STT Reviews Vickers Carbine I & II Course

Not long ago, I was invited to attend Larry Vickers Carbine 1 & 2 training courses in Virginia Beach and later U.S. Training Center, known to some as Blackwater. To make this article a little more interesting, I learned that a couple STT members (myself included) would have the honor of being featured in the DVD and Blu-Ray productions available for preorder at

Any professional firearms instructor will tell you that a $50 DVD is no substitute for a 3-day carbine class but this DVD series will definitely benefit you and get you familiar with the basics of the carbine.  Here are a few of my personal tactical takeaways from the class that you will learn about in the video, but there were many more lessons learned than included below.

Training Overview - Carbine I
  • Carbine Selection & Setup
    • Big take away here from LAV is you get what you pay for in many instances with M-4 carbines and he regards Daniel Defense as one of the top manufacturers of M-4 carbines. Two other carbine manufacturers that he mentioned positively in conversation were BCM and LMT.
  • Basic Manipulation
    • This played out pretty basic as the name might hint.  
  • Zeroing: Shot Groups
    • Lesson learned - when sighting in your Aimpoint Micro or other optic, make sure you know how many clicks equal an inch at twenty-five yards!  Know your gear, especially your optics.  Learn about point of aim, point of impact.
  • Shooting Positions
    • Basic.  Larry wasn't too strict down to the inch on these.  He taught the positions and encouraged shooters to manipulate the positions to their advantage.
  • Reloads
    • Push, pull, rack, bang is the basic premise.  We were taught that it's important to pull on the magazine after you insert (push) it into the magazine well as it may not have seated causing you future headaches (and possibly death) for not ensuring it was seated.  Huge takeaway - load no more than 28 rounds in your AR-15/M-4 magazines.  It will decrease instances of malfunctions.
  • Maintenance & Lubrication
    • Biggest thing to remember here is to run your carbine WET.  Dry M-4s tend to malfunction, this goes double if it's raining.
Training Overview - Carbine II
    • Malfunctions
      • The class taught a couple basic malfunctions and how to clear them.  Pointless to go over it here.  Buy the video and force yourself to repeat the drill dry, with dummy ammunition in a safe place.  Repetition and muscle memory are the only things that will get you good at clearing malfunctions quickly and efficiently.
    • Turns
      • Face it, in the real SHTF world (not at the range shooting paper at 100 yards), you will have to turn and prosecute targets with your carbine.
    • Switching Shoulders
      • As a military guy, we were taught how to transition to our weak hands with our pistols and carbines.  Larry takes it to another level and offers some unique insight into the problems you might face with modern sling configurations and other unique problems sets (southpaw, etc.)
    • Barricades & Use of Cover
      • Important if you want to stay alive.  I needed some work in this area.  I tended to lean too far outside of the protective cover.  I think LAV said something like, "Why even use the cover if you're going to put your whole body out in the open?"
    • Transitions
      • If you watch the below video, I'm the student that Larry is walking through the carbine to pistol transition.  Big takeaway - inside 25 yards, forget your carbine and transition to pistol to save your life.
    • Shooting on the Move
      • Tough but face it, you're dead if you are shooting on the "stand."  
    In summary the training was a great opportunity to get to know the M-4 a little better and improve hit accuracy in dynamic and asymmetric environments.  Larry pulls no punches during his training evolutions and will inform you when you need to pull your head out with the technique that only a 20+ year senior enlisted man (and Tier One operator) will possess.  If you listen to him, he'll tell you that his training is for the blue collar working man and that's what we prefer here at the STT.  He was practical, didn't sugar coat and taught some real world tactics to help develop your skill beyond the basics.  No jumping around or laying on your back, shooting through your legs in his videos, just real practical stuff.

    Watch the promo below and then head on over and pre-order the DVDs/Blu-Ray here. is not affiliated with Daniel Defense or Larry Vickers and receives no compensation for this article or video but we did enjoy ourselves and learned a few things in the process while attending the three-day training event.

    The Tactical Carhartt Jacket

    Those of you that follow the Survival Think Tank (STT) articles and videos know that we are practical when it comes to gear.  Just because you spend a lot money on something does not make it a better piece of kit.  We give credit where credit is due.  In this article and companion video we discuss the viability of a do-it-yourself tactical and/or civilian do anything jacket.

    You don't need to spend big bucks on tactical jackets made by companies like Eotac5.11 or Arc'teryx, and many others.  Although those manufacturers make some great jackets and other articles of clothing—they may not fall into your budget.

    It seems that companies slap the name "tactical" on a piece of clothing and MAYBE sew some cheap velcro on a single sleeve and charge you an extra $200 bucks.  We don't follow the philosophy of name hype here at STT and we're going to show you what we mean in the companion video to this article.  STT's own "TheRoadwarri0r" ( of YouTube notoriety) will walk us through the modifications in the companion video.

    The first step is to select a reasonably priced jacket from one of your preferred online or brick and mortar stores.  We selected the famous and super tough Carhartt jacket for our modifications.  Many of you already own a Carhartt jacket so it will make this modification that much easier.

    The video will take it from here.

    You don't need an industrial sewing machine (like in the video) to modify your clothing.  A normal machine might work and you can always do it by hand.  It takes time but people have been doing it for ages.  The seams don't look as tight but if you use thread that matches the material, no one will notice your handmade work.

    With the economy tanking, who can afford to go out and spend hundreds on so-called tactical jackets?  With a little time and a willingness to learn you can modify a jacket you already have to be just as good if not better than the big name brands on the market.

