Monday, September 15, 2014

Dark Angel Medical DARK and Pocket DARK

Dark Angel Medical D.A.R.K. and Pocket D.A.R.K.

I met Kerry Davis aka “Pocket Doc” at SHOT Show in 2012. Got a brief chance to discuss his new to the market product with him and was intrigued by the concept. Taking the standard IFAK contents but vacuum sealing the contents into one item making it more compact while maintaining the same contents your familiar with and minimal costs associated with packaging.

I picked up a Pocket D.A.R.K. in Fall of 2012 upon its release. The Pocket model really filled a niche I had at the time. For work I was carrying (and still do carry) a full size TQ in a belt pouch centerline and a “Cinch Tight” H bandage in my cargo pocket. This gave me the ability to handle some emergency medical needs by me or my buddy following TCCC guidelines, but not very many.

Switching to the Pocket D.A.R.K. in stead of the Cinch Tight bandage, gave me at the time the following:

·      4” Israeli/Emergency Bandage
·      Combat Gauze LE
·      SWAT-T Tourniquet
·      Pair of Gloves

This was packed in a small vacuum sealed package of the above items in their packaging that was then secured in a slick nylon pouch made in the USA by First Spear. Having the pouch “slick” in construction was strange given my familiarity with smoother “quiet” nylon found on most tactical gear. The pouches slick material makes it easier to remove from my pocket as it doesn’t catch.

I carried the Pocket DARK with the first released version of the Pocket DARK for over 1 year on duty as well as off duty. This would have me pulling the pouch out of my pocket 2-4 times a day all week. In Jan 2014, I completed a medical preventative maintenance check and pulled the vacuum sealed portion out of the nylon pouch. I observed that after over 1 year it had finally worn through the vacuum sealing and damaged the outer seal. This was immediately resolved by emailing Kerry Davis who swapped out the old insert for a brand new insert. This has been used off duty since then as I was doing a T&E on another manufactures pocket kit during the 2014 time frame.

February of this year I picked up a full sized DARK for use on a LW Plate Carrier. Kerry had updated the kit with the addition of a Mylar Space Blanket in accordance with the latest TCCC updates.

When I first saw the DARK, it was a custom made by pouch by Eggroll of Extreme Gear Labs in Colorado (formerly free USA). This has been updated twice since then with both new generations of the pouch being made by First Spear for Dark Angel in the USA. Just as with any good company, Dark Angel was constantly innovating and updating their product based on use and feedback. The Gen 3 pouch I received showed all that.

I currently have added to mine a needle for chest decompression, combat sheers as well as a mini roll of duct tape. Last week Dark Angel announced they are now going to offer the chest darts for those qualified to use them.

For placement I like to place my IFAK’s forward of my left arm, final placement sometimes dependent on PALS webbing placement and quantity on said vest. With the DARK on its current vest, a Crye JPC, it stores as shown. It is slightly taller than a double M4 mag pouch in height but approximately the same size otherwise. I have conducted several range sessions in the vest since setup as well as multiple workouts. Never have I noticed the pouch to get in the way.

There are many good options out there for medical gear, if not more than enough at this point. Some companies stand out above others, Dark Angel is one of them.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adaptability and Versatility in Gear

Adaptability and Versatility in Gear

Unless you’ve completely ignored Soldier Systems Daily (, you’ve noticed that one of the current trends in the gear industry is to make something more adaptable for multiple roles/applications. This can be for a variety of reasons, budget, various missions, necessity to switch roles/assignments frequently (sniper to assaulter to grenadier), going from lo-pro to full assault mode, etc. Out of this somewhat new phase, have come a lot of very slick gear options.

Most familiar to most readers are the adaptable mag pouches from Blue Force Gear’s 10 Speed line and the HSGI Taco line. Ability to go from AR-15 mags, to AK mags, to Flashbangs, to Multi-tools, to iPhones, to Tourniquets, etc. without swapping pouches out is awesome.

I first saw this concept with the classic Paraclete zip on back panels back in the mid 2000’s. I’m not sure which came to market first, the Paraclete version or the Crye Combat Chassis version, but they both seemed similar. Ability to zip on and off back panels based on your mission – assaulter, medic, remove for vehicle ops, etc.

On the market at the moment, I’ve observed the following options to stand out (in no particular order):
·      LBT Plate Carriers
·      Blue Force Gear LMAC and 10 Speed Pouches
·      Honor Point USA “ZOT” packs
·      First Spear 6/9 with "Missing Link" belt adapters
·      SKD Tactical “Systema”
·      Crye Precision AVS
Extreme Gear Labs "STUFFIT"
·      HSGI Tacos
·      Raven Concealment “Moduloader” frames with HSGI Tacos and Blue Force Gear 10 speeds or various holsters on the new Pocket Shield
·      Mayflower/Velocity Systems Plate Carriers with the Mayflower, Velocity, and LBT “Placards” as well as the EGL VOCR chest rigs and their spawn, the D3CR made for Haley Strategic.

