American Survival Guide

FIRST TAC­TI­CAL’S TRIPLE THREAT

DURABLE, FUNC­TIONAL, IN­NO­VA­TIVE AND GREAT TAC­TI­CAL GEAR VAL­UES

- By Brian M. Mor­ris Summit · Summit · 5.11 Tactical

Durable, Func­tional, In­no­va­tive and Great Tac­ti­cal Gear Val­ues

When I joined the Army back in the mid1980s, the gear we were is­sued was of­ten man­u­fac­tured by the low­est bid­der, and that usu­ally re­sulted in the mil­i­tary get­ting what they paid for with gear that could be counted on to tear, spring a leak, or break a buckle just when you most needed it to per­form. An­other prob­lem with gear back then was that it seemed to take so long to get through all of the lev­els of ap­proval needed to get it is­sued that by the time it made its way to the troops, it was of­ten ob­so­lete!

Well, let me tell you, times have changed since I be­gan my mil­i­tary ca­reer al­most four decades ago. I have wit­nessed noth­ing short of an “in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion” in terms of the qual­ity, se­lec­tion and rel­a­tive light­ning-fast speed that it takes to get new gear to the troops.

There are sev­eral com­pa­nies that could be con­sid­ered the “usual sus­pects” when it comes to in­no­va­tion, se­lec­tion and qual­ity tac­ti­cal prod­ucts. Brands such as Black­hawk, 5.11 Tac­ti­cal, Spec-ops Brand, Con­dor and a rel­a­tive few other elite man­u­fac­tur­ers have his­tor­i­cally led the pack in tac­ti­cal gear and cloth­ing pro­duc­tion. But, when it comes to in­no­va­tive and ver­sa­tile gear with an out-of-this-world level of qual­ity and price points kept down here on Earth, First Tac­ti­cal is not only on par with more widely known tac­ti­cal gear pro­duc­ers, they have earned a spot at the tip of the spear. Their large se­lec­tion of top-qual­ity gear is of­fered at prices that are rea­son­able enough to make their prod­ucts re­al­is­tic op­tions for ev­ery­one from elite mil­i­tary, LE and first re­spon­ders to those of us who have to watch our bud­gets like a hawk!

With my past ex­pe­ri­ence in us­ing First Tac­ti­cal cloth­ing and gear, I’d be ly­ing if I said that my ex­pec­ta­tions were not ex­tremely high when my ed­i­tor asked me to re­view a few of their newer prod­ucts. What fol­lows is my ex­pe­ri­ence with prod­ucts from three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories: bags, knives and flash­lights.

FIRST TAC­TI­CAL SUM­MIT SIDE SATCHEL OVERVIEW

There was a time when I would not be caught dead wear­ing a side satchel aka “man-purse,” but life is funny like that. As I pro­gressed in my ca­reer and had more and more lead­er­ship as well as ad­min­is­tra­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties added to my daily ac­tiv­i­ties, it soon be­came a ne­ces­sity to have some sort of bag or brief­case-type con­tainer to hold my lap­top, pa­per­work and other ad­min es­sen­tials as well as key parts of my EDC.

The far­ther I moved up the lad­der, the more it be­came nec­es­sary for me to travel on both mil­i­tary and civil­ian air­craft, so hav­ing a carry-on bag such as a satchel be­came my pref­er­ence over al­ter­nates such as a day pack be­cause I found that I had much eas­ier ac­ces­si­bil­ity to, and con­trol over, the con­tents of my bag through a side flap than I was able to get with a top-en­try back­pack. Over the years, I have had more styles and brands of side bags than I can re­mem­ber and while the ma­jor­ity of the ones I used had spe­cific fea­tures that ap­pealed to me, I have yet to find one that had as many ap­peal­ing qual­i­ties as I found in the Sum­mit. Of course, there are a few ar­eas I’d like to tweak so they bet­ter suit my needs but over­all, you can’t beat the qual­ity, value or ver­sa­til­ity of this satchel.

