After I had written an article about First Tactical’s new Diamondback folding knife, I was contacted by a company rep who asked if I would like to test and evaluate some of their products. Why, sure! While I was talking to the fellow on the phone, I was staring at my old, old Blackhawk travel bag that had been my daily carry for the last decade or two. Can I test one of your nylon bags? I asked.
I went to the First Tactical™ website and perused their offerings. Not wanting to press for too much, I pitched him the idea of a T&E for a briefcase, small folding knife, and flashlight as an EDC package. The rep liked the idea and shipped me all three. By way of disclaimer, I did not pay for the items, but neither did I solicit First Tactical for an article. I assured the rep, I would be writing a fair review of all the items.
First Tactical vets their product designs through law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel for real world functionality. Marketing directly to the consumer, they keep prices down by eliminating middlemen and distributors. First Tactical uses first responders to field test their gear and even gives $100 credits to those who sign up to evaluate.
My existing Blackhawk bag was much like a small duffel with one large compartment, one large side pocket, and one small side pocket. I increased its functionality by purchasing two of their small shaving kits for added interior storage, but it was still not very user friendly.
The First Tactical Executive Briefcase I received had fairly gorged on “utility.” I require exterior pouches to have zipper closures for security purposes and not loose-topped flaps. The briefcase has two large, zippered exterior front compartments with interior slip organizers and an HK-style snaplink strap for keys. MOLLE webbing and hook and loop faces the exterior of the right compartment.
Directly behind these compartments is a covert pocket sealed by a hook and loop closure. At either end of the briefcase are waterbottle/gear pouches with zips and velcro. The main compartment’s opening is 16 1/2 inches long and closes with double zippers. Atop its “lid” is a fleece-lined sunglasses pouch, which could also serve to protect watches or other delicate items. A total of four drop pockets line the padded main hold.
To the rear of the main compartment is another thinner compartment with more storage sleeves and a hook and loop field for further attachments. The last rear zipper pouch includes a concealed section with a loop field holster mount. A nylon strap is affixed to the back of the briefcase so it can slide onto a pop-up luggage handle and hitch a ride. Of course, it has a padded shoulder strap.
The main and large secondary compartments are lined with closed cell foam which protects sensitive contents, such as laptops or tablets. Closed cell foam does not absorb water, making it a savvy design choice. The interior nylon is light gray, which will make finding things easier in low light.
The Executive Briefcase is nearly perfect for my daily forays into the workplace. It encases all my lethal, less lethal, non-lethal, and never-lethal trinkets. Inside, I have found places to nestle all my gear in logical locations which satisfy my light OCD.
Sometimes my co-workers enter the office with multiple bags draped over their burdened shoulders. Llama, anyone? I want a single, rugged bag of a reasonable size and with superior ergonomics for my equipment. First Tactical’s briefcase checks those boxes.
In addition to my required detritus, I can bring workout clothes, including running shoes, or bulky things normally reserved for a range bag. Yeah, the Blackhawk carried it all, but the stuff seemed piled in without organization. My only wish was that First Tactical’s Executive Briefcase held a sssslightly larger main compartment. If it was just an inch larger in each dimension, I could proclaim the whole bag flawless. But this is a minor observation since I also don’t want the external size of the briefcase to grow!
The fit and finish of the First Tactical Executive Briefcase is excellent with the tough 1000 denier nylon, premium YKK zippers, and arrow-straight sewing. At $89.99, its value is as high as its quality. I have been trucking my gear around in the Executive Briefcase for the last two months and I am quite impressed with it.
– Main compartment 16.5” W x 10.5” H x 5.25” D / 41.9cm W x 26.7cm H x 13.3cm D
– Computer compartment 16.5” W x 10.5” H x 1.25” D / 41.9cm W x 26.7cm H x 3.2cm D
– Front pockets (x2) 8.25” W x 9” H x 1.75” D / 21.0cm W x 22.9cm H x 4.4cm D
– Side pockets (x2) 5.25” W x 9.5” H x 2” D / 13.3cm W x 24.1cm H x 5.1cm D
– Approx. Capacity 1586 cubic inches / 26 liters
– Weight 4.2 lbs / 1.9 g
– Pockets: 8 external, 8 internal
– 1000D nylon
– YKK® zippers
– Duraflex® hardware
The next part of the T&E consisted of First Tactical’s Copperhead liner lock folding knife. I chose it because it is a medium-sized sharpie that fit into the EDC mission. With a 3.02 inch blade and 3.56 ounces in weight, it seemed to be both compact and hearty. These proved true when I took it out of the shipping package.
