with Lindsey J. Bertomen
Product Review: RedMan XP and WDS
For law enforcement officers, the more realistic and demanding the training, the greater the value. Realistic training that places officers into situations that simulate the stress and risk of the job — while also trying to avoid training injuries as much as possible — is optimal. I’m talking about training in which officers deliver full force blows, shoot real ammunition, and occasionally sustain blows that cause some pain. This type of training should be incremental, habitual, and task-focused. It should augment other types of training, including walk-through, paper drills, and multi-echelon events. Anything less will not equip our officers for the current trends of punctuated criminal acts against officers we are currently experiencing.
The RedMan XP suit is a form-fitted exoskeleton made of closed cell foam with a slick finish. The suit is deigned to protect the wearer from blunt trauma when training. It is composed of sections that wrap around a specific body part, like a forearm, thigh or chest protector, connected to that part by Velcro and elastic straps. The body sections overlap at the joints and vital areas and articulate where the real human joints do.
The RedMan XP suit has a head protector assembly which is only designed for accidental blows to the head. When properly worn, the user wears eye protective wear under a wire mesh screen, which is connected to a thick closed cell foam helmet and a throat guard.
It is not designed for a direct blow to the head which could result in spinal or neck trauma.
An individual wearer can suit up in less than five minutes but it’s even faster and easier if they have help from their training partner. There is an instructor suit, which has fuller coverage and is more complicated than the student suit. In practice, the student generally uses the less lethal tool, like a RedMan Training Baton, to subdue the person in the Instructor Suit. The instructor can rotate students quickly through each scenario because the Student Suit which has fewer components and is therefore faster to don.
The Student Suit can also be used for training sessions which focus heavily on grappling.
In RedMan training gear, an officer can strike, grab, kick, wrestle, and hold a weapon. Both users are protected from common striking surfaces like knuckles, ridge of the hand, knee, and elbow. With this equipment, I found the officer is only limited in his ability to wrist grab and handcuff, which is usually simulated.
Various striking instruments can be used with the RedMan Products. I found that occasionally the person in the Instructor Suit can sustain a blow at the junctions, usually the joints, where there are some gaps, due to the way the suits must articulate. This is part of training and if it didn’t hurt, no one would be motivated to avoid pain. However, if any kind of improvement should be considered for this product, it would be an increase in the overlapping coverage.
One must remember that when one uses these products, one is essentially putting on a full body of efficient insulation. It gets hot. After a while, agencies figure out that the other liability reducing feature is the easily sanitized surface. It can be sprayed and wiped for the next user or even hosed off and hung out to dry.
Redman have been around for more than 20 years. My first introduction to these products was in a correctional officer core course when facing the guy in the RedMan suit was an unforgettable ordeal.
Originally, the Director of Training for the U.S. Secret Service was searching for a means to provide realistic training for officers. At the time, the designers of the original RedMan Suit used similar products and materials for martial arts training. With input from law enforcement professionals, the first RedMan Suit was born.
Many companies offered padded suits for training. The RedMan Suit has three features that, to this day, set it apart. Foremost, it can be washed and sanitized so it won’t smell like the last guy who wore it after cleaning. Second, all versions are lightweight and articulate with the wearer, in a one-size-fits-most way. Third, the wearer can do almost anything one can do without the protective products with a greatly diminished chance of injury.
RedMan has introduced their WDS (Weapon Defense Suit), which similar to the XP configuration, but designed for realistic training with RedMan approved impact projectiles. RedMan has also approved the Simunition FX Marking Cartridges for use with this equipment.
The RedMan WDS has the same blunt trauma dispersion abilities as the RedMan XP suit with an added Impact Mesh, which is designed to handle impact trauma with a smaller frontal surface, like a projectile or a baton thrust.
Some components are design specific for fired impact products, like the WDS Body Guard section, which covers the torso and chest. It has additional plastic trauma plates, which, if anyone out there has taken on fired impact projectiles, is quite welcome. The D2 Head Protection System has much more overlap, including a clear mask, safety glasses and a protective hood.
I liked the shoulder guards, which is an improvement on the XP version. They offer a more oblique angle for a lateral baton strike. I found the suit to be Airsoft-friendly, and others report it is excellent with Simunition FX Marking Cartridges.
The WDS has the same lightweight mobility as the XP. Its features make it easier to integrate into a wider variety of training scenarios. It is definitely the right product for correctional scenarios, especially because it is easily repaired. It can also be used for waterborne operations (all the closed-cell products float, including the XP). Several trainers have experimented with its utility as a trainer for electronic control devices, although I wouldn’t take double my salary to test the “drive stun” of the X26 while wearing this product.
There are only a handful of products designed for full contact training. Most of them come from a martial arts pedigree and are not oriented to police training. Others are components, not integrated suits.
Really, there is only one RedMan.
“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
—Gen. George S. Patton Jr.