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Blue Line Magazine – Guest Article

I am so very excited and humbled to be a guest contributor to the November 2018 edition of Blue Line Magazine – Canada’s Law Enforcement Magazine.

You can find my article, 10 non-issued kit items every officer could use.  You can find it through the online link HERE.

Thank you to everyone who provided input into this article.  Across varied backgrounds and experiences, thank you for your continued support and friendship.

Be sure to check it out in your local copy of Blue Line Magazine – likely already delivered to your agency – or check it out here online or here.  Also visit our new LinkedIn & Facebook company pages and give us a follow.  Instagram doesn’t hurt either!

Stay Crafty!

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Review – Brite Strike APALS personal light beacons by Fiser.

Fiser Brite Strike APALS Lights
Brighten up your day with Fiser Innovative Solutions.

There are a lot of flashlights out there.  When you need light, there are many varieties of portable lights from which to choose.  Sometimes you need lots of light, sometimes less.  Sometimes under water, sometimes they need to be small.  Whatever your specific need, there are solutions.

When I was introduced to the  Brite Strike APALS mini LED lights distributed  in Canada by Fiser Innovative Solutions, I didn’t know what to think of them.  (APALS stands for All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips). They were small, I didn’t expect much but so what?  Then I turned one on.  BRIGHT!  As I played around with the tiny light in my hand, Tom Fiser (Owner), gave me a rundown of the many technical specifications of these lights along with the ingenious uses they have integrated them into.

(Update & correction:  Fiser is the Canadian distributor. Brite Strike Technologies Inc. is the manufacturer, they are made in the US.)

Here is a photo for sizing comparison:

2 Fiser lights, end-to-end, against a standard Bic lighter for size comparison.  The 3M adhesive backing shown to view both sides.

They are very thin, weigh next to nothing and can stick to just about anything.  Here are some technical specs:

  • very small, 2″ long, almost completely flat;
  • featherweight at less than 5g;
  • Visible up to 3.2km(2miles) on land, 4.8km(3miles) from the air;
  • Up to 200 hours or run time;
  • Waterproof to 200FT;
  • Modes: Fast Strobe/Slow Strobe/Steady On/Off;
  • Available in 5 colours (Red, Orange/Amber, Blue, Green, White);
  • Heavy Duty 3M® Adhesive Back Tape;
  • Easy Pull Tab;
  • Waterproof, Dust-proof & Shockproof.

Here is a pdf of their info sheet:

Fiser Light Info

On the Fiser website, they list several innovative and creative uses for these mini lights.  They even make gloves with little sleeves for them for Police working traffic duty, police on bicycles, SCUBA divers, hunters, cycling & roller sports, outdoor adventure and even for pets!  I’d feel comfortable in adding that, for such a light package with 3 modes, high-visibility and 200hrs of run time, you could throw a few in your car, home, go-bag, any emergency kits, keep one in your first aid kit.  They’re so versatile.  For those doing plain clothes work, members of your team can keep one in their pocket for activation for hi-viz identification by peeling off the backing and sticking it on themselves.  They can be used to mark entrances, evidence, route or trail marking, bike light, land or water recovery…the possibilities are quite vast.

I’ve even put 2 in my Nanuk 935 roller case (both red and green) for backup light and low-pro options.  They stick to the lid and do not obstruct anything and are almost invisible (see below):

Green light turned off because it was too bright for the photos head-on.
This kind of setup can be adapted to closets, cabinets, safes, gun safes, medicine cabinets, suitcases, etc as a back-up in case you need it, especially during a power outage.

I also popped one into a glass of water for a half-hour to see how it did:

Waterproof!

Here’s a short APALS video of it blinking too!

Overall, I’m very impressed with these little lights.  They last longer and are brighter than glow sticks and are smaller too.  I like the 3-mode options they have and that they are almost weightless.

They even sell them in 10-packs for expeditions or teams.  Pretty great.  Canadian too, from Hamilton, Ontario.

If you are looking for a different kind of light to augment your situation or if these sound useful, reach out to Fiser Innovative Solutions at their website.

Till next time, stay safe, stay visible (when you want to be), and stay crafty.

https://fiser.ca

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Product Review – Fat Lazy Cat Knives (hint, they’re neither fat nor lazy)

An assortment of G10 implements from FLC Knives.

