View Full Version : What's Hot, What's Not
Wolv's post about Gear Sector gave me an epiphany. A lot of folks getting into the modular gear world ask about the many different brands of pouches and products out there. To stimulate some discussion in the world of tactical nylon (my domain), this thread is specifically for personal experiences with gear manufacturers and their products. Who should/shouldn't we buy from, what's quality stuff, etc. A few rules:
1. Personal experience only. No secondhand BS that can't be corroborated.
2. If you're commenting about something, we want background. What brand, what product, what was good or bad.
3. Although I have much contempt for certain brands out there, this isn't a hater thread. I don't want any "BHI sux0rs" or similar crap without a reason.
4. If possible, post pics of the swag you think is impressive. If not pics, links may be helpful.
And so.....commence with the gear queerness.
10-17-2006, 11:29 AM
Chest Rig - Best bang for the buck, Eaqle Universal, PH version from SKD. $79 of Cordura goodness.
It's comfortable, doesn't sag or bind when loaded, works well with a ruck, and best of all, is inexpensive. I use one for 3 gun and it's by far the most comfortable rig I've used.
Plate Carrier - SO Tech Callahan.
It's comfortable, doesn't sag or bind when loaded, and is modular as it can be worn as a plate carrier or the plate carriers removed and worn as a chest rig. It keeps its shape when worn sans armor, but the addition of closed cell foam panels provide excellent protection from BBs and make the rig much more comfortable to wear in the summer.
Vest - Blackhawk DOAV - Extremely comfortable and practical.
LBV - Blackhawk ISAAK - Extremely comfortable and highly modular, It's easily modified into an plate carrier with an integrated ruck (courtesy of Gene)
Eye Protection - ESS Turbofans in the summer, Strykers in the winter, & Profiles when I'm using NODs.
Holster - Serpa & Safariland 6004 SLS
10-17-2006, 11:36 AM
Well, I'd have to disagree for sure with "BHI sux0rs":) Almost all my gear is Blackhawk. A simple OD molle plate carrier with an admin pouch and a triple mag pouch on the front, and some generic od pouches/hydro carrier on the back. I also use their padded patrol belt and serpa drop leg platform for my pistols as well. I love the stuff, and have never once had an issue with it. I can call or e-mail anytime with a question, and get an answer. And the gear has a lifetime warrenty, so if it does break, I can just send it back.
(i know I said serpa before, but for my 45, I ordered the wrong holster)
10-17-2006, 03:23 PM
UTG woodlands digital shoulder holster
BlackHawk Tactical D.O.A.V. System
Both of these are very good options, I had originally bought the shoulder holster because it was cheap and I could put the VSR 10 mags in the pistol mag pouches. I got lucky at op crescent fallout and won the Blackhawk system which is very comfortable and versatile.
my two loadouts
my brother in my vest
hee hee photoshop
10-17-2006, 08:09 PM
Here are my current loadouts:
Phantom CIRAS w/ Esstac and Paraclete pouches in Marpat. Copy of EGL Fugly 2
in Marpat. The pro's: Comfortable, easy to wear for extended lengths of time. The con's: really hot, and somewhat bulky. Paraclete pouches are well made. Esstac pouches are extremely high quality. You have to see 'em to believe the level of quality. If I had to choose one company to supply all of my pouches, it would be Esstac.
Practical Tactical MESA vest by HSGI, HSGI universal mag pouches, HSGI pistol mag pouches, TT ZUP, TT Multi-purpose pouch, Emdom SAS admin panel, patriot performance products large upright pouch. I have yet to use this rig during a game, but it is built with high quality components.
10-17-2006, 08:36 PM
Well, for cheap-ers, you could go for the US Army LBV like I have that I picked up for $20 in Arizona, which, although beat up, still works and functions well. It works with M-16/AR mags perfectly (duh) and also fits AK mags, although you can only carry two additional mags. The grenade and smaller mag pouches work great for pistol mags or speed loaders, BBs, etc. I also recommend picking up a web belt and a "Fit Dragon" hip holster and attatch it in a crossdraw style; the holster only ran about $14. Here's a pic of my set up:
Details, people, DETAILS. This is a GEAR oriented thread, not "Pimp Yourself". I'm looking for in depth stuff, not simply what you have and how much it cost. If you post pics of yourself wearing stuff, make sure it's detailed enough to show people how it fits. I dunno how many times I've been asked and asked others what the fit of a certain rig is like, so it would be beneficial to newcomers to have access to that kind of information.
10-17-2006, 09:59 PM
Bear, I have to tell ya, this one line cracks me up every time I read it.
Do you ever see puppies and kittens getting their jake honked? No... you don't.
