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Tactical Performance A-TACS Combat Shirt Gen II

By MILTECHREV Editors including Tom Demerly with Assistance from T. Policastro.

Tactical Performance Corporation's new A-TACS Combat Shirt Gen II uses a unique combination of fabrics, integrated protective pads and all-over A-TACS print to produce a very sophisticated combat shirt design.

Tactical Performance Corporation of North Highlands, California has shown pre-production prototypes of their new A-TACS Tactical Combat Shirt Gen II. We had the opportunity to test and evaluate the full uniform, including the Combat Pants for three weeks in November and early December.
The evolution of the combat shirt has been a rapid one driven by requirements of operators using new load carrying systems like tactical and load bearing vests and the inclusion of body armor into the soldier’s uniform. Old BDU’s didn’t work with load vests, tactical rigs and armor. As the combat shirt has gained acceptance better adaptations of the early designs have emerged. This example from Tactical Performance Corporation represents the pointy end of the bayonet in combat shirt evolution.
From the top of the shirt the neck is 3.75 inches (9.5 cm) high at its highest point. There is an 8 inch (20.5 cm) zipper at the front of the neck that opens the collar and extends downward into the torso. The stand-up collar is 50/50 NYCO NIR (Near Infra-Red) VAT print Ripstop fabric as is the entire upper section of the shirt except the fabric covering the molded impact pads at the elbow, upper arm and shoulder. These padded sections are covered in lightweight, abrasion resistant synthetic that mimics the feel of Cordura. Cuffs on the sleeve have velcro adjusters and the abrasion resistant fabric over the elbow pads extends down the forearm nearly to the cuffs, a nice feature for protecting the shirt (and your arms) when in the prone position.

The lower sleeves feature a three piece articulated pad of 8mm thick EVA foam and a reinforced section of coated fabric with the texture and weight of Cordura for abrasion and wear resistance.

” A key feature of the entire shirt is the VAT print fabric.”
A key feature of the entire shirt is the VAT print fabric. This process is more expensive than other techniques for imprinting fabric with a camouflage scheme and cause the appearance of the garment to remain fresh after hard wear and repeated laundering. The VAT print adds significant life and value to the uniform. Early generation combat shirts usually only had camouflaged shoulder and chest sections with the torso being a solid color. The presumption is your load bearing vest covers the solid color part of your body. Not only did it look odd, like a BMX jersey, but it didn’t work very well for concealment either. Tactical Performance is one of only a handful of tactical vendors extending the camouflage scheme over the entire combat shirt. If you study the philosophy behind the A-TACS concealment concept it includes the idea that all of the operator’s equipment, including weapon, be A-TACS pattern to maximize visual stealth. This concept is valid not only for concealment but also so opposing forces cannot quickly tell what position an operator is in at the instant they visually acquire them. That split second of visual disorientation coud be just the amount of time needed to get the first burst off, and the difference between who walks away.

Unlike other combat shirts the entire garment uses the A-TACS concealment pattern for better visual stealth.

The six innovative padded sections (in addition to the elbow pads) perform a few functions. The elbow pads are obvious, protecting the forearm and elbow while in the prone position. Above the A-TACS patterned velcro patch panels there are three more padded sections per side. The upper arm area is useful for leveraging anything with your shoulder and for protection while riding in a cramped armored vehicle like a Lenco or Up-armored ASK Humvee. The top two pads provide cushioning under the crushing weight of a big ruck. Even though the weight in a big ruck should be supported by the hip belt if you set up your gear correctly there is still a lot “stuff” pressing into your shoulders when you combine your tactical rig with a big ruck. The two pads on the top of each shoulder take the edge off that pressure. The padded sections are 8 millimeters thick and made of flexible closed-cell EVA foam sewn into the abrasion resistant fabric.

Articulated 8mm EVA foam ergonomic pads are built in as bump and abrasion protection at key areas. We found the pads did not make the shirt perceivably hotter even up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Patterning on the shirt includes three separate panels on the back to facilitate carrying a large tactical pack and wearing load bearing vests and body armor. The points where the load is concentrated have no seams. There are separate side panels and two panel construction on the front. The torso is a total of seven separate fabric panels not including the NYCO 50/50 ripstop shoulder/arm section. Joining these panels is flat seam, quad stitching that lays flat and is very precisely executed.
The torso section below the upper ripstop shoulder and arm area of the SH-0200AT Tactical Combat Shirt Gen II is A-TACS patterned 100% cotton (no melt) 5.5 ounce per square yard fabric. This fabric is cool and comfortable in a hot/dry climate.

