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Best Tactical Gear for Law Enforcement: 7 Must-Haves According to a Body Armor Expert

Best Tactical Gear for Law Enforcement: 7 Must-Haves According to a Body Armor Expert

In the ever-evolving landscape of law enforcement, the importance of top-notch tactical gear cannot be overstated. Each day, officers face new challenges and threats, making it essential to equip themselves with gear that not only enhances safety but also ensures comfort and efficiency on the job.

Enter Suresh Madhavan, a former aspiring physician turned law enforcement innovator, who recognized the dire need for modernized gear during his time on the force. Drawing from his extensive experience and training with elite units like Army Rangers and SEAL Team Six, he has curated this list of the top seven must-have items for law enforcement officers.

SURESH MADHAVAN -- THE MAN BEHIND 221B TACTICAL

As a young man studying in New York City, Suresh's trajectory took an unexpected turn when the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded. Like many others, he felt compelled to serve his country, leading him to pursue a career in the military. However, it was his subsequent transition into law enforcement that ignited his passion for innovation in tactical gear.

Upon graduating from the police academy, Suresh quickly realized the outdated nature of the gear provided to new officers. Despite technological advancements in various fields, law enforcement gear seemed frozen in time, reminiscent of decades-old designs.

Not only was there a lack of innovation, but the quality of the gear left much to be desired, posing serious safety concerns for officers like Suresh.

One of the most glaring issues Suresh encountered was the discomfort of wearing traditional body armor for extended periods. The heat, sweat, and restricted movement caused by conventional vests not only hindered performance but also jeopardized officer safety.

Determined to find a solution, Suresh drew upon his background in the sciences to develop groundbreaking gear that addressed these critical issues.

Thus, 221B Tactical was born, with a mission to revolutionize law enforcement gear and provide officers with the tactical gear they need to perform their duties safely and effectively. Through years of research, development, and collaboration with elite military personnel, Suresh honed his expertise in body armor technology, culminating in a lineup of game-changing products.

As Suresh says, "Policing in 2024 is different (and more difficult) than it has ever been in history. Officers today should have the best and highest quality gear to keep them safe and comfortable while doing the job. If there was ever anyone that needs to be focused while on the job, it’s police officers. For them, it could literally mean the difference between life and death."

Today, as policing faces unprecedented challenges, Suresh remains at the forefront of innovation, offering expert recommendations for tactical gear that every LEO needs.

BEST TACTICAL GEAR FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

1. PATROL GLOVES

221B Tactical Guardian Gloves Pro

"While on patrol," Suresh recalls, "I would come in contact with so many different people and items. Having something on my hands to protect them was paramount."

Suresh brings up a vital point. In an era where viruses and diseases pose constant threats, protecting one's health is key. On patrol, your hands come into contact with any number of objects and surfaces that could present a risk to your health.

For a while, though, Suresh and his brothers in arms didn't wear gloves. He admits: "Most officers didn’t wear [them] because they were bulky or cumbersome. There was also always the concern of having to draw your duty weapon. Therefore most would forgo wearing gloves altogether. I too was guilty of this."

He knew better than to accept that state of affairs, though, and vowed to create a glove that did its job without impeding his own.

Suresh has two recommendations for gloves that offer superior protection without sacrificing dexterity:

221B TACTICAL RECON GLOVES

The Tactical Recon Gloves fit like a second skin and supercharges your grip in wet conditions or when your palms get sweaty.

GUARDIAN GLOVES PRO

For more all-round protection, this is the glove you want. Highly durable, they offer Level 5 cut resistance across the entire hand and fingers even when wet -- a feature you don't often find with cut-resistant gloves.

2. MAXX-DRI VEST


221B Tactical Maxx-Dri Vest 5.0

Wearing body armor is a necessary but often uncomfortable reality for law enforcement officers. The weight, stiffness, and heat buildup can make even a short shift feel like an endurance test. Suresh knows this all too well. He experienced firsthand the discomfort of traditional body armor during his patrols. "I couldn't believe I had to wear it for 12 hours a day," he recalls. "The mere thought of it made me sick."

The heavy, stifling tactical gear became a constant source of frustration, leading him on a quest for a better solution.

