Skirmish Report – West Midlands Airsoft

First airsoft game since the summer yesterday, I’ve stepped away from the game itself to a certain extent but when opportunities come up to play at sites that look good and with a good bunch of people there’s no denying it’s a good bit of exercise, gets you practicing manipulation skills that are cross-applicable and generally out of the house away from the screens for a bit. Plus of course for me it’s about seeing whether this kit actually work.

First off thanks to Femme Fatale Airsoft for hosting me, we’ve got a collaborative type of video coming up focused on a subject I’ve been meaning to showcase on video for literally years but couldn’t get done without access to somewhere (like an airsoft site) in which it was possible to run around with RIFs.

Second I’d have to give a pretty solid thumbs up to the High Command site in Birmingham run by West Midlands Airsoft. If you like to emphasise the C in CQB type gameplay it’s definitely an indoor location you’ll want to to add to your shortlist. Dark enough to add some nuance to the possible tactics and equipment without making you feel the need to strap on too much money in NVGs. It was a quiet day player number wise which is generally a bonus for compact indoor sites anyway. Did get a little too quiet towards the end after some folks had to go, but that’s no fault of the site. Overall I’d have to say some of the friendliest and most honest players I’ve encountered in the past ~13 years of playing, extremely good sportsmanship on display. Well furnished safe zone, well equipped shop. The lunch was one of the few areas I’d say could be improved compared to some I’ve had, but then equally plenty of sites don’t provide anything and I’m really nit picking at this point. Personally I was more than happy with all the other aspects of the site that actually matter, very good bunch of staff/marshalls.

I’ll be losing possession of the Urban-Track BDU set quite soon sadly, however again a really huge and genuine thank you to Kit Badger for the loan, all around one of the soundest blokes on the planet. If you’re here because you like the way I look at kit you need to be following him for sure because he actually goes outdoors a lot and has his own firearms.

This game was the first time I’d worn a standard BDU set in longer than I can really remember. If the floors weren’t so smooth I know I’d have really missed having integrated knee pads and having to tuck in a shirt with pockets down low on the abdomen is just awful, not to mention no arm velcro. That all pales in comparison of course to the magical powers imbued by wearing a camo pattern this cool. On a serious note though, of course a basic uniform like this actually works more than perfectly well for myriad purposes. You can easily strap on some standard knee pads, sew on loop and unpick pockets on shirts (if desired) for hardly any cost.

First time for the The Redback Company Timmy hat in game as well as the Noisefighters Ear cups, theFirstSpear LLC Multi-mag with speed reload kit, ALG Defense V2 EMR and mounting the Spiritus Systems Micro Fight as a PC placard. The cap performed spot on as expected and there were Magflash rounds getting thrown around in BFGs so the improved seal of the Noisefighters on the Peltors was 100% welcome. I find I’ve no need for the extra front pouch on a chest rig when PC mounted for what I carry in a game, which is why my custom placard is only a single cell, but in fairness that pouch adds minimal bulk to the front of the rig and one thing I’m continually surprised by is how much I’ve grown to like the Spiritus elastic triple 556 insert. I still like plastic alternatives if they’re properly mounted, but the Spiritus elastic is performing incredibly well and I’m not left with even the slightest feeling as if I’m equipped with an inferior competitor. The elastic actually has sound levels and low profile very much on its’ side vs the KYWI/MP2.

Second time out with the SKD Tactical Deltas which I don’t think will be beaten any time soon in the realm of a tactical glove when it comes to comfort and most crucially dexterity, not to mention the touch screen compatibility. The MBAV cut Strandhogg with the Tubes is still superb of course and the G-Code Holsters SOC rig and ESS (Eye Safety Systems)Turbofans never let me down.

