Garand Thumbing It In

Nobody’s going to believe me when I say this, but roughly 6 months ago I’d been watching a lot of Garand Thumb videos and I’d also recently commissioned some custom Crye cut apparel from Roman Kurmaz, so I said jokingly to Passive Shooter “imagine getting a combat shirt made in plaid flannel with combat cut jeans? ha!”. Then a little while later the tactical cut flannels went tacti-viral, but the All Skill No Luck versions lack a collar, zip and any velcro.

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Personally I can’t stand a combat shirt without a collar and I think you all know I enjoy a patch or two. Not to mention colour/pattern options, this grey is more my style than red or blue.
Of course this is also a *super* practical piece of gear so providing camouflage in the urban jungle is imperative.

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Hit a little golden seam in my big old backlog of gear pics to post. Finally get to talk about what I personally would need to see in a potential plate carrier purchase and display my most recent custom(ish) amalgamation.

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This is purely what I use for airsofting and trying stuff out since I’m not nearly Tier 69 enough to deviate from my issued Mk4 Osprey, but it’s a list I’ve developed over a good few years based on playing a few different types of games, using various types of replica guns and in every season and weather condition. To avoid going off on too many tangents I’ll break things down to bullet points, each of the following are boxes that have to be ticked before I click checkout.

-Taken as read in the modern world, but construction needs to be light and efficient. 500D cordura and some hypalon. No 1000D, big metal buckles, excessive layering etc.

-Also taken as read but sewing must be more than up to scratch. Potential for failures in stitching simply isn’t acceptable. Your kit is no use to you on the floor because a shoulder strap wasn’t bar tacked, or a buckle didn’t have the triple or X stitching it needed. Obviously far more of a concern when wearing real kevlar/plates that both weigh a lot and need to actually protect you.

-Quick detachment between cummerbund and front plate bag. Ever since I picked up my first FirstSpear​ Strandhogg I have outright refused to go back to tearing up that huge field of velcro under the front flap. Shoulder strap QD is preferable but not an absolute necessity.

-Compatibility with placards of the type Mayflower standardised some years ago. It’s something not seen on widely issued military armour because when you’re only ever rocking the fi’ fiddy sex you don’t need that. However the great thing about airsoft or being a civvie shooter (in some countries) is you can pick your guns; probably useful for sneaky blurry-face dudes too. Sometimes you want sub-gun sized pouches, sometimes something like an ESSTAC for the ideal 556 pouch, maybe sometimes TACOs or SR-25 types pouches. Maybe you go real crazy one day and mix it up with GP pouches or med kit or a holster, who knows? There’s loads of placards to choose from and with straight PALS platforms the options are endless.

-Integrated admin pouch with external loop, but built internally. Not the ideal setup if you actually put armour in your rigs (then you want an external pouch), but I don’t so I don’t. Zip closure so there’s no openings at all, also some elastic retention for small items are preferable. Loop has to be there outside for patches… duh.

-1″ Webbing attachment points for ITW Grimlocks. Once my hydro tube is routed over the shoulder, I want enough slack to actually drink without yanking on the tube every time I’m thirsty, but I don’t want said slack flopping around in my face and the retention for that slack needs to be quick and easy to open/close. Obviously these also come in handy for managing cables and other comms stuff if desired.

-‘Negative space’ PALS, because webbing is so 2012. 6/12 from FS and other laser cut PALS grids are becoming more and more common and I think in a few more years they’ll finally make-up the majority of kit that’s produced. If you’re more of a gun guy, think of it as M-LOK for your gear. It just makes sense.

-Full interior lining of spacer mesh – plate bags and cummerbund. Cordura alone is fairly water resistant as it is and almost all cordura that’s used to make gear has a water resistance coating added, so where’s that sweat going when you’re leaking inside a PC with no lining? Nowhere – it’s just soaking your shirt and gradually building up a nasty collection of bacteria and salt. All the best clothing systems are all about moving sweat from the body to the outside, I want my rig to do the same as much as possible. Granted it obviously can’t evaporate out through the cordura (or armour if present) but it can go somewhere and gradually work it’s way away from your skin, also dries far quicker when you take off your PC. Foam pontoons inside the mesh to create channels and standoff are even better, if available.

