Christmas 2020–My Favorite Things

For a few years, Glenn Beck used to have a Christmas episode called “My Favorite Things” where he told his audience about what he was giving his friends and loved ones for Christmas.

I’m fortunate to have half a dozen of my products recommended on his radio and TV shows…not as ads, but as gift recommendations.

I took a picture of my TV screen one year when he was showing off Urban Survival Cards, which you can get on Amazon >HERE<

So, I’m going to do something similar this year.

I’ve got a combination of gift ideas that we have, use, and love as well as some of our training that’s available on Amazon and can ship overnight in most areas.

(There are lots of pictures on this page.  If you have Javascript turned off or an over-active ad-blocker, you won’t be able to see the images of the products from Amazon or the current prices…I’m adding blue html links to all of the products, but I would strongly suggest turning on JavaScript to improve your overall browsing experience.)

I want to start off with my new favorite hearing protection.

I’ve got about $2,000 of hearing protection options…in-ear, muffs, custom molded, etc.  The best attenuation I’ve found is from Howard Leight…but their just too big for a lot of what I do.

The in-ear options have been good for an hour or so, but then become torturous.

And my current favorite is the Peltor Sport Tactical 500:

They connect by bluetooth to my phone & computer and I wear them on planes, when my wife is vacuuming or my kids are rough-housing and they’re pretty awesome.

Next is something I’m not excited about…

I had chronic ear infections as a kid, tubes in both eardrums, and a ruptured eardrum.

Last year, my tinnitus and hearing loss got to the place where I knew I needed to take action.

So, I took a 2-pronged approach.

On one hand, I began wearing a “hearable.”  It’s NOT a hearing aid and doesn’t require a prescription, but it does a lot of the same things that a hearing aid does.  I started with the BeHear Now

It made an immediate and dramatic difference in my ability to communicate with my family, it lowered my overall stress level, and was pretty awesome.  It’s also bluetooth compatible.

You’ll notice 2 things about it…1, it’s bigger than a hearing aid.  2.  It’s ridiculously cheaper than a hearing aid.  With hearing aids, smaller=more expensive.  I’ve swapped with friends who have several-thousand dollar hearing aids and neither I nor they were able to tell much of a difference.  If you’re like me and have too much pride to get hearing aids yet, I encourage you to check this out.

I found another hearable that ended up working much better for me called NuHeara that I’ll be telling you about soon.

The 2nd prong of my approach was to attack the problem from a neurological perspective.  This was frustratingly slow, but I was able to notice a big improvement in both tinnitus and my ability to hear conversations from voices that used to be “problem voices.”  This is a work in progress and I hope to be able to share what worked for me at some point in the future.  Stay tuned for that.

Next is something that I’ve used for pain, injury recovery, and workout enhancement.

On the pain front, I’ve used it to go from being in so much pain I couldn’t stand to–10 minutes later–being able to stand and walk 2 miles pain free.  They just added a dedicated TENS mode that you may be familiar with.

For injury recovery, everyone in our family has used it this last year…both of my boys for mat-toe from jiu-jitsu and both my wife and I from minor sprains.

For workout enhancement, it can help train your brain to more accurately fully relax and fully flex your muscles over time…think of it as more speed and power with the same number of muscle fibers.

And, they just added a “long haul” mode to improve leg circulation on long flights.

It’s called PowerDot and it is something that you may want to have delivered to you this week…even if you’re on vacation.

One of the interesting/frustrating things about evolving technology and preparedness is the incredible difference between buying top-of-the-line for yourself and buying top-of-the-line for your whole family.

Night vision is one of those areas where solid Gen3 is going to cost $3k and up….sometimes WAY up.  I’ve used night vision from one to a few hours a week for several years and, for me, the $3k version has definitely been worth it.

I can’t justify it for my wife or for my kids.

But I want them to be able to be effective with me in the dark.

There’s Russian surplus night vision that’s pretty cheap, but the quality is incredibly low for anything other than shooting at everything that moves.

Enter Sionyx color night vision.  It’s a really cool intermediary night vision solution…both for people who are buying for several AND for people who don’t need night vision enough to justify a $3k expense.

Sionyx is a solid Gen2 night vision platform that’s smaller than an older PVS-14 that has a memory card for recording pictures and videos, WiFi, and more.  In daylight mode, it’s a camcorder.  In night time mode, it’s night vision that’s better than the night vision on a camcorder.

It’s mountable both in front of and behind optics on a gun, you can hold it in your hand, or you can mount it on a helmet.

You may be wondering what the difference is between Gen2 and Gen3.  The big difference is the ability to gather light.  Gen 3 will see into the shadows on a moonlit night and see wide open areas in lower levels of light than Gen 2.  “Seeing” with night vision is kind of difficult to explain.  Identifying movement is different than identifying whether it’s man or beast.  Identifying a man is different than identifying THAT they have something in their hands.  Being able to see THAT they have something in their hands is different than being able to identify WHAT they have in their hands.  In identical conditions, Gen3 will let you see more details at a longer distance and make better choices.

A lot (but not all) of the differences between Gen2 and Gen3 can be compensated for by using an infrared strobe or flashlight.  When combined with an IR light, the Sionyx is pretty awesome for the price and the better IR light you use, the less of a difference you’ll see between Gen2 and Gen3.  (No…that’s not the only difference, but it’s a BIGGIE)

One big difference that 99.9% of people won’t notice is performance while moving.  I hike, run, and drive wearing NVG and if you don’t have zero-lag and a fluid image, it can get pretty rough.  Sionyx does the job if you’re stationary, moving slowly, or only scanning occasionally.

