Team Wendy will be officially unveiling the EXFIL Ballistic Helmet at SHOT Show 2014 in Booth 8311. Look for details here on Solider Systems Daily.
Team Wendy will be officially unveiling the EXFIL Ballistic Helmet at SHOT Show 2014 in Booth 8311. Look for details here on Solider Systems Daily.
Here you can really see the difference between a standard IFAK and the SONS Trauma Kit from Phokus Research Group.
Slumberjack will be releasing their SJK Tactical Hunting Gear line during SHOT Show, which was developed using input from highly experienced hunters. The line includes packs, insulated tree stand bags, and tents, and is constructed from lightweight, durable materials using Kryptek camouflage. Below is a preview of 3 of the products that will be available under the SJK Tactical Hunting Gear brand.
The Bounty 4500 is a 74-liter pack designed for high elevation hunts and big game. It features an expandable load-carry system which allows meat to be carried close to the back for better load support. The Bounty also features a detachable day pack with organizational pockets, a built-in rifle shooting platform, and a main pack bag that can be completely removed from the frame. The military-grade, dual stay suspension system supports heavy loads over long distances on uneven terrain. A stowable, versatile weapon carry system accommodates rifles or bows and large twin side pockets carry optics, bipods, and other essentials.
The Thermal Cloak is designed to offer protection from the elements as well as act as a personal blind. Tactical hood styling allows the wearer to maintain peripheral vision and hearing. The fabrics used are waterproof and seam taped to repel wind, rain, and snow, while 160g of synthetic insulation keeps the wearer warm. The bottom of the cloak is open to allow the wearer to feel the edges of their tree stand to ensure proper footing. The cloak can also be cinched up around the wearer’s knees for increased mobility. The arm ports are self-sealing (via magnets) that allow for the wearer to move into a firing position. The front zipper and hand warmer pocket help regulate temperature.
The Sightline was developed specifically for overnight hunting trips – available in 1 and 2 person versions. It features a field-of-view window to maximize line-of-sight for glassing game. A rifle-specific sleeve allows the user to keep their weapon close at hand. It uses light and durable 7001 aluminum poles, and a full coverage rain fly with taped seams which repels even the hardest downpours with little effort. The Sightline comes with a dark green rainfly to help it blend into the environment.
By: Richard Graves, Staff Writer
We were able to catch up with the crew at Magpul Dynamics to discuss some changes that are coming for 2014.
First off, it appears that Magpul Dynamics and instructor Steve Fisher are interested in pursuing different goals for 2014 so they mutually decided it was more beneficial to pursue those goals independently.
Magpul Dynamics shared this comment, “Steve is a great instructor, and we wish him the absolute best as he continues to teach around the US.”
Magpul Dynamics will be focusing on content efforts and development for 2014, with a limited schedule of contract and open enrollment courses as they move to a new facility and focus on a new round of media projects in multiple areas. Could this be new videos? Or maybe something more?
As far as the rest of the personnel lineup. Duane remains at the helm. Cody Carroll has been named as Director of Operations for Magpul Dynamics, and will be executing the 2014 plan along with Duane, Caylen, and others. Precision Rifle operations are not affected by this change, and will continue with the planned course schedule as well as the media efforts.
Magpul Dynamics also said that they will continue to work integrally with the product development team as well as with other leading manufacturers in order to test, develop, and refine product requirements through rigorous employment in field testing and instructional environments as well as in the laboratory of the real world. They mentioned several methodologies including end-user contact, competition, engineering assets, and expeditionary employment all play a role in capturing what a product needs to be and the skills needed to excel.
A teaser trailer has just been released for the upcoming Orion’s Kin television show. Although no definitive date has been released, the show will be premiering some time in 2014.
I regularly field questions from industry about being contacted by potential gear reviewers for product samples. Most often, they’re unsure of the validity of the site or person making the request. Often, the industry rep who contacts me for advice doesn’t have a lot of time or experience dealing with “media” and wants me give them a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Instead, I send them off with some homework in the form of several questions to ask of the potential reviewer and themselves. I thought it might be helpful to share them with you as well.