Personally I love the Blue Force Gear 10 Speeds for about everything pouch wise, and prefer the pistol variant on the Raven Moduloader’s over the HSGI Tacos due to lack of bulk and my experience with things such as “tactical reloads.”

Classic "Basicload"rig with a basic load of Red Bull

SR-25 double mag bandolier holding 1 M-4 mag and 1 Glock 17 mag with Arredondo extension and 1 CAT Tourniquet

The classic Blue Force Gear “Basicload” chest rig has worked for me when I felt the need to carry extra rifle ammo, as well as would packing essentials in a low profile rig. The ability to stick just about anything I would need in a 10 speed single M4 mag pouch is a great versatile resource. In this rig I have L to R, 1 Celox Guaze roll, 1 CAT TQ, 3 M-4 mags, 2 Glock 17 mags with Arredondo Extensions. 

This is the "STUFFIT" from Extreme Gear Labs. It is also available as a standalone MALICE mounted pouch as well as part of the EGL VOCR chest rigs and the EGL designed D3CR chest rigs. This pouch is very nice for the ability so swap out what it carries with the tightening of some shock cord. I can go from carrying 2 chemlights in the EGL chemlight loops, to carrying 1 GPS, 1 M-4 Mag, 2 M-4 mags, 1 Radio to my choice canned beverage of the moment - Kill Cliff or Red Bull. 

Probably the 2nd most common "modular" pouch on the market is the HSGI "Taco." I personally find this pouch is the worst to mount due to its design, but is easier to mount on a Raven Concealment MODULOADER frame than anything else. I run a single rifle Taco on a 5 finger frame for slightly heavy concealed carry or for low profile overt carry where I don't need a full duty belt. The rifle Taco gives me alot of modularity, as seen in the following pictures.

Having the ability to swap out weapon magazine types, covert to overt, and load out levels (1-3 magazines to 6+) is very nice. Thankfully the industry has been focused on this recently. There are lots of resources that go into depth on this as well as more new pieces of gear that are adaptable coming to market on a weekly basis. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

MOLLE/PALS in 2014

MOLLE/PALS compatible options

Unless you live under a rock, you know what this stuff is. Its how gear works in the 21st century. Currently the name of the game is lightweight and modularity. In pursuit of this game, you can find all sorts of options in pouches and equipment. From the legacy style systems from NATIK and companies like Eagle Industries and Diamondback tactical (stiffened 1000D Cordura with metal snaps), all the way to 2014 and the wide variety in modern innovation.

MOLLE is a line of pouches, vests and accessories produced for the US Military and others utilizing the PALS system. Due to term usage, the ladder system of PALS is better known as MOLLE. For more information on MOLLE and PALS, see the following Wiki links:

To help give some idea of the various types of PALS systems available on the market (as well as some that take a different spin on the system), I’ve taken the sample of pouches I had on hand and shown them with straps out as well as one strap weaved and secured on the pouch.

The biggest draw back with “legacy” PALS compatible pouches is the snaps. If they broke, you were out of luck. Several companies worked up solutions to that. Among them were Paraclete, Tactical Tailor (MALICE), Blue Force Gear and First Spear (6/9 and 6/12).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Know Your Enemy: Part 2

As a follow on to last weeks post, I have been browsing the internet looking for more information about the situation in Ukraine. This led me on a couple directions. First I'll cover some observations of Russian "Spetznaz" units, then onto some photos from Ukraine.


Spetznaz, specifically what is known to be Alpha group. Alfa/Alpha is stated to be the Russian equivalent of both US Army's CAG, US Navy's SEALs and FBI HRT.

Interesting observations over the last year or two have shown that Spetznaz units have been copying what high end US units do for equipment. This might be done by watching videos and looking at photos of US guys, or it could be some hands on observations in conflict zones. Even though the Soviet Bear is still a threat to the US, we also face a common threat, Al Queda and similar groups. I'm sure lessons learned in fighting the Chechens were passed from the Russians to the West at some point, officially or not.

It was interesting to see photos and video that Larry Vickers collected during his trip to Russia in 2013. He met with some FSB Alfa members and documented the trip for his show, TacTV. The show footage is available on the TacTV site. Also posted both on his Facebook page and his Training coordinator - Alias Training - site were the following photos.

Larry Vickers in the middle, Alfa members on the right. 
Note the HSGI Tacos, Multicam Gear and Crye Precision styled uniforms. Overall a very American SOF appearance. 

