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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
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
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
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.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.