The pads on the shoulders reduce the pressure of pack straps and help keep the straps in place on your shoulders.

We got to wear the prototype of the Tactical Combat Shirt Gen II in a wide temperature range from upper 30’s Fahrenheit to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (welcome to the desert…). My first impression was that the padded sections did not make the shirt hotter at high temperatures approaching 100 degrees. I was impressed by that. Perhaps the pads are small enough individually that they don’t trap enough heat to make a big difference. The fit on this prototype is very good. I initially thought the neck could be larger,  and perhaps it could be for larger wearers. I don’t have a large neck like some guys who spend more time in the weight room (Marines…). On me, it was “tailored” and precise. This high neck can also be worn unzipped and folded down like a flat collar. I would like to see a zipper longer than 8 inches so the shirt could be removed over a tactical bump helmet. As it is, if you are going to remove your shirt you need to pull off your bump helmet. It won’t fit through the neck opening when unzipped. Admittedly, this is a nit-pick, but I have seen one tactical shirt that had a full front zip and I liked that idea for easy donning and removal without having to sort out your helmet, goggles, comms gear, etc.

One shoulder pocket is built onto each sleeve. Notice the A-TACS camo patterned Velcro pile on the patch panel, a detail missing from many camouflage tactical shirts.

In general the fabric and attention to detail on this tactical shirt locate it above versions we’ve seen from many other tactical vendors. It is the nicest we’ve worn. Tactical Performance Corporation has carved out a niche of making very evolved, high-end tactical uniforms with refined features missing on other brands. Some of their items are ready-made versions of popular uniform modifications that previously had to be done by private tailors specializing in uniform modification, a process that is slow and expensive. Tactical Performance has brought those modifications to the production tactical market.
We are continuously impressed by the designs and construction of Tactical Performance Corporation’s uniforms and this new example of their upcoming A-TACS Combat Shirt Gen II continues that level of workmanship and performance.

Tactical Performance Corporation's A-TACS Tactical Combat Shirt Gen II with full A-TACS patterning including body and velcro patch panels, integrated shoulder and elbow pads and application specific fabric for user comfort and function.

Danner TFX Hot Boots, A-TACS

Danner’s new A-TACS pattern TFX Hot Uniform Boot. A Gore-Tex lined version, the Desert TFX GTX is also available.

Danner is the first footwear brand to release an A-TACS camouflage tactical boot. Their Desert TFX is sold in two versions, the Desert TFX Hot Uniform Boot and the Gore-Tex lined Desert TFX GTX Uniform Boot. Both boots feature a molded A-TACS outsole and patterned upper in the A-TACS camouflage scheme.

This review is for the Desert TFX Hot Uniform Boot, Danner Style no. 26033.  The two boots are differentiated by $20 in price at retail and by the Gore-Tex lining of the Desert TFX GTX version. The Desert TFX Hot boot (no Gore-Tex) is $170 USD MSRP and the Desert TFX GTX (with Gore-Tex) is $190 USD MSRP. Each boot shares the same design and it is difficult to tell the difference between the models by looking at them from the outside of the boot.

The A-TACS camouflage scheme on the Desert TFX Hot boots is highly effective.

The choice of whether to use the Gore-Tex or non-Gore Tex “Hot” version is determined by your exposure to wet conditions. If you operate in an environment where you are walking on wet ground or in shallow water the Gore-Tex Desert TFX GTX version will be worth the extra $20 to you. That said, it is not a “better, best” progression from the $170 TFX Hot boot up to the $190 TFX GTX boot. They are simply intended for different environments. Desert and arid users will be more comfortable in the Desert TFX Hot version. Even though the W.L. Gore & Associates Gore-Tex sock liner built into the TFX GTX version is thin and breathable it still makes any boot warmer than an identical non-Gore-Tex version.

The Danner Desert TFX Hot (left) is a tall boot compared to my trusty Lowa Zephyrs (right).

This is a tall boot. It measures 10.75″ (27.5 cm) from bottom of sole to top of tongue. If you wear pants that have lower pockets and still want to blouse them at the top of the boots it may get crowded. If you want the ankle support and stability of a higher boot this is a great choice.

