A wide variety of new or refined police products was the highlight of the TREXPO East trade show and conference held Aug. 12-15 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The biggest news of the show was an announcement from Textron that it is developing a new police tactical vehicle based on the venerable Cadillac Gage Peacekeeper I armored car. No prototype of the vehicle was available in time for the show, but Textron says the Peacekeeper II is being developed specifically for police. The 70mph Peacekeeper II boasts half-inch thick armor that can stop an AK-47 round, run-flat tires, a 300hp diesel engine, and accommodates an eight-person tactical team.
Other vehicles on the show floor included the GM Defense MARS (Mobile Adjustable Ramp System) models, which feature Patriot 3 ramps. The display for these vehicles vividly demonstrated their capabilities with the extendible Patriot 3 ramps placed in position to insert a tactical team into a mockup of a multi-story building.
Mobile command centers from AK Specialty Vehicles were another popular display on the show floor. One of the most topical exhibits at TREXPO East was the Orange County (Calif.) Sheriff's Department Mobile Communications Center from AK. The massive truck trailer unit was deployed during the investigation of the recent abduction and murder of Samantha Runnion.
One of the hits of TREXPO East was the improved version of the Range 3000 simulator from IES Interactive Training. The new XP4 version of the Range 3000 takes full advantage of the capabilities of a 1.7GHz Pentium processor for increasingly realistic scenario training. It also features a trigger pull pressure graph system, so that instructors can map improvements in their students' shooting techniques.
TREXPO East also saw the arrival of a new player in the U.S. body armor market. ArmorShield, the supplier of ballistic vests to the British military, has teamed up with a major U.S. defense contractor to market its products in the States. On display at TREXPO East were models of ArmorShield's tactical and covert armor, as well as its ballistic flotation vest. ArmorShield's ballistic flotation vest is a waterproof NIJ certified 3A ballistic vest that is rated as a personal flotation device by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Another piece of equipment that's sure to find its way into the equipment lockers of some well-heeled tactical teams is the Viking ST self-contained breathing apparatus from International Safety Instruments (ISI). This SCBA comes in tactical black and was developed after ISI conducted numerous interviews with law enforcement specialists and officers. The Viking ST offers hands-free, two-way radio communications; a low-profile mask for maneuvering in tight quarters; and a lighted in-mask readout that indicates the air pressure status.
As always at tactical conferences, hydration was a big product category on the show floor at TREXPO East. Camelbak showed its new TransFormer model, a 102-ounce system that comes in a backpack that can be adapted to fit 950 cubic inches of cargo, including communications equipment.
Blackhawk Industries also showed an innovative hydration product. The company has developed a gas mask adapter kit for its HydraStorm hydration system. Designed for use in OC and CS environments, the kit allows officers to drink safely without breaking the seals on their masks.
In the category of personal equipment, vendors at TREXPO East offered a variety of new products. ESS is now marketing the Profile NVG goggles. These low-profile goggles are designed for use with night vision equipment and feature anti-fog lenses and foam vents for improved air flow.
Royal Robbins debuted its 5.11 tactical vest at TREXPO East. The 5.11 tactical vest is a perfect companion to the company's 5.11 tactical pants. Constructed out of the same rugged cotton/canvas material as the 5.11 tactical pants, the 5.11 tactical vest features ambidextrous concealed carry pockets, a document pocket, ammo pockets, mag pockets, and interior belt loops to secure the vest in place and conceal a sidearm. Prices start at $59.[PAGEBREAK]
Lights were also a popular product at TREXPO East. Peak Beam Systems demoed its 6.1-million-candle Maxa Beam searchlight. The Maxa Beam is portable and powerful with a highly efficient 75-watt xenon short arc lamp. In addition to its power, the Maxa Beam is rugged and versatile. It's constructed of aluminum and high-impact polymers and features rubber seals for weather resistance. In addition, the light can be fitted with infrared, ultraviolet, and other filters for special applications.
As always, weapons vendors offered some of the most innovative new products at TREXPO East.
In the less-lethal category, Defense Technology/Federal Laboratories showed its Model 25 distraction device. This new flash bang is command initiated, allowing officers to detonate it remotely.
During the range event, Michael Keith, CEO of MK Ballistics, demoed the company's innovative new Less Lethal Sidearm Adapter. The adapter replaces the slide of any Beretta 92 or M9 pistol and converts it into a 12-gauge less-lethal launcher.
Knives were another weapon category that yielded some new and interesting products at TREXPO East. Known for its high-end tactical knives, Emerson Knives surprised and delighted the crowd with a new line of inexpensive but solid tactical folders. The Emerson Hard Wear knives are designed by Emerson, manufactured in Seki City, Japan, and, at about $79.95, sell for less than half the price of Emerson's better known models such as the Commander and P-SARK. Emerson also showed a new fixed-blade weapon, the Emerson Kandahar.
At the high end of police knives, Strider Knives displayed its new SNG tactical folder. The $400 list SNG features a 3.5-inch blade, a handle and pocket milled out of a single piece of G-10, and a backstop peg for strength. It's available in a spear point or tanto blade.
The most unusual knives at TREXPO East were by Phantom Knives. Phantom's Rip Cord knives feature a patent-pending one-hand instant opening mechanism. Once the knife is drawn from its compact sheath, the 154 CM steel blade engages and locks into place. The Rip Cord system is available in three different models: a 3.25-inch tactical model designed to be worn on a belt, a 3.1-inch medallion model designed for wearing around the neck, and a 3.6-inch rescue model designed to cut webbing. Prices range from $189.95 to $199.95.
Guns are always a big attraction at TREXPO, especially on the range, and the August show was no exception. Drawing special attention from the shooters was the extremely powerful Beowulf, distributed by Diamondback Tactical and manufactured by Alexander Arms LLC. Built on an AR-15/M-16 platform, the Beowulf is a .50 caliber assault weapon designed to knock down bad guys in ceramic armor and stop cars. Shooters said the Beowulf kicked with a little less ferocity than a 12-gauge firing hot buckshot loads.
Another hit during the range session was the new 9mm UMP from Heckler & Koch. The lightweight sub-gun boasts very low felt recoil for better accuracy even at full-auto. HK touts the weapon as ideal for use in and around vehicles and points to its 4.5-pound (unloaded) weight as making the UMP well suited to smaller stature officers.
In addition to the vendor exhibits and the range demos and hands-on shooting, TREXPO East featured a full slate of conferences and seminars covering topics as diverse as personal protection, justifying an explosive breaching program, high-risk warrant service, recognizing booby traps, dignitary protection, the history of terrorism, and edged weapon defense.
The next TREXPO event, TREXPO West 2003, is scheduled for March 11-14 at the Long Beach (Calif.) Convention Center.