TactBright Recommended Gear
I have and continue to spent hundreds of hours researching and testing the best tactical gear available. The items in this Recommended Gear page are battle-tested and can be recommended without any reservation.
Understand, these items are not necessarily the highest priced items. My goal, on this page, is to recommend gear that is priced really well while still maintaining high quality and great value.
This is the gear I use personally.
It is really important that you understand your options to be able to choose what specific gear you need for your particular needs. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of tactical gear, and due to the advancements, both in technology and the costs of manufacturing, the market is flooded with lower quality and cheap knock off products. It is important that you recognize that quality costs, and that you're worth it. Not only will you end up replacing these lower quality items, but they will most probably fail in the middle of a crisis.
Think wisely about the gear you select. Your safety, and the well being of your loved ones may be on the line.
My Top Picks for Best Every Day Carry Tactical Flashlights are:
The MT10A is compact at 5 inches and runs on both one AA or 14500 lithium rechargeablebattery. With 170 lumens for 2 hours and 45 minutes on one AA battery and 920 lumens at 30 minutes on one 14500 battery, you have the option to get more power for the 14500 battery but have the common AA battery as an effective backup. Finally, the MT10A has five power ratings with a sixth as a red light. A red light allows for very low illumination and works well for night photographers and those wishing not to disturb others.
The tail button controls momentary and permanent on as remembered when last on. Once on, the side button scrolls through the 5 levels and a red light level. Finally, pushing the center of the side button starts the strobe on and off. This only works if the tail button has be set on permanently.
The Fenix PD25 operates much in the same manner, but uses one CR123a battery. The tail button controls the momentary and permanent on and off, with the side button scrolling through the four levels, and pressing and holding for strobe, again, if the tail button is on.
Both of these tactical lights, and others that will be added are super light but somewhat compromised. Most wouldn't know the inherent problem – the requirement in many cases of two separate operations to function fully. You can see, in a defensive situation, where stress is running high, where this would present a significant problem. They are, however, state of the art tactical flashlights and are both powerful and pocketable. For many uses, they are perfectly fine. It's important that you recognize why one light is more appropriate for certain tasks than another.
I go to great lengths to show through my articles how tactical lights are constructed, what features and ratings to select and how to use them for specific purposes. Be sure to also subscribe to my YouTube channel for further reviews and recommendations.
My Top Picks for Best Self Defense Tactical Lights are:
- The Klarus XT2CR Tactical Flashlight
- more to come soon…
A best Tactical Flashlight, for self defensive purposes, needs to not only be of the right size but must be quality to be dependable. What shocks most people is that it needs to be simple – just an immediate momentary and permanent bright light with easy access to a strobe. Finally, all of these features need to be accessable from one point of control, preferably a tail switch.
A self defense tactical light needs to be useable in both an everyday carry situation with and without the addition of a handgun.
Unfortunately, not many lights meet these qualifications – the Klarus XT2cr, however, shines in all these areas.
I have both an article dedicated to reviewing the Klarus XT2cr, as well as a YouTube video. Additionally, there are a number of articles which address the construction of a tactical light and how to choose the right light as well as articles which address the use of these lights.
There are other companies that are starting to come out with tactical lights that really meet the needs discussed above and in the articles on my site, and once reviewed, I will be adding the best ones to this recommendation listing.
Here is my Top Pick for Best Key Pocket Carry Tactical Light
By tactical flashlight, I mean one button accessibility, either tail or side control, for permanent high and strobe with a lumen rating of more than 250.
A full-featured tactical light would also offer momentary, which my recommendation does not, however, for the size, you're getting an awful lot and its size, with the ability to consistently carry, in my mind, offsets the deficiency of not having a momentary.
There are other lights that I would recommend for gun carry tactical lights but they are larger. This is the type of light I would recommend for self-defense and that would be constantly available to anyone.
Here are my picks for the Best LED Headlights
- The Nitecore HC90 Rechargeable XM-L2 Headlamp for technical use
- The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp for everyday use
The Nitecore HC90 is one of the most highly built headlamps available. Generating from Nitecore, one of the preeminent LED light companies, the unit pushes 900 lumens and uses the commonplace 18650 rechargeable lithium battery.