10-17-2006, 11:25 PM
I started playing airsoft with a relatively generic crossdraw tactical vest (can be found named as Blackhawk Down vest, etc). This worked okay for a starter vest, having elastic mag pouches that can fit 4 M4/16 mags, as well as a pistol holster, a few pistol mag pouches, as well as a very small general purpose pouch. However, these were non removable pouches, and the only PAL rows were on the back where a hydration could potentially be fitted.
Then I was introduced to the world of modular rigs. And I never looked back.
I found myself at an opportune time when Marimba decided to drop his Blackhawk Plater Carrier with enough pouches to get me started. These included a double M4 mag pouch that can hold 4 M4 mags, a single M4 mag pouch that can hold 2 M4 mags (or a USP compact pistol, which is what the pouch is currently tasked with), admin pouch with pockets and velcro, a hydration carrier, and a small general purpose pouch. I was giddy as a school girl and proceeded to add a medium general purpose pouch to the mix.
Results of my initial configuration can be seen here: http://www.lonestarairsoft.com/forums/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/3180/size/big/cat/500/ppuser/1579
This worked well enough for me. The mag pouches fitted the M4 mags snugly, and none of the pouches had any problems becoming loose during the heat of the action. This is probably due to the fact that I "threaded" the PAL loops when mounting the pouches.
I then later reconfigured the layout so that I didn't have a big bulge in front of me because of the way the mag pouches were mounted in front of the medium GP pouch, which in turn were mounted to the plate carrier. The medium GP pouch was moved to the back mounting on the hydration carrier, and underneath that was the small GP pouch. This generated a unique "backpack" look that had Mad Irishman confused for a bit until I explained the setup. This actually worked okay such that everything I needed I can carry with me. However, the placement of the GP pouches on the back made them rather inaccessible to me, thus requiring the assistance of a teammate when I needed to get things from those pouches.
While I was pondering what to do about that, I started acquiring G36 type replicas, and thus the BHI M4 mag pouches were no longer usable for me. After some digging around, Marimba pointed me to Diamondback Tactical for some G36 pouches. I ordered the double G36 pouches which can hold 4 G36 mags, which worked. . . but not well. The non-slip interior lining made extracting the mags EXTREMELY difficult. This can prove to be a life-and-death difference when trying to swap mags during a firefight. If there were some way to remove the lining, I'd do it in a split second.
DBT G36 Pouches: http://www.diamondbacktactical.com/BattleLab-SIG551G36-Double--P706C0.aspx
Soon afterwards, I came across Tactical Tailor's announcement regarding the impending release of a side panel upgrade for plate carriers. I began giggling to myself at the thought of the ability to add a few more PAL columns to my rig. But that hope was soon dashed as TT declared that the upgrade was incompatible to BHI rigs.
TT Side Panel Upgrade: http://www.tacticaltailor.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=251
I was quite disheartened by this, but then Village comes along and starts showing off his sewing skillz. So after much researching and reverse engineering, Village was able to produce a custom set of side panels for me that were compatible to the BHI Plate Carrier.
Front view of side panel: http://www.lonestarairsoft.com/forums/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/3803/size/big/cat/
Rear view of side panel: http://www.lonestarairsoft.com/forums/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/3802/size/big/cat/
I couldn't wait to get my grubby little hands on it after V posted the pictures of the prototype. After some more anxious waiting, V delivered the side panels to me at last, and I went to my little corner of the modular happy place.
Front view, no pouches: http://www.lonestarairsoft.com/forums/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/3825/size/big/cat/recent/limit/recent
Side view, no pouches:
Front left view, no pouches:
Rear left view, no pouches:
Front view, with pouches:
It was like playing Legos when I was a kid all over again. However, some design mistakes that both of us made were readily apparent as I began mounting pouches. The PAL columns at the edges were VERY tight. In some instances I had to force the clips through, and my fingers were quite sore afterwards. Some slack on the edges should have been left to make things a bit easier. Also, the PALs were NOT offset on the back such that it can be "threaded" into the front side of the plate carrier. This was truly a silly mistake that I had somehow overlooked when I gave Village the initial specs. Other than that, the side panels worked exactly as I imagined it would, and those two errors that I mentioned above can easily be rectified in future production models.
And so this concludes my "brief" overview of my experiences with rigs. I am very content with my current BHI set up right now, although I do forsee a Coyote Brown rig in my future. I'll post another "brief" overview when that prophecy comes to fruitation.
Village has incorporated the fixes I suggested above into his production models. After having experimented with the prototype, the PALS on the production models work beautifully. The only complaint I still have (and this held true for the prototype as well), is that the upper buckles can be hard to reach. But that's mainly a physical limitation because I have long monkey-like arms, and don't bend well enough to angle my hands to secure the upper buckles. Frankly, with the way the buckles have to be positioned in order to guarantee a secure fit, I don't see any feasible way of rectifying this other than moving ALL the buckles forward which would require a major reconstruction of the BHI plate carrier. So I'm going to sign that off as a design conflict with BHI. Other than that, the side panel is still in my opinion one of the best "upgrades" a BHI PC can have.