Christmas 2018

And a very merry happy holiday-christmas-winter-seasons greetings type thing to you all. These are all the presents that I bought for myself and I have by far the biggest budget of anyone that gets me things so they’re pretty good to my mind (that’s not meant to be depressing btw that’s obviously just how being an adult works by comparison to childhood).
ft. Crye Precision, HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp, Tiger Stripe Products, Roman Kurmaz, Raine Inc, Soldier Systems Daily, Altama Boots, Noisefighters, Wilcox Industries Corp, ACTinBlack, Gearskin and Patagonia. Partly sourced from Tactical Distributors and TNVC, Inc.
If you stay tuned here for long enough then you’ll even get to see all these different bits posted about by themselves (eventually)!

The Redback Company and the Timmy hat

I’m a very strong fan of the Timmy hat from The Redback Company for a few reasons. First off the company itself is owned by a top bloke who’s a British army vet. However there’s a crucial difference between TRC and a lot of other brit veteran owned companies that have been started up in recent years and circulated the shooting/gear/outdoor scenes. TRC doesn’t just take a slight variation of a skull design you’ve seen on a thousand bits of merch before, plaster it on some t-shirts, conduct a social media campaign involving a lot of tactical-crossfit, coffee and beard oils and pretend that any of the above is worth anybody’s time or attention. For that alone I give them a huge round of applause, because the aforementioned stuff showing up every 2 seconds on Instagram makes me wonder sometimes if people are even interested in good, original ideas that are useful in the real world versus just having a more SF looking tattoos than the next guy.
Out of the gate I should mention that the version of the Timmy I’ve got here is not the standard one sold by Redback. Some of you probably will have seen other uniform pieces I’ve picked up lately in the late-80s Desert Night pattern and it’s fair to say it’s a camo that I’m not alone in having a liking for. So when I first became aware of TRC through a post on the ever enlightening Soldier Systems Daily, my interest was rapidly piqued. After discovering that both the Rhodesian and Desert Night patterns were available I very quickly fired off an e-mail to Redback just on the off-chance they might be willing to make a couple of caps with slight variations from their template. Though I can say with hand on heath that if they hadn’t I’d still have bought standard caps anyway.
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I’ve mentioned previously how much I like the MilSpecMonkey CG-Hat as well as the Arc’teryx/Flexfit BAC, both of which are extremely breathable and adjust to the wearers’ head via internal elastic, rather than having gaps in the rear with hook and loop. I was very lucky indeed that Redback were able to get a couple of Flexfit-style versions of the Timmy made and sent over, both for me to add to the Desert Night loadout here as well as talk about in a post. Unfortunately I’ve been informed they’ll not be offering this exact variant at retail, however if you are not planning to wear your headgear backwards in conjunction with goggles like I will, then the retail version will absolutely look after you just as well if not better. I wanted to make sure I’d spent at least a dozen or more hours wearing my cap before discussing and do so in both relaxed and less-relaxed environments, which of course enables me to feel confident in recommending this particular piece of kit to you all as a potential purchase.
The key feature is the construction being primarily of mesh, which I’m frankly amazed they have managed to have produced in both the camo patterns available. The mesh is quite literally exactly what you need when the mercury rises given the rapid dissipation of heat and sweat. That said, even when wearing it in the rain I wasn’t disappointed as while it will of course soak through, it remains extremely comfortable and holds on very little water; certainly far less volume than a standard style cap made of cotton that would probably sap heat from your head faster than wearing no hat at all.
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The underside of the peak (which you can shape to whatever amount of curve you prefer) is a plain colour in keeping with the pattern you choose. Certainly the superior option by comparison to having a visually noisy and distracting field of busy patterning hanging about constantly in the edge of your field of view. This is also beneficial in terms of keeping the most possible light out of your eyes. Adjustment as mentioned is via the 2 hook and loop tabs you’d expect at the rear and head sizes from 52cm to 64cm are catered for, which I’d bet heavily on accommodating just about 95% of humans on the planet. There’s also no top stud, so no dramas there in terms of obstructing comfortable wear of ear pro.
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You can check out The Redback Company store here for more pictures and information and to pick up a Timmy yourself if you think it fits your criteria in a baseball cap. I must say I think the £20 price tag for a cap in patterns as uncommon as Rhodesian and DNC is well worth it personally.