FLC knives are pretty interesting…

I haven’t, to this point, dipped my toes into the waters of G10 implements.  After doing some training down south of the border, I was introduced to G10 tools.  Strong, non-metallic, non-magnetic, very light-weight and can be fashioned into almost any shape, I was properly intrigued.  I reached out to Dave at Fat Lazy Cat Knives , just outside of Toronto, and read up on his materials, production processes and available models.

For those who don’t know what G10 is (like I didn’t) here is the explanation from Wikipedia:

G10 is a high-pressure fiberglass laminate, a kind of composite material.[1] It is created by stacking multiple layers of glass cloth, soaking in epoxy resin, and compressing the resulting material under heat until the epoxy cures.[2][3] It is manufactured in flat sheets, most often a few millimeters thick.

G10 is very similar to Micarta and carbon fiber laminates, because they are all resin-based laminates, except that the base material used is glass cloth. G10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates and therefore the most commonly used.

Dave and I chatted for a while and I arranged a small batch purchase to test and play around with.  That was a few months ago.  I have now had an opportunity to poke things with these sharps and I am very impressed with their durability, sharpness and craftsmanship.

As I can only speak to the models I have tried I will say that I received prompt, courteous service, fast shipping and nicely packaged products.

I received as follows:

  • Get Off Me Tool (GOMT) No. 6 in G10, stubby, offset, with Kydex sheath
  • GOMT No. 4 (ventilator)
  • GOMT No. 1 (Synthetic, Slim) with Kydex carrier
  • “Hatchlings” (both thick and thin profiles)
  • Cool stickers. (Thanks Dave!)

Immediately out of the box I noticed a few things:

  1. SHARP points on all (good thing they come in protective tubing)
  2. Very lightweight.  I’d equate them to a pen.
  3. Sturdy, durable and smooth.
  4. The jute twine which furnishes the handles is comfortable and epoxied to hold the cordage in place.  It works well.

Though I have yet to test them in an organic medium, they easily penetrate several layers of cardboard and towels.  The points seem sturdy (none have broken yet, but again, no organic medium testing yet) and maintain their sharp points even after several uses.

The box testing I did (the photos in this entry are not all-inclusive) showed no damage to the points, an easy grip and to-the-grip penetration.  The GOMT No. 6 even managed to cut the box (with the point) several times without noticeable resistance and maintain its integrity.

Get Off Me Tool (GOMT) No. 6 (left) and a Hatchling.
Small size. Comfortable grip.

 

No resistance or deformation of the point.
No problem.
Cuts just like a metal knife through cardboard.
Strong point. Very sharp. Easily field sharpened on concrete.
VERY sharp point.

As you can see, the G10 penetrated with ease and there was no damage to any of the points.  The ergonomics worked quite well and felt comfortable in the hand – easy to hold and manipulate.  They can even be re-sharpened on concrete in a pinch!

To see some more, check out some YouTube videos of other testing of FLC Knives:

Get Off Me Tool #4 – Durability

Hatchling 2.1 – Organic Medium

All told, the implements made by FLC Knives are top-notch quality.  I am very happy with my purchase and do not hesitate to recommend them to others.  Just be careful, they’re pointy.

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

 

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Product Review – Nanuk Hard Case: Top-tier protection for your gear

The 935 Roller Case by Nanuk. Solid protection for your sensitive gear.

In an effort to organize some of my equipment, I have gone through several options to address issues surrounding ease of transport, durability, security and protection.  I initially went with low-cost/low-quality options such as boxes, bags, duffels, etc., and tried to keep everything organized, protected from damage and loss and something properly sized to fit everything in one piece.  I was hesitant to go with a Pelican case, as their price point was too  high for what I was looking for, so I searched for other options.

Enter Nanuk Professional Protective Cases, by Plasticase.

Earlier this year, when I was at the Toronto Sportsman’s Show, I had the fortune of meeting Dan from Nanuk (pronounced “Na-Nook”, the Inuit word for the mighty Polar Bear) and exchanged contacts.  Their display was expansive and their options for protective cases ranged across sizes, colours, shapes and options.  I also liked the fact that they were Canadian and also that they offered a Military/Law-Enforcement discount.

