‘Cryfire’ Temperate MARPAT

I’ve been lagging a bit with the gear posting recently on account of a fair few changes in things, but I hope you’ll all enjoy this feature and seeing some close-ups of an item that isn’t too commonly discussed or displayed.
 
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To my knowledge, these Flame Resistant G3 uniforms offered by DRIFIRE are sewn by Crye Precision, primarily using Drifire’s fabric. They’re available in Multicam, US Woodland, both AORs and both standard flavours of MARPAT. Also, as you might expect for a cut this complex in a top of the range FR material, the price is not low (AG-Tactical can get you some of the non-restricted patterns). For those interested in such things, this particular pair of combats cost me the most of any item of tactical soft goods that I currently own, by a reasonable margin in fact.
 
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Personally, temperate MARPAT is a pattern I’m quite attached to since it was the first camo I ever purchased for myself around 13-14 years ago now, a couple of years before I joined up. Although they’re not well known about, a few sets of G3 uniforms have been manufactured in regular USMC twill NYCO, both combat cut and field, though only in the temperate pattern that I have personally seen. Based on what little evidence is available however those were only a micro sized batch for prototyping or a one-off, very small team purchase. These Drifires on the other hand are still in manufacture at the time of writing to my knowledge, though in incredibly small numbers by comparison to most other uniforms from Crye.
 
They’ve been pictured in use with various elements of USMC Special Operations and possibly a few folks attached to them. They certainly represent what I’d say is the pinnacle of a premium combat uniform for extremely well funded SOF in warm climates, given the feature set and protective properties, at least until the G4 FR stuff starts to proliferate that is.
 
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The detractors (nothing’s perfect after all) are somewhat encapsulated in the phrase well funded. It’s pretty much a universally recognised fact that any FR uniform will fade more quickly and tear more easily by comparison to a regular synthetic/cotton blend, the very nature of the fabric not being a rip-stop weave gives that away right out of the gate. The G3 uniform, particularly the combat pant, already has many more potential ‘bursting’ points by comparison to standard issue uniforms since it comprises significantly more separate pieces of fabric sewn together in to the end product. That said, if you can afford to clothe your troops in high performance FR gear with loads of pockets, adjustability and joint protection and then replace said clothing when it rips or fade; why wouldn’t you? You can read one of my earlier blog posts for a little bit of discussion on FR uniforms in military use:
 
As far as these particular offerings from Drifire go, it is very much evident from a glance at the internal label that there is quite a laundry list of ingredients comprising the primary fabric. The stretch panels being the same tweave as those found on all commercial Crye product. The colouration of the stretch panels and other ancillary parts is in line with the Ranger Green commercial G3s. Sizing is also standard and after a brief inspection the one single anomaly in construction I could find here is that the bottom edge of the knee pad pocket is lined internally with loop. I’ve no idea why this is done as the standard Airflex combat knee pad does not have hook in this area to interface. Though at least if the end user adds more hook they can do what G4 has done and increase the staying power of the pads.
 
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A nice piece for the collection overall. Know some friends who might also be interested to see this post? Share it with them. If you happen to be feeling really flush and want some unusually patterned FR G3s for yourself you can get in touch with AG-Tactical. I’ve no association with them at all, but they do bring some extremely high end gear in to Europe for regular folks like me to buy if they so desire.

Kratos SOG Back At It?

A notification for those who’re always hunting for modern style/combat cut apparel in uncommon camo patterns (which I’d imagine is a fair few of you on here). It would appear that Kratos SOG are back in to actually manufacturing things after doing a little vanishing act a year or 2 ago.

Random bits of their stuff had been appearing on US eBay in the interim period, but it was clearly old stock being cleared out since the patterns/materials that were showing up are all long gone from availability and the sizes were exactly what you’d expect from a stock clearance i.e. never Mediums.

