While our focus every year at SHOT Show is knives and flashlights, we do sometimes stumble on other interesting gear. What follows are a few items that caught our attention.
Prices quoted are manufacturer's suggested retail price as of February, 2006 (we don't waste bytes, or your intelligence, on 95 cents, we just round up). Most items can be purchased at significantly discounted prices from those quoted. In some cases, items will not be available until much later this year. When we have been given an expected production date, we have included it, but manufacturers often miss such targets.
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Lightweight and compact Mylar emergency blankets with a reflective coating are ubiquitous in the emergency and survival industry. However, they have very serious drawbacks, the most serious being that they are extremely fragile. They puncture easily and once punctured rip to shreds. In addition they are difficult to unfold and noisy enough to wake up the dead. How useful the reflectivenes actually is with regards heat retention is debatable, but at worst they provide shelter from wind and weather. We have never been big fans of these products, using them only when nothing else will do. By and large, our recommendation has been to avoid the Mylar emergency blankets and bags.
Adventure Medical Kits has a new take on these emergency blankets that is revolutionary in many respects. They have changed the base material of their oversized (96 x 60 inches) "1 or 2 person Survival Emergency Blanket" that is also known as the "Heatsheet" (though for reasons nobody can figure out, the current packaging left that off). This was formerly made of Mylar, like all previous such blankets, and then it was printed with orange on one side with some survival instructions printed in black on the orange background.
Printing on the Mylar was always difficult and they looked for a better material to work with and ended up with a "special low-density polyethylene film." As it turns out, this makes an emergency blanket which solves most of the drawbacks of the typical Mylar blanket. The poly is much tougher and more resistant to puncture and once punctures does not shred. It unfolds easily and can even be refolded with relatively minor aggravation. It is also pretty quiet. Not quite as quiet as cloth, but many times quieter than Mylar. Tens of thousands of these new blankets were shipped to Pakistan for the earthquake relief effort and reportedly were well received by emergency workers there.
The only down side is that is is 0.2 ounce (5.6 grams) heavier than the conventional Mylar blanket of the same size, but that's not much of a penalty considering the advantages. It was always the best of a poor choice because of the larger size and orange side for signaling, now it's actually a pretty decent choice and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants this type of product. The survival instructions still leave a bit to be desired of, but you could do worse and hopefully nobody is relying upon them for their survival. MSRP is $5.50.
Greatland Laser introduced two new Laser Flares. While it's been available to the military for some time now, the long awaited Green Laser Flare (GLF). In out previous testing the various prototype GLFs were clearly superior to the red lasers, even at identical power levels, since the eye is so much more sensitive to green light. The green laser is much easier to aim since the geen line is readily visible reflecting off even small amounts of dust or moisture in the air.
While green might not be as recognizable as a distress type signal as the red, for any SAR units actually searching, they will immediately investigate the green laser. As for signaling others, it is unusual enough that in any unexpected circumstances, it is likely going to merit a call to authorities. It is probably worth mentioning, given all the recent issues criminalizing shining lasers at aircraft, that a bill is working its way through Congress (HR 1400, already passed by the House) that specifically authorizes the use of lasers for distress signaling.
If there is a drawback to the green laser it is that it isn't as effective for Search and Rescue using night vision equipment. So, for most maritime use where the U.S. Coast Guard almost always is flying with NVGs on night SAR operations, it is probably better to stick with the red laser versions, or carry both if your budget and space allow.
The GLF is all-aluminum construction, waterproof to 80 feet (24 meters) and the switch is a rotary tail cap with no internal springs. The tail cap incorporates a lanyard hole. It shoots an elliptical expanding beam at 4 degrees. They claim a range of 30 miles, which based on our earlier tests is reasonable, and up 3 miles during the day (the red is not visible at all in bright sunlight). A runtime of 5 hours is claimed on a single 123-cell lithium battery. Wavelength of the laser is 532nm. The GLF body diameter is 0.625-inch with a length of 4.75" and weight with the battery is 3.2 ounces. MSRP is $250
A replacement for the original Rescue Laser Light has also been introduced. The new Rescue Laser Light uses a 123-cell lithium battery instead of the somewhat smaller and difficult to find 28L photo battery used on the original. As such, it is somewhat larger in diameter overall, though not much in terms of major body diameter, 0.625 inch, 3.125-inches long and weighs 2.24 ounces, still pretty compact and lightweight (see photo - right). It no longer is designed to attach to the Mini-Maglite flashlight, no great loss. The rotary head switch, which we never liked all that much since it could be inadvertently turned on too easily, has been replaced with a conventional and secure rotary tail cap switch like the rest of the line. The tail cap incorporates a lanyard hole. It is also all-aluminum and waterproof to 80 feet (24 meters). With a 40 hour runtime, there's really little reason to carry the larger Magnum Rescue Laser Flare unless you want to be able to use AA-cells. MSRP is $90.
Smith & Wesson has assembled an "Emergency Survival Tool Kit" that revolves around their 460PD or 500PD revolvers, it is available with either. S&W's Herb Belin, who developed this kit, emphasizes the short and very powerful .460 S&W and .500 S&W Magnum handguns as defense against bears. The idea of the snub nose is that it allows easy use even if attacked while in your sleeping bag in a tent, according the Herb. A longer barrel would make it more difficult to use in such a confined place and at point blank range, accuracy isn't that much of an issue. That's not an unheard of occurance, so he has a point.
The revolvers is equipped with a 2.75 inch unported barrel and a bright yellow Hogue Recoil Reducing Grip. Unless they are truly magic, best be prepared for a very sore hand after firing this one on the range. Anyone with a wweak grip need not apply.
The remainder of the kit includes: an Ultimate Survival Blastmatch firestarter and four packages of WetFire tinder, Ultimate Survival Saber Saw, Jet Scream whistle and 2 x 3 StarFlash signal mirror, a Silva Polaris baseplate compass, two MPI Mylar Space Emergency Blankets (Note to Herb, see above article) and a Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops liner lock folding knife. Also included is the book, "Bear Attacks of the Century - True Stories of Courage and Survival" by Larry Mueller and Marguerite Reiss; just in case you weren't paranoid enough about bears. All this is packed into a fitted bright yellow Harddig Storm Case. A ballistic nylon holster for the revolver is included. MSRP is $1150
How practical is this kit? Well, individually, the componets are generally very good and ought to be carried on your person for use if needed. If you are traveling into bear country, a powerful firearm is advisable. While a rifle or shotgun with slugs is preferred, most of those we know that travel in such areas also carry a powerful handgun and you'd be hard pressed to find one more powerful than these two.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
First Published: February 28, 2006
Revision: 01 March 2, 2006
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