Old Men Listen to Death Metal – Darkened ‘Kingdom of Decay’ LP review

Finally, having sat on this for a good few months, longer in fact as I was privy to advance digital copies, let’s have a good look, at long last, at the debut album from DarkenedKingdom of Decay’ !!!

Hot off on the heels of the truly stunning preceding EP ‘Into the Blackness’ the band dropped late last year via Edge Circle Productions their brand new debut LP (available on MCD/CD and Vinyl).
Why the delay – it certainly didn’t fall through the cracks, nor was it overlooked – but a culmination of circumnavigating the recent trials and tribulations life has presented us all with and moreover, texturally it’s a complex album with many layers and facets that a simple overview wouldn’t do it justice !!!

Darkened – “Kingdom of Decay” (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)

It’s proved to be a compelling soundtrack to recent events, and I to this day enjoy its company either at the drawing board, to and fro on the daily commute or in general as part of my daily soundtrack – it’s that good it now proudly sits amongst many classic albums amongst my several decades long collection that get regular play !!!
The original line up returns minus the EP’s original bassist, replaced by Tobias Cristiansson.
There’s no immediate discernible difference in that the preceding bassist did an exceptionally good job beforehand, it would appear however, Tobias brings a different more organic technicality to this set of songs, an almost unprecedented warmth and groove often lacking amongst the genre.
So, without any further procrastination we’ll dive in and break it down track by track …

  • Nekros Manteia the opening prelude is a short but sour sweet instrumental that atmospherically sets the tone of the album, it’s a classic thrash trope often employed to great effect during the 80’s by many bands – so well played I wish this intro had been a little longer and had a few more parts, it deftly shows a slight of hand and gives a glimpse at Darkened’s dexterity and serves as a timely juxtaposition to muscularity and heft of what’s to come … it is great idea to bookend the tracks with intro’s and outro’s respectively almost imbuing the album with a conceptual feel !!!
  • Dead Body Divination powers on right from the off – this is how you open an album and it’s swirling thrash riff is virtually relentless aside from harmonies and leads peppering it throughout – the breakdown riff from 01:32 onwards could play for hours as far as I’m concerned, it’s absolutely great … more of the dueling leads are back though and reminded me warmly of Rocky George’s solo work which seamlessly worked over the top of Mike Clarke’s rhythm on ‘Lights, Camera, Revolution’ !!!
  • 1000 Years carries on the charge and was one of the preceding digital singles prior to the albums release – I really like this track, but it does sit far better shoulder to shoulder amongst the album complete rather than as an isolated track. Has a real bruising groove mid section before peeling away into a blistering lead solo, the drumming here too is absolutely taught precision delivered brutality and actually powers the latter half of the song with that trademark hardcore groove !!!
  • Pandemonium opens with a spiraling black metal riff from the off – possibly the closest to a traditional track stylistically to the professed Black/Death Metal genre the band have camped themselves within – its more traditional gear set actually serves as a good countenance to the more experimental stylings the band explore on other tracks – that said the band, guitars, drums and bass lock in perfectly with Gord’s vocal delivery at 02:44 to power through the third verse with a confidence and power that puts far bigger established acts to shame !!! It’s from here on in Pandemonium really picks up and powers up a whole new level …
  • Cage of Flesh swaggers in with its undead gasped vocal and Sabbath inflected intro before hitting the groove with a brilliantly drum and bass led riff -to define this band purely as a Death/Black metal band is to criminally under estimate their considerable ability and adventurous influences – there’s a healthy does of hardcore groove, doom and progressive thrash woven in here … it’s just good heavy music and transcends the genre !!! The anthemic outro on this would serve any horror movie exceptionally well too …
  • The Burning and track which digitally served as primer before the LP’s release – this would easily of sat amongst the preceding EP’s tracks without missing a beat, has a great little sound bite in the middle before pounding out a superb beat down section again dissolving into a beautifully soulful lead and again crushing your ears with more groove laden riffs as it gallops towards the finish. I’ll admit I hugely underestimated this track on release but it’s a standout gem in the absolute crown of material on display here.
  • The Old Ones drums and guitars play perfectly in countenance to one another and serve as suitably menacing score to Gord’s confident vocal lines – even a little touch of Sepultura inspired riffing and ambience spotted here and there, by no means plagiaristic – there’s just that little flavor of ‘world music’ tone the more hardcore riffs peppering the track and it serves it well.
  • Kingdom of Decay is Darkened at its bristling best, whilst not overly adventurous in experimenting with the genre it’s musically solid musicianship serves the album as countenance, traditionally underpinning the collection to the groups ethos and their genre roots !!!
  • Of Unsound Mind is very much a track for today’s world and perhaps really sees Darkened take off the gloves and show just how aggressive they potentially can be with its swaggering belligerent intro – it offers only moderate respite before powering out with that classic hardcore metal groove that they’ve really perfected – it’d be interesting moving on from this track how dirty and nasty they could get …
  • The White Horse of Pestilence rounds out the album hurtling towards the finish line and outro with an almost rabid frenetically feverish ferocity that is perhaps thematically threaded throughout the album. It’s polish and production, and more importantly balance that’s puts this upon a pedestal above and beyond their peers who’s material is muddied by terrible production and terrible muddy mixing – Kingdom of Decay is a benchmark album and should be used as definitive benchmark in quality production values.
  • Winds of Immortality bookends the LP and as the second ambient track and my only lament is that it’s bitter sweet short – I could listen to it meander through the aural darkness for hours, endlessly …

So, to summarize this is a beautifully brutal extension to that classic EP proceeding it, I’d argue that this is essential to heavy music fans, collectors and fanatics of the death and black metal genre – its accessibility and accomplished musical ability may to some be a turn off, but what do expect from such pedigree of musicianship including former members of Bolt Thrower, Memoriam, Grave, Excruciate and Angel Blast – it’s an absolute labor of love and everything I hoped it would be, a very fitting outro to the disastrous year 2020 was and will serve as an empowering soundscape to survive 2021 !!!
Get Kingdom of Decay from Edge Circle Productions now !!!