BREAK­DOWN

Qual­ity and Dura­bil­ity

There is an old Army adage that if you put a sol­dier in a padded room for an hour with three steel ball bear­ings, one would end up dis­as­sem­bled, one would be bro­ken, and one would be missing! This has al­ways stood true for me when it comes to gear and gad­gets, and it has car­ried over to the way I treat my gear.

Con­sid­er­ing that the Sum­mit stood up to the abuse I put it through by us­ing it for my pri­mary EDC bag for over a month, I think it’s safe to say that this bag is ex­tremely well made. Built with 1000D ny­lon, re­in­forced seams, and 10mm closed-cell foam in strate­gic ar­eas, the bag is very sturdy and of­fers a con­sid­er­able level of pro­tec­tion for its con­tents from im­pacts to the sides or the ground. The YKK zip­pers are easy to open and close, and they are de­signed with an in­te­gral pro­tec­tive flap to help re­sist break­age. A chain is only as strong as its weak­est link, and the same rings true for gear hard­ware. Noth­ing is more an­noy­ing than hav­ing a great bag that has a strap or flap buckle fail­ure in­evitably at the worst pos­si­ble mo­ment. I can say that the Sum­mit’s Du­raflex hard­ware stood up to my mis­treat­ment without even a flinch!

VER­SA­TIL­ITY AND DE­SIGN

First Tac­ti­cal put a great deal of at­ten­tion to de­tail into the de­sign of the Sum­mit Side Satchel, such as the top-mounted sun­glasses pocket and side ac­cess to ad­min and other items you need to keep close at hand. The main flap’s fe­male buckle sec­tions have si­lencers that also make open­ing them a breeze, and the flap also has a hook-and-pile clo­sure op­tion for on-the-fly ac­cess and se­cu­rity. MOLLE pan­els make adding other pouches or gear an easy op­tion, which adds to the bag’s ca­pac­ity and ver­sa­til­ity.

One of the more pop­u­lar fea­tures on the Sum­mit is the dis­creet CCW pocket with a padded di­vider that al­lows the user to store other small items while keep­ing the firearm ac­ces­si­ble while out of ca­sual view when the com­part­ment is opened. From the stand­point of re­source­ful­ness

“…WHEN IT COMES TO IN­NO­VA­TIVE AND VER­SA­TILE GEAR WITH AN OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD LEVEL OF QUAL­ITY AND PRICE POINTS KEPT DOWN HERE ON EARTH, FIRST TAC­TI­CAL IS NOT ONLY ON PAR WITH MORE WIDELY KNOWN TAC­TI­CAL GEAR PRO­DUC­ERS, THEY HAVE EARNED A SPOT AT THE TIP OF THE SPEAR.” and de­sign, I think this is a great fea­ture as I never have a prob­lem with hav­ing a place to store more firearms.

The big ques­tion is will the typ­i­cal CCW holder change the lo­ca­tion where they keep their con­cealed weapon to take ad­van­tage of this fea­ture? I per­son­ally think that this would be a mis­take and that a con­cealed weapon should be kept as close to the body as pos­si­ble when fea­si­ble to do so. Now say­ing that, ver­sa­til­ity means hav­ing choices and I can think of mul­ti­ple sce­nar­ios where hav­ing this type of pouch with a backup hand­gun at the ready is a good thing. So at the end of the day, I would give it a cau­tion­ary thumbs-up. Of course, if you do in­tend to make this bag your new EDC hol­ster, then I highly rec­om­mend that you take it with you to the range and use it dur­ing live fire train­ing as well as prac­tic­ing dry fire flow drills through as many dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios as you can in or­der to gain mus­cle mem­ory. The worst thing that could hap­pen in any carry con­fig­u­ra­tion is that you need to draw your firearm rapidly to re­act to a lethal threat and you fum­ble in the dark try­ing to fig­ure out how to ac­cess your gun.

