Tru-Spec Combat Shirt – Economical

The Tru-Spec 1/4 Zip combat shirt in NYCO, if you missed my video look, check it out:

I specifically bought this just to post about because I spent a long time digging through dozens of different combat shirts within the realm of commercial options and this came out right near the top of what I could see online.

I’ve recommended military surplus gear for a long time in terms of the utmost cost effective camo clothing, but colour options are fairly limited if you want to get the best price. It will usually be 1 temperate and 1 arid pattern that’s available cheaply and in large quantities in any given country. The US is a bit difference because of MARPAT and all the bad decisions like UCP and NWU1, but in the UK for example the options would be DPM, DDPM and MTP. They’re fine of course and will cost as little as a third of the price of a good commercial equivalent, but if you want more selection (i.e. stuff that’s never been standard issue) while retaining a decent quality, there’s very few ways around shelling out a bit more cash.

The Tru-Spec was certainly the best option for a combat shirt using good Nylon/Cotton fabrics I came across. They offer the Polyester/Cotton version too but it really wasn’t much cheaper at all, definitely not enough to make up for the loss in resilience and colour fastness you experience with PYCO.

The one thing I can’t commend on is the long term resilience of the torso because it did seem thinner than I would like, but the overall simplicity of the cut means it would be a comparatively easy job to stitch in a replacement t-shirt body if the original did wear out on you. Plus of course the original fabric is a real blessing in hot weather.

More Patagonia Hijinks

I have briefly mentioned before about the differences between the AOR Patagonia sets issued (to people who get issued AOR) and the multicam/solid colour sets that can be purchased online if you’ve got the right sort of ID card. I picked up both these pairs of Level 9 trousers within a short time frame so it feels like a good time to mention the comparison.

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From what I’ve read, the issued AOR gear is sewn by somewhat less skilled and motivated people by comparison to the sort-of-commercially available apparel. There’s various conjecture out there about prison labour which is entirely a possibility in the US military supply chain, but I have no hard evidence to support any theory either way.

The obvious difference you’ll notice externally here are the doubled up adjustment tabs for the knee pads on the multicam trousers and I know there are at least 1 or 2 other differences where the AOR hasn’t had quite the same work put in, but since I’m away at the moment without access to my kit I can’t comment right now.

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If you’re interested in these particular items I’ve written about them previously so you can search for Patagonia on the blog to find more. I have it on good information that Mr Crye himself was responsible for actually designing these, but the reality is I would choose the G3s any time.

Army Custom AOR2

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the rather less common (compared to Navy Custom) Army Custom cut uniforms in AOR patterns and I very much imagine this will be the only example I ever have to show here.

I’ve absolutely no information on AOR1 vs 2 production in AC cut or indeed field vs combat type, all I have read is that there was a brief period when US Army SF (to include their really sneaky unit) did use AOR patterns around the time SEALs and the like also adopted them. But either way, personally I’m a big fan of the field cut shirts in woodland/temperate patterns, an update on the classic uniforms of the 80s and 90s if you will.

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Temperate colourways and traditional cut shirt have of course not prevalent in deployed military use during the past couple of decades given most common theatre conditions, but then there’s nothing much really interesting about a combat shirt in a multi-environment pattern at this point. So for me this shirt is something I find a lot more unique and interesting.

The few Army Custom items in AOR patterns that still exist are mostly owned by the sorts of collectors who primarily just squirrel stuff away and don’t often post online, let alone sell items from the collections. So I felt pretty fortunate to find this shirt new and in my size for less than the commercial equivalent.

CP Stock Options

I won’t post a standard shot of my G3 combat lowers in regular Multicam, because everyone’s seen that a million times. Here’s a couple of close ups.

What I would say while I’m on the topic – if you’re going to put the money down for any Crye clothing, I’d strongly recommend you go for something unusual if you can. I’ll admit I do have a lot of original MC, but that’s just because so many good sets have been made in the pattern. I also have far more other stuff than I have standard Multicam.

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Obviously there are work considerations and sometimes you might be in a position to purchase clothing for duty use but limited to only standard MC since everybody pretty much uses it these days. However if you have a choice, get something different. I’m not a fan of flat black personally, but a lot of folks do like it. The other solid colours are always winning choices though given how rarely they’re bought/seen/worn. Whether it’s just from a looking cool perspective, collecting something unusual or speculating with an investment perhaps; anything other than normal Multicam will always be a better option.