A couple of weeks ago, after several failed trials to organize my gear the way I wanted, I reached out to Dan and arranged to purchase the Nanuk 935 hard case.  The following covers my experience dealing with Nanuk and my impressions of the Nanuk 935.

First off, the service was FAST.  As in the case arrived at my door within 48hrs.  I was impressed.  The customer service and administration was excellent.  The team at Plasticase is very efficient.

The 935 arrived mint.

My first impression of the 935 (even though I had seen it before at the Sportsman’s Show) was how solid it felt.  Everything on this thing is heavy-duty.  Not a piece feels flimsy or cheap, despite its relative light weight.

Here is a rundown of some of the key features of Nanuk cases generally and the 935 Roller Case in particular:

  • Features the “Powerclaw” latching system.
  • Waterproof:  rated to IP67 for 30mins under 1m(3.3′) of water.
  • Automatic pressure release valve
  • Hard-wearing NK-7 resin for impact resistance
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Model-specific bezel and gasket system to ensure a watertight seal
  • Handle & lid stays
  • Polyurethane wheels
  • Conditional Lifetime Warranty
  • Model 935 features a 2-stage, heavy-duty pull handle for rolling the case behind you like a carry-on.
  • Model 935:  Interior dimensions (L x W x H): 20.5″ x 11.3″ x 7.5″ & Exterior dimensions (L x W x H): 22.0″ x 14.0″ x 9.0″, Weight 11.6lbs (5.2kg)
  • Carry-on compatible (check with your airline for specifics)
  • Comes in a variety of colours and internal configurations.
  • Made in Canada!

For more complete details about the Nanuk 935, go to the webpage here.

Below are more detailed photos with cations speaking to the above specifications and observations.

 

Lots of space inside.
Powerclaw latches are beefy, tough and connect with a positive and satisfying click. To open, you have to actuate the button and latch.
Stainless steel hardware and tough, large gasket seal to ensure long life and solid seal.
Steel-ringed (x2) rivets for padlocks. Make sure you get something high-quality. Nanuk cases don’t protect themselves from thieves.

As a note to the latching system, though the latching system is effective at preventing water and dust from getting in, it is NOT effective in securing the contents from unauthorized access.  It is a hair-pulling pet peeve of mine when I see people buy a top-of-the-line protective case (like a Nanuk or Pelican, etc) to store an expensive piece of equipment (like a tricked-out rifle, research gear, optics, etc) and then go to Home Depot and buy a $10 lock to keep it “secure”.  Just don’t.  Please.  If your investment in case and equipment is up there, why entrust it to a $10 lock?  Do yourself a favour and visit a proper locksmith and spend the $80-$120 or so for a high-quality padlock (Like an ABUS, Abloy, S&G or something similar) and keep your stuff protected.  Just do it.  You’ll also be interested to know that Nanuk now offers to retrofit the latches to lockable latches to TSA specifications if you would like to lock your Nanuk without a padlock.

Heavy-duty polyurethane whees with stainless steel hardware roll smooth even when the case is fully loaded.
Substantial pull arm features a 2-stage adjustment and easy-access release button.
Automatic pressure relief valve.
Easy to carry with 3 handle options, lightweight for what it is and comfortable grips.
Can take a beating on the inside too.
All loaded up. With room to spare. Fantastic piece of kit.

 

All in all, I am very impressed with the Nanuk 935.  You can take a look at their entire line of products here.

They feature protective solutions for everything from your smart phone to weapons cases, sensitive electronics, photography gear, laptops and even custom solutions for whatever you may need.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, Canadian-made protective case for your equipment, do consider Nanuk cases in your search.  Unfortunately, members of the general public will have to look for Nanuk dealers near you to purchase, but if you’re Military or Law Enforcement, you can buy directly from them.

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

 

 

 

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Training Review: Counter Custody and Hostage Survival with 4TAC5 in Chicago, IL.

Training Review: IRETC with 4TAC5, Chicago, IL, May 2018

In May of this year (2018), I travelled to Chicago to expand my skills in the field of Counter-custody and counter-kidnapping but attending the IRETC Instructor Certification with Karl from 4TAC5.