You can easily see climbing Mount Everest with one of these units and if you did, this would be the headlamp that you would want to rely upon. Clearly a super high quality light.
The Black Diamond Sport doesn't have the same build quality, nor, at 300 lumens, the same brightness level. It is, none the less, an extremely reliable and waterproof (IPX 8) rated headlamp that will can be used in a number of outdoor situations. It also, doesn't have the same sticker shock.
This is a recent generation of Black Diamond headlamps and the increased in power, construction and flexibility continue to shine.
I do have an article that compares the Nitecore to two other headlamps that you may find interesting.
Headlamps are unique in that not only do they need the various quality features that apply to other tactical flashlights but their runtime and comfort level takes precedence over brightness.
My top picks for Best Every Day Carry Knives are:
Everyday carry may imply different things to different people, but certainly, the characteristics should include a folder that is built with a high-quality steel to hold an edge and be reliable. It would also be developed by a reputable company that provides a lifetime warranty. That, at least, would be the very basics.
- The Benchmade 940-1 Reverse Tanto in CPM S90V steel
- The Benchmade Bugout 535 in CPM S30V steel
- The Benchmade Griptilian 556 in 154CM steel
All three of the recommended knives are from Benchmade, and although I believe there are other reputable companies, I believe the Benchmade Axis lock is simply the easiest and safest folder locking system out there. I've always advocated keeping your fingers off the blade, which is required in a number of other systems. Additionally, the ability to flip open a Benchmade knife with an Axis lock is much simpler than almost any other knife.
The Axis lock, combined with quality steel from a reputable company that offers a lifetime warranty makes my three top recommendations all Benchmade knives.
I discuss the various steels for a number of knives in this article on the TactBright site. In that article, I also recommend a number of other knives related to some of the premium steels. Also, check out the article on knife sharpening as well as my recommended knife sharpeners.
My Top Picks for the Best Outdoor Knives are:
Outdoor knives are one piece, full tang knives sometimes made with tool steel – but for a reason.
If anything typifies an outdoor knive, the Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 is that. The knife uses O1 tool steel to maintain an edge with heavy use and to facilatate sparking ferro rods. It's heavy enought to be used to split wood and chop small trees. The size is perfect “according to Dave Canterbury, the author of “Bush Craft 101.” In fact, he participated in its design.
The only complaint with the Spyderco is the sub par sheath that's included with the knife. It's such a popular knife however, that quality sheaths are readily available.
The White River Caper Hunting Knife, generally of SV90 or S35VM steel, is from a family owned business that looks at knife making as both an art and craft and they currently design and build some of the most desired knives available. A fuller review will be published soon, but these knives are outdoor knives without the bulk. Simply sweet knives.
The Caper comes with either a kydex or leather sheath, either of which are stunning.
I currently have an article that discusses the various steels used in related knives.
Here are my top picks for the Best Knife Sharpeners
How serious are you about sharpening your knife? Because…knife sharpeners can range from pocket carry touch up steels to a fully operational knife sharpening business. Your pick.
I have a full article on sharpening knives and some crazy Internet suggestions, but the following sharpeners range in cost from inexpensive to “not too crazy expensive”. I would pick the following:
- Lansky 4-rod Turn Box Knife Sharpener
- Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker
- KME Model KF D4
- Wicked Edge Precision Knife Sharpener – WE120
The Lansky 4-rod Turn Box knife sharpener is a bit of the old world and the new. It's reasonably priced at under $20 and comes with a diamond grit rough and ceramic fine set of sharpening rods. The box holds the rods and set up is simply selecting either the 20° or 25° placement holes, the two most common edge degrees.
There is no safety shield, as in the Spyderco sharpener, but sharpening is a breeze. The challenge with all these lesser expensive sharpeners is to keep your blade perfectly vertical to the stones – which sometimes is easier said than done. The unit is small and portable and doesn't need anything else to function perfectly.
The SpyderCo Sharpmaker shines in a number of areas, not the least of which is a great price point and the ability to sharpen almost any cutting tool. This is really the stepped up version of the Lansky and offers a safety guard along with two pairs of sharpening ceramic rods in two different angle configurations. They accurately set the stone's sharpening angle at a 30° (15° each side) or 40° (20° each side) for knives and a 12.5° scissor setting. Turn the base over, a channel lets you lay two stones side-by-side (flat-side up) for use as a benchstone.
