There are many options for military watches on the market. A good military watch should be rugged and reliable while also offering useful features. With the TACTIX BRAVO, Garmin offers a GPS device and a watch in a compact package.
I first off refused to go into the TACTIX series, because of the high price point. But after using it for almost three years now during army reserve exercises, team trainings, sports and on the job Iam fully convinced that the TACTIX BRAVO has its place. The most important point is its ruggedness, I really don’t took much care of my Garmin and literally abused it. My Garmin has seen places ranging from the Austrian alps, Africa, the cold Danish border and many more. It has been dropped several times, has seen some lake crossings and other things and it never suffered one single sign of damage, aside from some scratches on the metal case.
The TACTIX BRAVO comes with a Nato wristband, made of durable and stiff webbing. It closes with a pin and two O-Rings. It becomes soft and comfortable over the time. The casing is made out of metal with a diamond like carbon (DLC) finish that makes it not only scratch resistant, but also completely subdues the watch with its matte black finish.
Even after three years of use and abuse, the saphire glass display doesnt show any scratches or damage at all. Overall the construction is shockproof and waterproof to 100m.
The Garmin TACTIX BRAVO lacks a touchscreen, what I think is a good thing for military applications as you don’t get tempted to play around to much with it. All functions are controlled by five buttons. You get used to this very quickly, but it is very important to activate the keylock, as the buttons tend to get activated when you don a heavy ruck.
When you activate the TACTIX BRAVO for the first time you should install the Garmin connect app on your laptop and or mobile phone and update the watch with the included USB adapter or via bluetooth.
The USB adapter is also responsible for charging. Charging is done in under one hour and without GPS or GLONASS the battery last for at least 12 days. With GPS activated the battery lasts for twenty to fifty hours. One disadvantage is that you can’t charge the TACTIX BRAVO while running an app. So you have to save your current activity and take a rest while charging.
The Garmin connect app is also where you can create an individual profile. Download individual designs and other stuff I don’t do. The only time when I connect the watch to my mobile phone or laptop is when I create a route for GPS based orientation, which is, aside from the athletic apps, the most important function for me. I really don’t use any of the included smartwatch like functions, like the music controller or the message reader.
What I really use and like is the TACTIX BRAVO ability to utilize a marching compass number to accurately follow a bearing by simulated targeting. As soon as you leave the bearing you get warned by either a sound or a tactile notification.
When talking about sound, I should mention that all notifications can be switched from a sound, to tactical, to off. The same goes for light, you can easily adjust how bright the watches display is and how long the illumination lasts, there is also an instant moonshine mode.
Aside from using azimuth and bearing in combination with a map, you can of course rely on GPS coordinates and a built in track back function. This said, you will still need a map to navigate, keep this in mind. The TACTIX BRAVO is also not able to display maps. There are tutorials out there that show some kind of hack to make this possible, but I would advise to use a proper GPS maps device.
The GPS and GLONASS compatible antennas precision is somewhere between a smartphone and a handheld GPS device. Signal interruptions are unusual but can happen. As soon as the signal is back, the TACTIX BRAVO chooses the shortest path from the last coordinate. The only flaw I really experienced was with the running app, it happened that my pace suddenly exploded and I magically made about 500m in one second.
Other apps didn’t really have had any flaws, and they are identical with their civilian counterparts that you find on the Garmin Fenix series.
The real difference between the TACTIX and the Fenix series is, aside from the blacked out casing, the installed jump master app (which I couldn’t really test because my lack of recent free fall experience) and the “tactical” app, which gives you information about MGRS position, time, route, pace, magnetic north and height on one view.
All in all the TACTIX BRAVO is a great piece of equipment, that gives you a rugged semi smart watch, a solid GPS and some tactical functions. I would advise most people to first buy into the Garmin Fenix or even the more economic Instinct series to see if they really need the extensive functions of the TACTIX prime models.
Garmin products, including the TACTIX series, are available at S4 Supplies.
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