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First Gear: Dual-Control Dampening, Extra Expert Holster Design, Slimmer Carry Light

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1. Dual-Control Dampening
I really didn’t know I needed volume controls for each ear independently until I tried the Pro Ears Gold II 30 hearing-protection earmuffs. The dual controls let me overcome the typical range challenge of the person on my right shooting something that sounds like a cannon while a student or range buddy on my left tries to talk to me. (True, they still might not hear my response when others were firing, if they lack the same ear protection, but it still can save a lot of time not having to wait between blasts to hear their question.) These muffs have 30 dB noise-dampening, good quality sound, comfortable gel earpads and excellent compression to stay firmly but comfortably in place. Oh, and you can also get these in green and pink. ($199.99; proears.com)

2. Extra Expert Holster Design
I appreciate it when product manufacturers ask other experts to help them improve a design, and that’s exactly what Safariland did in partnering with Haley Strategic Partners on their IncogX inside-the-waistband holster. It has everything you might want, including light and red-dot compatibility, excellent passive retention, ease of hand placement for drawing and a lot of adjustability. And I love the way it feels, thanks to its microfiber suede wrapper. ($90-120; safariland.com)

3. Slimmer Carry Light
If you’re still looking for that perfect everyday-carry flashlight, perhaps the Streamlight Wedge XT EDC light is the one for you. It is slim enough to not bother you in a pocket, with a 2-hour 500-lumen runtime or 11-hour 50-lumen setting and with a waterproof USB-C port for recharging. What I like best, though, is the switch is tough to accidentally activate and a waterproof USB port intuitively lights green or red to let you know very quickly whether it needs a charge. ($155; streamlight.com)



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