About the Author

Woody is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Galco Ankle Glove holster review

So far in my concealed carry experience, I have utilized three different ankle holster: a Fobus ankle holster for a Ruger LCP, an Uncle Mike's holster for a CZ-82, and now the Galco Ankle Glove for my Smith.  I'll tell you upfront, the Galco stands far above the other two in terms of security, comfort, and just plain staying where you put it. 
The construction of the Galco is a neoprene band backed with sheepskin.  The holster itself is leather, and has a thumb snap retention strap that goes behind the Smith.  Some models have the thumb strap and some don't, so make sure you know which is which before you order.  Between the thumb strap and molded fit of the holster, I have no worries about the gun coming loose.  The Fobus was probably the next most secure holster (no thumb strap, but with a tight molded Kydex fit), with the Uncle Mike's in last place (not molded, with a hook and loop thumb strap).  The Galco's wide neoprene band - which is as tall as the holster itself - is easily the most comfortable ankle holster of the three.  I've worn it for 12+ hours while walking around the mall and running errands and almost forgot I was wearing it thanks to the sheepskin panel.  The Fobus and Uncle Mike's had a nylon backer to the holster, with a 1.5-2" nylon strap to secure the holster around your ankle.  The wide strap also keeps the holster in place vertically due to its snug fit.  Technically, the Galco can be worn with or without a calf stap, but I haven't needed the calf strap yet.  The Fobus had no provision for a calf strap, and the Uncle Mike's still managed to fall even with the calf strap.

Despite the wide strap and the general larger width of the revolver versus a slim .380 or other semi-auto, the Ankle glove is not overly bulky under clothes.  As long as you remember you are wearing the holster and don't allow yourself to expose the holster through your pants riding up, no one should even notice that you're wearing it.

This kind of performance doesn't come cheap, though.  My price paid for the Ankle Glove was $75, versus $33 for the Uncle Mike's and $45 for the Fobus.  When it comes to security and comfort, and having your gun when you need it, however, the extra money is completely worth it.  I highly recommend the Ankle Glove for anyone who is considering ankle carry.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CERT Class completed!

Finished up the CERT course two weeks ago.  It's a pretty good course that teaches the basics of disaster preparedness and response.  The biggest thing I learned was the basic techniques for triage in a mass casualty incident.  It's a lot different from what you learn in a normal First Aid class.  It's almost a mass TCCC.  Focus switches to major injuries like massive hemorrhaging, and away from injuries that can be delayed to be treated later.  The classes are free and usually run by your local fire department.  Check it out if you get a chance.  I've got my quarterly exercise coming up on Saturday.

Next up will be the Virginia Department of Emergency Management SAR Field Team Member...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Firearm accessory analysis

