Down Low

This proved controversial on IG because I think some folks misunderstood my meaning, but here it is anyway:

Arm Velcro is a bad move in public imho, you don’t need it so why potentially shout about who you are or otherwise lead people in to potential misconceptions. If you’re reading this you 99% already know because I’m very happy to say that people I see follow me are smart and know shit. Just remember when shopping if you’re not quite sold on a product, you can always remove loop and labels with minimal time and effort and turn something tactical in to something totally plain and nondescript, then just keep your Cryes for the range (or whatever). Probably wouldn’t recommend this for level 5 or 6 though, so in that area you do have to buy what you need off the shelf, maybe get some custom blanking plates if you see a deal too good to pass up.

Taking It Way Back

I signed a set of webbing out of stores yesterday for a 3 day course I’m on the week after next. I knew there was a new PALS based MTP belt in the system but I’d never seen the old PLCE in MTP before this week. Why exactly they’ve brought it back and only changed the colours I’m not sure because it uses 1000D and is seriously over-built just like the old DPM stuff, so it’s probably not even that cheap to make with all the metal ‘pull the dot’ fasteners and other heavy duty bits.

The pouches do have velcro closures inside (that can be covered and disabled) but the surface area isn’t enough for them to be relied on to my mind. The spanish fly system you get on the outside is really slow and awkward to close in the best of conditions let alone in cold gloves or when time matters, it’s basically the same setup that the canvas webbing of WW2 and earlier used. There’s not much to go wrong with it and it’ll almost never wear out, but even ALICE used better, faster buckles back in ‘nam.

It’s a pain to setup in some ways compared to PALS pouches, but it sure does take me back. I first had to rig this stuff up in basic 10 years ago. I only had a couple of pouches on my rig, but there’s no denying that the belt remains the most effective and comfortable place on the body to carry the weight of your kit. So much easier to get on and off compared to most issued body armour systems.

Skulls Everywhere

Thanks to MilSpecMonkey for letting me take a look at their new grey-to-end-all-greys on a pretty sweet Raw Hoodie, I’m hoping the colour might expand to some other gear because I’m a fan already I have to say. It’s not the first coyote/RG/grey style colour mix on an apparel piece it has to be said, but it’s nicely done and well researched. I don’t think any brands will move away from the bluer ‘Wolf’ shade now they’ve sunk money in to getting all the fabrics made; not soon anyway. But I know MSM has shown this new colour to FirstSpear and FS aren’t afraid of trying new things, so fingers crossed.

Also featuring Bravo Company USA, ITS Tactical, G-Code Holsters,Centurion Arms and Crye (duh).

FS – Keeping You Decent

The FirstSpear Line One belt. Urethane over a Nylon core. Supple like leather but I can attest to the fact there’s no break in like a thick leather belt, yet still has enough rigidity to carry a light load (maybe something hidden?). Totally waterproof outer surface with a smooth yet matte finish. Being synthetic of course it won’t wear out and eventually just crumble the way natural materials do.

Been wearing mine every day since SHOT this year, still looks brand new. Will be continuing to wear it every day and I’ll update in a few months or if I have any issues. Honestly it just works and FS call it “the last belt you’ll ever need” which sounds like marketing BS on the surface but I would quite genuinely agree with that statement. If you do some sort of heavy labouring job, yeah you might wear it out in many years or heavy usage. But if you don’t I’d wager you’d get minimum multiple decades of wear, more than likely your body will fail before this belt does. Definitely not cheap and there’s no arguing the fact you can get a belt that’ll last years for much less, this thing is over built, but I reckon it’s worth the investment myself.

Shades of Grey and PenCott

Bit of a random ensemble of a mail call, actually arrived a while back but I’ve kept it in the back pocket since the next one will be another few weeks at the minimum (and I’ve already been waiting months for certain things to worm their way around the globe).

Ft. Arc’teryx, Magpul Industries Corp., B5 Systems, Aimpoint AB, Salomon,Husar, PenCott CamouflageLA Police Gear, SKD Tactical and Legit Kit.

Arktis Update

Time for some more signature straight-up no BS gear truth:

For those that remember the new version Arktis Ranger Trousers I posted up about a few times a couple of months back, after many e-mails and a lot of prodding I’ve finally got some response worth reporting on.