As I’m writing this, Amazon still has them available for next-day delivery in several parts of the country. We got the “black” model and we’re looking at the “I” or the “Pro” for our next one.

Pistol mounted lights are a great tool, but they are a HOTLY debated topic.  One one hand, there are guys who claim that anything other than the best brand/model is junk.  On the other hand, in the real world, there are people who have budgets and/or need to buy for multiple guns/people instead of just a single duty weapon.

Paying for the “best” light for a single gun is completely different math than buying a light for several guns.

I say all of that because there are negative reviews on some of the lights that I’m going to mention.  The reviews are probably warranted for people who are using weapons mounted lights on a regular basis, but may not be as warranted if you only use a weapons-mounted light a few times a year or need to buy for multiple guns at the same time.  They may also be appropriate if you need a light that you can quickly/easily swap from gun to gun or from laser trainer/airsoft/pellet/paintball trainer to trainer.

The 4 I’m going to tell you about today are all from Olight.

They all have complaints about the switches only working some of the time…I have not found that to be the case with any of them.  Your mileage may vary.

First off is the Skyben Olight Baldr Mini 600

The combination of a laser and light in such a small package is great…especially the quick release.  One of my habits when I’m traveling with carbines or long guns is to put a laser on the gun before I leave if it doesn’t already have one on and co-witness it at a particular distance.  When I get where I’m going, I simply verify that both my optic and the laser are still co-witnessed and I know I’m good to go.  I take off the laser (if needed) and get to work.

The mounting system allows you to slide the switch forward or backwards in relation to your trigger guard, but I’ve found that the unit is so compact that best position for the switch isn’t necessarily solid, so I have it a little further forward than I’d like…but it still works well.

I’m a REALLY big fan of the magnetic charging connection, but they have a big problem with battery life and the light just going black.

The size of this problem is going to depend on what you’re doing…I don’t like the idea of a pistol mounted light being my primary/only light.  My handheld light is my workhorse.  The pistol mounted light/laser is a huge benefit, but for me it’s a bonus and not a necessity.  I have a strong preference for a pistol mounted light when shooting coyote on our property at night at 50-100 yards, but I know I can be effective with just my handheld.

If you’re training, the ability to swap batteries and get back to work is a big benefit.  If you want to reduce the sheer volume of batteries that you go through, rechargeable may a good answer.

Second is the PL Mini 2 Valkyrie 600 lumen rechargeable light with quick release:

Same benefits and issues as the Baldr.  Not the most bombproof light on the market, but the quick release and recharging option have a lot of value.

How about bigger lights?

Right now, I’m carrying the PL-Pro Valkyrie 1500 lumen rechargeable light with quick release on my Glock 19:

I’ve got a few holsters made for the TLR-1 and this fits in those.  The big advantages are brightness (subjective), rechargeable, and quick release.  It’s been good so far for the features and the price.  I’ve been using it a few times a week for nighttime outdoor dry fire, nighttime shooting on steel, and nighttime airsoft practice.  I like the TLR switch better and I would like it if there was a battery indicator or something telling me to recharge before the light is about to completely stop working.

For larger light+laser, the one I’m currently testing on a carbine is the Baldr Pro 1350.

It’s not rechargeable and has been a great light so far.  Interestingly enough, I’ve found that if I run it on my TOP rail, I can use the bump of the laser as a substitute for the front backup iron sight.  It does block out the lower half of what I could normally see with my optic…for what I’m using it for, it hasn’t been a problem inside of 100-125 yards.

If you’ve got any first hand experience with OLights…share below.  Please specify whether it was your personal experience or something you heard.  OLight is also a young company and they’ve made several changes and improvements over the last few years, so please also say when you bought the unit you have personal experience with.

On the fiction front, I want to recommend the Fox Walker series of books by an author named, Indy Quillen.  I LOVE these books and my 12 year old son does too.  The lead character is a Native American tracker and there’s a lot of accurate tracking and primitive skills info in the books.

One thing of note…in this first book, which was released in 2016, there’s a little bit of inaccurate verbiage about “assault rifles.”  I contacted Indy about this and she replied back quickly.  Her stance on firearms has changed since 2016 and she’s trying to figure out how to edit that single paragraph…but it’s amazingly difficult once a book has been published with a publisher.  In short, I recommend all 3 of the Fox Walker books that she’s written.

Let’s get political for a second 🙂

Do you know who was writing (accurately) about Russian meddling in US elections 5 (FIVE!!!!) years ago?

Chris Graham.

If you want to more fully and accurately understand the “breaking” news that’s coming out about Russian and Ukrainian meddling, you really need to check out his book, Election:  Dezinformatsiya and The Great Game

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend some of the best firearms training tools available on Amazon…

First, of course, is Dry Fire Training Cards:

Next, is Chris Graham’s 30-10 Pistol:

One of the best books on training new shooters (regardless of whether you’re a full time instructor, friend, or family member working with a new shooter) is fellow brain-based firearms training instructor, Dusty Solomon’s Mentoring Shooters…if you look on the back cover, you’ll even see my endorsement of the book 🙂

If you prefer DVDs, we’ve got Larry Yatch’s Concealed Carry Master’s Course:

Do you have other “must have” gift ideas?  Gifts that have made a big impact on your life or that you just REALLY liked that people can still get overnighted for Christmas?

If so, please share by commenting below.

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