Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Vertx EDC Commuter Bag (Black)

Alamo downtown San Antonio
     There are a group of folks who keep a pack or bag with them when they leave their home.  Generally they contain items to deal with emergencies and / or get them back to their vehicle or home. Some items may be a trauma or IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit), support items for your firearm (spare ammunition), flashlights, batteries, communications equipment, survival items for water and fire, condoms (...I'm optimistic), a spare blade, boo boo items (cause minors turn into majors fast), and spare prescription medicine. The list goes on and on and on and vary from person to person. Most of the time folks refer to these carriers of gear as "Bug (Bail) Out Bags" or "Go Bags."

     Now that I'm a civilian full time I kinda had to start thinking about not sticking out so much with my EDC (Every Day Carry.) When I was in my Patrol Vehicle before my retirement I carried all sorts of things that could get me home. In Afghanistan I kept a "Go-Bag" in my up armored truck to get me back to the office in the event of an emergency. Both of those served a specific purpose in my day to day events. However, both bags were in 'Tacticool' colors and covered with MOLLE and Velcro. These things usually scream ARMED. These days I wear business casual or scrubs at my current job, and something that looks like a pack that a member of SEAL Team 6 would wear on a direct action mission or a member of Tom Clancy's Division would be a little out of place in an office of medical assistants, nurses and doctors. Those folks are used to things looking a little more .........normal.

Outter most pocket quick access
      A plain look helps in many ways. For one, drawing attention to yourself may be a little something you do not want. If you look like you have something someone wants they may attempt to get it. That leads to a few issues especially, if you want to get from point A to point B without being harassed and are pressed for time. Two, people (Law Enforcement / Security) tend to single out folks in a crowd who look "Tactical" or "Threatening." This is not a bad thing. That is part of their job to look for dangers to the public or their area of responsibility. And if you look like you are carrying WMD's or an "Assault Rifle" (LOL) they are going to be following you all around wherever you are at and / or find a good reason to detain you to try to see what is inside.  I have done this myself when working PSD and in Law Enforcement. 99% of the time I am right. When traveling from Dulles International, through Frankfurt, through Dubai, and then landing in Kabul I carried a dark blue school backpack. I wore slacks and a button up shirt while the other contractors wore BDU's and tactical packs on their flights. Who do you think got looked at the most by security?
     The Vertx EDC Commuter bag had drawn my attention for several reasons. I had actually discovered this bag existed by accident when I was shopping online at Brownells getting parts for my Bushmaster ORC 308 when I just happen to see this bag in the suggestion area. I watched several of the YouTube reviews on this bag. After sorting out all the Airsoft (sorry guys.....MIL-SIM) reviews and seeing it used with actual firearms and gear I was willing to give it a try. The price point was around the $160 range. I don't usually spend that much on this kind of equipment. But, for something that was going to be with me everyday I was willing to try it out.

     There is no MOLLE on the outside of the bag. It is made of rip stop nylon that is a little bit lighter in construction than most bags in its category. On the front of the bag near the bottom are two 3" sections of loop Velcro. If you wanted to up the profile of the bag and add the morale patches of your choice you would be more than welcome to. I have elected to keep it plain. The zipper pulls as well as the zippers themselves are non-descript. There is one zipper pull on the concealed back portion that is meant to be grabbed by the hand more easily and is much larger than the others. Inside the border of the handle is Velcro for one reason or another. This pull is for the quickly opening the SHtF compartment you would put your firearm in.

     The internal layout has many compartments and storage of many type of items. One of the things that stick out is the tan internal lining. This is to help contrast the contents of your bag in low light environments to make them easier to find. The outermost compartment that is the most accessible is designed to be pulled down and open rapidly. The outer flap can be tucked away in a pocket behind the fist compartment and exposes several rows of MOLLE webbing covered in loop Velcro. I elected to use the inner pocket that would stow the external flap to hide spare money and prophylactics. Behind the outer section are two other zippered sections with a few internal pockets of their own. One section has a hook for I believe would be my keys. There are several narrow pockets for pens, markers, or chem lights. One side was wide enough for my Surefire ZX2 Combat light. The liner on all of the inside sections have the smaller loop Velcro for putting on gadgets. There is a latched area that may store a tablet or up to a 15" laptop. The portion that touches the users back and the space before the cargo area has two hard plastic plates that keep the pack rigid. According to sources these can be replaced with ballistic plates for your more high risk areas. Worn in front or back it it would cover your thoracic cavity.