FREE DOWNLOADABLE COMIC ‘Dredd De Los Muertos ! (The Death of Dredd)


‘Dredd De Los Muertos ! (The Death of Dredd)

Here it is – Free to Download, my Drokktober Megazine get it here:


(here is also a link to download a CBZ file to use in an App Reader such Comic Book reader, save the file then port it over into the app: https://www.dropbox.com/s/e194w7m977q5ud3/Drokktober%20CBR%20Pages.cbz?dl=0 )

It’s a little rough around the edges, grammatical errors, sizing issues and image resolution, but rather uploading a slew of images across your feed and replicating across several pages I’ve put together a ‘best of’ free for you to download.

It includes a six page strip, a vague attempt at something humorous, but yeah, here it is …

But, I’ve also included most if not all the covers and sketches that I completed over the month of Drokktober …

Let me know what you think, feedback, criticism, constructive or negative all greatly appreciated …

Drokktober 2019

Well what an absolutely mad riot of fun Drokktobers’s been. I’d not officially for just short of 25 years picked up a pen to produce a reasonably finished piece, Drokktober initiated that return, and as such I’ve not completed a volume of work in one period of time such as this !!!

The opportunity to spend a month drawing 2000ad’s Judge Dredd, coupled with the fantastic choice of prompts was too much of an opportunity to pass up, so participation was a no brainer …

Pitfalls, spills, thrills, triumphs and frustrations – whilst like jumping back on a bicycle, you can clearly see the wobble, false starts and also moments of really starting to warm up and pick up momentum.

I’m strictly amateur, but it’s clearly whet the appetite to produce work again, and explore my style. That said, I can now appreciate the ingenuity and creativity of those creators who do this on a regular basis, fun yes, easy, no …


Last but not least – Cheers ti the Drokktober boys and cast of ECBT 2000ad as well as Wullie Russell who all deserve a warm well done and a huge thank you for cheering on all who entered.

And, those entered – WOW !!!

Some serious talent, enthusiasm, ideas and creativity – I salute you all and was often left thinking ‘Why didn’t I think of that’ – you are all the best.

Last but not least, to the countless followers, who cheered on the charge and put up with us saturating your favorite pages with entries, show why, Dredd and 2000ad fans are the best !!!

So, here’s my final ‘cover’ and to round it off a short strip I’ve written and illustrated showcasing the Judge Dredd’s untimely demise …

See you next – errr, Drokktober Creeps !!!

Artwork for Sale Here:


Memoriam … Still Loyal

Gearmonkey75's Blog

Memoriam … Still Loyal

Its been a long while since I’ve figuratively taken up the pen and written anything noteworthy or of interest …

That said I have had a few ideas and subject matters slowly gestating and its only until now I’ve decided to put something out in ‘print’ !!!

Its a culmination of several emotions and ideas – since confidently marching into my mid 40’s and not only leaving one pastime behind, and albeit happily settling down on and focusing on my career and enjoying family life I’ve since rediscovered a former passion, or rather reignited the flame for one of my first loves – music !!!

Specifically, as I’m sure you’ve long by now since gathered, heavy music in particular, and have in recent years enjoyed a renewed vigour, a renaissance of late – the flame has been very much rekindled.

It must be pointed out in…

View original post 1,225 more words

Troops of Doom – Inside an S23 ‘Day Sack’

Troops of Doom – Inside an S23 ‘Day Sack’

It’s the weekend, so I thought I’d do a quick bag (day sack) dump before getting geared up for another whole new week …

I’ve been using my surprisingly vacuous LondonBridge Trading 8000ain MultiCam ‘Tropic’ …

This carries:

• 1 x Jetboil Flash

• 1 x Patagonia Lvl 5 Soft Shell

• 1 x Patagonia Lvl 4 Wind Shirt

• 1 x SureFire, LLC 6P Classic Blk

• 1 x MRE Spoon

• 1 x Oakley ‘Gas Can’ Glasses

• 1 x Gerber Gear ‘Suspension’ Multi Tool

• 1 x Noble & Blue M05 Field Note Wallet w/Sharpie and IR Cymalume

Patrol Incident Gear FDT gloves

• 2 x Nalgene 1 ltr Bottles

• 1 x AeroPress (fitted with Percolo Stainless Steel Filter)

• 1x Gsi Outdoors ‘Java Mill’

• Assorted Storacell holders

• 1 x Neck Gaiter

… what’s in yours, have an awesome Bank Holiday weekend – S23


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Överkill – Kifaru Urban Zippy Pack Spotlight by No.1 Jimmy Pie

Överkill – Kifaru Urban Zippy Pack Spotlight by No.1 Jimmy Pie

Funnily enough, today marks the 3rd year anniversary of my very own ‘Pie Slicer’ from Jim over at No1. Jimmy Pie Knives

Needless to say, after three years of work, use and abuse – with a little care and maintenance it’s going as strong as ever …

Albeit it’s picked up what I think is some rather fetching patina …

Now, I’ve been meaning to get Jim on the blog for quite sometime, however, if not quite found the angle I was after – and he is a very busy man. In between cups of coffee he’s found toiling away crafting exquisitely functional knives, related accessories and ephemera in his incredible workshop hidden, somewhere in the depths of leafy suburbia …

I know this much, Jim is exceptionally well thought of, not just by me, or his customers and legions of fans but his contemporaries within the industry.

