Tactical Hangers

Some new arrivals from the FirstSpear web store last week that’ll be added to the proper-review queue.

Hope you all have your monitor brightness turned down, because I’ve already taken the tough hooks to the gym to try out and there’s a reason I never wear shorts on camera I’ll say that.

The very new multi-mag pouch is something I’ve been after since it was first announced and it’s been very interesting indeed to get hands on with it.  It’s a piece of gear I’m going to be trying out in airsoft a good few times at least and *maybe* take over to the US just to see how it does when I really run it with real mags/rounds/rifles, but a lot of pieces will have to fall in to place for that to happen.  For me it’s just been good to get my hands on a pouch that’s so innovative and different for a change and doubly so when it’s coming from a brand I’ve long been a fan of who build things to such high quality.

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ATACS Central

Fortuitous news since just the other day I was saying I don’t like A-Tacs Camo ‘LE’ and other mostly-black patterns. ATACS will be offering a grey-dominant variation on the new iX line known as Ghost. Personally, I’m really liking the aesthetic.

https://www.a-tacs.com/single-post/2017/10/02/New-Gear-Coming-in-A-TACS-Ghost-Pattern-from-Tactical-Performance-Corp

Just need Multicam to drop a dark grey urban option now instead of MC Black. Then once PenCott Metropolis drops and (if) Kryptek release Raid fabric I can get the gear together to post Commercial Camo Showdown part 4.

Soldier Systems Daily broke the news on a new ATACS specific website bringing alllllll sorts of ATACS patterened products under one roof. Featuring the likes of ur-tactical.comTRU-SPEC and Velocity Systems/Mayflower R&C – all brands that I own, use and would recommend. So if you are a fan of the family I’d say have a look at www.a-tacsgearstore.com

Finnish PC

InRange TV uploaded a very nice video today showcasing different variable magnification optic selections as part of their ‘What Would (Eugene) Stoner Do’ ideal AR-15 build series. Good thoughts and real world, practical shooting experience with the items discussed as always.

The rifles themselves are great setups with modern pencil barrels, carbon fibre handguards, polymer lower receivers and every other part coming under intense scrutiny. However I am mainly a gear guy and while the clothing in the video caught my eye as it often does, Karl’s plate carrier is what really grabbed my attention. Being a modern design that I had most certainly never seen before (a rare thing) I started digging through the comments and fortunately struck oil.

The carrier, named the Verseidag Tacticum, is made by Sioen Ballistics Oy, retailed over at Varusteleka.com and currently in use by Finnish SOF. If you know much about Finland’s history in conflict, you’ll no doubt have the same respect for the way they do things as I do.

https://www.varusteleka.com/en/product/verseidag-tacticum-plate-carrier/27766

There’s a pretty nice looking 3-band cummerbund with mesh spacing and slim shoulder straps of a synthetic fabric which may or may not be similar to what I showcased from C2R at DSEI. The stand out of course is the zip panels being both front and back, eschewing the more popular and somewhat standardised modular front flap that Velocity/Mayflower and Crye have begun to popularise over the past couple of years.

The plate pockets themselves have plenty of PALS sewn on, a lot of it being loop covered for a pretty extreme level of modularity. You’ve then got similar layouts with full PALS on the outsides of the zipped panels and again, plenty of loop. The slight disadvantage to this is you’re carrying a lot of wasted webbing and loop behind that zip panels that’s bulking your rig out and adding some weight, so if your goal is truly minimalist kit in terms of zero-wastage you’ll be carrying around a bit extra, but there’s certainly no lack of modularity.

Personally I’d run some slick pouches like TenSpeeds up front, they’d easily get hidden away underneath the zip panel which could itself be fitted with other pouches for something like a sub gun. Heck looking at the layout, you could possibly even jam some FS Multimags under the panel if there’s enough slack built in to the dimensions of the cordura.

Not a cheap price on the face of it, however the 4th image on the product page actually shows what you’re getting and there’s a lot there for the money. The base PC itself, with shoulder strap wraps, both front and rear modular panels included as well as entirely modular/removable spacer mesh pads from the front, back and shoulders. That’s a setup I’ve considered having custom made myself so I’m pretty excited to see that offered from a manufacturer.

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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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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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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TYR Tactical at DSEI

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For me, any opportunity to fit some gear viewing in to my schedule is welcome. Now I’ve armed myself with a bit more knowledge I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I’ve lost count the number of times over the years I’ve spent a load of money getting something from overseas only for it to turn out the manufacturer’s website or the gear store’s description was somewhat lacking. A small few companies like Tyr and Crye provide tech spec sheets on their sites, but they are very much the exception. Yet another reason to always look at lots of reviews before making a purchase; even contact the manufacturer if needs be.

Tyr have been around for some time now and while they’re not perhaps the largest name in the industry, I have tried out a few pieces of their equipment and their materials and construction quality is absolutely right up there with anyone else you’d care to mention. They’ve definitely put some innovative products out there over the years and their commercially offered line has expanded greatly in the past 12-18 months.

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First thing I’ve shown is their hot weather uniform. They offer conventional NYCO uniforms for temperate climes as well as a softshell/cold weather system, but the arid/jungle offering from the Huron line caught my attention with it’s materials and pricing. A few other high-end manufacturers of uniforms have recently come out with their own lines that are specifically designed around jungle/high humidity environments and they’ve changed out the standard 50/50 NYCO for various new fabrics that haven’t really been seen in the field before and offer increased performance in the relevant environments, but the prices have jumped significantly. The long sleeve Huron hot weather shirt has stayed at basically the same price point as the standard Crye G3 CS despite using a multicam fabric that is far more expensive than NYCO. The short sleeve variant is actually even cheaper than the G3 and I’d imagine Tyr will have a discount option available for service members. The torso fabric is from Polartec, all polyester with a specific construction to transport moisture as fast as is physically possible. You lose the no-melt no-drip, however most of these jungle uniforms do and for those of you looking for high quality gear for any sporting application in warm climates I’d certainly give it a look. Unfortunately the combat shirt is currently only available in Multicam, whereas the standard shirt is in MC and OD, but after checking it out in person I’m very much hovering over that checkout button regardless of already owning quite a few combat shirts in the same pattern.

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I don’t have names on the new chest rig/placard offerings, but check out Soldier Systems Daily for an article on these if you need nomenclature. Last I checked the Tyr website wasn’t listing them, but as you can see you’ve got some heavy built options for plate carrier mounting, especially in the double-triple mag placard with the typical bungee adaptability for various sizes of magazine. Also being supplied with loop-mounted spacer mesh backers it’ll be easy to go from PC mount to clipping in an H Harness and running a light chest rig. I’m gradually transitioning all my gear over to this new system.

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In the last image you can see just 2 of the many, many armour carriage system that Tyr offer. I specifically wanted to detail one of their female oriented offerings (left side in the image) since Tyr are very much at the forefront in building armour carriers to fit female personnel. They clearly put a lot of manufacturing time in to altering the shape of the nylon gear and the way in which the plates are carried, as well as the shaping of the plates themselves. Putting any politics aside, females in dismounted close combat roles are here in 2017 and their numbers will only increase, so their need for comfortable, fitting armour is more crucial than ever before. Most standard issue equipment I’ve seen is very lacking in this area so I can’t imagine the discomfort a lot of female personnel have had to endure wearing ill-fitting armour when deployed in hot, arid theatres of operation; it’s good to see a company putting the R&D in to this field.