Top Ten Tactical Christmas

Ten Gift Ideas for Uncertain Times

Gift ideas for 2020 with a focus on preparedness.

Right out of the gate, the year 2020 brought us a new virus. The resulting lockdowns destroyed what was likely the strongest US economy any of us will ever see. But in true hold-my-beer fashion, 2020 also featured massive wildfires, murder hornets, and double hurricanes. Left Coast cities like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington were overtaken by angry mobs and looters. With ever-present threats looming prominently all year, 2020 taught us that preppers aren’t so whacky after all. Take a look at this year’s Top Ten Tactical Christmas list for gift ideas to make yourself and your loved ones more prepared in 2021.

DFNDR Armor makes back pack plates that are lightweight, affordable, and effective.

DFNDR Armor

Let’s face it, 2020 had some bad things happen. There are few things worse than having someone shoot at you, especially if you didn’t remember your body armor. Most of us aren’t willing to wear chest rigs every day as a precaution, but nearly all of us use backpacks. DFNDR Armor makes lightweight body armor plates in many sizes and shapes. They offer backpack plates to fit eight different sized backpacks in three levels of ballistic protection. The Level IIIA in 9.5×12.5 weighs just a hair over a pound and has been independently tested to stop a variety of rounds including 9mm, .45, 5.7, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum. This plate is so light I thought the box was empty when it arrived. DFNDR also makes Level III and III+ rifle rated backpack plates.

DFNDR Armor plates can be hard to find in stock. In speaking with a DFNDR representative they “have been swamped since March.” It is easy to understand why. DFNDR does extensive research to develop what they believe to be the best lightweight plates available, not just something to throw into the market. “People are going to be betting their life on these plates, so we have to make sure they will work when it counts.” The plates are a sandwich of highly engineered materials around a ceramic core that is designed to retain ballistic integrity after multiple hits. DFNDR backpack plates range in price from $150 to $850 depending on size and protection level. The company also makes chest rigs and armor to fit them. These were not available for testing at the time of this writing, but we will get something in later this year for a full review. www.dfndrarmor.com

Author’s Seekins Precision rifle with a few modifications. Seekins makes great rifles.

Seekins Precision

The malicious cloud of 2020 mostly peaceful riots had a silver lining. Once and for all we have answered the Leftist question “who needs an AR15?”. Answer: you do. I’ve lost track of the number of people asking me “what AR should I buy?” At this point, the answer may well be “whichever one you can find.” Biden has promised to ban them, so the best time to buy one is now. The second best time to buy one is now.

All of that said, if you can get a Seekins Precision modern sporting rifle then buy it. At $925 the Seekins Precision SP15 is a great option. For 3-gun competitions, I use the SP15 modified with a Proof Research barrel. The rifle was very accurate right out of the box, but I won it at a charity raffle, so I rationalized spending more money on the carbon fiber barrel. It is a tack driver even though it gets thrown around more and run harder than Cardi B. This Lewiston, Idaho company is a great American manufacturing story. Seekins Precision was founded by Glen Seekins in his garage. From its humble beginnings, the company has grown exponentially and today produces outstanding precision rifles as well as gas guns. I have toured their Lewiston factory and their culture of quality, attention to detail, and service permeates the premises. I recommend them without reservation. www.seekinsprecision.com

The 5.11 RUSH72 pack is designed for a 72 hour excursion.

5.11 Tactical

Preparation is about advanced planning and having options. “Go” bags have become very popular lately. Having a packed and staged bag at the ready is on every prepper’s to-do list. 5.11 Tactical makes the RUSH series of packs that are named for the number of hours of gear they are designed to carry. Models for 12, 24, 72, and 100 hours are available. The RUSH72™ is a large pack designed for a three-day bugout. It is well-engineered to carry the weight and still keep the user comfortable. I counted over 25 different pouches and compartments in this bag. Several are zippered mesh to keep items organized and easy to find. The eye protection pouch is fleece lined and right up top by the grab handle. There are several options for placing a DFNDR plate in this pack.

