Gunfighters, Gear, and Instagram: the IG Militia

Posted on Feb 02, 2013 in Blog, Editorials, & Thoughts, Emergency Preparedness & Survival, Featured Articles, Police, Military, & War, Social Networking

Kevin Hayden –

Instagram is a form of social media that focuses on sharing pictures between users, allowing them to tag photos with names of other users and apply “hashtags” that function as searchable keywords or descriptions for others. It is no longer just a place to post pictures of your food!

One such hashtag that has a rather large following is #igMilitia. It stands for the InstaGram Militia, and started as a way for various photos of guns, gear, and generally tacti-cool stuff to be lumped together and easily found.

Since I’m always looking for new gear when it comes to firearms, outdoor activities, and training, I thought I would share a list of some of the small businesses and personalities that really seem to have an impact on the shooting community and “igMilitia”, whether it be tactical, law enforcement, military, or purely civilian and self defense.

Many of these you’ve likely never heard of, but I believe in supporting original entrepreneurs and small start-ups, so if you know of any others that should be added to this list, please feel free to leave a comment!

Off the Grid Concepts, LLC

otgc_deadbird“Our focus and mentality is to produce uncompromising quality apparel and gear. We won’t cut corners and are constantly researching new materials and methods to enhance our product line. We are proud to say all of our products are designed and or made in America.”

Hayden’s Note:
I’ve been following OTG Concepts since they started on Facebook. They predominantly offer Kydex-molded holsters for the tactical and operator types and have a great following on social media.  I’ve not heard a bad thing about their gear yet! In fact, I keep telling myself that I need to order their infamous “Dead Bird” colored holster, as seen to the left.

They had a great presence at the 2013 SHOT Show, and are being followed and recommended by a plethora of industry leaders, end-users, and professionals.

Check out the goods on their websiteFacebook, or Instagram (@otghex ) in order to see a wide selection of product pics.


Black Center Tactical

Helping you to Shoot, Move & Communicate


“Black Center Tactical (BCT) currently offers Tactical Firearms Training, Custom Kydex Gear Production and Survival/Disaster Preparation Consulting.

BCT is a veteran owned and operated organization that proudly offers our services to Civilians, Law Enforcement, and Military. Our Kydex holsters and gear are hand crafted in the USA!”

Hayden’s Note:
Here is another really great company that I found via their Instagram profile ( @BlackCentr ) and Facebook page. Johnny, the owner and former Marine, who claims to be “behind enemy lines in Southern California”, not only makes some really top-notch Kydex gear and custom patches, but also teaches basic firearms skills and tactics.

His Kydex gear comes in a multitude of different color combinations; something to fit everyone!

I would like to take the time to point out that he has graciously, if not ethically, lowered the cost of his firearms classes during our current “ammo crunch” and spike in ammunition prices. I think that is a testament to his desire to truly help people when it comes to gear and guns.  He’s at the top of my list for gear, as well as getting a kick out of the photos that he posts on Instagram. There’s just *something* about the internet and cats that not even the igMilitia can avoid!


Multitasker Tools

“The Pocket Toolbox for Your AR”

multitasker“You may have seen other “shooter oriented” tools, but what makes Multitasker® unique is our weapon-specific design approach. Nothing else can rival our feature set for the AR platform of rifles or match our build quality. That’s why Multitasker is fast becoming THE tool of choice for leading training professionals as well as elite military/law enforcement agencies.”

“Mission: To revolutionize the multitool industry by combining unique, innovative designs with top-shelf component selection + uncompromising build quality  look for our exciting collaborations with legendary knifemaker Ernest Emerson, the Emerson Chomper multitool and the Emerson EDC.”

Hayden’s Note:
I’ve not had the pleasure of owning a Multitasker, although several trusted colleagues swear by them.  If you carry or operate an AR platform for a living, or perhaps just a shooting enthusiast, the Multitasker Tool series is just for you.  With several models to choose from, you get the best of the traditional multitool you might carry, along with a bit of Swiss Army knife action, coupled with weapon and armorer tools designed with the gun shooter in mind. Choose between full blown multitool, pocket carry, or even pen versions.

You can find them on Instagram under @1upDesignLab (great pics), Facebook, or their website. 


Tactical Community

tc_logo“Tactical Community is comprised of military, law enforcement, and civilian contractors. We are here to spread the knowledge of TESTED gear we have used through real world scenarios. Remember, “know your gear!”

Tactical Community’s overall goal is to enhance the knowledge of users of modern warfighter tactical gear. You are the community and you are in control.”

Hayden’s Note:
I stumbled across Tactical Community on Facebook, and took notice of the multitude of charities and special causes they frequently share.  They also offer contests quite often on their Fan page, and I happened to be chosen as a random winner a few weeks ago!  I was sent a bottle of FIRE Clean gun lubricant, as well as a patch and some stickers.  Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Tactical Community also had a strong presence and great coverage of the 2013 SHOT Show, keeping readers informed of new gear, companies, trends, and more.  Currently, they only operate on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as they await their new website to be finished.



Aside from businesses and communities, here are a few people that I consider to be prominent in their respective fields; these are instructors, business owners, media personalities, or others that, in my opinion, offer something constructive or have made an impact on the shooting community as a whole and are often mentioned within the IG Militia hashtag.

Please note, this is by no means an exhaustive list; instead, consider it exhaustive to my brain to keep typing and researching!

chris_costaChris Costa

Prior to Costa Ludus, Chris spent 4 years as the President of Magpul Dynamics. Before founding Magpul Dynamics, Costa spent 7 years in the private sector at Applied Marine Technologies Inc. (AMTI) on assignment with Homeland Security’s Risk Management Division. At AMTI, Costa specialized in teaching Police Tactical Assault Operations for both Maritime and Critical Infrastructure take-back. Costa also provided Red Team Vulnerability Assessments on critical infrastructures for the US Government.

Prior to this, Costa spent 12 years with the United States Coast Guard, conducting counter-drug operations and special missions in Europe, the Middle East, and South America.


As Costa expands his new company, he is offering training and gear, including the well-reviewed Costa Leg Rig and some really sweet patches featuring his new logo.

travishaleyTravis Haley

Travis Haley is a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine with 15 years of dedicated real world experience including: combat tours in Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. After leaving the military, Mr. Haley served as a special operations and security contractor before partnering with Magpul as founder and CEO of their training division, Magpul Dynamics. Mr. Haley also served as CEO of the parent company, Magpul Industries, before breaking off to form the endeavor that would become Haley Strategic Partners. 

Not only offering top tier training programs, Haley has gotten into the realms of marketing, film and photography, creative design, and what he labels, “disruptive industries”; all centered around the gunfighter and training communities.

Hayden’s Note:

Costa and Haley are easily some of the highest profile guys within the industry, having both been a part of the Magpul team and getting in on the “operator” craze, as well as the explosion in CCW holders. I owe a lot to both of them in a sense that Magpul really turned me onto serious shooting. Not plinking at the range, or qualifying at the police range, but really running and gunning. In my early 20’s, as a police officer, my partner was a former State Department instructor and we would shoot every week, but it wasn’t until years later I would hear of Magpul and really make it click. That is a testament to their teaching abilities and personalities.


John Noveske – Noveske Rifleworks

Noveske Rifleworks, LLC is a small business in Grants Pass, Oregon, devoted to improving the modern battle rifle. Our focus is to manufacture and provide a combat ready weapon capable of precision accuracy with 100% reliability. It is our honor to provide these tools to our Nation in these historic times. We are proud to offer the finest AR variant to date, the N4.

Hayden’s Note:

Unfortunately, John Noveske, the founder and all-around badass, died in a motor vehicle accident in early January, 2013. Many stories circulate around the internet as to the real cause of his death, focusing on the fact that he was rather outspoken about the link between mass shootings and those medicated with psychotropic drugs (SSRIs and similar). Either way, he goes down as a real patriot in my book and has greatly contributed to the shooting community. His rifles are considered top-notch by many professionals.

Find lots of pictures tagged with #Noveske over here.

dmack762DMack762 – Ranger Proof

Mack is a full time Law Enforcement Instructor, 1SG in the Florida National Guard, and a very “hard-use” gear-guy. He graduated Ranger School in 1991 and says, “…if I can’t break the gear, or if it stands up to my hard use, I deem it “Ranger Proof”. I tell it like it is, as unbiased as I can be. I am in the business of training Law Enforcement, so I have a high standard of excellence.”

Hayden’s Note:

As a fellow gear junkie, I am always searching for great sites that review the latest gadget and gizmos by putting them through extensive, real-world testing. Within a few minutes of browsing Mack’s Instagram and website, I knew this guy meant business and takes his gear seriously.  With videos of product reviews at SHOT Show, and extensive articles detailing the abuse he puts gear through while testing it, the website offers quite a bit for the technical rifle shooter, while his Instagram is just a glorious medley of guns, gear, and whiskey! …but no patches.

And finally, what list would be complete without a model?

nikkiraye1Nikki Raye

A tom boy at heart, Nikki Raye can’t imagine doing anything but this. With a background in musical theater, along with being a former police officer, Nikki dug her heels into the world of firearms, gear, and an industry that is like no other. She met her husband while on the job, and she now stays at home raising their two sons while promoting gun and gear companies. With a focus on marketing, modeling, and social media advertising, Nikki has moved herself to the front of the pack when it comes to getting new brands recognized.

Hayden’s Note:

Since I joined the Instagram community, there have been several “constants” within the IG Militia world: Guns … and Nikki Raye. She has amassed a vast network of peers and gained the respect of many gun manufacturers, gear companies, and top-tier trainers, placing her in a unique position to market new brands and ideas.  From what I can see, if you’re looking to bring a product to market, send one to Nikki and if she likes it, she’ll get it sold!

Another key point; while Nikki is a model, she is also an actual shooter, unlike most of the models involved in the tactical spectrum. Matt Devito, of Down Range Firearms Training (Instagram: @DRFTraining), has affectionately referred to these other “models” as Gun Bunnies. I’ll just leave that alone.

Nikki is a self-described geek, gun lover, has a Star Wars Boba Fett-ish, and quite honestly, might be a bigger morale patch-junkie than I am! You can find her Facebook Fan page here, along with checking out her Instagram goodness at @NikkiRaye02.

Training & Gear

itstactical_logoITS Tactical – Imminent Threat Solutions

ITS Tactical, Inc. is dedicated to showcasing the everyday gear that can help you live better on the tactical side of life.

We don’t limit our content to any particular viewpoint, rather our goal is to become an open-source community of different methods, ideas and knowledge that could one day save your life.

Started in early 2009 as a joint venture between Military Veterans and those serving in the Special Operations community, ITS Tactical has quickly grown into a definitive resource for skill-set information, tactical gear reviews, and DIY projects.

Hayden’s Note: 

I’ve been a fan of ITS for awhile now, and routinely visit their website.  They have a yearly muster and campout, member’s only exclusives, and tons of awesome gear in their online shop: ITS patches, titanium lock-pick sets, MOLLE gear, and even single-point slings to hold your beer! Check out their website >here<, along with pictures hash tagged with #ITSTactical >here<.

imoasolutionslogo1 MOA Solutions

1MOA Solutions was founded with the sole purpose of developing reality based training necessary for survival during deadly conflict. Our curriculum is based upon the knowledge and experience gained while serving as US Army Snipers. We challenge each shooter to constantly learn, evolve, and prepare for that one moment when accuracy determines life or death.

Hayden’s Note:

These guys offer some top-tier training, along with some great morale patches and their new Combat Operations Data Book. When it comes to an online presence, 1 MOA offers great tips and photos on their Instagram of stuff like Every Day Carry (EDC), weapons, and gear.

skeletonkey_tadTriple Aught Design

Down the street or into the wild, Triple Aught Design seeks to inspire your world explorations and equip you with the gear to get you there—and back again to tell the tale.

Triple Aught Design was founded in 1997 by Patrick Ma. His goal was to inspire people to explore their world by offering the best performing gear available.

Our apparel and equipment are meticulously designed to excel under the strenuous demands of the modern explorer, giving you the confidence to focus on the task, not the equipment. We also believe there is no need to sacrifice style in the pursuit of performance; Triple Aught Design’s unique aesthetic is recognized around the globe.

Hayden’s Note:

In what I can only describe as a mix between The North Face apparel meeting 5.11 Tactical, and the two of them meeting someone who actually knows what they’re doing – TAD hits the nail on the head with durability, quality, and style. While on the higher end of the price spectrum, I am a firm believer in investing my hard earned dollars into gear that will last, instead of cheap stuff that doesn’t work or falls apart. I learned long ago to “buy once; cry once.”

Along with their amazing clothing line, Triple Aught Design offers some truly unique gear, such as the Skeleton Key, the T-Skull bead, top tier knives, backpacks, and flashlights. They also have a great selection of jackets, hoodies, and sweaters for women!

Did I mention they have some of the coolest looking skull patches? 

Check out their entire line of products on their website, and then head over to Instagram and see them in action!

Dark_Angel_Medical2Dark Angel Medical

“Bringing you a med kit that is Simplicity Under Stress”

We are a veteran-owned business with a combined total of over 20 years of medical training and work in both the military and civilian healthcare fields, Pre-hospital care, flight medicine and intra-hospital work with concentration in emergency and critical care medicine as well as competitive shooting.

Many participants in the shooting community, as well as law enforcement, military, government, and civilians are now realizing the importance of having solid emergency medical skills training and want to have the best kit to increase their survivability in a grave situation.

We want to give you a kit with the best components. We want it packaged in a simple, easy to carry, easy to deploy package. In a “time-is-life” situation, we want to put the odds in your favor.

Hayden’s Note:

While I don’t own any of Dark Angel’s kits, as a former EMT and police officer, I have carried a variety of medical kits in my time. Dark Angel’s gear is praised by industry leaders; many that are listed here in this article, in fact!  Based upon what I’ve read, seen, and heard from end-users, their kits are no-nonsense, “what you need”, and easy to carry and deploy. Their recently released kit is about the height of an AR15 mag and comes with the right stuff to keep you alive after a gunshot wound or other trauma: seals, airways, shears, gloves, tourniquet, gauze, and Israeli bandages.  Check out their website here, as well as their daily photos on Instagram!