Russian AK-105
Note the Magpul products, Aimpoint T-1, PEQ-15, Surefire Raid and use of BUIS.

Glock 17's:
Noe the "Hackathorn" style sights, Skateboard tape for one handed racking of slide, Crimson Trace Laser Grip, Surefire X300's and most noticeable, the IFF tape on the slide. 

 Also located on line after searching around where some photos of purported Spetznaz members from "FSB Grad" with some very Multicam looking uniforms in the Crye Style. Also of note was the Ops Core rails on the American style helmets. Seen on at least one was a fighting setup AR-15 as well. 

Ukraine/Crimea situation:
As mentioned in part 1, Spetznaz types were seen all over in the invasion/non-invasion of Crimea. Most of the non flagged Russian soldiers wore the latest in Russian uniform's and gear but these guys were seen in the midst of the assaults over the past week to seize Ukranian bases in Crimea. 

Multi terrain styled uniforms and non standard gear:

So what can we learn from studying the enemy? What they are doing is studying the west. Remember that no matter your profession, the enemy is studying you. Wether its the Russians, local Gang Banger with a hit on you, a street mugger, etc, they are studying you. Some would even argue that those of us who run blogs, post on forums, etc are aiding the enemy, but the fact is the enemy will get the info no matter what. Do you want the good guys to get the info as well? Keep OPSEC in mind and don't disclose things that must be truly kept hush hush.

Be observant of suspicious behavior no matter where you work, live or patrol. The US is a open target and full of soft targets of critical infrastructure. Drug Cartels from south of the border are the number one threat and most likely to either launch an attack on the US, or allow a AQ affiliated group in. These attacks will most likely be initiated by the same type of tactics as seen by the Russian units in Georgia, Crimea and elsewhere.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Phokus Research Group SONS Trauma Kits

I received a Phokus Research Group Law Enforcement Trauma Kit in a Facebook Giveaway in Oct of 2013. Since then I was given two other versions of their trauma kits to T&E and do a review on. With that said, here is my review.

First a link to Phokus’s website with a very good breakdown of the contents of the kits:

Phokus has also released the following videos showing deployment:

Low Vis

SONS vs Standard

The biggest thing that one will notice as an issue with use of one of the SONS kits, is team standardization. If your whole team is not running them and trains to roll the team mate onto their back and remove the kit from the plate pocket, vs looking for an IFAK on their kit that is not their. This is a problem, but only if you allow it a problem.

The packing list of these kits follows the well established and proven TCCC protocols. Phokus follows the recommendation to have your TQ not be in the IFAK, but separate where it is rapidly accessible.

Most impressive to me, was the packaging materials used to seal the kits. It is packaged inside of what Phokus calls “Heavy-duty Medical grade vinyl.” I’ve only been carrying the LETK in the Plate Carrier I use for Active Assailant/High Risk incidents since receiving it in Oct, but so far it does not show signs of wear.  I had a friend and fellow LEO use the Standard Mil kit in his plate carrier for the last few months as well, with no signs of wear.

The Low Vis kit has been carried in my cargo pocket on duty or in many types of pants pockets off duty (Vertx, Carhartt, etc) or in backpacks. It gets pulled out at least once a day, if not more and swapped back and forth. This should cause extreme wear, but did not which surprised me.

I could take photos of the kits after wear for this long, but it would be pointless as they just have some dust on them  from the dry dusty area I live and work in.

Training wise is the only place I see a big downside to the SONS style of kits over a normal kit. This is an issue that is easily overcome by team standardization and training with the kits.

One thing to be aware of, is that your armor carrier needs to be easy to open for easy access. A top loading armor carrier (Paraclete RAV, Eagle CIRAS, etc.) is not ideal in comparison to a bottom opening carrier (Crye JPC, Blue Force Gear LMAC, Mayflower line, etc).

LETK - Law Enforcement Trauma Kit

Next to 10x12 plate:

Placed over 10x12 Plate:

Reverse side over 10x12 plate:

Deployment Trauma Kit and Lo-Vis Trauma Kit:


Kit lain over plate pocket on a Medium Crye JPC:

Kit inserted behind plate:

Kit fully inserted with tab out:

Back of plate without SONS, but with Plate and Plate Backer:

Back of plate with SONS and Plate:

Low-Vis Deployment Kit:

Low-Vis next to Pocket DARK:

Low-Vis, Pocket DARK and PMAG 30:

Low-Vis, Pocket Dark and PMAG thickness:

Low-Vis and PMAG thickness on end:

Low-Vis and Pocket Dark next to pocket of 5.11 PDU Uniform Pants:

Pocket DARK over PDU Pocket:

Low-Vis over PDU Pocket:

Pocket DARK thickness in PDU Pocket:

Low-Vis thickness in PDU Pocket: