Showing posts with label gear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gear. Show all posts

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Importance of Inspecting Bags

These days my Rucksack just stays packed. We do not go to the field every other week or something but I use it for road marching once a week and just like to keep it ready to go. At this stage in my career I have accumulated enough spare socks/ t shirts/ etc that the ones in my ruck can just stay there. For the latest round of field time I almost just grabbed my ruck and took off. Decided it would be a good idea to look in it and I am glad I did.

I was missing a couple key things:

For whatever reason I didn't have a sleeping bag or a woobie or anything like that. Granted this is Louisiana in the dog days of summer so the gore tex bivy could have worked and just sleeping in my clothes would have kept me alive but some sort of insulation makes for a comfortable sleep. I put in my HPG Mountain Serape.

Also for reasons that escape me I have one pair of socks in my bag and they were mid weight and made of wool. When I took out the rest of the winter module I must have missed them. While wool can be worn in any season all but the lightest garments are punishing in this heat. I kept that pair of socks and added 3 lighter pair.

There was a bottle of anti inflamatory pain killers in my ruck. The gel tablets had melted together into a big ball. So those need to be replaced with non gel tablets. 

Those additions made my ruck pass a quick initial inspection.

During the field problem I identified the lack of a medical kit in my ruck as an issue. Granted there is one in my level 2.5 get home bag but that was not with me. Need to add at least a basic boo boo kit. Those supplies can back fill stuff in my level 2.5 GHB when they are used together. Picked up the stuff for a boo boo kit today.

The point is not to assume. For systems you use semi regularly you really need to inspect them /at some interval, and before every major use.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Max Velocity Talks Normalacy Bias and Load Out's

Posts that directly inspired this:

To Chest Rig or Not? This is a well thought out post that has, itself, little I disagree with. However the comments coming from it have brought some strong opinions and interesting discussion.

John Mosby talks Normalcy Bias

Max Velocity talks Normalcy Bias

Max Velocity talks Two Tactical Worlds

First I want to address the mindset issues here. The reason for this is mindset is more important than stuff. Also that mindset drives stuff, not the other way around!

John Mosby's points that you need to 1) Accept that “normal” is no longer “normal.” This requires more than simply telling yourself. It requires internalizing it as reality and truth. It’s great for patriotic, conservative, Americans to long for yesteryear, and the greatness of the Pax Americana. It’s also completely fucking delusional. America is only a superpower now, among nation-state actors. The transnational terrorist groups do not recognize American sovereignty and superiority. If they did, they would never have started fighting, or would have yielded by now. A wall along the Mexican border is great…except we already know there are more tunnels than an goddamned ant farm, traversing the border. So, sure, let’s drop several billion dollars building a wall that won’t be any more useful than the locks on your car door are (remember, as my grandfather told me when I was a kid, “car locks only keep honest people honest.”). Illegal aliens are going to continue crossing the border, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it, outside of genocide, or the total collapse of our economy. 2) Recognize what the “new normal” implies for you and yours. This may range from reduced police presence in your neighborhood or community, especially for dealing with property crimes and other “minor” issues. Think about what happened in NYC last year after two officers were assassinated, sitting in their cruiser. If you live in a really shitty neighborhood, where people are as likely to assault cops as help them, you should—justifiably–expect the same thing. As my wife pointed out yesterday, when she heard that people were “acting out” in Ferguson, on the anniversary of the Wilson-Brown shooting, “if I was a cop, I wouldn’t even respond to calls in their neighborhood. Fuck them. If they hate me, why help them?”

Ryan here: 
I think it is worth noting the situation at an individual level is very localized. I'm talking tank of gas and maybe the nearby big town you go to quarterly for doctors appointments, to the airport, etc. While national trends and events are symptomatic of a larger issue they are mostly just noise. Case in point I could give a rip about Detroit turning into Tijuana or Ferguson because I am nowhere near them. However there are some trends that are truly nation wide like say certain groups being given special snowflake status which further emboldens bad behavior and individuals of non special snowflake status almost certainly getting the book thrown at them for legitimate self defense. Also that, while crime rates may not be that high on the large average predominantly urban problems slipping out to the burbs, small towns and rural areas.

Max (Actually some guy named DIZ on the MVT forum) describes the 'new normal of today' and 
'what may reasonable come in the near future' as  conventional crime and unconventional crime. 

I think this is an OK way of putting it though a bit binary. Reality is a lot more of a continuum of potential outcomes ranging from rising crime and a bad economy (we are very arguably there now) on one end through some sort of unrest and a full on economic collapse through civil war and eventually passing the historically likely to say an EMP and then ending with a strait up nuclear war.

Also I feel strongly that we should put more energy into preparing for the statistically much more likely events than less likely ones. You are way more likely to get in a fist fight that may go to concealed handguns than do battle drill 1A for real out in the woods with your buddies. It is important to prepare for the less likely contingencies but you need to survive today to get to that potential dark future. I think a big part of preparedness is preparing for various scenarios we might face now in order to minimize their impact on us if/ when those events happen. Tactical Tommy might be preparing for a car jacking or an active shooter situation as his worse case scenario. However Survivalist Sam is training for that and to do battle drills with his buddies.

I think that sufficiently covers my opinion on the mindset piece.

Now onto gear.

It seems logical to me that we would first decide on how many mags to carry and then on the best way to carry them. Of course not all defensive carbine related scenarios are created equal. Here is my take on some realistic scenarios. Lets presume a pretty standard 30rd magazine. Just my opinion.

Home defense: 1-2 reloads. Even in the wildest and least likely scenario of 3-4 Goblins all off whom have guns this is still PLENTY of ammo. At in house ranges no way I am shooting off that much ammo without stopping the bad guys or getting stopped by the bad guys.

Active Shooter: 3-4 reloads. Lets say Mumbai or crom forbid Beslan type with multiple shooters armed with rifles. Honestly this is more from an LEO type perspective because Ryan is going to GTFO of one off these situations and won't need that much ammo. However an LEO might get in a relatively prolonged fight and or potentially use some fire and maneuver techniques.

Some sort of riot or localized civil unrest such as say Hurricane Katrina for the most part falls into this range also. That being said I see long guns as having a narrow role here. If I was moving around it would almost certainly be armed with a concealed pistol and maybe a rifle handy. I find it unlikely that I would be moving around with a rifle because well it would cause attention and potentially get me arrested.

Lets say I was say helping a friend guard their pawn shop LA Riots or Hurricane Katrina style. I would be quite comfortable with having about this much ammo on my body. Sure there is some violence in this type of scenarios and gun fire people are not, to the best of my personal knowledge, getting in tons of crazy gun fights. Since the only place I would really be wielding a rifle would be a fixed location a few mags in a bag or something would be available for resupply.

Full on fighting load. Like for a war or some sort of Mad Max ish scenario: 6+ reloads. We could quibble about exact numbers but they would be situational/ mission dependent. For reference I think my battle belt is set up for 10. My pistol belt with Costa Leg Rig and chest rig holds 9 or 10.

Now to how to carry this ammo.

The fluidity of events combined with the benefits of keeping things the same as much as we can in our setups heavily favors some sort of tiered system.

For the home defense setup if a person decided on one reload they could legitimately have it on the gun, like a ready mag or a buttstock pouch. More than that and you need some sort of gear. It could be a pair of pants with some pouches on a belt, a chest rig, a battle belt or a PC set up with your stuff on it. [As a tangent I generally disfavor this method except at the real bottom end. If you are going to have 2-3 reloads, maybe a med kit and a knife AND plan to use a PC I'd just put the stuff on the PC. This really tops out at the 'active shooter' ammo count.]