The outside of the pack has MOLLE for more customization as well as loop sections for nameplates and morale patches. A 60-ounce hydration pocket utilizes a protected hose port on the right or left side of the top of the bag. The RUSH72 is made of tough 1050D nylon and is available in five colors. $179.99 at www.511tactical.com

The 5.11 Field Watch 2.0 is tough, functional, and not overly busy.

When bugging out, it is wise to have a way to tell time other than with your smartphone. The 5.11 Field Watch 2.0 is a good looking watch made to last. The face layout is uncluttered and easy to read, with larger numbers at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The second hand is orange, while the minute and hour hands are mostly white from the phosphorescent material found there. The unidirectional ratcheting bezel also has luminous markings. A mineral crystal and stainless steel case protect the Japanese movement to a depth of 330 feet underwater. A nylon band completes the package. Available in black or kangaroo. Simple, tough, and easy to use, the 5.11 Field Watch 2.0 can be found for $169.99.

The Hexgrid can be customized to any application: (left to right) night hunting set up, front seat view, two Gear Sets from 5.11.

Finally, from 5.11 we have the Hexgrid vehicle ready seat. This is a loop matrix that may be mounted on the front or back of a vehicle seat. MOLLE or hook-backed pouches may be mounted in myriad ways to customize your loadout. The system mounts to the vehicle seat by way of four adjustable straps. I was surprised at how solid the setup was with just three straps attached (with a side airbag I didn’t want to use the middle strap). The Hexgrid is designed to accept any of the 5.11 Gear Sets, which are pouches with clips on the top and hook fabric on the back. Admin pouches, medical kits, ammunition pouches, flashlights, knives, and more can be mounted on the Hexgrid. The hexagonal holes allow angled mounting for easier access depending on the application. Another option is to have mission-specific Hexgrids that you just clip on and go. $45.

The Tactical Operator Response Kit is intended to be worn on a chest rig or backpack.

Sheepdog Response

Speaking of medical kits, every vehicle needs one, every pack needs one, everybody needs one. The Tactical Operator Response Kit ($135) is an IFAK (individual first aid kit) designed for use at the point of injury for those in tactical situations. At only 7×4.5×2.75 inches, it can be mounted on a chest rig without being in the way. The TORK bag contains protective gloves, gauze, a tourniquet, trauma shears, dressings, a Nasopharyngeal Airway 28F with Lubricant, a HyFin® Vent Chest Seal Twin Pack, an ARS® Needle Decompression Kit, and a polycarbonate eye shield.

These kits are made to order by North American Rescue but can be found on the Sheepdog Response website. Sheepdog Response offers intensive training in defensive shooting, grappling, situational awareness, and trauma response. Items on their website are thoroughly evaluated by top tier professionals. Buy with confidence. www.sheepdogresponse.com

The 0308 knife from Zero Tolerance features a hefty blade, G10 and titanium sides, and an adjustable pivot nut.

Zero Tolerance Knives

Searching for a great-looking, high quality, hard use, made in the USA every day carry knife? Look no further than Zero Tolerance. This Tualatin, Oregon company makes some great knives. They design, prototype, test, and manufacture their knives in house. Their award-winning designs are highly functional and a joy to use. I have a couple of models and have been carrying them for a few years. My friend’s son recently shot a whitetail and forgot his knife at the truck. I handed him my Zero Tolerance knife and he made short work of gutting the deer.

Recently Zero Tolerance introduced the 0308 folder, and it is a beefy take on a pocket EDC. Its 3.7-inch blade is made of CPM 20 CV steel and flips open with a solid “chunk” sound. The blade is stonewashed to hide scratches from its intended hard use. One side of this flipper is titanium and the other is G10. Both sides are 3D machined for a solid grip. The pivot has a custom nut that can be adjusted with a half-inch open-end wrench. The ball bearing action flips open easily and provides a solid lock up. The titanium framelock has a hardened steel lock bar to secure the open blade. The pocket clip mount is compatible with aftermarket clips, and there is a hole for a lanyard. $300 www.zt.kaiusa.com

The Leupold Tracer glasses offer excellent clarity and protection.

