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For the serving soldier: the 2011 military Christmas gift guide.

Just ask yourself how many Christmas gifts you've received which didn't exactly inspire a spontaneous Happy Dance? Not even a big, Cheshire-cat grin? How many ugly Christmas neckties became dipstick wipers; how many garish, scratchy sweaters lurked in dark closets until they could be surreptitiously sent to Goodwill? How many presents have you given--in good faith and hopes of pleasing someone--and been disappointed with their lackluster reception?

I can guarantee you'll never have that experience with a thoughtful gift sent to a serving soldier. Send precisely the wrong present to exactly the wrong person, and it will still get a smile, a laugh, a heartfelt nod of warm appreciation, simply because you cared, and you made the effort.

Now, this list is primarily for your friends and family members "deployed forward," OK? But if you check my "Odd Angry Shot" column in this issue, you'll find suggestions for the warrior-friends you haven't met yet, and other ways you can honor and support our troops and their families. Christmas is coming, and Santa's willing to share the spotlight!

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Barely bigger and heavier than the single AA battery that powers it, the LB15 mini--flashlight from Fenix Light is perfect for a soldier's use. Its twist-on switch won't accidentally be activated, and offers a bright 117-lumen beam or 8 lumens of low, discreet light. It will even stand up on its tail to serve as a "batt-powered caodle"! Waterproof and shock-suppressed, the LB15 comes with spare sealing 0-rings, a lanyard and split-ring.

FENIX LIGHT

8/F, 2ND BUILDING, DONGFANGMING

INDUSTRIAL CENTER, 33TH DISTRICT, BAO'AN,

SHENZHEN 518133, CHINA

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/FENIXLIGHT

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In combat, often it's the little things that count; peripheral accessories which wind up saving lives. Such may be the case with the 360 MOLLE GearKeeper from Hammerhead Industries. Light, compact and rugged, it securely tethers lights, multi-tools, COBraS, Z-Card packs and other essentials with a spring-loaded retractable cable. The 360 comes in two lengths and three levels of retraction force. If you don't know exactly what size and weight gear it will be used for, I recommend the RT4-0004 model. Want to send something cool to clip to it? Keep reading!

HAMMERHEAD INDUSTRIES

1501 GOODYEAR AVE., VENTURA, CA 93003

(888) 588-9981

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/GEARKEEPER

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Jared West, the mad wizard of Mantis Knives, listened closely to troops' input on what they needed in a folding knife, then sat down and conjured up the Kunitza. Big, stout and tough, it flips open, locks solid, and fills the hand with highly ergonomic CNC-macbined G10 handle scales. The 154CM blade is 3.5" long, and when opened, its flipper doubles as a fingerguard. A soldier serving in Iraq was using the original black-bladed MT-5 Kunitse as a down-and-dirty utility knife, and asked Jared if he could get one with a head-blasted blade to keep clean and razor-sharp. Jared's response was the MT-SB, shown here above its brother.

MANTIS KNIVES

1580 N. HARMONY CIR.

ANAHEIM, CA 92807

(714) 701-9136

WWW.GUNSMAGAZlNE.COM/MANTIS-KNIVES

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Tons of our troops rely on the iPhone 4 as their cell phone, chronograph, GPS, still and video camera, movie viewer, music player, game console, photo album, calendar and note pad. It's an incredible device, hut it ain't immune to misfortune. Protect your pal's prized possession with the gift of o Defender Series case from OtterBox. The Defender's touch-screen membrane and rugged polymer case protect against bump, shock, drop and dust intrusion. Oh, you're sending it with a new iPhone 4 in it? Listen, can I join your family?

OTTERBOX

(888) 695-8820

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/OTTER-BOX

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Finding a viper in your gear has never been a positive experience until now: The Viper is the latest in the Hoppe's family of BoreSnakes, boasting all the speed with 50 percent more scouring power, plus a cone-shaped bore guide for quicker, easier alignment and a dedicated lube zone in the handle. There are sizes available for 5.56mm, 7.62mm, 9mm and .45 ACP. Just add some Hoppe's Elite Dun Cleaner for a complete grunt-pleasing package!

HOPPE'S

(BUSHNELL CORP.)

9200 CODY AVE., OVERLAND PARK, KS 66214

(800) 423-3537

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/HOPPES

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The traditional shemagh makes a great headcover, sunshade, dust mask, even a sling or tourniquet, and the troops love 'em. The problems with it include its lack of resistance to flash-burns from IEDs, and it becomes sodden with sweat and ultimately funky as a monkey. No morel The XGO Phase 1 FR Shemagh is a flame-resistant, moisture. wicking, silver-antimicrobial wonder-wrap made of a lightweight, treated blend of Modacrylic and Rayon. Offered in Desert Tan and Coyote, they go well with both Marine Corps BDUs and the Army's new Multi-Cam pattern. Soft and sweet-smellin' beats semi-soft and stinky every time!

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Our been-there done-that buddies at US Cav Store tipped us on some top-rated gifts for serving soldiers, and one of 'em is this Tech 4-0 Traileader Jet watch. Aside from keeping accurate time, it features temperature, altitude, a barometer, digital compass, a time-and-distance measuring accelerometer which will work even under tree cover, and lots more. A non-reflective finish and anti-glare mineral glass face top it off. While you're browsing Cav Store.

US CAVALRY

2855 CENTENNIAL AVE.

RADCLIFF, KY 40160

(800) 777-7172

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/USCAV

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The founders of Spartan Blades, two career Army Special Forces NCOs, know how comforting--and potentially valuable--a good backup/ hideout knife can be, so they build 'em as though their own lives would depend on them. The Phobos is 6.5" of 3/16"-thick, precision-crafted CPM S30V steel, with a utilitarian Wharncliffe/ sheepsfoot blade just under 3" long. Made for heavy-duty cutting in a lightweight package, it can be worn inside the waistband or suspended from the included stainless steel neck chain. The Phobos is a gift any grunt will be proud of!

SPARTAN BLADES USA

P.O. BOX 620, ABERDEEN, NC 28315

(910) 757-0035

WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM/SPARTAN-BLADES

Now, before you pluck out the plastic and go shopping, check out The Odd Angry Shot in this issue for more military Christmas gift suggestions! Connor OUT
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Author:Connor, John
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Oct 4, 2011
Words:1023
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