Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review of Handcuffs for Sale in the UK

There are 4 main types of Handcuffs for Sale in the UK, the more traditional rigid, semi-rigid and chain link style metal handcuffs and then the fourth type, plasticuffs.

When it comes to preference most police or security officers prefer the rigid type of handcuffs, though these are harder to find on sale in the UK as the original manufacturer and patent holder of this design (Hiatts) went out of business whilst still in possession of the license and no one was quite sure if they could legally manufacture rigid cuffs.  Rigid handcuffs have long been the most popular as they offer the maximum amount of control over a detainee with the minimum amount of force (and risk).  Users however do have to be trained on this type of cuff to avoid legal repercussions if the detainee suffers an injury whilst cuffed.  Rigid cuffs are now available for sale in the UK from the manufacturer THC.

During the void left by Hiats liquidation ASP (most famous for it's batons) released their semi rigid, or hinged cuffs.  These were a half way house between rigid and chain link handcuffs offering some degree of lateral control if gripped in the centre.  Whilst these were much more effective than chain link they were still not any were near as good or popular as the rigid handcuffs.  ASP do these hinged cuff style in steel, available in black, blue, yellow and pink and a light weight rust resistant powdered aluminium.

Chain link handcuffs are the most widely available cuffs on sale and have been produced by a wide range of manufacturers from the tactical, to the novelty.  The leading manufacturer is probably ASP again for the tactical market, and probably Ann-Summers for the non tactical market.  Chain link handcuffs offer the least control over a suspect and do not allow for "stacking" whilst cuffing.

Plasticuffs are designed for mass detention, offering a cheap, disposable solution to restraining detainees as they have to be cut off to be released.  Plasticuffs are a quick and easy option and due to the tight nature of the binding on the wrists offer excellent control over anyone bound in the them.  Plasticuffs are mainly sold by ASP, Monadnock and Deenside.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Police Bags

There are a wide variety of police bags on the market from a huge number of manufacturers and at vastly different price points.  At the top end of the market brands like Arcteryx or Blackhawk can set you back hundreds of pounds for a gucci rucksack or medium sized holdall, in the middle 5.11 offers quality at an acceptable price and at the bottom end a plain black sports bag from Sports Direct might cost you less than a tenner and you can probably stuff most of your kit in there just as easily (but getting the right piece out again in a hurry might be the problem!!!).

A suitable police bag has to offer a certain range of basic features for most officers:

  1. A decent size main compartment for most kit; folders, fleece, custodian etc
  2. A decent selection of pockets for organizing smaller kit; PNB, Phone, Cuffs, etc
  3. Shoulder strap and carrying handles (it is not until you don't have one or the other of these that you miss them!!)
  4. Hard-wearing, heavy duty construction. (Police bags get slung around on a daily basis, often over loaded with kit)
  5. Sensible weight (Lugging your police bag around all day can be a massive chore if it weights a tonne even before you have loaded it)
  6. Water resistance (probably not necessary to be totally water proof but the bag should be able to withstand being caught in a shower without all your kit getting soaked.
When choosing a police bag there are 3 main types, rucksack, holdall and load out.  A rucksack is ideal if you are going to be on the move for a prolonged period, it is by far the most comfortable method of transporting a load and also leaves you with both hands free (ideal for cyclists).  The disadvantage of this kind of police bag is it is hard to access items at the bottom of the bag.

The Holdall or kit bag is probably the most common kind of police bag, a semi rigid rectangular shaped bag often with a divider in the middle and a selection of pockets on the outside and often inside the lid on some of the better designed models.  These kinds of bags allow for easy division of kit and the best access without having to unload everything each time.

Load out police bags are more for PSU roles when you need to get a helmet, boots, coveralls etc all in the bag along side all your normal duty kit.  The best designed bags can be worn as both a rucksack and also used like a kit bag (some also have wheels and an extending handle but I have never found this a particularly essential feature on a police bag.)

As mentioned earlier, when choosing a police bag price is going to be a major factor, but not at the expense of quality!  I have seen one range of products that seems to differentiate itself on price but the quality of their bags and the weight of their kit bags especially is a major let down.  Multiple reports of their day sack failing within a few months of light use for example was common place.  My favourite brand, which you will pay a bit more for, but it is worth it for quality is 5.11, though I have seen a lot of good stuff at a very reasonable price point from the up and coming Op. Zulu brand.

Monday, 7 January 2013

LOWA Boots

If you are looking for quality military boots look no further than Lowa!  These German made hand-crafted boots have set the standard for years in reliable, comfortable, durable footwear and are a long standing favourite of military service personnel the world over.

Lowa do offer a "commercial" range of boots to the outdoors market but these are not to be confused with the "Task Force Collection" of tactical boots.  There are 3 main core Lowa boots in the Task Force Collection (in descending price order) the Combat, Mountain and Patrol.

The Lowa Combat Boots is the highest ankle boot at 9 1/2 inches offering fantastic ankle support and combined with its Gore-Tex lining offers fantastic waterproof protection from wading through shallow water or walking through long grass. You can normally find these online for about £155.00.

The Lowa Mountain Boot is the same basic concept as the Combat but with a slightly lower ankle height of 8 inches this boot is preferred by those who want a bit more freedom and flexibility in the calf.  (I have a pair of these myself and love them).  You can normally find these for about £150.00.

The Lowa Patrol Boot is the same height as the Mountain GTX boot but does not have the Gore-Tex lining.  Now whilst this boot won't offer the same level of water resistance a lot of users find a non Gore-Tex boot more versatile.  When properly looked after with polish and wax these lowa boots will be highly water resistant against brief submersion or patrolling moderate rain and have the added benefit that if completely submerged they will dry out a lot faster than any of the Gore-Tex lined Lowa Boots.  These normally retail for about £140.00.

There are also Desert Lowa Boots like the Zephry Mid, which is a low cut light weight highly breathable suede boot in a coyote tan colour. (This boot is on a slightly narrower last than normal which some users like, but I wouldn't recommend these lowa boots for load carrying).  The Para Recon's are also a very popular style, though mostly used for a "casual" on base boot they are renowned for their comfort and light weight and are often used for PT.

Now you may be looking at the price of these boots and thinking they are not for you, but whilst I certainly wouldn't recommend these as Cadet Boots, if you are a serious user the boots will pay for themselves over their long lifetime.