Footwear is truly the key to surviving a law enforcement shift. Yes, training and personal skills are what we rely on daily. However, those skills suffer if your feet and legs are sore, wet, or achy. A good pair of boots goes a long way toward keeping you on your feet, literally, and at the top of your game.

Since Original S.W.A.T. Boots burst on the market many years ago, comfort and value have been the driving force behind the company. I have worn Original S.W.A.T. Boots for shooting, hunting, and on duty for years, and so has my shooting partner. The footwear's outsoles are designed to give you traction in most any and all conditions. My first pair of boots had to be retired after five years of wear because they were coming apart, but my partner still uses his for yard work.

Original S.W.A.T.'s line has grown from the Classic 9" to include mocs, dress shoes, safety footwear, and now waterproof boots with pathogen barriers. The company's WinX2 boot offers the comfort and fit of the Classic and a waterproof, pathogen-resistant liner. In this day and age when you come upon incidents where numerous blood-borne diseases can be present it is important to reduce your exposure.

A former team member of mine has been wearing the WinX2 on duty for the last few months. His feet tend to hurt him no matter the boots he wears. But after breaking in the WinX2s, he tells me his feet don't suffer on 12-hour shifts. Working as a police officer in a medical facility, he appreciates the pathogen-resistant barrier. People working there have been known to come into contact with various bodily fluids; fortunately he has not had to test this out. He can, however, attest to the fact that his feet have stayed dry in the monsoons of spring here in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Original S.W.A.T.'s WinX2 can be had as a standard lace-up, side-zip, side-zip with a composite safety toe, and in the waterproof version that was tested. These four styles should give your feet that running shoe feel and performance from the first day you slip them on, and they will protect you from numerous diseases we all would rather not catch.

Benchmade: 930 Kulgera Knife

One piece of equipment that I count on to not only look good but also be reliably functional is a knife. Benchmade Knives has turned this combination into an art form, and its 930 Kulgera is a prime example of form meeting function.[PAGEBREAK]

For this knife, Benchmade uses SV30 stainless, which is hardened to 58-60RC so the blade will be durable, corrosion resistant, hold an edge, and will sharpen well. To ensure the blade is durable Benchmade uses a modified drop-point blade.              

The grip is stylish black and blue G10, which means it will hold up to moisture and many common chemicals. Further enhancing the knife's looks and durability are the black nickel plated hardware. With these contrasts the knife looks good and is just as strong thanks to its AXIS lock and black steel liner.

What I like about this knife and many working knives from Benchmade is that it carries so well. When clipped in a pocket it snuggles into the seam of the pants and is secure. Benchmade offers many knives in this size that will serve you well on duty or in the field.

Tactical Assault Gear: Phalanx T4 Fury Vest

One of the leaders in tactical nylon is Tactical Assault Gear, or TAG. Not only does the company manufacture high-quality gear, it also offers many distinctive innovative designs, including the Phalanx T4 Fury.

This is a practically perfect vest for any department that issues or authorizes patrol rifles. It can be donned quickly, and can pack lots of stuff. It carries four carbine magazines plus four pistol magazines, there is a central pouch which can be used as a pistol holster, there is a place to carry your radio, and there is an accessory pouch that can carry a personal first-aid kit.

I found the Phalanx T4 to be well thought out. Its rifle magazine pouches are secure and have bungee cords to ensure you don't lose a magazine. You can easily reach the radio and accessory/med pouch, and the center holster easily carries a full-sized duty pistol. Behind the magazine pouches is a hook-and-loop closed pouch that allows you to secure any number of small items.

The "X" harness easily and quickly slips on right over your uniform and concealable vest. To stabilize it you connect the waist strap, and then you're ready to carry on. The Phalanx T4 keeps all the gear you need right at hand when you deploy with your patrol rifle.

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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