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If you look at the second hand market the original colourway dominates by a huge margin, seeing anything else come up for sale is a comparative hens’ tooth. Certainly when generations change and go out of production you’ll be well served to buy solid colours, MC Tropic or Arid etc, because the ‘normal’ option will be around in good quantities for a long time after a given cut of clothing ceases to be made. Similar thing with the Field cut; when you look at the Gen 1 and 2 items that come up for sale or get posted online it’s mostly MC Combat cut, but Gen 1 Fields are incredibly rare and it’s similar with Gen 2/AC. Given how rarely I’ve seen G3 field items, I’d imagine the same situation will evolve in a few years time.

If you’ve got the money and you really want the fit-in set then sure get MC Combats, but diversifying from there is definitely a strong move from a collecting stand point.

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Emdom IAP – Best Pouch There Never Was

The Emdom USA/militarymorons.com IAP, or Immediate Access Pouch. Without doubt the best mag pouch design I’ve ever seen that never gained any significant notoriety, which is pretty crazy given what it does and the time it was brought to the market.

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It’s difficult to track the timeline of any given piece of equipment since there isn’t exactly a wikipedia or IMDB of tactical gear, but I did manage to dig up that fact that Emdom brought this thing to market at least 8 years ago, if not even earlier than that with prototypes. We may live in a kydex utopia now of brilliant pouches that provide good retention while still allowing instant access, but that was not really the case for the most part when this pouch came to market. The Eagle FB pouches and ESSTAC KYWIs have been around for a while of course, but they never really gained a huge amount of popularity because it takes a long time for the market to adapt to new concepts. One of those concepts being the idea of not having anything going over the mag for no-question retention.

If I were to guess I’d say the elastic that provides the retention here is an idea based on the standard double mag pouch that Eagle popularised at least 15 years ago and has since been copied more times than you’ve had hot dinners. The old trick of course being to tuck in the lid on your double pouches (which were usually too tight for realistic use with 2 mags anyway) to create a pouch that provided fast access to a single magazine. Here I think the concept has been pushed further, some might say to its’ logical conclusion. Removing the lid entirely, adding a plastic piece inside the the mouth of the pouch so it stays open making indexing a snap and then of course only sizing the pouch for that single mag.

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The attachment method is obsolescent by modern standards in terms of bulk and weight reduction but there’s no arguing the resilience of the design or construction of either the webbing or MALICE clips. Emdom build things to the high standards anyone would expect from duty use gear and though I might choose ESSTAC pouches or MP2 inserts as a preference these days, I still like this design a lot. I just wish I’d listened to my buddy Ko-Tac and bought more back in the day, because they would’ve done exactly what I was looking for.

Magpul Technical Gloves

If you’ve ever felt I only say positive things about gear 1. You’re wrong anyway 2. Here’s another example for the collection. The Magpul Industries Corp. Technical gloves.

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My interest was piqued when Magpul released their entire line of gloves to the market in one big bunch a little while back, but all in all I’m not sure they really filled any niches when you look at the line. I’d say most of the options were already well covered by other gloves on the market.

I opted for the technical over the patrols, breachers or flight gloves as I tend to lean more towards something quite minimalist for a glove that’ll be used for any sort of shooting or airsoft in a civilian context (or hot weather), then I’ve got much thicker insulated gloves for less comfortable environments. Unfortunately I’ve struggled to actually get any testing done on the technical gloves as the proportions of the fingers to the palm area simply do not work for me at all. The main body of the glove fits my hands, but the fingers are so long I’m left with a lot empty space at the tips and this makes the gloves basically unusable for me. This could be handy for some folks of course, depending on the proportioning of your digits. Whether a smaller size might work better for me I’m not sure, but I’m not planning on buying another pair on account of some other issues I have with the design.

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First off the finger tip stitching doesn’t follow the line of the fingers like you’d find on a PIG glove, hampering dexterity right out of the gate. Next the pull tab/carriage loop is mounted in a very weird position right inside the cuff, which makes donning the gloves more annoying than it needs to be. Then (for me at least) these gloves have the exact some problems as the Mechanix fast fit, they fail to stay tightly fitted to the hand due to the construction of the cuff area and end up sliding off and away from the position they should be in.

The FDT Deltas fit me far better and more tightly, don’t ever move, have better dexterity overall and the positioning of the paracord loop makes much more sense. There’s no denying there’s some pot luck in the stitching quality with PIG gloves and they can pop seams upon first use if you’re unlucky. That’s one area that Magpul may have SKD beaten on, but I couldn’t say given the sample size of one.

I like the materials Magpul have used, the gloves are incredibly comfortable overall, the capacitive fabric is there where it needs to be and props on the packaging, but thus far the PIG FDT line remains unchallenged in my opinion. It’s going to take something major to topple them from the top of the hill.