The past couple of weeks however I’ve seen items showing up in patterns they had not previously manufactured and in the full gamut of size options. You can have a browse here:

https://www.ebay.com/str/ksoggear

Garand Thumb actually reviewed this stuff about 2 years ago, which is when I originally subscribed to him on YouTube. The video has either been hidden or deleted now, probably on account of Kratos skipping town on people who’d paid money or something along those lines:

https://www.facebook.com/garandthumb1/posts/what-happened-to-kratos-sog/1283738124982113/

Am I saying you should lay down your hard earned with this company given their track record? Not necessarily by ANY stretch. If you buy something that is purported to be already manufactured and in stock and you do so through eBay using a credit card or paypal then you’re about as safe as you can ever be when buying a thing online. That said, none of their social media is active at the time of writing. Their facebook page is missing as is their website an their IG account is up but has not been posted to for a couple of years.

I’m not about telling anyone what to do, just giving folks as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions for themselves.

14.5″ Airsoft BCM-KMR Build

One of my VFC/Avalon AR-15 type AEGs, from factory condition to present day.

I originally picked up a pair of these VFC guns (which were some of the first under the Avalon brand name) back in summer 2013.  At the time I’d noticed a distinct trend amongst manufacturers of AR-15 style AEGs to move from realistic markings, such as Colt, over to fictional ‘trades’.  As it it turned out my gut was right and shortly after I purchased these 2 it came to a point where you almost couldn’t buy airsoft ARs with any realistic or licensed trademarks, certainly not from any decent quality brands that I was actually interested in.  As of 2018 things have swung somewhat the other way of course and the total lack of realistic AR replicas has caused something of a resurgence of interest in non-fiction replicas, though the market is most definitely not back where it was 6 or so years ago.

In their stock format these RIFs featured steel Surefire type muzzle brakes, mid-length faux gas systems with USGI type A-frame gas blocks, a full set of PTS MOE furniture to include handguard, pistol grip, trigger guard and stock, full BCM markings on the uppers and lowers, anti-rotation pins, Battle Arms style selectors, Gunfighter charging handles, PTS ASAP plates and BCM style rear BUIS.  They also have a very odd feature in the gearbox for adjusting FPS whereby you adjust a grub screw that deliberately bleeds air from the cylinder as the piston compresses, though personally I find the internals of electric airsoft guns entirely uninteresting and I’ve not changed them much at all from stock.  Otherwise they are functionally very much run of the mill mid-teens electric guns.

The biggest change to the gun that I kept at 14.5″ barrel length (the other being changed to 11.5″) was the original Bravo Company Manufacturing KeyMod Rail.  These were the days when the skinny freefloat tube was really climbing to a position of market dominance and cleaning up quad pic rails.  However the older style tubes with threaded holes for accessory mounting, such as those made popular by Troy and Midwest, were now being killed off by the rise of KeyMod.

My KMR however is not the currently-offered Alpha which is of an all aluminium construction, it is the original type (i.e. no Alpha suffix) which is constructed of an aluminium-magnesium blend with a surface coating applied using a plasma deposition process.  Quad pic rails were still fairly commonly seen floating around in both the civilian and military spheres at the time when these were released and 13″+ quads obviously are not lightweight; overkill in all regards essentially.  By comparison, weighing in at a mere 7.7oz with mounting hardware, the night-and-day handling changes experienced by purchasers of original alloy KMRs did an awful lot to help boost Bravo Company up in to the top tiers of manufacturers who specialise in ARs and AR accessories.

Since I had what was at the time the per-inch lightest AR forend on the market now attached to the RIF, I also opted for what was the lightest stock on the market, that being the Mission First Tac Battlelink Minimalist.  The WarSport (now ZRO Delta) rail bungees were all the rage at that point as well and in fairness they can still have application if you’ve got an awful lot of cables hanging around your handguard.

The Magpul Industries RSA added to the 12 o/clock pic rail compliments the ASAP plate to facilitate swapping slings from single point over to 2 point configuration.  The heavy and utterly pointless steel muzzle brake was removed in favour of a PTS/Griffin Armament flash hider that weighed probably 1/3 that of the SureFire replica.  The last integral changes merely involved exchanging the PTS MOE pistol grip and trigger guard over to corresponding items in FDE.  Also seen mounted in this image are an earlier model of Inforce WML and Primary Arms Micro red dot.