Best of all? They have some pretty sweet morale patches!  Are you starting to see a theme with patches?

armordilloArmordillo Concealment

Our holsters are handcrafted Kydex, which is quickly becoming the most popular style.  Each holster is hand formed to the end user’s individual pistol model. This will allow a perfect fit to your individual weapon system while utilizing a durable material that will last a lifetime without ever changing shape, unlike leather. Handcrafting each holster allows Armodillo Concealment to keep fit, form, and function above the end user’s expectations level.

Hayden’s Note:

Another great Kydex holster manufacturer who is paving the way with innovative ideas, Armordillo offers a minimalist holster called the X-fer, which can be worn inside the waistband (IWB) in a traditional sidemount or in the front, also known as an appendix carry.  They also offer custom hydro-dip graphics as an upsell on their holsters.  This means you can get great looking Multi-cam, A-TACS, or even hot pink camouflage applied seamlessly.

Aside from a plethora of holsters, Armordillo even makes a Kydex beer bottle holster for your battle belt or vest!  C’mon, who doesn’t carry a Corona into the field with them every now and then? As they say, this kit is high speed, low drag, and tacti-cool!  Find them online at their website or Instagram for daily photos of gear!

Sadly, I did not see any patches.

eniner_keepcalmEcho Niner

“Gear for the Rugged Individual”

E9 offers a unique line of high-end gear and accessories for all of your real world missions or outdoor adventures. With streamlined, urban and military designs our products embody a unique fusion of expert workmanship and impeccable quality that will last a lifetime.

Secure your gear with style and functional innovations that only E9 can provide.

Hayden’s Note:

Echo Niner’s product line focuses on photographers and those that carry various forms of media with them in the field.  From rugged camera straps to pouches for a Hero GoPro action camera, E9 seems to be in a unique position to corner their niche market with quality products.  They recently debuted an ID holder, head lamp pouch, and an exclusive ‘Beer Lover’ patch for the 2013 SHOT Show.

Shop their online store here – or head over to their Instagram for some great pics of SHOT Show and their gear in action!

Movers and Shakers, Honorable Mentions

Here are a few profiles that are shaking things up in the IG Militia world:


Maker’s Militia

Maker’s is a brand new clothing line that combines love of Country, Christianity, and the Constitution with some serious firepower, unique shirt designs, and contests that will blow your mind.

Currently, Maker’s Militia is conducting a media blitzkrieg for his upcoming Grand Opening by giving away not only a Glock 17, but a Remington 700 rifle, and a Colt M4!

From what I can tell by talking to the owner, he is a stand-up guy with a huge heart and he is definitely shaking things up within the Instagram community!  Having joined just a short time ago, his page is nearing 3,000 followers and has definitely gained the attention of many more!

Check out his new shirt designs on his Instragram – @MakersMilitia while we await his website launch at the end of January!


Monderno, which is Greek for Modern, is a site dedicated to guns, gear, defending liberty and the Constitution, and modern survival/preparedness.

Brandon, the Chief Editor of the website, has had a lifelong interest in guns, gear, knives and everything preparedness, leading him to create Monderno in 2011. In addition to being a husband, father, and Patriot, he also has a background in software development and is a self-employed entrepreneur.

Along with Brandon, a small cadre of contributors, graphic designers, and consultants round out the team over at Monderno.

As usual, their Instagram profile – @Monderno, is loaded with great pics from the 2013 SHOT Show, interesting weapons, gear, and some great swag. Their new patch is pretty epic, I must admit.

That’s a Wrap

Well, boys and girls, that’s it for the initial installment of Gunfighters, Gear, and Instagram: the IG Militia !

I have a “to-do” list with many other Instagram profiles and companies, so don’t feel left out!  Work on the next segment will start soon, so please feel free to leave a comment with names and links to Instagram profiles you want to see showcased or talked about!

As for my Instagram, you can follow all the action, foodporn, guns, clouds, and pictures of my cat at @TruthisTreason

With all of this talk about patches, perhaps Truth is needs to come up with a design, eh? 

Kevin Hayden is a former New Orleans police officer-turned-truth seeker.  He endured Hurricane Katrina’s chaos and societal collapse in the days following and after 5 years in New Orleans, moved to Oklahoma.  Kevin currently runs and works on local politics and education about our monetary, food, and foreign policies while building an off-grid shipping container homestead.  He is an avid shooter, loves to train, and enjoys helping people become better prepared for disasters.

He can be contacted directly at

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