Voodoo Tactical: Matrix Assault Pack

I have used a backpack most of my life to carry stuff. It makes it easier to carry a load, won’t throw your back out like a bag with a single strap can, and allows you more mobility than a shoulder bag does. Voodoo Tactical’s Matrix could be one of the best designed backpacks I have seen.

The main body of the Matrix is cavernous; I have packed a rain parka, fleece liner, hydration bladder, and lunch in it. There are several small pockets to secure ID, a wallet, spare AR magazines, whatever you can think of. The back of the pack has a pocket to secure a hydration bladder with a port on the left shoulder to run the drinking tube through.

Behind the main pocket, where the pack rests against your back, is a padded pocket to fit a laptop. Yes, you can toss your computer in here and have it protected. Because this position keeps the computer close to the body, it will not get tossed around like it would in the main pocket.

On the outside of the Matrix are numerous MOLLE/PALS straps. These allow you to carry items such as first-aid kits and water bottles and to attach additional MOLLE-compatible pouches that meet your specific needs.

To keep the Matrix securely affixed to you, the shoulder straps can be attached with a chest strap. This keeps the pack from moving and the straps from sliding off of your shoulders. Also, reinforcing straps on the shoulder straps quick clip to the main pouch. This reinforcing of the shoulder straps allows your colleagues to use the Matrix to drag you should you become incapacitated. A removable waist belt is also included with the Matrix to keep the pack from shifting while you are running or engaged in other strenuous activities.

If this pack isn’t versatile enough already, included are additional straps so you can attach it to Voodoo Tactical’s drag bag. This combination keeps all your rollout gear in one place. The Voodoo Tactical Matrix is a solid pack and one of the most versatile ones I have seen. Check it out and see if the Matrix works for you.

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BlackHawk: Warrior Wear Shell and Jacket

This past winter I heard about a new jacket system from BlackHawk’s Warrior Wear line. It consists of an outer waterproof and windproof Shell Jak, a windproof tricot liner, an Operations Jacket, and a lightweight Training Jacket. This system gives you a versatile year-round coat for duty and off-duty use.

The Shell Jak is designed to endure the harshest of weather. It kept me warm in the monsoons of spring here in southwestern Pennsylvania. All of the pockets (one on each sleeve and front slash pockets) and front zipper are seam sealed to keep you and your gear dry. And the hood rolls into the collar to keep it out of sight, but handy when you need it. To help vent body heat, armpit zippers run from just about your rib cage to your elbow; this will vent loads of body heat.

Since winter was not breaking here, I wore the Operations Jacket under the Shell Jak throughout most of March and April. This layering allowed me to stay warm on the freezing mornings and comfortable on the chilly afternoons. The Operations Jacket can be worn as a separate piece if you don’t need the weatherproof Shell Jak but need a warm rain-resistant jacket. What sets the Operation Jacket apart from others are the scuff-resistant panels on the elbows and arms. They protect the jacket from damage when you’re shooting prone and also keep it in place when worn as a liner.            

The Operations Jacket also has numerous pockets. There is one on the left chest for small items, two main body pockets, and a tunnel pocket on the rear of the jacket. This tunnel pocket has zippered access from the right or left side.

BlackHawk’s Warrior Wear Shell Jak and Operations Jacket are excellent pieces of clothing. This versatile line will serve you well for years to come.

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EMA Tactical: Countdown Magazine and Grip

It seems that the AR-15 accessory market is still growing by leaps and bounds. One of the newest players in the market is EMA Tactical. While it’s a new name, the company’s products are manufactured by some of the finest shops in Israel to outfit the IDF and numerous other military and law enforcement agencies.

The magazine is the heart of any semi-automatic rifle. EMA offers an extremely useful 30-round polymer magazine with a built-in round counter. Actually, it’s a round countdown. The round counter is color coded so you have instant feedback on the number of rounds in the magazine. For 30–20 rounds, you’ll see green—good to go; 19–10 rounds, yellow—reload soon; 9–0 rounds, red—reload now. The EMA Countdown magazines worked well in my DPMS, Delton, and SIG 556.

Another new product from EMA is its MGRIP. This is for shooters who prefer to use the AR’s magazine well as a grip. To use the MGRIP attach it to your rifle’s Picatinny rail and move it to the rear so the magazine well supports the grip. Cutouts on the side of the MGRIP accommodate a pressure pad for your tactical light or laser. Another distinctive feature of this grip is its removable bottom that pulls off to reveal storage for two CR123A batteries.

EMA Tactical offers a wide array of tactical and duty gear. Give them a look-see for gear to enhance your AR. This stuff is great for both your duty and recreational rifles.

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Danner: Striker II GTX

Another manufacturer I have used for nearly 30 years is Danner. I've found its products to be some of the most versatile and durable boots on the market. I have worn one version or another since the Army authorized the Ft. Lewis Boot. The simple fact that Danner’s Gore-Tex booties are truly waterproof is why I wear them in the worst weather.

Danner has offered several six-inch boots over the years. Now the company also offers the 4.5-inch Striker II GTX (GTX stands for Gore-Tex). While some folks might balk at wearing a low boot like this for duty, it is great for bicycle cops, those who are in and out of the office, and those of us who prefer a lighter, cooler boot in the summer or simply more versatility. Built on the Terra Force X Lite platform, this is a duty boot that feels like an athletic shoe.

The Striker II’s short shaft is just high enough to support the ankle and it is cool on a summer day. The carbon fiber arch in the mid/outsole helps to combat foot and leg fatigue on those long days patrolling tourist areas and the various fairs, parks, and carnivals that require many to work long shifts. The TFX Lite outsole is slip- and oil resistant while being flexible and giving you good traction on all but the muddiest of surfaces.

If you are not a fan of short boots, Danner offers the Striker in six-inch boots, zippered six-inch, and eight-inch versions including an EMS model with Crosstech, which is resistant to blood- and fluid-borne pathogens. All of the Striker series are built to keep you comfortable and serve you for many years.

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Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs who currently serves as a reserve officer and is a contributing editor to POLICE.

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