2018 Holiday Gift Suggestions, Part 2

Lowa’s Aerox GTX Mid and low cut; colors vary from men’s to women’s and by style; the excellent quality and fit does not.

 

By Scott Smith

Noisefighters’ gel pad ear cups mounted on Walker’s Razor earmuffs. You can see the ledge that your glasses set on to give you a better seal.

It is very hard to think Christmas when you can be parboiled outside. Fear not though, the big box outdoor stores have a way of snapping us back to reality―Christmas decorations. The migratory birds flying south from Canada are also a real reminder that winter and Christmas are not far behind.
Over the past year the industry introduced new footwear, hearing protection, eye protection, affordable quality optics, and of course clothing. We tried to find items that will make great gifts for a variety of shooting disciplines and lifestyles; hopefully Women & Guns will not let you down.
Footwear is one of the more personal and hotly debated items in the industry. What shoes are the best for shooters and outdoors people is one piece of kit that is like arguing who makes the best firearm. I have attempted to look two versions of the same boot/shoe that fit women or men and is Gore-Tex lined for wet day. Lowa’s Aerox is that boot.
Over the last several years Lowa has become one of the companies building boots designed specifically for women or men on true gender designed lasts. This is important to ensure a proper fit and support. Some companies feel downsizing a man’s boot to smaller sizes is all you need to do; it is not. Lowa’s boots are built to properly fit the ball and heel of the foot as well as the proper length. These areas ensure all day comfort and wearability.
The Aerox GTX is one of Lowa’s newest, most innovative boots. Thanks to the slip last design it has an athletic shoe feel. The injected polyurethane midsole ensures your feet, legs and back will not take a beating by absorbing shock for many years longer than the EVA used by competitors. My first pair of Lowa boots was still comfortable after five years as they were the day I first wore them; sadly the sole was worn out.

Peltor’s Tactical 500 you can see the on/off, volume controls, Bluetooth button and recessed microphones.

Lowa gets this long wear by partnering with Vibram to design soles to meet your specific needs. The Aerox uses their aggressive Surround Trac sole. Over the past year this sole has proven itself to give good traction on any surface a shooter encounters from perfect dry grass to the wet red mud of the South. Surround Trac gives good traction because of its design and it “self-cleans.” This happens because the sole is flexible and the nubs are far enough apart they do not trap mud between them. Thanks to its chemical make-up the sole wears well on pavement and is slip resistant even on painted surfaces.
No matter the terrain you are on your foot will be supported by Lowa’s patented Monowrap. This system bonds the sole, midsole, and upper into one unit. Your foot also sits slightly below the midsole which further ensures that your foot and boot act as one. Depending on the model these boots will set you back $220 to $240 and are worth every penny.
Comfortable hearing protection is just as important as footwear. Sadly most hearing protection’s ear cups are only comfortable in ideal conditions. Noisefighters has designed a gel pad that will make your favorite hearing protection fit and function better; no matter the weather.
The gel filled and soft ear cups are designed for most popular brands of hearing protection on the market today. We tested them on Walker Razors and Howard Leight Impact Bolts. Installing them was easy and they fit perfectly.
Aside from the comfort, they increase decibel reduction by fitting under the arms of your eye protection, not over them which causes a gap in the cup. This gap compromises the effectiveness of the hearing protection.
The cup material and design greatly reduce the pressure on your head as well, alleviating those nasty headaches we can get from a day at the range. A pair of Noisefighters will set you back $45 or so delivered.
One of the latest sets of hearing protection this year is Peltor’s Tactical Sport 500. The Tactical 500 is an electronic unit with Bluetooth capability so you can sync your mobile devices to it to listen to your music list. This unit does not have VOX capability so if you answer your phone whoever is on the other end will know you are on the range. What it does have is 26dB reduction when shooting and thanks to 3M SMART Technologies crystal clear voice reception when you are not shooting.
Peltor has done something I have not seen on other electronic hearing protection; they recess the microphones approximately a sixteenth of an inch form the surface of the muffs. When combined with the built-in wind screen there is a huge reduction in wind noise. Truth be told with the exception of being caught on the range before a couple of major storms, l did not notice that annoying rustling sound the wind causes. Note to hunters: this is one less excuse for you not to wear these while hunting. I also found this slight recess made range commands

Above: Rudy’ Projects Tralyx Shooter’s Kit; black is the standard color frame. This kit will last you for years. Below: This photo shows the difference in size of the standard and XL.

