If you're looking for some holiday-season swag for your gear-addicted friends or loved ones, you've come to the right place. You don't need to spend a fortune to show you care, this list of 10 carefully curated gifts is proof. Whether hibernating in his man-cave or deployed on the other side of the world, everything on this list is a practical or comforting way to show you care. -RC
[singlepic id=5054 w=320 h=240 float=left]All of the models pictured in the 2013 Hot Shots Calendar donated their time and talent as a way to honor your service and sacrifice. The British models worked long hours in partnership with some of America's finest tactical gear manufacturers — and we love the calendar for the gear. Really. The calendar features 12 months of beautiful models inspired by 1940s- and '50s-era pinup art and armed with equipment from made-in-the-USA manufacturers, including Daniel Defense, Crye Precision, Magpul, Smith Optics Elite and others. Proceeds go to U.S.- and U.K.-based veterans charities. $13
[singlepic id=5051 w=320 h=240 frame=1 float=right]Sheriff of Baghdad Combat Bands aren't just big rubber bands. They're super-durable, heat-resistant, silicone cousins of the riggers band, great for gathering excess rifle sling ends, adding grip to a rifle magazine, wrapping around a PVS-14 mount to mitigate wobble, adding extra purchase or girth to a pistol grip, securing cables, mounting tape switches on an M4 hand guard and rolling up and stowing snivel gear. Once you get one or two, you'll end up finding tons of uses for them. Available in black, foliage green, coyote and tan. Packs of three go for $7, five for $10 and 10 for $18.
[singlepic id=5061 w=320 h=240 float=left]Exotac's FreeKey is a thumbnail savior. The high-grade stainless steel key ring features a unique, finger-actuated design that uses an easy-squeeze action instead of the challenging pry-open frustration of the traditional split ring. The award-winning, Swiss-designed, American-made key ring is available by itself for $4.50 or for $6.50 as a set, which includes three sub rings that you can use to easily organize keys into groups for home and work, such as equipment cages, footlockers, padlocks, vehicles and more.
[singlepic id=5050 w=320 h=240 float=right]Princeton Tec's AMP 1LBC will keep you lit up no matter what. The polymer light is waterproof and can be tied off and hung from just about anything. It comes with a snap-on cone diffuser that turns the flashlight into a hanging 45-lumen LED lantern. It throws 360 degrees of light bright enough to read by in a tent or hooch. It comes in colors that make it hard to lose and will run for three days on a pair of AAA batteries. And when the work is done, there's a bottle opener built in. $13
[singlepic id=5049 w=320 h=240 float=right]Smithsonian's Military History — The Definitive Visual Guide to the Objects of Warfare is a stunning coffee-table collection of key artifacts that span the history of warfare. Ever since Egyptian war chariots swept across the plains of Megiddo during the first recorded battle in history, the mastering of superior technology has always played a critical role in determining an army's chances of success — or defeat. This book shows how changes in military technology have played a role in shaping history. This visual guide showcases significant armaments from each age and highlights the features that made them effective. From the earliest stone weapons to computer-controlled drones and spy satellites, witness history unfold through the objects of warfare. List price is $50 (on sale for $31.25 at press time)
[singlepic id=5055 w=320 h=240 float=left]LaRue's popular IndexClips are available in a new kit that combines a mixture of olive drab green, flat dark earth and black clips that make it easy to break up the color palette of your rifle's 1913 Picatinny rails while protecting your hands and organizing the controls of your carbine. The glass-filled polymer clips are useful for improving the grip of a rail and for indexing items that are regularly moved between rifles, such as optics. The 72-pack comes with 60 regular clips and a dozen more with wire guides that help manage tape switch or power cabling. Several clips in a row can be used to protect a length of rail. The clips are $30 and available in packs with single colors or patriotic red, white and blue.
[singlepic id=5056 w=320 h=240 float=left]Vehicle crewmen! If you're going to do anything outside this winter, keep your face warm with a Polar Buff. These new buffs are fleecy warm on the bottom with a thinner, Polartec MicroFleece top that you can slip up under a helmet to keep the back of your neck and ears warm during your dawn patrol. The fleece keeps you warm, and some built-in sorcery called Polygiene Active Odor Control claims to keep it from smelling like a cold bottle of dip spit. Wear it however you want. $28
[singlepic id=5057 w=320 h=240 float=left]Stanley's 16-ounce One Hand Vacuum Mug removes some of the suck from military life. Do enough 0-dark-30s, and a coffee mug that keeps your brew piping hot as you head for the gate will be your best friend. Imagine a leak-proof, push-button mug that will contain your coffee like a thermos but offers sipping action like a mug. Drinks are kept hot (or cold) for six hours thanks to the vacuum insulation, and double-wall stainless-steel construction means the mug is tough and cool to the touch no matter what's inside. The mug is BPA free, dishwasher safe, cup-holder friendly, easily cleaned and is available for $30.
[singlepic id=5058 w=320 h=240 float=left]Warm your loved ones with the Freedom Throw. This American-made wool blanket honors the Stars and Stripes along with the men and women of our armed forces. Woolrich has produced blankets for armed service branches dating back to the Civil War. For every Freedom Throw sold, Woolrich donates a portion of the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. The blanket is 84 percent wool for warmth, with a little nylon adding strength while keeping it from feeling like it just came out of an aid bag. The blanket measures 60-by-72 inches and is available for $130.
[singlepic id=5062 w=320 h=240 float=right]Magpul's MS3 QD rifle sling is a new alternative to the standard MS3 sling that quickly switches between one-point and two-point configuration. The MS3 Single QD features the same operation and specifications of the standard MS3, but with a heavy-duty push-button QD sling swivel for one-point attachment rather than the Magpul Paraclip that requires a one-point receiver endplate. The QD version allows use with any weapon that has QD sling cups and eliminates the need for armorer-level work to get the benefits of instant one-point to two-point sling conversion. The sling costs $58 and comes in black or coyote.
[singlepic id=5064 w=320 h=240 float=right] Here's one last idea if you want to go over the top. I was pretty excited when I got a remote control Batmobile back in 1980. It could go forward AND right. But, it's 2012, so lets get our RC airborne and start building a drone fleet. You can fly the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 next-gen quadcopter using your iPhone or iPad while you watch the streaming feed from not one but two onboard video cameras. The attachable foam shell lets you fly it indoors or, stripped down, outside as far as 165 feet away. And now, new onboard pressure sensors will help maintain a solid hover in up to 15 mph winds. $300