The boots use 10 eyelets per side with the bottom five being round grommets and the top five a closed speed lacing system. The boots are Airborne compliant since there are no open speed lace hooks. The top speed laces are not very speedy though with the laces provided. It takes a moment to put on and take off these boots since all of the top five eyelets need to be loosened up to get your foot in or out. For users who put on their boots at the beginning of a long operation and don’t take them off for 20+ hours it isn’t an issue. If you need to frequently remove and replace boots in a hurry this boot will be a challenge. In general the benefits of an Airborne compliant lacing system and great ankle support are worth it. I’m not in favor of a zipper side version since few of those work or last well.

The upper of the boot uses a heel loop for donning. The top “speed lace” closed eyelets are Airborne compliant.

The top of the boot has a padded collar and a study 1.25 inch (3 cm) pull tab for donning. The tongue is built into the entire upper section with no opening at the side of the tongue. This design prevents entry of dust, sand and debris. It also prevents accidentally pushing the tongue down into the boot while donning. The liner of the TFX Hot Boots is a perforated moisture wicking mesh. The thoughtful design of the interior of this boot is one of the best I’ve worn.

Another look at the camouflage sole. The boots are light and responsive on all terrain. They provide excellent protection and support considering their light weight.

The upper is 1000 denier Nylon with all seams double stitched at 10 stitches per inch. The upper fabric reminded us of Cordura but is not listed as such in Danner’s sales literature. There is a distinct molded toe box and heel counter under the fabric to help the boot retain its shape and improve durability while providing a measure of foot protection. The upper is built on Danner’s “TERRA FORCE X” platform. TERRA FORCE X is a patent pending motion control system that resists torsional load at the arch/midstep making the boots more stable while protecting the arch. An internal shank section is combined with an insole plate to improve the “ride”. TERRA FORCE X is also used in the Danner 453 GTX and Instigator hiking boot among other Danner footwear.

The sole is a molded unit, not a series of bonded layers like some Vibram outsoles attached to a closed cell midsole. This one piece molded design is durable, lightweight and allows the molded in color of the A-TACS pattern. The sole is joined to the upper with bonding and stitching at the forefoot and heel welt. It can’t be resoled the way an older outsole boots could, but we didn’t see that as a disadvantage. There is a radiused section at the instep that might work well for fast-roping but may wear after repeated rope descents. Admittedly, none of us had the opportunity to do a rope descent in this boot due to bad weather. Mr. Patrick Schneider of Danner’s Public Relations Department was kind enough to mention that Danner does have a line of boots designed specifically with fast rope insertion capability. The Danner DFA series includes 6 boots specifically built around fast rope insertion. Here is a video showing DFA technology from Danner: Danner DFA Fast Rope technology


“The patent-pending TERRA FORCE X sole system adds comfort, stability and durability.”

The molded sole is light, provides good traction and is flexible in the forefoot but stiff enough to be protective in the midsole. The external features of the TERRA FORCE X sole are visible here.

The A-TACS coloration of the outsole is slightly lighter in shade compared to the upper A-TACS camouflage colors. This is done on purpose since the sole will turn darker as wear and dirt accumulates. The concept of camouflaged boots including the sole is absolutely a valid one in the modern tactical environment. Older solid color boots were designed mostly with garrison wear in mind and don’t suit the modern tactical environment. Even the recent generation of green and coyote/tan color boots don’t blend well with camouflaged uniforms. Given the effectiveness of the new camouflage patterns like Multicam and A-TACS it’s only logical that footwear manufacturers build their boots to work with camouflaged uniforms for overall visual stealth. Even in the prone position the sole of the boot remains difficult to see since it is also camouflage patterned.

” The concept of camouflaged boots including the sole is valid in the modern tactical environment.”

The integrated tongue prevents grit, sand and rocks from entering the boot. The mesh lining dries quickly and provides good breathability.

My first impression when donning the Danner Desert TFX Hot Uniform Boots was a new pair of issue jungle boots combined with a trail running shoe. Since these are lined they are more comfortable than old jungle boots and provide a supportive light, maneuverable feel. The outsole design is very good, a substantial improvement over more traditional style, stitched and glued-on Vibram style outsoles and old Corcoran style sole construction (even Corcoran has gone to a molded outsole boot in their 8″ JAC Boot). The boot soles feel similar to the Adidas GSG-9 and Oakley tactical boots but in a more robust, field combat boot construction. Footing and flexibility is very good even on loose scree and uneven terrain.

