I'm not that old! I swear! But in the short time I've been around holllllysheeeeet have we seen the material goods improved by leaps and bounds! Machines have gotten more reliable, more consistent, better streamlined and optimized for the tasks at hand as well as better accessible.
The Shivworks Clinch Pick is a prime example. In its infancy over a decade ago when I started I neither knew anyone that had one nor could get one if I tried. It was a tool designed and built for a specific application with a methodology and training system to back it up. If you wanted one you'd have to scour online forums to find one of the limited examples produced by a custom maker and pay whatever price the market might bare. The design changed, the "egg" handle got enlarged as end user feedback rolled in and hands on testing was done in live training. Minor changes, better optimization, more feedback, and the evolution continues. Now, its the golden age, you can get one on amazon prime cheap and you can outfit it with purpose built and pressure tested sheath options by guys that do the work like my long time training partner, student, and friend Tom at Dark Star Gear .
And here's how the evolution works. Makers who have done the work, who are shooters, or grappler's, guys who have been through tough force on force training, these guys are making the gear. Not some dude who doesn't shoot designing a gun. Those guys are using all the modern tools available, injection molding, modern materials, plastics and carbon fiber and purpose built steel but also the ability to manufacture with consistent reliability, 3D printing prototypes, and utilizing private online groups for beta tester feedback at an ever increasing rate with a variety of experiences.
I think that's the key, if we are talking evolution. The accelerated feedback loop. The amount of information one can now gather quickly eclipses what was available in years gone by. I recently was asked to be a beta tester for the now released Phlster Flex . John created a private group, he sent out prototypes, and we all went about playing with this new thing and having a running dialog about it. Refinements where made, hole spacing was optimized, changes to the design happened quickely and where re tested. During this time people are putting it on and using it during rigorous physical activity, I get it set up with training gear and grapple with it on, use it in class concealed and see how it holds up. The feedback loop is wide, lots of dudes with different backgrounds, shapes and sizes and applications doing a variety of tasks and all talking bringing that feedback back to Jon where he goes back tot he drawing board. From big picture shit like does it hold up while someone is trying to forcibly rip your shit away from you to little details like are the direction clear enough.
That's evolution, not just one one guy thinking up some way to improve a product and putting it out, but a living breathing PROCESS by which we continue to change and adapt to the specific environment.
The Raven Pocket Shield developed by Chris Fry, MDTS is a another example. For years guys who never had to work in an office have been telling us to "dress around the gun". But now we have people who truly and deeply understand the Non Permissive Environment (NPE) finding ways to make concealment mean more than simply not plainly visible. Modern materials manufactured well to fit seamlessly in the environment. Now a petite female like my sister can carry a purpose built Ban Tang in a cut down shield with ease.
I can carry better gear, easier, than ever before.
Recently my friend Morgan Atwood, BFE Labs made me a reverse edge Pikal style carbon fiber knife. Just so happens it fits perfect in my Flat Pack TQ carrier . Lightweight , slim, and easy to carry.
There I was blown away. Looking a this like damn, remember the days when I had a leather double mag pouch for my 1911? When Hydroshocks where the cutting edge in ballistics technology? Back when the best advice I could get on how to actually carry a gun in real life every day was to wear a vest? Back before the current knowledge on tourniquet use was widespread?
Advancements in not just technology but in the culture have brought us leaps and bounds beyond where we once where as a community. Let's keep driving that culture, harder testing, better materials, wider ranges of experiences and viewpoints. I'm excited to see where we will be in another dozen years! Flying cars! Sharks with friggin lazer beamz on their heads!
Shawn Lupka, Antifragile Training