He’s forged, or should that be ‘carved’ a reputation through his intimate dialogue of photos of knives, axes and hatchets, often modified and detailed to bespoke customer requirements – and, have been seen subsequently across the globe in the hands of outdoorsmen, every day carry enthusiasts, hiking community as well as Law Enforcement and Military too …

I’ve got my own, and plan a second (I blame you Jim for sending that phot) – but what has attracted many, is through his visual diary you often get a unique insight into how they are made, processes he’s developed and learnt. It’s a very affirming process, and even from a customers point of view, gives you a real personable account of your knifes creation …

Anyhow, on with this posts topic – Jim, like many of us, comes from a background of gear collecting, and as such, having more than a passing interest knows what works and what doesn’t – I’d noticed he’d been shifting a few pieces of Cordura and suspected it was for a higher purpose …

Enter The Kifaru Urban Zippy

Jim recently picked up a brand new Kifaru Urban Zippy, this model in Ranger Green.

In his original post he had this to say:

Little Bag, big capacity, I honestly don’t think I’ve owned a ruck in this size range that packs this much in with room to spare.

He went on to further explain and evidence with some great explanatory photos too:

I can still fit in my hammock or a set of base layers, the rear pouch is still empty too …

Better yet, Jim gave a run down on what he was packing too, giving not only example of the packs capabilities – but many of the things you should consider carrying on a leisure hike and or short stay out camping …

He explained:

… it lets you get to it all easily too, great design by Kifaru.

External Lid Pocket

Small Fixed Blade, Ruck Cover, External Lid Pocket – Spare Large Kifaru Pouch

Internal Lid Pocket

First Aid Kit

Main Pocket

• 1Ltr Nalgene Bottle

• Jet Boil PCS


• GoreTex Bivvy

• Triple Aught Design Scarf

• Kifaru x 4 Pockets (Wash Kit, Brew Kit, Fire Kit, Snacks)

Left Side Zipper

• Shelter Kit

• Folding Saw

• Cordage

• Bungees

Right Side Zipper

• Tarpaulin

Outside Pockets

• 1 Ltr Nalgene

• Large Fixed Blade

Rear Pouch

• Empty (as you can see the pack is vacuous with room for much more despite its diminutive size)

Encouragingly, Jim is always keen and enthusiastic to engage questions solicited from followers and made the following poignant remarks. When asked about not having a proprietary ‘waist belt’ he explained:

It does have a simple waist strap, nothing padded, and you’d be correct, I wouldn’t want to do a full days hike with it as it is – but a light bimble (walk) and an overnight wild camp, it’d be fine …

The proof however, will be in the pudding as they say, when I get out and test it properly.

Further praise was evidenced by Jim:

… this feels perfect, in the 25ltr range, it’s been a while since I’ve had a Kifaru in my life, maybe three years, very happy to get one back …

With regards to the unique and innovative design, the side pockets:

It’s a damn neat idea!

Quick access to the bottom of the bag or the internal mesh pouch, genius and cool as f**k !!!

As he’d sent over additional phot’s for this very article he parted out with this great line:

The real game changer I think with a load like this is the internal frame …

You can keep up with Jim here over at No.1 Jimmy Pie Instagran and check our more from Kifaru here: http://www.kifaru.net/

He also sent over this stunning exclusive photo – showcasing his incredible craftsmanship alongside his Kifaru Pack – S23


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Urban Discipline – USMC Urban Camouflage ‘T Pattern’

Urban Discipline – USMC Urban Camouflage ‘T Pattern’

Whilst trawling a few gear pages on Facebook this came up in my feed, only time I’ve seen these in the wild was during a History Channel Urban/CQB documentary, where the Marines used these train in MOUT.

Whilst not footage from that documentary, some archival news reels are online and can be viewed here:

Not much proliferates the web regarding this pattern, however it’s clear as far back as 1999 the USMilitary in anticipation of growing threats from Terrorism, and domestic civil unrest – would see a shift towards more Asymmetrical Warfare, most likely within Urban City Centres.

Urban Warrior 1999

Operation Urban Warrior was a United States Marine Corps program created as an exercise meant to plan and test Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) and urban warfare in general.

It was developed in the mid 1990s by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory partly in response to growing problem on inner-city fighting, and especially made urgent following the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

Press materials from the Warfighting Lab in 1997 stated, “..the world is becoming increasingly urbanized and increasingly dangerous” and described a new fight zone called the “urban littoral,” or coastal zone where most of the world’s population will reside. “Parts of the urban littoral will contain all the classic ingredients for conflict. There will be social, cultural, religious and tribal strife between differentgroups.

Many areas will have scarce resources, including the most basic ones like food and shelter as populations grow and resources shrink even further. The chances for conflict will naturally grow with it”

It’s no surprise that Law Enforcement and Police Forces have adopted ‘Grey’ as color way best suited for today’s AO’s …

Camopedia’s entry had this to say:

The US Army began testing a variety of camouflage patterns in 2001-2002 to replace the m81 woodland and tricolor desert patterns.