After a lot of consideration I went with a pistol belt an Costa Leg Rig.
 From left to right Costa Leg Rig with 2x rifle reloads, 1x pistol reload, flashlight, TK4 Tourniquet and Compressed Gauze. Safariland holster with ghetto rigged leg strap and kabar knife. Not shown Glock 19 with Streamlight TLR-1.
 As worn with the front to the bottom. Costa Leg rig on one side, knife and holster on the other.
Leg rig up close. Yes that is tape holding it in place.

To do:

There are some non padded belts that have inner loops which would be great for this. Might upgrade from this decade old TT belt at some point.

Get a pair of light suspenders. For prolonged use my lack of behind or hips tend to make it move towards the ground.

Get a small admin pouch that could hold a few items like a compass and a lighter. Maybe a NOD pouch too.

Active shooter setup: I don't really have a great plan for this. It would be my pistol belt plus a way to carry a bit more ammo and maybe an admin pouch. Guess either I would add a couple mag pouches on the front of a PC or use one of those minimalist chest rigs that are all the rage. Or slap a mag on the butt stock of my rifle/ put one in a pocket and call it good.

Full on Fighting Load: Pistol belt plus chest rig. The chest rig isn't totally set up but I'll get there. Honestly I need to think this out a bit. I have a chest rig and a variety of pouches so I probably have a 75% solution in the garage.

The modularity of this setup is handy. I could remove the chest rig, say when doing work, around camp, etc but keep the pistol belt and have a pretty decent bit of capability.

I am not ditching the battle belt as it has a place but I think this setup is forming into my go to. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CSAT Tactical Pistol Operator Course Review

Today I am going to be reviewing a pistol course I recently attended. I went over to Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) for their Tactical Pistol Operator Course.

The good:

A significant reason why I chose to train at CSAT was it's owner and primary instructor Paul Howe. Without overly 'tooting his horn' there is not anyone involved in modern tactical firearms instruction with a significantly better background to do what they do than Paul Howe. [Though he has a few peers such as Kyle Lamb, Pat McNamara, Larry Vickers and Frank Proctor, plus surely some Navy guys with similar credits.] He spent over a decade in a tier one Special Operations unit as an NCO. He was either doing bad things to bad people, or training others to do bad things to bad people for over a decade. When it comes to tactical weapon employment and self defense arguing anyone has much, if anything, on Paul Howe is an uphill battle.

This class starts with a brief introduction to firearms safety as well as the procedures they want you to use for clearing, loading, etc handguns. At this time the rules of the range and administrative considerations were discussed.

We also had a brief discussion of gear options with a focus on a tactical, assault type set up.
After the admin notes we had a period of instruction on drawing, gripping and firing a pistol. We then moved in to a drill based on the instruction.

The way the class worked is that we would come together for a period of instruction. After the period of instruction we would execute a drill. This broke pretty evenly into modules that were 45-50 minutes long. After a module we would reload magazines and ‘fluids in/ fluids out’ then move to the next module.

The class flowed in a logical, cumulative sequence. We took a break at lunch to eat then got back at it till about 4pm. The next day we got together at 8 and began again in the same format as the day before. It ended around 330 on Sunday.

I cannot necessarily recall every single drill or the flow of them but it all worked really well and built on itself. We trained on a variety of drills and the kneeling position.

Instructors were present and walked the line giving reminders and additional guidance as needed. They did a real good job of tempering this to the individual students experience level which varied widely. The DPS SRT member was on a different level than the eager, but decidedly new to guns, couple from San Francisco.

Day 1 ended with shooting some standards and being videotaped.

Day 2 began with watching the video from the end of Day 1. Being able to watch ourselves was a valuable visual of our shortcomings. Reminders were given. Following that we discussed some tactical issues and went over some real world shooting cases. Additionally we had a discussion about concealed carry gear, rifles and active shooter type bags.

After building fundamentals on day 1 we moved into different scenarios for day 2. First we worked on moving with hot weapons around people and shooting for precision in a hostage scenario. Next moved around/ between and shot from vehicles. After vehicles we worked on point of aim on a target wearing a t shirt and shot standards. After that we shot from behind barriers. The class culminated with us shooting the CSAT instructor standards to receive a score which can be used as a reference point for the future.

Specific take aways. Way too many to mention.

Draw to high ready and firing was trained. It was in line with the modern isosoles method but not strictly speaking a ‘4 step draw’. Paul said the reason for this is a fixation on sub steps (between holster and shooting) leads to artificial stops in the middle. This lead to a draw with the hands coming together at the high ready then pressing out fast into position, prepping the trigger while extending the arms, and shooting once you get the front sight. The result was a smooth movement that was natural.

Draws started from what Paul calls ‘interview stance’ in a natural athletic position with your hands together at roughly chest level. The reason for this is it’s a good universal position for a potentially violent situation. You can fight with hands, block, etc from there.

From other life experiences this is a good compromise between some sort of fighting stance which is aggressive and can be seen mistakenly by witnesses and being ready to get clobbered with your hands at your sides. In the past I have used the open hands towards people stance but Paul’s option is just fine. Really the difference between a fighting stance and these other stances is fists being closed and slightly higher. Either way the point to have your hands up and ready to react is significant.
Natural point of aim was a big point of the class. Going from a natural athletic type stance such as ‘interview’ through your draw should put the front sight on target at pistol fighting ranges. We still used sights but the goal is through proper mechanics that when you make the decision to shoot and your pistol leaves the high ready it lands on target.

Since we decide to shoot when leaving the high ready the trigger is being prepped from that point to full extension where you shoot. This movement is quite fast. The goal was under 1 second to hit a 6X13 vital zone at 7 yards. I achieved this goal albeit dead on with no margin for error.
The point to do things consistently was significant in the class. Example, every time you work the slide on a pistol grab it overhand. I was definitely guilty of using a ‘pinch’ technique for administrative stuff in the past so this was a point of improvement for me. The point of this is to be consistent across the board.

Dove tailing from that point the key that shooting is really all about consistence was pressed.
Both in the course of instruction and on the spot corrections to shooters Paul made a big point of only adjusting one thing at a time. I believe in the course of instruction the reason for this is to isolate a variable and guide shooters to the right answer FOR THAT VARIABLE. Over the course of instruction we worked through these in a logical sequence to end up in about as good of a place as a person can get in 2 days. For on the spot corrections Paul did the same thing. The reason was that a person can only really focus on changing one or maybe two things at a time.

The importance of automatically re acquiring your site picture after a shot was made. The reason for this is that it saves the time of doing so and thus speeds up the follow up shot if needed.
In a tactical sense we discussed managing encounters. The basics being awareness, verbal engagement [“I don’t want to talk with you today. Get away from me, do it now” doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity. If somebody ignores that they are deaf or planning something bad.], the use of objects such as vehicles or gas pumps to create space and such. This also lead to some interesting discussion on use of force with currently serving LEOs in the room.

Use of force is a really complicated discussion and I would not hesitate to give any form of legal advice. That being said one might want to look at how their state treats civilians in use of force scenarios. In say Texas the odds are a person who acts reasonably is going to be OK, not so much in California. Just another thing to think about.

So much more stuff than I could remember. Honestly it was 2 days of drinking from a fire hose.
The Bad: I wasn’t able to take this class last year. Was signed up but work messed it up. Something came up and it was going to be OK, just narrowly. Our schedule was delayed 3 days out (from the class) and I was stuck in the Middle East. Paul said no big deal and cut me a full refund. A year later it worked out for me to take the class.

The Ugly: I didn’t take this class a decade ago.

Pistols- The class was probably 40% Glock, 30% M&P, 15% Sig and the rest were a mix of different pistols (a couple of those new H&K’s and I think some sort of new Walther.) Two of the SIGs were duty guns for Texas LEO’s and the other was a guy from San Francisco. He had a real hard time managing the DA first shot on that gun. Darn near pulled every one of them. He is going to buy a Glock.

Most folks shot compact or full sized handguns. A couple guys had subcompact Glocks. One swapped out in favor of his G19 and the other has a young guy (like under 18) who shot Dads Glock 30S the whole time. His had was pretty darn sore. Most guns were in 9mm, there were quite a few .40’s, about 3 .45’s and one guy using the Texas DPS issued Sig in .357 SIG.

Most shooters were using some sort of OWB kydex belt holster. A few like me had drop type rigs. The LEO’s were wearing their Batman Belts with Safariland holsters.
I used a TT Duty Belt, my Safariland 6125 with a ghetto rigged leg strap, and a TT double mag pouch. Would have used my HSGI rig but I wanted to keep it simple. From here on out I will practice mostly with the HSGI Costa Leg Rig.

Planned Gear Changes:
Pistol- Grip force adapter to let me get a slightly higher grip and have more surface area on the gun.
Gear- I could use a couple inch longer leg strap for the Safariland. Otherwise I think I’ll stick with that rig for awhile and see how it goes. I need some of those belt keepers to keep my inner belt and duty belt together, especially if I’ll be wearing it for awhile.
Conclusion: The class rocked and I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Long Day and Ghetto Rigging a Thigh Strap for my Safariland 6285

Today was a long day. Went to work earlier than normal. Did some good PT then got cleaned up and did the usual work stuff. Went to the gym at lunch and crushed standing press as well as dead lift and some accessory stuff. Did more work.

Today coming home I saw a bunch of neighbors had lost trees in the real nasty weather. They cut them up and put them out for the trash people to pick up. Down here, as in many places, if it's out on the curb it is free to grab. Well Walker and I got to grabbing. We loaded up the family hauler 4 times. Probably a third of a cord or a shade more. Could have gotten more but I only got decent sized (wrist and larger) stuff that was cut short enough to fit in the soccer mom mobile.

I'll cut it up into stove sized lengths at my earliest convenience. This is probably enough wood for a summer worth of occasional weekend evening fires with the kids. I got it for free with minimal labor. Didn't really want to spend an hour and a half this evening after work doing manual labor but you have to make hay when the sun shines.

I'm getting ready for a class and working on my pistol belt setup. This setup serves as my HD rig and the base for a pistol belt/ chest rig type load out. I have a TT duty belt with a Safariland 6285 on it and a Costa Leg Rig on the other side. I ended up moving the 6285 off the heavy battle belt to make room for more mag. It worked OK on a pistol belt but the bottom of the holster seemed to flex out slightly which kind of jammed up a fairly strait 0 ish degree left to right draw. I pondered selling it and buying a Safariland 6004 drop holster.

3 issues with this problem
1- I didn't get any takers on buying the 6285 which would have displaced some of the cost.
2- Safariland 6004's are ridiculously expensive. Like $200+. Yeah they are cool or whatever but that is a lot of money.
3- I do not love the big old plastic plate they have.

My 6125 which is a 1.5in drop holster puts the gun at a similar level as smart people have their drop holsters set up at. Also the firm way the 6285is on top is pretty nice. I got to wondering if I could put a thigh strap on it, more similar to a conventional (albeit high) drop holster. I had a spare strap from a TT holster as they come with 2 and if worn high the top one is not needed so I figured I'd give it a shot. There was a nice convenient gap in the bolts that mount the holster to the piece that holds onto the belt. 5 minutes later it was done. Initial thoughts are this is going to work real well. It is not uncomfortable and the draw is great. The movement/ snagging issue is totally gone. I might have just made a system that better suits my purposes and saved a bunch of money. Time will tell I guess. Worst case I think this will work till a time when a 6004 is a bit more palatable economically.

So I am sore and tired. Time for bed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Gear Consolidation: Stocking Deep n Caching vs Churning

T Blog wrote a post On Gear Consolidation that I have been thinking about.

Also a few years back I sold off a few guns to fund Project AR. They were either oddballs or outliers from the rest of my collection. I do not miss any of them. Selling stuff you no longer have a use for makes sense.

Now selling something useful I have a bit harder time with.

If you can afford it there is a lot to be said for keeping the servicable rigger belt with the clip you don't love as a back up belt, especially if it will fetch a negligible price.

Ditto for that $400 AK you bought a decade ago when such things were available.

It is worth considering if these items have a purpose. Do they fit into some part of your plans or is it just more junk?

It is also worth considering what the cash is going to purchase. Is it fundamentally making our situation better, neutral or arguably worse. If you want to sell odds n ends to buy super pails of food then rock on. On the other hand if you are selling that AK to spend on $400 tactical urban operations Crye Precision pants so you can look like some 'operator' on youtube that is stupid.

Something to consider is what sort of loss you take by selling that item. Some items like guns hold their value pretty well, especially if purchased used. Other items, with any degree of use, have values fall my a third or even half. These items I would have a hard time selling if they had any use because what you'll get out of them might not be worth it. Especially if you are a person always chasing the coolest new thing selling kit for a 30% write off to buy new stuff all the time will add up in price.

Alexander mentioned the false economics of holding onto stuff because it means you cannot cash out that value to acquire new stuff. I would agree but at the same time the economic power of already purchased gear cuts both ways. I could not have afforded to go out and set up my operational cache in one shot. That being said while it did theoretically represent value it was all stuff purchased years before sitting in closets and storage bins. I just about put that together from stuff on hand. Now I have a pretty good setup that really didn't cost me anything. In the next couple years I plan to set up another cache or two the same way. These are in my mind a great way to use serviceable stuff that is lying around, especially if you would take a decent write off by selling it.

While I do lean more towards the backup and cache side of the house I am planning (if I ever get off my butt) to sell some stuff I either no longer use or have in excess of my (redundant and paranoid) needs. This is mostly about clearing up some space and leveling out my stuff than anything else.

What do you all think?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tactical Tailor Removable Operator Pack For The Win!!!

While on a buying/ selling site yesterday I saw a Tactical Tailor Removable Operator Pack in multicam. The guy was asking $50. I shot him a note asking if he would take $40. He said OK. We met up after work (he was another military guy). The bag is used but not at all abused. The fabric is ever so slightly faded and there is the odd frayed thread but it is totally functional. Certainly a trade off I will take to get a $115 bag for $40!

Honestly I wasn't in the market for a bag at all. The price was just too good to pass up. I love my over decade old TT bag. That thing is hell for stout and baring theft, fire or some sort of loss I expect at least another decade of use out of it.There are so many things one could do with a bag like this I couldn't see a reason not to purchase it. Also at that price even if it sat around for a year till I had a purpose for it the deal would still be good.

I do not see it sitting idle for long. Am going to take a hard look at the feasibility of cutting down my level 2.5 bag and making it work with this bag. I would use it as a more traditional assault pack in my level 2.5 load as it is really set up for the 'hook to the outside' setup but even though it is small these bags are sturdy enough it is surprisingly heavy. However for that setup I almost think a decent quality but very basic and crushable small backpack might be a better answer.

Anyway the role for this bag will become apparent in due time. Also since it is on hand I will eventually do a review of this bag.

Did you get any great deals lately?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cold Weather Clothing

American Mercenary talks winter clothing. Good stuff from a guy who knows what he is talking about. I did a winter clothing post awhile back so I won't totally rehash. Without rehashing I have some general thoughts:

Obviously you want to layer with moisture wicking, stays warm when wet clothes. The outside layer should be water repellent. This usually means some sort of synthetic clothes but wool works for everything except an outer layer in wet weather.

In some ways the 35-28 degree range where you can get rain and have standing water can be more problematic than 20 degrees or lower where water freezes pretty quickly.

I believe in dressing for the level of activity you will be doing, not the level you are at right now, within reason. This means I will start out a road march, run or high effort type of work a bit cold and warm up as I get moving. The other option would be to shed clothes as you heat up. This poses two problems. The first is sweating which we want to avoid. The second is if you are doing something where stopping to shed clothes is a hassle it is a problem.

I will often keep a fleece hat in my pocket or a jacket at the top of my ruck for when I slow down/ stop. 

Amerc mentioned the Army's almost institutional dislike of base layers AKA long underwear. I fall into this school of thought albeit with some common sense thrown in. If it's ten degrees outside I will be wearing long underwear during high intensity activities. Part of our dislike comes from Newb's tendency to wear too many clothes, get hot and become a heat casualty in cold weather. The other part I think is that in field conditions it is a lot easier to say take off a fleece than long underwear bottoms.

In recent years the availability of synthetic long underwear has really gone up and correspondingly the cost has gone down. For those on a budget either carefully shopping for overruns on ECWS 'silk weight' or hitting up the local Wally World should get you a set of long underwear for not too much over $20. At that price there is really no excuse for wearing cotton.

Fleece has also come down in price considerably. Granted it won't be super heavy well designed North Face but the local China Mart has tops for $15 and pants in the $12 range.

I heard somewhere the patent on Gore Tex expired some time back. Anyway lots of companies are making shell type jackets that are waterproof to anything short of a swim that still let moisture out for not a ton of money. Another option is to check outlet malls. A town I occasionally go through has a gear company outlet. Last time we were there I got a jacket for $40 ish.

The point I'm trying to make is if you shop smart and are a bit flexible on brand/ color, it is very realistic to get decently clothes for cold weather on a tight budget.

Boots I do not have a great work around for. You get what you pay for. For real tight budgets maybe hunt good will or a surplus store for gently used ones.

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Assault Packs, Rucks and Sustainment Loads Revisited

I tend to break down these different loads into the fairly well recognized 3 tired system (level 1 survival, level 2 fighting and level 3 sustainment). The primary reason I do this is that due to a lack of common vocabulary different names such as get home bag, assault pack, bug out bag, etc all mean drastically different things to different people. The end result is that unless a common terminology is established we are talking apples, oranges and potatoes instead of apples and apples.

The day pack/ assault pack arena really muddles the waters. Personally I bend convention and call them level 2.5 because they do not cleanly fit in either category. Depending on the use they may be an extension of a fighting load to carry stuff that does not fit in a LBE/ Chest Rig/ whatever or special equipment. This might be machine gun ammo or a spotting scope or whatever. On the other hand this might be a light sustainment setup with a few snacks and a jacket, some extra water and a poncho/ poncho liner to roll up in. Often the load in these bags is some combination of the two or a
murky in the middle item. Anyway right or wrong I call this assault pack range level 2.5.

In recent discussions I have talked about overall tiered gear and specifically my level 2.5 bag a couple of notable comments came up. Specifically I recall comments by River Rider and Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog.

The main point of their comments was that both ended up going with smaller lighter sustainment setups more akin to my level 2.5 'assault pack' than a larger more traditional rucksack. River Rider mentioned weight as an issue and that he was not as young as he used to be. Alexander Wolfe mentioned the speed of lighter systems and leveraging modern technology to get similar capabilities
(to larger/ heavier items) in smaller and lighter packages. Note I do not mean to disparage either of these fine individuals or their ideas even though we might not agree on everything. It is more that I want to talk about the pro's and con's of lighter vs heavier sustainment loads in no small part because the idea has been stuck in my head for two days.

Personally I went through this struggle myself about 2 years back. I was trying to come up with a 'be all end all' system that covered the capabilities I needed yet was still relatively light and easy to carry. I ended up with more or less the worst of both worlds in a pack that weighted close to 30 pounds but did not really fill all of my goals. To complicate matters I tried to do it in a frame less 'assault pack'. It just didn't work.

The end result is that I personally moved to two different sustainment systems in the form of the level 2.5 assault pack/ get home bag and a true level 3 Rucksack. Furthermore for my concept of use these bags need to be more independent than purely tiered. So instead of items existing in my BOB
and flexing to the assault pack as needed, the pure tiered approach, there is a decent amount of redundancy between the two systems. The reason for this is the lighter level 2.5 bag is compact enough that it often comes with me and is not a hassle to haul around. If I were to start using them together I would likely need to do a marriage style combining of stuff then leave behind/ trade off/ etc the left over redundant items. [I suppose another option would be to treat the level 2.5 bag as an offset of the ruck and get a simple little backpack to roll up and stick in my level 3 bag as it's companion assault pack. Not a bad idea really. Might just do that next time I see a cheap but decent earth tone day pack. Think Chris mentioned something like that] Basically in realizing a system could not meet the top end of capabilities and stay within a weight range that was conducive to moving as fast as I might want to in some situations.

This brings up an interesting point. Weight gives you (at least the ability to have) more capabilities but it also slows you down. If this push pull relationship is not handled carefully you can get to a feedback loop where you are slower so the trip will take longer and since the trip is longer you
need more stuff.

It can be said that you want to pack a certain system/ bag with a specific scenario in mind. In the survivalist speak you could say a bug out bag needs to be designed specifically for the scenario in terms of range, climate, etc it is to be used in. Obviously a long distance trucker driving across the
northern Midwest needs very different gear than a person who lives in Florida and works 4 blocks from home. An individual scenario needs to be taken into account. However I have some concerns that 'if it fits your scenario' can be taken in silly directions and becomes the system equivalent of 'shooters preference' run amok or the tactical equivalent of "everyone gets a trophy" no matter how uninformed or even stupid their setup is. Generally speaking right answers from different smart people look a whole lot alike which sort of goes against the "whatever fits your scenario" argument.

For a specific discrete event it would make sense to look at your kit to add or remove items as needed, obviously within reason. However I find that, especially for kits/bags/systems regularly carried for contingencies, this could rapidly become onerous. I am not going to dump my level 2 bag every day based on the days plans. "Well, I will need to add 2 granola bars for today because I am going an extra 5 miles from home, it is warm outside so I do not need a jacket, yadda, yadda, yadda." That is just not realistic. Honestly if I replace stuff that gets used, make sure nothing goes bad and do the seasonal gear shift I'm doing well. I find that coming up with a solid plan that fills my general perceived needs and just sticking with it is probably the best option for normal every day stuff.

To the discussion of your more assault type bags vs a full sized ruck/ hiking backpack:

In general it is important to prepare not only for the conditions you plan to face but those you could reasonably face. This means more food, clothing, tools and equipment than you know you will need.

Case in point: The winter before last I was hiking up in the Huachuca Mountains kind of a scenic work out as I was carrying my BOB. At the time I was alone in the house and it was a Saturday afternoon. It started to rain then snow. As I was jumping rock to rock across a tributary I casually wondered "what will happen if I break my ankle right now?" There was no way I could get out on one leg. The answer was that in two or three days I would have be found. They would have found me with a nice shelter set up laying in my sleeping bag by a fire, probably sipping a hot beverage and playing solitaire. With a 20 pound assault pack I would have been alive but cold, hungry and pretty unhappy.

Bigger heavier systems are going to have more capabilities than smaller ones assuming you make semi reasonable choices for stuff. It is true leveraging newer lighter items and dual use stuff helps.
However without ridiculously gaming the scenario those gains are not that enormous. The gaps I find most problematic in smaller systems in order are lack of cold weather clothing/ shelter, lack of provisions and lack of tools. Along this line you can get away with a lot lighter systems in warmer
areas. Valid points can be made about the need for some of this stuff. However there is danger of going down the 'capabilities' slippery slope where folks say 'well I have a cutting tool' and somehow convince their self a razor blade has the same capabilities as a full tang 8" survival knife and an ax or that a little tin foil emergency blanket 'shelter' the equivalent to a Swack Shack and a military sleep system.

The consideration of speed/ ease of movement certainly favors lighter systems. I agree with this if it makes sense for the scenario (vs a bigger system with more capabilities). To me in this context making sense would be that the lighter bag meets your perceived needs with a reasonable margin for

I guess my biggest reservations about the smaller sustainment load are a) it is not a replacement for a heavier sustainment load for a variety of realistic situations, especially in cold weather and b) that it could be chosen not because it is the right fit but because it is easier to carry around.

We should not discount the idea of using a larger bag and leaving it in camp, an ORP or caching it for the times we need to move faster. This might let you use a smaller bag in more of a traditional assault pack role filling it up with the items you will need for that day or maybe overnight scout.
Inevitably the 'but a ruck is heavy!" whine comes out. The answer is physical fitness in general and with a particular focus on moving over ground in general and carrying a load. Also while it is not nice to say if you lose 20 pounds of excess butt and or belly that 20 pounds of food/ clothes/ gear you could carry for the same amount of effort. Unfortunately less fit people do not somehow magically require less food/ clothes/ gear than fit people do. Bear this in mind when considering your body weight and physical fitness level.

Like I mentioned earlier I ended up with sustainment type systems in both of these loose categories. To which one I pick for a specific situation there is sort of a loose decision making/ risk assessment, most of the time I choose the smaller of the two. The bigger bag tends to come out when I am
going way out into the hinter boonies or in winter. 


Saturday, October 4, 2014

EDC Dump 4 OCT

Decided to do a pocket dump to show you all what I am carrying around these days.

From top to bottom:
-Generic Uncle Mikes holster- small. Functionally identical to the Blackhawk holster line. Tam mocks them mercilessly. These are decently servicable though not exactly the worlds greatest holsters. If $10 holsters were perfect there would not be an industry of folks making $30-several hundred dollar holsters. A better holster is in the works but right now one from the spare holster drawer is working pretty decently. That is one of benefits of these 'one size fits most' holsters. They will work for most guns in a given size range and are cheap enough to have lying around here or there or as spares to give to people who suddenly in an emergency want to carry a pistol that's been pulling nightstand or glove box duty.

-Kahr CW9 loaded with 9mm 115 grain Federal Classic Personal Defense. With the flush mag the CW9 holds 7+1. It would not be my first choice in carry pistols for Peshawar, or for that matter Houston but I am quite comfortable using it for CCW in my sleepy little part of Central Louisiana.

-Al Mar Knives 5HDBT Eagle Heavy Duty Lockback Knife with Textured Black G-10 Handles.

-Edited to fix oversight. My flashlight is a Streamlight 66318 MicroStream C4 LED Pen Flashlight, I believe a Micro stream. It runs on a single AAA battery. It works reliably and is quite durable. Walker hasn't broken it yet and it's been through the washer/ drier numerous times. Might not tactically bedazzle someones OODA loop and make them defecate but it is bright enough to clearly see at 20 meters which is plenty for me.

-Wallet with the usual stuff and cash.

-Cell phone

-Spare mag for the CW9. It is the 8 round one with the extended floor plate.

-Chap stick

-Bic Lighter

-Keys not shown since you can now copy keys with a photo.

So that is what I carry most of the time these days. If I am going to Houston I bump the gun up to a Glock and if I am going to be doing outdoors stuff I might bring a fixed blade knife.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just A Quick Trip To The Store

Today after making a nice dinner of beef fajitas it came up that somebody needed to run out to the store to pick up an item. So I got ready to go to the nearest place that offered said item, a five minute drive away. Put on a belt, stuck a subcompact handgun (in holster) in a pocket, a reload in another picket, grabbed my wallet, phone and keys then threw on the first footwear I found and was out the door.

Since I was planning for the next day at work my usual knife and lighter were in the gym bag.

I got to the store and in a typical survivalist way thought "what would I do if something happened right now." Lets ignore the fact that I could easily walk home barefoot from there. Well I had the basic capacity for self defense, almost surely sufficient for a small town store at 7pm on a Thursday. My footwear were iffy, I didn't have a knife or a lighter.

However all of these things were in the modestly sized but fairly thought out set of stuff in my vehicle. My GHB, a pair of running shoes I no longer use with socks in them, a good knife, fire, food and water a plenty (I often forget to bring lunch to work or can't leave so I keep a few cans of food, some oatmeal, ramen, etc above and beyond the food in my bag) if needed.

These sorts of events happen in life and when you least expect is is when you are inevitably slammed. Establish and maintain systems to help cover for human shortcomings that inevitably occur.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Now Shipping to Patriots and Survivalists Near You The MVT Shield

The MVT SHIELD is a patent pending, commercially produced military grade thermal shelter. The MVT SHIELD is multi-purposed as a camouflaged thermally protected tarp designed to provide the user with a thermal shield to defeat FLIR/thermal imaging surveillance and targeting. The MVT SHIELD also functions as a lightweight, waterproof covering which also works as a rain shelter, ground cloth, survival shelter, sunshade, gear cover, emergency litter or overnight shelter against the weather. The MVT SHIELD is based on a high quality nylon  design rather than poly-pro, so it folds up and packs away just like a military ‘poncho’ shelter or equivalent nylon tarp.
The MVT SHIELD has been a developing concept since writing about out the ‘thermal poncho’ concept on the Max Velocity Tactical blog and in the novel ‘Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises’ and the manual ‘Contact: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival’. Max Velocity Tactical has moved away from the ‘thermal poncho’ name to avoid confusion over the utilization of the MVT SHIELD.