Further down the line, having decided that since the core parts of the build were all BCM, I came to the conclusion I might as well go all-BCM.  This wasn’t too tricky to accomplish since the main parts were already in place.  By swapping the MFT Stock for the Gunfighter Mod 0 and the PTS MOE pistol grip for a Dytac replica Gunfighter Mod 3, the build was pretty much done.  Credit to DLCustoms for fitting of the pistol grip, because the more vertical angle is something that’s hard to achieve given the way Version 2 Airsoft Gearboxes are setup to mount their motors at USGI A2 pistol grip angles.

Fortunately King Arms had (years earlier) made a batch of airsoft copies of the BCM Gunfighter Mod 0 and Mod 1 compensators, though they were entirely unmarked and did not mention BCM in their product names so most people would have been very much unaware of where the designs had originated.  By a stroke of luck I happened to find examples of both still in stock long after production had finished while randomly perusing eHobby.com one evening, so they were swiftly acquired.  The (as it turned out unnecessary) rail bungee was replaced with BCM KeyMod panels and a KAG that the Haley Strategic store had on fire sale for about $9 some time ago.

As uncool as it probably is by today’s standard, I’ve kept the Mil-Spec Monkey/US Night Vision magwell slap on the gun purely since the Death Mechanic logo holds such a firm place in my heart.

The 14.5″ barrel is without doubt not necessary in airsoft since a 10.5″ will give basically the same accuracy and muzzle velocity and KeyMod has very much lost the war against M-LOK, however I enjoy the US-civilian build aesthetic a great deal and if the compensator were hypothetically pinned and welded this gun would not fall under the SBR rules.  There’s a temptation to switch over to something M-LOK such as the new MCMR line from Bravo Company, but these non-Alpha KMRs almost never come up for sale these days since production was switched over to the Alpha model some years ago.  Also, since the 12 o/clock pic rail can satisfy any accessory attachment desires I may have and the forend is so feather-light, it just makes more sense to hold on to the magnesium alloy handguard at this point.  Overall, an extremely light and ergonomic rifle that fairly closely replicates a very popular semi-auto AR-15 from the US civilian market.

Sport Shooting in Britain

Going to take me a little while to do the write-up on the NRA Armistice Centenary match, but in the mean time if you’re in the UK and never shot before but would like to, I’d encourage you to check them out.

If you’re a civilian there is a short safety course you’d have to take before you could turn up to a competition and use a rented weapon/buy ammo for the day, but if you can get that course done it’s actually no more difficult to be a ‘rental’ at one of these matches than it is to be a rental at an airsoft game. This was something I personally had no clue about until just a couple of weeks back and had I known previously I certainly would have partaken in the occasional match with a rented weapon a long time ago.

I know quite a lot of you reading this will be in the UK and won’t have shot before but will be interested in trying, so I thought sharing this might bring some awareness in the same way my own awareness was recently raised. There are a few ranges you can go to in the UK and shoot bolt action rifles and shotguns if you literally just want to blast a couple of rounds and only spend a short time doing it, but if you want to get a lot more out of the experience and gain at least a small amount of good marksmanship practice then doing what I did for this match is a solid way to go about that.

We are currently experiencing issues uploading all the images from the Armistice Commemoration Match. We think this…

Posted by NRA of the UK on Sunday, November 11, 2018

ITS Tactical – Modular Morale System

A hot minute ago I mentioned a patch display option from Mil-Spec Monkey that leans towards the highly economical end of the scale, but today we’re making a big jump to something from ITS Tactical that is somewhat differing in nature.
 
The good thing about the MSM Halco Luxmed loop is it’s a raw material and if you’ve got some time and the inclination to be a bit crafty you can apply it to any sort of backing material you like to make a display. If you want to skip that effort however the ITS Modular Morale System is probably the highest quality, most luxurious 5* hotel for patches that a person might ever wish to find.
 
