Prac­ti­cal, No B.S.



Gear es­sen­tials from a guy who makes his liv­ing at the shoot­ing range

You could say I’ve seen it all. As a law en­force­ment and pri­vate sec­tor firearms in­struc­tor and a reg­u­lar stu­dent in a va­ri­ety of training cour­ses, I have had the op­por­tu­nity to see hun­dreds of stu­dents bring all sorts of items to the range. Want a few ex­am­ples? Here are a cou­ple. Try duf­fle bag straps re­pur­posed as ri­fle slings. Or how about cam­era pouches used to hold mag­a­zines? The list goes on, but you get the idea.

You don’t have to take that route, but which di­rec­tion should you go? Af­ter all, your choices are end­less. The fol­low­ing are my rec­om­men­da­tions. These top 10 prod­ucts should make any stu­dent’s training ex­pe­ri­ence bet­ter. All these items are prac­ti­cal, no-bs, hard-use pieces of equip­ment. =

o1. Elec­tronic Hear­ing Pro­tec­tion MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-x

“Ear pro.” While seen by many new stu­dents as Gucci gear and money that could be spent else­where, elec­tronic hear­ing pro­tec­tion pro­vides you the best op­por­tu­nity to get as much as pos­si­ble from your training ex­pe­ri­ence. By am­pli­fy­ing voices while can­celling the sound of gun­fire, you can hear what the in­struc­tor is say­ing and record notes as needed with­out the risk of fail­ing to re­place your ear plugs when the gun­fire re­sumes. New shoot­ers seem less left be­hind dur­ing the class and aren’t mess­ing with “foamies” all day. Elec­tronic hear­ing pro­tec­tion also in­creases the shooter’s aware­ness of what is go­ing on around him/her.

There are many op­tions that range in price from $50 to sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars. My per­sonal choice is the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-x with gel ear cups. In the over-the-head cat­e­gory of hear­ing pro­tec­tion, they pro­vide su­pe­rior sound clar­ity and noise at­ten­u­a­tion, as well as weather re­sis­tance. While on the up­per end of the cost scale, they pro­vide the best all-day com­fort, and I have found them to be ex­tremely durable. In my mind, the ex­pres­sion “buy once, cry once” comes to mind.

On the lower end are the Howard Leight Im­pact Sport. Af­ford­able and durable, they give stu­dents a good prod­uct at a de­cent price.

MSRP $230-$270


o2. Eye Pro­tec­tion ESS Cross­bow Sup­pres­sor Glasses

Like ears, you only get one set of eyes, so you need a qual­ity pair of glasses to pro­vide am­ple pro­tec­tion. As with most of you, I, too, have my fa­vorite pairs of sun­glasses, but for an al­laround range safety glass, the ESS Cross­bow Sup­pres­sor is where it’s at.

The Cross­bow Sup­pres­sor has been my one and only for low-light and no-light shoot­ing for the past sev­eral years. With great wrap­around cov­er­age and lenses that eas­ily switch be­tween clear, smoke and other of­fer­ings, the Sup­pres­sor is great for shoot­ing. Where the Sup­pres­sor truly shines is the ul­tra-thin arms that don’t in­ter­fere with ear­muff-style hear­ing pro­tec­tion.

MSRP $50


o3. Prac­ti­cal Range Wear Vertx Hyde Pants

If you’re look­ing for a pair of com­fort­able pants that will stretch and flex as you move through any series of range drills, Hyde is for you. They have a pocket lay­out and belt-loop siz­ing that lends it­self to larger tac­ti­cal belts. As a ver­sa­tile and durable pair of pants, they don’t look overtly tac­ti­cal, which lends them to range use or ev­ery­day use with­out mak­ing you look like you’re ready to go to war.

Com­pared to a lot of other “less tac­ti­cal” or non­pur­pose-built pants, these work well and meet the needs of the end user with­out lack­ing. I’ve used Vertx uni­forms for pa­trol, tac­ti­cal de­ploy­ments and in­struc­tion for sev­eral years. Un­til the Hyde, they all felt too tac­ti­cal. The Hyde is prac­ti­cal and pro­vides all the form and func­tion needed.

