Buying equipment for my brother in Iraq


October 14, 2006, 07:20 PM
My brother is in Iraq right now. I'm sending him some care packages. My communication with him is limited but I asked if he needed any equipment. He asked for a new holster for his M9 9mm Beretta Pistol as he hates the one he was issued and there aren't places to buy spare equipment where he is at. He also said he could always use more ammo pouches for the M4 he recently picked up.

Any suggestions on make/models? I know a lot about shotguns but I don't have a whole lot of experience with other forms of weaponry and their accessories. So I need all the advice I can get.

Also, are there any other questions I should ask him?

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October 14, 2006, 08:31 PM
Does he have a decent pocket flashlight?

The one thing that I wasn't issued that I really felt useful (outside of recreational gear) was a flashlight.

I also used my own lanyard instead of the issue one. Had a Blackhawk lanyard, the coiled one like a telephone cord, so it stays out of the way.


October 14, 2006, 08:42 PM
For holsters, I'd recommend the Blackhawk...Omega models. I used the one that's being closed out, and I liked it. Safariland also makes a great thigh holster that a lot of our guys used. EDITED TO ADD: That's if he's out and about a lot. If he's got an office job, he'd probably kill for a DECENT belt holster. Not sure on which of these would suit best.

You could find pouches for M4 magazines through Blackhawk, US Cav, etc. You want the ones that can attach to a MOLLE system. If he's Army, you would get him ACU pattern if possible, if he's a Marine, then go for "coyote tan."

+1 on the flashlight. He'll probably use anything, but will get "cool points" if you send him a Surefire (the G2 is fairly affordable). Also cool are the little tiny clip-on LEDs - these are very handy.

If he's a coffee drinker, I'd send some [insert favorite good brand here]. IF he's lucky enough to be able to get to a PX, they only carry crummy stuff. The care-package-with-Starbucks is usually a big hit.

October 14, 2006, 09:09 PM
Cigarettes, chew, dip, whatever. Soldiers love tobacco, and the stuff they get at the PX over there has been sitting in the desert for months. Even if he doesn't use it, a few packs of smokes or a few cans of dip will most definitely be appreciated by whoever gets them.

Check with Brigade Quartermasters for MOLLE and ALICE stuff. Last I checked, they had the best prices. If he's using them, ALICE clips come in ten packs. Any piece of gear he's issued will eventually get replaced if it is broken, but who knows when that will be, and those clips break at inopportune moments. Heck, half the issued clips are bent out of shape. Give him some spares.

+1 again on a Surefire. Brighter than a 6D maglite, and fits easily in a pocket. A supply of batteries would help, too.

If he's issued an M9, he's probably issued a knife as well, but double check. A Ka-bar is better than an M16's bayonet for all kinds of things. Be careful on that one, though. At $40 a pop, a man could go broke sending them to his friends over there. A quality folder would definitely come in handy. It doesn't have to be fancy tactical. A 3" Gerber with a clip will work just fine.

Wet wipes. In individual packages. Check with medical supply houses like Moore Medical. You can get the regular moistened or the mild disinfectant ones for around $3/100. Just be sure you don't order the ORM stuff or you might have trouble mailing it. Ten bucks worth of personal hygiene supplies is worth its weight in gold in the desert.

October 14, 2006, 09:21 PM
SOG Seal pup knife is awsome and perfect size for the field.

Someone mentioned the Blackhawk omega holsters. Good stuff.

The little keychain LED flashlights are good to have, Get red or green.

Tactical ( imo makes the best stuff for the money.

Camelback has a new molle tac vest that looks good. I don't know anybody that has used it though.

Blackhawk gear is good but heavy as hell. Rugged stuff.

October 14, 2006, 09:28 PM
I have a SOE M9 & M1911 holster... They're guranteed for LIFE. I've busted the stitches out if it once, (quad-roople stiching), stupid story, after I tried to jump over the side of a 7 ton and dangled from side armoreer, with my pistol holding onto the truck for a few minutes, before all 160lbs of me and 40lbs of gear fell to the ground, this was infront of the chow hall not out side the wire :uhoh: I recomend their drop holster to anyone, I'm local to them so they just stiched it back together and tossed it back accross the counter.