AP­PEAR­ANCE AND COLOR SE­LEC­TION

The bag re­ally does speak for it­self when it comes to ap­pear­ance. It has a tough, sleek and com­pact look that would fit in nicely with any tac­ti­cal en­sem­ble used by mil­i­tary, para­mil­i­tary, po­lice, fire and res­cue, or EMT or­ga­ni­za­tions. One of the few down­sides to these bags is the color se­lec­tion and the bags’ lack of anonymity on the street. The Sum­mit Side Satchel comes in only OD green, coy­ote tan, and black. Hav­ing so few color choices, cou­pled with the bag's openly tac­ti­cal ap­pear­ance truly does scream “I have a gun” which, when trav­el­ing solo or in a small group and try­ing to blend into a crowd of civil­ians is not al­ways the mes­sage you will want to send. Take that fac­tor into con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore de­cid­ing on the Sum­mit Side Satchel’s color and mak­ing it your EDC.

FIRST TAC­TI­CAL SCOR­PION KNIFE TANTO OVERVIEW

Hav­ing a knife on you these days is just plain com­mon sense. Not only do they make great util­ity tools, but as a self-de­fense or an armed com­bat weapon, a knife like the Scor­pion Tanto is an out­stand­ing way to equal­ize size or strength ad­van­tages that your op­po­nent may have had on you. The Scor­pion is a well-de­signed, com­pact, full-tang skele­tonized blade with a sturdy light­weight sheath that can be worn as a neck knife, clipped on your equip­ment, in­side your pocket or on your boot. First Tac­ti­cal boots ac­tu­ally have pock­ets built for this knife. The Scor­pion is small and light­weight and fea­tures Level I or II sheath re­ten­tion op­tions. The lock­ing mech­a­nism is easy to re­move for clean­ing, al­low­ing your blade to with­stand gritty field use.

BREAK­DOWN

Qual­ity and Dura­bil­ity

My is­sues with most of these small full-tang backup blades is their propen­sity to eas­ily break, their lack of sharp­ness and the fact that my large hands tend to make get­ting a solid grip on the lit­tle knife a big chal­lenge. I no­ticed that while the bevel side of the knife came a bit dull, the straight edge side was ex­tremely sharp right out of the pack­ag­ing. I used this blade as my one and only util­ity knife for well over a month and while I was able to dull it on a va­ri­ety of homestead cut­ting chores rel­a­tively quickly, I was able to get it ra­zor sharp again. It is ex­cep­tion­ally sharp on the straight edge, but the tip could use some work.

VER­SA­TIL­ITY AND DE­SIGN

Whether you use the Level I ten­sion fit or the Level II sheath lock­ing mech­a­nism, the Scor­pion will stay in place un­til de­ploy­ment is needed. The in­dex fin­ger lo­ca­tor is strate­gi­cally placed and eas­ily found by touch al­low­ing users to quickly de­ploy the knife when in need. An­other fea­ture that I re­ally en­joyed is its low weight, which pre­vents it from bounc­ing around when you’re on the move. Some of that weight re­duc­tion comes from four drilled holes that can be used to lash

this blade to a shaft to make a spear. Fi­nally, one of my fa­vorite fea­tures on this knife is the jimp­ing on the thumb rest.

AP­PEAR­ANCE

The knife it­self is made from 440A stain­less steel with a matte fin­ish and smooth-ground edges. The fin­ger hole is big enough for most any­one’s in­dex fin­ger and it does a good job of lock­ing the knife into the fist for use as a slash­ing weapon if nec­es­sary. What I like most is that the knife is of a small enough stature that it can be eas­ily worn and ac­ces­si­ble without be­ing a hin­drance or weigh­ing you down.

FIRST TAC­TI­CAL MEDIUM TRI­TAC FLASH­LIGHT OVERVIEW

I was re­ally im­pressed by its er­gonomic de­sign and how well this flash­light felt in the palm of my hand. The Medium Tri­tac flash­light is pow­ered by two Du­ra­cell Ul­tra CR123 bat­ter­ies and con­trolled by First Tac­ti­cal’s In­tel­li­gence But­ton. This sys­tem fea­tures a half-sec­ond de­lay, al­low­ing users the abil­ity to eas­ily find the cor­rect light mode without the dis­trac­tion of hav­ing to search for it.