The backing is a rigid plastic, on to that is layered a pretty generous sheet of a dense foam and then of course there’s the loop sewn tightly over the top to create a mill-pond smooth surface. I usually try to avoid superlative and subjective observations like the one that is about to follow when I’m talking about any products, but honestly the feel of these panels is just superb. If they made a sofa that felt the same way you’d probably never get off of the thing. It’s the tactile equivalent of that first sip of your number 1 favourite ale. Does that matter for patches? No obviously not, but I can’t express enough how much these things to ooze quality in a way that is at best tricky to convey in a written format.
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On top of being fully capable of mounting both hook-backed patches and pin badges (via the foam), the MMS panels come with adhesive 3M hook tape that will stick to absolutely any bloody surface for attachment of the panels. I’d strongly advise not sticking it to anything that’s painted or might delaminate in any way in fact, unless you don’t plan on every removing the hook because it will take any paint/wallpaper etc with it when peeled away. It’s certainly not going to just slip and fall down on you though.
 
Each panel measure 12×18″ and there’s no edging or border. This proportioning of course means that the long edges of 2 panels can be jointed by the short ends of 3 panels to create different shapes and still have a clean rectangular boundary. As you’ll see from my personal display setup you can also neatly bridge panels with patches on account of the fact the loop wraps right around the edges of the HDPE plastic backings.
 
Lots of upsides, so what’s the downside? Well the cost per square inch ratio is not the most economical, there is no denying it. At $22.99 per panel the unit of currency per surface area you’re getting is at the less economical end of the scale, but as I mentioned at the start if you want something 100% ready to go out of the packaging with the only effort required being slapping some hook tape on a wall, something with an immaculately classy and professional look, then to my mind it’s worth the investment. That’s why I’ve purchased 6 of them myself so far. I fully appreciate that if you have a large patch collection however it may well not be for you.
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Personally, I’d say I’m quite picky about the patches I will actually buy and display on these panels. Some people might not get that impression seeing a big wall of the things, but bear in mind I’ve been acquiring them for about a decade now and only my favourites make it to the MMS wall. Anything that’s just a company logo/branding (i.e. loop mounted advertising) gets attached to the products that are cheaper per surface area. The really good ones I’ve bought or been lucky enough to have gifted to me get added to the MMS.
 
If you’d like to see the ITS store page for the system here’s that link:
https://store.itstactical.com/products/its-modular-morale-system
 
Made in America to very high standards using top class materials and clearly with a lot of design thought behind what on the surface is such a simple item. I fully appreciate some people who aren’t interested in patches may well be left scratching their heads at this product, but then again if you’re reading this I’d bet you’ve either owned or wanted to own Crye or Arc’teryx gear even if there’s a 99% chance you’ve zero need for anything that high end (myself included), so each to their own I always say.

Cross Machine Tool UHPR Mod 1 9.5″ AR Handguard

Unfortunately with discussing AR forends like this I can’t ever provide any serious feedback on how they perform when mounted to a firearm that is then shot extensively, given the laws we have in the UK; not to mention ammo prices for the neutered AR type rifles that can actually be legally obtained. Just something to bear in mind. All I can give is my opinions on the design and construction as they sit before me and see how they handle being bashed around a little bit in the occasional airsoft game.

I opted for the UHPR to go on a 10.5″ KWA Performance Industries, Inc.LM4 build that I’ve been very gradually working on the past couple of years. I wanted a short and light M-LOK compatible rail in the mid-range price bracket so I wouldn’t feel so bad about getting it cerakote’d.

The big plus about this CMT design is the mounting and if you’re looking at any AR forend I can’t advise strongly enough that you highly prioritise a mounting setup that does not require timing of the barrel nut. Much like the Geissele and BCM rails I’ve worked on before the CMT nut requires no timing, shims or anything of the sort, you just tighten the round barrel nut and the clamp system at the base of the rail secures the forend itself. Infinitely preferable to trying to get radial screw holes lined up perfectly and doubly so on airsoft receivers that are mostly made of cheap, nasty, weak ‘alloys’ that will not stand up to the same treatment a real receiver will. Personally I hate the feeling of paranoia when trying to vice mount something or work on a piece in said vice. It’s not something I have to concern myself with in my usual daily work using proper firearms parts and I certainly don’t miss it while I am at work. I’m yet to break an airsoft upper while re-profiling the threads to AR spec or attaching a handguard, but the nagging feeling is always in the back of my mind.