I did a bit of testing (in a non scientific way) with the 2 pairs they lent to me for review and overall they were pretty damn good. Top end materials throughout, bar-tacks and double/triple stitching where it needed to be, all the pockets you might need etc. However there were some minor niggles that I took substantial time to document and report back on, as was the agreement when Arktis sent over the items in the first place. A couple of small areas where parallel stitch lines weren’t quite right, some small suggested changes to the factory kneepad inserts and, primarily, the knee pad pockets being just a hair’s width too short to 100% fully fit G3 kneepads perfectly.

Initially I was told the 2 pairs of trousers I have were first off the production line early models (borderline prototype) and the kneepad fitment issue apparently wasn’t evident on other pairs in the warehouse upon checking. I said ok then, in that instance let me return these sets and I’ll borrow a fresh pair from you guys for actual recording of a video review so that I’m not putting out false negative information about the product.

Now, all this communication was with a gentleman working in the design department at Arktis. There was a bit of a gap in comms, I then received an e-mail that had been shotgunned out by this person to explain he was leaving the company. I didn’t exactly say why but it came across as perfectly normal and amicable, no big dramas or anything.

The next person I moved on to speak to then again (it turned out) left the company shortly after. Maybe I have just a terrible effect on people? Regardless I’ve now been informed that “the trousers are still under review”, from a design perspective presumably, and I should get in touch again later this year when Arktis are planning to have made further changes. What those changes will be and whether they’re actually going to finally listen to the feedback I’ve given them on many, many occasions now, advice that would fix the problems I keep finding with these trousers, who knows?

It’s frustrating that they have such a well established manufacturing location, access to plenty of mil-spec materials and just keep falling that tiny bit short of the mark. The one pair I have here in temperate DPM that were custom 1-off modifications of the earlier model are absolutely top notch and fit Crye pads perfectly, yet, the 2 examples of the current iteration I’ve got here do have small issues that really do bring them down (disproportionately so).

I’ve made it very clear that my assistance is available going forward and maybe they’ll actually take me up on that and I’ll keep that ship sailing straight and true. Maybe not though. I will as always keep you updated.

Anything’s Better Than MALICE

In all genuine seriousness (just for a second), by far the most satisfying and overall cool thing for me with this blog/page/channel is when people like my ideas enough to actually bring them on board to use themselves. That’s no small thing and when it’s related to gear someone has purchased themselves I appreciate there’s a fair bit of risk being taken that what I’ve said will actually ring true in reality. Whether that’s fellow service members or fellow airsoft geeks, it’s either kit people depend on or kit they’ve spent their hard earned money on. It all matters in some form or another. I hope I can continue to pass on some tid bits of useful knowledge based on my experiences as time goes on that may actually be of small benefit to various folks.

Like to thanks my mate Scott for sending over these shots of his TACOs rigged up using the Velcro one-wrap I mentioned in a video a little while back. If you run any MALICE compatible pouches on a belt (especially a belt with a loop lining) then you may find this a handy tip. I’ve not run with it a ton so far admittedly so i wouldn’t call this duty-ready by any stretch, but in the time I have used pouches attached this way I’ve not had any problems at all. They’ve stated glued in place and do hug the belt tightly with very little bulk on the inside.

 

PCU Primer

This may ‘only’ be a product specific video, but if you want to gain more understanding of all this softshell/inclement weather clothing I’ve banged on about in the past, this does an amazing job. Only 6 minutes long yet this is a solid primer for better understanding more in-depth discussions and other pieces about PCU/ECWCS style (doesn’t really apply to PCS since brit kit still doesn’t include a softshell layer) foul weather layering. Also a great video for demonstrating the concept of *not* insulating yourself and fully prioritising moisture management during fast movement and heavy activity.

Hill People Gear have their stuff made by FirstSpear with some more outdoor/mountaineering twists, less military aesthetics and features. The FS Windcheater is a very popular jacket for good reason and I’d strongly consider going for the HPG version of it.

Da Bomb

A while back I decided that I liked the Flexfit type caps most, quite a few tactical-type brands manufacture them and for good reason. I mentioned the MilSpecMonkey CG Hat a while ago which is a great Flexfit option and the softshell multicam version is superb in sub par weather conditions, but I still wanted an all-multicam cap that would be optimal in hot weather and not expose a big area of my forehead when worn backwards with goggles.

