Category Archives: reviews

Duluth Trading Flex Fire Hose Work Pants

Tradesmen out on the work-site are exposed to all sorts of extreme conditions, from the weather, the terrain and just plain ole rugged stuff like sharp edges, splinters, sparks and abrasion.

These folks seek out heavy duty clothes and a company called Duluth Trading is trying to answer the call. They have come out with, what I consider a very strong contender to replace my 5.11 Tactical Pant inventory…the Flex Fire Hose Work Pant.


Made of 8 oz. Fire Hose cotton canvas that’s lighter, but as abrasion resistant, as Duluth’s original “11.5-ounce Fire Hose® Work Pants” , the “Fire Flex” Pants add in 3% spandex to provide softer wear and more flexibility over the stiffer originals. And at 8 oz these pants are even lighter than the 5.11 Tactical’s which are 8.5 oz.

fabric2The material is also Teflon®-treated to resist stains and water. I’m sure that wear and washing will eventually diminish this feature, but water still beads on them after a few weeks of wear and multiple washings. Duluth ships these things “pre washed” so they are comfortable right out of the bag.

The Flex Fire Work Pant has plenty of pocket space. Compared to the 5.11’s the differences I have noticed are that the cargo pockets are a bit higher, the Flex Fire’s don’t have that small magazine pocket (which I never carry a magazine in anyway) and the rear pocket has a more traditional flap closure vs the “slit style” rear pocket on the 5.11. +1 for the 5.11 there in terms of ease of rear pocket access.

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The placement of the belt loops are perfect for my belt slide holster(s). Often times pants have that inconvienent belt loop right on the hip, which leaves me with two options; not using the loop at all which feels odd and causes the belt to sag a bit on the hip, or I have to wrestle with threading the belt through one side of the holster, through the loop and out the other side of the holster.

What the Flex Fire’s have going for them in terms of storage is the multi pocket approach to the cargo pocket.

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Compared to the 5.11’s Cargo pockets, the Flex Fire’s provide more organizational options. The each leg sports one main/large pocket that has an additional two exterior pockets on top.  This lets you arrange stuff on the leg vs stuffing it all into one large pocket. And, whats neat with the design on the two outside pockets is that one is closed when the flap is down and one is open. The “Always open” pocket fits my portable radio perfectly and the closeable one holds my cellphone quite nicely.

You may also note what appears to be the “extra velcro” on the pocket flap. Inside the main cargo pocket are two tabs that let you secure the flap inside the pocket so that they can all remain open with the flap held securely against the leg.



I don’t have a photo of it, but there’s even a hidden pocket inside the pants at the left front waistband area. Great place to stash something like a hidden cuff key.

The waist closure is a traditional button/slot affair compared to the  5.11’s snap style closure.

button2 outbut inbutton

I’m not reccommending one style over the other in this department as either seems to work fine for me. I have seen some anecdotal reviews stating that Duluth’s buttons have (on occasion) been seen to fail by pulling out of the waistband material. From what I have seen that may have been more of an issue of too small a waist size being worn…I guess I will see but mine have had no issues.

At about $70.00 a pair you will be paying about $20.00 over the cost of a 5.11 and…as almost everything is these days…they are made in China. But so are 5.11’s (as well as other overseas manufacturers).

Light, tough, comfortable and practical. If you are seeking additional options for a tactical pant the Duluth Flex Fire Hose Work Pant’s are absolutely worth a test run. And with Duluth’s “No Bull” guarantee that they will refund your money if you are not satisfied, what do you have to lose?

lets see if this gets hearts racing

Anyone into LE/MIL training has heard of the book “Sharpening the Warriors Edge“. The core of the book is focused on the proposition that the human heart rate is a factor in combative performance under stress and that as the heart rate increases a person will loose motor function and other skills.

This book and author were picked up by Ltc David Grossman, who you all know, and this heart rate chart was propagated throughout MIL/LEcircles as proven science.

