Having been involved with the military and security sectors for large parts of my adult life, both in uniform and out of it, I have a certain acquaintance with the ways in which companies market their products to those industries – particularly to “wannabes” who want to look the part, even if they can’t actually fill the role in real life. (There are far more self-proclaimed “Green Berets”, “Rangers”, “Navy SEALs”, etc. in US bars than there ever were in uniform.)
One of the ways in which companies capitalize on such fantasies is to market products that are (allegedly) used by professionals in the field. I’ve mentioned before how ammunition vendors try to imply that their latest, greatest, felon-blaster, magnum-stopper, destructo-gizmo round is used by security forces, particularly special forces. They’re almost always lying, or purposely using “weasel words” to misdirect our attention. If their products were as good as they claim, the real Special Forces would switch to them at once, if not sooner, because their lives are on the line. The fact that they don’t, and carry on using tried-and-true solutions instead, is more than sufficient evidence to debunk such over-the-top marketing claims.
Another favorite marketing tool is to label everything as “tactical”. A few examples:
- A tactical spork;
- Tactical underwear;
- Tactical socks;
- Tactical flip-flops;
- Tactical towel;
- Tactical toothbrush (“Cleans your teeth and your sidearm!”);
- Tactical lunch bag;
- And, last but by no means least, a titanium tactical pocket comb.
Of course, soldiers and warriors down the ages have never needed any of those allegedly “tactical” items to do their jobs. I certainly got by just fine without any of those options while wearing a uniform. It’s all in the name, as far as marketing goes.
I was forcibly reminded of this today while researching a demolition tool, needed by a friend for a forthcoming project. I found the “Stanley FatMax Xtreme 55-120 FuBar III” on Amazon, priced at $64.99:
I happened to come across this, too, the “Stanley 55-122 FuBar Forcible Entry Tool, 30 inch“, priced at $159.28;
Doesn’t “Forcible Entry Tool” sound much more tactical and awe-inspiring than “FuBar III”? Yet, if you look at the details of both items, they’re virtually identical in size, weight and features. The “Forcible Entry Tool” has a couple more holes than the “Fubar III”, and has fancier synthetic grips applied to the shaft, but effectively it’s the same tool, renamed for the “tactical” market. It’s also 145% more expensive than the “non-tactical” version! Do those minor, cosmetic changes justify such a steep increase in the price? Not as far as I’m concerned!
As a general principle, if you’re looking for an item of equipment for self-defense or anything remotely “tactical”, by all means search for it using that term; but then repeat the search for similar items to those that catch your eye, without the word “tactical” or “law enforcement” or whatever in the title. You can often save a whole lot of money without sacrificing any performance at all.
As for my friend, I’ve advised him not to buy either of the above tools, because while they’ll do an excellent demolition job, they aren’t very useful for much else. It’ll be a big investment for only occasional use. I’ve suggested he go with this solution, which will be almost as effective for demolition, yet also offer ongoing general utility in gardening, camping, and many other situations.
To cap it all, it’s easier to carry than the above alternatives, and cheaper than either of them. What’s not to like?