In 1998, another MOUT pattern was tested, this time with a very dominant grey colorway. BDU shirt and trousers, as well as PASGT helmet and vest covers were produced in the pattern, termed “urban camouflage” on the nomenclature. As with its predecessor, the urban MOUT pattern (sometimes nicknamed “Urban-T” or “T-MOUT”) was never adopted.

The range of designs included patterns with names such as “all-over brush,” “shadow line,” and “tracks,” with variations of each for use in woodland, desert, urban and combination desert/urban environments. At the same time, Natick begandeveloping a new era ofcombat uniform, based on improvements suggested by soldiers with field experience. This concept uniform would eventually be given the name Close Combat Uniform or CCU, and would eventually lead to the design implemented as the Army Combat Uniform. Of the new camouflage designs tested by the Army, only the “Urban Tracks” version would be fully implemented to the CCU production stage. Several hundred uniform examples were produced for testing by the Stryker Brigades in 2003-2004, although the pattern itself would be dropped in favor of the Universal Camouflage Pattern of the ACU.

Experimental USMC Urban T-Pattern BDU’s used in Urban Warrior in 1999 just for one FTX. Approximately only ever 800 sets of BDU pants, shirts, helmet and armor covers were made.

The Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) are camouflaged fatigues that were used by the United States Armed Forces as their standard combat uniform from the early 1980s to the mid-2000s. Since then, it has been replaced or supplanted in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

So, onto the pants – these have as expected become much sought after, and highly prized amongst collectors. I’m aware of a Far East Reproduction – however, whilst the pattern was correct in scale and color, the sizing was off and they horrendously faded when laundered.

These pants, as expected where produced in the obligatory BDU cut, and comprised of a shirt, pants – made from 50/50 NYCO and Helmet and Armor cover for the PASGT (Personal Armor System Ground Troops) PPE.

With a button fly, side bloused pockets and rear button pockets these are as utilitarian as expected – however, there’s a lot to be said for the venerable BDU.

It’s loose cut, and solid stitched construction make the BDU a firm favorite in my gear locker to this day.

I’d certainly hazard a guess and state these undoubtedly influenced NATTICK’s UCP pattern- which, whilst subject to much controversy and derision, particularly as it was heavily used in Arid environments such as Afghanistan is still an effective pattern in low light urban environments.

Whilst Camouflage is perhaps never intended to be appealing or attractive its three color pattern in rectangular and t-shaped print is striking none the less, and is interesting to see what development had extrapolated as potential solution to Camouflage in Urban Operations.

I’d love to add these to the collection, if only for posterity and historical interest – however, scarcity and availability make for an unlikely opportunity – S23

Photography courtesy of and special thanks to Bartek S

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Whilst out on early morning trek, an early morning stroll post breakfast on a quest for coffee, I took the opportunity to really punish my Obōz Bridger Bdry boots through sand and across gravel. Foot deep through streams and babbling brooks and of course my youngest and mines favorite – thick mud !!!

Feet and socks kept dry, without any undue heat or perspiration despite covering several miles the Bridger Mids remain undisputed across all terrain.

Whilst perhaps not in the truest sense of a torture test, this was only extensively put through their paces for a few hours. I took no end of reward from seeing them repel running water, thick viscous mud and sludge just oozed off the nubuck’s waterproofed hide.

The nylon shank and rubber toe cap easily brush out and away loose soil, gravel and debris. Even after three months of use, through the last throes of winter, snow, ice and the deluge of recent precipitation has seen little to none with regards to wear and tear. Even the rubbery tactile soles still have no end of heavy tread left yet …

Speaking of tread, the Obōz soles easily transition, even at heavily elevation and gradient across slime covered roots and mossy fallen tree trunks. In the mud or across the shoal of streams water beds grip and torsion remains uncompromisingly strong. Conversely when caked in mud the soles still find a sure footed grip …

I look forward to giving em’ an even harder time soon – S23


As you can see both boots have been cleaned free of dirt, grease, mud and sand. You can watch the instructional cleaning video by hitting the link to our original Obōz review below.

Both boots were cleaned using NikWax boot cleaner and re proofing spray and allowed to dry naturally whilst stuffed with newspaper. As you can see they’ve been restored to their original moisture resistance ready to face the elements once more …

Catch our original Obōz overview

You can read our full review here: https://s23gearmonkey75.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/new-jack-oboz-bridger-bdry-mids-review/

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Don’t forget you can catch up on all our reviews, interviews and spotlights over at s23gearmonkey75 – Airsoft and MilSim reviews and interviews


End of Green – Crye G3 COMBAT PANT™ Multicam Pants Review

G3 COMBAT PANT™ Multicam Pants Review

Crye Precision the Birth of a Revolution

I recently had the good fortune to supplement the gear locker with a set of Crye’s G3 Combat Pants in the ubiquitous Multicam no less, in excellent condition from very good friend Scott over at Task Force Neptune.

Representing such good value, the price point made these, an opportunity to good to pass up – if only for the purpose to review them vs my previously owned Crye AC sets, UKSF and Custom respectively …

Whilst here, I’ve included considerable preamble before review – this is to perhaps best illustrate and set the tone and context within which the framework of this article focuses on.

Perhaps best illustrate the design, innovation and creative thought process by Crye Precision LLC we’ll take a look back just short of nearly two decades and set the tone for this review with a little retrospective insight. Much of what follows here in this introduction is extrapolated, or perhaps rather, is an interpolation of an interview published a few years back on the After Cooper site. I’ve included the link, as there’s much more to read …

Caleb Crye and Gregg Thompson, a School of Art graduate (’97) and an Albert Nerken School of Engineering graduate (’00) respectively, founded a business fourteen years ago that seamlessly united the art and science of their alma mater.