The Mag holders I like the best and currently own 12 of them, are the Double M16 pouches from SpecOps. I think they cost about $12 each on base, don't know what the retail is on them, the first 3 I got free. They are also guranteed for LIFE.

I also love to have a shoulder holster for the M9, for romeing around base to the PX and what not, beats haveing the drop on all the time or the dirty looks for tucking the 9 down the back of the pants gangster-style, some units actually have rules against not haveing a holster, but the shoulder holster is great on base or when riding in trucks alot. Flash-light has to be a Surefire, they're makeing some with LED lights now, that will last about 20-30 hours, great little buggers, I've seen Surefires that were mounted to rifles, the rifles were destroyed and the light still worked, metal bodied Surefires are also great weapons to hit people with, (when the situation dictates of course). The Cheap Surefire is plastic and costs $35, the metal ones start around $60 and go up to around $195, I don't suggest you go and spend $195 on a Surefire Aviator A2, but they're really nice and I haven't broke my yet ;) They do about the same thing a $12 Mag-Light will, but are just the hip thing to have. Don't worry about buying the Surefire batteries they run half a dozen things, and suppy always has them. If you do buy a flash light make sure it's AAA-AA or D or 123, Supply has those batteries. But you can't find a C battery in Iraq to save your life or power a little boom box.

Depending were he's at, they probly have a decent chow hall, but Canned Tuna and Canned Chicken, Ramen Noodles, Crackers, a jar of peanut butter... the gold mine of all care packages is "that good Coffee", the star bucky fancy taseteing stuff, universal coffee filters. It's about to get cold over there, those Walmart $4.99 face masks are great. For touret gunners, if you can find them in Nomex or Scarfs & gloves in Nomex (flame retardant) that's the crown jewles to manning a gun in the wind. White Athletic sox, if his unit will let them wear them, or not cry too much when they're caught wearing them. Black Athletic tape! A Marine or Soldier can be found with 3 Knifes 2 Gerbers, but no sharpening stones, and I'm not kidding either! They don't sell chocolate bars in the PX (because it melts) I loved getting melted Snickers bars.

Finially: I don't want to admit to a war crime, but I will... I after secureing a Raid, I STOLE 6 Mouse Traps from this guys house... hope I don't get in trouble for that, I'm very sorry. The US Military just doesn't think about those little cridders. We ended up makeing a hole in the ground were his house once stood a few weeks latter when they let him out of jail and went back to not playing nice with his neighbors again.

Done 2 tours in the Iraq sand and 1 in the mountains of Afgan, it's getting pretty comfortable in Iraq, they even give out tickets for speeding or failing to stop at stop signs now. I've been lucky enough to have the good gear mostly issued and only buy a minimum of what made me a little happier. The PX usally has cigs & dip, soda, they sell TV's, Laptops and DVD players in most of the PX's, there's just a few odd ball items that you can't get over there in the PX, find out what those are, Wally-Mart probly has them.

Links to the holster and mag pouches I recomended.

October 14, 2006, 09:42 PM

This looks like some pimping gear :)

October 14, 2006, 09:48 PM
Awesome, thanks for the advice.

KC&97TA, Is this the pouch you had in mind?

Also, is the G2 flashlight a good choice? I don't want to go super expensive but I don't want to be a prude either. Just curious, do you ever strap the surefire to your gun?

October 14, 2006, 09:57 PM
Get him a tomahawk. I am seriously not joking here.

They are awesome tomahawks and in CQB whats more frightening a guy with a kbar or a guy with a tomahawk. Plus tomahawks have all sorts of different uses.Just like the kbar. When I go hunting I take both.

October 14, 2006, 10:38 PM
this one ... ouch $19.95 but they last

G2's are good, I have 2 of them. I have one mounted on my personel M4-gery with a weaver scope ring. I attached the picture, had to add a picitinny rail with the weaver ring.

