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Reviews : Police Product Test

Police Product Test: Under Armour Generation II Tactical Pants

Loads of pockets and stretchy material in all the right places make these durable pants great for duty use.

October 01, 2008  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author


Under Armour is a name known throughout the outdoor and law enforcement industry. As its name implies, the company's garments are most often worn under other clothing and pads or under body armor. In the last few years UA has introduced product lines in such diverse areas as hunting, working out, and casual wear. Now Under Armour also has a line of tactical wear, which includes the Generation II Tactical Pants.

Like other items in the UA line, these pants are made from a fast drying, comfortable polyester and nylon material. It's a micro ripstop All Season Gear fabric. I found the pants to be incredibly comfortable and easy to maintain. They are truly wash and wear. They also dry incredibly quickly when they get wet in the course of your daily activities—be it from sweat, rain, or the accidental wearing of one's beverage.

One of the features that makes these pants so comfortable is the stretchable material Nylour in the inner thighs, crotch, and knees. The fabric reduces chafing in these delicate areas. It also enhances movement during rigorous activities and adds comfort when sitting for extended periods of time.

I can honestly say Under Armour has made one of the most comfortable pairs of pants I have worn. Not only that, but the Gen II Tactical Pants also come clean from the worst of dirt. I wore mine while putting lime down on the garden, and I was sweating hard enough that the lime caked on the pants legs. I tossed the pants in the wash with my favorite laundry detergent, and they came out looking like new.

Cool features on UA's Gen II Tactical Pants include belt loops that easily accommodate popular 1.75-inch "rigger's" belts and seven pockets to hold lots of gear. Thigh pockets have Velcro closures to keep your stuff where you put it, a hidden internal zippered pocket carries smaller items, and rear pockets zip closed to keep your wallet or credentials where you put them before running down the road.

I found the Under Armour Generation II Tactical Pants to work well for hot sticky summer days. If you are fortunate enough to work where you're authorized to wear shorts, you might be interested in UA's All Season Gear Guide Shorts II, which have similar features.

Bianchi

Lawman Ballistic Vest

Body armor has become as much a part of an officer's uniform as his duty belt or his sidearm. And with good reason; body armor saves lives. This holds true not just for bullets, but also for a vicious blunt force trauma such as a vehicle collision or being hit with a baseball bat in the chest. Both can have catastrophic effects on the human body. My shooting partner has been in two horrific on-duty vehicle accidents and the attending physicians flat out told him the vest saved his life.That said, Bianchi—best known for gun leather—has entered the market with its Lawman Series of ballistic vests. This vest debuted in Vegas at the '08 SHOT Show and caught my eye because of its price point: under $500 for a IIIA vest.

Once I handled the vest what amazed me was how pliable and supple it is. Both of these features are found in vests that cost substantially more.

I made arrangements to get a sample to test on duty. I didn't feel the need to shoot myself with my duty round to ensure the vest would stop the round. The Lawman meets NIJ II and IIIA standards; I am willing to take the NIJ's word that the Lawman will stop a 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP round. I was more interested in how this vest fit and felt over the course of an eight- to 12-hour shift.

First off, the vest panels are not bulky; they're very thin and flexible. The panels conform and move with you all day long. After 12 hours of wearing this vest for more than a month of shifts, I give the Lawman two thumbs up. Guys on my crew were impressed with how truly concealable the vest is because it conforms so well to the wearer.

The weight of the XXL vest I was wearing is right around five pounds; not bad for what is touted as an economy, entry level vest. I have felt "top of the line" vests that weigh more and are not nearly as comfortable to wear as the Lawman.

Despite long hours, the carrier felt good over my undershirt and the panels did not get that "body armor odor." I'm sure this is because a layer of Gore-Tex keeps moisture from penetrating the panels, which is pretty important when you wear a vest for hours in hot, humid weather. You don't want to pass out from the smell when you take off your vest.

While Bianchi says the Lawman is an entry level vest or designed for those who don't need a vest 24/7, the Lawman is a great value. I'd buy it for duty and wear it in a heartbeat. I trust the name Bianchi and the technology of Bianchi's parent company BAE Systems, which also produces Safariland and Second Chance body armor as well as protective equipment for the military. If you have to shell out your hard earned dollars for a vest for duty, give the Bianchi Lawman a look-see.