River Walk San Antonio TX
     The part of the pack that rests against your back has a mesh lining and an X pattern indented to allow air to move about. Between the outside liner and the pack itself is a small flat space that is almost the full height of the bag and can be accessed from either the left or right side. Flex cuffs (don't ask) fit well in this area. Sweating against the liner several times have produced no odor so far.

     The shoulder strap itself deserves it's own paragraph. The padding is pretty decent without appearing "fluffy." There is a second adjustable strap that attaches to the opposite bottom corner that can be used to stabilize the pack for any extraneous activities beyond normal walking. On the outward portion of the strap is several sections of webbing that can be attached to many types of items such as Comms, Cell phone clips, Twizzlers, and GPS's There is a loop channel to run a hydration hose through from the pack even though I don't know where I would dare put anything liquid that size at. There is a section of Velcro inside a loop made of synthetic material I'm sure serves a purpose....somewhere.

     I took the bag with me on a cross country trip to Texas (to all you Texans from us're welcome) where I  have carried it in several highly crowded areas in San Antonio, Houston, and Corpus Christi area to give it the urban evaluation. Everywhere that I was on foot more than sight distance from my rental car the bag was on me. During the 3000 mile trip I did keep a much more extensive "kit" in my car in case I get stuck someone on a long stretch of lonely road with my oldest daughter. However, in the event I needed some extra tools to get me back to my car or to find another mode of transportation I was not without at least something to support that endeavor. Needless to say I didn't just have this around for the Apocalypse. I have kept such things as hand sanitizer, travel wipes (3 messy girls,) sun screen, battery charger for my phone, band aids, and triple antibiotic ointment.

The "Compartment" intended for when SHtF
Cons? Not too terribly many. I will have to say that this is a little bit of a bigger bag compared to some of it's competitors (Vertx does make a smaller bag.) After a full day of wearing the pack across one shoulder did get a little bit old, particularly, the top of my left shoulder (again not the bag's fault. I should do more gun ups.) In it's current loaded configuration my particular pack weighs 12.8 pounds. The MOLLE on the outer most pocket in my opinion is in the wrong direction. I would prefer it to be horizontal instead of vertical. That is just me though considering how I mount equipment. I would almost consider using a thicker nylon on the bag.

     On average this is a pretty neat bag that is serving a great many functions for me. The fun thing was transferring everything from my old Go Bag to my new one figuring out where I could put everything.
     Tim Davis, Jr. is a retired law enforcement professional, security consultant , and a part time martial arts instructor. His professional experience spans over 18 years ranging from training and execution in advanced tactical response, to running a Law Enforcement Tactical unit to time spent in Afghanistan working as a Department of State Contractor. Tim is the co-owner of Appropriate Action in Etowah TN and currently works full time in a support role for a medical practice.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

CRKT Woods Chogan

Day 2 of Bivouac and testing finished.
     I have not done a product review in some time. However, I felt this one was worth doing. This particular Hawk was designed by a fellow Tennessean Ryan M. Johnson of RMJ Forge and made by CRKT.

     I have purchased this CRKT Woods Chogan back in Spring 2015 online at a fairly decent price. As far as hawks go this sits pretty much in the price range of my wish list. It sat with my boxes as I moved between my new place and my old. When I had a chance to handle it I notice that the bit was not too sharp. This was probably done to keep from any one losing fingers during shipping (just a theory.)  The head is made out of 1055 Carbon steel and the beard was beveled for ease of sharpening if you wanted to use it for the purposes of trapping limbs. The handle that was made from Tennessee Hickory which was lacquered rather thickly and looked just plain. The tool as a whole weighs around 2 pounds and the handle is roughly 19 inches in length. Compared to some of my Cold Steel Hawks it it heavier except for my Rifleman's Hawk.