Crye Precision started as a “nothing to lose” spare-time venture in a studio above Chelsea Market that has grown to occupy 56,000 square feet of space employing 150 people in New York and New Jersey.

Here they design, prototype and manufacture protective clothing for the United States Military in a competitive industry market that not only keeps American troops alive but also arguably helps keep a shrinking Stateside Tactical Clothing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) industry from an untimely demise.

Post-graduation, after two years of commercial design work, Crye decided to try developing products for the military, Caleb was quoted “because it would be rewarding and I actually like the military,” . In pre-9/11 New York, Crye says, “it felt like the military was not viewed positively and growing up I never really had that feeling. I’m a huge fan of freedom and see our military as big part of what safeguards that.”

Thompson, still completing his Masters at Cooper while working full time in the sculpture shop, came on board too.

For their first venture Crye Precision designed, prototyped and pitched a new version of the crude portable computer then used to calculate angle and propulsion for mortar ballistics. They learned their first hard lesson: the commercial model for getting business does not apply to the military. “We didn’t know that’s not the way the military works. That’s not the way you are going to get a contract”Thompson explains.

Instead you must develop products that meet a publicly stated need. So they proposed to work on an initiative to “revolutionize the soldier” by focusing on body armor and garments.

Their first assignment was to design a new helmet for the Army. They had only eight weeks to do it but crunch-time skills honed at Cooper came in handy. “So we made two, fully-functioning carbon-fiber prototypes that included integrated communications, removable chem/bio protection, flip-down goggles and integrated cameras” Crye says, “It was our first job for the Army and we wanted to hit it out of the park.”

As it happened, September 11, 2001 occurred at the midpoint of their development work. The resulting escalation in Afghanistan, followed by the invasion of Iraq, put CryePrecision in greater demand.

Over time the company found itself focusing more on the needs of Special Forces troops because, Thompson states “their needs are very tangible and they give direct feedback.

For more insight you can also watch this short video interview with Caleb Crye

However Crye and Thompson began to feel frustrated in their inability to mass-produce the products they designed. “Guys are telling us they want our stuff but we were not a manufacturer at the time and could not say when the gear would be available”

So they decided to take a risk and move into the world of production as well as design.


Overview – Specifications, Material and Features

I’ll breakdown here the bullet points to give you ‘liner note’ style an overview, however, as Crye’ succinctly explain on their product catalogue:

designed as a no-compromise assault uniform, these pants are aggressively cut for maximum mobility. These combat-proven pants are sized in 2″ waist increments and multiple lengths for a perfect fit. Features a unique padded waistband and hi-mobility stretch panels at the knee and lower back. 10 pockets. Designed for use with our patented removable AirFlex™ Combat Knee Pads (sold separately). Base fabric is Mil-Spec 50/50 NYCO ripstop with durable a 4-way stretch-woven accents. Zip fly with VELCRO® brand closure.

Unique low-profile adjustable waist feature. Patented, see http://www.lwpatents.com. Made in the US from US materials.


• Unique low-profile waist adjust system

‘this is an intriguing feature, as such – Crye’ fit and form is a uniquely individual experience and, as supplied here – if you ‘read between’ the sizes you may well find a larger or smaller size can actually be at the very least – more comfortable and offer a wider latitude of movement and articulation. Point in case, I’m a longlegged 6ft tall and wear in a traditional boot cut pant, a 34R or 34L – however, confident in Crye‘ fit and form, these at 36S would be sufficiently adjustable.

Here, the waist adjusters cinch down viaelasticized Velcro Hypalon tabs to provide – combined with the front pockets which house the height bungee paracord adjusters not only transform these into a moredesirable size, but benefit is to be had from the larger and looser intended cut. This gives a more palpable sense of movement and mitigates restriction.’

• Each cargo pocket conceals water bottle/magazine stabilizer

‘whilst a simple feature, dismissively overlooked for its ingenuity, it’s the small details that really make the pants design shine. I’d even counter further, and illustrative of Crye’ design ethos.

A secure elastic loop centered in the middle of the bloused cargo pockets offers security for radios, magazines, bottles of water or comparable sized items – I’ve even placed certain sized pouches here. It’s security, retention and allows you to intuitively locate what you’ve housed without a second thought.

• Dedicated knife/light holder that still allows pocket access

‘A nice feature, however unless the item has clip invariably it drops through to the larger side cargo pockets. I’d suggest that an interior ‘sock’ of material would easily solve this minor quibble’

• Simple knee pad height adjuster located in front thigh pocket

‘As discussed above, these alongside the waist adjusters are pivotal in not only getting the best results from fit and form – but are integral to seating the proprietary AirFlex™ Combat Knee Pads

• Designed for use with removable AirFlex™ Combat Knee Pads

• Built-in flap covers kneecap opening when not using knee pads

‘I’d always considered that a panel of NYCO attached to the interior stretch panel would be a better option, thus allowing for more knee movement – the idea here otherwise being these covers when pulled into place offer a little more uniformity and protect the stretch panels.

• Stretch diamond gusseted crotch

‘A feature not seen on the Gen I or AC editions, the same tweave material offers greater movement and prevents the gusset from being subjected from too much torque and causing the pants from splitting.’

