This month I am featuring some new cutting edge products along with some old favorites that have stood the test of time. Each column, I try to bring you recommendations on carry gear that you may find useful in your daily life as a responsible armed citizen. As always, I appreciate the reader feedback I have received, and I would like to hear about your Real World Carry Gear.
SureFire Echo There is something to be said for simple tools. Multi-tools and Swiss Army knives are pretty cool toys, but sometimes you just need a knife, and a lot of it. While I generally carry a folding knife, there are times when a fixed blade is nice to have. Fixed blades are quick to access, provide a large blade, lots of leverage, and more inherent strength than a folder. I recently had a chance to tour SureFire’s Edged Weapons Division, and meet its director, well-known custom knife-maker, Steve Ryan. Steve is an exceptionally nice guy and a true edged weapon craftsman. While I was there, I asked Steve to touch up the blade on my SureFire Delta folder that I carry all the time, and I left with my newest favorite knife—the SureFire Echo
The Echo is a simple fixed blade that just works. The Micarta handles offer a secure grip that fits my hand exceptionally well. The 4.5 inch spear point blade is crafted from crucible CPM 3V carbon steel with a black rust-proofing coating. The Echo was actually designed to the specs of an undisclosed elite military unit that participates in “combat swimmer operations.” The blade itself has an asymmetrical grind and is partially serrated with extremely aggressive serrations reminiscent of a hand saw blade. The Echo comes with an injection molded kydex sheath with a special Tek-Lok belt attachment containing an integrated DMT diamond sharpener. The integrated sharpening stone is an innovative idea that is extremely practical in the field.
The Echo is priced at a hefty $300, but you are getting a high quality limited production knife from a respected custom knife-maker. I can’t imagine that a knife of this quality will ever fail, but if it does, you have the full backing of SureFire’s no nonsense lifetime guarantee. Not everyone may want to carry a knife of this size on a daily basis, but this Echo knife would make a fine addition to your arsenal of carry gear. Tyler T-Grip The revolver T-Grip by Tyler Manufacturing is a truly classic accessory that has been around in largely the same form for decades. The purpose of the T-grip is to fill in the area behind the trigger guard on revolvers with older style wooden factory grips. Most modern grip designs fill in this area behind the trigger guard, but the original factory grips on many revolvers did not. Thus, the T-Grip was designed to work with factory grips and provide a more comfortable grip without any modification to your gun or grips. Installation is as simple as taking the grips off, sliding the T-Grip in place, and putting them back on. So why use a T-Grip instead of a whole new grip? Older factory grips still work very well, and there is something to be said for keeping the original look of an older wheelgun. I love the look and feel of the black T-Grip on my Smith & Wesson Model 38 Bodyguard that is almost as old as I am. I have tried other grips, but I keep coming back to this “old school” solution.
T-Grips are available for selected Smith & Wesson, Colt, and Ruger revolvers in a variety of colors and materials. Prices range from $20 to $33. You can find additional details at www.t-grips.com, or call (800) 654-8415. Hogue Exotic Hardwood Grips Wood grips are traditional, look great, and are very functional. Don’t get me wrong, rubber grips most certainly have their place. Rubber grips are relatively inexpensive, are easy to hang on to, and help absorb recoil. But, they also have a tendency to hang up on cover garments when carrying concealed. This can lead to problems with the grip printing through your cover garment, or even worse, fouling your draw. On my game guns or hunting guns, I like rubber grips. But, on my carry guns, I prefer smooth grips that won’t get hung up on my clothes. And, as I mentioned, they look great too. Hogue is a well-known manufacturer of quality grips. Hogue may be best known for their rubber grips, like the soft rubber Monogrip grips that are standard on many Smith & Wesson revolvers. However, Hogue also makes an impressive line of wood grips. The wood grips come in many different styles with, and without checkering, finger grooves, or other cosmetic touches. Hogue’s expert in-house craftsmen produce grips from any variety of exotic hardwoods, including Rose Wood, Coco Bolo, Goncalo Alves, Kingwood, and Pau Ferro. Grip production starts on modern CNC machines and finishes with hand polishing and waxing. The results are very impressive. I used the compact Pau Ferro grips pictured here during a 500+ round two-day revolver course, and I was very happy with their performance. Hogue’s wood grips are available for a large number of revolvers and semi-autos. Prices start around $25 for some semi-autos and go up from there.