more clear when shooting USPSA matches.
Peltor designed the Tactical 500 for ease of operation as well. The one cup has all the controls at your finger tips. The on/off button is opposite of the microphone on the one cup and tells you when it is on or off. Volume buttons are the cap of this cup and the Bluetooth button is in the middle of the volume buttons. All of the buttons have raised symbols, making it easy to feel and operate them.
Batteries are in the opposite cup of the controls. The Tactical 500s operate on AA batteries ensuring you can find them virtually anywhere should a pair die. After one shooting season the original pair is still going strong.
Peltor has also used new polymers in the cup cushions and headband to make the Tactical 500 more comfortable for all day wear. The headband has a soft touch material directly molded over the bands for comfort when worn with or without a hat. The cups’ material is also new and does not get brittle in the cold. I stuck our sample set in the freezer to test the feel; while cold they still molded over my glasses and quickly softened from body heat.
You will find Peltor’s Tactical 500 priced under $120 online. With all of the features, the Tactical 500 is worth every penny. With all the advancements in sound clarity there is no reason for shooters and hunters alike not to wear electronic hearing protection.
The other irreplaceable item we protect is our eyes. For the last twenty years I and hundreds of other shooters, LEOs, and troops have trusted Rudy Project. Like Lowa, Rudy Project offers eye protection for large and small faces as well as for the optically challenged. Last year they introduced the Tralyx and this year they introduced an optical insert for them. What made them popular is a standard and extra large size, as well as cool looks.
Rudy Project offers the Tralyx in a shooter’s kit; which I highly suggest. In the kit you receive the standard or XL frame, a clear lens, an ImpactX-2 Photochromic Clear to Black, ImpactX Photochromic Racing Red and protective case. ImpactX-2 lenses are virtually unbreakable and the case too is virtually indestructible (I know this because I ran mine over with the truck and all the contents survived unscathed). The kit will set you back $399.99. Just the Rx dock is $79.99; if you have Rudy Project make them, it is $169.99. If you prefer, Rudy can grind the actual lens to your prescription but you will have to contact Rudy Project. Price is determined by the lens and your prescription. Personally I like the insert; it gives you an added degree of protection from high velocity debris.
I have found that for action shooting the three lens kit is ideal. Over the years, with the exception of shooting out west in the summer where Rudy’s Laser Blue rules, the clear to black and clear to Racing Red have worked well in a wide variety of lighting conditions. If you shoot shotgun sports Rudy does offer other lenses.
One feature that separates Rudy Project from the competition is they do not fog up. On each lens there are small vents in the lens that allow for air flow. It may not seem that these slits would defeat fogging but they do. Anyone who has shot in Georgia in July will appreciate you can see without constantly wiping your glasses clean. Be warned if you hop out of your vehicle with the AC set to Arctic, they will get fogged up from the surface condensation; you cannot stop that. But other than that, you will be clear to shoot.
Being a big guy I wear the Tralyx XL because the lens completely covers the ocular orbit; from cheek to eyebrow. The standard will do the same for women and kids. I found in windy conditions they kept dust out of my eyes and the added wrap would protect my eyes from ricocheting debris. Having had a piece of jacket imbed itself in another pair of shooting glasses, I learned complete protection is best.
How well do Rudy Project glasses wear; are they worth it? I have been wearing my Rydon’s for fifteen years; all I have replaced is one set of temples/nose pieces for $20. I still have all the original lenses and they are used daily. I have not had a scratch even on those that got run over in the hard case. My eyes are worth the $399.99 cost of the Tralyx Shooter’s Kit; you have to decide; is that too much to protect your eyes or your loved ones?
If you or someone is looking for an affordable quality optic, Sightmark’s Citadel CR1 1-6X24 Riflescope is hard to beat. The CR1 is a second focal plane optic; the reticle does not change size as you zoom with a BDC for 55 grain .223Rem. The center circle dot has variable intensity; I found the circle dot can be seen on all but the brightest of days, this is true for most scopes with this feature. You can adjust the focus of the reticle by turning the ocular lens.
Windage and elevation adjustments are very positive; you can feel each click when making adjustments. This scope gives you 120 MOA of adjustment. I had no issues with the CR1/Sightmark 30mm Cantilver combination holding zero and I removed it several times while testing. As always when you remove your optic it is still best to verify zero. While doing my testing on the CR1 I found it to be rated for the recoil of a 50BMG which would explain why my buds have had zero issues with the scope.
I was surprised to see flip-up lens caps and throw lever included with the CR1. It can be a hassle trying to find flip-up caps for these mid-range scopes. Throw levers make it easy to zoom the lens and it’s almost mandatory for competition shooters. You want as much

Above: Rudy’ Projects Tralyx Shooter’s Kit; black is the standard color frame. This kit will last you for years. Below: This photo shows the difference in size of the standard and XL.

