Commercial Camo Showdown – 3/3 – Dehydrated

We’ve looked at the temperate and transitional offerings from the 4 primary competitors in the modern commercial marketplace, which leaves just the ‘desert’ patterns and variants to cover.

From left to right we have:
– PenCott Camouflage Sandstorm, Rasputin item G3 Combat shirt clone
– Kryptek Outdoor Group Nomad, PLATATAC CUTS Combat shirt
– A-Tacs Camo AU, PLATATAC Patrol trousers
– MultiCam Arid, Crye G3 Combat shirt

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This third part of this weirdly-niche showcase was the trickiest part to complete by far. I was able to get all 4 of the woodland patterns together easily, the transitionals only slightly more tricky than that, but finding Sandstorm and Nomad was a challenge. Now to be clear my criteria wasn’t to just buy any piece of clothing in the pattern for the sake of posting this comparison, everything I buy has to meet various criteria to fit within my collection and what I want to actually do with that item.

The formula for that decision making is rather long winded and not necessarily 100% consistent as it depends what I’m after at the time. My overall goal is to have the highest quality piece I can get of a given pattern/colour, however sometimes I want something specific to post/review or to write about to illustrate a learning point; or alternatively I don’t want to buy just another copy of the same garment from a brand I’ve already got well represented. That’s not including of course the fact that sometimes you just stumble across a real bargain on something and while maybe it’s not quite ideal, it’s very close and entirely worth the very minor concession when taking in to account the money saved.

The hardest thing to track down was most definitely the Kryptek.
There’s been a lot produced commercially in Mandrake, Highlander and Typhon and I think there was some Nomad floating around when Kryptek first hit the market, but at the time I was searching it was very thin on the ground to say the least. I was very lucky to find a really well made combat cut set (which is what I primarily always look for) on Australian eBay, because it looks like Platatac literally only manufactured a dozen sets or less when they were making the other Kryptek patterns Tac Dax sets and they presumably were found in a dusty corner of the warehouse some time later.

The Rasputin shirt is at this time the only budget china-clone piece of gear I actually own. I opted for it for a couple of reasons. First because the brand (which as far as I can tell is literally just TMC) uses the genuine 50/50 NYCO PenCott fabrics and sew them in to the familiar G3 cut. Second because the pricing of the shirt was around what you’d pay for mid range clothing like Tru-Spec or Leo Kohler and I wanted to have something from the clone chinese market to look at and compare on video, given how massively popular such clone gear is with airsofters.

As you’ll note, Sandstorm, AU and MC Arid all share some fairly similar mid browns and tans but each have some unique elements. The PenCott features a small amount of grey shades, with dark browns in Nomad and Multicam-esque light green blotches in the Arid. AU is by far the darkest of the lot, standing out substantially with some near-black tones and a bit of green, better suited for more arid urban and rocky terrains whereas the others will presumably blend more in the stereotypical ‘desert’ backdrop.

The interesting part I find about this set is that ATACS-AU was the first of any modern commercial camos to really hit the market in a big way apart from original Multicam and it really began a big trend that was all over the tacticool social media scene for a few years until the older military patterns got back in to popularity. Original AU was hotly anticipated before Propperput it on to the market around the turn of the decade and the FG variant was again very popular when it arrived on the scene shortly after AU. All the Kryptek patterns enjoyed a very strong spotlight for a good couple of years when these commercial offerings were at the height of their popularity, then PenCott probably came along towards the end of that general phase. The Multicam variants of course came along quite a fair bit later than the rest and Tropic certainly seems to be the most widespread of them, with very little Arid seeming to be out there despite good mid-range and high-end offerings being easily obtainable from Tru-Spec/SKD and Crye respectively.

I’m undecided on whether I’ll do a 4th ‘Urban’ part to this series later down the line as I’m not a big fan of either ATACS-LE or MC Black and my storage space is really maxed out at this point. PenCott Metropolis isn’t available yet and Kryptek Raid NYCO fabric has never been printed to my knowledge, so I only have the sports type jersey for demonstration. But if any of you out there happen to own LE or Black and wouldn’t mind letting me borrow some of your camo gear at some time very briefly to feature here, feel free to get in touch via the direct messages. I’ll never have the physical space to own one of everything so anyone who’s willing to lend a hand then said hand will be gratefully received.

Any thoughts you have or interesting unusual items you happen to own related to arid patterns (or any camo in general), or thoughts you have on any/all the above, let me know down in the comments.

Rheinmetall at DSEI

When I’m walking by and I see plates with numbers that low on them I have to stop and take a look. The ‘magic number’ that a lot of forces look for when we’re talking a medium SAPI (as shown here) is sub 2Kg and that’s a pretty slim and nicely curved plate, impressive tech. The sub-1Kg plate below it is obviously smaller with a lesser rating, but when I saw the numbers from a distance I genuinely thought “no way”, yet was proven wrong on closer inspection.