“…they are comfortable and supportive but still retain a light, maneuverable feel.”

The light, molded outsole makes these boots feel nimble and easy to move in while providing good traction.

Two testers wore the boots on rocky desert terrain that was flat to extremely mountainous. Wear and tear on the boots is better than I expected for a fabric upper, molded lower boot. They also clean up well with a wet cloth and soft brush. This non-Gore-Tex boot dried very quickly in desert terrain after stream crossings and remained comfortable even when wet. Although we did not swim in the boots we did fit them with swim fins to see how they worked. The Omega Aquatics Stealth Max folding tactical swim fin in the larger sizes worked with our size 9.5 US test boots.

While I normally wear a lower boot I see a lot of advantages to a boot this light and nimble with a higher upper. For a fast-rope or Airborne insertion, especially onto rugged terrain followed by a long ruck I would absolutely rather have these than lower boots. The Danner TFX Hot A-TACS boots are also much lighter than they look at 25.9 ounces (736 grams) per boot measured weight in a size 9.5 US.

In general this is perhaps the strongest offering in a fully integrated camouflage boot from any manufacturer so far. Following the delays of the Magnum Multicam boots, which may become available this week after a 6 month delay, it becomes obvious that this isn’t an easy concept to execute on a production level. Danner is an experienced, high end footwear company with a long history of professional grade footwear. The Danner TFX Hot A-TACS boot continues that legacy of solid construction and performance along with impressive innovation.

Tactical Performance Corp. Combat Pants (Prototype)

Tactical Performance Corp's Combat Pants feature high mobility fit and pattern with articulated, integrated knee pads.

Tactical Performance Corporation has shown a prototype of their new A-TACS Tactical Combat Pant In NYCO A-TACS Ripstop with the unique VAT Print fabric. Among many unique features on this combat pant the use of VAT print fabric sets it apart from other products in the category. VAT print fabric is more expensive for manufacturers but retains better color fastness in the sun and with repeated washings, an important feature for the field operator with unpredictable laundry facilities. The new combat pants feature built-in, articulated lightweight knee pads for protection and mobility. The pants are 50/50 NYCO NIR (Near Infra-Red) VAT print Ripstop fabric. The pre-production prototype we evaluated is a size 32 waist, regular length.
From the bottom of the pants the leg openings use an adjustable Velcro closure instead of the small nylon webbing drawstring sewn into the hem of conventional BDU pants. The Velcro makes adjustments quicker than a drawstring and more convenient since the Velcro adjuster flap is always exposed at the rear of the lower pant leg unlike the drawstring hem that is typically bloused up inside the pants cuff. On our prototype the loop section could have been slightly longer so the hook section on the flap fully attached rather than having some excess free running end. There is an 8 inch (20 cm) vertical zipper on the outside of the leg to make putting on and removing the pants easier.  When the velcro adjuster and zipper is closed the pants hem can be bloused similar to how you blouse normal ACU or BDU pants.

The Velcro tab at the cuff and zipper make adjustment and donning easy.

Just above the vertical zipper at the leg opening is a small vertical pocket 5 inches high (12.8 cm) and 3 inches deep (7.7 cm). This small pocket is useful for range cards, commo indices or other small items used frequently in the kneeling position.  Because of the low position of the pocket you may blouse the bottom of these pants slightly lower on your boot than usual.

The lower leg construction including the Velcro closure cuff and zipper along with the ankle pocket are useful design additions.

To the outside/rear of the knee has a Velcro adjuster tab to draw the knee and lower leg of the pants tighter reducing the volume of the lower leg and securing the integrated knee pads closer to the leg. The fit on the pants was very good so I did not need to cinch this Velcro down much to get a nice fit. The back of the knee section of the pants is a separate fabric panel construction seen in high mobility sportswear like running tights. This multi-panel design adds cost to the garment but provides a more precise fit while still allowing free range of motion for running, clearing obstacles and other dynamic activities. There are a lot of design themes in these pants from technical/action sports wear adapted to the tactical user.

The lateral Velcro adjuster tab helps secure the integrated knee pads and improve fit on the already precise feeling pants while maintaining full range of motion.