The prices are very reasonable, and the selection is excellent. Hogue stands behind their products, and you won’t be disappointed with the value you receive. Bokor Subcom F In the April 2007 issue, I reviewed a very small folding knife for everyday cutting tasks. A RWCG reader suggested that I look at one of his favorite min-folders, the Bokor Subcom F. The Subcom falls into the category of a “go anywhere” utility knife that is not tactical, but is very practical. A small knife can always be with you to take on the mundane cutting tasks that life presents all the time. The Subcom is quite small, weighing in at 2.5 ounces, with a blade just shy of two inches.
Bokor describes this as a “municipal friendly” blade length, since it should not exceed the maximum blade length limitations anywhere that knives are legal to carry. The unique part of this knife is the short and stubby blade shape that is nearly as high as it is long. This makes for a tough short blade with plenty of belly. The blade is partially serrated and crafted from quality AUS-8 steel. The handle is constructed from fiberglass reinforced nylon. For a small knife, it is loaded with features. The Subcom boasts a true frame lock that makes it very strong. The deep index finger groove makes for a strong grip on the knife, and the handle is nicely textured on the non-clip side. The knife also features ambidextrous thumb studs, a reversible pocket clip, and a lanyard hole. The unique shape of this knife makes it function well as a money clip if desired. You could not fit any more features into a knife this small! This Boker knife comes in a variety of handle and blade colors, including desert tan. For small everyday knives, value is also very important. Little knives like this tend to get lost or abused. The Subcom F has an M.S.R.P. of $41.95, but can be had at street prices around $30. The Subcom F is a great value in a small pocketknife, and is cheap enough to own more than one! SureFire Fox Ears and Sonic Defenders While hearing protection might not be “carry gear” per se, it’s important to all of us. I have tried any number of devices, from simple foam earplugs to expensive electronic ear muff type protection. These SureFire Fox Ears are the next logical step in electronic hearing protection—and it’s a big step indeed. The Fox Ears are small electronic ear plugs that resemble “in the ear” hearing aids. A variety of hypoallergenic polymer sleeves and snap-on tips are included to ensure a proper fit and seal in your ear canal. The units are color coded so you can tell the right ear unit from the left ear unit. Once in place, the Fox Ears are nearly invisible, and are very comfortable for long periods of use. These ear plugs offer not only hearing protection, but hearing enhancement as well. Each runs on a single hearing aid type battery and amplifies and transmits ambient sound. The volume is separately controllable, and can be adjusted while in the ear. The volume can actually be cranked up to a point where your normal hearing is significantly enhanced if desired. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Fox Ears technology is the advanced digital noise compression technology. Unlike analog electronic hearing protection, which merely mutes or “clips” loud sounds, the Fox Ears compress dangerous noise levels to comfortable volumes—so you don’t miss hearing anything that is happening, you just hear it comfortably. This is an invaluable improvement when you are trying to talk to someone at the range while guns are being fired. I used the Fox Ears for a two-day training class and absolutely loved them. These are perfect for a training environment when you want to be able to hear instruction and range commands. I took them out briefly during the lunch break, but otherwise wore them all day with ease. Instructions on the range could be easily heard, even while others were shooting. You can even use a cell phone while continuing to have your hearing protection in place. These Fox Ears are a huge improvement in comfort and practicality over traditional electronic ear muffs. Of course, cutting edge technology doesn’t come at bargain prices. The SureFire Fox Ears retail for a hefty $780 at present, although I expect that price will come down significantly over time. For those on a tighter budget, SureFire also offers the EP-3 Sonic Defenders, a non-electronic soft polymer ear plug that incorporates the patented Hocks Noise Braker filter technology. This simple design blocks out loud noises, but permits the passage of safe sound levels, like routine sounds or conversations. The EP-3s are very comfortable, and are far more versatile than most of the low-end generic ear plugs on the market. The Sonic Defenders retail for a very reasonable $9.95 per pair, and come with a small carrying case.
Thanks to the United States Concealed Carry Association for this article. To get their free newsletter Armed American click here.