I'm issued one of these, thank you tax payers

Josh Aston
October 14, 2006, 10:57 PM
Take a look at tactical tailor ( and TAG ( Whatever Holster you get him, if it's not already MOLLE compatible, get the adaptor for it. The BlackHawk Serpa and Safariland both have MOLLE adaptors available for around $10-15. Blackwater Gear ( has some interesting stuff also, but as of yet I have no experience with any of it. A shoulder holster is a great thing to have also.

edited to add: Check out DigiLight ( I like them better than surefire and they're not as expensive.

October 14, 2006, 11:43 PM
(the following compiled from letters, emails, and other correspondences...)

Head: Helmet- issue Kevlar is OK, a new sweat band and liner can be helpful to allow air to circulate under it
Eyes: forget the crappy issue ones. Get a Wiley X sunglasses/goggles combo like the Wiley X CQC tactical goggle which is helmet and night vision compatible
Mouth: dust protector like Spec Ops Recon Wrap and/or several bandanas or handkerchiefs
Lips: lip balm with sun protection factor, it melts in the heat, so a sealed tub may be best
Neck: sunscreen, high potency – your sister will have to include more in his weekly/monthly care packages since he will apply it daily

Chest: A mimimum of Level III+ NIJ rated KEVLAR (i.e. aramid) ballistic vest (changed: soldiers now forfeit their SGLI if they wear non-issue armor)
Chest (cont.): sweat away shirts, several (Under Armor Heatgear brand)
Also a backpack, for personal gear, green with hydration (camelback) optional, and MOLLE compatible but otherwise his choice.

Arms: Shirts as above, sunscreen. Issue BDU blouses are good. Indiglo Watch.
Hands: gloves are his choice depending on the type of work he does, but some guys use them simply to prevent sunburns. Go with thin leather Kevlar lines gloves or lese Kevlar lined fingerless ones. Not rubber or latex, they melt and don’t breathe in the heat
Legs: BDU pants are good, get a better belt- maybe a pistol belt.
Feet: get the BEST boots possible that are still regulation. NO steel toe or steel soles, they set off magnetic explosives. No holes that can let sand in, pay for a ‘complex’ ventilation system. Socks: Wigwam Ingenious Boot Socks, several pairs. No cotton: wool or synthetic only. Replace laces with paracord or appropriate color.

Other: Sweat Proof neck pouch or water wallet
Sewing kit, and prescription meds, toilet paper if he has room! And have more sent in care packages!
Water purifier filter and/or a purifier canteen (Press-2-pure), and optional iodine tabs

Make sure he gets his issue frist aid kit, if not I can get a list of recommended items.

OK, he knows he can’t bring his own backup gun. People do. But not officially. Still, the issue weapons are plagued with malfunctions so he should bring a few things to help make sure his weapon works when needed:
-FACTORY, or Asian contract factory, Baretta M9 15-rd magazines, smooth any internal burrs. 2 will easily fit into a BDU cargo pocket and just keep that to himself. He knows he can’t bring his own ammo either. Those FMJ 9mm bullets zip right through the skinny dudes we are shooting, though. So unofficially the BEST anti-personell 9mm round is the 9mm 147-gr Winchester Ranger ammo factory labeled RA9T- accept no substitute. Winchester Ranger SXT is NOT the same thing. But any good hollowpoint is a step in the right direction hypothetically of course.
- Factory (Colt, or Armalite or Bushmaster, or gov’t contract) M-16 223 magazines with the green followers. Yes, there is a recommended ammo for these. I can find out if he likes. Hypothetically.
- Dry-Lube (molybdenum disulfide in an evaporating base): you don’t want grease and oil attracting sand.
- Condoms, to put over the muzzle, duct tape to hold it down. In a pinch, he can fire right through the rubber. Saran wrap to keep the action clean.
- Straight blade knife, like a Kabar or issue M16 bayonet. Sharpening stone.
- Leatherman/gerber tool (gerber preferred since the tools are enclosed when in use and dont chafe the hand)
A laptop computer with internet hookup. I forget is they use DSL or what, he can check.
Tweezers, a superior pair, not good, not great; superior. Like the Silvergrippers.
Toenail clippers.
Sandals, wwaterproof- he will want alternate and well ventilated footwear for the shower and off times. Don’t forget suncreeen on the feet if he does that!
LED hand held light for carrying.
Clip on LED for reading at night.
Fun reading, magazines- have you rsister send monthly with care packages.
Paper, pencils.

