Why compromise?…don’t compromise, really…don’t compromise on footwear and the layer between your feet and that footwear. I have paired up three of my regular wear shoes with three different socks to lay out the fit/form of each match up. If you aren’t in the military anymore…stop lacing up your jungle boots(or your issued Danners/Bates/ETC)  and low bidder poly/wool socks…you don’t have to live like that anymore…or you do…in such a case…I will have another article on grinning and bearing before the holidays are over.


My Specs


170Lbs - Athletic

10.5 Shoe Size  - Normal Arch - Regular Width

My environment – Central Alabama/Southeast. Hot/Humid summers, warm springs(heavy rainfall), cool(not cold) fall season, and moderate winters(heavy rainfall).


Shoe – Merrell® All Out Blaze Aero Sport –

Fit- True to Size 10.5

Sock – Darn Tough® Hiker Micro Crew

Fit- True to Size 10.5(Large)

Shoe Wear – The lugged Vibram™ TC5+ outsole has shown little wear over 200+ days of use at work, on the range, hiking, and hopping around town. The footbed/midsole has retained elasticity and has held up well to abrasion, thorns, and sticks. The Merrell® Omni-Fit™ lace system holds to its claims…the shoes fit like a pair of well-made gloves. I am on my second pair in two years…only because my first pair developed a squeak after interacting with some A/B compounds at work.

Sock Wear – Merino wool construction with wicking technology these socks hold true to the DarnTough saying “PUT IT ON, FORGET ITS ON” You will feel the same way. Paired with Merrell’s Omni-Fit™…your feet couldn’t be happier. These SOCKS CANNOT BE BEAT!  I have six pairs and I can’t kill them. I have hundreds of miles on a single pair and I still wear them. There are some signs of wear…but no holes and they still fit well.

Seasons for wear – These are optimal for hot/dry or hot/humid days without rainfall/precip. Avoid Rainy days if you plan to be in your shoes all day, they dry well and quickly but soggy shoes aren’t a good combo if you have to function 100%. I will wear this combo into the fall and early winter as long as temps aren’t dipping down below 50F.


Shoe – Salewa® Firetail 3

Fit – True to Size 10.5

Sock – Smartwool® Hike Medium Crew

Fit – True to Size 10.5(Large)

Shoe Wear – The lugged Vibram™ Reptail sole with Megagrip Combound is a sticky and durable rubber compound that is used in rock shoes but blends well for this approach shoe and hasn’t shown any significant signs of wear with 40+ miles of walking/shooting/hiking. It’s a little flat for my tastes and took some time to break in but the fit is perfect. I would certainly trust this shoe while scrambling or moving up slick shale.

Sock Wear – A little loose of a fit but true to size. Its soft and a bit thicker than the DarnTough® but it also adds a bit of cushion for a shoe that isnt as forgiving as the Merrell® All Out Blaze Aero Sport. It’s a great addition to this shoe and rounds out the paring or package.

Seasons for Wear – Cool Summers, Springs, and Fall would be optimum…but I would avoid soggy days with any level of precipitation. They breathe decent…but not well enough to call them a quick dry shoe. Temps shouldn’t be an issue above freezing If you pair them with the smart wool Medium or even the Heavy Weight Hiker for cooler temps.


Shoe- Salomon® XA PRO 3D GTX

Fit - .5+ Size different from normal wear of a 10.5

Sock- Thorlo® Moderate Cushion Light Hiking Sock

Fit – True to Size 10.5(Large)

Shoe Wear – The Contagrip® outsole is built like an offroad tire. It sheds mud and debris well and doesn’t wear bad enough to complain about it. Its sticky on damp surfaces and doesn’t react poorly to beating the pavement.  Salomons 3D Advanced Chassis™ gives added stability when you want to up your step and move with some speed. A heel cup and toe cup also keep your toes safe from thick brush tears and hard rocks. These are my GOTO shoes for the gun range, hunting trips, and beating around the trails. Being that this shoe is GTX(GORETEX) it’s going to breathe decent but your feel will have the added protection from precipitation/moisture. These shoes perform just as well in the non GTX versions(Salomon offers a CS Waterproof version for a few bucks less).  I own/have owned 7 pairs of the Salomon XA Pros in GTX, CS, and non-Waterproof and I will keep wearing them into the future.