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The LE PC setup pictured is a product driven by the recent small arms attacks that have happened in Europe. With one of the primary threats being 762 AK platforms smuggled in from the balkans regions and middle easy there was a desire for an extreme amount of frontal protection for Armed Police/SWAT type units. Not only does the front, back and sides of the PC all hold plates that form and almost unbroken ring, the neck and both groin guards also hold hard plates for full defence against rifle threats.

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Radom (Poland) at DSEI

First time I’ve been able to see the very well known Polish MSBS rifle system in the flesh. In terms of function it’s nothing that’s revolutionary, however a lot of investment has gone in to producing the modular components and design aspects of this rifle. The quick change barrels can be swapped between CQB carbine length, infantry rifle, DMR and LMG. With the upper receiver being the common component each of those is available in both bullpup and conventional layouts. There’s also a compatible 40mm launcher available.

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Great 3D viewer with more information here:
http://fabrykabroni.pl/en/produkty/karabiny/msbs/

FirstSpear and Typhoon International at DSEI

FirstSpear and Typhoon have collaborated many times in the past to provide complete clothing and protective load bearing systems to various units for maritime and amphibious use. Their combined stand at the show featured some of the FS Maritime carriers like the Bullfrog. Lots of different features between these like hydrophobic materials, buoyancy bags that can be inflated almost instantly by compressed Co2 carts and floatation within the carriers that can be inflated by the user. On top of the usual 6/12 attachment, Tube closures and top tier quality of construction.

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The offerings from Typhoon certainly caught my interest as they manufacture fully flame resistant and waterproof outer garments. I see a lot of FR base layers and Level 9 uniforms, but Level 5 and 6 water resistant/proof layers, that are also FR, are comparatively almost never seen. As you can see from the 2nd picture, Typhoon integrate carbon in to the waterproof camouflage fabrics (the visible small dots) and I’m told in a flash fire incident that carbon will bond together and create the necessary flame retardant layer of protection. I’m going to have to dig around to maybe find a video of this concept in action because it sounds very intriguing indeed.

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S&S Precision with Edgar Brothers at DSEI

S&S had a couple of new products on display and I was lucky enough to be able to chat with the owner of the company for a little while about what they had going on (super friendly bloke btw).

They have a few new sets of gloves on the way. First being a wet suit glove that’s put together in a very similar manner to the best designs of standard shooting glove out on the market today. Stitched in line with the fingers rather than perpendicular, a property you should always look for when buying a glove because it means you’ll actually retain good dexterity when wearing it. Shorter cuff with a classic velcro closure and of course to keep with the times touch screen compatible. Ticking all the boxes. The other glove shown is a mesh type that’ll no doubt be excellent in hot climates and another not shown but under development at S&S is a high altitude sky diving glove with powered heating elements and some intelligent use of materials. I’ve not jumped from any extreme heights myself but I’ve still gotten pretty cold hands under canopy, so I hope to get the chance to see the new design at some point. No doubt the actual cool guys who’re hopping off the bus at 10k or above will appreciate them very much.

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Also on the stand was a holster I’d been looking at online quite literally a couple of days previously from Armordillo Concealment, INC. Rather than encapsulating the entire gun it simply locks on to a SureFire x300, so if you have one of those or buy one of their standard models (not the new specific variant for the SF holster) you then immediately have a holster to work with basically any pistol that has a rail to attach that light. Very much added to my shopping list.

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Edgar Brothers at DSEI

I had a feeling EB were putting something pretty special together for their stand and I was not disappointed. They had essentially a mini SHOT Show setup all in one area and I was loving it I have to say. On board they had lots of gear from Daniel DefenseBlue Force Gear, Inc.S&S PrecisionVelocity Systems/Mayflower R&CGeissele Automatics, LLCTeam WendyMYSTERY RANCH BACKPACKSArc’teryx, of course Hot Shots Calendarand even more I’m forgetting right now.

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Great opportunity to take a close look at a huge variety of equipment in one place that you’d otherwise have to travel the world or spend a fortune to see. That in itself is a very large and key part of the reason why I run this outlet and try to put out as much information as possible to anyone who wants it.

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Special mentions to Rosie Jones and Kelly Hall smiling away as always raising some cash for Help for Heroes Official. Between the pair of them they’ve attended more defence and security industry expos at this point than probably the majority of people actually working in that business. They’ll be at it again in Vegas come January with some of the other ladies and I’ll be saying the same thing no doubt. What actually matters is the fundraising to help the vets who’ve suffered so you and I don’t have to and deserve absolutely nothing but the best. Last time at Shot the cash boxes at the Crye booth were quite literally bursting and overflowing, so credit where credit is due because a lot of the people coming up to the stand do ask some strange and unusual things but the girls are never phased. I’ve had some experience being the other side of the table as it were, presenting service weapons to crowds of people at open days and the like on base and the patience required just doing that for 1 day being asked the same things over and over again is substantial, let alone doing it for 3-4 days.