‘Cryfire’ Temperate MARPAT

I’ve been lagging a bit with the gear posting recently on account of a fair few changes in things, but I hope you’ll all enjoy this feature and seeing some close-ups of an item that isn’t too commonly discussed or displayed.
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To my knowledge, these Flame Resistant G3 uniforms offered by DRIFIRE are sewn by Crye Precision, primarily using Drifire’s fabric. They’re available in Multicam, US Woodland, both AORs and both standard flavours of MARPAT. Also, as you might expect for a cut this complex in a top of the range FR material, the price is not low (AG-Tactical can get you some of the non-restricted patterns). For those interested in such things, this particular pair of combats cost me the most of any item of tactical soft goods that I currently own, by a reasonable margin in fact.
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Personally, temperate MARPAT is a pattern I’m quite attached to since it was the first camo I ever purchased for myself around 13-14 years ago now, a couple of years before I joined up. Although they’re not well known about, a few sets of G3 uniforms have been manufactured in regular USMC twill NYCO, both combat cut and field, though only in the temperate pattern that I have personally seen. Based on what little evidence is available however those were only a micro sized batch for prototyping or a one-off, very small team purchase. These Drifires on the other hand are still in manufacture at the time of writing to my knowledge, though in incredibly small numbers by comparison to most other uniforms from Crye.
They’ve been pictured in use with various elements of USMC Special Operations and possibly a few folks attached to them. They certainly represent what I’d say is the pinnacle of a premium combat uniform for extremely well funded SOF in warm climates, given the feature set and protective properties, at least until the G4 FR stuff starts to proliferate that is.
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The detractors (nothing’s perfect after all) are somewhat encapsulated in the phrase well funded. It’s pretty much a universally recognised fact that any FR uniform will fade more quickly and tear more easily by comparison to a regular synthetic/cotton blend, the very nature of the fabric not being a rip-stop weave gives that away right out of the gate. The G3 uniform, particularly the combat pant, already has many more potential ‘bursting’ points by comparison to standard issue uniforms since it comprises significantly more separate pieces of fabric sewn together in to the end product. That said, if you can afford to clothe your troops in high performance FR gear with loads of pockets, adjustability and joint protection and then replace said clothing when it rips or fade; why wouldn’t you? You can read one of my earlier blog posts for a little bit of discussion on FR uniforms in military use:
As far as these particular offerings from Drifire go, it is very much evident from a glance at the internal label that there is quite a laundry list of ingredients comprising the primary fabric. The stretch panels being the same tweave as those found on all commercial Crye product. The colouration of the stretch panels and other ancillary parts is in line with the Ranger Green commercial G3s. Sizing is also standard and after a brief inspection the one single anomaly in construction I could find here is that the bottom edge of the knee pad pocket is lined internally with loop. I’ve no idea why this is done as the standard Airflex combat knee pad does not have hook in this area to interface. Though at least if the end user adds more hook they can do what G4 has done and increase the staying power of the pads.
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A nice piece for the collection overall. Know some friends who might also be interested to see this post? Share it with them. If you happen to be feeling really flush and want some unusually patterned FR G3s for yourself you can get in touch with AG-Tactical. I’ve no association with them at all, but they do bring some extremely high end gear in to Europe for regular folks like me to buy if they so desire.

Kratos SOG Back At It?

A notification for those who’re always hunting for modern style/combat cut apparel in uncommon camo patterns (which I’d imagine is a fair few of you on here). It would appear that Kratos SOG are back in to actually manufacturing things after doing a little vanishing act a year or 2 ago.

Random bits of their stuff had been appearing on US eBay in the interim period, but it was clearly old stock being cleared out since the patterns/materials that were showing up are all long gone from availability and the sizes were exactly what you’d expect from a stock clearance i.e. never Mediums.