Sock Wear – The Thorlo is a good fit, but not as secure of a fit as the Darn Tough. Cushion is about on par with the Smartwool and makes up for the sizing difference of the Salomons compared to the Salewa and Merrells. Combined with the GTX Salomon…your feet with stay dry and cushioned on the trail, commuting, or slapping plates with your primary weapon.

Seasons for Wear – All Season for the Southeast. This shoe works well for me in any season ive experienced down in Alabama for the past 20+ years. HOT and DRY summers are a NOGO. I would transition yourself to the NON-Waterproof versions of the same shoe if you plan to hike, run, Run and Gun, or commute in hot dry climates.

GLOVES - Picking the Glove for the task ahead of you - Purpose/USE


I haven't found a ONE SIZE FITS ALL glove for my needs. I have, however, found one manufacturer, Outdoor Research. A company that has been in my closet in some form or fashion for the past 17 years. From Gaiters and the Seattle Sombrero to the plethora of Softshell Jackets that have appeared over the past half-decade. I have and will remain a loyal user of the brand and their many offerings. 

Use -Gunning/Shooting

Glove - Aerator Glove – 1.6 ounces - This fitted gloves utilizes Activeice material to keep your hands cool in the heat. Synthetic suede palms and vent holes keep your palms from clamming up and have saved me from countless burns from hot hand guards and barrels on a variety of rifles. These gloves allow me to maintain positive control in the Alabama heat, it doesn’t matter if its pistol shooting or skeet shooting…I know I have an added level of control when these gloves are matted to my hands. The sense tech works well on everything but plastic screen protectors on some smart devices. Added benefits include UPF protection and carabiner loops for storage.

Use – Rope Work

Glove – Air Brake – 3.5 ounces  - This synthetic backed glove keeps my hands cool and uses a rugged goat skin palm to manage belay or single ascent/decent. Gel pockets help manage/mitigate hot spots and Kevlar stitching is utilized in high abrasion areas. These gloves have been rock solid so far with my moderate use and sadly they won’t be offered by OR next year. Fit was somewhat off…as the pinky finger was longer than other gloves offered by OR. Added benefits are carabiner loops for storage.

Use – Base Layer/Warmth – 1.4 ounces – Touted as ORs lightest weight sense compatible liner, this glove maintains the same moisture management properties of its counter parts in a slim package that fits under tactical/work gloves. This is a great feature for users who can’t work in mittens and thick base layer gloves. The sense technology is somewhat touch and go, not to use a PUN, but plastic touch screen protectors cause issues/inconsistencies. A version of these gloves with dotted/matrix grip on the fingers and palms would make for a useful lightweight all purpose glove/liner.

OCP - Multicam Uniform Wear Items - Propper/TRU-SPEC

Period of Wear - 30+ WASH AND WEAR PER ITEM

Propper™ ACU Trouser - Battle Rip® - MultiCam -

Based off of the durability of their Uniform Style Pants, I will not Purchase from Propper. The fit was better than that of the Tru-Spec, which is why I paired the Propper pants with the NEW Style Tru-Spec top. However…the three pairs of Multicam Pants faded after the second wash(SECOND WASH, TWO WASHES) and have a poor appearance when paired with other MULTICAM/OCP uniform items that don’t fade after the SECOND wash. I would suggest the CRYE Field Pant paired with the NEW STYLE Tru-Spec Tops for anyone wearing MultiCams/OCPs as a daily uniform.  I remember buying these pants as advertised - “FADE RESISTANT” on Tactical Gears Website, which is omitted on the Propper website for these specific pants.  Final Thoughts…$220.00 worth of CRAP. I think the Phrase is "BAG OF ASS" or "DIRT BAG" when your uniform has the appearance that you get with the Propper ACU Trouser. 




