One of the issues that we encounter as police officers is how to get the most bang for our buck. To do this we want our gear to be multi-purpose. We see all of this gear that is supposed to be versatile, yet it often ends up being versatile in advertising definition only.
While at BlackHawk's headquarters I came across a piece of gear that made me go hmm: the S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway Tactical Armor Carrier with 3-D Mesh. This is an unassuming carrier that will hold soft body armor and armor plates. When playing with it at BlackHawk, I found it to be easy to don and doff and easy to fit, which many carriers aren't. This is what caught my interest.
BlackHawk S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway Tactical Armor Carrier
The S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway will hold most soft body armor panels-even those that wrap the front and rear abdominal panels. This ensures you maintain your armor coverage. I found the area that secures the panels fit all the panels I tried like it was tailor made for them. The carrier is lined with 3-D mesh to allow air flow and enhance comfort. When wearing the vest in hot and humid conditions I found it most comfortable; much more so than when the panels are worn concealed.
Further proving its versatility, the S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway transforms your concealable body armor into a tactical raid vest. And with its S.T.R.I.K.E./MOLLE strapping you can truly make this a custom vest. The straps will allow you to attach magazine pouches, equipment pouches, and holsters, and carry a hydration bladder in the back pouch. For easy identification there are Velcro strips to attach your agency's badges.
Although they're small, the HawkTex straps on the carrier's shoulders make a big difference in functionality. The two-inch-wide straps give you a solid place to mount your long gun. I've been disappointed when mounting long guns to many other tactical vests; slick stocks slip on slick nylon.
In addition to all of these great features, what sets this carrier apart from others is the ability to quickly remove the vest and all of its gear in one minute. Simply pull the tear away and the vest will be off. This allows instant access to treat an injury or speedy removal, no matter the reason.
If your duties don't require you to wear body armor but you are called for to act as part of a tactical team or require a tactical vest that fits your soft armor, the S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway will fit your needs. The sizing will fit the largest, tallest, or shortest of your officers. BlackHawk's S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway carrier is a truly versatile and useful piece of duty gear.
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AR Magazines and Rail Covers
As more and more agencies authorize AR-style carbines and rifles for patrol officers, more and more accessories are entering the market. Tango Down is one company that manufactures a number of affordably priced and high-quality parts for ARs. The parts list is long and covers most items you may need for an AR.
Possibly the most important piece of gear for an AR is a quality magazine. Tango Down's ARC magazine is available in a number of colors with capacities of 30 or 20 rounds. These magazines are made using the latest in polymer technology. The bodies of the ARCs are some of the toughest I have seen, able to withstand being dropped from a second story window or support my weight standing on them-and still function.
To function in any weather condition, the spring is made of moly-coated chromium-silicon, which will survive the most challenging conditions. Thanks to the spring and the polymer follower the ARC is also easy to maintain. Simply wash with warm soapy water and invert to dry, then it's ready to use. I gave mine a spritz of lubricant, but according to Tango Down that's not needed.
Tango Down ARC Magazines and Rail Covers
Tango Down also manufactures rail covers. While some may think they're not needed, I prefer to protect my several hundred-dollar rail system. Rail covers are significantly cheaper to replace, and they protect your hands from the sharp edges of a Picatinny rail.
Tango Down's SCAR rails are available in two-inch, four-and-a-quarter-inch, and six-inch lengths so you can choose how to cover your rails. The SCARs are also available with a preformed slot to fit a SureFire-style pressure pad for a tactical light. I liked the locking tabs of the SCAR panels; they lock into the gaps of the Picatinny rail and are truly easy on/off and secure.
Tango Down's equipment will keep your AR running and make it more comfortable to shoot. When you are looking to equip your AR, consider Tango Down's accessories; you won't go wrong.
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Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs and a contributing editor to POLICE.