     The first thing I did to it was file a decent edge on the bit. I try not to give them a razor's edge for outdoor work seeing that too sharp of an edge tends to vanish quickly on certain woods. Next I sanded off the lacquer and pulled out my wood burning kit. This gave the Hawk a lot of character once I was done with the design. A light coat of cherry wood stain set if off. Each of my wood handled hawks have a different layout. I am getting better at it. However, I still need a lot of practice.

Packed for the Young Marine Bivouac
     I believed that the best test of this tool was to give it to a bunch of teenagers on a bivouac to see if they could break it for me. I am an outdoor and marksmanship instructor for the South East Tennessee Young Marines. With these Bivouacs I teach fire building and blade safety. Between the Chogan, Cold Steel Kukri Machete, and the CRKT First Strike I carry on my belt we were able to process enough wood for two separate fires and make piles of the graduated stages to build those fires. I handed the Tomahawk to several of the senior Young Marines to see how well they used it doing various tasks I have given them. Each time it was returned to me with no wear or breakage. I did use the hammer side for tent stakes when setting up camp. It was wide enough for hitting the large plastic ones. I did bend (my fault) more than one metal one.

     I have one Young Marine who has super duper endless energy. Near him was a fallen tree that needed processing. I turned him loose with the Woods Chogan for about an hour. He came back with blisters on his hands and part of the tree processed. I don't know how but he managed to put two good dings in the bit and dulled it ever so slightly in the time he took chopping. I came to find out that he had hit the ground a few times. (don't ask me I don't know how it happened.) A few passes with a file solved the issue and made it ready to use again.

     All in all I really enjoy owning this tool. Until I find something better this will accompany me on long excursions and outdoor activities including hiking jaunts. I don't foresee using it in combat. However, weirder things have happened to me. The only thing I am going to add is some type of sheath either made of leather or kydex when it is carried or stored. Try it out for yourself if you run across a deal.

That is all............Carry on.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When seconds count.........................

     While I was working the Metro area I have had  calls that made me think about strategically where you would locate your home based on your capabilities and where the responsibility of home security should be placed.

     Call numero uno: A retired city couple who lived in one of the remotest NW parts of our county was having trouble with a Redneck in a pickup truck who was making threats to kick in the homeowner's door and kill his dogs and family. Their idea was that we could stay near their home and pretty much act as security guards for their home. They were not happy when they got an answer they didn't want. Considering we run with four guys on a shift for a 432 square mile county averaging 10 to 20 calls total a shift it was a no go. I explained him that he was responsible for the security of his own home. He shook his head. The homeowner said he had firearms. However, talking to him you could see the mindset to protect his family was not there. Future Victim.

     Call numero dos: Another older family that had retired to their dream property of over 200 acres on the South side of the county is having trouble with Hunters trespassing on their property late at night. Their means of defense is their teenage son to check out who is outside while law enforcement is being called. Their driveway is almost two miles long and not marked clearly from the road. I passed the driveway twice before I found the small post in tall grass with the house number on it. That made my response time even greater. They didn't have any firearms in the home. If someone decided to invade their home they were left to their own devices to hold someone off till we showed up. The lady there wanted me to check the entire property. I looked around the back of the home. She was surrounded by fields that are farther out than my patrol carbine could reach. That was yet another no go. I looked around the main part of the home and bid her good night after finding no immediate threats.

     Call numero tres: Myself and my supervisor were dispatched to a prowler call on one of the many farms that dot the area. The call came out that they saw someone in their barn and have barricaded them inside. I got their first to find about 8 family members where many were able bodied males had surrounded a barn with their cars with their high beams on. They had barricaded the doors so nobody could get out. I asked the home owner if he had actually seen anyone. He stated that he hadn't just saw "some lights." I looked around seeing the crowd that was forming and asked him what he wanted us to do about it? He replied that he wanted us to search the barn. By that time I had already started giving him the look that I gave my last wife when she wanted me to kill a spider for her. Needless to say there was no one in the barn except spiders and car parts. I left shaking my head.