            Merriam-Webster defines Analysis as “a careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other.”  In reality, most people conduct analysis on a daily, probably hourly, basis.  To thinking, functioning adults, analysis becomes an almost unconscious process that assists them in everything from building a budget, to planning the most efficient way to complete an errand run.
            In the firearms world, equipment manufacturers develop products that they advertise to give some sort of “edge.”  Examples include extended magazine releases, extended safeties, enhanced sights, enhanced triggers, and other enhancement products with a price range from relatively inexpensive to hundreds or thousands of dollars.  These products may legitimately provide a solution to a validated problem, however, new shooters purchasing a firearm for the first time (and some old shooters who just really like gear) often fall “under the spell” of these advertisements, and spend thousands of dollars customizing their firearms to the specifications of an individual who endorses the products without conducting any sort of analysis of their own needs.  Usually, the end product meets all the criteria for “high speed, low drag,” but may provide little to no real improvement to the shooter.  Conducting a simple analysis before cracking open the cool-guy firearm parts catalog remedies this situation.
            First, ask the question: “How do I intend to utilize this firearm?”  People utilize firearms for different reasons, including competition, self-defense outside the home, self-defense inside the home, and instruction of others in firearm usage.  While a product designed for one category may provide benefits to another category, each product must be evaluated separately.  For example, extended magazine releases enhance competition firearms by allowing for faster magazine changes, resulting in a lower time and possibly a higher ranking.  In a defensive situation, they provide the same benefit, resulting in less time spent with an empty gun in the face of an armed criminal.  However, a competition situation varies significantly from a defensive one.  In a competition scenario, competitors usually carry specialized holsters outside the confines of their clothes and intentionally minimize the dangers of an accidental magazine release (or carry enough spare magazines that losing one does not represent a critical failure).  In a defensive situation, the user frequently conceals the firearm underneath clothing, the firearm is subject to the bumps and bruises of daily life, and carrying copious amounts of extra ammunition is extremely impractical.  In this case, the loss of a magazine due to accidental release represents a much greater danger and deserves additional scrutiny by the shooter to determine if the enhancement warrants the additional risk.
            Next, ask “Can this firearm do the job without enhancements?”  Although this question is highly subjective, many first-time purchasers buy a stock firearm and immediately begin customizing, without ever having taken the firearm out for a test fire to determine its baseline performance levels. 
If the answer to the question to the above question is “no” or a qualified “yes,” the next question becomes “What specific performance enhancement does this product provide, and do I really need it (or, does the benefit gained from this enhancement outweigh possible risks or associated costs)?”  Once again, each individual shooter’s needs vary, and what appears to be a need for one may not be for another.  Going back to the magazine release example - my hands are very large, and I can easily reach the magazine release on all of my handguns with little to no difficulty, whereas a shooter with smaller hands may experience significant difficulty in reaching a magazine release, especially on firearms with double-stacked magazines.  In their case, they may “need” an extended release, and I may not.  If they elect to install the extended release, they should do so in light of question 1, and ensure their own willingness to accept the possible risks of the extended release.  The “needs” analysis must be conducted for every firearm enhancement being considered.
            After developing a list of their “needed” enhancements, shooters should ask, “How do these enhancements interact with each other, and can a single enhancement accomplish multiple tasks?”  This question comes from personal experience.  In an effort to improve my hands’ purchase on my handgun and speed up my magazine changes, I purchased an enhanced set of grips that included a “thumb scoop” and an extended magazine release.  I installed both parts and conducted dry-fire drills to test the parts’ efficacy.  I soon noticed that when I conducted a magazine change, my magazine release stuck.  After testing with multiple firearm manufacturers and multiple parts manufacturers, I discovered the issue.  The combination of the “thumb scoop” with the extended magazine release caused me to press the magazine release so far into the frame that it allowed the magazine catch lock to rotate out of position, locking the magazine release.  I re-installed the original magazine release with the new grips and the problem ceased.  The two enhancements, installed for two different reasons, actually addressed the same issue (easing access to the magazine release) and in my case, caused failures when installed together.  As a result, I removed the extended releases from all of my copies of that firearm and kept the grips in place.  This analysis saved me approximately $20 per firearm and provided greater reliability.
            As the shooter adds each enhancement to the firearm, they must conduct dry-fire and live-fire drills under conditions as close to their intended use as possible.  As they conduct these drills, they must continually analyze/assess with the question, “Is this enhancement performing the task for which I installed it, and is my firearm properly equipped for my expected situation?”  Equipment changes, needs change, and people change.  As a firearm’s mission evolves, enhancements that had been previously installed may progress into obsolescence, or new enhancements may be “required.”  A constant state of evaluation and analysis is necessary to ensure that the firearm remains ready for service.
            Although I focused on the magazine release here, this analysis holds true for any enhancement to be considered.  A proper analysis conducted beforehand, followed by a systematic evaluation of the enhancements with a focus on analyzing interrelationships between the firearm, enhancements, and shooter present the best possibility of a creating a personalized firearm that meets the shooters needs while reducing the impact on a shooter’s budget.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My off-body carry system

Many people have written commentary on the dangers of off-body carry.  To hear some of them, the minute you decide to carry off-body, your firearm will be stolen, your dog will be run over, and your car will get totaled in a horrific accident involving a pumpkin transportation truck.