10-18-2006, 03:47 PM
A lot of the online retailers that I trust and use have been spoken for so I'll mention one to stay away from. TADGear. I ordered some very inexpensive Ranger tabs that are shaped like skulls for around $12. After I ordered them I got an email asking what type of shipping would I like. (err...the one I selected on the site?) The next day I get another email asking how many I wanted. After waiting about 2 weeks after paying I contacted them asking for an order status. I was very polite, nothing hostile. The answer I get is "Email so and so. I dont handle the orders." Uhh, ok. 'But weren't you the one just asking about shipping and quantity?' I thought to myself. After multiple attempts to contact "so and so" without any response I try and get another order status. They reply saying that I should have insured the shipping and that it wasn't they're fault if it got lost in the mail. I finally explode and ask what kind of buisness they are running and why a consumer should have to do the leg work and contact someone sitting in the cube next to them. I never get a reply (not suprising). 2 months later I get a small envelope with the tabs inside and an invoice with the original order date. I never expected to see it. Thank God I didn't purchase something expensive from their site. Live and learn.
The plate carrier I'm saving for is the BlackHawk S.T.R.I.K.E. MOLLE System Plate Carrier Harness. Just add a dozen or so pouches and It will be ready for action.
The purpose of this thread is not to simply state what you have/use, it is to advise others as to the pros/cons of a brand or product.
01-17-2007, 02:59 PM
A pic from Iraq. Not a very good one, but at least you can see what I am wearing. I bought a SO Tech Hellcat MK2 before I deployed last year. Along with it I purchased a TT MBITR pouch and a TAG SAW pouch. Along with those, I carried my IFAK and a Spec ops utility pouch for my NVG's. I used this set up over my IBAS for the entire year on a daily basis and I have to say that the Hellcat is a great rig. It took a real beating from the sand and weather and the weight of my basic load but it never failed me, I did get tired of the crossed straps bunching up and at the beginning of the summer I purchased the padded harness with the hydration carrier which I would recommend to anyone buying a Hellcat. It made the vest much more comfortable and also allowed me to carry 3 liters of water. I ended up moving the MBITR pouch to the back of the vest so I could add more ammo pouches to the front.
The TAG saw pouch is a great pouch to carry either lots of ammo or your basic admin stuff. I always kept a GPS, map, chemlights, surefire, leatherman, flare pistol, and an extra mag in it and it held up remarkably well.
Towards the end of the deployment the Hellcat began showing wear and tear. Some of the mag pouches started to become worn out at the bottom from having the magazines rubbing around inside for so long. Also the velcro/ button front has worn out from the donning and removing of the vest. The buttons don't snap as firmly anymore and the fabric has stretched out to a degree.
All in all like I said, the Hellcat is a great piece of equipment that never let me down when I needed it, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good chest harness.
12-19-2007, 12:03 AM
Irishman, I hate to see you had such a bad experience with TAD, I've had more than a few dealings with them over the web and over the phone. My experience has always been top notch customer service whether ordering some ranger eyes or buying Force 10 Multicam pants($90ish).
03-23-2008, 05:38 AM
Thread revival! I've found some pictures of my most recent set-up (I ditched the LBV as it was missing parts and not exactly comfortable as a result) so I set up a super basic, more universal rig as the mags I use vary in size. Again, I went with a standard US Loadout (more Vietnam era theme though). Just your typical web belt/suspenders rig, two USGI M16 and Grenade pouches and a BHI M60 or SAW mag pouch for a small utility pack. Got the whole deal ( I already had the web belt) for about $50ish. I have to say, this rig is comfortable, everything is easily accessed and there's plenty of storage despite the lack of pouches. The USGI M16 pouches will barely fit AK mags, but they will take a pair of G3 mags (a bit snug though). This is a great rig to get if you find yourself falling in creeks or mud a lot as these pouches are cheap and easily procureable should you destroy them. So far, no tears or rips.
03-23-2008, 10:50 PM
This is the one of the rigs I use to play as well as use when I deploy.
This is the Blackwater low profile I/O rack with 4 internal m4 mag pockets. In addition another Tactical Tailor (TT) 3 mag shingle. A Hi speed Gear Inc. (HSGI)small admin pouch up front. There is also a small TT utility pouch as well as a HSGI radio pouch and grenade pouch. I did not like the shoulder straps because they felt like all other chest rig straps. I had John Willis of Original SOE take those off and put the more comfortable H harness with holders for radio cords.
This is small and light enough to use in both rough and urban terrain. It does not hamper side movement and vehicle movement especially when driving.
I had this rig for 6 months and it went thru many a training exercises as well as rough Airsoft play.
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