BREAK­DOWN

Qual­ity and Dura­bil­ity

Just like all of the First Tac­ti­cal prod­ucts that I have used the Tri­tac Light is made of top qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and the ma­chin­ing is solid. The lithium CR123 bat­ter­ies keep the light burn­ing bright when you need it the most. I used this light dur­ing a tor­ren­tial rain and even dropped it in the mud and stepped on it un­til it was com­pletely caked in muck. I picked up the light, wiped off the lens and the light worked as good as new! I never had any is­sues with the switch not work­ing, and the touch was con­sis­tent ev­ery time I used the light.

VER­SA­TIL­ITY AND DE­SIGN

The light has three modes, al­low­ing op­er­a­tors the op­tion of re­duc­ing light out­put and in­creas­ing the run­time.

An in­ter­change­able front bezel al­lows the user to switch from a smooth to a strike bezel for emer­gency or close quar­ter needs. One of my fa­vorite de­sign fea­tures on this aerospace alu­minum flash­light is the ribbed tex­ture on the sides. These pro­vide out­stand­ing con­trol and grip when us­ing the light, whether your hands are bare or gloved. This light also has a unique ad­justable fin­ger bungee that ac­tu­ally con­nects the light to one of your fin­gers. This is very use­ful if you have to use the hand the light is in to grab some­thing or some­one be­cause it saves the time and dis­trac­tion of putting the light in your pocket and makes it al­most im­possi

“…BASED ON MY PAST EX­PE­RI­ENCE WITH FIRST TAC­TI­CAL, NO MATTER WHAT PROD­UCT YOU PUR­CHASE FROM THEM, YOU CAN REST AS­SURED THAT IF THEY PUT THEIR NAME ON IT THEN YOU ARE GET­TING A TOP-OF-THE-LINE PROD­UCT THAT WILL FAITH­FULLY SERVE YOU FOR YEARS TO COME AND AT A PRICE THAT YOU CAN AF­FORD.”

ble to ac­ci­dently drop it.

First Tac­ti­cal's Nextgen pocket clip is an­other great fea­ture that en­abled me to carry the light vir­tu­ally any­where I wanted be­cause of its for­ward and re­verse mount­ing op­tions. It even al­lows you to clip it to the bill of a cap or hat if you need to go com­pletely hands-free.

AP­PEAR­ANCE AND COLOR SE­LEC­TION

This is a medium-sized flash­light that fits nicely in your hand and has a durable an­odized fin­ish in a nice gloss black.

CUS­TOMER SER­VICE

I put the First Tac­ti­cal Cus­tomer Ser­vice Team to the test by at­tempt­ing to con­tact them through mul­ti­ple chan­nels and, more im­por­tantly, I gauged how long it took to ac­tu­ally con­verse with a per­son who was well-versed enough to an­swer my ques­tions or at least con­nect me with some­one who could. To my sur­prise, I was able to talk to some­one quickly when call­ing their cus­tomer care line and my email query got a re­sponse the same day I sent it.

CON­CLU­SION

All in all, I don’t think you can go wrong by or­der­ing any of the prod­ucts in this re­view, and based on my past ex­pe­ri­ence with First Tac­ti­cal, no matter what prod­uct you pur­chase from them, you can rest as­sured that if they put their name on it then you are get­ting a top-of-the-line prod­uct that will faith­fully serve you for years to come and at a price that you can af­ford.