For the longest time I had been working towards attending the counter-custody instructor certification course with 4TAC5 – IRETC (International Restraint Escape Training Course). I had tried for months to connect with them and was planning to travel to their training base in England to attend it when I was referred to Aaron Cunningham of the ITTA (International Tactical Training Association) as they were going to be hosing IRETC in Chicago. As luck would have it this made things much more convenient and less expensive.

Upon arrival I made contact with Aaron and he picked me up from the airport. I treated him to breakfast for the courtesy. As I had only had communications with him through e-mail to that point it was good to finally put a face to the name and get to know him. After breakfast, Aaron and I took a little tour around Chicago (he showed me some of the sights and gave me some background to the respective history and current situations with specific neighbourhoods we were traversing) and then we did two more circles to the airport to pick up other attendees and finally to pick up our instructor, Karl, and make our way to the training facility and our lodgings.

There were 4 of us with Karl and Aaron. A small but diverse group of LEO/MIL personnel.

***I will not speak to the identities of the others in the training as they are currently operational with their respective security services, nor will I get into specifics of the training due to it’s nature. ***

Over that first evening we all had a chance to get to know one another and discuss the upcoming week of training. Admittedly, I was very excited to get the training started and build upon my existing skills.

The next day training started and we covered a LOT of ground. The content for day 1 was vaguely as follows:

  • Overview of material, counter-custody principles, kidnapping & hostage survival;
  • Detailed review of improvised restraints and manufactured restraints;
  • Improvised tools against restraints;
  • Mindset and tactics

I felt as if I’d been overloaded with information and it took me a while to process what I was learning. So much amazing stuff was coming to me – efficient and effective techniques and principles to put to use immediately. My hands and wrists were smashed and raw by the end of the day but it was well worth the pain to gain the knowledge and hands-on experience in a controlled environment where mistakes can be made and learning can occur. Very helpful when you get yourself in a pickle and need someone to cut you out so you can try again.

Day 2 was much the same in so far as having a firehose of info shot my way. After a great breakfast, we got fuelled up on coffee and a recap of the previous day’s material and dove right in.

  • Recap Day 1;
  • Tools, carry, concealment and deployment;
  • Handcuffs (various, identify, function, features)
  • More mindset and tactics;
  • Special tools (contents, function, use)
  • Anatomy of abduction and custody (phases, counter-intelligence, immediate actions)
  • Captivity & custody Exercise

Day 2 was a long day filled with more work, soreness and trial and error. However, the more exhaustively we practiced, the more confident I was with the little curve balls that were thrown our way and, with patience and focus, they could be overcome.

Day 2 dinner was another great time gelling with the group and expanding on the day’s lessons.

***BTW the food in Chicago was AWESOME!***

Day 3 was the Big Cahuna. Exercise after exercise after exercise, more scenarios and practice. Very involved to test our newly acquired skills and assure we’d assimilated the little tricks and remained focused on the task regardless of the negative stimulus applied. I found this culmination was a thorough test of my skills and my ability to apply them under stress and in unknown conditions.

As a finale to the week, Aaron arranged a tour of the Chicago Police Marine Unit (with associated boat ride and waterfront tour) and topped it off with a ride-along with the Chicago Police Aviation Unit aboard a CPD helicopter above downtown Chicago. And, as it was Tuesday, what better dinner to have than tacos? I guess you really haven’t lived till you’ve watch a White Sox game at Wrigley Field from a police helicopter. Karl and I had a blast. What a great night.

The following day included a debrief, discussions, clean-up and certification presentations. My trip to the airport was bitter-sweet. I had made some new friends, learned and experienced some top-tier training and was leaving a very Toronto-like city (minus the 14 people who were shot while I was there).

I extend my sincerest thanks to Aaron Cunningham and the ITTA for hosting the training and for their wonderful hospitality. True professionals doing a great job.

To Karl of 4TAC5, thank you for your knowledge, patience and great sense of humour during the week.

To the Chicago Police Marine and Aviation units – thank you for your hospitality and for the amazing ride-alongs. Stay safe out there!

And to my fellow attendees, thank you for the laughs and lessons. Stay safe in your respective areas of operation and keep in touch.

