It’s not a secret that I’m a bit of a gear nerd. I maintain a fairly lengthy and detailed list of “stuff” I’d like to get my hands on. I have a link to that list that I provide to family members for holidays, birthdays, or special events.
It’s approaching Christmas 2018 as I write this, but I feel like the things I’ll bring up here are really appropriate for any time of the year.
I’m only listing things that I actually use or have experience with. I don’t push anything that I wouldn’t stand behind.
Vedder Holsters: I’ve been using Vedder since I first got my carry permit. At first, it was because they were one of the few who made holsters for my less-common choices but I’ve come to really appreciate their work. I’ll have to get a review up sometime of both my
Triad Padded Shooting Mat: I used one of these for years until I stupidly left it behind at the range. I never saw it again. I’ve used a lot of mats since then, but I keep coming back to wanting this one again. It’s well made, has just the right amount of padding, and does everything a shooting mat should be.
FAS1 Safe: I forgot when I was introduced to FAS1, but I’m glad I came across them. Back when my wife and I were expecting our son, we decided keeping a pistol in the bedside table wasn’t going to work in the long run. However, I really didn’t like any of the “biometric” safes on the market and thought most quick access safes were a gimmick. I wanted something that didn’t rely on batteries and that I could use quickly in the dark with one hand. The FAS1 meets both of those requirements with its mechanical cipher lock and it’s got a solid build quality. I highly recommend it.
JP Bore Guide: Bore guides serve the simple purpose of protecting the chamber of your rifle and keeping the cleaning rod straight. JP makes the best one I’ve come across for AR pattern rifles (both 5.56 and .308). It’s a simple concept, really. Pull out the bolt carrier group, insert the bore guide, and run the cleaning rod through it. Perfect alignment every time and no risk of scratching or gouging anything.
Challenge Targets Hurricane Target Stand: When I got stationed in California for the second time, I was disappointed that my range didn’t actually have much in the way of target stands. It had a berm and an open gravel pit. You were pretty much on your own for everything else. My range was right up against the Pacific Ocean as well, which meant it was windy. My wife bought this target stand, on my recommendation, as a gift. It stands up on its own just fine. But if it gets windy, it has staking points on the legs. I usually just dropped a sandbag on the legs and called it good. They have many other target systems as well, from
Becker BK16: In my opinion, Ka-Bar Becker models are a bit like the Glock of the knife world. They work great out of the box but leave you a lot of room to make it your own. They are reasonably priced, made from good material, and solidly built. The BK16 model is more of an everyday utility knife than a survival or fighting knife.
Group 1 Equipment Poncho Liner: I love woobies. My wife got me a Kifaru Liner a few years back as a Father’s Day gift. She was always stealing it from me on the couch, so I suggested she get her own. I found Group 1 after a lot of research and bought her one. They are comparable in a lot of ways, but I think the Group 1 model is just a hair nicer than the Kifaru.
Emberlit Folding Stove: I’ve come across a lot of folding survival stoves, and they all do a good job, honestly. But I settled on the Emberlit and can vouch for it. I love that it collapses flat and stores in a provided pouch. You can feed it from the top or the bottom. There are plenty of ventilation holes to keep the oxygen flowing, and the thing just works.
Vargo BOT: I picked one of the stainless steel versions of these a while ago, and I love it. The name is a combination of “Bottle” and “Pot.” It’s an all-in-one kind of device you can use as a canteen or for cooking over your folding stove or fire.
Rite in the Rain Loose Leaf Kit: I’m a big fan of Rite in the Rain products. Started using them in the Air Force, and just keep using them now. They accompany me on lots of adventures and training courses. Last year, I ventured beyond the standard pre-bound models and picked up a loose leaf version. The beauty here is that I can now add/remove pages as needed, and even include range cards, note pages, and graph paper all in one book.
Self Reliance Outfitters canteen cook set: Another more classic option is a combination steel canteen, canteen cup, and lid. This canteen is a bit taller than the USGI spec, but still nests just fine in USGI cups. The cup, however, is an improvement over the classic. More often than not, I’ve got one of these kits nearby.
DD 3×3 Tarp: When I first got into bushcraft style camping, I used a well-made poncho from Old Grouch Surplus. But I eventually wanted more space. There are a lot of good options out there, including the USMC tarp, but on the recommendation of outdoors instructor Dave Canterbury, I picked up one of these DD tarps. It’s certainly a size improvement and has a lot of tie off points for shelter construction.
Catahoula Manufacturing #36 Braided Bank Line: I used to carry big spools of paracord everywhere. But the problem with paracord is that it’s bulky for its size. My forays in the bushcraft world led me to discover CMI’s tarred bank line. It’s not quite as strong at 320 lbs break strength, but it’s lighter and takes up way less space in my pack than paracord.
And many more
I know this is a short list in the grand context of gear. There are hundreds of shooting blogs out there trying to sell you on this or that for the holidays. Sometimes it’s just the smaller multi-purpose items that win it for me.
Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He’s former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He’s a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.
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