Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tactical vs Tacticool

With all of the antics in the news lately, we're seeing several groups of armed and “armored” people showing up at various protests, demonstrations, town hall meetings, and plain old riots. The noisy ones with bullhorns and signs are there for attention, essentially throwing a tantrum and (in my opinion) should be treated like the toddlers that they're acting like. The quiet ones standing guard over a store or church are the serious ones, the ones ready to mete out violent action if lines get crossed.

One of my strongest suggestions for any prepper is “Stay away from crowds”. Mob mentality is a tricky thing, and crowds are rarely a good place to be when emotions get cranked up. Staying away from trouble is normally easier than responding to it, so avoid as much of the turmoil as you can, but there may come a time when you decide to draw your own line in the sand and defend what is yours.

Many of the pictures and videos of the “protesters” that show up armed are subject to scrutiny from those who have carried arms in a war zone. The opinions of people who have relied on their equipment to stay alive are usually worth listening to, so I pay attention. Here are a few of the things I've picked up over the years.

While useful for team training, both of these sports teach bad habits. Since “practice makes permanent”, if you practice wrong you'll do it wrong when SHTF.

Paintballs and Airsoft pellets are both stopped by light foliage and other concealment, but real bullets will go right through them. Concealment is not the same as cover.

Many of the “guns” used in paintball and Airsoft are modeled after real guns. The accessories, like optics, stocks, and slings are interchangeable, but most of the stuff made for Airsoft is not sturdy enough to be used on a real weapon. The weight and recoil of a real weapon will quickly show that cheaper is not always better.

Made in China
I try to not be too nationalistic, but a lot of the crap coming out of factories in China should never be relied upon. It may look just like the “real deal”, but the materials and construction quality is never as good. There are reasons for the military requiring their supplies be sourced from reputable countries, and China is not on that list. Lowest price isn't always the main thing to look for, especially in something that you're betting your life on.

The current crop of veterans use or used equipment that is completely different that what I carried when I was on active duty. I'm comfortable with the old-school Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) of either the H-type or Y-type harness and heavy pistol belt, but that has been replaced by pouches on the “plate carrier” vest that is issued now. The old equipment still works; it just doesn't offer the protection against bullets and fragments. My old gear still works for me and I know how to use it.

The selection of firearms is also subject to ageism. I trained on a 1970s vintage M16A1 with triangular fore-grips and integral carry handle, and I see people laughing at that style of rifle now because it's not “tactical” enough. There's an old saying that fits here: “Beware the man who only owns one gun. He probably know how to use it.” The same is found with the 1911A1 pistols that I carried once in a while on active duty, but at least that platform is still around and respected.

I'd wager that not one in a hundred of our readers is a former SEAL, Green Beret, or other Special Forces veteran. There may be a few former Infantry and Riflemen out there, but most of us aren't trained to that level. Those who have been trained in those skills probably aren't in the same physical shape as they were when they were on active duty. Having toys doesn't replace training, which is something that a lot of younger folks don't seem to grasp. Call of Duty and the other war games don't prepare you for real life, I'm sorry to say, so spending a paycheck or two on vertical pistol grips, high-powered lights, lasers, and other toys commonly seen on “tacticool” guns isn't going to help you unless you get real-world training.

Some of the people I have seen pictures of at “protests” are in pure cosplay mode. Most of them couldn't tell you what half of the crap on their rifle is supposed to do, and there are rumors that some of them are nothing more than paid actors put in place to further inflame the situation. These people are more dangerous to themselves than anyone else, with the exception of possible negligent discharges due to their lack of training.

Ballistic Vests/Plate Carriers
There is a time and place for wearing your bullet-stopping outerwear, but it's usually easier to avoid such opportunities. Static defensive positions, expecting heavy assault, or patrolling areas with known shooters come to mind. If you're expecting to come under fire while at a protest, I'd rethink going.

Unless you're buying quality surplus or current-issue gear, you're not getting your money's worth of protection. The ballistic plates themselves are expensive, but a carrier without them is nothing more than a glorified vest with lots of pockets. Police-issue vests are bulky and uncomfortable (although they've gotten better over the years) and the military-issue gear is heavy, bulky, and hot to wear. If you're thinking about spending the money on either type, make sure you train while wearing it, as the added bulk will change how you shoulder a long gun and the extra weight will cut down on your speed and endurance. I'm not a young man any more, so I'll pass on anything that is going to slow me down even more.

Know your gear, train with it, and don't waste your money on “cool” toys that aren't going to help you be more proficient. Keep an eye out for the Tacticool Fools, though: you might be able to pick up some ammo after they've dropped everything and run.

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