The past couple of weeks however I’ve seen items showing up in patterns they had not previously manufactured and in the full gamut of size options. You can have a browse here:

Garand Thumb actually reviewed this stuff about 2 years ago, which is when I originally subscribed to him on YouTube. The video has either been hidden or deleted now, probably on account of Kratos skipping town on people who’d paid money or something along those lines:

Am I saying you should lay down your hard earned with this company given their track record? Not necessarily by ANY stretch. If you buy something that is purported to be already manufactured and in stock and you do so through eBay using a credit card or paypal then you’re about as safe as you can ever be when buying a thing online. That said, none of their social media is active at the time of writing. Their facebook page is missing as is their website an their IG account is up but has not been posted to for a couple of years.

I’m not about telling anyone what to do, just giving folks as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions for themselves.

MSM Raw Hoodie – Redux

If you missed my video on the MilSpecMonkey RAW Hoodie I would definitely recommend checking that one out if you are interested in colour options for tac gear.

As I mentioned in the video this is a jacket I wear absolutely all the damn time, constantly. When I want something to put on to warm up, the RAW is what I take out of the cupboard. Many of you that are also in the UK will probably just be getting to the start of the cold weather in the past week or two and since that’s been happening I’ve been living in this hoodie. I am in fact wearing right now as I type this.

As I’ve spent time in it, there’s a couple of features that have really stood out the most to me.

Primarily it’s the fact that it is a fleece, yet unlike fleeces I’ve owned in the past I don’t hate it or find it useless, quite the opposite. Generic fleeces have absolutely zero wind blocking abilities which makes them frankly redundant without a rain jacket or softshell over the top. The MSM Hoodie may not cut the cold wind as much as something like an Arc’teryx Atom AR which comprises a thin nylon shell with synthetic fill, but then it also costs a small fraction of the Atom and frankly for daily wear the nature of the fleece makes it a nicer, more comfortable proposal all around. The RAW is a hard faced fleece so you get the ‘fluff’ on the inside but a smooth appearance and feel on the outside, making it better in the wind and far, far less of a magnet for hair and dirt and bits of plants and whatever else it out there that just loves clinging on to normal soft faced fleece.

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The second key point is that the RAW is not a hoodie. I don’t mind hoodies for lounging around indoors when nobody’s going to see me and they can be ok as a mid-layer for everyday use. However I’m 30 now and for the most part I want to wear layers that fit, not ones that hang a giant kangaroo pouch in front of me and have a generally loose, overly-baggy appearance. Crucially also a full zip allows for controlled levels of insulation which is why I largely despise shirt style or half/quarter zip insulating layers. The issue PCS item for example is very warm, however the thick nature of the fleece and the one-third zip mean if you put it on when you’re cold then run in it you will boil yourself alive and getting the bloody thing on and off is an absolute nightmare and a half. This makes temperature regulation far more difficult than it should be when alternating between slow and fast paced activity.

As far as the MSM Grey colouring goes, well frankly I love it. It does a brilliant job of tricking the eye to switch between appearances of green, brown and grey depending on light/background and balances all 3 colours very nicely indeed. I would certainly jump all over some quality NYCO combat clothing in this same colourway, and indeed some 500D load bearing kit, because to my mind this is the true solid-colour equivalent to Multicam – perhaps even better than MC in some ways, certainly against concrete and buildings. As it stands the Gruppa 99 L5 apparel comes very close to MSM’s colour selection and I intend to pick up some more of their kit down the line. Fingers crossed UF-Pro might produce something equivalent in their Striker series because at the moment their ‘Brown Grey’/RAL 7013 is basically just one tiny shade away from Ranger green and not nearly different enough to Crye’s RG to warrant the purchase for me personally.


G3 Combat shirt – The Best For Bookend-Multicam?

I have talked about the Crye Precision G3 Combat shirt in the past, so you can either search here or over on the The Reptile House for the foundational information. That said I’m not one to shy away from absolutely squeezing every single drop of juice out of a fruit so I’ll say a couple of things about this particular example in MC Arid.

First thing’s first – at this time, I am not aware of a better (cost excluded) combat shirt in this pattern that is currently in production and available for sale. Or indeed one that has ever been in production in the past. There are certainly some that might be better value, although again in MC Arid this isn’t as much the case as with other patterns. When looking at commercial camouflage there is always a lower level of take up when it comes to the desert-centric variants, something that was particularly evident when it comes to the PenCott and Kryptek families. Multicam doesn’t suffer that issue quite as badly and enjoys a lot of native support from Crye, but there’s certainly far more choice of regular Multicam out there on the market by comparison to Arid.