For those of you who are in Canada looking for counter-custody and hostage survival training, keep your eyes peeled for our offerings for both civilians and military/law enforcement (restricted content) or contact us directly for private training solutions for your group.

For more information on mentioned training and entities, see below and feel free to contact us.

International Tactical Training Association

4TAC5

Oscar Delta

Hard Case Survival

Lockpicktools.com

Stay safe, stay crafty and ALWAYS HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN.

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Delta 2 Alpha – The Accent Series

The Accent Series.

By Delta 2 Alpha Design

The Accent Series. Delta 2 Alpha Design.

A little while ago I received a mail call containing a sample of the Accent Series from Delta2Alpha Design.  To read my review of the previous generation of tools, go here.

Happiness in a parcel!

The Accent Series is their newest offering of upgraded versions of The MARK, The LOLLY and The MiK.

The MARK, in colours…

The new tools are delivered in three colours (crimson, blaze orange or day-glow green), clad in a robust carbon fibre skin.

Durable polymer clad in carbon fibre.

They are all incredibly versatile and even more durable than their previous versions.  I found the carbon fibre skin to be more resistant to scratches and abrasions than the earlier version of polymer tools.

The Lolly – polymer last-ditch tool. Earlier version.
Accent version of the Lolly.
I have used the Lolly for opening paint cans when I find myself without a screwdriver. It’s handy to carry in my 5th jeans pocket.

On a recent visit to Ottawa, I found myself in a Tim Hortons for a morning coffee.  The floor was covered in melt and slushy runoff from the recent snow.  Thankfully, I had my Accent Series MARK in my bag (perfect for non-permissive environments like government buildings) and ensured my bag and its contents were well out of he muck.

No dirty, wet Tim Hortons floor for me and my stuff!

The MiK can be used as the MARK can, but with smaller applications.  I do like how it can hold up your phone, hang your bag (or purse) or coat – perfect for bathrooms.  It can also easily fit into the fifth pocket of your jeans for concealment and easy access.

The MiK. Small but sturdy.

 

From the Delta 2 Alpha website:

TheMARK: Offers a convenient way to keep your jacket or bag off of the floor bathrooms when traveling (or everyday life) when there isn’t a hook. It can also be used as a tablet stand.

TheMiK Fits conveniently on your keys, and is used a hands free way to prop up your phone. This comes in handy whether you are trying to do a video chat, or just kill sometime watching cat videos (No Judgement).

TheLolly: Can go right next to TheMiK on your keychain. TheLolly is a light duty pocket scraper, and prybar. It has be referred to as a “Fingernail Saver”. It also offers a ¼” bit driver and the key ring slot can be used to drive the Leatherman multi-tool brand bits.

*Each package includes one (1) of TheMARKTheMiK, and TheLolly; They are sold as matched sets*

All things considered, I feel that Delta 2 Alpha scored a big win with improving an already-sturdy and reliable design with their Accent Series of polymer tools.  I’m very happy with them and equip myself with at least one on a daily basis as they are lightweight, practical and come in handy in a variety of ways.

You can order yours here on their website.

Till next time, stay crafty.

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Persec Aware- A solid option for a custom belt, handmade in Canada.

A solid piece of kit, made in Toronto.

For years, I’ve been on the lookout for a solid belt.  When I say solid,  I include in that definition fit, style, strength, durability, functionality and dependability.  Almost two months ago, I think I hit pay dirt with that.

While I was planning my Bruce Trail outing, (read about it here) I found that I was missing a key piece of gear: a “solid” belt.  Sure, there are a load of well-known commercial companies that offer quality belts, but I was looking for something specific.  I wanted what they offer, something I considered “solid”, not ridiculously over-priced and, if possible, Canadian-made.

Enter Persec.  We had followed each other on Instagram and I reached out asking some questions about their products, their hardware, colours and the like.  Not only was I happy with the answers, but also the questions I was asked.  Custom work, apparently, is even better when the one making the product has a better understanding of the customer’s intentions and requirements.

Extra stitching, clean and tight cuts. Quality materials.