MSRP $75


o4. Bat­tery Stor­age Thyrm Cell Vault

Whether they’re for weapon-mounted lights, hear­ing pro­tec­tion, a shot timer or your flash­light, bat­ter­ies are the com­mon critical com­po­nent. The Thyrm Cell Vault pro­vides se­cure wa­ter­proof stor­age for your AA, AAA and CR123 bat­ter­ies. The Cell Vault can also be used to store other sen­si­tive items such as med­i­ca­tion, sur­vival equip­ment or even to­bacco. The Cell Vault can also mount to MOLLE web­bing.

For me, the Cell Vault beats ev­ery­thing else I have tried for stor­age, from tap­ing to bag­ging to other plas­tic stor­age de­vices.

MSRP $19.99-$29.99


o5. Hand­held Flash­light Stream­light Pro­tac 2L-X Hand­held Flash­light

Let us count the ways that flash­lights are critical. One, they can be used for pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a threat dur­ing a deadly force en­counter. Two, you can use them to find your way out of a dark build­ing dur­ing a power out­age. Three, they are there for you to en­sure that you didn’t leave a critical piece of equip­ment be­hind on the range af­ter a low-light range ses­sion. Those add up to cover some critical el­e­ments, but where do you go from there?

When it comes to dura­bil­ity, per­for­mance and cost, the Stream­light Pro­tac 2L-X is a great hand­held light. This heavy­weight packs 500 lu­mens and is dual-fuel ca­pa­ble with CR123A or recharge­able 18650 bat­ter­ies. I can tell you that this light has yet to dis­ap­point me.

It’s com­pet­i­tively priced, and all-metal con­struc­tion makes this light su­per durable. In the un­likely event that you need their cus­tomer ser­vice, I can vouch for it be­ing amaz­ing.

MSRP $45


o6. Gloves SKD Tac­ti­cal PIG Full Dex­ter­ity

Tac­ti­cal Al­pha Gloves

Over the years I have used a lot of dif­fer­ent gloves, but there is now one that reigns supreme. The SKD PIG FDT Al­pha has be­come my go-to for the last three years. I had an­other glove that I loved, but I was only get­ting a few months out of them for shoot­ing and tac­ti­cal de­ploy­ments. On a whim, I made the switch and haven’t looked back.

The thin, yet durable, palms don’t af­fect my pis­tol shoot­ing, and they aren’t de­stroyed load­ing steel tar­gets or do­ing other range tasks. As a breacher, I am hard on gloves, and these have held up well. Great fit, great feel, durable and wor­thy of a sec­ond pair to en­sure one for training and one for SWAT oper­a­tions. What more can I say?

MSRP $42.95


o7. Range/duty Belt AWS, Inc. Light­weight As­saulter Belt (LAB)

While I of­ten want to run a con­ceal­ment gar­ment with an IWB or AIWB hol­ster, I also like to run an overt belt for sev­eral rea­sons. Fre­quently, I like to train and shoot with a setup that’s sim­i­lar to my duty belt, and the sim­plic­ity of tak­ing my en­tire shoot­ing rig on and off as one belt is re­ally con­ve­nient.

In an ef­fort to get away from the cum­ber­some bat­tle belt, the AWS, Inc. LAB uses an in­ner Vel­cro belt and an outer stiff belt with a co­bra buckle. Plus, move­able MOLLE panel tabs can be placed as needed so that pouches can be mounted.

I pur­chased one of these for teach­ing and liked it so much I bought a sec­ond as a ded­i­cated belt for SWAT call­outs. And my staff thinks I’m cheap.

MSRP $59.25


o8. Ri­fle/carbine Sling Sier­ratac 2-Point Ad­justable Padded Sling

Hav­ing set­tled in for the long haul on one brand, and hav­ing a sec­ond brand as the gen­eral is­sue sling for work, I frankly hadn’t looked at slings in quite some time. My go-to and my is­sued work sling did just fine. En­ter the Sier­ratac 2-Point Sling.