Some are bloggers, some are regulars on various forums and others are military/LE personnel. Some do this for a living, others post reviews due to an interest in weapons and gear while still others are just looking for a pile of “free stuff”. Most of the folks who contact you will think they have your best interest at heart, but let’s face it, it’s a jungle out there. The internet is awesome. It allowed me to create SSD without having to buy a print press and hire a huge staff of reporters, but it also allows for literally anyone to set up a website and start the hustle for free gear. The point of these questions isn’t to serve as a bar to entry for anyone. The next SSD might be out there somewhere and we want to encourage quality, not stifle it. Nor is the list all-inclusive, but it will certainly serve as a great baseline. Rather, this is a guide for those in industry who feel they are barraged by a stream of open hands and unsure of how to deal with them.
Who Are They?
You are assessing the whole person. Who they are, how they approach you, their deportment, online behavior, everything. It’s like a job interview. When they write about your products, by extension, they are representing you.
The very first thing any prospective reviewer should do, either via phone, email, or in person (at a trade show) is tell you who they are and where they publish. If not, they are probably full of it, or don’t have enough experience to be effective. Either way, steer clear.
If they do it in person, take a look at them. Are they wearing the Tactical Tuxedo? Covered in morale patches? In and of itself, that isn’t a disqualifier but it can certainly be entertaining (please send me a pic for a “tactical fashion police” post). Are they properly dressed for the occasion, clean, organized?
Ask them what qualifies them to write about your product. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but you have to be satisfied with what they tell you. As a corollary, ensure they understand what your product is used for.
On a similar note, ask them about their day job. Some guys do this full time, so that one’s easy. If not, find out what else they are up to. Do they work for one of your competitors? Yes, those guys exist . Did they tell you about how they review gear and are also developing a few designs of their own? Or, better yet, working with other companies to test gear for them and develop products? All of those are flags to stay away. As gear reviewers and reporters we get access to a lot of behind the scenes info including trade secrets and developmental products. Only a hustler would put himself in a ethically questionable situation by asking to see your products while he serves as your competition.
What’s Their Demeanor?
Listen really hard to what they say and how they say it. Are they confident and professional or do they come off like a used car salesman?
Do they ask for money or ask you to purchase advertising in order to review your product? If so, RUN away from them and tell all of your friends to steer clear as well. Paid reviews are bad for business. Also, tell me so I can place them in my mental Rolodex of shame.
Did they offer to “test” your product? I am a retired Project Officer having served at the most exclusive of the five DoD Test and Evaluation Activities. I can tell you from experience, that testing requires use of the scientific method, a detailed test plan, and takes hundreds if not thousands of test samples and cycles. This equates to a great deal of time and money. Most of your products are already built to a spec so what good is a guy going to do by taking one of your products down to the local range and shooting a couple of magazines through it, or lighting a match to it, or dropping his barbell on it? Absolutely nothing. These “tests” are complete BS and generally make your product look bad since they are subjected to unrepeatable anomalous protocols and arbitrary standards that they weren’t built for. Leave testing to guys in lab coats. On the other hand, if a guy wants to do a demonstration or examine an aspect of your product, and you are comfortable with his plan, go for it. Just remember, you have to live with the results of what he does.
Instead, they should be talking about reviews which provide basic facts about the item’s physical properties as well as impressions on how it performs for that reviewer. You’ll notice we don’t do a lot of traditional reviews here in SSD because of the time they take. Instead, we concentrate on breaking news. But, we do provide impressions of items that we’ve had experience with.
Do they immediately start name dropping? While this isn’t necessarily bad, it is a trick often used to gain your confidence by associating themselves with others with better credentials.
Do they try to win your confidence by telling you all about what your competition is up to? If so, they’ll probably do the same to you once they are off to the next guy.
Do they speak like they understand that the product sample they are asking for isn’t really free and affects your bottom line?
Many small companies are owned by former military personnel. They aren’t used to the business world or dealing with professional BS artists. The more selectively manned the unit someone belonged to in the military, the more susceptible they are to being bamboozled in the business world. At their unit the only people who had access to them were vetted and deemed trustworthy. Out here, it’s a dog eat dog world and those of questionable morals work hard to insert themselves into circles of trust (remember that comment in name dropping).
Where And How Often Do They Publish?
What’s their reach? Notice I didn’t say “ask how many readers they have.” Reach is a bit bigger than that. High readership numbers don’t necessarily equate to the right readers. Sure, ask to see their webstats. But what’s important is who they are reaching. This info has to be bounced off of your product and goals. If you make specialized communication devices, those 2 million air softers they reach every month probably aren’t going to help you much if your goal is to increase sales. On the other hand, if a guy is influential on a precision shooting forum of a few hundred members that include personnel from very specialized military and LE teams then sending your new scope to him might give you some excellent exposure.
