The tactical world in the firearms industry is often taken as a shorthand reference to AR-15 pattern rifles and the accessories that go with the guns, but there is a whole world of professionals who need and depend on much more than just black guns to get the job done and bring them home safely.
Law enforcement officers and private security contractors fit into this demographic, as do other tactical operators who work for various government agencies and high-dollar corporate organizations. These men and women often spend their workday in high-threat environments, and even those who spend a lot of time at a desk can find themselves called to life-and-death situations with only a moment’s notice.
But these days, the everyday shooter and civilian concerned with personal safety and that of his family is getting into the protective gear market. Therefore, manufacturers are stepping up to the plate with a wide range of products and gear to meet the budgets of shooters who don’t have a GSA account.
Eye protection is a necessity for those using firearms and a great comfort even when the guns aren’t in use. Everyone has a bit of weakness for style, and modern ballistic eyewear combines fashion and function in a package that makes everyone happy.
The WX Vapor glasses from Wiley X offer changeable lenses for varying conditions. The lenses are shatterproof Selenite polycarbonate and meet MIL-PRF-32432 (GL) ballistic standards, which are significantly stricter than many advertised standards for ballistic eyewear. Spectacles meeting this standard must be able to withstand the impact of a .15-caliber fragment at 640 to 660 feet per second. The WX Vapors also meet ANSI Z87.1-2010 high velocity and mass impact standards, and EN-166 FT K high speed at temperature extremes.
The T-Shell lens coating helps them resist surface damage from fine particles such as sand and blowing dust, and they provide complete UV protection. The nosepiece is Universal Prescription Lens Carrier ready for those who need it, and they feature FOIL anti-fog treatment. All Wiley X lenses are designed to maintain optical clarity from the center of the lens out to the periphery without distorting the true size of viewed objects or altering the spatial relationship in the field of view.
The WX Vapor is available with either matte black or tan frames and comes with smoke grey lenses for maximum glare reduction and clear lenses for maximum light transmission and color sighting. Three-lens packages that include light rust lenses are also available. Light rust lenses filter out most of the blue wavelength to reduce glare and haze and enhance contrast in medium to low light conditions. Light transmission is 53 percent with light rust lenses compared to 15 percent for smoke grey. Additional lens tints are sold separately.
The new Crowbar Tactical sunglasses from ESS Pro feature a frameless bottom lens design and the company’s innovative Lens Gate to make lens exchanges quick and easy. The wearer enjoys a field of view greater than ever, and the military-grade polycarbonate lenses deliver crisp optics while providing a broad range of ballistic protection. The lenses are treated with ESS’s ToughZone anti-scratch coating and they provide 100 percent UV protection. The interchangeable lenses are available in a number of tints, including mirrored gray, mirrored copper, hi-definition bronze and clear. The Crowbars also come in a polarized mirror gray lens model that does not meet military protective specifications.
The Crowbar’s virtually indestructible thermoplastic frame design is light and tight, with thin temples, and balanced so that the glasses won’t interfere with hats, helmets, hearing protection or communication gear. The Crowbar Tactical sunglasses meet or exceed MIL-PRF-32432, ANSI Z87.1-2010 specifications and more. They come with an elastic retention strap, microfiber cleaning pouch and zippered hard case.
The Sawfly spectacle from Revision Military was recently chosen by the armed forces of Switzerland for a 5-year supply contract after stringent testing and user trials. Up to 290,000 units plus additional accessories will be used to equip all Swiss troops with the glasses. The Sawfly is the most widely issued military eyewear among NATO nations.
The Sawfly features a lightweight frame with comms-compatible arms and a fit that works with a variety of helmets and other headgear. It has interchangeable ballistic lenses and is compatible with Revision’s Rx Carrier for prescription lenses. The lenses meet or exceed MIL-PRF31013 and MIL-DTL-43511D for ballistic impact protection and provide flawless, distortion-free vision. Sawfly models that are CSA certified by the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations are also available. Revision Sawfly lenses change quickly and easily. Available lens tints include smoke, high-contrast yellow, high-contrast vermillion, polarized, photochromic, mocha and clear.
Spear goggles from Wiley X feature Selenite polycarbonate lenses that meet the strict MIL-PRF-32432(GL) ballistic standard as well as the ANSI Z87.1-2010, EN-166 B, and OSHA 1910.133(B)(1)(I) standards. Goggles meeting the MIL-PRF-32432(GL) standard must be able to withstand the impact of a .22-caliber fragment travelling at 540 to 560 feet per second. Spear lenses provide UV protection and are treated with T-Foil lens coating to resist scratches in extreme environments and FOIL coating for anti-fog protection.
The Spear design is compatible with Night Vision Goggles and prescription lenses and is helmet-ready. Spear goggles are available with matte black, tan or foliage green frames. They come with smoke grey and clear lenses, with packages also including light rust lenses. The Wiley X Spear goggles are an NSN item.
Armor and helmets are often a necessity for those who might find themselves in harm’s way, and breakthroughs in materials technology and manufacturing have brought military-grade protection from the front-line troops on the world’s battlefields to the market for law enforcement and security operators and civilians. Lighter and more comfortable than ever before while providing unheard-of protection, today’s top-end armor was the stuff of science fiction only a few years ago.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway Tactical Armor Carrier with 3-D Mesh Lining from Blackhawk! weighs only 3.5 pounds, but it delivers a heavy list of features for serious protection. This carrier can be removed in only 2.5 seconds if needed and can be reassembled in less than a minute for fast protection when seconds count. Its internal 3-D mesh lining allows for airflow around the torso for cooling in hot and heavy environments and provides comfort for long days in armor. The carrier is constructed of 500 denier ripstop nylon in solid colors and 500 denier Cordura in MultiCam.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway Carrier has a front shoulder quick-release strap, and both shoulders have non-slip material for solid and sure weapon retention. The carrier has adjustable waist and shoulder systems for a custom-tailored girth and torso fit to ensure maximum protection and comfort. Rows of S.T.R.I.K.E. webbing provide attachment options for holsters, pouches and other gear and accessories. A heavy-duty drag handle is easily accessible.
