I’m sure we’ve all seen the soldier in a movie (or real life) with his two magazines taped together upside down or the dude rocking the single knee pad so he can retain freedom of movement. My personal favorite comes from the days before Magpul Industries when high-speed dudes used to tape 550 cord to the bottom of their magazines, creating a makeshift literal Magpul so they could extract their mags from pouches easier. But seriously, what are the best tips and tricks that are relevant to modern combat of the modern age? The following are in my opinion some of the best that come to mind but I’m sure there are others out there that I have yet to discover; always learning, never static.
Expedient tourniquet placement: Having your TQ in a location that is readily accessible can mean the difference between life or death. Your teammates may not always be able to get to you and render aid during a firefight so be able to provide self-aid if you are capable is incredibly important. There are several methods to tackling the obstacle of finding the best location for your TQ and to be honest it’s all dependent on the individual’s personal preference. I personally prefer to strap one to my rifles buttstock if I’m able and to have second exposed on my body; currently the latter is located on my battle belt via a quick release molle strap. OEF/OIF vets are all to familiar with the classic rubber banding it to a shoulder strap on the armor carrier which can be good as well but again in the spirit of personal preference I like to keep my shoulder space clear. I’ve even seen guys cut holes in their uniforms so they can run them through set location (as high as possible) on all four limbs so all they require is a few twists to apply them (not sure I recommend that one but to be fair I’ve never tried it). There are a lot of options out there to accomplish this but find what works best for you.
Tape and lube: Ok, while you won’t see me running around with a roll of duct tape and a can of WD-40, I will always carry weapon lubricant and electrical tape plus some 550 cord and maybe some zip ties, they’ll basically accomplish the same thing or provide the same solutions. I keep the roll of electrical tape on my battle belt via a carabiner so I can access it at a moment’s notice, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to strap down a piece of gear or hastily repair some form of equipment in the field and that small roll of tape has more often than not been the solution to the problem. Sure a mini roll of Gorilla tape or Duct tape would be better but I’ve never had trouble finding electrical tape in the third world and it’s the perfect size to carry exposed without worrying about it getting in the way. Weapon lube can be a lifesaver when a machine gun or rifle starts malfunctioning, this lesson I learned the hard way but you won’t catch me without some in the field now to include my cleaning kit. One particular incident that comes to mind, I was manning an MG3 machine gun in a turret during a firefight and the damn thing just kept jamming and I mean bad! Nobody brought lubricant (derp, boot move) so finally, someone ran some motor oil over to me and applied that shit to the internals graciously. Sure enough, it was up and running, functioning flawlessly after that. But thank Allah it didn’t need to remain operational longer than it did; if the fight had lasted longer than it did we could have been in real trouble. So don’t forget to bring lube.
550 cord laces: I always replace my boot laces with paracord. Not only does it generally increase longevity over standard boot laces, but in a pinch, you have paracord on hand; minus the loose boots you’ll have to clunk around in. Hey, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. If you lose your kit and find yourself in an escape/evasion scenario some paracord might just be what the doctor ordered. Be sure to make the excess material (the portions you use to tie your boots) fairly long, this way you don’t short yourself and you can always tuck them in so they’re out of the way. Also given the properties of paracord, you can tie your laces together and use them to saw through zip-tie cuffs by making a friction saw (fun fact) so don’t be stingy with the material.
Specialized tools: Depending on where I am and what I’m doing, I will carry specific equipment that if I ever needed in the situation I would be ecstatic to have in my kit. For instance, while with the Peshmerga I always carry an expended 12.7mm DShK casing because if the charging handle for a DShK mount is broken you can load the weapon and rack the bolt back using a casing via an insert on the right side of the weapon. Sure you could use one of the rounds already belted up, but it can sometimes be very difficult to break them free from the belt. Plus if taken from anywhere but the ends of the belt, it will create a stoppage at some point, it’s much easier to pull one out of my pistol pouch and use that when under pressure and my adrenaline is pumping. Another thing I always carry is an M2 Browning machine gun go/no-go chuck. Having a headspace and timing gauge can be a real godsend since they are incredibly rare here and the M2 requires one to be maintained and operated correctly/safely. Combine these with a multi-tool and there are few problems I can’t solve between these two weapon systems. Specialized equipment can come in many variations and is entirely dependent on situation and mission.
I’m out of ninja tricks so here’s a bunch of solid tips:
- Buy quality footwear, your feet are your life
- Bring baby wipes everywhere
- Use foot powder regularly, again take care of your feet
- The last three rounds minimum in your magazine should be tracers
- Wear the same camouflage as everyone else, blend in
- Use quality gloves, cant fight with messed up hands plus guns get hot with prolonged use
- Use a weapon that shares a common round with whoever you’re working with, if you run out you’ll be happy you did
- Carry extra water and food, sometimes a re-supply doesn’t happen
- GPS’s are great but a map and compass are king, sometimes electronics fail
- Laminate anything made of paper that you can’t afford to lose, rain or not shit happens
- Tape the spoons down on your grenades just in case but fold the end so you can pull the tape off with ease
- Don’t buy cheap gear if you’re planning on staking your life on it
- Tie or tape down anything that makes noise
- Keep your workspace/gear tidy (don’t look like a mall ninja gear bomb)
- Use quality eye protection, if you can’t see, you can’t fight (antifog spray is pretty excellent as well)
- Use quality socks and change them often, again feet
- Your weapon is your life, so take care of it
- If it’s reflective or shiny, you have no business wearing it
If you’ve got some solid tips or tricks feel free to post in the comments!
*Originally published on SOFREP