The integrated knee pads are sewn into the pants, not a separate closed-cell foam insert that rides in a pocket at the knee. There are a number of advantages to this design. You never forget your knee pads when you deploy since they are built into the pants. The pads stay put without creeping down your leg as you move from kneeling shooting position to running and back to kneeling shooting position. The greatest advantage is no series of straps around your lower leg so there is greater comfort, especially in hot weather. Since each knee pad is actually three separate pads with a seam between each for full range of motion this design is also cooler than one large knee pad that covers the entire knee. Placement of the pad is good for kneeling position and for the prone position. The knee section is covered in abrasion resistance coated Nylon/Cordura for improved durability over the 50/50 NYCO fabric used in the main sections of the pant.

The integrated, articulated knee pads eliminate the need for straps, can't be lost, are cooler and provide full range of motion.

Fit and location of the knee pads will vary from person to person since the length of each person’s thigh and lower leg differ slightly even within the same inseam and height. When two of our testers, including the one shown in the photos, kneeled on these knee pads they rested on the lower of the three separate pads. This worked fine during my wear testing. Two of our wear testers also commented they would rather have this fit for their knee protection than separate pads that slide down or catch on vehicle or aircraft doors and during hasty ingress and egress. One tester told me, “Finally- a knee pad that stays in place”.

The integrated knee pads stay in place and fit most operators well. Our three wear testers had satisfactory or better use.

The position of the pads can be adjusted vertically via drawstring elastic cord inside the forward small cargo pocket. You simply pull the free-running end of the elastic cord to raise the pad up the leg and slide the cord lock down to secure it. The spring loaded cord lock holds the adjustment.

A cordlock and stretch drawstring inside the front pocket enable you to adjust the height of the knee pads.

The main cargo pockets on the Tactical Performance Corp Combat Pants Gen II’s are expandable bellows style with two Velcro closures that securely close the pockets. The position of the pocket is slightly rearward and angled for better ergonomics while running with a loaded pocket and for access when seated in a vehicle. Items placed in the pocket like notebooks or map cases slide toward the front edge of the pocket making retrieval easier, another thoughtful design element.

Two Velcro closures securely close the top cargo pocket flap. The shape and location of the pocket on the leg make retrieval of items easy in all positions including seated and facilitate fast running when loaded.

At the front, upper thigh there are Velcro closure bellows pockets for small items frequently used while standing, kneeling and sitting. This is a good place for a CEOI (Code Encryption Operators Index) or other small notes. The cord lock and elastic cord for vertical knee pad adjustment is inside this pocket.  None of our wear testers felt the shock cord inside the pants while wearing them.

The upper cargo pocket also has an elastic drawstring inside to adjust the vertical position of the integrated knee pads on your leg.

The top/slash pockets on the Combat Pants prototypes have a zipper closure and are relatively low volume, a good idea since this isn’t a great place to carry important items. This pocket tends to be hard to reach when wearing a full tactical rig or while seated. The lower edge of the pocket has a double fabric layer for using knives and tools with a belt clip. The two back pockets have secure Velcro closures and small volume, enough for a man’s wallet or similar sized item.

The small zipper pocket at the top of the pants has a reinforced lower section for small tools and knives with a pocket clip.

On the seat of the pants are two vertical pads of thin foam padding. These pads make riding a motorcycle, ATV or sitting on the bench seat of an MH-6 more comfortable.  The pads seem to align with your “sit bones” or the pointy part of your pelvis, so sitting on the hard ground or tarmac is more comfortable too. Wearing the pants in the heat I was concerned this padding may make them hot and sweaty, but with the fit in the butt there was no issue.  The pads are a welcome addition. I used to cut a small section of ensolite foam from an issue sleeping pad for this same purpose. It makes sitting in an OP on damp, cold, hard ground slightly more tolerable. Nice addition.
The belt loops are 2.25 inches high (5.5 cm) so larger belts will fit. Each loop is coated nylon/Cordura bar-tacked to the pants for durability. The kidney area of the pants comes up high and makes wearing a rucksack (which we tried) with these pants more comfortable.

Two thin foam pads are built into panels at the rear of the pants over the "sit bones" for comfort while sitting on hard and cold surfaces.

 At the top of the pants the Velcro adjuster tabs enable the user to chnge the waist size of the pants a few centimeters for a precise fit.

Velcro adjuster tabs enable you cinch down the pants for a precise fit.