-Large enough area of PALS at the back to mount (without overhang) either a TYR Tactical, LLC​ or Flimmuur Tactical​ zip-on hydro pouch that can hold a 2L Source Outdoor​ bladder. Sometimes I want water on board, sometimes not. This is also the whole reason I went from chest rigs in my early days of playing over to plate carriers despite having zero requirement for armour – having a place to mount hydration without adding either another set of shoulder straps or the front of a chest rig being pulled up by the water on the back.

-Shoulder straps with either padding and/or mesh built in, or the ability to mount a really nice and comfortable shoulder pad. Because my delicate airman’s skin must be treated with love and care. Also the same points apply to the shoulder straps as with the insides of the plate bags, because sweat can build up anywhere. Minor things, but I’ve been working on this a while.

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The pictured rig is made up of a FirstSpear AAC rear plate bag, upgrade cummerbund and deluxe shoulder pads, with the crucial front plate bag and the shoulder straps built from scratch to my specs by Dead Coyote Tactical Nylon​ (great job he did too).

This is the 2nd iteration on my idea of trying to combine exactly what I want in to one package. I did put out a video showcasing the 1st iteration back in December 14 and I originally paid for and spec’d out that particular design a fair while even before that; so the concepts integrated here are ones I’ve been in favour of for just a little while now. That video is here if anyone’s interested –

I first had DCTN start work on his parts for this RG rig around the middle of 2015. I placed an order for the FirstSpear segments which I had sent to him, he built the front plate bag and shoulder straps using those as a foundation, then sent the whole thing on to a friend of mine who was at the time collating a few gear orders I’d placed within the US. My friend had a few personal issues and it took him a while to ship everything over, then of course the customs wait; so from the point of first discussing the idea the whole assembly took a whle and everything passed through a fair few hands to come together in to what you see pictured. Of the dozen or so different PCs I’ve ever owned however this one is the best for me personally, no doubt about it. Light, comfortable, everything I want and like.

Later on down the line I’ll be sure to upload a few shots of the complete setup with Flimmuur back panel, DCTN placards and a few other RG pouches.

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Crye vs Clones

Going over the Rasputin item G3 styled combat shirt in PenCott Camouflage SandStorm vs the Crye original and other options that are out there and worth considering.

Also few of my thoughts on the high end vs cheap copies vs military surplus and what makes sense in different situations. I have my personal preferences, but when discussing this sort of thing I like to try and mention different perspectives so that anyone can choose appropriate gear regardless of what they do. Lots of folks have different jobs and hobbies so a perspective of ‘only X brand is any good’ is futile without context.

Obviously that subject could easily be a length standalone video or article, but I wanted to just touch on the basics as it’s something that gets debated a lot. That and a lot of people online have an angle as it were, whereas I’m in no position to gain or benefit regardless of what kit you buy; be it top end or the cheapest clones going.

Exceptional Customer Service

Honourable mention to the customer service people over at Tactical Distributors. I’ve placed orders there a few times over the past couple of years, always been more than happy with the service. They also carry a wide selection which happens to include the very latest and highest quality gear available for us normal folks to purchase; should you wish to make a large investment that is.

Just over a year ago, I treated myself to an Arc’teryx LEAF Recce, just to see how far the features and quality can feasibly go when you spend such a large amount on a NYCO field cut shirt. Mistakenly, I didn’t perform my proper due diligence, I didn’t get my measurements at that time and compare them to the supplied sizing chart. So the shirt, fantastic as it is, just hung in the wardrobe for a full 12 months with the labels still attached.

Finally conceding to myself the fact I’m not as thin as I once was I contacted the service people over at TD regards exchanging up a size. I quite honestly expected a reply in the negative and I really would not have been annoyed about that, not at all. Yet to my surprise the nice people over there provided me an RMA number, so I packaged the shirt and sent it back over the pond. Once the shirt arrived with them they immediately dispatched the new one in the larger size via UPS and I had it in my hands only 3 or 4 days later.

Genuinely I’m still bowled over by this. I remember reading “Best customer service in the business!” at the top of the site and thinking it was a bold claim given how often companies these days promise the world and deliver a tiny dirt clod. But now I’ll fully back up that claim, absolutely. I really enjoy being able to bring a positive story about any business to a post here and the good thing about buying quality gear is the companies who sell it tend to exhibit exponentially less greed and deceitfulness than the likes of your broadband supplier or smart phone maker.