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As mentioned however I am not aware of a better combat shirt in this colourway so the CP G3 is what I have in the collection, taking in to account my personal goal of having the all around best quality (for recreational use) garment in any given pattern or colour. As an example, I’ve eschewed the G3 in favour of the UF-Pro Striker XT in MC Black as that design better suits my preferences, though there’s no doubt the Crye offering is the better option for a military application. During my stint deployed I certainly took great strides to avoid ever leaving the base while wearing an issued combat shirt and those feature the same torso fabric as the Striker. The PCS kit is great for 99% of the time when everything’s going ok, but it’s the 1% of course that is actually worth worrying about.

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A couple of points to mention as far as labelling goes. First off I know some folks have had queries about the lack of white box around the label on some G3 items. Some pieces of apparel feature said border around the label and some do not. Both are common and perfectly legitimate however, certainly since this shirt came directly from the CP web store and, as you can see, does not feature the border. Second, just for interest’s sake I wanted to upload a shot of the ‘Multicam’ brand label which will sometimes feature the words Arid/Tropic/Black. The NYCO fabric itself will also on occasion do the same, though seemingly not on every batch of fabric and it’s not terribly common to actually find the script on a given garment since it doesn’t repeat very often within the print.

I’ll say one thing, if Crye release Gen 4 combat shirts down the line with colour matched loop fields and torso fabrics in MC Arid (and Tropic) I’ll definitely be a happy camper.

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The Ultimate Modular Panel/Chassis.. ?

