AUGUST 3, 2023

Guest Shot: Thoughts on Gear, Part II

Today’s feature, from correspondent Dave Spaulding, continues from last week – where he discussed the firearms and holster parts of the equation. Now he continues with sights, cutlery, flashlights and ammo.

The Ameriglo CAP sight was designed for fast acquisition in combat environments. Not a “six o’clock hold target sight,” but a “cover what you want to hit sight.”

Ameriglo Sights. I have long been an advocate of high visibility, colored front sights. While others were calling for three dots or black serrated fronts, I wanted something that would jump out and catch my eye. Why? Because I learned very early in my law enforcement career that you cannot watch a suspect’s actions AND focus on a front sight. If you want to keep an eye on a suspect’s hands to ensure they are coming out with a wallet instead of a gun, it requires all of your focal capability. If you do need to elevate and use the sights, they need to be found quickly! Today, one of the argued benefits of optical sights is target focus, though I continue to maintain we should be doing that anyway. I wanted a front sight that I could “reference” without having to stare at it. Enter the Combative Application Pistol (CAP) sight.

I worked on this with Ameriglo founder Rick Callihan after interviewing an eye surgeon on how the eye works. My original design was a bright (lime green or orange) SQUARE front sight through a black serrated rear. The sights are also designed to cover the point of impact instead of a six o’clock hold (kind of like a dot sight!). The final version came with a line on the rear for more precise alignment at distance as well as a tritium bead in the front square to help hold the paint. You can buy my version exclusively at the Handgun Combatives Store (

Spyderco Knives. Spyderco makes well designed and constructed blades at a reasonable price. They have both high and low end knives in folding and fixed configurations. If you leave one of these knives behind (or in!) you don’t feel like you left your wallet as well. I have carried both the Delica and Endura over the years and have never been disappointed in the quality for the money. If I needed something really compact, the Dragonfly met the need while maintaining the ability to quickly deploy with one hand. The Spyderco line is huge. If you can’t find what you want or need, it probably isn’t made.

The author’s all-time favorite knife is the Masters of Defense Hornet as designed by James Keating and Jim Ray. These days, however, as he enjoys retirement, a mini-multi tool from Leatherman is more likely his companion.

Original Masters of Defense. As much as I like Spyderco, I feel compelled to talk about my favorite folding knife of all time. The Masters of Defense (Jim Ray period) Hornet as designed by James Keating was that one blade that did everything better for me. It was big enough to do the tough jobs, small enough to carry easily, opened readily and was partially serrated for those “wet” cutting jobs. Try cutting a wet seat belt with an un-serrated blade. The knife just felt good in my hand and it opened so easily that I never felt the need for the auto opening version. Today, I find myself carrying a mini-multi tool (Leatherman) far more than a folding knife. It’s just another example of how we age and our lives change, so do our individual needs. The Hornet has been retired and given to my son-in-law.

Surefire. Nope, not the least expensive gear on the planet, but it is well designed and manufactured and they stand behind everything they make. If you ever get the chance to tour their facility, like I did, you will get an idea of how meticulous they are in designing, building and assembling their products. I have used their stuff for decades in a variety of assignments and weather conditions. This gear is really tough and works when the chips are down.

The author’s go to flashlight is the James Yeager-inspired Surefire Tactician due to its simple momentary tail cap switch. However, he also keeps the much handier keyring-sized Titan ready at hand.

Trijicon. The first set of tritium pistol sights I owned came from Trijicon. Today, sights with tritium inserts can come from a variety of sources, but you will hear them referred to as “Trijicon sights”, that is how iconic the brand is. I have long been a fan of their line of rifle optics. Their ACOG line needs no introduction and is a proven battle-ready line. These days, my rifle optics needs are quite simple and I find the MRO does everything I need. The large aperture maximizes the viewing area and allows for better situational awareness and fast target acquisition. Combine all this with ambidextrous brightness controls, advanced lens coatings and the fully sealed, waterproof, hard-anodized forged 7075-T6 housing and you have the ultimate mini reflex sight in my humble opinion.

Magpul. This stuff is well designed, tough and sold at a reasonable price point. While there is an endless supply of stuff to dress your AR carbine, Magpul is the first place to look. As you can see from the photo of my personal carbine in last week’s feature, Magpul is about all I use. I am not someone who places superfluous accessories on his carry firearms, only what I feel enhances my performance. If you have a real need to enhance your carbine, I would check them out, you might not have to go any further. From stocks to slings to grips to fore ends - Magpul covers it all.

Federal Ammo. I remember when the 115 grain 9BP was THE 9mm load to have. It was street proven in a number of shootings and is still a reasonable choice. Soon to follow was Hydra-Shok, EFMJ and HST, all of which have proven to work in the street. Individual loads like the 147 grain Hydra-Shok 9mm, the 168 Grain Boat Tail HP .308 and the “H132 Tactical” 00 Buck load were legendary in their time. HST is THE law enforcement load of choice today, amassing an enviable street record in all calibers. For the armed citizen carrying EDC, the 124 grain (non +P) has a lot going for it. Superior accuracy, reduced recoil and reliable expansion/penetration for a start. For the LE Officer or agency, the 147 HST might be a better choice due to hard object penetration. Their American Eagle line of training ammo is some of the most accurate and reliable ammunition I have ever used, bar none.

I could go on and on as I have seen a lot of gear. Hopefully this will help you narrow your search for those essential items of kit. Keep in mind that advertising can be slick and lead you down the wrong path. Do your homework and choose wisely as few of us have an unlimited supply of cash, especially in this economy.

-- Dave Spaulding