The MVT SHIELD is designed primarily for use in a static position, to be strung up like a shelter tarp, taking advantage of the air gap between the person underneath and the thermal shield properties of the tarp to defeat FLIR. Uses: rain shelter, thermal shield, emergency thermal blanket, primarily designed as static shelter but can be pulled over you in an emergency. The MVT SHIELD can be carried in a pack or pouch and deployed into a thermally shielded shelter as needed. The product is supplied with a stuff-sack pouch, with the packed size of that pouch being 12″ x 6″.
The MVT SHIELD is 68″ x 88″ (5.6′ x 7.3′), coyote brown on both sides, weighing 2.5 lbs. It is constructed using a double layer of two strong, lightweight nylon tarps. The tarps are rugged, 1.9 oz rip-stop nylon with a waterproof, urethane coating. To allow deployment the tarps are constructed with reinforced webbing tie-outs, three per side including corners. In addition to the perimeter tie-outs there are also three additional tie-outs across the center ridge-line to aid deployment.
Thermal Shield Properties:
Between the two layers of the nylon tarps is sandwiched a double layer of LDPE-4 heat-reflective material, each layer individually  blocks blocks 97% of body heat emissions when held in contact with the body. Each single layer is 30%-50% thicker than a standard thermal blanket, making it more durable. It is also protected by the exterior sandwiching nylon tarps. The interior thermal layer is puncture-resistant and does not fracture if the edges are nicked, as metallized polyester blankets do. The layer is softer and quieter than products made from metallized polyester (“Mylar”), or the cheaper metallized polypropylene, which rattle with every movement.
Best use of the this product as a thermal shield and camouflage shelter will be attained when utilized with conventional camouflage and concealment techniques, in  particular terrain masking and camouflage utilizing foliage and/or the tree canopy. The MVT SHIELD has been tested utilizing FLIR thermal imagers. When correctly deployed as a shelter tarp with an air gap between the person underneath and the MVT SHIELD, there is no body heat transfer through the SHIELD, making the occupant invisible to detection by FLIR/thermal imagers.
Deployment & Customization:
The MVT SHIELD is designed to be deployed in the same way as military tarps that are utilized as rain shelters; the additional of a thermally protected layer providing full shelter from FLIR surveillance. The MVT SHIELD can be deployed using bungee cord or paracord/string tied to nearby trees or objects, or pegged to the ground; it can also be used with tent poles and tent pegs, purpose built or temporary, and it can be set up against any structure, including fence-lines or similar, even to screen the openings of foxholes, bunkers or observation posts.
1) The MVT Shield will, at least initially, be made in coyote brown. This provides an excellent base color that can be adapted to your environment and/or season. More on that in the photos, below. The size is 68 x 88 inches, which is 5.6′ x 7.3′.
2) The MVT Shield, both this specific design as well as the general concept using less effective methods, has been tested and will block viewing of your thermal image, including all thermal bloom through the material. The outer sandwich layers are constructed of 70 denier rip-stop coated nylon with an inner double layer of thermal blocking material.
3) The MVT Shield is designed to be optimally used in conjunction with good fieldcraft, i.e. terrain and vegetation masking, as well as with an air gap between the user and the material. It is designed to provide you with a usable and serviceable tactical shelter tarp, as well as an emergency thermal blanket. It is therefore multi-use, being a weather and thermal shield as well as a casualty blanket. If you put this up as part of your standard shelter SOP, you have also masked your thermal signature.
4) The MVT Shield is made in the USA, literally by  a cottage industry. They are made by the fair hand of the wife of a student who attended an MVT class.
5) Payment options will be either PayPal, or check/money order through the mail. You will go on the waiting list in the order that your payment was received. The price will most likely by $185 at this time, plus shipping.

Ryan here: This seems like a cool product and very useful if you plan to hide from folks with Thermals. If I get my hands on one (T&E would be a hard sell as hangs head in shame I do not personally own thermals) I will write more about it.

More pics and details as well as the link to purchase can be found here. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Official Results

To recap here is what the excellent prizes are:

1st: Blackhawk 3 day Assault Pack ($90) AND a $50 gift certificate from ($50 value) plus 2 copies of The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
2nd: HERC stove from Titan Ready Water ($169 value) plus The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
Note: Prizes 1 and 2 are really closely matched. As such the overall winner can pick the Lucky Gunner stuff OR the HERC. 2nd place gets what is left. 2 books will go to #1 and 1 book to #2.
3rd Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
4th Place:  A Lifestraw donated by Camping Survival ($20 value)
5th Place: A pair of Gyver Gear survival tin's
6th Place: The Western Front (hardcopy) or 3x e books by Archer Garrett.

 The winners are:

Mike P-18
Carry Alert-15
Prairie Patriot-10
Max Velocity-6

If you won please contact me using the email your post was submitted from  and include your mailing address within 7 days. Note that #1 gets to pick between the Lucky Gunner stuff or the HERC so please specify. I realized I still need to figure out the wild card so I'll do that ASAP. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Entry #21- Kang

Today I am proud to bring Entry #21 of our Fighting Load Contest by Kang

We'll be talking chest rigs and battle belts as well as guns and get home bags/ assault packs. Get yours together to win some great prizes including:
1st: Blackhawk 3 day Assault Pack ($90) AND a $50 gift certificate from ($50 value) plus 2 copies of The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
2nd: HERC stove from Titan Ready Water ($169 value) plus The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
Note: Prizes 1 and 2 are really closely matched. As such the overall winner can pick the Lucky Gunner stuff OR the HERC. 2nd place gets what is left. 2 books will go to #1 and 1 book to #2.
3rd Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
4th Place:  A Lifestraw donated by Camping Survival ($20 value)
5th Place: A pair of Gyver Gear survival tin's
6th Place: The Western Front (hardcopy) or 3x e books by Archer Garrett.
Wildcard: This one goes to whoever I want to give it to for whatever reason I feel like. It will be a grab bag donated by yours truly. The exact makeup is TBD depending on what I have lying around  and may include books, gear, medical stuff or even a couple silver dimes. ($30+  value).
For a good example of a post reference my EDC Contest entry. Those should give you a good idea what type of thing I'm looking for. I will probably do a full fighting load post some time before the contest is over.

The contest is closed and this is the last entry that will be posted. Voting will start early next week. Voting will run for about a week and will decide the winner's who get the prizes. Onto the Entry.....

My Fighting Load  -- Kang

This is my complete fighting load, including chest rig, plate carrier, battle belt, rifle, and 'assault pack'. The rifle is a bushmaster/rock river AR mutt with an eotech 512 (because AAs are easier to find), a magpul STR stock for carrying replacement batteries, light, BUIs, single/double point sling and ready mag system that lets me carry 2 mags on board for extremely rapid reloads (excuse the pink tape...). To Be Done: the rifle is lined up to be painted once temperatures permit.

Chest Rig

The chest rig is an HSP D3 chest rig, it carries 4 rifle magazines, 2 pistol magazines, multitool, admin stuff (notepad, pencils, etc) and an Israeli bandage.  To be done: I need to purchase another tourniquet to go in/on my chest rig.

Battle Belt

The battle belt is an HSGI sure grip padded belt with riggers belt.  It carries 2 Esstac single mag pouches for quick reloads and 1 Esstac pistol pouch.  A dump pouch, tear away first aid pouch (with israeli bandages, tourniquet, gloves and other stuff), a 1 liter water bottle pouch that holds my 1st line survival gear (steel water bottle, cordage, firestarter, compass, water purification, folding knife, gun lube, etc) and has a giant Shadowtech bushcraft blade whose name I don't recall (I can't say enough good things about Shadowtech's blades, check them out).  Finally a G-code holster carries a Springfield XDM9 as my backup firearm. To Be Done: I need to replenish my stock of Datrex ration bars after I introduced them to my daughters.