• Rear-zip pockets

• Larger expansion panel at lower back

‘the rear stretch panel combined with the stretch diamond gusset and double layer seat are a three part combination offering greater movement and mobility particularly when awkwardly positioned or when kinetic – ergo traditional cut garments can restrict climbing or abseiling , or awkward positioning when navigating restrictive confined spaces. Here this move towards greater mobility whilst negating restrictive fit is possibly subtly missed on some – but perhaps one of the pants driving design features’

• Larger front thigh pockets

• Double layer seat

• larger belt loops

• Velcro knee adjustment points

‘This quite simply lock the knee pad in place, and prevent the knee pad from rolling laterally. I’m surprised that each knee still doesn’t have two Velcro tabs like their competitors (imitators). This would offer greater stability and security, sadly overlooked.’

• Lower ankle cuff adjustment points

‘perhaps dismissively overlooked as an after thought – the ankle cuff truly completes the pant and is such simple solution to an age old problem. This cuff not only closes the ankle, but allows you to seat it at a height appropriate to your chosen boot. Negating the necessity to blouse your boot, it clears away and pulls material closer to the calf which facilitates easier use of gaiters and putties.

Sure not garrison friendly – but it’s surely one of the features that truly completes the fit, form and functionality of the pant – and, alongside the knee sockets stretch panels and height adjusters really pushes the design to truly work as a ‘3D articulated’ piece of apparel.


G3 vs AC

Now, here’s the deal breaker. Whilst the design ethos and brief to make quite possibly the most innovative and packed with utilitarian features whilst offering unparalleled freedom of movement and mobility – is it worth the price tag ?

Whilst many of the enhancements between the AC cut and the Gen 3 are marginal – it’s clear they’ve listened to the end user and refined the design, rear pockets are now zipped, larger side cargo pockets and better more secure height adjustment system.

However, I miss the original sand tweave stretch panels, aesthetics aside – the Multicam patterned tweave is really the only way to go. I think the raised rear padded waist which has been forgone in favor of a more traditional belt line. The original AC raised belt line was great for belt compatibility and gave a more aggressive athletic cut.

It is without out a doubt, either pant visually is stunning – and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying they are comfortable to wear and inspire confidence to push yourself in even the most extreme and harshest of conditions – armed with the knowledge they’ll not fail and capably over perform.

however, of late I’ve been enjoying no end of simple functionality from standard BDU cut pants, and found everywhere at giveaway prices brand new I’ve not paid no thought to how hard I run em’ or how much abuse they get.

It’s here in lies the rub, Crye has always respectfully commanded prices that reflect its ingenuity, quality and to a lesser or greater degree that reassuring quality of exclusivity …

But considering the prices currently commanded and the recent price increases of RRP as recently announced by Crye it certainly encourages thought regarding are the really worth it.

No doubt supply and demand will make these the populist choice, and I expect we’ll see a backlash on the second hand market where scarcity, desirability and demand drive prices to exorbitantly heady heights.

That said, I think that will leave the market open for newer, hungrier company’s to exploit Cryes price driven un-obtainability – S23

**LAST FEW LEFT – ORDER YOUR Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Patch** S23 FAMILIA Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Edtn.

Qty Remaining: 3



Order the classic ‘Beer Mat’ Cloth Patch – now, new, improved, and rejuvenated for 2018 we are proud to offer the limited Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ classic edition for 2018. Strictly Limited run to only 100 pieces, only a maximum of two patches per order – never to be repeated.

This is a redesigned variant of the original Mk I ‘Beer Mat’ originally produced by ToySoldier for us, which was subsequently put out as a ‘give away’ – the original patches went as far as Finland, Norway, Japan, Australia, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and of course all over the United Kingdom – S23

*patches exclusively produced for us by the inimitable BritKitUSA go check out all there other awesome patches here: http://www.britkitusa.com

Fearless Vampire Killers – SureFire™ 6P Original (6P-BK)

Fearless Vampire Killers – SureFire™ 6P Original (6P-BK)

Let’s start at the beginning.

This SureFire™ 6P-BK ‘Original’ was sitting alone, in the dark of a locker, long forgotten and not working.

Not even a new fresh set of batteries were going to bring this torch back to life.

A quick search later on the World Wide Web and stopping by the exceptionally informative SureFire™ home page, and after a few quick tutorials I was able to trouble shoot one of several problems, obstacles to overcome, to bring this torch back to life …

You too can take a look at SF’s FAQ page right here for several troubleshooting solutions and maintenance: https://www.surefire.com/faqs

Repair and Maintenance

1) First up was the key test, using any metal key, placing the tip of which, with the tail cap removed, in the middle of the inserted batteries whilst resting the edge against the main assembly’s threads will either cause the torch to illuminate, which would indicate a tail cap fault. Or if failing to illuminate indicating a damaged or faulty bulb.

2) However, before purchasing either a new tail cap or replacement bulb, it is recommended that several maintenance procedures are followed, not the least in the very first instance the installation of fresh batteries.

What needs to be applied here is a little work cleaning and restoring the actual physicality of the torch back to its original form.

I first gently removed both ‘o-rings’ and whilst cleaning the rest of the torch left them to soak in the cap of a high end silicone spray. Reason for removal was simply that to clean the threads I was to use a vehicle grade alcohol wipes to clean the threads and tail caps interior and spring.

It was clear that some calcified deposits had built up around the main assembly’s threads to which the tail cap is applied. I can presume this is possibly leakage for older corroding batteries. Using a little DW40 this was easily brushed off and cleaned away, wiping any excess DW40 with a little ply, I set about cleaning the threads of any dirt, grime and grease.

This needs to be done on both threads on the main assembly, in side the the lamps housing, the bezel and using a small flat headed screwdriver you can push the wipe gently in and around the tail caps sprung switch assembly to clean the thread.