I have always been skeptical of the whole “heart rate chart” thing and how the TAC/LE community seems to have swallowed it without any sort of verification or peer review.

I don’t believe that HR in and of itself causes any significant motor loss.  I remember doing drills in SWAT school where I had to run in full gear and assemble a pistol while competing head to head. Since it wasn’t life or death it wasn’t exceedingly difficult. If anything, it would have been the mental stress of competition that caused any motor skill degradation. Conversely I’ve had some “oh shit” moments that left my hands shaking…Imo its adrenalin and mental factors that are whats in play here not HR at all. Saying heart rate is the cause is like saying that dilated pupils cause nodding out…not heroin in the bloodstream. Heart rate may be somewhat of an indicator of hormonal changes in the body but I see no proof that those indicators prove to be universal between all persons.

I note that in more recent versions of the HR chart it stipulates “HORMONAL Induced Heart Rate”. I don’t know if Siddle has altered his approach or if these charts are from a source other than Siddle, but when it first came out it seemed implied that heart rate ALONE was the factor and that’s how many LE/MIL/TAC trainers were regurgitating it to their students.

All the same I don’t know that HR should be used as a metric at all. I would think that people would have different symptoms at different heart rates under adrenaline/hormonal influences. Just because I may loose motor skills when scared at around 155 BPM doesn’t mean you are going to lose them at the same rate.

I wonder where these numbers came from…and so do others. That’s the core of the criticism as I see it.

Some other LE/MIL folks didn’t bite either. Hock Hochheim posted the following.

Go to the bottom…August 1st post.

Of particular interest to this discussion from Hocks post is:

The professional look of the chart and its matter-of-fact presentation suggests some very serious, study work has been done. But by whom? The actual source is somewhat elusive these days. The source is usually just regurgitated as “Bruce Siddle’s work on,” or the “work of Bruce Siddle,” over and over again, as through Siddle himself was a renown heart surgeon or maybe a Distinguished Fellow, doctor at Houston’s Debakey Heart Center. Does anyone ask, just who this Siddle really is? Actually, Siddle has not graduated a college and has no psychology or medical degree or experience. He is essentially a self-proclaimed, martial arts grandmaster of his own style ” Fist of Dharma,” from a small, Illinois town. He had an idea at a very ripe time decades ago, to teach very non-violent, police courses. Many police administrations loved the programs because of the pressure-point approach. Many, many officers, including myself, did not like the program.

Siddle is also the guy behind the Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) System that was so popular in LE circles for a while.

Its interesting how a self-proclaimed grandmaster can found a widely LE accepted DT system, leverage what many are now believing to be a mistaken idea into notoriety, and even get ownership of a handgun manufacturing outfit (with Grossman once again). The snake eating tail aspect of tactical experts endorsing/spouting each others work serves to ingrain concepts into our training and operations…some are good, but others we really should be taking a closer look at.

Grossman also used to hitch his training wagon to John Giduck who also is having some credibility issues of late.

This all goes to show the power of “getting an in” with LE and MIL circles. I don’t want to come off as “bashing” any of these authors but we in the LE/MIL communities seem to be having a “flavor of the day” issue with people and concepts. I think a dose of skepticism would serve us better than hero worship of authors and trainers we haven’t seriously investigated or vetted.

Do any of my readers have any additional information or expertise on this subject?

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if you are looking for AR pieces n parts…

Take a look at Black Rifle Works Ltd.

I only ordered a few springs and a Magpul baseplate from them, but I was impressed with their prices, availability (they say “if it’s on the site it’s in stock”) and speed of delivery.

For shipping USPS Priority Mail, I had the stuff on my desk as fast as or faster than stuff I have ordered through the “Big Name” suppliers that came FedEx or UPS. Worth a look if you are in the market for stuff. I have them on my list of trusted suppliers.


book review:Green Eyes & Black Rifles

I had been reading a lot about this book on various tactical forums lately so I decided to buy a copy. The author, Kyle Lamb, is a former SF (most likely Delta) soldier with combat experience in Mogadishu and Mosul, and is currently an owner of Viking-Tactics. Kyle wrote this book over the course of several years during down time in-between ops while in the box.

