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Blackhawk’s ‘No Fail’ with Travis Kennedy

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Blackhawk Tactical, founded in 1993 by former Navy SEAL Mike Noell, is best known for holsters and cut-and-sew items, but also an excellent, and affordable, source for a variety of firearm components. Most recently, they've ventured into media through their brand new ‘No Fail' series.  In each episode, Blackhawk tells the story of men and women and how their own No Fail Mission shaped them to become the people they are today. Episode one features former Navy SEAL and owner of Kennedy Defensive Solutions, Travis Kennedy.

No Fail – Episode 1: Former Navy SEAL Travis Kennedy

Travis Kennedy is no stranger to adversity. A graduate of  BUD/S class 267 and completion of training in 2008, Kennedy attended the Special Operations Medical course in Ft. Bragg, NC. Arriving to SEAL Team Four in 2009, it wasn't long before he was on his first deployment overseas.

“As a new guy you can say my nerves were through the roof, but I was ready to prove myself among the men I looked up to,” says Kennedy. “My first deployment was to Afghanistan from 2010-2011. I was the junior medic and this was the deployment where on our first turnover mission a helicopter went down and we lost all but one operator from the crash, I talk about this in the no fail video.”

After his first deployment, Kennedy then deployed again to Afghanistan in 2012-2013, eventually returning to Coronado thereafter to become a BUD/S instructor from 2013-2015. After a last deployment to Columbia, with a focus on foreign internal defense and counter narcotics, Kennedy finished out his time as the leading Chief Petty Officer of the Special Operations Urban Combat Training Center.

Through his business Kennedy Defensive Solutions, a company offering both firearms and physical training, Kennedy connected with Blackhawk and the No Fail series was a great fit. “It was about telling the story of my fellow teammates, providing a message that I hope would have a massive impact on a lot of people who may need to hear it,” says Kennedy. “I was interested because of the Blackhawk team and the reputation they held. For me, it was about the excellent reputation they had on providing quality gear to military and LEO. I want to be a part of a company that stood for something and was backed by people with the utmost integrity and motivation.”

The release of the film on May 18 is followed by a series of No Fail Tactic videos, in which Kennedy demonstrates combat techniques learned during his years as a special operator.

We asked Kennedy about some of his favorite Blackhawk gear.

Knoxx Axiom A-Frame Carbine Stock

The Knoxx Axiom A-Frame Carbine Stock's  biggest draw is the comfort at the shoulder. “The stock has a unique cushion on the rear of the stock that offers comfort unlike any I have used,” says Kennedy. “It is really noticeable when I conduct rapid fire drills and helps facilitate better recoil management.”

The proprietary design and honeycomb shock absorbing pad is comfortable and makes a difference with recoil management. As Kennedy describes, “The Knoxx stock offers a lot of advantages over the traditional M4 stock, it cuts down on the overall bulk over the traditional stock, and aids in preventing any snag hazards for when I am wearing body armor, and clothing.” The stock includes multiple integrated QD sling mounts and a forward length-of-pull (LOP) adjustment cam. An integrated fit-adjustment screw for custom setup is also included.

Knoxx Pistol Grip

With lots of different grip options to choose from, this grip is no frills. As Kennedy describes, “The Knoxx grip is unique in of itself, as it has a great textured grip allowing better control in my hand. I also like the palm angle that the grip offers giving the user a better ergonomic feel.” The ergonomics, improved grip angle, and perfectly designed palm swell give this grip a natural and intuitive feel. And, it's only $17.

Hybrid Fold Sights

The Hybrid Fold Sights from Blackhawk are good, reliable, and cost effective option. The sights are built solidly. “I like the sleek design and they are not bulky on my AR platform,” says Kennedy. “Another big thing for me is they are not made of cheap material, far too often cheap sights will break and I don’t have to worry about that with the hybrid fold sights.”

The sights are of a hybrid construction with a solid metal alloy core with a co-polymer jacket. One of the proprietary features of the dual aperture sight is an embedded rare earth magnet securing the sight flat to the sight tower. The aperture flips up with ease and then stays up, being as it is pulled by the magnet. Certainly adds some confidence as you are making that adjustment. Deploying the sights is extremely easy with or without gloves. You can also adjust the windage and elevation without tools.

AR-15 No Latch Ambidextrous Charging Handle

Released in 2017, the AR-15 No Latch Ambidextrous Charging Handle features a leaf-spring design built into the handle itself, eliminating the need for a latch on the charging handle. The no-latch design also removes a weak point, doing away with the small roll pin and spring entirely.

The ambidextrous factor is important as well. “This is one of my favorite piece of kit for my AR platform as it allows me to charge the weapon regardless if I am shooting on my strongside or weakside,” says Kennedy. “I conduct a lot of weak side training or off shoulder training and having this is a must for me.”

The charging handle itself is made from 7075 aluminum. Available in four colors: black, gray, flat dark earth and olive drab.

About Blackhawk Tactical

Many companies are born when an individual experiences frustration with issued gear. In 1990, Navy SEAL Mike Noell fast roped down from a helicopter into Iraq. When Noell hit the ground, a shoulder strap on his backpack loaded with sixty pounds of gear failed and the backpack heaved backward. The backpack pulled Noell off balance and he fell to the ground. When his face touched dirt he found himself staring at a ‘Bouncing Betty,' an old German-style land mine, ten inches away. Mike and his team were in a minefield. At that moment, Mike vowed that if he survived, he’d build a better backpack.

In 1993, after he left the Navy, Mike's promise to himself became a reality. He began building heavy-duty backpacks in his garage and selling them to the SEAL teams. Blackhawk was officially born. Fast forward a few years and Mike had taken his small cut-and-sew operation in his garage eventually into a 65,000 square foot factory with dozens of different patents. After 17 years of leading the charge as CEO, Noell moved on but has passed the torch to many who continue the mission. Today, Blackhawk has multiple contracts with both domestic and international military and law enforcement.

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