Millbrook Tactical Inc.

Update 9/20/16
Millbrook has moved to a new location. Click here for updated info, photos and article.

Just outside of Ottawa in Stittsville lies a real gem. Frank Paquette founded Millbrook Tactical Inc. in 2008 after a 15 year career with CANSOF. The organization supports Military and Law Enforcement by providing specialized training and SOF based equipment. Luckily for guys like me, they also have a storefront that’s open to the public. A few weeks ago I set up an appointment and over the Christmas holiday I had a chance to stop by for a chat.

Only a few steps in the front door, I could tell that this is not your average tactical store. In Toronto I’m used to wall-to-wall no name pouches, backpacks and uniforms. Millbrook, on the other hand, has lots of open space, despite being a modestly sized store. You won’t find yourself scouring through cargo pants from companies you've never heard of; Millbrook cuts right to the chase and serves up companies like Crye, Arc'teryx LEAF and Vertex. In past, I’ve sifted through wannabe Navy SEAL dive watches and cheap scope mounts. Millbrook, however, presents you with the top end products from Suunto and Wilcox. Simply put, you won't find any crap in this store. What you will find is equipment and gear that the staff have used during their years of service with the Canadian Special Forces, as well as what they use currently in their training courses.

Ops-Core with MUM-14 and Wilcox mount.

Speaking of which, during their courses, students can train with the gear that they have in the store, such as the new AN/PVS-31 binocular night vision devices. That way you get the opportunity to have the staff teach you how to utilize the gear they sell to the fullest. Last year alone, the Millbrook guys ran 52 training courses; none are currently available to civilians.

One really refreshing part (other than the cold beer they kindly offered me) was that the prices were all very fair. These guys could easily charge a premium for being a one-stop shop for the best collection of gear in the country, but they don't. They really do want to outfit those protecting Canadians with the very best, and at decent prices. Millbrook certainly live up to their slogan of "those who serve deserve."

I was shown around the store by Troy, another veteran of CANSOF. I brought up the conversations I had with the staff at the Toronto Arc'teryx store, and the fact that a lot of people are under the impression that LEAF stuff is only available to Law Enforcement and those in the Armed Forces. Not the case! Everyone is welcome to buy LEAF in Millbrook’s store or on their website. The only difference is that civilians don't get a discount.

In the earlier years of the store, they carried fewer product lines and were admittedly less experienced than some of their competitors. So they took what they learned during their time with the Canadian Special Forces and applied that to the business – the result being that things really took off. Especially with R. Nicholls closing its doors and liquidating their inventory (starting January 2015), Millbrook plans to be there to pick up some of their lines, meaning an even larger selection in the near future.

Toward the back of the store is one of the most impressive Arc’teryx collections I’ve ever seen. Millbrook represents the largest LEAF retailer in Canada and the 6th largest in the world. As I was drawn deeper into the store, Frank emerged from his office with a smile, and enthusiastically walked me through some of the features of the line that really impressed him. For instance – the level of detail Arc’teryx went into with their R&D: Frank’s first generation of Alpha SV jacket showed wear around the zippers after spending a lot of time crawling prone. The second generation eliminated that wear point. Frank explained that when you buy something from the LEAF line, you are getting something that has been designed, field tested, and redesigned until they were satisfied with the product’s performance.

If you don't mind a few small blemishes, you can snag some LEAF stuff at some truly unbelievable prices.  

Later this year, Millbrook will be opening a new 12,000 square foot facility that will have a room for training as well as sufficient retail space to really suit their needs. For instance, currently there are Nemo tents pitched and visible above the showroom floor; in the new space, you will be available to crawl into, set up a mat and experience first-hand what it’s like to be in them. There are tentative plans to set up features such as a rock wall, and LEAF is interested in curating a display showcasing the durability of their product, featuring a fully-functional yet 10-year old Alpha jacket. If they get to implement all of the features and displays they told me about, it’s pretty much going to be Disney World for operators. 

Before I left, Frank made sure to show me one of the most interesting advancements in nylon I’ve seen in a while. Pluma Vires - aka PV - is a hybrid fabric by Tyr. It’s been around for a number of years, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a live demonstration of how strong the 500D cordura and 200D Kevlar holds up to tearing. Frank called up to the balcony and a square of PV was frisbee’d to where we were chatting. A knife had been used to slice a hole in the square and as hard as Frank tried to make the hole bigger by trying to rip it, the material held together. Not only does this stuff hold up to punishment, it ends up adding to your ballistic solution while weighing 40% less than comparable products. What have YOUR pouches done for you lately?

Now I get that this whole article reads like a biased pat on the back for Millbrook. What I hope I can get across to you guys is that this really is the most impressive store of its kind I’ve ever been to. I know there are many others like it and I can’t wait to see them, however as it stands now, the combination of the staff, inventory, and services provided, bring Millbrook to a whole new level.

After an outstanding talk with the staff, there was only one more thing to do. That of course was to take advantage of the fact that they actually had Ops-Core helmets in stock! Forget waiting for the Boston-based company’s back order list and shipping times. Since Millbrook is Canada’s exclusive dealer of Ops-Core, I simply got fitted, paid them nearly par with the American MSRP, and just like that I was the proud owner of a Base Jump Helmet.

Do yourself a favour. If you’re in the neighbourhood, and if you’re into nice gear (which I assume you are if you are reading this blog), visit Millbrook Tactical. The fair prices, meticulously selected inventory and knowledgeable staff is pretty much the perfect storm for your credit card. You can thank me later.


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