Sarcasm aside, there are definite risks to consider before deciding on any carry system, but especially one that involves not having your firearm physically attached to you.  Massad Ayoob covers some of the risks in his books, but also acknowledges that for some people/situation combinations, off-body carry is necessary, and is better than not carrying at all.  Unfortunately, I fall into the necessary category, and I would say that the majority of my carry is now off-body.  For my needs, I have adopted a three-component system made up of the High Speed Gear Armordilla, G-Code OSH holster, and the G-Code/Upstate Tactical Supply Modular Velcro Panel.
Closed w/ flap

Front view w/ flap folded back

Only about halfway full

Blackhawk speed clips attaching flap

Top entrance to concealed compartment
The Armordilla is a high-quality attaché case designed to be modular not only through its use of MOLLE on the exterior, but also through its use of a removable flap. Thus, you can configure it in a standard attaché case/messenger bag, or in more of a grab and go bag with mag/utility pouches on the MOLLE front.  Either way, there are several options for concealing your firearm.  The bag itself has a large hidden compartment lined with hook and loop on the back side with access from top and sides.  The removable flap has a back zippered compartment with hook and loop as well.  I choose to utilize the dedicated back compartment for my concealment needs. 
G-Code OSH with Modular Velcro Panel

The G-Code OSH shouldn’t need a lot of introduction, but just in case, I personally feel it’s one of the best thought out holster systems on the market.  G-Code’s entire line is designed to be modular, either through the use of their RTI wheel, or through bolt-on attachment.  G-Code’s website includes attachments for MOLLE, drop leg, paddle, belt, or shoulder holster wear.  I have been using Kydex holsters since my first Fobus in 2003-ish (I still have that holster), and the market now is pretty much flooded with them.  Just about everyone that has two pieces of foam is cranking out holsters, some of which are excellent, and some of which are just clones without a lot of originality.  While G-Code’s holsters themselves are excellent, and I especially like the tension adjustment and ability to choose with or without a shirt guard, the system is what you are really buying, and it’s worth a close look.

G-Code doesn’t sell a hook and loop compatible attachment on their site, but they have worked with Upstate Tactical Supply of South Carolina to develop two different models (RTI and non-RTI) to adapt their holsters to the popular shoulder/sling/messenger bags used by so many today.  There’s not much to say about the panel itself.  It’s very simple, but it’s very solid.  The panel is approximately 4 inches across, which provides plenty of purchase on the loop inside the Armordilla pocket.  I have the tension on the holster set on the tighter side to avoid any sort of please-ignore-the-gun-that-fell-out-of-my-bag moments, and have had no issues in my practice time with the holster slumping in the pocket or with holster movement or release during draws.  I will say that you need the little plastic spacer that comes with the G-Code to properly attach the holster to the panel.  If you try to go straight to thepanel without the spacer, you will have issues with the holster and panel interfering with each other, at least with my 1911 Commander sized holster.

As a side note, the Armordilla comes with a nylon holster.  Nothing against High Speed Gear, their stuff is quality, but given the option between a one-size fits all nylon with no retention, and an adjustable tension Kydex holster that I know will hold the firearm securely and be available for re-holstering if needed, I’m going with Kydex. 

Loop section to create gap
Concealment compartment from side access

A little trick I’m trying for my draw is taking a small piece of loop and creating a gap for my hand to break into the compartment.  The three access points are closed with hook and loop (naturally), and trying to get into it by ripping it open slows access.  With the small break created, I can insert a knife-hand and break the seal as I go in, then grip the firearm and remove whatever seal was left as I draw.  Overall, I’m a big fan of all three pieces of gear, and I think they will serve me well for as long as off-body is necessary.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Situational awareness is kinda key...