*Queue jumper alert*
A lot of the time when I get some custom piece of cordura gear made it ends up as a highly successful commercial product about 12-24 months later purely down the the principle of multiple discovery. Multiple discovery being a term I just had to google myself and references different people who’ve never communicated with each other all coming up with the same concept at the same or similar time. It’s pretty well documented through history back to the inventions of weapons like bows and arrows.
All that in mind I wanted to post up my idea of a modular placard that I’ve had made by Roman Kurmaz (who you can find on facebook via the Replica Linderhof Tac grouo). Obviously there’s no huge revolution here for the most part it’s generally a combination of ideas others have had before me, but to my personal tastes this is the ‘best’ that a placard can be and it forms the ideal core to my notions of a supremely flexible load carriage system for box magazines.
If you’ve not seen the previous blog post that details my ideal of a system of plate carriers and chest rigs that can very rapidly adapt to any common magazine type then you can check it out here:
The key element with the above system is the placard itself, or chassis if you use the Spiritus terminology. It is the almost-literal glue that binds everything else together and connects the magazine specific inserts to the mounting platform of your choice.
On the market at the moment there are already some great options for modular/convertible placards that will accommodate various mag types by swapping inserts. Prime example would be the Spiritus Systems Mk3 Chassis, Whiskey Two-Four PIMPs accessory panel, Haley Strategic Partners D3CR-M and the Ferro Concepts Kangaroo front flap.
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They’re all genuinely brilliant options in the world of gear, but me being me I didn’t quite find any of them to be 100% absolutely perfect. So, as per usual, I drew up a mental list of what I wanted in a panel/placard type micro chest rig kinda dealie-thing.
1. Single cell like the Ferro kangaroo to enable a slim profile and migrate extra kit that might be stored in a front pouch to extra PALS pouches at the sides of a PC/Chest rig. I have a real thing against any stacking of gear where at all possible and I never use more than 1 mag even in a double magazine pouch.
2. Somewhat taken as read, but it needs to be compatible with the Mayflower/Vel Sys mounting spec that’s become standard in terms of size and placement of 1″ male buckles along the top as well as the inclusion of a hook field on the rear. While the Ferro Kangaroo fulfills requirement number one it also uses G-Hooks at the top instead of 1″ plastic hardware and most brands have taken the side release buckle route. I also hate G-Hooks in almost all applications.
3. Another size consideration is being able to fit all the best inserts on the market. The Spiritus chassis is, as I discovered a bit too late, smaller than the inserts made by Ferro. The Spiritus inserts are great for a lot of reasons; very light, fast and effective, compact to store and economical to buy with a wide selection available and I’ve tried them out and like them a lot. I just want the very maximum possible modularity here and it only takes a small amount of extra cordura to achieve that.
4. Full interior lining comprised of loop for compatibility with the Spiritus inserts (of which I have many) as well as the HSP inserts. Ferro and WTF inserts will work with the simple addition of a piece of hook sewn back-to-back with another piece of hook velcro.
5. Ability to hide the four 1″ webbing loops on the sides for placard use when a harness/back strap is not clipped directly to the chassis.
Number 5 is for the most part a vanity/OCD consideration on my part and it was the one feature I can most definitely say I devised for myself and I’m fairly sure has not been done previously in this context. The 1″ webbing here is of course adjustable in position via the velcro and the fact there’s addition hook on the rear face means there’s no loss of staying power when the placard is mounted. It’s not necessary for one end to be un-sewn of course with the advent of split-bar field repair 1″ hardware but it is actually slightly less awkward to remove the buckles this way. Side benefits (apart from hiding the webbing when desired) include the ability for a manufacturer to use all the non-split bar hardware in their inventory if that’s all they have and if the end user wants to swap the female buckles for expander wings of some sort that attach via closed loops of cordura they can do so which is a lower profile option compared to adding yet more layers of velcro between the placard and mount (and they really add up if you’ve got expander wings, a drop pouch and whatever else).
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The size requirements, mounting spec and fitment of inserts are of course all also covered off. As you can see the Ferro Kwik Triple Shingle that incorporates the HSP MP2s fits in beautifully and 30rnd 556 mags are retained in what I would personally call the ideal fashion if one is not hopping out of an aircraft. Further down the line I’ll be showing off the F9 Placard (which is what I’m calling this specific configuration) in other setups, fully loaded with SMG mags and attached to a plate carrier etc etc.
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There are certain companies I’m a big fan of but my philosophy remains that I’d rather integrate the best features of a variety of the best brands out there where I can and you never know maybe someone might see them and take the ideas and bring them to a wider audience. Not something I can personally do on account of not owning a large nylon sewing business.
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If you want one of your own drop Roman a message and show him one of these pictures or ask for the setup Chris got, he’ll know what you mean and he can make them in a variety of colours I’m sure. If you get one and get a good enough pic I’ll obviously feature it here.
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G-Code RTi System

This is a big if, but IF you’re like me and want to use lots of different pistols types (with lights/lasers fitted) and also fully encase your pistols then I can recommend the G-Code Holsters RTi system. It simply allows you to attach a modular wheel to any tac gear be it belts or PALS, then if you have the right hanger on the rear of your holster you can swap holsters around with no tools in quite literally about 5 seconds. A big plus for me is that it’s not just the G-Code holsters that work in the system, they also make hangers to attach to Safariland (and Blackhawk), so when you factor in the fact that almost all the hundreds of custom kydex companies out there use those 3-hole drill patterns on the rear of their products it turns out you are extremely well catered for.

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That said, it should be mentioned there are 2 perhaps better alternatives of course in my mind:

1 – Just stick with one pistol type, whether it’s airsoft or firearms you’ll always do better by practicing more with one weapon type and you’ll be able to keep better track on maintenance issues. Also saves money by just using the one holster in the first place. Not to mention magazine, ammo and parts compatibility.

2 – Where you can, use a universal type holster. If you’re not using pistol mounted lights or lasers then there are some good Safarilands or the Warrior universal which will serve you nicely. If you want a light then consider the light-grabbing holsters from S&S and Surefire.

The equivalent system from Safariland is also well worth looking at, though I’ve had zero issues with my RTi items from G-Code and I own a lot of them at this point and have been using them for longer than I can actually remember; definitely 5 years or more. Reliable and robust equipment that can provide a very useful function if it meets your personal gear needs and requirements.