Plate Carrier

       The plate carrier is a Mayflower from Velocity Systems.  I have ceramic front and rear plates, and steel side plates.  The D3 chest rig snaps directly onto the plate carrier, and additionally, I have two 3 magazine pouches in the side plate pockets (for a total of 14 AR magazines, if required and 4 pistol magazines), and a 'flat' style Source 3 liter hydration carrier attached to the rear (I've found it's really hard to carry packs with one of the standard cylinder style hydration pouches on your back).

Assault Pack


      Last is the 'assault pack', which is a Tactical Tailor bag whose name escapes me.  It carries a standard camelback 3 liter hydration bladder (total of 7 liters of water immediately available), enough ammo for 10 magazine reloads in bandoliers / stripper clips, a Striplula for rapid reloading, poncho, cordage, headlamp, spare batteries, food, and firearms cleaning kit. To Be Done: more food, I think. See Datrex bars above... Also, I just realized I carry no additional 9mm ammo.
The best aspect of the D3 chest rig is how modular it is.  I can carry just the rig on its own, strapped to the plate carrier, as in the above pictures, or I can even attach it directly to the assault pack.  I can wear just the chest rig under a jacket or even a sweater if I'm trying to be low profile.

 The assault pack even fits quite nicely on the back of my 3rd line gear pack.

Ryan here: As always thanks for the entry. I should note Kang used this setup at Max Velocity's 5 Day Combat Rifle and Contact Drill /Patrolling class and it worked well for him. As to the setup I like it a lot. Modular and good for a variety of situations. General notes:
1) Do not see a way to purify more water. He could have a little bottle of the purification pills someplace and have overlooked mentioning it. If not I'd add some and or a small filter like a Sawyer Mini.
2) The assault pack has plenty of ammo which is great but I would look at the clothing situation. At a minimum a set of spare socks would be prudent.
3) You mentioned an IFAK type kit but what about more common injuries? Some band aid's, asprin, moleskin, etc is a good idea.
4) You hit on it (think it got eaten) but incorporating some food into your fighting kit and more into the assault pack is a good idea.

With those modest additions (that can probably be found lying around in 20 min at home) this is an excellent setup.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Post #20 Chris's Go To War Rig

Today I am proud to bring Entry #20 of our Fighting Load Contest by Chris formerly of AK.

We'll be talking chest rigs and battle belts as well as guns and get home bags/ assault packs. Get yours together to win some great prizes including:
1st: Blackhawk 3 day Assault Pack ($90) AND a $50 gift certificate from ($50 value) plus 2 copies of The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
2nd: HERC stove from Titan Ready Water ($169 value) plus The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
Note: Prizes 1 and 2 are really closely matched. As such the overall winner can pick the Lucky Gunner stuff OR the HERC. 2nd place gets what is left. 2 books will go to #1 and 1 book to #2.
3rd Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
4th Place:  A Lifestraw donated by Camping Survival ($20 value)
5th Place: A pair of Gyver Gear survival tin's
6th Place: The Western Front (hardcopy) or 3x e books by Archer Garrett.
Wildcard: This one goes to whoever I want to give it to for whatever reason I feel like. It will be a grab bag donated by yours truly. The exact makeup is TBD depending on what I have lying around  and may include books, gear, medical stuff or even a couple silver dimes. ($30+  value).
For a good example of a post reference my EDC Contest entry. Those should give you a good idea what type of thing I'm looking for. I will probably do a full fighting load post some time before the contest is over.

The contest is closed but we still have a few more posts to show due to my technological issues and some field time. Voting will start after the last entry is shown on the blog. Voting will run for about a week and will decide the winner's who get the prizes. Onto the Entry.....

 Awhile back Chris sent in a post on his budget travel rig. Now we get to look at his primary setup.  


The first submission I put in was my "on the road" low quality comblock kit that lives in the trunk as I was travelling.  Now that I'm home I figured I'd share my primary rig.  I'm not trying to game the system -- just figured I'd get some feedback and maybe give some ideas.

I have a flexible setup which revolves around a few key components:
- 3A Vest
- DBT "Victory Vest" slick plate carrier
- Tactical Tailor Mini Mav Chest Rack
- Eagle War Belt
- LAPG "Zombie Hunter" bag

The idea is that you layer with whatever is needed so you can adjust your profile as needed.  Some examples:
- "Low Profile:"  Slick plate carrier or soft armor under sweatshirt or soft armor with LAPG Zombie Hunter bag close to hand, and normal CCW/duty belt.
- "Medium Profile:"  Slick plate carrier or soft armor with Tac Tailor MiniMav, plus LAPG zombie hunter bag close to hand.  I call this medium profile because even under a sweatshirt, a chest rack + PC is going to show.
- "High Profile" Vehicle Ops:  Slick PC with FLC
- "High Profile" Dismounted Ops:  Slick PC with War Belt and Chest Rack.  Option to ditch the PC and/or chest rack depending on METT-TC.

I'll walk through the contents of each of the key components next.

- Sourced from BulletProof Me.  Nothing fancy.  Just a basic NIJ 3A soft vest.  Pairs well with the mini mav or LAPG bag for a lower profile.

- Diamond Back Tactical Victory Vest.  DBT went out of business and sold off their gear at pennies on the dollar.  It is all made in the US, GI spec stuff.  I picked up a bunch of PCs (some slick, some with molle) for about $20 each.
- 3A inserts:  I repurposed NIJ inserts for the soft frag armor.  The vest is intended to take special SPEAR or BALCS cut armor but the NIJ stuff fits fine; I just get a little less coverage.
- Plates:  I run medium SAPIs and have steel as a spare/training set.  My wife runs 8x10 level IV ceramics with steel as a spare/training set.

We each have similar mini-mav chest racks.  These are pretty low profile and can fit under a bulky sweatshirt as well.  The idea here is that I could run with nothing but my standard CCW stuff and a mini-mav and be able to fight.  From left to right as pictured:
-  Tactical Tailor small radio pouch with FRS/GMRS
- TT tourniquet pouch with CAT
- Velcro for ID/morale patch on triple shingle (20 rders)
- Single mag pouch:  Usually used for a Surefire G2X but will also fit a pistol mag or multitool

Future thoughts:  I am considering swapping out the 20-rd shingle for a full-size 30-rd shingle and putting an admin pouch on the front.  The admin pouch would let me store key documents as well as give one more flashlight/knife sized pouch at the cost of increased bulk in the front.  Right now the CAT is "squishy" so it isn't bad to get prone.