So according to this article from Fox, a man walked on to a commuter train in San Fran, literally waved a gun around for a few minutes before randomly shooting a student, and no one noticed until shots rang out.  As much as I would like to rant about that for a while, I will instead refer you to this discussion of Cooper's color codes.  Please read and apply, and keep your head on a swivel.  Even if you aren't carrying, it could give you a few seconds to ID a threat, take action to avoid, and possibly save your life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mogadishu Mile 5k

Finished up the Mogadishu Mile 5k today as a virtual runner.  By that I mean that I actually ran, just not at the main event in Irving, TX.  For those who don't know, Thursday and Friday were the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu.  All proceeds from the 5k went to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  For people in Irving, they actually got the chance to run with guys from the battle.  For more history, see here.

My stats: 3.14 miles in 27:51.73, just under 9 minute miles.  I gotta work out more...

After the run

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Initial impressions and assembly of the Old Faithful Holster

So as promised, today I put together my Old Faithful Holster.  Initial impressions are that this holster is built pretty tough.  The leather is approximately 1/4" thick, and the Kydex is .093", which is the second thickest that I've seen for sale on the ol' interwebz (.125" being thickest).  The spring clips fit my 1 3/4" belt perfectly, and they are super tight, so I'm not too worried about pulling the holster out when I draw. 

I decided when I ordered that I would get the quick-assemble-kit, since it saved me around $35.  Literally, this thing took about 20 minutes to put together, and half of that was letting my four-year-old help.  They don't provide much in the way of instructions with the holster, but they have a step-by-step video on their site (http://oldfaithfulholsters.com/).

The only downside to this toughness is that I've got it in my pants now (that sounds awkward), and I can tell it will take some wearing before it really breaks in.  That's okay with me though, because I'd rather take some time to break it in than have it wear out early.

Disclaimer on pics: I'm not sure why Blogger chooses to randomly rotate my photos, but I'm getting really tired of it.  If anyone knows what's up, please share...

Placing the screw backers

Hammering in the backers

Backers in

Main holster assembled

Holster complete, gun in

T-shirt hides it well

My Commander ready to work

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Range day with the Colt .22LR Rail Gun

Colt/Walther .22LR Rail Gun

 Got a change to go to the range today (took the Sunday School class along for fun).  I actually purchased this pistol probably six months ago, I just haven't had a chance to get to the range and shoot it.  Since my primary concealed carry and full-size defensive pistol are both Colt 1911s, this was the perfect companion training pistol.  It isn't my first .22LR 1911 - I have a Kimber conversion kit - and I've had issues with cheap .22LR, including Remington and Winchester bulk boxes, so when I found some CCI Mini-Mags, I grabbed 300 rounds or so.  I'm glad I did, because it's gone now, as I'm sure everyone's noticed.  The CCI functioned perfectly, and as illustrated below, was very accurate.
10 rounds @ 7 yards, rapid fire
The pistol itself is well executed.  I prefer this particular model over some of the other .22LR 1911s out there, mostly because all of its external operational controls are exactly the same as the real Colt Rail Gun. You can accomplish all of your shooting and immediate action drills on this pistol, and they translate directly over to your .45ACP. As advertised in their literature, aftermarket parts such as thumb safeties, triggers, sears, and hammers will fit into this pistol.  You could actually do a trigger job on your .22LR just like you can on your .45ACP.  Obviously, the slide parts do not interchange with your standard .45, nor does the magazine.  Another nice feature of this firearm is that the lower seems remarkably heavy compared to a .45.  It works out, however, because the slide is aluminum and a lot lighter than a steel slide.  Overall, the total weight is pretty accurate when compared to the Rail Gun, as opposed to the slide conversion kit I have, which ends up being a hair lighter.  Also, because this gun is designed from the ground up as a .22LR, it doesn't have some of the little twitches a .45 converted to .22 might, such as failures to feed and extract.
While .22LR is currently pretty hard to find, if you happen to have a stock and don't want to shoot up your .45ACP, this gun is perfect.  I highly recommend.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Kyle Defoor class update

Thanks to people who have contributed, I am now 6% of the way to my goal.  If you can spare something small, even $1 - $5, that would be a big help.