Blackhawk

Warrior Wear Gloves

Blackhawk Products Group has grown from offering a few tactical nylon products to being able to outfit soldiers and police from head to toe. One of the newest offerings from Blackhawk is its Warrior Wear line of gloves.

I decided to test the Blackhawk CRG-1 Cut Resistant Patrol gloves. They have a neoprene and spandex shell with a Kevlar-reinforced palm for toughness that also makes them cut resistant. The trigger finger and thumb have non-slip pads called contact points that are placed properly so you can engage the trigger and safety without fear of slipping when things are wet.

The fit and feel of the gloves is good. I tend to compare most gloves to Nomex flight gloves, because they were the first gloves I really did a lot of shooting and work in. The CRG1s don't offer the tactile feel of flight gloves, but they are damn close. I didn't find myself mashing the trigger on my AR or 1911, which tends to happen when there is little or no "feeling" in the fingers.

While performance is important, there are also some nice features that set these gloves apart from others. The pull tab/hanger point on each glove makes them easy to pull on, and allows them to clip easily to a carabiner so you don't lose them when not in use. Velcro closures allow you to adjust the gloves for a snug or loose fit and for easy on/off.

The CRG1s will serve you well in those chilly fall and winter moments on the range and on duty.

Tactical Operations Products

Bandolier Pouch

There are lots of ways to carry our "stuff," but very few are designed to be user friendly and with the tactical mission in mind. Tactical Operations Products seems to be the exception to this trend. I first saw this gear at the exchange at Little Rock Air Force Base and was impressed even though all I saw was a utility pouch. When I researched the company's extended tac ops line on the Internet I was even more interested.

Tactical Operations Products' Bandolier Pouch (TP006) was the item that caught my eye. It's actually more like a small pack than a pouch. It has several pockets, including two additional pouches that fit the MOLLE straps on the front and sides of the main pockets. On the back of the main pocket is a nylon mesh to let the pack "breathe" and help reduce sweating when it's hot and sticky out.

To help reduce the odds of this pack being stolen, you can use the attached belt loop to secure the Bandolier to your person instead of just using the shoulder strap. The strap is adjustable and has a key clip on it, which is a good place for multiple smaller items, such as shooting gloves.

Inside the main pocket, two mesh pockets keep small items secure or more easily found than if they were just tossed into the main pouch. This main compartment has a drawstring closure plus the Fastex closed flap for additional security.

A back concealed compartment is designed with Velcro panels to secure a compatible holster, light holder, or handcuff case. While many may not like off-the-body carry of a firearm, there are times when it works well: when you're wearing sweats or drawstring shorts, or when you're carrying a camera (the Bandolier Pouch makes a fine camera bag). This bag can also be used for carrying assorted forensics equipment or other specialized gear.

SureFire

E2L Outdoorsman Light

Oftentimes when looking at cool gear, we tend to think of it only in terms of work. How about tools that can fit into categories such as at work, at home, and be used when out and about? I know, what a radical concept: multi-purpose.

SureFire is a company that makes lights used in the harshest areas of the world that are also great for use at home, in the woods, or wherever you need illumination. The E2L Outdoorsman is an ideal light to meet all these needs.

Measuring just over five inches long, the E2L fits into the palm of your hand or clips into a pocket and doesn't get in the way. At the same time, the light offers you both a low-power three lumens to find things under the car seat and 60 lumens to light up the street to find your dog that decided to take an unauthorized evening walk, or to light up a stairwell when doing a house search.

I have been using the E2L for the last six months and have not changed the batteries yet. Granted, I don't use it on lightsaber power all that often. I usually use it to see the radio dials in the cruiser, and to locate the correct key when responding to alarms that go off as our facilities do communications upgrades. The lower power setting is also great for doing ID checks so you don't get blinded from reflective glare; yet you have a handful of light to temporarily incapacitate someone if need be.

Consider giving yourself or your partner this light for the holidays. The recipient will get many years of use out of it.

Tags: Gloves, Under Armour, Bianchi, Body Armor, Blackhawk, SureFire, Flashlights, Tactical Gear

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