I have been a police officer for nine years, seven of that I have served on the SWAT team. Recently our department has started the lengthy process of testing and evaluating new uniforms for approval. When I began my search for new options for the SWAT team I came across First Tactical. I hadn't heard of First Tactical before I reached out to Joey Reynolds, the National Business Development Director for the company. Joey hooked me up with a pair of the Defender pants. The Defender pant is clearly designed with a tactical unit in mind. I wont go into all the features, but rather those that stood out to me:
-The price. For a NYCO blend pant the price is much better than some competitors.
-The calf pocket is sized to accommodate a SWAT-T tourniquet.
-The hand pockets are designed lower to allow usage while wearing a range of duty/ modular belts. There is also a small pocket below the hand pocket to protect knives and flashlight clips from snagging various environmental hazards.
-The fabric is a NYCO blend that doesn't impede the user's range of motion.
-The pant has a extra layer of material that prevents from premature wear. without the knee pads inserted the side access zipper can be opened for provide a vent in hot environments. There is also venting in the crotch area of the pant that aids against overheating.
-The Defender combines a professional appearance while not sacrificing features. All the "cargo-style" pockets are designed flush with front of the pant to maintain that professional look and to keep them from snagging. The thigh pockets had reinforced dividers for both rifle and pistol mags.
-While I haven't personally had experience with belt loops tearing, I can say that the rivets that First Tactical has added to its Defender pant can only assure that it doesn't happen to the wearer.
With every product there area things that I believed could be improved on. Here are a few things that I didn't like about the Defender pant.
-Zippers, I am not a fan of zippers in general on a tactical pant. While they assure security of the contents inside they are difficult to replace in the event of a malfunction or if the surrounding material tears. On the thigh pockets when the zippers are in the closed position they make noise similar to having change in your pocket. If the pull tab was designed not to have so much free movement I think this issue would be resolved. I'd like to see a black zipper as well, I think the stainless pull tab stands out, which is a bad thing on a tactical pant.
-The area around the knee is hot and while the knee vent provides relief it gets very warm with the knee pad inserted. This is a problem with all "combat-style" pants I have worn and is not a deal breaker. It's more or less something you deal with when wearing knee pads.
-The knee pad, when inserted, is not going anywhere and very secure. However, the knee pad doesn't have any adjustability. The adjustability is a feature that I have become accustomed to. The smaller but more positional knee pad is what I prefer. This is not a criticism of protection because the Defender knee pad provides great knee support and protection.