Here are some posts from huyg who have been there and what they wanted in their care packages:
“Ground Starbuck's coffee and filters
Gun, Outdoor, and porn magazines
Home-baked cookies
Cards or posters from supportive Americans for the Operations Center

Lip balm
Cortaid cream
Foot powder
Toothpaste and brushes
Nail clippers
Captain Morgan's Rum concealed in an Listerine bottle”

“The PX in Baghdad sucks.The CD selection was nasty. No Blues. DVD's? Great, if you have a US-format system that works on 220v, or batteries. Otherwise, see the kids outside for the bootlegged Euro-format versions. The tourist trash seems to be made just about anywhere else.”

“A co-worker was called up by the Guard (Kuwait) and this is what me and some of the other co-workers send him and others in his unit.

Carmex lip balm
tooth brushes
tooth paste
foot and body powder

What I personally send for him every few months is three rolls of Kodiak and a phone card.”

“cheap LED lights (red)
Nice, soft American T.P. (good packing material too)
sugar-free gum
cookies, chips and assorted other pogey bait
tobacco products (not for him, but as thank-you's for his troops)
a paperback book here and there
current family photos

I even mailed him a toilet seat, because their's kept breaking.

I also did his gear shopping for him and would send that over as well - just don't list anything juicy on the customs form, as the good stuff has a tendency to get "lost" apparently. Max Grip NT nomex gloves become "socks" for the paperwork.”

Hope this helps!

October 15, 2006, 12:28 AM
The Army runs different from unit to unit, but Marines aren't allowed to wear "sweat away shirts" (Under Armor Heatgear brand). If you're involved in a fire they melt to the skin. That's why you're seeing alot of Marines in flight suits on TV lattely. Nomex is your friend.

Don't send Ammo, Civvy ammo is better than ball ammo. Don't send Alcohol. You can send porn if you wish... but Ammo and Alcohol is a Fel-lony, so is Porn, who's really going to procecute you for porn to a soldier though?

The above post is correct with "miss labeling the customs form" don't write down "the good stuff" on the paper work.

October 15, 2006, 09:07 AM
+1 for Tactical Tailor. By the time I rotated home, most of my gear was TT made. It's well made, sturdy and inexpensive. It's also 100% American made, if that's important to you. But I must disagree about the Blackhawk Serpa/CQC holster - Some of my bro's have had problems with the retention device clogging with dirt/sand and being unable to draw their pistols. If you want to go with a kydex type holster, I'd recommend a Safari-land 6004 or comparable Blade-tech holster. Prior moving my pistol up onto to my rack system, I used a 6004 and found it to be a really tough, well made rig.


October 30, 2006, 10:25 PM
Ok, revisiting this thread.....

I shipped him a G2 flashlight and a few other things. Tomorrow I intend on buying him a holster.

Thanks to all of your advice this one tops my list:

However, my dad wants to get him this one:

Anyone have experience with the SERPA? Good/bad? It says it's used by the seals so I can only guess it's good.

As a side question how good is this one?

Tornado Tactical Thigh Holster

It's very cheap so I'm a little concerned about the quality.

Thanks again for all of your help.

October 30, 2006, 10:44 PM

I'm an authorized Tactical Tailor dealer, because 8 years of military combat arms taught me the importance of good gear, and TT makes GREAT gear.

Logan Coffey, the founder of TT, is a former US Army sniper. He knows full well what it takes for a piece of gear to survive. Anything he makes is going to be top-notch. I highly recommend his stuff, and not because I sell it, but because it truly is some of the best.

If you decide to go with TT, drop me a PM before you order it, as I might be able to save you some money off of retail.

Also, if I were you, I'd consider going with a more modular approach. TT makes a Modular Leg Rig Panel, and a modular holster, which attaches using PALS webbing and MALICE clips. They look like this:

The beauty of this set-up is the fact that it allows him to switch out the items on the leg panel. Someday, he might not have a pistol, and he can put a dump pouch on the panel. Also, it's ambidextrous, in the off chance he has reason to loan it to a leftie. This is the same set-up I use for a drop-leg rig, except in OD.

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