Again, the challenge with either of these units is maintaining a consistent vertical angle of the knive to the stone. If you can do that, after some practice, you will be rewarded. It is, however, easy to get off and scratch your knife, so practice with some lesser knives first.
The KME Precision Model KF D4 may be the best of the bunch relative to price and value. It is substantially less than the Wicked Edge and may even have an advantage with respect to shapening folders and other small knives. It's drawback is simply that you have to flip the knive to sharpen both sides whereas with the Wicked Edge, both can be completed at the same time.
This may be all you need and the muscle memory and vertical issues discussed above are no longer issues. Really a nice kit at a great price point.
The next recommendation stretches the definition of “not crazy expensive” and comes in at around $375. Plus, unless you want to mount it to a work bench, will cost another$65 or so for a base plate. Crazy? Well, maybe not. The beauty of the Wicket Edge is that you can automatically maintain a consistent perfect edge, whereas with the $20 you need practice and muscle memory to do so. But is the difference worth over $300 more? That's something you need to decide.
The Wicked Edge locks in the exact blade angle you desire and positions and locks the knive so that an exact and consistent edge is achieved. Like I intimated before, you can all but go into business sharpening blades with this unit. Additionally, they even have more advanced, and way more expensive, units available. You'll have to see it to beieve it and Wicked Edge has some videos that show how the unit works.
My two top picks for Best Analog Tactical Watch are:
- Luminox's Original Navy Seal Dive Watch, which sells around $200 at Amazon, and
- Traser's H3 Professional Shade, at around $455 on Amazon.
I wanted to give you two options, because in this case, you do get what you pay for, but you still really have an option.
Both watches are excellent outdoor tactical watches as well as really nice streetwear watches. The difference in the price is mainly due to the quality of the components.
The Luminox is really a classic, and is constructed with a polyurethane band and case, and a mineral crystal dial. It uses a Swiss quartz movement and is water
resistant to 200 meters (660 ft). The case diameter is 43 millimeters and 11 millimeters thick. It was first introduced in 1994 in conjunction with the Navy Seals to meet their specificaitons. At it's price point, it is definately a long term watch which will provide years of reliable service.
The Traser is similiar in look to the Luminox but is constructed with a stainless steel casing and saphire crystal dial. It also has a glass-fibre reinforced resin bezel and both the case and crystal are definately a step above the Luminox. As is the movement, which on the Traser is a Ronda 517.6 DD Quartz movement. Some of the Traser watches sell for much higher so the H3 is really a bargain for what you get. This is a small investment but for a long term holding period.
Why I choose these two options
I own and use both of these watches and have for years. They've served me extremely well and it's because of their inherent quality. Outside of automatic watches, which almost always are paired with quality component, and reflect that in their price, quartz watches have been largely designed to be appealing to the masses at the lowest possible cost. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and that holds true for tactical gear as well. A few companies have developed their watches to appeal to those interested in quality tactical gear and Luminox and Traser are two of the very few that have moved in that direction. Because of their design purpose and because of my experiences, I recommend both of these without hesitation.
You really can't go wrong with either choice, so the choice is really a matter of style and determining if the additional investment is worth the cost.
For a full review of these, and other watches, as well as a discussion on the construction and functions of a tactical watch, be sure to read my post on choosing the best tactical watch here.
Too many buy the latest cheap Christmas watch from some completely unrelated name brand, year after year. This is an opportunity to get off that merry go round and end up with a long-term investment that will meet both your outdoor tactical needs and everyday dress.
My Top Picks for Best Range Bag are:
The Osage River Tactical Bag is really a special range bag. Especially when compared to a number of other range bag offerings. For some reason, it just appears that the manufacturers have never been to a gun range.
Osage makes two sizes and a number of colors, with enough pockets to place all you range needs without driving you crazy because you've opened up all the zippers and finally discovered your ear set. It is also made with quality materials and looks like it belongs on a range.