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CMT list the UHPR as “6000 series alloy” on their website, although the Battle Arms Development manufactured ‘Rigidrails’ are listed as 6061-T6 over atRainier Arms and I’d say there is a pretty good chance both products are machined from the same extrusions; but take from that what you will. Either way, the CMT barrel nut is made from 7075 and has a good length to it to ensure proper support of the handguard, an important feature you’ll see extolled by the likes of Geissele for both reasons of resisting applies leverage and consistent zero’ing of lasers. Both the rail and barrel nut are coated in Type 3 hard anodise, just as one would expect to see on a quality product.

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The Mod 1 variant has M-LOK at 3, 6, 9 and some slots at 12. You can also pick up the Mod 2 which features full pic rail around the 12 o/clock. I prefer to minimise the weight and outer diameter by cutting out some of that picatinny so a partial M-LOK configuration is what I’ll go for when it’s available, but of course it all depends which accessories you’ll personally be utilising. There’s rotation limited QD sockets both near to the receiver and near the muzzle on both sides of the rail, so no shortage of options there if you use a QD sling. For me though the best features are the non-timed barrel nut and the anti-rotation tabs that combine to both allow extremely easy, hassle free mounting as well as assurance of the best possible alignment along the 12 o/clock.

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Total weight for this 9.5″ model comes in at a squeak over 8oz which for a sub-$200 aluminium (i.e. not mag or lith alloy) rail is highly competitive within the marketplace. The one and only change I might make is to slightly shorten the forward picatinny on the 12 o/clock to move the M-LOK slots forward, since it is a bit longer than is really needed for a front BUIS, though that said it might well be handy for mounting some PEQ units. Especially if you want to try and squeeze on both an IR laser and fixed front sight.

Again I can’t comment on longevity, dissipation of heat, comfort in the hand under recoil or any of the like, but in terms of design I’m definitely happy with this effort from CMT.

Beyond Clothing Outlaw

If you’re here, you might well be a bit like me, in so far as you might want clothes from brands you like/trust that can actually be worn around daily when you’re not doing ‘tactical stuff’. It’s certainly nice when said garments can still maintain that level of practicality that you’ve become accustomed to in your tac gear, yet not also scream “I’m in the service/am concealed carrying/have a lot of expensive military kit” – whatever your circumstance might be.

Of course you can tick off a lot of those things by going with mountaineering brands, but I’ll refer you to the ‘brands you like’ part because, personally, a lot of the brands I really like are purely contained within the military sphere and often do not have a civilian line in their catalogues. I’ll also buy stuff that’s made in the US/EU/Aus where I can.

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The Beyond Clothing​ Outlaw is a pretty sweet jacket all around given the above context. Of all the layers I have accumulated for outer wear in the winter, it is one of the few that is actually a softshell, alongside the OR Ferrosi, though they’re very different animals. That selection is not due to a deliberate avoidance of shells however, it’s just that if you want a nice looking jacket it’ll probably be canvas/cotton, leather, wool or something along those lines. Generally the smart looking items you find out there will not be made from a more modern technical fabric. From an everyday perspective that sort of thing is not the end of the world by any stretch, but a shell will of course serve in a far superior fashion in the event you do get caught in the less pleasant elements.

The Outlaw is not a thick insulator, but of course the shell blocks all wind and combining that with a fleece lining makes for quite an effective end result. As you might expect coming from Beyond, all the materials are very much akin to what you’d find amongst PCU garments, which is certainly a huge plus to my mind.