With a metal slider and light­weight com­po­nents, the 2-Point cut weight where it could and added strength that was un­avail­able with plas­tic slid­ing mech­a­nisms. The padded sec­tion makes me grate­ful the pad­ding is there, but there is not so much pad­ding that it im­pacts form or func­tion.

I tran­si­tioned to this sling for all my teach­ing and for my SWAT ri­fle and have not had any is­sues, nor have I been able to iden­tify any short­com­ings.

MSRP $59.99


o9. Mis­cel­la­neous L.A.G. Tac­ti­cal Mag­a­zine Pouches and More When it comes to dura­bil­ity and qual­ity, L.A.G. Tac­ti­cal is my com­pany. I look to them each and every time for their con­ceal­ment and low-vis­i­bil­ity hol­sters and other Ky­dex equip­ment.

One of the items I have is the com­pany’s new Mod­u­lar Carry Sys­tem (M.C.S.), which is avail­able as a stand­alone in­di­vid­ual car­rier or you can at­tach it us­ing the flex­i­ble bands. This is the def­i­ni­tion of form and func­tion. Where past Ky­dex de­signs fell short by be­com­ing too long when mak­ing a two-mag­a­zine or other item car­rier, the M.C.S. shines. Why? There is still flex­i­bil­ity be­tween the two items as it is two con­nected pouches rather than one long one.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the in­her­ent abil­ity to adapt or change one piece to the task or as end user pref­er­ence dic­tates is hugely ben­e­fi­cial. I have been us­ing L.A.G. Tac­ti­cal Ky­dex car­ri­ers on duty daily for sev­eral years with­out hes­i­ta­tion or com­plaint.


Varies by prod­uct


10. Shot Timer Com­pet­i­tive Edge Dy­nam­ics CED7000

Us­ing a shot timer pro­vides you with valu­able data to mea­sure your per­for­mance as you gain ex­pe­ri­ence. While not some­thing you are likely to use in a shoot­ing class, you should be us­ing a shot timer for your per­sonal range ses­sions be­tween training classes.

Com­pet­i­tive Edge Dy­nam­ics’ CED7000 is a small and ver­sa­tile shot timer with a loud buzzer, and it is sim­ple to op­er­ate. The CED7000 is small enough to hang around your neck and not be no­ticed or be a dis­trac­tion. It is recharge­able, which is nice.

If you want some­thing less de­pen­dent on con­ven­tional elec­tric­ity, the CED Pocket Pro II, which runs off of a 9-volt bat­tery, is a good op­tion.

MSRP $119.95


Peak per­for­mance is the pri­or­ity, and Joshua Jack­son’s (rear) gear rec­om­men­da­tion is in­tended for that rea­son.

The au­thor highly rec­om­mends elec­tronic “ears” be­cause they am­plify voices while can­celling the sound of gun­fire. A qual­ity of pair of “eyes” are also critical for the range.It may not be sexy, but the Cell Vault is es­sen­tial gear for the range.

Stretch and flex. The au­thor needs pants that will co­op­er­ate with him as he moves through a mul­ti­tude of dif­fer­ent move­ments and drills while teach­ing.

Flash­lights also play an im­por­tant role, and this one packs 500 blind­ing lu­mens.

SKD Tac­ti­cal’s gloves pro­vide a great fit, great feel and great dura­bil­ity, says the au­thor.

Jack­son prefers the 2-Point be­cause it cut weight and added strength that he says was un­avail­able with plas­tic slid­ing mech­a­nisms.

Among other ben­e­fits, the AWS, Inc. LAB fea­tures an in­ner Vel­cro belt and an outer stiff belt with a co­bra buckle.

A close look at some of the au­thor’s fa­vorite ac­ces­sories.

A shot timer is a great way to enhance your skills and pro­vide valu­able data to mea­sure your per­for­mance.

From an­other per­spec­tive, this also cap­tures a close look at some of the au­thor’s fa­vorite ac­ces­sories.

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