In addition to the desire for skills, and wanting to utilize gear to review, this is a bit of an experiment in crowdfunding on the gun side.  It's been proven time and time again on the giving side, so I was curious to see if it could work for someone who wanted to try it in our realm.

If you would like to give, visit this link: http://www.gofundme.com/4bm5o8

If not, I'll still write posts, they may just be a little fewer and far between.  Hopefully you've been able to take something useful away from my ramblings.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A word on open carry

There has been a great deal of noise made about the role of open carry in the Starbucks debacle, with many people expressing opinions that open carry is foolish, never applicable, tactically unsound, and so forth. Let me be very clear in my opinion: open carry is a valid option, and if open carry is authorized in your area, utilize it in appropriate situations.  I'll give an example: when I work in my yard, I carry a 1911 in a UM84 flap holster.  My reasoning is that my threat is mostly wildlife, I need to protect my firearm from the dust of yard work, and I need to protect my firearm from me.  If for some reason I need to go to get gas, or Wally World, or get a bite to eat from fast food, I am not going to shower, change into good concealment clothes, do my business, then  go home and get nasty again.  I will carry what I have how I have it.  With that said, at any time while open carrying, I attempt to be friendly, courteous, and not to make any moves that could be interpreted as a great. I also don't "display" my firearm, and I don't take my AR with me.  In short, I act like a normal person, not a pretentious asshole with something to prove. 
If you want to be perceived as a "good guy," actions speak louder than words...
Realize this, carry accordingly, and you shouldn't have any issues.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some thoughts from the Starbucks debacle

I was bored at work today, and spent a significant amount of time reading about the Starbucks letter.  I read about the history, various opinions about who was exactly to blame for this turn of events, and I hope that I have some useful takeaways:

Firstly, Starbucks was never pro-gun.  They were neutral, choosing to follow local laws.  They were portrayed as pro-gun because they chose not to cave to pressure from anti-gun groups.  When those anti-gun groups threatened a boycott, pro-gun groups stepped in to show Starbucks that they supported their stance.  That initial support, I think, was a good thing.  The bad thing came next - pro-gun groups just wouldn't leave, and they staged multiple demonstrations - essentially protests - in a store that had specifically asked not to be dragged into political activities.  The fact that Starbucks regularly supports liberal causes with their money was conveniently ignored by both Starbucks and pro-gun activists initially. 

Secondly, pro-gun groups staged their demonstrations in ways that would attract attention, which is good.  Unfortunately, they also did it in ways that attracted a lot of negative attention.  Let's face it, I've gotten weird looks walking from my car to the exhibition hall with my rifle slung, even when a gigantic GUN SHOW sign was clearly flashing in the window of the hall.  Did they really think the reaction from Starbucks was going to be different?

The lesson to be learned from this?  If your goal is to support an organization that either supports you, or at least doesn't oppose you, you may want to do it in a way that doesn't draw lots of negative attention that interferes with the conduct of their business.  No one likes to be featured on the news with a police car in the front parking lot (unless the cop is buying donuts).  The idea is to support the organization, not turn it away from you.  I have opened carry in Starbucks many times, but not as part of a large agenda-driven group, and have never received any complaints (although I did get thanks for my tip).

Thirdly, I think Howard Schultz made a big error.  He has the right to make decisions in the conduct of his business, but I also have the right to choose another store if I disagree with those decision.  While I have seen many posts that he asked people not to open carry, while leaving concealed carry open, his letter specifically states that he requests people not to bring firearms into his stores.  He doesn't say that he requests that people not open carry in his store, which actually could have been a good middle ground considering the tone of the rest of his letter.  He says he doesn't want people bringing any firearms into his stores.  Even thought he waffles in his letter about remaining neutral in the debate, the simple fact is that by asking for no firearms, he has taken a side.  This is not a "for us or against us" argument.  He leaves no room for debate in his letter.  His words: For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas -- even in states where "open carry" is permitted -- unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel. While he references open carry, he clearly states no firearms in general.  I therefore choose not to do business at Starbucks anymore.