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It is not the ideal jacket for the likes of serious mountain climbing or the like, as you might imagine, not that I hold that fact against it. It has a few zips it doesn’t really need and some of the pulls can rattle about and be slightly noisy. The press stud storm flap at the front over the main zip is also somewhat irritatingly slow to fully secure and when not secured the metal studs will move around and hit against each other. Not in any sort of cataclysmic fashion, it’s not just tactical (imagine air quotes around that).

The Outlaw is however good looking, features plenty of pockets in convenient places with no compromise for the sake of pack belts and still has those weather resilient fabrics. Dry time is a crucial one, especially compared to any sort of cotton and wool, a shell will dry many times more quickly and last better in the very long term vs leather. The vintage/worn look can be cool of course, but there will be occasions in life when that just isn’t appropriate and nylon shell does an amazing job at staying looking like it just came out of the bag even after years of use.

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Interesting bit of backstory to the Outlaw that I discovered when chatting to one of the head blokes at Beyond at the FirstSpear​ range day during SHOT 2017; the jackets were all meant to originally be sold in very high end, fancy clothing stores in New York and it would appear that at least some of them were:

Beyond Clothing Private Reserve Collection Launch in NYC

MSM Raw Hoodie – Redux

If you missed my video on the MilSpecMonkey RAW Hoodie I would definitely recommend checking that one out if you are interested in colour options for tac gear.

As I mentioned in the video this is a jacket I wear absolutely all the damn time, constantly. When I want something to put on to warm up, the RAW is what I take out of the cupboard. Many of you that are also in the UK will probably just be getting to the start of the cold weather in the past week or two and since that’s been happening I’ve been living in this hoodie. I am in fact wearing right now as I type this.

As I’ve spent time in it, there’s a couple of features that have really stood out the most to me.

Primarily it’s the fact that it is a fleece, yet unlike fleeces I’ve owned in the past I don’t hate it or find it useless, quite the opposite. Generic fleeces have absolutely zero wind blocking abilities which makes them frankly redundant without a rain jacket or softshell over the top. The MSM Hoodie may not cut the cold wind as much as something like an Arc’teryx Atom AR which comprises a thin nylon shell with synthetic fill, but then it also costs a small fraction of the Atom and frankly for daily wear the nature of the fleece makes it a nicer, more comfortable proposal all around. The RAW is a hard faced fleece so you get the ‘fluff’ on the inside but a smooth appearance and feel on the outside, making it better in the wind and far, far less of a magnet for hair and dirt and bits of plants and whatever else it out there that just loves clinging on to normal soft faced fleece.

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The second key point is that the RAW is not a hoodie. I don’t mind hoodies for lounging around indoors when nobody’s going to see me and they can be ok as a mid-layer for everyday use. However I’m 30 now and for the most part I want to wear layers that fit, not ones that hang a giant kangaroo pouch in front of me and have a generally loose, overly-baggy appearance. Crucially also a full zip allows for controlled levels of insulation which is why I largely despise shirt style or half/quarter zip insulating layers. The issue PCS item for example is very warm, however the thick nature of the fleece and the one-third zip mean if you put it on when you’re cold then run in it you will boil yourself alive and getting the bloody thing on and off is an absolute nightmare and a half. This makes temperature regulation far more difficult than it should be when alternating between slow and fast paced activity.

As far as the MSM Grey colouring goes, well frankly I love it. It does a brilliant job of tricking the eye to switch between appearances of green, brown and grey depending on light/background and balances all 3 colours very nicely indeed. I would certainly jump all over some quality NYCO combat clothing in this same colourway, and indeed some 500D load bearing kit, because to my mind this is the true solid-colour equivalent to Multicam – perhaps even better than MC in some ways, certainly against concrete and buildings. As it stands the Gruppa 99 L5 apparel comes very close to MSM’s colour selection and I intend to pick up some more of their kit down the line. Fingers crossed UF-Pro might produce something equivalent in their Striker series because at the moment their ‘Brown Grey’/RAL 7013 is basically just one tiny shade away from Ranger green and not nearly different enough to Crye’s RG to warrant the purchase for me personally.