Tactical Performance Corp is based in California and has a number of unique designs that are highly evolved from operator input. They have an extensive line of combat apparel in the new Digital Concealment Systems A-TACS pattern ( as well as other patterns including Multicam, 3-Color Desert and Woodland) that includes many thoughtful features such as A-TACS patterned loop Velcro patches as opposed to solid color patches sewn onto A-TACS apparel as seen from some other tactical vendors. It is obvious a lot of practical thought and design experience went into the Tactical Performance Corp Combat Pants. They are an impressive and advanced battle dress uniform made for the way an operator really uses their uniform.

The Tactical Performance Corporation A-TACS Tactical Combat Pants in NYCO 50/50 Ripstop with VAT print and the prototype A-TACS Tactical Combat Shirt Gen II.


The Bin Laden Raid Books: Review of the Top 3 Books.

Two of the most sensational books on the Bin Laden raid and one surprise "sleeper".

It was the single biggest news story since the 9/11/2001 terror attacks. Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed on May 2, 2011 in a raid by U.S. Special Forces purported to be from the Navy’s clandestine counter terrorist unit referred to in the media as “SEAL Team 6”, “DEVGRU” or “Development Group”.

The media widely reports the mission as “Operation Neptune Spear” a code name likely in reference to the trident symbol of the U.S. Navy Special Warfare groups. As of this writing there is no complete, official account of the operation. Perhaps one of the more credible reports appeared in the New Yorker magazine on August 8, 2011 written by Nicholas Schmidle. The account seems credible because of the New Yorker’s editorial policies and the fact that it was written by a journalist as opposed to a source claiming to be associated with the operation. Additionally, a detailed review of the New Yorker account leaves a lot out since the information isn’t yet available in the public domain. That suggests a measure of journalistic integrity.

It was inevitable the publishing industry would quickly fill the gulf of official information with… something. Three widely distributed books have surfaced so far, no doubt on the leading edge of many to come. While I would stop short of calling them historical records, they are relevant works if you are a student of history. One of these is an unusual gem.

Chuck Pfarrer's "Seal Target Geronimo" has drawn criticism as a non-fiction account but is a face paced and enjoyable read.

Author Chuck Pfarrer’s SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden was the first title to grab big headlines and controversy. reviews and popular press claim author Chuck Pfarrer took significant license with his account of the raid and that parts are fabricated. There are critics from the political and military community officially opposing Pfarrer’s account of the raid. Having met with Chuck Pfarrer in person to discuss the book and its reception by some I’ll suggest Pfarrer may be drawing unwarranted criticism since he enjoys a level of access few other writers possess. As a result, his account may be more accurate than some other insiders are comfortable with. Pfarrer knows his topic as a former SEAL Team 6 Assault Element Commander and screenwriter.

With former SEAL Team 6 Assault Element Commander and author Chuck Pfarrer (left) at the 2012 SHOT show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I can tell you this book is a fast paced, magnetic read that draws you in. There is some of the dialogue found in every Navy SEAL book, staples of the topic- no SEAL book is complete without some context. It is not “read one, read them all” though and Pfarrer’s level of access provides insights not available anywhere else. This book offers a number of fascinating insights into recent Naval Special Warfare operations such as the rescue of the Captain of the Maersk Alabama seized by pirates off the Somali coast in 2009. It is great story telling rife with technical detail. If you want a dramatic, fast paced read taken from the headlines you will enjoy SEAL Target Geronimo. I would stop short of using the book as a de-facto historical record though since, by Pfarrer’s own admission, there are a few minor technical errors in the book largely because of the speed with which it had to be finished. Pfarrer told me he had only four months to complete SEAL Target Geronimo. That being the case it is an impressive achievement and a darn good read.

SEAL Target Geronimo reads like it was written quickly, and that isn’t a bad thing. The casual reader can pick out some minor inaccuracies and feel some degree of license, a feature of good writing but not necessarily good journalism. The book is “non-fiction” and that may be part of what has drawn criticism. It may hit a little too close to the bone among some organizations and be a little too accurate for some. It’s unlikely we’ll know the facts and details of Neptune Spear for some time, so in the mean time, call it a great page-turner written by an expert insider with an unprecedented level of access relevant to a sensational topic.

John Weisman’s “KBL: Kill bin Laden” is sold as fiction, avoiding the controversy surrounding whether it is factual or not.