     Our county is very rural. There has been times during day shift where it has taken me up to 30 minutes to get from one side of the county to another on calls of service. Folks, if you expect emergency services to come to your home in a timely manner do a few things for us. Number one is making sure your home is clearly marked. I have gone on county roads for over a mile and every single mail box would not have any type of identification on it. I'm sorry that you are getting your brains beat in. When I found out where you live I'll be glad to show up and help. Number 2 is make sure my dispatcher you talk to when you call 911 knows what is going on and tell us what the house looks like. Just calling 911 and saying, "get the cops here." and hanging up will raise a few red flags. This slows me down in yet another way. I don't know what I am rolling into. That means I am going to wait for another Law Enforcement Officer to arrive before going in. I'm going home at night. And never plan on going in alone unless I just have to. If you are bleeding out from a fight guess what. The ambulance will not go in until law enforcement shows up to secure the scene for them. That even makes our response time even longer. Law Enforcement as a whole is a reactive service. 90% of the time we show up AFTER the damage has been done or we have to make a chalk outline.

     There have been countless Supreme Court cases where Law Enforcement has been taken to court because a single person was not protected. These cases have ruled that Law Enforcement has NO REQUIREMENT to protect the individual without a special relationship. They are required to protect the public at large. I also have an oath to protect the constitution of the state of Tennessee and that of the United States of America. When seconds count, emergency services are minutes away.

     Please do not get me wrong. I have broke bones and bled to help the helpless in a dangerous crisis. I have hearing loss from discharging firearms in enclosed spaces to try to save a life. If I have to I will put my life at risk to help the innocent. Please realize that you must take responsibility for the security of your own home and property till emergency services does get there.

     That is all.............carry on.

Tim Davis, Jr. is a full time law Enforcement Professional, martial arts, and a part time firearms instructor. He has firearms experience spanning over 15 years ranging from several schools in advanced tactical response, running a Law Enforcement Tactical unit to time spent in Afghanistan working with their law enforcement program. Tim is the co-owner of Appropriate Action in Englewood TN.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A2's Armorer Services

Deputy Cook with "Shakira"
      One of the things that Appropriate Action will be branching off on will be armorer services for assault type weapons. This will include repairs and custom modifications to the clients specifications. There are not many people in my neck of the woods that do this kind of work AND have the experience on how it is utilized on a daily basis. I have run across rifles and shotguns that folks have worked on for officers and deputies and ask "WTF were you thinking? This is something off of a movie set or airsoft catalog."
      I am an AR-15 and Remington 870 certified armorer and have been handling the tools of the trade for years in one profession or another, so you won't be handing your tools to Bubba Jay and Roscoe to get them worked on. I have all the tools needed to get the job done so that every goes together smoothly. No huge mallets will be pounding metal. I plan on getting a certification as a Mossberg and Glock armorer as soon as time and resources allow. I'm not afraid to also work on the Kalashnikov family of weaponry.

Author's own patrol rifle "Gretchen"
    To start the process I meet the client at a location of their choosing with my laptop. There we will pick out what they want to have done with their firearm. Not sure what you want done? No problem. I will take a small survey of how the client will utilize the tool the most. You don't have to be a Space Shuttle door-gunner to have a good setup. You may want to have just a self defense tool or a means to dispatch Coyotes past 300 yards from your work truck. This is only limited by your imagination and your pocket book. Before everything is done the client will have a rough sketch of what their dream machine will look like.  Once the parts are ordered and have arrived I will take possession of the gun and get to work on it. I do this work in my spare time from my night job so depending on the level of work needed it may take me at least a week to get it back to you.