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REX firearms at DSEI

Rex had a small booth but what they did have was quite impressive I have to say. As a company they’ve only gotten in to firearms relatively recently, but they’ve been making other related items (training ammunition, links, tac gear) for a long time.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect quality wise from Rex Zero 1 pistol but they appeared to be very well manufactured. The de-cocker also acts as the slide lock and release, with the safety and magazine release both being ambi. The compact variants are shorter in the slide and grip as you’d expect, that tactical models feature threaded barrels and slide optic cuts. The competition model at the end has more going on than I’m even going to list in this post. The Firearm Blog very recently published a video on YouTube showcasing these pistols at the factory in Slovenia if you’re interested in seeing more.

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My feelings about modernising AKs are that it should absolutely be done but you should take a Military style approach to it, taking considered and incremental steps. If you slap on everything you can or make really huge changes to the DNA of the rifle it’ll end up a mess. The Rex AKB-15 may look like a totally different animal, but really the only huge change is up top. The receiver, BCG, barrel and fire control parts are pretty much what you’d want and expect in any AK, they have primarily just changed the obsolete top cover and soviet side mount for a monolithic top rail to fit optics in a secure fashion. Of course there’s also M-LOK slots on the lower handguard. Crucially the safety/selector is extremely smooth and with the downwards extension a right handed shooter can manipulate it quickly and very easily. For field cleaning you simply press out 2 HK style pins at the rear of the receiver to pop off the stock. Great design work.

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GLOCK at DSEI

I think there may have been a slight mix up with the Gen 4 G17s on the stand, because unless something’s changed and nobody’s told my armoury, we don’t get the extended slide release levers on our service pistols. However for those who may not be aware, yes the G19 is a service pistol, not as widely used of course as the full size gun but there are quite a few in inventory.

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No Gen 5 guns sadly, but the M variants are what I’d call a Gen 4.8 (more than a 4.5). The most interesting aspect for me was the magazines. I’m not sure if they’re actually standard for the M models or special for the show (other guns didn’t have them) but the cuts make insertion require more force and pressing the mag release causes the magazine to fly out of the pistol at a pretty rapid rate. Be very interested to try the design out live firing, seem like a nice option, especially for speed/emergency reloads.

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BCM Goes M-LOK (At Last)

Interrupting your scheduled broadcast to bring you important KeyMod vs M-LOK news.

Bravo Company USA have (at some point recently, I only just noticed) released an M-LOK version of their famous KMR forend series. As the company that pretty much put KeyMod in to the market place to begin with and staunchly stuck by it the past couple of years, this is pretty crucial. My prediction was that this would happen eventually, but it’s still surprising to see none-the-less.

https://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-MMR-13-M-LOK-Compatible-Free-Float-Handguard-p/bcm-mmr-13-556-blk.htm

Current Issue Kit – Source Tactical Gear and Revision Military at DSEI

My personal kit is an Osprey Mk4 and Mk7 helmet, so I took the opportunity to take a quick look over the most current Virtus gear.

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From what I know, the origins of the systems that support your torso armour on your belt began with SOF teams in Afghan and Iraq who would spend extremely long periods wearing their PCs and other gear. Cutting one snake’s head off, jumping back on a bird then moving right on to the next target, doing this day in, day out for months upon months. Obviously this puts a serious burden and wear on the shoulders and back with the armour, ammo, radios etc all hanging off the shoulder straps. Bearing some of the weight on to the belt spreads that weight on to the hips and more directly to the legs in to the ground, legs of course being generally better suited for lifting and carrying heavier weights than the upper body in general.

I’ve not spoken to anyone yet who’s spent a lot of time in the kit, there are some less favourable news stories from the middle of last year with changes apparently being made by Source, but I’ve no updates on that. Personally; as heavy as the Mk4 is when loaded with the full compliment of soft armour and plates (plus of course the hindrance to shouldering a rifle stock), mine is actually pretty well stitched throughout and twisting movements, changing firing stance/position or getting in to vehicles is easy enough. I am a bit surprised by the lack of PALS on the sides of VIRTUS, seeing as everyone I’ve seen religiously mounts every pouch to the sides of Osprey due to the fear of the effects of IED we live under post Op Herrick, but I presume the idea is to put more mags and other kit on the belt rather than the vest in the new system.

The Virtus/Mk8 helmet is quite a modern setup all around. The military will always lag behind somewhat, but the gap between what’s issued and what’s the latest commercially available design has narrowed in the past few years. There will also always be significant differences in what’s generally issued vs what SOF run with, but that’s primarily because they emphasise mobility over protection. I’d say we’re only about 1 significant step behind now. My only hope is things will keep progressing that way, because in this ‘peace time’ without any really large deployments of personnel, kit is so often left by the wayside to become obsolete and it’s too late to change or update right before the next fight comes along. All things considered I’ve been pretty happy with my Mk7 once the additional supplementary pads were put in, far more stable than my 6 and 6a. My Ops-Core FAST Carbon in factory setup is frankly a head torture device, my issued helmet is considerably more comfortable, even when I wore it for a bit of time on deployment. That experience has left me a little wary of headband dial systems on helmets, but the suspended mesh does look like it’ll be a lot better than the so-called ‘pads’ in the FAST.

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