Author John Weisman co-wrote the massively successful Rogue Warrior series of books by Richard “Dick” Marcinko. You remember Marcinko as the controversial early commander of  the Navy’s Counter Terrorist Unit called SEAL Team 6- the unit predominantly credited with the Bin Laden raid. 

Weisman’s KBL: Kill Bin Ladin: A Novel Based on True Events is as hot a read as the Rogue Warrior series. KBL is sold as a fictional account of the Bin Laden raid.  And, as author Weisman mentions in an interview, “Because the people who put Neptune Spear together and carried it out aren’t talking, and won’t be, for some time” this is a safe way to depict the flavor of the operation if not the facts. The high road is that a fiction book is simply entertainment, not a historical record. As such it has avoided the criticism of Pfarrer’s SEAL Target Geronimo.
If you liked the Rogue Warrior books you’ll enjoy KBL. It has the same feel and dialogue. It’s rough-shod, feeling a lot like a Louis L’Amour style action/adventure novel. This is a classic man’s book, filled with ballsy references and testosterone moments. Good. Navy SEAL books don’t belong in Oprah’s book club. I moved through this one faster and with more adrenaline than Pfarrer’s SEAL Target Geronimo. It is more readable, has more engaging dialogue and just feels… “smokier”. It’s a slick read that made me look forward to more from this author.

A surprise addition to this topic is this interesting- and possibly accurate- graphic novel on the raid to capture Osama bin Laden.

I met the author of Code Word: Geronimo, Capt. Dale Dye (USMC, Retired) in North Africa when he was there acting as technical advisor to the film Rules of Engagement. He has also consulted to or acted in films like Saving Private Ryan. Dye has an uncanny knack for extracting the drama and tension from military stories and this little book is no exception to his gifts for story telling.
This little (74 pages) book is a “graphic novel”, the popular term for “comic book” used now. I was impressed with how engaging and realistic it felt. The artwork, drawn by Gerry Kissell and Amin Amat, lends a shadowy quality to the story telling experience that seems to fit well with this topic. The book also has authentic feel to it and a shameless product endorsement or two (check the wristwatch on page 23).
I consider this a little gem since the other books are traditional in the military fiction/history category. Code Word: Geronimo does something the other books don’t- it pulls illustration and imagination into the tale. It makes the story something of legend. Fifteen years from now young men will join the Navy because this little book stirred their imagination and sense of adventure.

Gerry Kissell and Amin Amat's illustrations are fantastic and lend a shadowy allure to the tale already steeped in mystery.

While this, like the other books, certainly isn’t the historical record I’m looking forward to reading from official sources it is a time-capsule of the era and the lore surrounding the raid on Bin laden. Of the three books, this is my favorite. It simply does something the others do not, and it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Code Word: Geronimo is an out of left field hit to me. Unusual and entertaining. I have visions of the men who actually took part in the raid reading this one… and liking it. This is a wonderful surprise on a topic already weighed down by controversy.

Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin Pouch (Custom A-TACS pattern).

Zulu Nylon Gear's Mega Admin Pouch in custom A-TACS camouflage.


Some of the best defense contractors and tactical brands start as cottage industries in someone’s basement. After a few strong designs they grow to larger manufacturers like Triple Aught Design. This seems to be the course for Zulu Nylon Gear.

Chicago based Zulu Nylon Gear is an all-U.S. cottage industry tactical supplier with original designs for tactical messenger bags, administrative or “admin” pouches, medical and trauma pouches and magazine pouches among other small items. Everything is made by hand. Because they are small they retain a unique capability for customization. When you interact with Zulu Nylon Gear via phone or e-mail you are talking to the men actually building your equipment. They are open to customization and charge fair prices for good quality work.

Admin pouches have become a big tactical sub-category. Because they are small and easy to manufacture nearly every tactical brand has a version. The “Admin pouch” or administrative pouch is intended to mount to a chest rig, plate carrier, backpack or other MOLLE equipped gear where you need organization of readily used items like pens, notebooks, small maps, pencils, a couple spare batteries, penlight, small electronics and a small multitool. A well designed admin pouch enables quick access to frequently used items even in the dark or while moving.

I asked Zulu Nylon Gear to build me a custom Mega Admin Pouch from A-TACS patterned fabric to match a large capacity A-TACS Tactical Assault Gear Sentinel Pack  I had just acquired. After a couple e-mails exchanged over a day or two they had the project finished in less than four weeks, a good lead time for custom-sewn nylon equipment.