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 ??  ?? A sidearm read­ily fits and is eas­ily drawn from the ded­i­cated top-open­ing EDC pocket on the Sum­mit Side Satchel.
The hid­den CCW pocket on the back of the Sum­mit Side Satchel pro­vides a dis­creet lo­ca­tion to store your sidearm.
A sidearm read­ily fits and is eas­ily drawn from the ded­i­cated top-open­ing EDC pocket on the Sum­mit Side Satchel. The hid­den CCW pocket on the back of the Sum­mit Side Satchel pro­vides a dis­creet lo­ca­tion to store your sidearm.
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 ??  ?? The bag is made of thick ny­lon fab­ric and tough hard­ware mak­ing it feel sturdy and giv­ing con­fi­dence that it can take a beat­ing.
The bag is made of thick ny­lon fab­ric and tough hard­ware mak­ing it feel sturdy and giv­ing con­fi­dence that it can take a beat­ing.
 ??  ?? The First Tac­ti­cal Scor­pion Knife Tanto has a ver­sa­tile sheath that al­lows it to be car­ried in a num­ber of con­ve­nient lo­ca­tions on your body and your gear. The jimp­ing and er­gonomic han­dle de­sign make it easy and com­fort­able to grip, even for those of us with larger hands.
The First Tac­ti­cal Scor­pion Knife Tanto has a ver­sa­tile sheath that al­lows it to be car­ried in a num­ber of con­ve­nient lo­ca­tions on your body and your gear. The jimp­ing and er­gonomic han­dle de­sign make it easy and com­fort­able to grip, even for those of us with larger hands.
 ??  ?? A tough small fixed-blade knife, like First Tac­ti­cal’s Scor­pion, ought to be a part of all EDC load-outs. With carry op­tions that range from your boots to your belt, pack and neck, you’re sure to find just the right spot to carry this blade.
A tough small fixed-blade knife, like First Tac­ti­cal’s Scor­pion, ought to be a part of all EDC load-outs. With carry op­tions that range from your boots to your belt, pack and neck, you’re sure to find just the right spot to carry this blade.
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 ??  ?? Be­low: First Tac­ti­cal gear of­fers thought­ful de­sign, top-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion, and an af­ford­able price.
Left: The Medium Tri­tac flash­light is com­fort­able and ma­neu­ver­able in the hand and easy to con­trol when used in con­junc­tion with a pis­tol for clearing dark spa­ces of threats.
Be­low: First Tac­ti­cal gear of­fers thought­ful de­sign, top-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion, and an af­ford­able price. Left: The Medium Tri­tac flash­light is com­fort­able and ma­neu­ver­able in the hand and easy to con­trol when used in con­junc­tion with a pis­tol for clearing dark spa­ces of threats.
 ??  ?? The Sum­mit Side Satchel is avail­able only in olive drab, coy­ote tan or black. Con­sider the color and ap­pear­ance if cir­cum­stances dic­tate a less tac­ti­cal look.
Left: First Tac­ti­cal’s In­tel­li­gence But­ton sys­tem fea­tures a half-sec­ond de­lay, al­low­ing users to eas­ily find the cor­rect light mode.
The Sum­mit Side Satchel is avail­able only in olive drab, coy­ote tan or black. Con­sider the color and ap­pear­ance if cir­cum­stances dic­tate a less tac­ti­cal look. Left: First Tac­ti­cal’s In­tel­li­gence But­ton sys­tem fea­tures a half-sec­ond de­lay, al­low­ing users to eas­ily find the cor­rect light mode.
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 ??  ?? Above: Two unique fea­tures of the First Tac­ti­cal Medium Tri­tac flash­light in­clude the op­tion of in­stalling an ag­gres­sive crenel­lated bezel or a smooth bezel and the fin­ger bungee re­ten­tion sys­tem that re­duces the chance of drop­ping the flash­light.
Above: Two unique fea­tures of the First Tac­ti­cal Medium Tri­tac flash­light in­clude the op­tion of in­stalling an ag­gres­sive crenel­lated bezel or a smooth bezel and the fin­ger bungee re­ten­tion sys­tem that re­duces the chance of drop­ping the flash­light.
 ??  ?? Left: The shoul­der strap on the Sum­mit Side Satchel is quite long, of­fer­ing a wide range of ad­just­ment lengths and carry height op­tions.
Left: The shoul­der strap on the Sum­mit Side Satchel is quite long, of­fer­ing a wide range of ad­just­ment lengths and carry height op­tions.

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