Find out how long they’ve been at it. I published an article a day on SSD for a whole year before a layoff forced me to commercialize the site. If they started last month, it’s probably best to give them some time to develop their voice.
Is it a corporate or private website? Is it owned by a large conglomerate? If so, do the owners share your beliefs? Many in the gun business don’t want to associate with companies that are anti-2A. Check out who owns the site. If it’s a private guy, read the site. Is it full of anti-government stuff? If so, ask yourself if your government customers will want to do business with a company that rubs elbows with a site that refers to them as “Jack booted thugs”?
Sometimes you’ll be contacted by Government personnel seeking a sample. If it’s for work:
Is (s)he a military guy? Insist in a letter from first O5 in chain of command stating that the requestor is authorized to evaluate you product for use by his unit. If he’s legit, this won’t be a problem.
LE guys, same deal, make sure they are reviewing your product for possible agency use or if it’s just for their own, personal use.
After you’ve spoken with them, follow through with the info they’ve given you to verify their claims.
If they are using their duty position to get free stuff to post on a forum or write about on a blog, ask them a couple of questions about the ethics of using their uniform for free stuff and then go back to all of the questions above.
Alternatives to “Free Stuff’
In some cases you may want to offer a temporary loan sample that comes back to you after the review. In this case, you may want to secure more expensive items with a credit card number that will be charged if the item is not returned by the date agreed upon. Other times, perhaps a discounted purchase is the best course.
Use Your Network
There’s nothing wrong with vetting a website or writer. Ask friends at other companies if they’ve ever dealt with them and how it went.
Do Your Research
Independently check out their website/articles. Determine if they can actually write and convey information in a usable format.
Take a look at how they present information. Once again, do they understand your product and its use? Will they diminish the value of your brand by associating it with your competitors or what you consider inferior items?
Additionally, make sure they don’t end up associating you with something you don’t stand for. You don’t want to end up having your product on a site that conveys a different belief than yours. For example, a jihadist site, a tinfoil hat site or one that works to deny basic rights of others. Remember, the internet mobs are always ready to pounce.
Your product is valuable in many ways. In addition to its innate value, it has value to the potential reviewer. By providing a product for review, you validate that person’s status. By sharing a product with a reviewer, you associate yourself with them but keep in mind, that’s a two way street. Sometimes, you are getting the better end of the deal. Additionally, the article or review that is produced is a commodity as well. Information is the product for those in my line of work.
The ball is in your court. Whether or not you provide product samples to reviewers is up to you. Ultimately, we have to all rely on industry to police the plethora of websites, forums and blogs. The cream will always rise to the top but if you don’t provide samples to the unworthy, eventually, many of them will go away and the good sites will be all the easier to identify.
I know this sounds like a lot but it’s worth it. Seeding product samples to writers and reviewers can be a very high pay off endeavor; so long as you send them to the right folks. Conversely, it can be very expensive if you don’t see a return on your investment. Ask a few simple questions and follow up with a perusal of their other work. If they check out, go for it. If not, don’t be discouraged. Trust me, they’ll be another guy right behind them. A review from a reputable source can be very rewarding.
Started by Nicholas Karnaze, a U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations (MARSOC) combat veteran, Stubble & ‘Stache is a company that currently sells a face moisturizer and beard conditioner made in the USA from natural ingredients. 15% of all company profits go towards charities aggressively assisting veterans suffering from PTSD, depression, TBI, and other mental wounds. Currently, the funding is going towards the MARSOC Foundation, The Pathway Home, Inc., and The Warfighter Foundation, with more organizations to be added.
The company has set up an Indiegogo page, looking to secure funding to expand their product line. Further products they hope to introduce include Deep Beard Conditioner, a Beard-Friendly Moisturizer with Sunscreen, and a Beard Styling Balm.
Phokus Research Group has announced that the Sons Trauma Kit has been tested and recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association. The Sons Trauma Kit and its reviews are now listed on the NOTA Member Tested and Recommended online database. Phokus’ Hoplite night vision focusing cover is also being reviewed by NTOA, although the ETA of approval for that product is currently unknown.