Tactical Gear Buying Guide
Tactical Gear Diagram
Tactical gear is worn by both police and military. The main goal of tactical gear is to maximize protection and usability, without sacrificing much mobility. Protection is the most important aspect of tactical gear. Because it is used in dangerous situations by both the military and the police, tactical gear must be able to protect the user above all else. Usability is also an important factor in most tactical applications. The more organized and available the gear is, and the more functions offered by each piece of equipment, the more successful the user is likely to be. Manufacturers of tactical gear are constantly trying to improve these attributes while making their gear smaller and lighter. The result is a highly effective and highly customizable set of gear that allows for great mobility.
Balaclavas - Commonly called a "ski-mask" in the United States, a balaclava is a tight fitting headgear that covers the entire head and a majority of the face. A balaclava can be worn in different ways, so as to leave the whole face, part of the face, or just the eyes uncovered. When selecting a balaclava, it is important to consider the type of material from which it was made. Balaclavas are often made of wool, nylon, silk, neoprene, and fleece; each one offers different advantages. For example, a wool or fleece balaclava would provide warmth, but they are a little bulkier than other materials. A neoprene balaclava is good for keeping water out and for keeping moisture from escaping from the head.
Tactical Eyewear - Like most standard sunglasses, tactical eyewear is designed to protect the eyes from sunlight and other harmful weather conditions. Tactical sunglasses, however, are designed to stand up to the stresses of duty and are typically more durable than normal sunglasses. Tactical goggles enclose the eye area and provide more protection from wind, water, and flying debris.
Scopes & Reticles - A telescopic sight, commonly called a scope, is a device used to give additional accuracy using a point of aim for weapons such as firearms, air guns and crossbows. Other sighting systems include iron sights, red dot sights, and laser sights. Telescopic sights come with a variety of different reticles, ranging from the traditional crosshairs to complex reticles designed to allow the shooter to estimate accurately the range to a target, to compensate for the bullet drop, and to compensate for the windage required due to crosswinds. A user can estimate the range to objects of known size, the size of objects at known distances, and even roughly compensate for both bullet drop and wind drifts at known ranges with a reticle-equipped scope
Tactical Gloves - Tactical gloves are tough gloves designed for heavy duty use. These gloves are often cut or slash resistant and are frequently reinforced with Kevlar or other synthetic materials to provide extra strength. There are several different options to choose from when it comes to tactical gloves. There are full-fingered, half-fingered, repelling gloves, shooting gloves, water proof gloves, and multi-purpose gloves. Knowing what you intend to use the gloves for will assist you in choosing the right pair.
Slings - A sling is a strap or harness that attaches to a firearm in order to distribute the weight of the firearm on the user's body. This provides the user with enhanced stability and accuracy, and an ability to carry the weapon for longer periods of time without fatigue.
Elbow Pads - Tactical elbow pads are designed to provide maximum protection while allowing for a full range of motion. Most elbow pads are made with some form of rubber or plastic cap that provides extra protection and shock absorption.
Belts - Tactical belts are tough, durable belts that are designed to carry equipment in a readily accessible manner. Some belts are padded or reinforced to provide extra comfort and durability.
Knives - Today, knives come in many different forms but can be categorized in two broad types: fixed blade knives and folding knives, or pocket knives. Fixed knives have the blade and handle all in one piece and typically come with a sheath. A fixed blade knife does not fold or slide, and is typically stronger due to the tang, the extension of the blade into the handle and lack of movable parts. Folding knives offer convenience and protection because the blade of the knife can be folded into the handle for storage. For more information on knives, check out our Knife Buying Guide.
Carabiners - A carabiner is a small, oval-shaped metal ring that has a closing gate on one side. The gate can be spring loaded or a manual screw lock. Carabiners are commonly used to attach rope and other components in mountain climbing applications.
Magazine Pouches - Magazine pouches can be attached to a belt or backpack in order to make extra magazines more accessible. They are available in many different sizes, colors, configurations, and methods of attachment that allow the user to customize their gear.
Socks - Tactical socks need to be able to stand up to the rigors of travel through harsh climates and conditions. They are the first layer of foot protection worn by people that spend a great deal of time on their feet. Socks are designed with different climates in mind. A sock designed for use in the desert will be lightweight and focused on moisture control, while a sock designed for use in colder climates will be thicker
Combat Boots - Typically made of tough, durable leather, modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable to a rugged environment. There are two main kinds of combat boots: hot weather and temperate or cold weather boots. Hot weather boots utilize materials like Cordura and Dri-Lex for superior breathability and moisture control. Temperate weather boots are typically heavier than hot weather boots because they are more insulated. While these are the most common types of combat boots, there are boots available for virtually every climate and terrain.
Knee pads - Tactical knee pads are typically designed with a tough, but flexible cap that ensures comfort and ease of movement, while providing excellent protection and shock absorption.
Pistol Lanyards - A pistol lanyard is an essential piece of equipment in high activity or marine operations. Pistol lanyards attach to the belt and are usually made of tough, coiled cord. The cord stretches to enable full extension shooting and then retracts to remain unobtrusive. Pistol lanyards can also be used to prevent the loss of other objects such as: compasses, knives, cameras, radios, and other valuable tools.
Holsters - A holster is designed to hold and protect a sidearm while allowing for ready access. It is important to strike a good balance between weapon retention and accessibility. A holster that secures the weapon too well will require more time to draw the weapon, while a holster that allows for the quickest draw may not prevent the weapon from falling out or from being stolen. Holsters are commonly made from stiff materials like leather, high-density plastic, or other synthetic materials, so that the holster keeps its shape when the weapon is withdrawn. This enables the user to easily remove and replace the weapon with one hand.
Tactical Vests - Tactical vests, like most tactical gear, are designed to combine usability, ease of movement, and protection. Another important feature of a tactical vest is the ability to quickly and easily remove it in case of an emergency. Tactical vests usually include a large variety of pockets and pouches as well as PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing. PALS webbing is the current military standard for attaching MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment--or MOLLE gear. MOLLE compatible vests and gear enable the user to customize their vests any way they see fit.
Harnesses - Tactical harnesses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most often, a harness is used to hold a holster on the chest or on the shoulder. This is particularly useful for concealing a sidearm that would otherwise be exposed on a normal belt. Other harnesses are designed to carry pouches for magazines, hand-cuffs, radios, knives, etc. and distribute the weight evenly over the body.
Backpacks - Tactical backpacks are designed to efficiently carry and protect the user's gear. Backpacks typically come with a large number of pouches, pockets, straps, and compartments in order to effectively organize the gear and allow ready access. Tactical backpacks are made of high-quality, durable materials that are able to stand up to the rigors of intense travel. Features like waterproofness, PALS webbing, jump harnesses (for parachuting), drag handles, etc. are just some of the many options available when purchasing a tactical backpack.
Hydration Systems - Hydration systems usually consist of a few basic components. The first is a flexible bladder that will contain the liquid. This bladder can usually hold between 30 and 150 ounces of liquid and has some method of reliably opening and closing (usually a screw top). The bladder is generally housed in some kind of backpack, most often a special backpack is used to house only the hydration system and a small number of other items. Most full tactical military backpacks, however, include a pouch for a hydration system. A small hose connects to the bottom of the bladder which allows the user to drink the liquid without removing the bladder from its pack. Finally, a bite valve at the end of the hose allows the user to easily start and stop the flow of liquid.
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