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Gear gone wild

The Military Times guide to this year's must-have tactical products

Mar. 3, 2008 - 09:13PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 3, 2008 - 09:13PM  |  
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SOMEWHERE NEAR FREMONT STREET — Ahhh Vegas, home to bright lights, bad girls and big paydays, especially on Super Bowl weekend. Generally what happens here stays here, but considering the circumstances, keeping this one to ourselves would be downright, well, un-American. No, we didn't bet the Giants. But we did find one — a monster, in fact. The biggest gear trade show ever.

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show — lovingly referred to as the SHOT Show — is the gear world's version of The Big Game. Nearly 60,000 people poured into the Las Vegas Convention Center on Feb. 2-5, coming from 70 countries to prowl through 715,000 square feet of exhibit space.

How big is that, exactly? You could park 6,800 Humvees in there. Or four aircraft carriers. Or, to keep the gridiron theme alive, 12 football fields (end zones included.)

Or, in this case, 1,950 exhibitors pushing everything from flashlights to rifles to knives. Piles and piles of the latest and greatest in guns, gadgets and gizmos.

You call this Sin City? Puhleeeze.

Welcome to Gear Heaven.

Our top picks: 7 cool new gadgets that we would like to have

Apparel

Imagine a combat uniform so savvy it could save your life in lieu of a trained medic. A team of Einsteins at Blackhawk think they've developed just that with their new Warrior Wear Integrated Tourniquet System.

Citing the high number of combat deaths as a result of blood loss, this new technology developed by a former Army surgeon incorporates eight reusable tourniquets in a regular two-piece combat uniform: There is one on each wrist, shoulder, shin and thigh. You can self-apply it — with just one arm if need be.

"You can do it in close quarters: a Black Hawk, a Humvee — whatever," Blackhawk's John Pollock said. "You just flip it, twist it and put it in place." It takes less than a minute. The Army is negotiating with Blackhawk on this item.

Cost: Blouse: $170

Trousers: $170

http://www.blackhawk.com">http://www.blackhawk.com

More apparel from the show

Packs

When teams from Gerber visited military bases around the country to conduct research for the new GRASP 135 Assault Modular Pack System, the troops they spoke with shared a few pet peeves about the packs they had been lugging around the desert. Chief among them: "the sausage effect" that characterizes most bags' soft-bladder hydration systems.

To that end, Gerber created a "semi-rigid" 135-ounce water reservoir that's designed to reduce that bothersome sloshing common with other hydration systems. Better yet, there's no need to tear apart the entire pack when it's time to refill; a leak-free cap pokes out from the top of the bag to make things simple.

Fully loaded, it's got 2,760 cubic inches of storage space, but you can personalize it to one of six sizes depending on requirements.

Cost: $330

http://www.gerbergear.com">http://www.gerbergear.com

More place to put your stuff

Knives

In March, legendary fighting knife maker KA-BAR will roll out its new FIN lineof blades for the sticking and slashing set. The four fixed-blade versions (drop point straight edge, drop point serrated, tanto straight edge and tanto serrated) are as ergonomically appealing as they are tactically proficient.

Unlike some other large fixed blades, the FIN's curved hard plastic handle provides tremendous gripping power.

"We call it a palm-sure grip," KA-BAR's Tara Troutman-Warner said. With a D2 steel blade, the FIN is 9¾ inches long.

Cost: $120

http://www.kabar.com

A bunch more blades

Optics

The new, lightweight 10x50 Military R/SUMR binoculars from Steiner Germany are built to provide clear sight and detail in just about any environment — whether you're at a range here in the States, on a dusty rooftop in Sadr City or a mountain valley in Afghanistan's Paktika province.

Providing a field of view that spans 300 feet at 1,000 yards, these 36-ounce binos feature a powerful 10x magnification and "extraordinary brightness," according to the company.

They're water- and shock-proof, and the glass is filled with nitrogen to prevent fogging.

Cost: $850

http://www.steiner-binoculars.com">http://www.steiner-binoculars.com

Take a look at more optics

Multitools

Leatherman, the multitool champ, has gotten back to basics in a very cool way.The new Skeletool CX is a downsized gem.

"Minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities," touts company spokeswoman Julie Warner.

Weighing in at just 5 ounces, this full-sized multitool has a combo straight and serrated stainless steel blade, pliers, wire cutters, universal bit driver and a carabiner/bottle opener.

Cost: $80

http://www.leatherman.com">http://www.leatherman.com

Tools for every job

Flashlights

The NovaTac 120T tactical light is a compact, pocket-sized tool that's easy to use when holding a handgun. With three preset brightness settings (.3, 10 or 120 lumens), it's ready for multimission duty. The best parts: Unlike previous models, this one is preset, meaning no complicated programming is required. It also features a "momentary-maximum" mode that projects a quick burst of blinding light or disorienting strobe. The light's extended button makes it easy to operate when wearing tactical gloves. The 3.1-ounce (with battery) 120T is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and runs on a single 3V lithium battery or rechargeable battery.

Cost: $149

http://www.novatac.com">http://www.novatac.com

Shed more light on things

Weapon accessories

Developed for an M16/M4, Lancer's uber-rugged L-5 Translucent Magazine has the same dimensions as an aluminum magazine, so it fits in standard pouches. But because the magazine is translucent, you can easily see how many rounds you've got left. (Plus, it's got 20- and 30-count markers.) Lancer says that capability will translate to reduced inspection and maintenance time, boosting overall op tempo. And the hue of the plastic's impact-resistant polymer is such that you won't have to worry about light reflecting off your ammo, giving away your position.

Cost: Undetermined

http://www.lancer-systems.com">http://www.lancer-systems.com.

Trick out your weapon

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