The Best Tacticool Gear From SHOT Show 2016

Gear
A 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Beret engages target with a M4 assault rifle on Eglin AFB, Fla., Feb 08, 2012.
U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Steven Young

In January, more than 64,000 firearms enthusiasts, law enforcement officials, and professional warfighters poured into the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas for the 38th annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show. As the largest trade show for the firearms and tactical industries in the world, SHOT offers a comprehensive glimpse of what the future of war fighting has in store. 2016 saw the event’s biggest turnout so far, with upward of 1,6000 exhibiting companies crowding the showroom floor.


Here we spotlight seven standouts that belong on every professional warfighter’s packing list this year.

Thrym Cell Vault

Keeping batteries dry and easily accessible while on mission can be a pain the ass. The Cell Vault by Thrym is a simple and smartly designed solution to that problem. Slim and waterproof, the Vault uses less than one MOLLE column and holds the three most common battery types for tactical accessories: AA, AAA, and CR123.

Unity Tactical TAPS

Pressure switches are nothing new, but what’s currently available often comes up short in the durability department. Enter Unit Tactical’s Tactical Augmented Pressure Switch, or TAPS. Encased in a molded polymer body, TAPS features two programmable buttons, as well as removable cables, which are compatible with tactical devices made by different companies. TAPS also features a mechanical backup, so the switches will continue to function if the batteries die.

Eytomic Research EB15 Earplugs

The future of tactical hearing protection has arrived. While providing ample hearing protection from harmful noise like explosives and gunfire, the electronics inside the EB15 ear plugs by Eytomic Research allow speech and ambient noise to be heard clearly. The smaller and lighter earbuds also mean less bulk and more comfort compared to full-size headsets and earmuffs.

MTEK USA Flux Helmet

A photo posted by MTEK (@mtekusa) on

The tactical helmet market has been evolving a lot lately, with many manufacturers now offering advanced designs and more customization. At 2.2 pounds, MTEK USA’s Flux is one of the lightest helmet shells ever. It also features a unique boltless design with no holes drilled into the shell, which makes it one of the safest helmets on the market. And with accessory rails featuring the new Magpul MLOK attachment system, the Flux is fully customizable right out of the box.

Elcan Specter HCO

A photo posted by outlaw185 (@outlaw185) on

With the holographic weapon sight market now wide open since design flaws were revealed in the dominant EOtech line of optics, many shooters are looking for a worthy replacement. Elcan’s Specter Hologram Combat Optic is it. The HCO features a combination one-minute angle dot and 75 MOA circle, which will be familiar to users of other holographic sights. But perhaps the most impressive feature is a 1,200-hour battery life on optimal settings — a significant improvement over previous designs.

Return of the Jungle Boot

A photo posted by @altamaboots on

The classic jungle boot is making a comeback. Boot makers Altama and Salomon Forces have introduced boots optimized for the wet jungle terrain, with features like drainages holes and and puncture resistant materials. As tactical companies look to America’s defense pivot to the Pacific, we can expect jungle-optimized gear to become much more prevalent in the industry.

LMT MARS-L Carbine

American firearms company Lewis Machine & Tool has revealed its MARS-L line of AR-15 pattern rifles, featuring a unique lower and upper receiver designed to accommodate fully ambidextrous controls, including a right side bolt release and a fenced-in mag release on the left. While ambidextrous AR-15s are not new, this design will be one of the first to enter wide service with a foreign military. The New Zealand Defense Force has selected the MARS-L to replace the variant of the Steyr AUG currently in service.

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Syrians threw potatoes and yelled at United States armored vehicles on Monday as U.S. troops drove through the northeast border town of Qamishli, after Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.

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(Reuters) - In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier Greg Walker drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad's Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.

As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.

"Let us through or I'll kill you all," Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as "terrified."

He thought to himself: "This is the kind of ally and friend I want."

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The U.S. military has pulled about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan over the past year, the top U.S. and coalition military commander said Monday.

"As we work in Afghanistan with our partners, we're always looking to optimize the force," Army Gen. Austin Miller said at a news conference in Kabul. "Unbeknownst to the public, as part of our optimization … we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here."

"I'm confident that we have the right capabilities to: 1. Reach our objectives as well as continue train, advise, and assist throughout the country," Miller continued.

The New York Times was first to report that the U.S. military had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan even though peace talks with the Taliban are on hiatus. The number of troops in the country has gone from about 15,000 to 13,000, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.

Separately, the U.S. military is considering drawing down further to 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of a broader political agreement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Oct. 19.

"We've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counterterrorism] operations, if you will," Esper said while enroute to Afghanistan.

So far, no order has been given to draw down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. official said.

After President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, which had been expected to take place at Camp David around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. military has increased both air and ground attacks.

In September, U.S. military aircraft dropped more ordnance in Afghanistan than they have since October 2010, according to Air Force statistics.

However, the president has also repeatedly vowed to bring U.S. troops home from the post 9/11 wars. Most recently, he approved withdrawing most U.S. troops from Syria.

On Monday, Esper said the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are very different, so the Afghans and other U.S. allies "should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria."