Showing posts with label Midnight Rider Outfitters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Midnight Rider Outfitters. Show all posts

Friday, December 5, 2014

Product Review: Midnight Rider Loaded Battle Belts

I talked about the Midnight Rider Loaded Battle Belt a week ago. Now I'm finally sitting down to write a proper review. First a broad overview of the product:
Basically $110 (shipped so equivalent to other folks charging $95ish) gets you a ready to go battle belt setup with a decent budget IFAK and some other items. A breakdown of the components is:

  • Padded War Belt:  The core of the Midnight Rider battle belt is a new USMC-issue Padded War Belt (NSN 8465-01-615-5140).  This comes with an as-issued "Y" harness but has extra attachment points to be compatible with four-point "H" harnesses.
  • GP Pouches:  We add two surplus USMC-issue general purpose/IFAK pouches (NSN 8105-09-000-2725).  These pouches have a convenient internal subdivider and measure about 6"x6" with about two to four inches of depth, making them great general purpose pouches as well.
  • Canteen Pouch:  Each belt is equipped with a NEW USMC canteen pouch.  These have a convenient buckle closure and fit a canteen with cup.  Each pouch has side pockets useful for water purification tabs, paracord, or other small accessories.  
  • Mag Pouches:  Finally, we round out each belt with USMC double magazine pouches.  These pouches will fit two standard capacity 30-round AR-style magazines, including PMAGs.  Small belts can fit only two pouches, medium belts fit four, and large belts can pack six.  If you don't need to carry magazines they provide handy storage for smaller items like monoculars, NVDs, or radios.  Some of the surplus pouches show some evidence of wear but most are in excellent shape.  You could use magazine shingles under these pouches to increase the capacity of your belt system.
  • "LOADED!"  The "LOADED" battle belt also comes with a USGI canteen and the Midnight Rider Patrol Pouch (consisting of Trauma, First Aid, and Patrol Modules -- see below for details).  I toss in a canteen cup for free, but these cups are not to milspec and thus won't nest with the canteen.
As to concept of use and where this system fits in the big picture. It is definitely a high value to cost system. A full USGI (vs airsoft type stuff) battle belt with pouches and an IFAK for $110 is a great deal. Especially considering the price includes shipping it compares more equitably to other setups in the $95 range (shipping for a large flat rate box is $17.). For a person on a budget who wants something more modern and ergonomic than ALICE that is not going to fall apart the first time you take it out training with somebody like Max Velocity or John Mosby this would be a fine choice. The person who put this together has been using one exclusively for awhile. It works fine and I would have no issue using it exclusively.

What I really like this setup as is a sweet spot between expensive new gear and budget but aging and not exactly ideal ALICE stuff. I believe every rifle needs it's own mags and fighting load. That means per rifle not per platform. So if you own 3 AR's it would be three separate sets of gear. The cost of doing that at $200+ a pop can get cost prohibitive in a hurry. At the same time I would like something more along the lines of my primary rig than the old ALICE. That's where Midnight Rider's Battle Belt's come in.

Now we can cool at some pictures. Sorry for anybody still on dial up.
The Midnight Rider Loaded Battle Belt as it was shipped to me. For a general non AO specific set of gear Coyote AKA tan is a fine option. It works pretty decently in most areas. I appreciated how it came set up so I could check it out right away (note apparently this is not standard though it's available for $15). For the less experienced user this would avoid MOLLE madness and let them get strait to using it.

What Midnight Rider Outfitters calls a 'patrol pouch'. Basically it is an IFAK plus some other stuff. A little disposable poncho, some matches, etc. I also showed the canteen and canteen cup.

This is my battle belt. I showed the picture for comparison and because I do not really have a good picture of it's current configuration.

My battle belt with components shown. Again mostly for future reference and so show you how my gear is set up.

The Midnight Rider Battle Belt as I started putting stuff into it.

Top view

It got dark but here is how I set the Midnight Rider Battle Belt up. For testing I wanted to put it like I would actually use it. The changes are addition of a pistol mag in a pouch and reconfiguring the pouches a little bit. I put the canteen on the right side and shuffled some stuff around. From left to right: pistol mag, 2x rifle mag, 2x rifle mag, first aid non IFAK items and various stuff, chow and bino's (those two may be the other way, I don't recall), canteen, Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Military Green, 4.1-Inch , IFAK in a 2x mag pouch and 2 more rifle mags.

I did not put a holster on this setup because holsters can go in a lot of directions and I wanted to stick to the fairly common setup of the rig.

Now finally on to the normal review format. Since  I have talked a lot already this will be somewhat abreviated.

The Good: A ready to go battle belt setup made of quality components with an IFAK for $110. This is a good well thought out set of gear at a very fair price.  The belt is fine, the pouches are G2G and the suspenders are really nice. I like them a lot and plan to get a set for my personal battle belt. 

I may pick one up some day to use as a back up rig for a spare/ back up rifle. At that price why not.

I also like that it comes with a basic but serviceable IFAK. The only not perfect item is the TK4 tourniquet, some folks criticise them. I reviewed the TK4 tourniquet awhile back and think they have a role for back up's and folks on tight budgets. If you don't like it go out and buy a CAT or SOF-T. Too many people, especially new folks or those on a right budget might forget to get an IFAK. This setup starts you out with one.

The Bad: The canteen cup is not nesting with the canteen. I put it in one of the sustainment pouches on the bottom. That could work but is not ideal. Additionally I would be lying if I think the canteen cup is a particularly durable piece of kit. If/ when I get one of these I will replace the canteen cup.

Additionally while I do like the IFAK and Canteen/ Canteen Cup being included I am underwhelmed with the other stuff that comes in there. A might work once disposable poncho, a little packet of water, a couple water purification pills and matches. I know what they were trying to do with that but as a perspective buyer would rather not pay for that stuff. Along those lines while I do like the IFAK what is someone just wants the belt kit and already has plenty of medical gear?

Generally speaking I would like to see an uncoupling of the core belt/ pouches and the IFAK/ patrol pouch components. Maybe they could just offer them as an add on.

The Ugly: The pouches are definitely 5.56 specific. They are designed for AR mags. It is probably reasonable to assume they would take Mini-14 and most other double stack mags that are shaped similarly. It is not compatible with AK or 7.62 mags. So this system is really only viable if you are shooting an AR or similar rifle.

Also if you for whatever reason do not want Coyote the options are to choose another setup or try dying it yourself.

Overall Assessment: This is a high value system that is a good affordable option to use as a primary system and has a nice niche as a back up battle belt. I am sad to be sending this Battle Belt back and  would like to purchase one in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Special Midnight Rider Loaded Battle Belts

Awhile back an invisible friend reached out. I was asked to review a battle belt system for them and talk about it. The gear was sent and I have been testing it. Ashamed to say I am woefully behind on getting a full review done on this set of gear.

Basically $110 (shipped so equivalent to other folks charging $95ish) gets you a ready to go battle belt setup with a decent budget IFAK and some other items. A breakdown of the components is:
  • Padded War Belt:  The core of the Midnight Rider battle belt is a new USMC-issue Padded War Belt (NSN 8465-01-615-5140).  This comes with an as-issued "Y" harness but has extra attachment points to be compatible with four-point "H" harnesses.
  • GP Pouches:  We add two surplus USMC-issue general purpose/IFAK pouches (NSN 8105-09-000-2725).  These pouches have a convenient internal subdivider and measure about 6"x6" with about two to four inches of depth, making them great general purpose pouches as well.
  • Canteen Pouch:  Each belt is equipped with a NEW USMC canteen pouch.  These have a convenient buckle closure and fit a canteen with cup.  Each pouch has side pockets useful for water purification tabs, paracord, or other small accessories.  
  • Mag Pouches:  Finally, we round out each belt with USMC double magazine pouches.  These pouches will fit two standard capacity 30-round AR-style magazines, including PMAGs.  Small belts can fit only two pouches, medium belts fit four, and large belts can pack six.  If you don't need to carry magazines they provide handy storage for smaller items like monoculars, NVDs, or radios.  Some of the surplus pouches show some evidence of wear but most are in excellent shape.  You could use magazine shingles under these pouches to increase the capacity of your belt system.
  • "LOADED!"  The "LOADED" battle belt also comes with a USGI canteen and the Midnight Rider Patrol Pouch (consisting of Trauma, First Aid, and Patrol Modules -- see below for details).  I toss in a canteen cup for free, but these cups are not to milspec and thus won't nest with the canteen.
[Edited to include:
For any readers that are on the fence, They are offering a Thanksgiving/Black Friday special this week.

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL! All orders placed between 28 November and 5 December will receive a FREE mystery item! Items could be more MOLLE pouches, rifle targets, an extra tourniquet or med gear... who knows! Additionally, for every two belts you order, I will throw in a free hydration carrier (while supplies last) or free assembly for one belt (please indicate choice when you order). Finally, for each LOADED belt ordered during the holidays, a portion of the proceeds will support the TOYS FOR TOTS drive run by the USMC Reserve. What a deal!

A sampling of the mystery items I've shipped out this week:
- .22 rimfire scopes
- Hydration packs
- Backpacks
- Extra MOLLE pouches
- Random upgrade to handpick stuff (like nice nalgene)
- Extra tourniquets and random med stuff
- Rifle slings
- Pistol Holsters ]
This is a solid system. You can certainly assemble a better one out of new top tier (HSGI, etc) gear but can easily spend twice as much money in doing so. Depending on your budget and priorities they are both valid options.

As to concept of use and where this system fits in the big picture. It is definitely a high value to cost system. For a person on a budget who wants something more modern and ergonomic than ALICE that is not going to fall apart the first time you take it out training with somebody like Max Velocity or John Mosby this would be a fine choice. The person who put this together has been using one exclusively for awhile. It works fine and I would have no issue using it exclusively.

What I really like this setup as is a sweet spot between expensive new gear and budget but aging and not exactly ideal ALICE stuff. I believe every rifle needs it's own mags and fighting load. That means per rifle not per platform. So if you own 3 AR's it would be three separate sets of gear. The cost of doing that at $200+ a pop can get cost prohibitive in a hurry. At the same time I would like something more along the lines of my primary rig than the old ALICE. That's where Midnight Rider's Battle Belt's come in.

A full review will follow in due time.
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