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RTi Options

Carrying on a theme here some of you may pick up on, a quick look at the G-Code Holsters RTI Rotating Tactical Belt Mount. I think they could’ve dropped Tactical out of the name, but hey the world goes on, we’ll be ok.

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For those unfamiliar, RTi is like KeyMod for your holsters. You can purchase mounts to fit a huge variety of gear, in fact I’d be surprised if there was a belt, PC or vest of any description you couldn’t mount an RTi wheel on to. You can also purchase various different the hangers, which are the machined aluminium keys that interface your holster with the wheels and the hangers come in varieties to work with any of G-Code’s own holsters, SERPAs and Safarilands. The added bonus is that a lot of the other custom/made-to-order kydex shops will also make their holsters with appropriate geometry and holes drilled to mount a hanger; for example T.REX ARMS and Off The Grid Concepts LLC,

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The pictured mounting piece is, as you can see, simple in design. Folded kydex, formed to fit around any duty belt then secured with grommets at the base, with both hook and loop inside to lock in to position regardless which half of velcro your particular belt is outfitted with. The screws mounting the RTi wheel to the kydex are spaced equidistant around the circumference such that the end user can alter their angle of draw if desired, although the options for that are somewhat limited. I’d generally recommend sticking to the straight up and down configuration as supplied by default for most applications or locations you would carry your holster.

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There is another belt mount G-Code offer that’s similar in concept, but with ‘wings’ protruding either side for a more stable overall platform. If your belt happens to be pretty crowded already, or you use something along the lines of the FS AGB sleeve, Velocity OUB or VTAC Brokos, the pictured variant might well be more useful given its’ narrower profile.

Running a system like this is definitely expensive in terms of both the mounts and the fact each holster will cost more on account of the added expense of the RTi hanger affixed on the back. The holster is also moved slightly further away from the body, increasing your profile marginally. So if you don’t want to change holster types frequently, be it for different handguns or guns with lights and optics etc, then stick to a simple and proven belt/PALS mount that screws directly to said holster. Personally, I’m just very indecisive.

B5 Systems Crane Style Stock

It’s a shoulder thing, that goes up?!?

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Just kidding it’s a B5 Systems SOPMOD stock (and what I did with 2 of them).

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Generally speaking – it’s an AR stock, I’ve tried out a lot and I’ve never found one that does anything different in terms of the interface between my shoulder and gun. This style of stock is old as the hills at this point and everyone’s familiar with the shape, it’s been cloned endlessly from the original Crane design. The B5 is well proven and the construction is sound, there’s a fair few flash lines from the moulding, but as you expect the rigidity and general robust design is evident; yet surprisingly not very heavy at all compared to a hulking beast like the Magpul ACS which I think is a pretty ridiculous stock by modern standards.

The SOPMOD features a soft rubber butt pad which can be easily removed to access the back of your buffer tube, should you need that for some reason. Each of the battery storage tubes has a double o-ring and should keep out water pretty well, as long as you’re not diving to deep for too long. Though I can’t claim to have tested this. There’s also a rotation limited QD sling point between the 2 old school sling slots, though personally I don’t like putting the weapons weight on a stock, even one this well made. Especially if you happen to have said stock extended all the way out, lot of leverage going on there.

The position adjustment level works in exactly the way you’d expect, no surprises there. Thick, solid metal pin to interface with the buffer tube. Overall, if you really like the sloped cheek weld or want storage in your stock for slim/cylindrical things and you want that stuff in a quality package, you can’t go wrong.

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UF Pro Combat Shirt – Gen 1 vs 2

Comparing the UF PRO Striker XT Combat shirts in PenCott CamouflageGreenZone. This is a brand I don’t think I’ve featured before on the channel but definitely one you should pay attention to, especially being one of the few brands in Europe putting out really high quality kit at a price that’s a hell of a lot more palatable than some other big names. Still in the upper echelons, but in terms of fabrics and construction quality vs cost the ratios are excellent.

Gen 1 shirt from Huey’s Military Tactical Outdoor compared to the latest Gen 2 shipped from Polenar Tactical.

The thumbnail will make sense when you watch the video I promise.