    TRW wearing the tactical Carhartt in a proper mall ninja pose
    Here is our first jacket modification
    For this green jacket mod, we replaced the zipper pulls and hood draw string with paracord.  We used high vis paracord for the inside pocket, just like in the desert jacket mod above.

    Combined these jackets cost about $100 dollars and we are not afraid to roll around in the dirt with them and actually use them how they were intended to be used—as working, shooting, adventuring jackets.  Go get yours out of the closet and start modifying!

    Pentagon Readies for U.S. Economic Meltdown?

    Is the Pentagon sending a warning signal?  Is the chance of economic meltdown in the U.S. so high that the Pentagon needs to spend your tax dollars to war game the issue?  The Pentagon plans for "real economic threats to America" says the CNBC talking head.

    The Pentagon is concerned about the following scenarios according to CNBC:
    • Use of sovereign wealth to manipulate markets and currencies
    • Nation state economic collapse
    • Sovereign default
    • Nation state instability
    • U.S. allies budget deficit and national security infrastructure shortfalls
    The news clip goes on to talk about an Army war game dubbed as Unified Quest 2011. The Survival Think Tank (STT) is not clear why the Army would choose to call this war game something so positive as Unified Quest considering the stakes involved in the so called game:
    • Large scale economic breakdown inside the United States that would force the Army to keep domestic order among civil unrest
    • Fragmented global power (STT assesses they could mean fragmented U.S. global power)
    • Drastically low budgets
    Large scale economic breakdown?  U.S. Army keeping domestic order among civil unrest situations?

    STT assessment: The Posse Comitatus Act (Wikipedia link provided) is very clear on the issue of U.S. troops being used domestically and if this horrible scenario is ever realized in the future, it could have far reaching implications to our Constitutional rights.  The STT calculates that only a very small fraction of active duty members of the uniformed services might follow orders that could potentially harm civilians or infringe on their Constitutional rights.  STT readers should take warning of this Pentagon war game and its timing.  This is a clear sign [to the STT] that our leadership and those charged with national defense are seeing the economic threats to the United States as a clear and present danger to our national security.

    The news piece goes on to mention that representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps war college had visited financial institutions like the trading floor of J.P. Morgan to study markets.

    STT assesses that the reason military personnel are learning about economic warfare is to cage how quickly the economy might fall apart and start a nationwide crisis in the event of a U.S. economic meltdown scenario.

    In closing, we strongly advise you to continue to prepare for a long winter of discontent as the unemployment hovers in the nines and the Eurozone loses cohesion.  As Congressman Ron Paul often says, "No one knows when the confidence in the dollar will be lost, but it can come quickly."  We agree Congressman and we're preparing.  We just hope all of you out there are doing the same.

    EOTAC Operator Grade Pants, Style 201 - Review

    Core members of the Survival Think Tank (STT) have taken a bit of firearms training both for active duty military applications as well as courses available to civilians.  We also have operational experience operating in country as veterans of OIF and OEF for various other government agencies and military units.  We are always on the lookout for quality gear, be it M-4 carbine parts and accessories or even wool socks.

    We've been seeing a lot of EOTAC gear worn by firearms industry professionals as well as military operators in the field.  For this article, the STT reviews the EOTAC Operator Grade Pants, style 201.
    Here are some of the things that we noticed during testing:
    • The seven ounce 100% cotton ripstop is a good balance between durability and comfort. 
    • A metal tack-button closure along with a concealed YKK brass zipper also provides lasting endurance and a strong long lasting closure with very little chance of failure.
    • Extra deep pockets for weapon concealment.
    • The additional two wallet/ID pockets in the back keep the deep pockets available for extra magazines or even an ASP Baton back there just fine.
    • They are preshrunk and washed which is huge for me as I know they will always fit - I have a huge problem with the length of pants, they fit great when I first buy them then they shrink and no longer fit! These pants should fit perfectly year after year. 
    • They have a DuPont Teflon coating which means they will look great after many trips to the field.
    • The gusseted crotch prevents blowouts in the field which we have had problems with in the past (mine especially with the nylon 5.11 tactical pants).
    • The belt loops are large enough for most pistol belts (1.75")
    • The magazine pockets on the leg are an awesome addition (see video).
    • The elastic waist allows for the flexibility of using an IWB holster comfortably. 
    • They have a nice taper, they fit over the boots perfectly while allowing enough slack to be baggy enough to help with unexpected snakes! :)
    • The double layer knees along with the free kneepads are a plus for endurance and comfort.  Really handy when taking a firearms class or other training.
    • It's aesthetic more than functional but I really like the Vietnam era jungle style slanted cargo pockets and the drawstrings in the cargo pocket make it easy to secure your gear! 
    A couple negatives to mention: The pants are nearly $70 dollars retail and made in China.  I can forgive this as they are top quality with double stitching in many places.  If these pants were made in the U.S., they'd cost $150 bucks.  If you are active duty military, contact EOTAC for a discount code and they'll give you a pretty darn good discount.

    Here is the video review of the pants.  We didn't just throw them on a table to talk about them, we actually wore them every day and used theme in environments that the typical guy might use them.  You don't need to be a special operator to enjoy the benefits of quality pants like these.

    Note:  We have contacted Eotac requesting a discount code for STT readers and YouTube subscribers of Theroadwarri0r channel and are awaiting a response.

    Where to buy: EOTAC Operator Grade Pants, Style 201

    Full Disclosure: STT is not as of this writing affiliated with EOTAC and did not receive free merchandise for review.  We bought the clothing with STT funds without notifying EOTAC that the garments would be reviewed by the STT.  STT did not receive compensation from EOTAC for this review or video.