"After years of suffering and ultimately breaking out in a dangerous rash caused by my body armor, I had had enough. I decided to do something about it. After years of creating prototypes and testing different materials, I finally developed what is now The Maxx-Dri Vest."

STAY COOL WHEN THE HEAT IS ON

This groundbreaking vest creates a layer of air between the body and the armor, allowing heat and moisture to escape while circulating cool, fresh air around the wearer's torso.

The Maxx-Dri Vest 5.0 isn't just a piece of gear; as Suresh puts it, "...It's a game-changer for law enforcement officers around the world." With its innovative design and proven effectiveness, it's no surprise that it's garnered over 30,000 five-star reviews.

For officers who, like Suresh, have experienced the discomfort of traditional body armor firsthand, the Maxx-Dri Vest represents a revolutionary solution -- a testament to the power of innovation in enhancing safety and comfort on the job.

3. HINGE CUFFS

The question of hinged vs. chain handcuffs comes up a lot for anyone in law enforcement.

Suresh firmly stands in the hinge cuffs camp. He'd been a police officer a few years before discovering them, but, as he says, "...Once I began using them, I never went back...[They] completely changed the dynamics of how I used handcuffs."

Hinge handcuffs offer several key advantages over traditional chain handcuffs, making them an invaluable tool for law enforcement officers. Unlike chain handcuffs, which can easily twist and turn during application, hinge handcuffs maintain a fixed position, providing greater control and stability when restraining suspects.

This enhanced control not only reduces the risk of injury to both the officer and the suspect but also facilitates quicker and more secure application, particularly in high-pressure situations. Additionally, the rigid construction of hinge handcuffs makes them less susceptible to tampering or manipulation by detainees, minimizing the likelihood of escape attempts.

"I felt safer while I had them in my hand," Suresh says, "and was more easily able to handcuff suspects who were non-compliant."

4. PATROL BAG

When it comes to patrol bags, the struggle is real. Many officers are all too familiar with the frustration of trying to cram essential gear into a disorganized, poorly designed bag. Reflecting on his early days in law enforcement, Suresh remembers being issued a lackluster "...rectangular box that had two handles on it and a lid."

That "patrol bag" quickly proved to be more trouble than it was worth. As Suresh describes it, "[It] was nothing more than a glorified purse. It was a black hole that things went into and were often never seen again."

HONDO BAG: "THE PATROL BAG THAT OTHER PATROL BAGS HAVE POSTERS OF ON THEIR BEDROOM WALLS"

Determined to find a better solution, Suresh set out to create a patrol bag that could keep up with the demands of modern policing. The result? The 221B Hondo Duty Bag, a game-changer in the world of patrol gear.

"The 221B Hondo Bag is the patrol bag that other patrol bags have posters of on the walls of their bedrooms," Suresh says. "Designed specifically for the passenger seat of a vehicle, the Hondo Bag has four separate compartments, can be carried in four different ways, and holds Level IIIA body armor panels, helping it convert into a full ballistic shield in the event of a vehicle ambush. When it comes to patrol bags, nothing else really even compares."

5. NEEDLE RESISTANT GLOVES

221B Tactical Hero Gloves 2.0 SL - Needle Resistant

Needle stick injuries are a serious concern for law enforcement officers, with potentially devastating consequences. According to Suresh, "Nobody wants to get stuck with a dirty needle. The mental anguish alone could send most into a depression. Getting stuck by an infected needle requires months of blood testing and medication. Early in my career, a friend of mine got stuck by a needle while doing a pat-down search. The mental and physical toll it put on him and his family caused him to have to ultimately retire from the job."

221B TACTICAL HERO GLOVES: THE THINNEST AND LIGHTEST ON THE MARKET

Suresh emphasizes the need for reliable needle stick resistant gloves, ones that offer both protection and dexterity -- they weren't always around, though. "Gloves like this didn’t exist while I was on the job," he says. "Everything on the market was big, bulky and extremely uncomfortable. So much so you didn’t even want to wear them, which defeats the whole purpose of having them."

That's why he developed the 221B Tactical Hero Gloves SL, the thinnest and lightest needle stick resistant gloves on the market. They've earned five-star reviews from officers worldwide, making them a must-have addition to any patrol bag.

