One item we all need for our on- and off-duty weapon is a good holster. My definition of a good holster is one that retains your firearm, conceals it well, and when needed allows you to make a smooth, quick presentation. This is especially important for your off-duty and plainclothes concealed carry handgun.

Oftentimes concealed carry holsters have this snap, this widget, and that gizmo to secure your firearm, and you need to deactivate these while holding your shirt, coat, or whatever else out of the way. Many folks prefer a holster with none of these items, but some type of tensioning device is required, aka a tension screw. An overtightened tension screw can lock a pistol in place, but when it's properly set a good tension screw will secure your pistol when running or tussling with the bad guy but still allow for a smooth draw.

DeSantis' Cozy Partner is a holster that offers the user all of the above. This is a strong side, inside the waistband holster with a tension screw at the rear of the trigger guard. The tension screw and your belt riding over the outboard side of the holster will keep your pistol in place.

A reinforced lip ensures the holster keeps it shape and doesn't collapse when it's not holding a pistol. This and the body guard extension on the body side of the Cozy Partner make reholstering easy.

My shooting partner tells me this holster is an excellent IWB. The body guard keeps the edge of the slide from digging into your side, and reduces the chances of your body moisture coming in prolonged contact with the slide, which could cause rust. The slight cant of the holster gives a smooth natural draw.

DeSantis offers numerous holsters for on duty and off duty, as well as a wide variety of accessories. The quality of the holsters and other products in the line are excellent.

Magnum: Cardio 4:SYS Training Shoe

Those of us who work long hours, odd shifts, and eat meals at strange times tend to overlook an area that can keep us alive on and off the job: working out. Trust me, I am all about going home and examining my favorite recliner, but I have realized that I am not 21 anymore. I need to keep my nearly half-century-old body in decent enough shape to keep up with my younger peers, not feel the effect of wearing our 20 plus pounds of gear, and in general help prevent injuries.

To make your work-out better, start with a solid base in the form of solid footwear. I have been wearing Magnum's Cardio 4:SYS. It's built to serve as a training shoe, not just a "running" shoe. The Cardio 4 has an exoskeleton to give the shoe lateral support, reducing the odds of blowing out the side of the shoe when lifting or doing various stressful moves such as lunges or lateral runs.

The Cardio 4 feels like a running shoe and performs well in this function. But I've found it also performs well on the road, on trails, as a bike shoe, and in the gym. When moving up and down the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Cardio 4 has kept my feet in the proper position. When using my favorite "running" shoes for general trail hiking or riding my bike, I have felt like my foot wants to roll over the midsole of the shoe, which can lead to a twisted ankle or knee. But the Cardio 4 has not disappointed.

Being a big guy, it's tough for me to find a shoe that is supportive enough that my feet are comfortable when simply standing like you do at a sporting event. I have worn the Cardio 4 to a couple of spring NASCAR races and have not had my feet screaming at me, my back didn't hurt, and even my beat up knees approved of the cushioning and support of the shoes.

What also sets the Cardio 4 apart from other shoes is how cool they are. We all know how hot asphalt can be on a sunny day. My feet never had that being baked feeling when walking around the track and all the parking lots. The mesh upper of this shoe truly does let your feet breathe.

Magnum has transferred the support and performance of its duty boot line to a training shoe to meet the needs of men and women in uniform. I have worn Magnum boots on and off duty for years and was impressed with the Cardio 4:SYS training shoe. These shoes, like Magnum's duty boots, are built for hard use.

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Don Hume: Leather Duty Gear

I have seen Don Hume holsters on the shelves of various firearms dealers for many years, but until recently I never owned one myself. This past year my shooting and training partner Joe and I started carrying Smith & Wesson M&Ps off duty and good leather was required for them. This was the chance to give Don Hume's leather a firsthand look.

Since my M&P would be worn off duty and on the range, I chose the H721 O.T. (over top). Since Joe uses his for details and office work, he worked with the H722 Tac, which accommodates a mounted tactical light. To carry a reload we both opted for The Elite, which is a single open top magazine pouch.

The Elite was chosen for a magazine pouch because it gives you fast access to a magazine, has a fitted friction fit, and with the way the reinforcement is stitched to the pouch it looks good. The Elite was used under heavy winter clothing and for open carry and the magazine could be drawn smoothly and quickly.

When it comes to holsters, the H721 O.T. and H722 Tac show the diversity of Don Hume's offerings. While both holsters are technically concealment holsters, they are vastly different to meet individual and agency requirements.

The H721 O.T. is a classic pancake-style holster. It should be worn just behind the apex of the hip because it is designed with a slight butt forward cant. This style of holster conceals large framed pistols well under light outerwear or heavy winter clothing. What I like about the H721 O.T. is there are no snaps or straps to get tangled in clothing during a draw. In my opinion this is an ideal all around holster if you are authorized a holster without a thumb break. Should you need a thumb break, the H721 version will meet your needs.

Since Joe uses his holster for details and his agency requires a thumb break for off-duty work, he chose the H722 Tac. This holster allows him to mount a SureFire X300, or a Streamlight TLR-1. The H722 Tac is a pancake-style holster with a thumb break for security and allows you to carry a light mounted to your handgun. Joe tells me the holster does a fine job at concealing his M&P to and from work, while at the grocery store, or when he is carrying it for other daily activities.

Joe and I agreed that Don Hume's holsters and magazine pouches are top quality and well made. From what I can see, Don Hume's line rivals that of high-end custom made leather.

Vortex: Viper Scope

Ask 10 shooters and you will most likely get 10 different answers about which optics are best. I am a fan of telescopic sights with an objective lens of 44mm or less because they allow you to use medium rings for most applications. This gives the shooter a more solid cheek to stock weld and generally you won't need to have an adjustable comb on the stock. The Viper Scope from Vortex fits the bill nicely.

This year I have been using a Vortex Viper Riflescope. The scope is a 4-12X40 PA with 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments. The ViewMAG, or magnification adjustment, is visible from behind the scope and does not require you to look down on the scope to see what power you are on. The same can be said for the parallax adjustment (PA). It is on the side and you can read the numbers by simply looking down the side of the scope.

Two things that set Vortex Optics' scopes apart from others I have looked at are the eye relief and the reticle. The Viper I was using gives nearly four inches of eye relief; more than enough for use on a .300 Win. Mag or a .338 Lapua. Yes, the Vortex Viper can endure the recoil from those calibers.

The Viper's reticle, unlike that of the competition, is engraved into the inner lens and will not break like scopes using a wire reticle. A broken wire reticle can be a costly repair and when it happens at a critical moment can cause issues such as a missed shot or misplaced shot that none of us wishes to deal with.

Vortex's Dead-Hold BDC is another great feature to be found on the Viper's reticle. It allows you to zero your scope at 100 yards. And using the sub crosshair dots you are zeroed for ranges out to 500 yards in non-magnum calibers. In a fluid situation this can be a major advantage, allowing you to quickly be on target at various ranges.

I have been very pleased with the Vortex Viper I've been using. It truly allows the rifle I have it on to function at its peak performance.

Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs and a contributing editor to POLICE.

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