“I believe in the unequivocal primacy of mindset over all other combative resources and the cultivation and implementation of a congruent mindset, be it applied combatively or otherwise.”
“An enduring commitment to the survival and well-being of those I value (myself and others) through deliberate training and analysis, resolute problem solving in the face of danger and stress, and candid reflection thereafter.”
The Combat Mindset The Judicious Selection of Fighting Equipment
By Chase S.
I’m a firm believer in the adage “buy once, cry once” regarding material objects that play a significant role in my life. However, when it comes to objects my life is in some way dependent on, I’m insistent on that maxim’s sage approach to managing my lamentations. I don’t know of many people who would shop for reserve chutes in the clearance isle at the bargain outlet, but I have encountered numerous people who feel comfortable purchasing nonmilitary grade gear for use in personal protection. When selecting firearms or firearms related equipment, the first question I feel one should evaluate before proceeding is, “What am I purchasing this for?” It seems self-evident; regardless of your objective, your gear should be optimized for that objective.
In light of this, I feel strongly that if the equipment in question is in any way being considered for combative purposes, given the option, anything less than military grade kit, as defined below, is insufficient. For the purposes of this article, I will loosely define military grade to be material that meets or exceeds the approximate reliability, durability and performance of comparable material contemporarily fielded by the United States military. With that in mind, I will utilize the term military grade as a reference to what I consider a minimum standard for fighting equipment.
A point of clarification; “military grade” and particularly “mil-spec” can be and often are loaded, ambiguous, and especially in the case of the latter, erroneously applied terms used for the purposes of marketing. For those who don’t know, any item without a Technical Data Package (TDP) cannot, by definition, be mil-spec. A TDP essentially details the required design configuration and procedures to ensure adequacy of item performance for government procurement. In other words, to my knowledge, your favorite company’s current production AR-15 barrel isn’t mil-spec unless it’s, in the least, produced by either Colt or FN.
That doesn’t mean it is not military grade, however. Commercial military grade gear is often of equal or even superior quality to mil-spec gear; I am only clarifying that it is technically not mil-spec, the same way that a clip is technically not a magazine. While the terms may casually be used by some interchangeably, in actuality, they have different meanings. I make this distinction not to argue semantics, but rather, with the intent of facilitating discerning gear selection.
When I am researching military grade equipment for selection, there are four fundamental components of that equipment I evaluate before anything else. The first and most essential of these is reliability. I will define reliability to be the probability a product will successfully function as intended. For example, when I dial the turrets in an optic, the reticle’s movement will correspond appropriately with that input or when I pull the trigger on a firearm, it will fire and if so designed, cycle properly. It’s often said that the loudest sound in a gunfight is a click. For obvious reasons, when your life hangs in the balance of a potentially lethal situation, your gear’s failure to perform as designed may tip the scale in the direction of irrevocable catastrophe. Accordingly, there is nothing as vital in fighting equipment as reliability.
The second component I evaluate is durability, which I consider a subcategory of reliability. To me, durability means a product’s ability to accept use and abuse over time while maintaining its reliability. If I dial the turrets of an optic back and forth thousands of times or drop it against a hard surface, and it is adequately durable, it will continue to function as intended. If I fire thousands of rounds through a rifle, it will continue to fire and cycle properly. This is particularly important for someone who has little or no access to resources for repair or replacement.
The third component I evaluate is a product’s performance. I view performance as the degree to which something meets the criteria it is being judged by in the execution of its objective. For example, rifle scope turrets that perform exceptionally not only adjust a scope’s reticle each time the turrets are dialed, but also adjust the reticle with repeated precision and consistency. A rifle with exceptional performance not only fires when the trigger is pulled but, devoid of conflicting input, shoots such that the point of aim aligns with the point of impact with minimal deviation, amongst other qualities.
With this in mind, consider that evaluating the reliability, durability, and performance of an item does not take place in a vacuum. It is only through actual use that these qualities can be observed. I most frequently look to the results of items that have been tested in combat or combat like environments by as many people as reasonably possible for as long as reasonably possible for data regarding these characteristics. I have no hard and fast criteria for the number of men and women using a piece of kit or the time it has been used for. Typically there is a consensus amongst professionals worth weighting heavily regarding an item’s combat worthiness. Ultimately, the final decision is each individual’s responsibility.
However, while I value the “tried and true” over the “latest and greatest,” this approach can run the risk of being resistant to useful change, which is counterproductive, and needs to be put further into perspective. It is important to remain cognizant that the objective here is to adopt change in gear selection when a thorough analysis has been done, in as timely a manner as possible, should it be determined that the benefits of that change outweigh the costs. Let’s not forget the long-lived and overwhelming reluctance from significant parts of the firearms community to accept now highly regarded innovations in combat equipment such as the M16 family of rifles and the Glock family of pistols, despite the former’s conclusive triumph over its initial adversities in the field and the latter’s quickly established reputation as a diehard workhorse. In short, what I am actually most interested in is the latest and greatest tried and true gear that fits my needs.
The fourth aspect I consider in combative gear selection, and in my observation the one most regularly neglected, is an item’s commonality and consequent likelihood of availability. Regardless of an item’s durability, it will inevitably fail. If one considers the possibility of having to depend on that item in an extended disruption of society or in a political climate where new production of that item or its components may be restricted, that item’s commonality and availability is critical as well. This includes parts for replacement, the type of magazine a firearm uses, or the specific cartridge a firearm is chambered for. If your gear needs resources in circumstances where access to them is more limited than it was be