I have never been a big fan of "winter" gloves. Generally they are bulky and don't offer enough dexterity. I understand that the bulk is usually meant to make them warmer, but you still have to be able to operate your equipment. That's why I appreciate 5.11's Praetorian 2.
5.11 Tactical collaborated with Ironclad Performance to bring what I consider usable gloves to the market. I have been wearing the Praetorian 2 to the range, while working outdoors, and while working out, and I'm happy with their performance.
These gloves seem to have a good blend of insulation that's not so thick as to take away your ability to feel a trigger or to write. This might seem trivial to you, but if you work where winter hits hard like here in Pennsylvania, keeping your digits warm is important.
The Praetorian 2 is made from goatskin, which is tough and flexible, and is lined with Thinsulate C100, which from my experience is warm and breathes without being bulky. While wearing them I find I am able to load magazines, open mail, not have sweaty hands when out doing PT, and most importantly not have cold finger tips when the wind chill is dipping below zero. 5.11's Praetorian 2 gets two thumbs up.
EoTech: XPS2-0 Sight
Over the last decade, the "red dot" sight has become as much a part of the daily use kit of military and law enforcement as boots. These sights make target acquisition fast and easy in all light conditions while allowing you to place accurate shots quickly.
One of the toughest "red dots" I have used is EoTech's 552 Heads Up Weapons Sight. I have had it on my M4 for nearly a decade and I think I have changed the two AA batteries once (and yes my M4 gets shot nearly weekly). My 552 sight has been used in the harshest elements including the blizzard of February 2010 and has survived to be used another day.
Not willing to rest on the success of the 550 series of sights, EoTech developed the XPS. This sight is approximately half the length of the 550 series sights because its power source comes not from two AA batteries, but a single CR123A. And it's mounted horizontally instead of along the axis of the sight. This allows for more room on a Picatinny rail to mount a magnification device or night vision (the XPS3 version is night vision compatible).
Since I do not have a night vision device, I opted to T&E the XPS2. The sight operates like its older siblings; the on/off/brightness switches are on the rear of the sight, the vertical and horizontal adjustments are on the right side. All movements and actions are clearly indicated on the sight, making it easy as 1,2,3 to operate and adjust the XPS2.[PAGEBREAK]
You also have your choice of mounts; a thumb screw or Allen screw. I chose the thumb screw because if I have to tighten the sight down, a quarter will do. You can use that same quarter to remove the battery case cover and to make sight adjustments. As you can see, this sight is built so you don't have to use special tools to make adjustments. Like its predecessors, the XPS2 is easy to zero and fast on target.
I was concerned how long the battery would last so I used a very "scientific" test. I turned it on and left it on, and three days later the circle dot was still glowing brightly. I figured 72-plus hours of constant on is longer than the sight will be in service.
After the three-day test, I am still using the original battery; it has been in the XPS2 for nearly a year. My guess is you will need to change the battery once or twice a year. As tough as EoTech's sights are, however, I doubt you will have to ever change the sight; it should last you your career.
Lowa Boots: Zephyr GTX
Over the years I have learned that if your feet are cold, wet, or sore you will have a miserable day. It doesn't matter whether you're on the range, on patrol, or hiking the hills and fields. One company that has not let me down in any of these places is Lowa. The company offers everything from casual wear shoes to boots designed to handle the world's great glaciers and mountains.
Lowa's duty line of boots easily handles the daily grind while keeping your feet from screaming in pain. Its Zephyr GTX is no exception.
This Gore-Tex-lined boot is built for hard use. Unlike other boots in the Lowa Duty Line, the Zephyr GTX is a rough out leather boot. This makes it more durable in that it won't show scuffs and scrapes.
I know many of you will not be able to wear these on duty because you are required to wear a polishable boot. However, these are excellent range/field boots. If you are one of the many uniformed officers patrolling the deserts and mountains of the Southwest, the Zephyr GTX is a boot you should consider. It's also a good choice for undercover work and off duty; they don't scream "cop" because they are designed to look like hiking boots, which is essentially what they are.
What I found to be most amazing about the Zephyr is the support this lightweight boot offers. Generally, light boots give up support to reduce weight. But this boot's Monowrap, the midsole coming up around the upper of the boot, literally makes the upper and sole of the boot one, increasing stability and support. Scalloping reduces weight and the boot remains flexible, reducing fatigue and foot strain.
Because it's offered in black, desert, and beige, this footwear can be worn for casual, field, and-if your agency allows-duty use. The Lowa Zephyr is one of the best pairs of boots I have tested and I will be wearing them when I am shooting, training, and around town.
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.