Copperhead’s thick G-10 scales over steel liners fill the hand and add a pleasing heft. The G-10 is nicely angled and relieved around the thumb ramp to make it welcome in gloved or bare hands. Stand-offs fill in for a backspacer and let the user get inside for cleaning.
I requested the modified tanto over the spearpoint, as I just plain liked its aggressive profile. The AUS8 blade has an unspecified black coating that is well executed. A small section of jimping on the spine just back from the tip beckons a forefinger for surgical cuts.
The Copperhead knife has what First Tactical calls Thumb Bridge Technology, which results in a hood over the blade hole. It adds quite a bit of purchase for the opposable digit. Despite the security of a strong liner lock detent, the Copperhead is easily opened with the leverage of the Thumb Bridge.
Ambidextrous, the tip-down-only pocket clip is folded over at the base for deep carry. It inserts under the G-10 scale for strength and to relieve torque on the pair of screws. First Tactical includes two extra screws and their corresponding wrench, too.
Tip-down-only clip mounting used to be primarily due to weak tang-to-detent ball pressure on some other manufacturers’ knives. The tip-down orientation was supposed keep a creeping blade from opening farther than one influenced by a tip-up carry plus gravity.
While the Copperhead has more than sufficient security in the closed position to earn tip-up status, I suspect the cost to add two more machined clip recesses may raise the price more than was palatable…but I’ve been wrong before.
– Blade: AUS8 steel
– Blade Type: Modified tanto
– Handle: G-10
– Blade length: 3.02in / 76.7mm
– Blade thickness: 0.13in / 3.2mm
– Liner thickness: 0.05in / 1.2mm
– Handle thickness: 0.73in / 18.5mm
– Open length: 7.02in / 178.3mm
– Closed length: 4.00in / 101.6mm
– Weight: 3.56oz / 101g
We happen to be in the midst of a remodel and temporary move in CID. I have slain more than my share of unemployed boxes with the Copperhead as a result. The AUS8 stainless steel and proper blade geometry combine to be deadly on cardboard. I have only had to lightly retouched the edge on my Tri-Angle Sharpmaker for renewed keenness. As Doug Marcaida says on Forged in Fire, “It…will…cut!” Price for the Copperhead is $49.99.
Okay, on to the First Tactical Small Duty Light, which I selected as a diminutive companion to the Copperhead. This is a single AA LED flashlight kicking out 161 lumens on high and 15 lumens on low. First Tactical says it throws a 14 inch diameter hotspot within a 70 inch flood. Run times are 4 hours high and 26 hours low.
The Small Duty Light’s black anodized aluminum body is 4 inches in overall length, 0.9 inches in body diameter, and 3.7 ounces in weight when loaded with the battery. The outside is heavily knurled for a good grip. Widely spaced protrusions on the head keep the flashlight from rolling.
The tail cap switch has high, low, and momentary functions. A reversible pocket clip can be rigged for LED up or down wear. Included with the flashlight are a finger loop bungee, battery, and both a plain and crenellated bezel. I use the plain bezel, but I added some Loctite to the threads because it was loosening slightly when going in and out of a pocket with the LED facing downward. Issue vanquished!
The Small Duty Light was comfortably clipped in my jeans during a plainclothes night stakeout. When I needed the light after a takedown, it was predictably where I had positioned it. When looking for an item in the grass, I found the LED’s output to be more than sufficient.
Much like its sharp brother, the Small Duty Light evidences quality construction and has a $49.99 price from First Tactical. First Tactical’s Medium Duty Light runs off 2 AA batteries, shines at 274 lumens high, and costs $49.99. I am going to buy one to replace my current nightstand flashlight.
After spending some time with all three First Tactical products, I can honestly recommend each one on its own merits. For nearly 30 years, I have gone back and forth to the job with personal and professional necessities stored in a nylon utility bag. First Tactical’s Executive Briefcase is, by far, the best version of this tote I have ever used–sorry Maxpedition.
I think it’s cool having a matching accessories dedicated to the briefcase, so FT can hook you up there. First Tactical also sells their own brand of pants, shirts, outerwear, socks, gloves, footwear, packs, and joint pads. I think ThinBluFlorida is due to buy some new polos to embroider.
Photos: ThinBlueFlorida.com, Flag patch: Rapid Dominance Corp.