Some fast-facts about the belts offered by Persec:

  • They offer 3 widths – 1.5″, 1.75″ and 2″
  • Several colours (black, ODG, camp, coyote, etc)
  • Built from a combination of high-strength webbing and Codura for rigidity
  • Available in a variety of stiffnesses, strengths;
  • All are custom-lengths;
  • Every belt is made by hand, in Toronto, Canada, and with incredible attention to detail that is immediately apparent.
  • All manner of customization is available – contact them directly for more details.
Like a belt-Christmas!

As I received my order of belts, I was immediately relieved with my decision to go with Persec and try them out.

The belts were custom-sized.  Exactly what I had requested.  The shipping was very fast (they are located in Toronto).  When I held them, I could feel the quality of construction in the materials but also, when examining them closely, could tell the attention to detail in the craftsmanship.  Most consumer goods made in bulk have loose stitching, imperfect cuts and the like, but not these.  Every detail was exacting.  I was impressed.

What I had requested was a belt which would cross-over easily from the trail to the urban jungle, in black, with semi-rigidity, custom-length, with both buckle options (hook and Cobra Buckle, respectively).  Persec did not disappoint.

The Cobra buckle (left) and hook buckle (right) options on Persec belts.

The semi-rigidity of the belts, as well as the widths (they recommended 1.5″ as opposed to 1.75″ as I was interested in the cross-comparability of daily wear as well.  The 1.75″ would be more appropriate for a duty or gun belt setup).  I was happy for the choice as it easily works with jeans as well as hiking or tactical pants.

Persec belt works well as a daily wear belt in the urban wilderness as well as on the trail.  Also, the Lolly in my pocket (from Delta2Alpha’s Accent Series) compliments the belt in more ways than one.

The adjustment options for the belts work very well.  The hook buckles have three attachment points which, in harmony with the velcro hook & loop patch on the opposite side, allow for a perfect fit every time.  With the Cobra buckle, you have only the velcro strip opposite the buckle, but this too works very well as the cam cinched down reliably.

Hook buckle. Once attached is very strong and secure.

I equipped myself with two of these belts (one with the Cobra buckle, in black, the other with a hook buckle in black subdued camouflage) for the miles of hiking and have been wearing one almost every day out since returning.  They have become my daily wear.

After almost 2 months of wear, use and some abuse, my conclusions are as follows:

  • The custom fit is great.  Better than regular commercial products, I find;
  • Each piece is made with great attention to detail, high quality materials and much pride.  In my correspondence, this was very apparent.
  • Both belts are “solid” by my standards.  I have no doubt that they will last a long time.
  • There has been barely any warping – this tends to happen, especially when I load the belt up – but despite this, it has been minimal.
  • The black of the material has not faded at all, despite long periods in the sun, water and dirt.  It’s still pitch-black.
  • The semi-rigidity of the belts allow for ease of movement without digging in to me at any point, even when equipping with clip pouches or anything “in-the-waistband”  (This includes a holster.  No concerns, even for the range).
  • I have even worn it with my uniform in a training environment and like it far better than the “rigger’s belt” I’ve worn for years.  I have switched them out and feel good about it, though I’ll likely order another in OD Green so that no one gets bent out of shape about the non-issue colour.

Bottom line, I’d recommend checking out the items offered by Persec without hesitation.  You can find Persec Aware on Instagram and Facebook.  You won’t be disappointed.

Versatile, durable and dependable.

Then while you’re at it, load it up with stuff from Canadian Gun Worx, held by custom Kydex from Gray Fox Strategic and some apparel from Tactical Beaver.  And don’t forget to pocket a few useful tools from Delta 2 Alpha Design, then you’ll really be good to go!

 

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

 

 

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Hello, and welcome to True North Tradecraft.

Welcome to True North Tradecraft, your Canadian destination for Tradecraft, security, preparedness and survival topics.

At True North Tradecraft, we are committed to providing education and support towards building your skill-sets and knowledge in the areas of personal security and tradecraft, all with a Canadian perspective.  We’ll build capacity, skills and knowledge together.  We’ll post reviews on products, gear and training.  Anything we come across to boost your knowledge and provide direction towards a resilient lifestyle.

In these uncertain times, the more you know the better.

Keep checking back with us regularly for new posts.

Also, feel free to check out our partner site, Tactical Beaver.  Buy a shirt.  Or a hat.  Or both.  You’ll be happy you did.

Stay safe, stay crafty.