This is a medium USMC surplus molle belt supported by a Tactical Tailor "fight light" harness which is super comfy, even under armor.  I have a total of 5xM4 mags and 1xpistol mag on here.  Combined with the minimav that's 8xM4 mags on board.  Otherwise I envision this as a dismounted patrol load suitable for a day or night out.  From left to right, as pictured:
- Tactical Tailor "kangaroo" magnapouch.  Holds an M4 mag and a pistol mag on top in "quick draw" fashion.  These are expensive so I just opted for one on the centerline.  I shoot pistols right handed and rifles left handed so there's no ideal place for the fast reload (my rifle reloads should be on the right, and pistol mags on the left) so I figured centerline with a bias towards the fast pistol reload was a compromise.
- Double M4 pouch (USGI surplus)
- USMC surplus canteen pouch.  Upgraded with nice Nalgene brand 1qt canteen.  Side pockets hold water purification tablets and matches.
- 100 round SAW pouch at small of back.  Currently empty.  I can stuff it with mission-specific gear.  As a default some snacks and maybe spare socks go in there.  As it is on the small of my back I don't like to put hard metal things there but you can fit 3xM4 mags easily.  My NVD would fit too.
- Surplus IFAK pouch.  Set up as a combined IFAK/patrol pouch.  The front subdivider has a compact TK4 tourniquet (not as good as the CAT but compact), an H&H Israeli-style compression bandage, triangular bandage, and an NPA.  All the stuff I'd want quick access to.  The large big compartment has a baggie with first aid "boo boo" stuff:
Sterile Gloves, 3xAspirin Doses, Medi-Lyte (electrolytes for dehydration), Diamode/Loperamide (diarrhea medication), Bug Sting Wipe, Antiseptic Pads, Alcohol Prep Pads, Two 2" gauze pads, 3" wide elastic wrap, 2x4" moleskin strips, EMT Shears

That won't sustain you long but should be good for a day or two until you can get to a bigger medic supply stash.

The IFAK pouch also has some misc "patrol" stuff:  Mylar blanket, Single-use poncho (green), 4 oz emergency water pouch, Water purification tabs, Uncle Ben's DEET Bugspray Wipe, SPF30 Sunscreen Wipe, Cyalume Milspec Glowstick, "Foamie" Ear Protection.

- Tactical Tailor MOLLE holster.  This is sized for a Beretta 92.  I do not like this holster in this application.  It rides way too high for an easy draw.  Additionally, our primary household sidearm is the S&W M&P, and TT doesn't make a pouch for that.  My wife just has a cruddy condor pouch on her belt for now until I find/finance a better solution.  There's some good low-ride MOLLE holsters out there but they seem pricey.
- Single grenade pouch riding on TT holster.  Currently I have a $10 NCStar 8x monocular in there.  It seems to work fine.  The location is easy to access.
- Double M4 mag pouch.  For mags, and my NVD will also fit in there.

My wife's rig is identical except her belt is smaller, so she is down two M4 mag pouches.  Her kangaroo pouch rides on top of a single M4 shingle though, so she has a total of 2xM4 mags and 1xpistol mag.  Given that her primary role is close escort for kiddo she doesn't need as much ammo anyways, so a self-protection load is sufficient.  With her mini-mav she's up to 5xM4 mags.

I can easily layer this with the minimav plus an assault pack (for more gear such as a woobie and poncho, or even goretex) or a simple camelbak carrier.

Future thoughts:  I am considering adding two double mag shingles, one on each side of the buckle.  This would either up the mag count by four, or let me replace a double M4 mag pouch with a double pistol mag pouch for a flashlight and multitool without losing AR mags.  Right now between the war belt and minimav I don't have a good way to carry a multitool or other knife.  I'm also a bit worried that if I lost the minimav and was down to just the belt I'd have no light source other than the glow stick.  So ditching a double M4 pouch for some utility pouches seems reasonable, especially if I offset the lost M4 pouch with some shingles.


The concept of the FLC is vehicle mounted ops which require something more robust than the minimav.  The war belt is just not super comfortable in the car when seated.  The pouches are empty as I currently only have enough gear (other than mags) to keep one set of LBE stocked.  I'd have to transfer the stuff off the mini-mav/war belt onto the FLC.  Total mag carriage is 10xM4 mags and 1xpistol mag.  

The detail photos show the left and right sides of the FLC.  The side on the wearer's left is equipped as follows:
- Double pistol mag pouch, for pistol mag and surefire
- Double M4 mag pouch x 2
- Canteen pouch (identical to battle belt)
- Up on the mesh vest:  Small radio pouch for GMRS, grenade pouch for monocular

The other half of the FLC on the wearer's right has, from centerline out:
- Double M4 mag pouch x 3
- IFAK pouch set up as on war belt
- Up on the mesh vest:  Multitool, CAT, grenade pouch for admin items (will fit a basic flip cell phone)

The FLC is paired with a thigh drop holster.  I have a Serpa drop leg left over from work which also carries a spare pistol mag, so currently use that until funds allow a nice Safariland.

I am considering dropping 2xM4 mag pouches and replacing with a 100 round SAW pouch for more utility storage space for stuff like nomex gloves and a stripped MRE.  That would drop the total M4 mag count to 6.

Finally, I had a bunch of ACU pouches laying around so I got two cheap ACU FLCs from ebay and set them up similarly as backups.  They will be stashed in cars soon, I think, unless I can think of a better cache setup.

NOT PICTURED:  "LAPG Zombie Hunter Bag"

LAPG has some neat bailout bags.  They are super simple but pretty handy.  Contents of mine:
- 3 x M4 mags
- IFAK pouch contents set up as on war belt
- Compartment for handgun (I don't like off-body carry but it is an option)
- Compartment for radio (CB handheld or GMRS) -- normally the CB lives in the car but it could move to the bag if the threat level increased
- Water bottle
- Cheapo "tactical" light
- Ear Pro

The zombie hunter bag can be used to keep a lower profile, or to supplement the FLC/mini-mav in a vehicle-ops mounted role.  If you have to dismount you can grab the bag on the way out for a few more reloads.  They also work great as range bags.


I feel like this gear lets me adjust profiles from low, to medium, to high.  I can be comfortable for dismounted ops or in the car with similar rigs.  Coyote brown is nice as it blends with lots of colors/environments, and it isn't camo pattern (any LBE will draw attention from onlookers; camo LBE doubly so).

Big picture I want to continue to get more gear to round out the FLCs so they are "grab and go" ready all the time, but surefires and leathermans are expensive.  I also need to continue to work towards fixing the pistol situation on the war belts, and ditching the SERPA for my FLC rig.  I also do not have a great way to carry a knife right now other than maybe a multitool.  I have some KABAR adapters for my mini-KBAR but no good place to attach them.

To keep costs low, I used USGI surplus where possible and supplemented with Tactical Tailor as needed, taking advantage of their annual 30% off sale to get the key gear that just couldn't be sourced with cheap surplus.  TT is not too bad if you stick to the smaller utility pouches and their "fight light" line.

Please feel free to weigh in with any questions, spears, or comments.


Ryan here: As always thanks to Chris for playing. He liked doing the first post so much he did a second one! Thoughts in no particular order.

Why the Mini Mav vs a rig that can hold more mags? Most folks will go lighter on the warbelt and heavier on the chest rig. If the rig held 2-3 more mags you could arguably eliminate the need for the FLC kit (except as a backup). 
On the subject of the Mini Mav I disagree with the 20 rounders and would replace them with 3x standard 30 round magazines post haste. That gives you 30 more rounds on the kit.  A small admin pouch would be a good idea. 

War Belt: Yeah I have that same holster. They are OK but sit pretty high. Personally I keep my mags on the off hand side so all my rifle mags are on the left side. The exception is my second pistol mag as it went where it could fit (the other option was not having it). 

You mentioned not having a place to put a more robust knife. Why not on the War Belt? You could Jerry Rig it so the knife was just below the belt (thus not taking MOLLE space) and held on my a couple of big zip ties or something. 

The bail out bag should have some food in it, probably some clothing too.

Agree with ditching 2 mags from the FLC to create an admin pouch for some food and various stuff. 

I love how your system is modular so it can work for a variety of situations. 


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