Fourthly, I have heard many people say that they will continue to carry concealed in Starbucks until he puts up signs.  To them I say:  Schultz requested that people not make his stores a political arena.  Neither side listened, open carry advocates got a little carried away (but broke no laws), and here we are with him "requesting...no firearms."  So to those who will still carry despite his request, how are you any different from the open carry guys?  Are you morally superior to the open carry advocates because you hide the fact that you are disregarding his request?  In other words, you are saying one thing with your appearance, while actually doing another.  In most places, a person who does that is considered "two-faced."  You are breaking no laws, but if CC advocates get outed to the corporate office, and it is established that guns are still coming in to stores and disrupting his "third place," I can assure you, the signs will go up just as fast as with the OC guys.

Fifthly, and probably most galling to me, are the people who state that they will carry even in places where it is legally posted they cannot, and seem to have no concept of the maelstrom that they are risking.  Which do you think will look worse in the news - three guys who broke no laws, but caused a few ruffled feathers, or a legal concealed carry permit holder who willfully disregards the law and carries where he is not allowed?  I know the arguments for carrying even where it is not permitted (Buffalo Wild Wings, Costco, etc), and I will not take a side on that.  My only caution is that if you choose to break the law, understand the consequences of your action.  You will be a Hero, or you will be a Zero, depending on how things play out.  There will be no middle ground, and chances are better on you being a Zero than a Hero.

Anyway, my rant is over.  I will not be doing business with Starbucks anymore, as stated in my letter.  Hopefully, my thoughts will be useful talking points for you to consider as you go about exercising your Constitutional right legally.  And yes, I include open carry.  Exercise your rights responsibly, and your chances of ending up on the front page of the newspapers are much reduced.


An open letter to Howard Schultz

Dear Mr. Schultz,

     I read with great disappointment your open letter of 17 September 2013.  As a current Gold level Rewards member, and someone who's history with Starbucks spans nine years, I had previously supported Starbucks for their stance on Second Amendment rights.  Your previous decision to abide by local laws and not to cave in to those who demanded you ban legally carried firearms in your stores earned you the respect of gun owners across America.  When anti-Second Amendment organizations called for a boycott of your stores, gun owners rallied to your defense, encouraging fellow gun owners to patronize Starbucks, in an attempt to demonstrate to you that when you follow the law, your fellow Americans will support you.
     Sadly, yesterday's letter shows that despite gun owners' best efforts, their patronage is not wanted.  Therefore, as of today, I will no longer shop at Starbucks Coffee.  I do not make this decision lightly.  I have a strong emotional connection to Starbucks.  When my wife and I were dating nine years ago, she was working her way through college as a Starbucks barista.  Between work and school, she didn't have much free time, so I would sit in Starbucks for hours, drinking coffee until she went on break so that we could talk, then drinking more coffee until she got off work so that I could walk her home and tell her goodnight.  That was the beginning of years of delicious coffee, snacks, and desserts that I still enjoy.  However, your letter yesterday put me and my fellow gun owners on notice - we can either choose our rights or your coffee.
     You put me in a difficult position, Mr. Schultz.  Even though recent financial difficulties have curtailed my spending somewhat, Starbucks had remained a place where I would take my son for some special time.  Now I have to explain to him why we cannot go anymore.  I have to explain to him that he cannot have the cake pops he so loves because the owner of Starbucks doesn't want his Daddy there anymore. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is a difficult concept to explain to a four-year-old.  He doesn't understand that a right not exercised is soon lost.  I knew someday I would need to have a conversation with him about the Second Amendment and what it means to us, and how standing up for the rights spelled out in the Constitution, however unpopular, is the highest calling of an American, especially those like me who have taken an oath to defend them.  I just never thought something as silly as coffee would spur that conversation.
     You state that you wish to remain neutral in the national debate about the Second Amendment.  Your letter clearly belies that neutrality. By asking Starbucks customers to choose between their rights or your coffee, you have taken sides.  You have chosen to side with those that seek to remove what many consider to be a sacred right, second only to freedom of speech in our Bill of Rights.  I will not threaten you with massive boycotts or financial retribution - I am only one man.  I can only say that you have lost at least one customer, if that even matters to you.