field of vision as possible on close targets and highest magnification three hundred yard steel when shooting three gun. A hunter also can appreciate a throw lever for the same reason you may need to make a snap or precision shot on game; the lever allows you to quickly change the magnification.
While finishing this piece, I realized I didn’t have the MSRP of the mount so I did a quick search online and found the MSRP is $73.99. A bit further research showed it could be had for under $64 and the CR1 has a MSRP of $359.99 and can be had for under $300. In this day and age a well made optic and mount for under $400 is a good deal for anyone on your Christmas list.
The last item is the one we all moaned about as kids—clothing. As adults who shoot or spend our time outdoors we have changed our minds thanks to companies like 5.11 Tactical who are making clothing to fit your needs.
The problem with most “range” clothing is that is looks like it is built for folks in law enforcement or it looks like “range wear.” This is all well and good if you are on the range or in the field but what about if you are out shopping, getting something to eat? Then it might draw unwanted attention to you.
5.11’s latest ladies pants, the Mesa and Defender Flex Slim Jeans, will help solve those problems. Both pants are designed for and by women to fit your active lifestyle. They are also designed with functional belt loops that easily accommodate a belt for range and concealed carry. For comfort both are made from fabric that gives when you move. Either pair will set you back $69.99
The Mesa is a low profile tactical style pant with its low profile zipper thigh pockets, traditional slash front pockets and rear patch pockets. The front pocket’s slash is flat
at the bottom to allow a clip-it knife to lay flat. You can easily stash an AR magazine or smart phone in the rear pockets. To ensure you do not lose your phone, I would zip them in the thigh pocket.
When it comes to comfort you will be hard pressed to find pants that beat the Mesa. The DWR polyester elastane fabric is four-way stretch. The eight inch tapered pant leg allows for easy on/off while giving you a fitted look when worn.

5.11 Tactical’s Mesa in Raisin; you can see all of the pockets and fit. They fit and flex like yoga pants.

The extra wide rear belt loop keeps them from gapping and sagging when you are wearing a pistol.
I have on good authority that the fabric is comfortable for all day wear, even when it is flying a desk. It was also passed on to me that these pants wash well after surviving the rigors of grandkids and their spills. Reality is not every one is Laura Croft nor do we all shoot. The Mesa can be had in sizes 0-20 in regular and long lengths. You can choose from black, lunar (grayish), python (light OD), or raisin.
If you prefer jeans the Defender Flex Slim Fit Jeans should suit your needs. Unlike teenage

For those who want functional jeans, 5.11’s Defender Flex Slim Fit Jeans are the answer. They look snug but give you plenty of freedom of movement.

slim fit, these pants are not second skin tight. You would be hard pressed to tell these jeans from popular brands. They have traditional riveted front slash pockets, with a front “watch” pocket in the right front. The rear pockets are patch style with magazine pockets at the bottom of the waist band. The rear pockets have stylish stitching and a flag logo on the right pocket.
While the Slim Fit Jeans do not have eight inch legs, they are easy on/off thanks to the 76/24 cotton poly blend of the 10 ounce T400 stretch fabric. If you wear boots these will tuck neatly and comfortably into the shaft. It was not recommended to wear them over cowboy boot shafts. Blouses tuck neatly into the waist without feeling snug thanks to the fabric’s stretch.
For daily wear the Slim Fit Jeans are ideal. My oldest friend in the world is a former EMT and now an emergency dispatcher for an international airport. She says these jeans do not wear you out sitting for eight to twelve hours like traditional cowboy style denim jeans do. More importantly they give you freedom of movement when you need to kneel, climb or any other daily activity. She tells me unlike the Mesas, the Slim Fit Jeans are not immune to the bodily functions of a pre-schooler…pre-treat before washing.
You can pick three shades of denim color; Pacific (stone washed), light wash (worn look) or Indigo. Size wise you can choose from 0-16 in short, regular and long lengths.
After having worn both the Mesas and Defender Flex Slim Fit Jeans, I was told they are amazing pants. They wash and machine dry well. There is no shrinkage and the sizes run true. Both pairs get worn about every five days. That’s how much she likes the fit. Having heard complaints about women’s clothing be it her uniforms when she was an EMT, casual or dress wear over the last thirty years, I can tell you this is high praise.
5.11 Tactical has really taken their commitment to their women’s line seriously and it shows. The Mesa and Defender Flex Slim Fit Jeans will serve you on the range, hiking the fields, out on the town or at work. They will make good gifts for yourself or others you know.
Hopefully this will help give you gift ideas for yourself, friends and family. I wish you all a happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and a safe New Year. Get out to the range over the holidays; shoot safe, shoot straight and have fun.