I have an article devoted to the Osage Range bag that you can review and will continue to recommend range bags and accessories as I review them.
Here are my top picks for the Best Glock Armorer Tools
- Apex APX 104-001 Armorer's Block Gun Stock
- Lyman Deluxe Hammer and Punch Set
- Klein Tools 3/16 Magnetic Tip Nut Driver
- NcStar VTUPRS Removal Install Adjustment Pusher
I have written an article on the above tools as well as a number of alternative options and additional recommendations that you can read on this website, however, the tools above represent the best and most complete options available.
Finally, I have an Amazon list that details all of my recommendations here.
Here is my top pick for the Best Gun Mounted Lights
In my article on “Should, you use a gun mounted light?” I concluded that “most professional have and use both a handheld and gun-mounted tactical light”. I also review the pros and cons of a gun mounted light. Finally, I conclude “That gun mounted lights, even with the understanding and acceptance of certain negatives, are not only recommended but even required gear for home handgun defensive use.”
This is the only mounted light, that I've found, that not only is powerful enough, at 800 lumens but includes an easily accessible strobe and control paddles that operate ambidextrously and easily in all three modes – momentary, permanent and strobe. Finally, it's also at a better price point that a number of other lights.
I have a hands-on YouTube video which analyzes both the Streamlight TLR-1 HL and the Surefire x300 Ultra. Both have top quality components and work well on most handguns. Check out the video, however, to see why the Streamlight is recommended.
My Top Picks for the Best Handgun Safes are:
I actually used a safe before, to which the battery ran out and I have to pry it open to retrieve my handgun. I was successful, however, after considerable research, I quickly replaced all of those safes and replaced them with the SentrySafe Biometric Safe.
I'm convinced that the thicker gauge that this safe is constructed with, would make it near impossible for me to break – and that's what I want. It also have a biometric access which really works. I've tried others and it would take multiple times to work. It also have a combination that can be used in conjunction and finally, it has a key. (Which is kept in another safe.)
The size is right and I am comfortable in recommending the SentrySafe without hesitation.
The V-Line Top Draw Security Case is a little different than the Sentry. V-line has been around for a while and they produce completely manual safe lock systems. No batteries, no biometric.
The V-line can be relied upon to secure your handgun and it's construction is such that manually trying to hack it would prove exceedingly challenging if not near impossible. Its size and manual operations make it a great candidate for auto carry.
Both of these safes are covered in more detail in my article on safely owning a handgun at home. This article covers some additional suggestions that should be read and understood by anyone contemplating owning a gun at home.
Here is my Top Pick for the Best Gun Belt
- Kore Track Belt – Amazon offers some of the Kore belts in fashion wear but you have to go directly to Kore Essentials to purchase the tactical belts.
If you've tried on a gun belt, you'll recognize immediately the built-in conflict – how to combine some level of comfort with enough stiffness to adequately carry a handgun. Not an easy combination.
The key secret to the Kore system is their track system which is built into the back of the belt and which couples with the buckle.
Here's what you should know. The Kore belts come in fashion wear and tactical wear. For now, the tactical belts are only available on Kore's website. The tactical belts are slightly wider 1 1/2″ vs 1 1/4 and the buckles are not interchangeable. There is a nylon version of the fashion wear which is almost as stiff as the tactical belt and can be used as a gun belt with some lighter rigs. At least that's my take and experience.
In any event, I have a more detailed review of this amazing belt and other choices on my website – check it out.
Here are my Top Picks for the Best First Aid Kits
- First Aid Kit Hard Case
- Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Medic Kit
- You own self-built kit in one of the Vanquest FATPack Trauma Packs
Many view first aid kits as extra bandaids and aspirins. That's fine for common scrapes and head aches, but out on the road, it knive wounds and car accidents. Bandaids and aspirin simply won't cut it there. You need tourniquets and blood clotting agents. So, in addition to some of the more common kits, make sure you include trauma type packs and understand some basic life saving techniques.
I have an extensive article on this site on first aid and first aid kits that I recommend you review. Like many more difficult and important subjects in life, first aid is really a matter of categorizing the basics to understand the whole. Inside the above article, I include an infographic that breaks out the common first aid categories in an effort to help with your understanding.