Heard You Like Belts

I’ve got a fair old collection of loop covered inner belts at this point, though mostly they’ve come with other belts whereas this inner belt from G-Code Holsters is one I did purchase separately a while back. If I remember my own thought process correctly (from March 16) the G-Code was offered in grey which was fairly uncommon at the time, I was placing an order with G-Code anyway, I was considering buying the Velocity Systems Operator’s Utility belt in grey and wanted something to match. The Vel Sys OUB however came out at a time when the PALS belts featuring 3 full rows were dying off and the 0.5/1/0.5 belt was really taking over the market.

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This inner belt closes slightly differently to others in that there’s an adjustable G hook. On the one hand, with the way velcro works it takes an immense amount of force to separate if you try and pull it apart laterally, rather than simply peeling the 2 parts in the usual fashion. So the chances of your inner belt coming apart in such a manner are pretty much as close to zero as makes no odds to my mind. On the other hand, if you do want to 100% fully guarantee security the option is there for serious users. As you’ll note in the 2nd image I removed the G hook and folded the 1″ section entirely back on itself, reverting back to a purely velcro closure. Many other inner belts work in the same manner and for holding up your trousers as well as interfacing with a PALS belt it works perfectly well.

Construction is a 1.5″ webbing, stitching is straight and secure as you’d expect of course with a full and complete outer covering of loop.

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M81 Hair Cut

I have a somewhat similar attitude to caps as I do combat shirts – If I can find a good quality one that’s fully patterned I’ll go for it.

If you’ve ever owned a FlexFit hat this FirstSpear iteration in US Woodland isn’t a huge departure. I’d call it more of a merch item rather than proper kit designed for duty use, given the rivet has been left up top which means it’s not ideal for wearing with Comtacs and the like. Comes pre-faded in a cotton blend fabric which is certainly comfortable to wear, just not practical if you’re expecting any actual weather.

ReFactor Tac do produce a woodland version of their blasting cap and while I’m generally a big fan of said cap’s design, the M81 looks really fake and most of the material is plain grey stretch. Much better sweat wicking that way of course, but the FirstSpear has it by far in the looks department and if performance is the concern instead of aesthetics then you’d be better served by other options.

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More Modularity – Holsters

One of my SOC Rigs from G-Code Holsters; I picked up a new light shroud which unfortunately turned out not to work on an x300 but I chalk that up to airsoft gun dimensions. Either way it was a good reason to mention these holsters today since they’re not very well known, but I think they should be. I also need to post the HSGI high-ride leg rig I’ve got for mounting these at some point, because I made it long before tactical social media was a thing and it also far predates the common Safariland UBL + 1 leg strap setup that’s ubiquitous these days.

As far as both these holsters and the aforementioned leg rig, I found them via a good buddy of mine who used to work for PTS and was a trail blazer in the tac gear world for civilians who play airsoft and take weapons manipulation classes (which are the ‘grown up’ equivalent of bbbattles for a lot of folks lets be real). At the time, the universal fabric holsters that nobody with sense would dream of using these days had finally died their death, kydex was coming on strong, but any time you wanted to change light on your pistol you’d have to wait goodness knows how long for Raven, G-Code or whoever else to get around to making the very specific new holster you wanted.

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With just a few screws the lower cowling on the SOC can be changed and all the commonly available quality pistol lights are catered to. Combining this with the G-Code RTi system you’ve got an awful lot of modularity as to which sidearm you sling on your hip and how said weapon is configured. By comparison to a fixed kydex pistol caddy on a belt slide mount it’s an absolute breeze to change things around and doubly so if you’re running lots of PALS compatible belts vs just a plain 1.75 or 2″ duty belt.

The hood retention is flipped down by spring pressure when the user presses straight down on a button upon initially creating the 3 finger grip around the frame, so it’s a perpendicular motion to Safariland. It certainly functions fine but I have found that when you wear the SOC Rig on your hip and also wear gear on your torso then lean to the side, your torso rig can end up podging down on the retention button leaving the pistol only held in by friction. This has never been a problem for me in hobby usage and this design has been for sale for many, many years with no serious complaints being abound online that I’ve seen. Quite the opposite.

Assuming I didn’t have to use the AWFUL issued Radar rig, I don’t know if this would be my absolute number one choice for duty use given one knows which light they’d be using and sticking with (for example) a certain model of SureFire, LLC X300 for many years. But the build quality is of course right up there with G-Code. The plastics can take a beating and all the metal hardware and operating parts are built to go the distance. Any time I’ve got a pistol/light combo that can fit in a model these guys offer, that’s the option I’ll take.