6. TACTICAL BOOTS

Altai Tactical Boots

"Take care of your feet," cautions Suresh. "Don’t neglect them. Trust me on this one."

Quality footwear is a must in any discussion of the best tactical gear for law enforcement officers. At some point in your career, expect to spend a lot of time standing. As Suresh recalls, "At times while out at the scene of a bad wreck on the interstate, I’d be out of my patrol car, on my feet for hours. Needless to say, this takes a toll on your feet (and back). That’s why I began spending a bit more money on a solid pair of boots."

ALTAI: GREAT VALUE FOR PRICE

If you're not used to investing in higher-quality footwear, your initial purchase might feel like a bit of a shock. Ultimately, however, your body and your wallet will thank you, Suresh explains. Recalling the boots he used during his patrols, he says, "Good boots not only provided more comfort, they typically lasted almost twice as long as lower priced boots. They also almost always provided better traction in wet conditions."

He wore Danner at the time, but with the evolution of footwear throughout the years, there are a wide variety of options now. Today, boots from brands like Altai offer superior comfort, style, and technology, ensuring that your feet remain protected and comfortable throughout your career.

7. MINI SHIELD

Police Ballistic Shield Riggs Shield LEO

"Ok, this one might sound a bit odd to you, but hear me out," urges Suresh. "There were countless times over my career that I had to deal with a mentally disturbed individual, an individual with a knife or blunt object, or even an individual that was wielding some sort of other object which posed a threat to my safety."

LEO RIGGS SHIELD

Suresh vividly remembers the feeling of vulnerability when facing unpredictable and potentially dangerous scenarios.

"As I exited my patrol car, I so many times wished I had SOMETHING to help protect myself from what I was walking into."

The LEO Riggs Shield offers a solution to this dilemma, providing officers with a lightweight and easy-to-handle tool for enhancing their safety and security on the job. It's a discreet, effective piece of tactical gear that isn't "aggressive" looking, which is invaluable when dealing with potentially excitable individuals.

For Suresh, it's a product he wishes had been available during his time on patrol -- a small but crucial addition to the toolkit of any law enforcement officer: "It would have given me a much needed sense of safety and security in many situations."

 

OTHER VITAL TACTICAL GEAR AND ACCESSORIES FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

In addition to these seven vital tactical gear items, there are other pieces of equipment necessary when you're out in the field.

 

FIRST AID KITS

There are several types of first aid kits, so it's a good idea to check out the differences between IFAK, AFAK, and MFAK. In a nutshell, it will serve you well to have more than a basic household first aid kit among your gear on patrol. An Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) contains supplies that can treat the type of trauma events you might encounter in a risk-tasking occupation, like gunshot wounds.

 

BULLETPROOF VEST



This is one of those no-brainers, but we just have to mention it. Tactical vests and plate carriers save the lives of law enforcement officers across the United States every day, making this a piece of gear you don't want to go without.

Depending on your precinct, you may be issued one -- you also might not. If you do receive a bulletproof vest, you might find it doesn't fit you well or that it's a nightmare to wear, as Suresh discovered.

Police officers need a quality, well-fitting bulletproof vest made from lightweight material. If what you're wearing now feels impossible to deal with, believe us when we say there's something better out there and that you deserve it. Plus, if you can't focus on anything besides how uncomfortable you feel in a heavy, sweltering vest, you won't be on your A-game mentally, especially not after 12 hours in that unsuitable body armor.

ASSESSING THE BEST TACTICAL GEAR

As a law enforcement officer on patrol, you risk putting your life on the line every day. Your training and your team go a long way in making sure you're set up for success out in the field, but your tactical gear also plays a huge role in keeping you safe.

As a former LEO turned body armor innovator, Suresh Madhavan's seven picks for must-have gear come from a place of serious experience. This list is a great starting point to make sure you have the tactical gear you need to keep you comfortable, safe, and ready to fight the good fight every day.

What are your must-have pieces of gear as an LEO? Let us know in a comment below!

Explore 221B Tactical's premium range of tactical gear, expertly designed to meet the rigorous demands of law enforcement officers and first responders. Gear up with confidence and eliminate the impossible as you step into your next mission!

Written by the writers at BulletproofZone, an authorized reseller of 221B Tactical's products.  Visit them at Bulletproofzone.com.

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