The carrier is designed to work perfectly with Blackhawk’s Level IIIA Soft Armor and Blackhawk’s Ballistic Ceramic Plates. Any standard plates up to 10.5 inches by 13.25 inches will fit in the carrier. The S.T.R.I.K.E. Cutaway Carrier accommodates Blackhawk’s Removable Side Plate Carrier, Ballistic Collar, Yoke, Groin, Biceps and Drop Leg soft armor for modular protection as needed. It is available in four sizes and comes in black, coyote tan, olive drab green and MultiCam.
The TacTec Plate Carrier from 5.11 Tactical is engineered to deliver comfort and mobility into a lightweight design that delivers vital protection and superior functionality. The perforated yoke shoulder straps are padded and the front and rear interiors have padded panels with airflow channels for all-day wearability. It holds two ballistic armor plates, and new for 2015 are side panel plate carriers for additional coverage.
The TacTec Plate Carrier has a one-handed quick-release cable system for quick escapes and a low-profile quick-grab drag handle. The TacTec Plate Carrier has been rigorously field tested by Viking Tactics. It is available in black, O.D., sandstone, dark navy and 5.11’s new Storm Grey. It retails for $199.99. The TacTec side panels retail for $59.99.
The Taclite Plate Carrier, also from 5.11 and new for 2015, is designed to be an extra lightweight protective carrier with superior flexibility for easy wear. The Taclite is built with 500D nylon for rugged durability and has an adjustable yoke shoulder strap system for a snug, perfect fit. It has an exclusive extending Grab-Drag handle and is compatible with all standard-sized armor plates. Its compact, lightweight design features a “slick” back for a lower, more flexible profile when worn under an outer layer or jacket, and it has a large loop panel for police, sheriff or other identification patches. The 5.11 Taclite Plate Carrier is available in either black or sandstone and has a retail price of $159.99.
The Active Shooter Kit from GH Armor Systems offers law enforcement officers a compact solution for active shooter situation preparation and response. It includes a MOLLE plate harness with one or two 10×12-inch rifle plates and comes with a carry bag for simple storage, transportation and access when the need arises. The plate harness has front and rear plate pockets and is constructed of durable 1000D Cordura nylon. It is adjustable at the shoulders and sides for a secure, comfortable fit and has a MOLLE attachment system.
The armor plates are ceramic single curve Level IV units that are NIJ 0101.04/2005 certified and weigh 8.5 pounds each. The carry bag holds the harness and up to two plates. It has a double zipper main compartment with a divider and a padded shoulder strap. The Active Shooter Kit makes transporting the armor to and from training sessions easy and provides instant access in a vehicle or at a desk when needed. It is available in black only.
The Scout IIIA ballistic helmet from Tacprogear is a lightweight helmet designed to offer the best of both performance and comfort. It provides a high V50 ballistic protection in a special operations high-cut style helmet. It comes with a proprietary four-position accessory rail and shroud system made with T-6 carbon aluminum for weight savings without sacrificing strength or durability. The system provides many attachment points for a wide range of helmet-borne accessories.
The upper dovetail accessory rail on the Scout is perfect for low-profile lights and helmet cams, while the lower dovetail accessory rail is designed specifically for headset communication systems, battery packs and other gear. It has a front mount for night vision, cameras and other optic devices. A Velcro kit is included for quick and easy custom applications.
A number of suspension systems are available for the Tacprogear Scout IIIA, including standard three- or four-point adjustable harnesses and Team Wendy padding and retention systems. It is available standard in black, OD green and coyote tan. Additional colors are also offered as options. This helmet is available only to military, law enforcement and professional private security.
The Bump Helmet from Tacprogear is a non-ballistic helmet for head protection and accessory mounting when ballistic protection is not needed. It is a lightweight helmet with a padded suspension system and an adjustable four-point harness. The Bump helmet has accessory rails for mounting lights, cameras, communication systems, battery packs and other gear. It has a front mount for night-vision devices, cameras and other optics. Velcro is attached on the sides and top for additional accessories, IR tape or identification patches. Though the Bump does not provide ballistic protection, it will defend the wearer from most non-ballistic head trauma. It comes in a one-size universal adjustable fit and is available in black, OD green, coyote tan, MultiCam, Kryptek Mandrake and Kryptek Typhon.
Revision Military’s Batlskin Viper Head Protection system is a modular set of accessories for the Army Combat Helmet platform. The Batlskin Multipurpose Front Mount is the foundation of the Batlskin Viper and mounts to the ACH to provide better stability for night vision and is also the mounting point for the system’s Mandible Guard and Three-Position Visor. The Batlskin system has been designed and thoroughly tested to ensure seamless compatibility with standard NVGs, comms and weapons sights.
The Batlskin Mandible Guard provides both ballistic and non-ballistic impact protection, particularly useful for those in turrets or those rapidly exiting vehicles in tactical situations. Its low-profile design mounts easily to the Batlskin system and weighs less than a pound.
The Batlskin Three-Position Visor provides optically clear vision and ballistic eye protection for ACH users. The visor mounts easily with one hand onto the NVG interface. Its three positions allow it to be up and out of the way, locked into place for maximum protection in high-threat environments and vent position to provide protection while allowing air to flow. A gasket keeps rain and dust out, and the visor closes perfectly with the Batlskin Mandible to provide comprehensive head and face protection.
The lens is scratch and fog resistant.