"Gretchen" on the way to stage for a narcotics search warrant
       I try to do a little extra for you when I take a weapon off of your hands. After the main works is done we will laser bore sight to get you on paper and do at least a 5 round test to ensure that the weapon functions well. Once that is done I give it a thorough cleaning and re-lubrication with a oil of the clients choice or FrogLube. I do not accept payment for the work done until the client is satisfied with the work done.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A look at Battle Rattle

      Let's tick off the Gear Whores (a term of endearment I promise) some more when it comes to some ideas on equipment you train with or you may think you have with you if things go bad. And when I say "go bad," I don't mean the next American revolution or the aliens (the space invader kind) come to your neighborhood trying to harvest your brains. I'm talking about that instant threat of great bodily harm or death for yourself or a second person or persons.

        At home when things go bump in the night will you throw on your battle belt and armor to go outside to check it out? If you train to do that then that is fine. I give good odds you will not even think about that equipment if you have children in the house you have to worry about. First of all this equipment takes time to put on. That is time someone you don't want in or around your home to move around and get to where you don't want them. Odds are if you wore your battle belt or SAPI plate carrier to the ballgame or supermarket you might get the attention of local law enforcement. I'm not saying that it is illegal to wear such things (check your state laws). However, don't complain when the boys and girls in blue ask to talk to you and see WTF.

     I am all for having the right gear for the right job. I'm all about some nifty gadgets and cool little gizmos to make things  tacticool. They do have their purpose during certain situations. I do enjoy exterior magazine pouches, chest rigs, body armor, thigh rigs, Multicam fatigues, and the like. I own ALL of those things and have used them during my regular jobs over the last 15 years. My current profile pic has me in such a getup.

      I don't condone a lot of tactical gear usage in my private citizen classes that they would not use in everyday life. As a matter of fact, when I teach I'm usually in a pair of jeans and appropriate seasonal clothing you would see everyday people in. I use concealment holsters and magazine carriers. 90% of the time I demonstrate all of my handgun usage skills from concealment. Even in my carbine classes I hang the weapon on it's sling and throw magazines in my back pocket. My Remington 870 (my bump in the night gun in my bath robe) has a full reload of ammunition on it in different forms. This is because this is the way you are going to utilize these tools in your daily life if needed. If you train to pull magazines from your vest or battle belt you hand will reach to the same place under stress. I'll give you an example. While I worked overseas my pistol was on my right thigh every time I was outside of the wire. When I came home there was one time right after I had to shoot an animal that was a threat to one of my kids. I was in my own yard. I reached for my thigh and grabbed air. Oh Flip where is my gun? I hadn't transitioned myself to the fact that my pistol had migrated back to my civilian life inside my waist band. Luckily I was quick enough to realize I goofed and got the growling dog broad side.

     On the opposite side of the coin. If you TRAIN to wear your battle rattle for certain situations because you EXPECT trouble to come your way then that is not a bad idea either. There are folks out there that do nothing but train in 30 pounds of equipment and run through the woods. To end this I can say that a lot of folks equate having the most tacticool stuff means that they know what they are doing with weapons manipulation. You can have a vest with everything but the kitchen sink on it and not be able to perform a speed reload to save your life. You can have level IV armor all day long and still get shot dead because you didn't use proper cover to protect the rest of you. The main thing is common sense and deciding whether you want to attract attention to yourself.

Tim Davis, Jr. is a full time law Enforcement Professional, martial arts, and a part time firearms instructor. He has firearms experience spanning over 15 years ranging from several schools in advanced tactical response, running a Law Enforcement Tactical unit to time spent in Afghanistan working with their law enforcement program. Tim is the co-owner of Appropriate Action in Englewood TN.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Changing Gears

Why I train
     Firearms training is just a slice of a big pie of needed personal skills to stay safe in the unstable world we live in today. I lived and worked in a few states and countries and have seen what happens to folks when they don't pay attention to a situation they could have avoided or have a skill needed to save a life. Mainly their own.

     I have been in the private teaching business for over two years now with Appropriate Action and have enjoyed instructing folks in the use of firearms. However, I feel that I could give more to my students through a partnership of adjunct instructors under Appropriate Action's umbrella of networking. I'm not a know it all. But, what I do know is that I have access to people who do know more about a subject than I do. These folks have made a living in one form or another or have saved a life (might have been their own) on what they will be teaching.