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Platatac + Kryptek Mandrake

My personal preference is to try and collect the overall best example of a uniform I can find for a given pattern, preferably in a combat cut that will accept Crye pads. These PLATATAC Tac Dax Mk2s represent the all around highest quality combat cut trousers in the Kryptek Outdoor Group patterns that have ever been manufactured to my knowledge and I was pretty lucky to find this pair new and in my size just a bit less than 2 years ago, especially since they were long out of production at that point. These patterns have of course fallen significantly in popularity within the ‘tactical’ realm since they first hit the market, so quality combat type uniforms are much less common at this point (something Kryptek themselves are working on changing at the moment), but the patterns do seem to have caught on with hunters in the US fairly significantly.

The pocket layout here is essentially Crye’s AC/Gen 2, but you’ve got the stretch panel in the groin and the waist adjustment from Gen 3s. The main fabric is 5050 NYCO and the stretch material is either the same as Crye uses or very close. The knee pad height adjusters are notably not present, but this is if anything a small bonus from my perspective as I always leave my knee pads at the lowest possible setting and still find them slightly too high. Also this is a feature that could very easily be added in, if you did prefer to have that adjustment.

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The Mandrake, Highlander and Typhon variants of these sets from Platatac were the largest quantities produced from what I’ve seen and Haley Strategic Partners carried them briefly in the US as the ‘D3 Uniform’, which I reckon is a partial result of Travis being somewhat an enthusiast for the same sorts of camo sets as I am. Though admittedly there’s no way to 100% substantiate that, I’m just going off what I’ve seen him wear in a lot of the HSP firearms classes when he teaches.

The Tac Dax Mk2s were also made in a couple of Aus Army patterns, Multicam, Kryptek Nomad (which I’ll be posting here down the line) and possibly some AOR/NWU as well as others. I’m hoping Platatac might make their Mk3 PTGs (which take Crye pads) again in future to include some rare/interesting camouflage patterns using regular NYCO fabrics, instead of just the solid colour FR line they currently offer. Fingers crossed.

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UR-Tac + ATACS iX

This was the last piece of gear I purchased from ur-tactical.com, their Gen 2 IDA combat shirt. The good thing about those folks is, like me, they’re a proponent of the full pattern torso on a UBACS. If an appropriate fabric exists in a matching pattern for the torso of a shirt, they’ll buy it in and sew it up.

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The cut of their combat shirt actually harks all the way back to the Gen 1 Crye combat shirt which they copied long ago, with the irony being the Gen 4 is now going back to a bicep pocket arrangement much more akin to the Gen 1.

NYCO sleeves and a synthetic under the arms for the quickest drying where it counts. I’ve had a few people ask me about this brand and although I’ve had one or two small issues over the years, there’s no denying you get a decent modern cut and the same materials as Crye uses for less money. Plus there’s the CP knee pad compatibility but in a much wider range of patterns.

A-Tacs Camo iX I’ve found amazingly good in a lot of British woodland much to my surprise, despite it supposedly being a transitional pattern. I’ve moved on nearly all my AU and FG, but this stuff I’ll be keeping in the collection.

 

UF-Pro Gen 1 Combat Shirt

Next up; the UF PRO Striker XT Combat shirt, first generation. Said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re not going to get blown up or shot at with a flame thrower, it’s right up there with the best for hot climate usage. NYCO sleeves and collar, all synthetic torso that dries in no time, merino blend under the arms and extra zipped vents for more airflow (amongst other features).

Since I ended up going to a larger size after they moved to gen 2 I made a comparison video a little while back, which you can check out here if you missed it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ripF1SIi_w0

This is one of the few bits of gear out of Europe that’s not so weird and badly designed it doesn’t make me shake my head and slide right back on over to all my US made kit. As I’ve mentioned before you will want to check the site carefully if you would prefer NYCO over Poly/Co because the construction varies by colouration options. But either way I’ve had a lot of experience with the torso fabric they use and I’ve found it to be an excellent option despite the fact it’s actually quite cheap to make. Can’t underestimate that built in merino wool either, that stuff is just awesome all around and definitely not a cheap fabric.

Illegal Issue Interference

This pouch was the only thing I had on my armour that rattled before I went to go see some sand. The ‘upgrade’ zip pulls are the only thing I own that’s Blackhawk now I’d say.

Never underestimate how much you can improve a lot of gear (sometimes even fancy stuff) with snips, scissors, paracord and a lighter. Maybe tape…

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