Grey Ghost *used* to make a really great multicam cap in NYCO that had an elastic band around the inside which functioned like a Flexfit and retained the useful, resilient properties of 50/50 nylon-cotton vs a thinner stretch fabric. Luckily I still have mine and it’s great for anything other than the height of summer, however NYCO does not wick very fast because of its’ cotton content and given that the head/forehead is one of the areas we sweat the most under exertion, fabric selection when it comes to headwear is worth paying attention to.

This is my 2nd RE Factor Tactical ‘Blasting cap’ and to my mind these caps give you everything you’d want from such a product. Loop fields front and back with heavily embroidered edging to prevent any frays and the conventional top button replaced with loop to allow more patch mounting and avoid unpleasant interference with ear pro. The primary stretch fabric used to cover the bill and for the main body is certainly on the thin side, if you want a cap that’ll last forever this isn’t it. But if you want super light, permeable to some breeze coming in and heat/sweat going out, it’s a great choice. I wore this one for a bit while I was deployed, just as some protection from the sun for my scalp and eyes (it’s pretty bright when you’re high in the mountainous desert) and for general work around base it was great to have. Stows pretty easily and tightly down in to a cargo pocket and performed as I’d have expected in the warmer weather.

In a military context there’s only ever really 1 type of explosive I’ve ever used or might potentially use, so having ‘Relative Effectiveness factor’ for different compounds inside doesn’t really matter either way to me. However these caps are a product of some ex US mil guys who did EOD stuff within their jobs and encountered lots of different type of explosives, so these numbers are printed inside their caps as a partly practical reference for serving blokes, part homage to their time in. I’m not EOD trained myself so I’m presuming the idea is that if you lose your note book with this crucial information written down, you can still gain access to it.

How useful the blaze signal panel might be (you can just about wear the cap inside out if things go far south) I’m not sure, it’s a very small surface area, but it would of course stand out against the desert sand and scrub better than multicam does. Best used in conjunction with some sort of signal panel or reversible backpack cover that’s got hi-vis colouring.

Picked this one up at SKD Tactical where they carry a really good range of these things with some of the best customer service you could ever ask for.

Indoor Deserts

Loadout shot from Sunday 26th March, first game I’ve played at my favourite site since before I went to afghan.

The gear ‘testing’ (as far as I can test stuff in airsoft at least) continues. With the exception of my eye/ear pro and gloves basically everything I had on me was going through its’ first usage.

Head pro – ESS (Eye Safety Systems) Turbofans, 3M Peltor Communication Solutions Comtacs and Mr. Colion Noir (@MrColionNoir) #thepewpewlifeFlexfit

Upper – Rasputin item G3 Combat shirt copy in PenCott Camouflage Sandstorm (future video – cryes on a budget?)

PC – Dead Coyote Tactical Nylon front, straps and placard with FirstSpear retro-fit cummerbund, deluxe shoulder pads and AAC back, TYR Tactical, LLC zip-on hydro panel, old af High Speed Gear TACOs in OD (rest is RG), Tactical Tailor GP, Source Tactical Gear bladder and ITW Grimlock.

Sling – Heavily butchered FS 2-pt with Blue Force Gear, Inc. Uber loops to create a 1-pt that works extremely well with the Evo

Gloves – SKD Tactical Gen 1 PIGs

Lower – PLATATAC Tac Dax Mk3 with D3O Trust HP Internal knee pads

Belt – FS AGB with Slimline AGB sleeve, pre hypalon BFG TenSpeed double pistol, HSGI TACO LT, Platatac BB pouch for Concept Tactical TRMR, pretty fuckin salty Warrior Assault Systems dump pouch, G-Code Holsters RTi belt mount and Off The Grid Concepts LLC Light bearing OWB holster

Feet – Old gen Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid GTX

Primary – Team ASG Scorpion with INFORCE Gen 2 WML

Secondary – Stark Arms, LLC M&P with SureFire, LLC X300U and stippling by good friend Ko-Tac

As mentioned, almost all gear and guns were getting their first run out, which isn’t uncommon for me at the rate I get new stuff and the trouble I usually run in to with actually getting to games. That said, I enjoy learning what all this stuff can and can’t actually do when you put it on and run around and actually get a sweat on putting yourself in to lots of shooting positions and moving through rooms. Gives me plenty of points to discuss when I make videos or write about these products and hopefully give you good folks more information to make good informed decisions.