Essentially what we are looking at is to get the torches battery housing not only as clean, dirt and grease free but as dry as possible to provide a good uninterrupted connection when turning the torch on or off.

Once satisfactorily cleaned and purged of dirt the o-rings where put back in place.

3) Whilst I was here doing a little domestic ‘house keeping’ attention was turned to the bezel and gave the lens a good clean inside and out with quick spray of lens cleaner

4) Now, in this instance I was quietly confident that both the tail caps functionality and the torches integrity was good to go, and in this instance had already a new SF P60 bulb – and upon installation it roared to life.

However, after a little additional cleaning, some intermittent issues where quickly ironed out – and if anything emphasizes just how clean your SF’s interior likes to be.

5) Last but not least, I’ve learned that it’s well worth ensuring you’ve screwed the bezel housing the P60 lamp assembly on as tight possible, using a soft cloth, and wrenching the betzel on gives not only a secure solid fit, but give that 100% connection which reassuringly gives you peace of mind that the beam will fire time after time.


The SureFire 6P ‘Original’ was introduced as a successor to the previously released ‘Classic’ – whilst essentially the same torch, several cosmetic changes where introduced.

Improvements to the light assembly, an anti roll bezel and lockout tail cap.

The body has now flat surfaces on either side of the bodies main assembly, here the iconic SF’s logo is laser etched.

The torch it’s self, having been redirected from certain doom has roared back to life. It’s snappy and reliable function, solid build and robust form have made it a firm favorite.

It’s compact size and intuitive use inspire confidence and with the above cleaning and maintenance knowledge gleaned from SF’s web page, I think this torch will be going strong for many, many years to come …

The beam gives a solid 40° beam, and at punchy 120 lumens has no issues cutting through the gloom and murk of even dark and misty or blizzard conditions.

The beam is so strong that gives good peripheral illumination over a wide area too.

It’s robust construction and aircraft grade Aluminum which is Anodized make for an aggressively solid affair.

It has two modes of operation, with the tail caps fully locked its permanently on, or with a twist the two indents aligned, a turn or two up from the locked on position you can use the pressure switch momentarily activate.

Light Type: Handheld

Body Type: Straight

Voltage/Source: 6V / 2 x Duracell DL123A Lithium Battery or 2 x SureFire CR123 Lithium Battery

Lamp Assembly:

Standard: P60 Hi-Pressure Xenon (65 lumens)

Optional: P61 Hi-Pressure Xenon (120 lumens)

Rated Runtime:

With P60: 60 minutes

With P61: 20 minutes

Body Construction: Aluminum

Body Finish: Type II Anodizing

Primary Production Color: Black

Switch: Tail mounted. Press for momentary, twist for constant-on

Year(s) of Production: 2001 – Present

Length: 5.2 inches (132 mm)

Body Diameter: 1.0 inch (25.4 mm)

Bezel Diameter: 1.25 inches (31.8 mm)

Weight: 5.2 ounces (147 grams)

Last but not least – SF V70 Combat Holster

After a little care and restoration bringing the torch, or rather resurrecting it back from the dead.

It seemed unfair to have it careless rolling around in my day sack, or needlessly attacked by keys and change in my pocket.

But rather, intuitively have the torch belt mounted, where it can be securely stored and instantly retrieved and deployed on demand as required – hey, that sounds like a holster !!!

Surefire have lavishly produced in high impact ballistic nylon a sprung holster which can be installed either downward or upright on a belt or utilizing some other mounting options on LBE, Plate Carriers or Day Sacks etc …

Supplied with a three piece assembly ‘Belt Spacer’ (which is quite frankly ingenious) allows not only for the V70 to be used on smaller width belts, but also clamps the holster securely, but also aids a snappy draw and prevents the holster moving along the length of the belt.

It is, in my humble opinion a mandatory accessory to ensure protective carriage of your torch, and if your life depends on it, intuitive and easy to use too – S23

**ORDER YOUR Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Patch**

S23 FAMILIA Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Edtn.

Qty Remaining: 12



Order the classic ‘Beer Mat’ Cloth Patch – now, new, improved, and rejuvenated for 2018 we are proud to offer the limited Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ classic edition for 2018. Strictly Limited run to only 100 pieces, only a maximum of two patches per order – never to be repeated.

This is a redesigned variant of the original Mk I ‘Beer Mat’ originally produced by ToySoldier for us, which was subsequently put out as a ‘give away’ – the original patches went as far as Finland, Norway, Japan, Australia, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and of course all over the United Kingdom – S23

Super Bowl of Hardcore – Patagonia Lvl 4 Gen II Windshirt

Super Bowl of Hardcore – Patagonia Lvl 4 Gen II Windshirt

I recently picked up from good friend Simon B an allegedly second hand Patagonia Lvl 4 Gen II Windshirt in ‘Foliage Green’ – arguably, due to its excellent condition I’d hazard a guess that it’s all but virtually brand new, so a big thank you to him.

As I understand it SOCOM sought to address harsh weather conditions for Special Operations troops deployed in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s.

Enter the PCU (Protective Clothing System) – NATICK leaned heavily on experiences from the civilian world with extensive cold weather experience to develop and issue an interchangeable clothing system called the PCU. This provided war fighters comprehensive suite of apparel and options for cold weather conditions.

The PCU is divided into seven levels, here I’ll clarify, which are not seven levels to be worn necessarily on top of each other, but rather combined interchangeably with one another for a wide variety of atmospheric and environmental conditions.

It’s comprised of a total sixteen garments – each providing a different complimentary functionality to the overall system.