The book is written for the AR shooter specifically, but much of what is written can be of use to the tactical shooter regardless of the platform he/she carries.

Green Eyes & Black Rifles (referring to the green eyes of NVG goggles and the AR) starts out with rifle history, manufacture and components. He then heads to optics and sighting systems, weapon handling, reloads and a thorough section of clearing malfunctions. This is then followed by marksmanship techniques, the fighting stance, various shooting positions and shooting on the move. Zeroing, ballistics, slings (Viking-Tactics slings of course 😉 ), weapon retention, night fighting, cleaning and more than I care to mention are all covered in a concise and matter of fact manner in this book.

If you are looking for the “secret techniques” that will make you the King of Combat, you are going to be disappointed; but that is exactly why you should get this book. Kyle, like almost any warrior-trainer who has been there and done that, knows that there are no “secret techniques” only basics performed at higher speeds. He is cutting through the bullshit and giving you the techniques that work.

So. If you are looking for “specialization” perhaps this book isn’t for you, but if you want to know what a decorated combat Delta trooper has to say about the combat carbine you can’t go wrong with this book.


i learn something new every day. AKA a cellular phone education

Cell Phone Cameras
Image by compujeramey via Flickr

Part of being a supervisor is having to deal with a flood of communication inputs and devices. I have two radios in my vehicle, I get messages over my car computer and I have a department issued Nextel phone as well as my own personal cell.

Well… this morning around 0300 hrs my personal cell starts vibrating. Unusual in and of itself I pick it up to see it’s from a “restricted” number. Sometimes my boys (subordinates) call me direct on their cells and many coppers restrict their numbers so I pick it up. To make a long story short, it’s some knucklehead who obviously has the wrong number trying to prank someone. When I ask “who is it that you think you are talking too” and I get an “I’m talking to you motherfucker!” When I tell him that I am an on duty police officer and he’s about to buy himself an aggravated harassment charge he apologizes and hangs up.

Well..unless he calls back I’m not really interested in going through the hassle of subpoenas and warrants, but I began doing a little digging on placing and blocking “restricted” numbers. Of course you can pay for an “anonymous” line, or you can dial *67 and place a single restricted call; but the phone company (Verizon in my case) in their “infinite wisdom” has no option for you to block calls from restricted numbers. Funny how it’s a “matter of privacy” for someone to be able to block their number, but your only option is to suck it up and not answer calls from restricted numbers.

Well…since Google is like a damn oracle, I decided do a few searches and in short order I found a handy service called Trapcall. Trapcall is an internet based business with various levels of membership; the lowest option being free of charge. After you set-up, the next time a restricted number calls you simply ignore it and Trapcall calls you back with the number that just tried contacting you. For a monthly fee you can block numbers, record calls and various other options. A handy little service to have in your “e-toolbox”.


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more about “On Killing” and “The Bulletproof Mind”

8/365 - Bayonet
Image by ricin via Flickr

I have previously posted a few reviews of Col. Dave Grossman‘s presentations and books. I attended his “Bulletproof Mind” seminar last year and posted a review shortly thereafter.

Personally…I have nothing too “bad” to say about the Colonel’s works or theories. As a matter of fact I think that he is spot on in much that he says; but there is some stuff I think he is drawing erroneous conclusions from and I also think that he attempts to “cover too much with too little”.

I just read a critique of Grossman’s work over at the Police Policy Studies Council that dates back to 2001 and takes his stuff to task pretty handily:

He is very popular with police and military audiences.
He is a very likeable guy.
But, are there problems with his reasoning?
And, are some of his stated opinions actually detrimental to the law enforcement community?


The writer raises some good points and I believe that they worth some consideration if you are interested in the topic or are involved in MIL/LE training.


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