Gear A Report from First Tactical’s Inaugural Range Event Dave Merrill November 19, 2015 Recently First Tactical held their First Annual Range Day in Phoenix, Arizona. I and a handful of other media-types packed up and made our way down to the American Southwest. The event was to be held at one of our favorite places: CowTown Range. If you’ve seen pictures of anyone here doing something badass in the desert, there’s a good chance it happened there. Along with a slew of staff and equipment, First Tactical had representatives on site from Brethren Armament, Suarez International, KE Arms, Atibal, and Liberty Ammunition. They would talk to us about their current product lines, training efforts, and to allow us some trigger time. We’ll start with gear and end with gun porn. If you haven’t yet heard of First Tactical, don’t feel bad—they just officially launched products this past July so they’re relatively new. I had a bit of experience with some of their clothing and gloves at a training course and was looking forward to seeing what else they had in store. In order to keep costs down for departments and end-users, First Tactical is using a direct-sale method. This means that instead of going through authorized dealers, purchases will be made directly from the factory with a number of regional representatives scattered across the country (many of them retired law enforcement themselves). While this largely means you won’t be able to just walk into a “Tactical” store and try on a pair of First Tactical Tactix pants, all is not lost. Items that are sized (like clothing) come shipped with return labels. Doesn’t fit? Send it back and get the right size. While this may take a little longer than driving across town, it boils down to you saving a few bucks—something especially important to police departments with poor public funding. Having handled a lot of items from new start ups, one of the first things that struck me was that the goods obviously weren’t first generation. Companies often start out with a small and somewhat clumsy lineup, and if they actually stick around, later items become more streamlined and refined. Right out of the gate First Tactical didn’t put on a sophomoric effort, and there’s a reason for that too. Though the company is new, all of the people behind it are not. Dan Costa, founder of 5.11, along with his daughter Kelsie Costa, recruited heavily not just from the tactical clothing community but from first responders themselves, and designers of other high-end outdoors gear. The result is a rapidly expanding line of equipment tailor-made to, in their words “Serve those who Serve Others”. Boots, socks, flashlights, knives, jackets, gloves, cases, backpacks—and more. A complete line in no time. I’ll briefly bring you through what they had for us. You can anticipate some more lengthy reviews in the future. All of the clothing was designed to ‘bridge the gap’ between the street and the [Law Enforcement] office. Something that could be presentable and functional in either situation. Gloves can be a personal thing. Anyone I know that uses them with any sort of regularity has some strong opinions on them. Hand sizes can vary greatly and the need for proper fit is far more pivotal than with pants or even shoes. The First Tactical line of gloves started life as a crossover from Costa’s equestrian line, Noble Equine. Their hard knuckle set doesn’t look as aggressive as their competitors due to the knuckles being hidden between fabric layers. Each knuckle protector also individually floats to better conform to your hand as you flex and move. The securing Velcro strap also sports a cutout to accommodate the bigassed watches everyone seems to be sporting these days. After using these for about a week straight in a course, my only complaint is that they should be available in colors other than black (*cough* FDE *cough*). As mentioned, First Tactical has a line of flashlights and knives. Prices can vary widely on these much needed accessories. It isn’t hard to spend a couple hundred dollars on these essential tools. In keeping with their ideals on affordability, the price ranges are less egregious than you may imagine. $29-$59. The flashlights were made with run time in mind over everything else. This can be particularly hard to pull off when utilizing common batteries (AA and AAA) but they advertise good run times. At that price, no, you’re not getting an American made light, but First Tactical isn’t trying to hide the fact. You could tell that First Tactical put a lot of time in their backpacks. I highly suspect it was a primary focus for their lead designer, Cory Nykoluk. It doesn’t quite look like a European bag but it isn’t quite American either. You can tell what they’re going for. Modular cinch straps, conscientious storage via gobs of configurable pockets, and most surprisingly, the ability to incorporate a rifle case. The Tactix 1-Day Plus bag is loaded with gobs of features and deserves an article onto itself. The pouches featured a different take on a MOLLE/PALS locking mechanism. They can also be configured for a high or low-vis internally. You can see the boots are stylized in a form that many first responders will immediately be familiar with, and thus should fit within uniform standards with many agencies. Though it was obvious to me that most of the gear was tailored towards law enforcement, all is not lost to those that aren’t. While I’m unlikely to be seen gallivanting around town or on the range in one of their BDU shirts, with pants all bets are off. Flashlights, socks, pouches, backpacks, knives et al know no such limitations. Onto the shooting and gun porn portion: Liberty Ammunition had pork parts to shoot (the North Carolinan in me shed a single tear). I wouldn’t call it the most scientific test regarding ammunition efficacy, but the exit wound did look like the Predator’s mouth. While Suarez International didn’t invent the red-dot-on-a-Glock, they certainly helped tremendously regarding popularizing the concept. Also, Iain runs around with an mid-90’s open class pistol all the time. Who knew? For more on Suarez’s viewpoint on red dots click here. KE Arms was showing off all manner of rifles and parts. You can see a lot more from them here. Of course, we had to get some MP5 action from Brethren Armament. You may recall getting our grubbies on them back in Issue 13. Having caught a taste of what First Tactical is bringing to the table, I’m readily looking forward to seeing more from them. You can visit First Tactical online here, or give them a follow on Facebook or YouTube. 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