Want to know more on this or other garments in the PCU system head on over to the inimitable ITS TACTICAL here: https://www.itstactical.com/gearcom/apparel/comprehensive-guide-protective-combat-uniform/amp/

Patagonia Lvl 4 Gen II Windshirt

Level 4 consists of a thin, windproof “wind shirt,” which is intended for use inside the system, though it can be worn as an outer layer. Generally it’s worn under other layers and helps retain 300% more heat than without a wind shirt. It is ideal in escape and evasion situations, as it’s very compact and can be rolled up and stuffed in a cargo pocket. It’s less durable than the Level 5 soft shell garments and not meant for high abrasion situations like low-crawling over rocks or work in which the wearer is getting into and out of vehicles with some frequency. It’s frequently worn as an under-layer beneath the soldier’s camouflage uniform and in helicopter use, or other situations with significant environmental wind.

With this in mind, I’ve used thus far as a supplementary garment for intended purpose whilst worn over a PolarTec ‘Grid Fleece’ and under my Patagonia Lvl 5 Gen II ‘Soft Shell’.

It’s worth mentioning here, The PCU system consists of synthetic materials that don’t retain moisture. While they may become wet, either from external moisture, or moisture generated by activity- they have been designed to dry quickly. The use of these materials stems from experiences mountaineers, who determined that it was impossible to stay perfectly dry. As a result, the superior strategy was to don materials that would shed water as fast as possible.

In short, this provided an ample protection against the recent freezing wind chill, biting cold snow and gale force winds, which even here in the South of the United Kingdom dropped as low as -12° …

Whilst we’ve apparently more inclement weather inbound, and even more snow due this weekend (at the time of writing) the temperatures have soared back into the early teens, and such a combination has proved, whilst on the move a little too warm, however, that’s a good thing, indicative of how much heat each garment traps, and naturally when combined it keeps you more than warm enough.


So proverbially, what do you get out of the box. The Patagonia Gen II ‘Lvl 4 Wind Shirt’ is not unlike its civilian ‘Houdini’ model, however is minus the stowage feature of being rolled into its own proprietary pocket/bag – no matter as we ‘Ranger Roll’ jackets here at the S23HQ

Made from ‘Epic Fabric’ the wind shirt offers a slightly thicker brushed twill, comparators to the Gen I and civilian models. Yet is still comes in at paltry 14 oz’s – so thin in fact is easily stuffed into any BDU pant pocket or large jacket pocket …

The Gen II features a full zip, as opposed to the original Gen I which was a half zippered pull over affair.

Like the Lvl 5 it has a generous hood, easily worn over head wear, be it a beanie, boonie or even PPE such as a helmet, and as expected can be cinched down using the double barrel locks on the bungee cord that runs through the brim.

It’s worth noting that unlike the Lvl5 the hood which is stored in the collar as is the Lvl 5’s has additional Velcro points, allowing the collar to be brought back up into a full neck coverage, thus with the zipper brought all the way up, gives good protection from chilling frosty winds.

The zipper runs up from waist to neck, is naturally expected, the industry standard, YKK – and as you can see, I’ve traditionally heat shrunk the paracord pull tab …

Cuffs are elasticated offer full closure, but unlike other garments are non abrasive nor do they cause irritation.

You can see the difference in fit and form against the Lvl 5.

The front of the torso is cut slightly higher in line with the belt line, and the back slight dropped fishtail style – offering a slightly more dynamic and athletic fit around the lower abdomen.

Both the Lvl 4 and 5 have again barrel locked waist adjusters to draw the jacket in as well as adapt fit and form to suit your preferences as well as keep out the elements.

The jacket has little in the way of storage but does have a small Velcro’d closure on the upper left chest area, ideal for keys, pens, chem lights or a small torch.

The material, as mentioned above is ‘Epic Fabric’ and is DWR treated, whilst recommended for only light precipitation stands up well against heavy rainfall, albeit temporarily as eventually it will start to wick.

A form of 100% nylon made by Readyone Industries.

To summarize this garment will undoubtedly stay a permanent feature stowed in my day sack, as even during the more clement months, of either spring or summer – is a quick solution to either high wind, light rain or cooler late evening.

Or as a combination with other garments if the weather really takes a sudden down turn.

Combined with the Lvl 5, and a PolarTec fleece, with a light neck gaiter and PolarTec watch cap (beanie) this jacket provided invaluable protection from the elements in recent weeks, it is – quite simply a very welcome addition to the gear locker – S23


1) lay the jacket out flat and zip up

2) fold over either sleeve and 1/5 of the torso

3) Repeat step two and you’ll now have the jacket in the form of a long rectangle

4) start to roll from the bottom up to the neck

5) Squeeze Rolled torso into hood, you can use the barrel locks to compress the hood size and achieve an even smaller pack – and if you so desire place in a zip lock bag from protection against water and quick and easy recovery from your pack as well as saving additional space and easier stowage – S23

**ORDER YOUR Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Patch**

S23 FAMILIA Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ 2018 Anniversary Edtn.

Qty Remaining: 12



Order the classic ‘Beer Mat’ Cloth Patch – now, new, improved, and rejuvenated for 2018 we are proud to offer the limited Mk 1.5 ‘Beer Mat’ classic edition for 2018. Strictly Limited run to only 100 pieces, only a maximum of two patches per order – never to be repeated.

This is a redesigned variant of the original Mk I ‘Beer Mat’ originally produced by ToySoldier for us, which was subsequently put out as a ‘give away’ – the original patches went as far as Finland, Norway, Japan, Australia, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and of course all over the United Kingdom – S23