes run true and fit well. The boots are comfortable and are supportive. If you are looking for a good warm weather boot, give the OTB Bushmaster serious consideration.
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SureFire: E2D LED Flashlight
I have been a fan of SureFire's original 6 series of lights for years. I have used them on duty, in the woods hunting, around the house, and at various shooting academies. Last year the E2D LED replaced the 6P as my favorite SureFire.
The E2D is an LED light powered by two CR123A batteries with a maximum output of 120 lumens with two hours of runtime. On its low setting the output is five lumens with more than 75 hours of runtime. The output is controlled by the tail cap switch; push it on for low power, release and reactivate for full power.
A scalloped tail cap and bezel allow the E2D to be used as an impact weapon in an emergency. The scalloped tail cap also prevents you from accidentally turning the light on when carrying it in your pocket; not that any of us has ever done that. To further prevent you from accidentally turning the light on, the tail cap has a patented lock-out function. Simply rotate the cap off a quarter-turn and you deactivate the switch. This can be done with one hand.
For ease of carry, the light has a pocket clip and the tail cap is drilled so you can attach a lanyard. I find for daily use the clip secures the light where I need it. Were I to be using this as a primary light on duty, I would attach the lanyard. This keeps the light handy while manipulating your handgun, keys, or citation book.
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Hinderer Knives: Extreme Aluminum Duty Pen
I have never thought much about my choice of writing instruments; they are for signing reports and checks. This changed when I saw a blurb online about this Extreme Duty Pen from a knife maker named Rick Hinderer "What's so special about a pen?" was my initial reaction. So I decided to find out for myself.
After a Hinderer Aluminum Extreme Duty Pen arrived in the mail, my reaction was, "Very cool…and way overbuilt for a pen." However, this is more than a pen. It can serve as a last resort impact weapon or a control tool a la a kubotan, despite its appearance as an unassuming "pen."
If you're actually interested in writing with the pen, you'll be pleased to learn that it uses a Fisher Space Pen large refill. This means the pen functions in all weather and at all angles. Having used walls on many occasions for writing notes, this feature comes in handy for me. You don't have to shake the pen to keep writing. The pen also writes well on the ever present emergency notepad: the hand.
To act as a control/impact weapon the pen is covered with a coarse threaded cap, so it stays on and can endure hard use. The body of the pen is CNC machined with grasping grooves to give you a firm purchase when writing or applying pressure when used as a weapon.
From what I can tell, you won't break this 6061 grade aircraft aluminum no matter how hard you press. The weakest point of any pen is its clip. And it too feels virtually indestructible, yet it secured the Extreme Duty Pen to my pocket without snagging or tearing it.
Hinderer's Extreme Duty Pen is an awesome tool. If I flew a lot I'd keep one for discreet personal protection on the plane. As it is I carry one on duty for the same reason; this pen will do what a PR 24 won't. It may seem like an expensive pen, but for those of us who work where things go south quickly, the Hinderer Extreme Duty Pen is a good backup and a fine writing implement.
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Scott Smith is a federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs and a contributing editor to POLICE.
Darin Logue is a skilled practitioner in narcotics, interview and interrogation, and fugitive apprehension and tracking.