Leupold Eye Protection

Leupold has made high-quality riflescopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes since forever. Now they also produce eye protection. The Leupold Tracer provides ANSI Z87.1+ ballistic protection and includes interchangeable lenses. The polarized bronze mirrored lenses have Diamond Scratch resistance and can be swapped out for the included yellow high visibility or clear lenses. The lenses also have a dirt and water shedding Guard-ion hydrophobic coating. Both the nose bridge and the stems have grippy material that keeps these glasses on your face when hunting, shooting, or kicking around. The Tracer rides close to the face without touching on the cheeks and is very comfortable. Leupold Tracers come with a limited lifetime warranty and retails for $235. www.leupold.com

Never say never. This Black Rifle Ready to Drink Coffee is delicious.

Black Rifle Ready to Drink Coffee

It is no secret that I drink a lot of Black Rifle Coffee. Their products were featured in prior articles, so I wasn’t expecting to cover them again. I also never drink coffee out of a can. Well, I used to never do so. As much as I thought I hated RTD (ready to drink) coffee, this stuff is very good. When would RTD come in handy? When your hunting buddy drives 16 hours straight, won’t let you drive along the way, and then just as dusk hits and the deer start popping out he pulls over and says “you drive, I’m too tired.” True story. Having these in the truck is like having a can of instant awake on hand and at times like these, it can be a lifesaver. Beyond that, it tastes good and has 7 grams of protein. Black Rifle RTD is a mocha expresso that packs 200 milligrams of caffeine in each 11-ounce can. Available at www.blackriflecoffee.com. $35 for a case of 12.

The author’s new boots. The last Danners lasted over 20 years.

Danner Pronghorn Boots

Recently I had to replace my decades-old Danner Full Curl boots. At the last SHOT Show, I talked to someone in the booth to get a suggestion on a replacement. The Danner Pronghorn 8 inch 400g waterproof boot got the nod. I used these this year on a two-week hunt in weather that ranged from below zero to 70 degrees and they worked great. They are super comfortable out of the box, with essentially no break-in period. The Goretex membrane kept my feet dry and the PrimaLoft insulation did its job in the below zero weather. The Vibram Pronghorn outsole performed well in rocks, mud, dirt, grass, and water.

These boots were comfortable all day long on the hunt. The engineering behind that outcome has to do with the Terra Force Next platform that uses an internal and external shank system for support and torsion control. Danner offers the Pronghorn in uninsulated as well as up to 1200g of PrimaLoft. This version at 400g strikes a good balance for general all-around use. $240 at www.danner.com

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About the author: Steve Gaspar has been writing for gun and hunting publications for over 20 years. He is an avid hunter, staunch 2A supporter, and occasional 3-gun competitor. His favorite outdoor activities are calling predators and shooting suppressed rifles.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Michael H February 12, 2021, 7:23 pm

    Once and for all we have answered the Leftist question “who needs an AR15?”. Answer: you do.

    I’ve been telling all of my liberal friends that for awhile now and even more since 1/6. If they’re scared of the military / redneck / gun-nut association with the 5.56 ARs, I suggest AK’s (Che and commies, right?) or PCCs because we all live in cities with relatively short ranges. 😉

  • Al Margheim November 30, 2020, 11:33 am

    Where did you get the triangular pad in the front seat photo of the hexgrid pictures? Thanks.

    • Steve Gaspar November 30, 2020, 1:22 pm

      That triangular pad is part of the bottom strap. It is attached to the strap and the ends go around or in my case through the seat and clip on the bottom of the Hexgrid. Thanks for the question. I should have been more clear about that. The pad itself just feels like part of the seat by the way.

  • Gabriel Simmons November 29, 2020, 3:58 pm

    Also add the Gerber Strongarm for the irony (It’s made in Portland OR.

    • Steve Gaspar November 30, 2020, 1:24 pm

      Yes the Portland area has many good manufacturers either in or adjacent to the gun industry.

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