Choosing The Right Gear

Three things to consider when you're looking to add new gear or update what you have.

posted on May 4, 2023
Choosing the right gear

When it comes to gear selection there are three recommended considerations referencing an optimal purchasing decision. These are fit, function and cost.

As examples, and in support of the usual hard skills (firearms, hand-to-hand, etc.) you could be looking at any product ranging from flashlights to knives to gun belts and everything and anything in between.

Product Fit

Using these three examples (flashlight, knife and gun belt), the first recommended consideration is product fit. If it’s a flashlight, then what are you looking to fit? First narrow down where it will be carried. Is it a weapon-mounted light or hand-held? Based on the answer to this question you can then determine which direction to go either rail-mount or pocket light.

If it’s a knife, there are even more product fit choices. Is it a fixed blade or a folding blade? Straight edge or curved edge? In the world of knives does size matter? Why yes, it does! A 15-inch fixed-blade Bowie knife takes up a bit more body real-estate than that of a micro-folder.

Gun belts vary from casual business to tactical and they come in varied widths. Although they vary, traditionally these are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. The first question is “what are the size of the belt loops on the pants these are intended for?”

Product Function

The next recommended consideration is product function. What is the primary function of the product being considered? One good rule of thumb is to stay away from too many side-functions. As all things man-made eventually break, the more moving parts in addition to the primary function the greater the odds of them breaking.

Using our flashlight example, the primary objective is to apply light. You may of course want to consider the likes of brightness (lumens) and dispersal (light splash or beam pattern – narrow, wide, soft, etc.). However, if it also comes with a handy can opener, window breaker, fourteen settings to include strobe, pulse, disco ball and others, then you start drifting into the multiple off-to-the-side functions as opposed to, and in potential interference with, its primary function of being a reliable single light source.

Looking at a knife, once you’ve decided fixed or folding, straight or curved and size, then you want to look at functionality. Do you plan on cutting only rope or only cotton shirts or boxes or other materials? If its rope only then you’ll wanted a serrated edge as a straight edge won’t work as well. If it’s mostly cotton, then you’d want a straight edge as cotton would bunch up in the serration teeth and eventually fail. If you plan on cutting several different materials, then you may want to consider half-serrated half-straight edge.

The purpose of a gun belt is to secure the holster firmly in place and support the weight of the gun and any magazines. Gun belts come in different thicknesses, some very light and others thick enough to tow a car. Some are stiff and others very flexible. Your answer to these questions should be based on functionality – what do you need the belt to do?

Product Cost

The last but certainly not least recommended gear selection consideration is product cost.

As with anyone running on a budget, you first must select a range. “OK, for this product, my budget is set between this amount and this amount.” Knowing your price range is an important factor in determining an appropriate target cost.

The first and foremost product cost consideration is quality. Determine the appropriate product quality for the end user. If it’s a novelty item just for fun, then you probably won’t care so much about the quality as long as it falls within the margins of your acceptable budget. However, if it’s an item that could potentially be employed to save a life, then it’s prudent to move to the higher end of that pricing scale as you get what you pay for when it comes to such products.

In the world of flashlights, you can go from a piece of inexpensive molded plastic you can find at a gas station to a super high-end durable anodized milled aluminum block. The usual selection of common high-end flashlight companies such as Streamlight, SureFire, Pelican, Fenix, ThruNite, NiteCore, Klarus, JETBeam, Elzetta to name a few, is a good start.

Manufacturer warrantees and guarantees are also a quality consideration. If something has a lifetime, full-product replacement guarantee, this demonstrates that the manufacturer stands behind their product.

Knives range from production to custom. The higher-end custom blades which are hand cut, hand heat-treated and hand ground are going to cost considerably more than a low-end imported stamped out production model you may find at the checkout line of your local gas station.

You also want to look at the quality of the design, locking mechanism, opening mechanism, hardware tolerances and overall assembly quality.

Gun-belt quality is no different. Aside from size, thickness and width, you want to look at the material and its durability. Gun belts, since they are designed to carry lifesaving tools, should not be flimsy, low quality or disposable items.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you don’t want to wrestle with some gaudy jewel-encrusted massively oversized belt buckle if you’re carrying appendix inside the waist band (AWIB) as this is not practical for everyday carry or range work with the anticipation of effectively deploying a handgun.


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