- Woody

* I apologize for formatting issues, this was posted with Blogger Mobile *

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SOD Gear Operative Field Parka Review

 Initial Review
                I’ve been looking recently for a good jacket/concealment garment to wear year round in Virginia.  The un-tactical tactical vest is a bit passé to me (not quite so much as the fanny pack, but I digress), so I tried to look other directions.  My criteria were simple:

  • Wearable in a variety of weather conditions, from summer heat to winter cold.
  • Suitable for service as a windbreaker, with water-resistant properties.
  • Capable of concealing my firearm (Glock 19 at the time).
  • Capable of carrying a load, ie, blowout kit, small survival kit, magazines, cell phones, or water.

Most civilian jackets that I researched seemed sole-purpose, designed solely for warmth or keeping the wearer dry.  Pockets seemed to be ancillary, designed to warm hands or hold keys.   I’ve always been a fan of smocks, probably for nostalgic reasons, but as I researched their history and intent, I realized that they have uses in civilian life as well as their original military purposes (covered here).

                This is actually the third smock I’ve owned.  I previously had a SORD USA smock, which I sold due to some disappointments with quality and the country of origin.  I currently own a DropZone Tactical in Multicam, which I utilize as part of my cold weather layering system at work.  I had considered a DropZone smock for my civilian wear as well, but was not a huge fan of the twill they use for their non-camouflage colors, believing it too heavy for year-round wear.  After much research, I found the Italian company SOD Gear, the only manufacturer I could find that advertises non-camouflage jackets in the same 50/50 NYCO ripstop that they make their camouflage patterns in.  Knowing that smocks typically fit a little larger, I communicated with them through their Facebook account.  Despite a little bit of a language barrier, they were very glad to talk me through selecting a jacket.  I ordered online, and received the jacket within a week via DHL.

                My initial impression is that this is a very well-made jacket, with enough pockets to fulfill my every need.  There are 14 external pockets and two internal pockets.  By location, the jacket has:
·         Two zipper pockets on the upper arms,
·         Two zipper pockets on the lower arms,
·         Two button pockets on the chest, with
·         Two zipper pockets behind the button chest pockets,
·         Two button pockets on the lower front,
·         Two button pockets on the sides,
·         One large button pocket on the lower back, with additional zipper access, and
·         Two internal zipper pockets on the upper chest.
The hood has two drawstring adjustments, and the waist and hem have drawstrings as well.  The cuffs are   Buttons are NATO style, with fabric strips securing them to the jacket.  Fabric is 50/50 NYCO, with a tight enough weave to block the wind and provide light water resistance.  The jacket is cut roomy, allowing for another layer for warmth underneath (I’ve fit both the Army’s new Gen III Layer III and a Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man jacket underneath).

Velcro adjusted, and the front is zipper closed with a button wind fly.
I’ve carried a lot of stuff in it (probably too much at times).  I’ve carried blow-out kit (my full size one, not the one from the EDC pics), my S&W 442, survival kit, keys, phone, and wallet.  Oh, and I concealed my Glock underneath.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the jacket, and as the weather gets colder, I’ll probably go back to wearing it daily.  It makes a great windbreaker during the fall, and with the Mountain Hardwear underneath, it’ll keep even a biting wind in the 40 degree range off your core.


Chest pocket showing taped button and fold over pocket

Rear pocket showing top and left side access

Chest pocket showing zipper pocket behind button pocket

Arm pocket with hook and loop patch

Lower sleeve pocket

Elbow reinforcement and pad pocket

Mesh underarm vent