     To start out with as I have mentioned before is going to be our Medical Preparedness for the Outdoors man program in the Spring of 2014. This will be done by Caleb Martin. After taking this class you will be familiar ways to take care of personal injuries due to violent trauma (gored by a deer?) or accidents (fall from tree stand or ladder.) This is not just for hunters or hikers. Just being outside of your home we consider "outdoors."

Probably not going to travel
     We have some other classes in the works that may be interesting to folks out there. One is going to be our Overnight Outdoorsman Course. The class size will be no less than three and no more than five. The curriculum will deal with subjects such as navigation, movement in groups, fire building, water and food rationing, water procurement, carry load management, danger avoidance, and dealing with non level terrain. I'm careful just not to call it a full on "Bug Out" class. It is more like a you got stuck out in the middle of no where with your car broken down and you have to get to a town by foot class.

     One idea I'm working through that will probably won't be till fall 2014 is called "Project Grey." This course will be geared towards making yourself more aware of your surroundings (four color code), not make yourself a victim, how to dress for success, methods of carry if you are a permit holder, improvised offensive devices, the OODA loop, moving safely in and around vehicles, and the three levels of EDC. Myself and an adjunct instructor who have worked overseas in 3rd world countries will be teaching the class. We are still debating on how many hours and the cost.

     A brief mention also is that I shall be doing "quick tips" with my adjunct instructors on the Appropriate Action Youtube channel a few times out of the month.  I'll be doing firearms while Caleb and Hassan will be doing the Medical portion. When his bio is done I'll have the adjunct from "Project Grey" do one or two vids before the class is announced for scheduling. I'm in a holding pattern with a person to do computer and internet security for the channel only. My free gift to you.

     It is not my goal to make folks in my class a "high speed death machine." However, I do want them to have a better than average chance to walk away from a problem that comes knocking at their proverbial door.


     Tim Davis, Jr. is a full time law Enforcement Professional, martial arts, and a part time firearms instructor. He has firearms experience spanning over 15 years ranging from several schools in advanced tactical response, running a Law Enforcement Tactical unit to time spent in Afghanistan working with their law enforcement program. Tim is the co-owner of Appropriate Action in Englewood TN.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Medical Preparedness for the Outdoorsman

      It has happened many times. People go into the great outdoors and get badly hurt through no fault of their own or pure negligence. How Many People are Killed or Injured in Hunting Accidents? According to the International Hunter Education Association, approximately 1,000 over a period of time. Now hiking and other outdoor activities numbers are not quite so high. But, how many times on the nightly news you see someone in the national forest becoming a casualty? Could they have saved themselves or helped someone that was hurt in their group? It comes down to a matter of training and keeping their wits about them. 

     You may have seen such techniques and skills used on survival reality shows. You may have known someone saved overseas by their military medical training. What if you could take a course that will give you the basics of how to deal with an injury to yourself or someone you know till you can get to help? What would you be willing to pay for that kind of lifesaving information?

Iraqi newborn checkup 2004
     In 2014 Appropriate Action will be offering a Medical Preparedness for the Outdoors-man course taught by Caleb Martin. Caleb is one of our local Fire Captain EMT-IVs who currently serves in the TN Army National Guard as a 68W Trauma Specialist in a reserve status. Mr. Martin has spent 12 years as a Medic in the United States Army. During this time Mr. Martin has completed multiple tours of duty inside the Middle East for combat operations as well as CONUS for Humanitarian and Border Protection assignments. During combat operations Mr. Martin served as a line medic and foreign training advisor for host nation forces in austere conditions. Currently Mr. Martin’s role in the Military is training soldiers in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and medical readiness. During everyday life Mr. Martin responds to a variety medical emergency as a member of his fire and local Emergency Medical Service provider.

     To see when this class is coming or see details in video form check out Appropriate Action's website listed below.

     Tim Davis, Jr. is a full time law Enforcement Professional, martial arts, and a part time firearms instructor. He has firearms experience spanning over 15 years ranging from several schools in advanced tactical response to time spent in Afghanistan working with their law enforcement program. Tim is the co-owner of Appropriate Action in Englewood TN.