As just about everyone who’s ever been in the prepping/liberty/training community knows (unless they’re brand new), there are a LOT of companies out there, small and large, hawking the ‘latest and greatest state-of-the-art’ web gear, promising theirs is the ‘end all-be all’ in terms of durability,
fashion sense..err..camouflage, and usability. Never mind the super high end signature equipment (like that survival guy on TV who likes to eat goat eyeballs) has basically the same purpose and performs at the same level as reasonable quality gear and equipment always has performed. There are training centers, like a very famous one in Nevada and not so famous others throughout the country, that have their own brand of icon accessories and apparel all promising the same thing: It’s the absolute best! And it is, in a sense: It’s the best the seller is going to provide based upon the projected margin after manufacturing and sales costs. The actual degree of ‘the best’ may vary quite a bit based upon those factors, and some of the offerings are very, very good while others aren’t so much.
There’s an old saying that comes to mind that’s very appropriate here: “95% of all fishing lures are designed to catch fisherman, not fish….” Same applies to ‘tactical gear.’ Look at the graphic at the top and bottom of this post, and you’ll get what I mean.
Again, that’s not to say that some of these offerings aren’t a great value and worth buying – at the sale or clearance price (when the company realizes that not many people want to pay MSRP for whatever the piece of equipment happens to be) if you’re conscious of how much you’re spending for one item or another. Here’s a personal example to demonstrate the application of ‘high end for less than MSRP’: BDS Tactical has a vertical shoulder holster that was on sale for $47 on their site a couple of months ago. I was in the market for one, so I’d been looking around, and on eBay I saw them for around $75 and thought, “no way…” and also looked at the USGI surplus M7/M9 type ‘tanker’ shoulder holsters, but they were at about $50 shipped, and I didn’t like how weak the straps looked. Added to that, there’s nothing for spare magazines, so I’d have to take some time to modify it. So, I went to BDS Tactical’s site, saw the $47 sale on a$80 item, and pulled the trigger (remember, DTG tries to never EVER pay full retail because the ROI is just not there). Right now they’ve got it for $64 on sale, but if you wait for awhile, I’m betting it’ll come down again, if cycles run true. That holster is bombproof, though, if not a bit cumbersome to set up, but to me it’s not worth $80 MSRP. For less than $50? Absolutely, because it’s made to last and last, and was a worthwhile purchase that will provide a good ROI on money spent – $50. Much better than a M-7/M-9 surplus shoulder holster that costs about the same as what I paid for the BDS holster, and is more durable to boot. But, make no mistake, if I had found a M-7/M-9 in really good shape or New Old Stock (NOS) for $30 out the door, I would have opted for that rather than the BDS holster. Best Bang for the Buck and all that.
Same goes with H-Harnesses, Chest Rigs, belts, tarp shelters, knives, etc. You don’t need to spend $500 on a combat knife; you can spend $75 or less and get a good, durable, won’t let you down Case XX USMC combat knife or something similar.
Do I have a problem with spending money on good equipment?
No, take my knife sharpening system, the Edge Pro Apex 4. All told, cost about $300. And it’ll last me for many years and provides a bench system that makes the edges on my knives extremely sharp.
Knives are another good example: I own several Randall’s, a Wall, a couple Ek’s and so on. I have spent more than I care to admit on good tools. I also own a couple Camillus combat knives I keep in various kits that I’d have absolutely NO problem depending on should I need a good knife. One thing is common: I try to get what I want/need at less than MSRP, like for example, my multi-tools. My most recent purchase was a Leatherman Supertool…used (barely) for $30 out the door. It goes in a pouch on a knife sheath, so I didn’t want/need the associated pouch. Leatherman has a 25 year warranty on their multi-tools, so if something goes wrong, it’s fixed. Typical price to pay for a Supertool is about $75. My EDC Get Home Bag now has a pristeen Buck 110 in it. Cost? $25 out the door. Much better than the $45 to $60 typical cost. My point is not to trash good equipment; my point is to ensure you know you can get set up without get sucked into believing that ‘signature’ high-end or celebrity endorsed equipment is the way to go and spend money unnecessarily that might be better used on weapons, optics, ammo, and training, especially if you’re trying to outfit your family. It’s not the gear that makes the person survivable; it’s the skills. It’s true that you do get what you pay for, to an extent, but you can also pay for a surplus or used item for about 25% of what you’d pay for the new, high end ‘signature’ item and get much, much more than you paid for in ROI.
Take harnesses: You can go to ebay, right now, and get what I consider to be one of the best H-Harness set up’s ever, for $50. Made by Eagle Industries, even. If you were impatient, you could pay $75 for the same thing. Beats the hell out of paying high end retail for some ‘signature’ equipment.
No, it’s not a chest rig, which seems to be ‘all the rage.’ The H Harness is more of a general purpose war horse, and it’s well known that DTG favors ‘general purpose’ for NPT individual training and equipping over specialized equipment, especially for the Neighborhood Protection Team member who’s not going to be involved in any ‘high speed low drag’ adventures. Chest rigs, on the other hand, are specialized equipment best utilized in a vehicle based team. There’s nothing wrong with having a chest rig for a particular purpose; I have one for use in my vehicle-it has a specific purpose and application. Unless my EDC harness was destroyed, I’d never consider using a chest rig for day to day NPT operations.
If you’re on a tight budget, as many people getting started are, you could get one of these USGI Load Bearing Vests in excellent condition for $20 including shipping. Add an old school web belt, and you’re in business. Think of all the other things you might be able to purchase with the saved funds! The mind boggles!
Is it bad to spend big bucks on high-end ‘signature’ gear? Not really. After all, your money is your money, and you can spend it on what you want (so far). Just know that the law of diminishing returns is as sure as the turning of the earth and the rising and setting of the sun, so if you have any sort of a budget, you might want to carefully consider your ROI on what you spend. I do take issue, though, with the implication from the retailers, designers, and spokesmen for the high end signature equipment/gear that their gear is what’s going to pull you through a SHTF scenario, because that’s just not the case! Your skills is what will pull you through when it comes right down to it. Otherwise, we’d all have a, ‘Bass-O-Matic’……right?
One must remember the purpose of all marketing: Sell things and make money. Once you have that burned into your mind, you can evaluate what’s being offered a bit more objectively and possibly not suffer ‘buyer’s remorse’ so much.
Training, as you probably know, is expensive enough, and rightfully so: You’re paying someone to impart knowledge it took years of study and sweat to acquire to cut through the boilerplate and give you the essentials to protect and defend your family and community, and what’s more, have a chance of making it through a SHTF situation alive. You can’t get that from ‘youtube.’ So if you’re going to lay out a significant amount of money, having good training and used gear/equipment is the way to go.
Disclaimer: DTG does not sell it’s own brand of equipment, nor do we have any plans to do so in the future. We also like to ‘re-purpose’ various items, buy ‘used’ gear, so we can spend money on ammo, hardware, and items that help us become better at what we do. There’s way to much very good equipment out there we can get ‘gently used’ that will save us our hard earned cash for better purposes.