I’ve just learned Steve Siderias, the president, owner and founder of Extreme Outfitters, died May 26 at the age of 47.

I knew Steve as a frighteningly energetic personality who loved bringing ideas and people together. He was always working to bring new and better equipment into service to improve the lives of service members.

I met Steve years ago while working on a story about the origin of the IIIA Assault Pack. It turns out, he would later work with Granite Gear’s Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank to successfully put their lightweight backpack designs on the backs of operators USSOCOM-wide.

His shop in Jacksonville, N.C., catered to the Marines of Camp Lejeune and grew into a popular e-commerce destination for tactical and camping gear. Most recently, Extreme Outfitters opened a new retail location in Columbus, Ga., expanding to serve the soldiers of Fort Benning.

Steve grew up in Bethlahem, Pa., where he went to high school before joining the U.S. Navy. He served as a radioman and later as a Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC).

I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing.

Legacy.com

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The sun is out and the asphalt and concrete waves are calling. Young and old bones alike will appreciate the clean carves provided by the Kota Longboards Spad XIII. Named after a World War I airframe flown by allied flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, its 43 7/8″ cambered 7-ply American hard rock maple is as powerful and maneuverable as its namesake.

Kota has a line of four decks that appeal to different riding styles. What sets its product apart, though, is its ability to customize decks from its growing library of military unit insignia. For no extra charge, Kota will add insignia from major and many minor commands to create decks as suitable for presentation as they are for riding. The Army Series Airborne is shown above, but check out the company’s military series samples page to get an idea what they can do.

For an extra $30, they can personalize a deck for you by adding rank, branch and other branch and personal insignia.

I was able to handle one of their Spad XIII completes recently and can report the decks are lustworthy. These aren’t hacksawed decks with stickers slapped on them. The boards are cut clean and have a deep finish over the detailed graphics. If you’re looking for a unique and memorable presentation for a departing commander, these decks will get you there.

A brief riding session showed me that the Spad IXXX is a carver, for sure. It’s surefooted but nimble with the stock Paris 180s, 1/2″ riser and 72mm 78a Santa Cruz Road Rider wheels with MNB bearings. It’s got more edge than a bamboo deck but doesn’t feel quite as floaty.

Get a bare deck for $199 and set up your own board or go for Kota’s complete for $299 as outfitted above. Military members get a 10% discount over at Kota’s webstore, which should be up and running this week.

kotalongboards.com

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It’s not that hard to believe. In fact, most everyone in the firearm’s industry saw this coming well before sequestration. From the day the requirements for the Individual Carbine were put to paper, it was obvious that the program was doomed.

For starters, it was hamstrung by the insistence on the use of the 30 round service magazine. It seems a small thing, but it means any ‘new’ carbine design would be locked into the use of a 50-year-old feeding mechanism. I understand this makes sense from a fiscal point of view. The Army has millions of magazines in circulation, so why not use them and save the money the government would have to spend to buy 10+ magazines for each new rifle? Because it stifles innovation, that’s why. The magazine isn’t an accessory. It’s an intrinsic part of the firearm that just happens to be removable. It was subtle messages like this that formed the subtext that showed the Army’s heart just wasn’t in it.

This is just one requirement that caught my attention. There were other things in the requirements and evaluation criteria that raised eyebrows. I am sure we will hear about all of them in the coming weeks, but in the end it came down to one thing, really; the gas operated M4 platform is a reliable and accurate weapon. No whiz-bang piston could offer enough of a performance gain in aggregate to justify the massive expense involved in fielding a new carbine for the entire Army.

Straight from PEO’s outbox to your weary eyes:

“FT. BELVOIR (13 June 2013) Following extensive testing of vendor-submitted carbines, the Army announced today that the Individual Carbine (IC) competition will formally conclude without the selection of a winner. None of the carbines evaluated during the testing phase of the competition met the minimum scoring requirement needed to continue to the next phase of the evaluation.”

“In lieu of a new competition for an IC, the Army will continue fielding and equipping Soldiers with the M4A1 carbine, which consistently performs well and has received high marks from Soldiers. Given limited fiscal resources, the Army’s decision would free IC funding to address other high priority Army needs. This decision is also consistent with recent testimony by the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which questioned the value of an IC competition in light of existing upgrades to the M4 carbine.”

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 Grey Group has taken 30% off their in-stock Arc’teryx gear through June 20. First come, fist served. Go get an Atom LT! Sale starts today at 0900.

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Looking to get trained up or looking to get your Gunkata dojo off the ground? Have a look at Tactical Class Finder. When the site goes live on June 15 prospective students will be able to locate classes and ranges along with listed gun shops, gunsmiths and manufacturers. Google Maps-like searches will show you results based on zip codes, distances. Searching by class schedule is coming, too..

Look for news and giveaways and help them spread the word from their Facebook page now.

If you’re a business, getting listed looks pretty straightforward. They have a basic, free option with paid plans starting at $10 for more exposure. Have a look at their listing page for details.

http://tacticalclassfinder.com

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Aeroshell 33MS in a neat package from Umbrella Corp. The only other way to get some is in a huge tube that you’ll never use all of and lingers in your shop forever.

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So, the anniversary of D-Day was yesterday. But, we just found this great video that the Life of Duty folks made from a 1969 US Army film. It’s typical 60′s filmstrip narration, but there is a lot of great footage shot by DoD photogs on the beaches of France during the landings.

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If you’re aren’t in VA Beach Monday night, you’re going to wish you were. #shady

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Off The Grid Concepts made this special, one-off holster for one of our friends in the shooting community.

Before you ask, no. Just. No.

Admire from afar, Padawan. I’m sure there aren’t enough credits in the whole Republic to convince Nikki Raye to let it go.

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I have a confession to make.

I’m a running jacket hoarder. I’ve never admitted it before, but the evidence is right there in the closet.

My jacket menagerie includes heavy ones for below 15 degrees, water resistant ones to wear when it’s snowing, a jacket/vest hybrid for when the weather is finicky, a vest for when it’s cold, a vest for when it’s not so cold and a lightweight shell great for chilly spring mornings.

But the light jacket isn’t water resistant, and the water resistant jacket isn’t light, leaving me in a constant state of forecast fear. Do you try to stay dry and overheat (and get sweaty and freeze)? Or just get wet and freeze?

The latest addition to my jacket collection — the Cita Hoody from Arc’teryx’s Endorphin line – is designed to fix these problems; it’s lightweight and water resistant.

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