This is a big admin pouch. It is 6″ X 5″ and about 1″ deep unloaded. That makes this roughly one-and-a-half times the size of most admin pouches.

The Velcro loop is A-TACS patterned on the custom Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin pouch.


The Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin uses extensive storage on the outside of the main pocket. If you organize your load well you won’t have to use the zippered main pocket too often since your frequently used items will be located under the Velcro outer pockets for quicker access. This is an efficient design. The outside of the pouch is covered with a 6″ X 6″ panel of Velcro loop for attaching patches, IFF, etc. A nice detail on my custom version is the A-TACS patterned Velcro loop is not generic coyote colored Velcro loop but actually A-TACS pattern Velcro loop.  A pair of elastic chem-light loops is sewn onto each of the outside edges of the pouch also, a useful detail.

The multitool/flashlight/knife pocket is deeper than most multitools are long when folded and the Velcro closure flap is very generous in length. For big tools this is nice but I might have wanted a slightly shorter flap, a small detail.


The outer pockets have four elastic “keepers” inside for pens or other long, tall items about the size of a pen like a lens cleaning brush for optics, small tools, etc. On the right of the exterior pocket is a sheath designed for a knife, large multi-tool like the Leatherman M.U.T. or a small flashlight like Surefire or Streamlight. The exterior pocket arrangement is good but the right-hand tool pocket flap seems to be too long for most tools and flashlights I carried in mine. The flap is stretch fabric. I would have preferred it to be about a half to a full inch shorter.

The exterior velcro compartments are easy and quick to access for your frequently used items like flashlights and multitools.


When you unzip the main compartment on three side of the pouch it hinges open unlike some admin pouches that open only at the top like an envelope. This is good and bad since the top-opening only admin pouches won’t spill their contents as easily if you zip them open in a boat on rough water or in any vehicle moving around a lot. If you are walking in the dark and have to open it quickly you have less chance of losing anything out of a top-opening admin pouch than one that fully unzips. A solution I haven’t seen from any tactical manufacturer yet would be an admin pouch that unzips all the way across the top and only partially down the sides then open like a file folder.

The .550 Cord retainer is a great idea for keeping the pouch from opening too far and potentially dropping items. It is adjustable for length.


As a solution to the possibility of opening the pouch too far there is a .550 cord retention lanyard threaded through loops to keep the opened flap in place. This adjusts with a spring-loaded cord lock. I like this design since you can adjust how far the pouch will open with the cordlock. There is Velcro loop (in A-TACS on my custom version) on the inside lid to attach a nice, optional clear vinyl map pouch from Zulu Nylon Gear or patches. The main pocket has two deep elastic loop retainers mounted outside two levels of pockets. There is plenty of room for more pens, a small Moleskine or Rite in the Rain notebook, batteries, small electronics and other typical items you need in a hurry.

The back of the pouch is covered in PALS/MOLLE webbing and attaches with large size polymer MALICE clips to your vest, rig or pack.  Because of the size of this pouch you’ll need four clips to hold the pouch tightly across its width.

Full MOLLE webbing across the back of the Mega Admin Panel will use four long MALICE clips to secure the pouch to your gear.


Part of the reason I was attracted to the Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin was it fit perfectly across the back of the TAG Sentinel Pack. Since the guys at Zulu Nylon Gear told me they would use A-TACS patterned velcro loop on the outside of the Mega Admin it covered the non-A-TACS webbing on the large upper portion of the TAG Sentinel Pack giving it better camouflage and making it look like a more finished package. A part of the A-TACS camouflage concept is that everything should be A-TACS on the operators kit, from boots to weapon to equipment. It doesn’t make sense to use non-A-TACS webbing on an A-TACS pack.

Mounted to the back of the TAG Sentinel Pack the Zulu Nylon Gear Mega Admin Pouch covers the non-A-TACS webbing on the top of the pack and provides excellent load organization.


Zulu Nylon Gear is a great company to work with. They have excellent custom capability, you talk to the men sewing your gear and its construction surpassed my expectations. They occasionally have unusual fabric for custom work also, including a recent shipment of WWII U.S. Marine “P42” style camouflage used in the Pacific, a distant cousin to the modern AUSCAM. I’m looking forward to their future projects based on the quality of their Mega Admin Pouch.