Based off of the FIT of their Uniform Style Pants, I will not Purchase pants from Tru-Spec. It’s beneath a person in uniform to have the appearance of swimming in his or her uniform. These pants were built to Uniform specs, and due to the broad range of sizing (unlike my issue ABUs which are SIZED W/I) any wearer outside the max fitment of each size looks like a walking trash bag.  Their “NEW STYLE” OCP/MULTICAM Top…is a different story…being that I crammed myself into a Small/Long so that I wasn’t swallowed by it, this top has a professional uniform look and has not faded after a multitude of washes.

Final Thoughts…I would buy their uniform pants, but going down a size, I was happy with their NEW Style Top. - 50% success is better than a complete failure-

Installing the MAGPUL Zhukov handguard on a Zastava PAP AK47

The AK47 furniture now being produced by Magpul® really modernizes the look of the AK47 without going full "DOMESTIC" or converting the stock to accept AR-15 components and going to a KEYMOD, MLOK,  or full length Picatinny or 1913 MIL STD rail system. The full length ZHUKOV handguard is one of the components that really enhances the user interface and the appearance of the rifle itself...however...on AK platforms with long gas tubes(Yugo length or 7.5"+ in this case), the upper plastic isn't a direct fit on the factory gas tube. A little ingenuity, cutting, and fitting always solves the hurdles presented by the "one size fits all" box items...in this case you go a few steps further. Now...you can run the Hogue® upper hanguard plastics with the Magpul® Zhukov lower portion once its been fitted...but I really wanted the look and adaptability of a railed Gas Tube. 


Rifle – Zastava M70 PAP

Stock - Zhukov Stock by Magpul (www.magpul.com)

Handguard - Zhukov Handguard by Magpul with Magpul MLOK Sling Mount and Magpul Trimmed Vertical Grip (www.magpul.com)

Trigger - ALG Defense AK Trigger (www.ALGDEFENSE.com)

Gas Tube - ULTIMAK M9 Gas Tube (www.ultimak.com)

Kit Parts:

Magpul® Zhukov Handguard – Part Number MAG586


Ultimak® Gas Tube – Part Number M9


You will need:

Silver Sharpie or Grease Pen

Speed Square with inch measurement markings

Table vice or C Clamp and stable base/table

Dremel with cutting wheel and grinding wheel

Hand File and 200Grit Sand Paper

Rustoleum High Temp Black Grill Paint

Hand Drill, Drill Press, or Cordless drill with metal bit (check bit size against the size of the hardware provided by MAGPUL) I went one step larger.

Make sure to wear eyepro and a paper face mask at a minimum and a full face shield/PPE for full protection. Wear ear pro if you are in a smaller room or area.


Measure 3/8ths of an inch from the inside of the shorter section of the channel on the receiver side of the channel and ¼ inch down. Mark this measured area and shade it with a silver sharpie or grease pen. You will make this measurement on the left and right side of the provided channel. (you are cutting away the inboard section of the short top section of the channel)

Clamp the Channel into a vice or use a C clamp to mount it to a stable base before you cut.

Use a metal cutting wheel on an adjustable speed dremel to remove the cutaway sections.

You will be removing the two sections, clean the cuts up with the dremel grinding bit/wheel and the file.

Do a final smooth/sand with 200grit sand paper.

Once the area is clean and smooth, test fit that section to ensure clearance. (some additional fitting and cutting may be needed, I listed measurements for my initial cuts as each rifle may require additional fitting and cutting on the channel provided by Magpul)

Depending on the gas block design, you will need to remove 1/8th -1/4 of an inch from the bottom of the forward  U-CUT section of the rail. There is already a U Shape cut in the forward section of the channel, I had to remove additional material to clear the lower portion of the gas block on my N PAP.  I smoothed out the cut with a dremel wheel, round file, and sand paper

To ensure clearance and proper install for the ULTIMAK gas tube you will need to test fit and measure for new mounting holes to accommodate U-Shaped channel retainers that are provided by MAGPUL. Test fit the channel with the ULTIMAK gas tube and measure for the new mounting holes you will need to drill into the channel. Mark and drill the holes.

Once you have test fit your cuts and drilled your new mounting holes, I highly suggest cleaning the rail with acetone or brake cleaner. Allow it to dry, wipe down with a lint free cloth and apply two even coats of Rustoleum ® high temp black paint.

Allow the channel to dry and install the handguard and gas tube per the manufacturers provided instructions.