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Outdoor Gift Guides – Seth Nadel

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By Seth R. Nadel

No question, picking the exact right gift for the outdoors person these days is harder than ever! Years ago, hints from the recipient were all around us – company catalogs left out to a certain page, ad’s ripped out of magazines and ‘carelessly’ left on a table. Conversation these days can be some fleeting digital images in your email. Few people write letters any more, but the faster, more interactive method of email allows you to do a bit of probing into the likes and favorites of the recipient. We may be separated by thousands of miles, but the right questions can lead you to the perfect gift. But with the digital age, we have to be more diligent to find the right gift. I was taught to never define a problem without suggesting a solution, so here goes:

First, if you can access the persons’ computer, you might look at what types of web sites he/she has been visiting. If the first thing that pops up are visits to outdoor sports shops at their optics page, here are some suggestions:

1. Binoculars

If they are bird watchers, hunters, or target shooters binoculars are a great idea. High quality binos are always a welcome gift – if they are quality glasses, not blister packed cheap items. On the one end of the scale are the compact, ‘glove box’ models like the Nikon 10X25 Sportstar EX. I live out in the country, and the 20 miles into town through the forest can reveal Coyotes, Deer, Antelope, and the majestic Elk. Pulling to the side of the road and always having a pair of these in my glove box reminds me, every time, of the folks who gave them to me.


The dedicated hunter will usually want some larger binoculars, to help him/her search for their game. Here, the Nikon 10X42 AGL DCF stand out. The larger objective lens pulls in more light, making it possible to spot game before or after the sun rises or sets, allowing the hunter or photographer to be in position the next day to get that shot. I sure could have used those back in my law enforcement days.


2. Trijicon Or EOTech

While you are texting/e-mailing back & forth, try suggesting that you are considering a new sight for your AR, and asking for his/her opinion. This can lead you toward a gift for him – or keep you from giving what he already uses. For the AR platform, an EO Tech 518 may be just the ticket – or perhaps he/she prefers the ACOG by Trijicon.  The gift of an EOTech some years ago is remembered every time my wife fires her AR. And believe me, the returns on that investment far, far exceed the cost.

EOTech 518

A few leading questions along the lines of: “Gee, if money was no object, which would you prefer?” or “Have you tried the ACOG, what do you think of it?” can end up with one of those “How did you know what I wanted” calls on Christmas day.

Perhaps the best plan is to contact the significant other of the recipient. With everyone cell phone equipped, it’s possible to have a private conversation almost any place & time. A quick call can open the gift giving ideas up, and you can discover the wants and needs of the recipient and coordinate the giving with the other person.

3. Holsters

So, if the Significant Other is giving a handgun, they can steer you towards the right holster, such as GALCO’s Combat Master outside the waistband (A personal favorite I have used for decades) or their Royal Guard inside the waistband (another personal choice) – or perhaps the pair, for the exact gun they are getting! I have carried my service pistols in these two holsters both on duty as a Federal Agent and off duty for the protection of myself and my family. I can think of no better endorsement.

Galco Combat Master

4. The Hardy Perennials

There remain the “hardy perennials,” the things that everyone can use:

If they have an AR – and these days there are few who do not – new furniture from MAGPUL in a different color than the usual black could be a hit.

Knives are always a useful tool – I write this with a Benchmade Mini-Onslaught in my pocket as my every day carry, and every time I use it I think of the folks who gave it to me. It’s not that expensive, but since I use it all the time, these folks are never far from my mind.

Benchmade Mini-Onslaught

Rangefinders continue to improve – and if anyone has a mind to, your humble scribe could sure use a Laser Technology Truepulse 360! With its’ 2,000 meter range and 1 foot accuracy, it would be a great help (THIS is what is known as a hint!!).


You can also plant a few seeds for your preferences, as well. A copy of this article, printed out and with a certain product circled offers a clue to those in your life. Or YOU could be the one to start the conversation about sights, or knives, or a rangefinder. Nothing blatant, just a ’not so idle’ e-mail to a friend or family member about how you are “looking at buying a XXX – maybe after the New Year.” You could even let your Significant Other find you “accidentally” left your computer on to the item you would like – “No honey, I was just browsing…”

Ultimately, paying attention to your friends and family is the key – listen to what they say, know what they like to do in the outdoors, and spend more time thinking about them and the right gift means more than the money you spend if it is a gift they will enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Seth Nadel

Seth Nadel served 27 years as a Senior Special Agent (Criminal Investigator) with United States Customs. For 25 years he was a Firearms Instructor, and for 9 of those years he was the lead Firearms and Officer Safety and Survival Instructor at the Customs Academy[SN1] in Arizona. He was certified by the Customs Service to teach handgun, rifle, defensive shotgun and fully automatic firearms. In the course of his career he arrested 1,000 people for felonies, with only 1 not guilty verdict. He was a firing member of the Customs National Pistol team for 6 years, and is a Treasury Department and California Combat Association Distinguished pistol shot. He has guest taught at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Georgia, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police Academy, and the Bureau of Land Management in-service academy. He has been an NRA Certified Instructor for 46 years, and is currently instructing Pistol, Rifle, and Reloading, as well as defensive shotgun and fully automatic firearms. Seth is an NRA Distinguished Pistol Shot (PPC). In addition to PPC, he has competed in High Power Rifle, Bullseye Pistol, Handgun Silhouette, and Cowboy Action Shooting. He currently competes in USPSA competitions regularly, and is a USPSA Charter Life member. With his wife, he founded a USPSA club in his home area. He and his wife also have a radio show, “The Gun Locker”, on local radio. Seth has been writing about guns in national publications since 1980. He has been published in 15 different magazines. They live off the grid in the mountains of Northeastern Arizona.

Comments (1)

  • Tony Martinssays:

    December 2, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Nice work Seth – I also included a Galco holster on my list (coming soon). Make you a deal, I’ll buy the last item on your list for you for Christmas, if you will buy the last item on my list for me… I think I called this little scam “Reciprocal Gifting” in a humor piece written years ago. This offer however, is no joke…

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