Life is a Series of Tough Decisions


Folks this is a big issue and I need your input. This is real sh*t right now.

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As it stands, the organisation of the Full 9 camo museum reference collection is very much all over the place. It’s grouped in to jackets, UBACS and shirts, then within those groups it’s grouped by families of patterns. Then there’s even more pointless rules I made up about what order to put everything in and right now I think it just looks a mess even though inside my own mental head there is a system.

I’m currently building out a new wardrobe to add more storage space and I think once that’s done I’ll just group everything by colour/camo type i.e. all the green and woodland stuff together and that will probably look an awful lot better all around. Anybody else group stuff together or just store it in whatever order it arrived like a normal person?

A Bridger Quite Close Actually

I received an e-mail this afternoon to say the KickStarter for the Raine Inc.Bridger cover that I mentioned the other week has now finished, so fingers crossed those will be in production very soon if not already. Between the shipping process I use and a work trip I’ll probably be going on I expect it’s going to be a couple of months before I can post my own review, but I’m excited to get my hands on this piece of kit regardless.

Since I originally posted my SHOT coverage from the Raine booth I’ve been very fortunate to talk a little bit with Mr Alex Gallo, the designer for the Bridger. He’s filled me in with a few queries and uncertainties on details I had post-SHOT (and you end up with a lot of those because it’s an incredibly busy week of looking at new stuff all the time).

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First thing to mention is that Raine have variants of the cover in development to work best with a LOT of other buckles that attempt to provide similar end results to the Tubes. In the past 2 years a lot of companies have come in to the sphere with new shapes of Cobras, plastic side-release buckles, straight Tubes rip-offs and all sorts of other options. Down the line Raine is looking to cater to all of those, which I like because some are pretty good; the ones that don’t blatantly steal FirstSpear’s design anyway. The news I was most glad of however is that there will also be complete cummerbunds, as shown below, along with a variety of other gear along the same lines. Much like the FS Retro-fit cummerbund I reviewed a couple of years ago (and still believe to be one of the very best items of kit anybody wearing a PC might invest in), the Raine cummerbund will come with genuine FS Tubes, the Bridgers already attached and make for an absolutely perfect upgrade to any carrier that’s still using a big velcro flap. As somebody who personally loves split-front chest rigs and laser cut PALS, the new chest rig design also looks great to my eyes.

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The slight increase in force needed to open the Tube with the Bridger cover mounted that I mentioned during my time in Vegas is of course a natural result of the sheer physics involved in the design. The pull cord is longer with the pivot point being further from the release tab in the female Tube. Raine say that they’ve had field users come to them with reports of some rare, occasional accidental releases of Tubes when moving quickly inside buildings and the tiny probability actually occurring of the release tab being caught on a hard edge. Of course we all have also seen somebody with some kind of quick-release in their armour being messed with by their buddies. It ‘never’ gets old.

Apparently durability is also a concern many customers have come to Raine with. It would seem some Tubes have very rarely been broken after repeated impacts against vehicle frames when jumping in and out frequently. Since it completely covers the Tube, the Bridger cover will of course bear the brunt of any everyday-type impact, rather than the plastic of the Tube itself.

Overall I think their gear line-up is shaping up extremely nicely. Any split built in to gear in the past that facilitated quick donning had necessitated zips or buckles of some kind and those push the actual equipment in your pouches further around to your sides and back. As such the equipment may be harder to reach, awkward inside vehicles and aircraft when you’re sat close to people or it might snag you up going through narrow doors and passageways. Alleviating those issues through the combination of the Bridger designs and technology like Tubes is a positive step in the absolute right direction.

Imminent Threat Solutions

So I alluded to this article a little while back and I’m now happy to say the light of day hath been shone upon it (part 1 anyway). This is the first time I’ve had anything I’ve composed published elsewhere but my own media channels and given my love for all things gear related I would struggle to think of a better place than ITS Tactical.

I originally bumped in to Bryan and Kelly from ITS at SHOT 2017 by the LBT booth, which in itself was a huge stroke of luck. Bryan mentioned they were always looking for guest writers and I knew that was the right move for me. Since then I’ve been liaising with Rob Henderson who’s one of the main men over there and Bryan’s counterpart for the Gear Tasting Radio podcast.

What I originally wrote as one article has been split down the middle, which was sensible really at ~7.5k words. This first half is a super simple guide to introduce people to what they can expect from different types of commonly found uniform/tactical shirts. Old school BDUs or CS95, modern ACU or PCS as well as UBACS/Combat shirts. It’s not about specific products, just general features found on certain archetypes of clothing that somebody might be issued or purchase for their own purposes, whatever those purposes may be. Rob has done a lot of the actual formatting and brightened up my pictures as well as adding some shots which aren’t take by me of course, but the images of the individual items and 99.5% of the wording is mine.

Check it out, it may be pertinent learning for you or perhaps not but ITS always have great articles and I hope mine can live up the legacy of quality written work that they have built.

Seeking Uniformity: Differences in Battle Dress, Field Cut and Combat Cut Uniform Tops

SHOT Focus – FirstSpear

Last but by no means least, let’s talk some FirstSpear booth action at SHOT.

They’ve never been a company to save many things specifically for the show. They just release new product as and when it’s ready to be released basically, which is generally what I’d expect from a company neck-deep in manufacturing the best equipment for the people who need it the most. However there were a couple of items on display I’d not seen previously and of course it’s always a brilliant opportunity to actually get hands on with kit.

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First up there’s new fast roping gloves and mitts. Personally I’ve only ever flown in helicopters and stepped out on to the ground, but whether it’s a flight in a Blackhawk, Chinook, Puma or anything else, the journey to where you’re going is absolutely a crucial phase of any operation. So first off the gloves themselves (standard version and long gauntlets), which I tried on and are certainly thin enough, with good structuring and fit in order to allow a sound shooting grip; while of course still being sturdy enough for fast roping.

The mittens are probably the even better option since one can wear their preferred shooting glove underneath. Simply attach the mit at the wrist, very quickly don it for roping but then instantly remove with a flick of the hand to go right back to the base glove. Even then, the trigger finger can come through the 2-part finger section of the mit for emergency trigger usage, should the necessity arise. Alternatively the person can again just flick the hand to remove the mit and switch from rope to rifle in no time at all. There’s a vulnerable time or window with a rotary aircraft that’s low and hovering still – the crewman’s MG mounts can never have a totally unrestricted arc of movement nor can the crew see everything going on, so the more eyes up and the more guns available at that crucial point, the better.

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The patterned pads on the palms of both gloves and mits are a goat leather, which is already an excellent option for abrasion resistance, but the fibre bundles of the leather are then coated in microscopic plates of ceramic. Don’t ask me how, but sufficed to say it is what’s needed for the extreme friction of fast rope descent. To keep these pads thin and increase dexterity there is a layer of a material referred to as Carbon X between the ceramic coated leather pads and the goat skin used through the entire construction of the rest of the gloves. Carbon is of course an incredibly efficient heat insulator, which is exactly what’s called for in this specific area.

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Next up for new gear is the Centurion pant, a first from FS. To be clear, this is not a combat cut trouser for maximum effectiveness in a fight with tons of pockets and stretch panels. It’s a much simpler offering for outdoor usage, range practice, shooting courses and perhaps applicable to police usage.

I didn’t get the full details on my visit to the booth since these are a brand new product, literally just sewn together to come to the show for the FirstSpear staff and the mannequins. Soldier Systems Daily of course does have quite a few details which are worth checking out:…/…/26/firstspear-friday-focus-10/

The headline features for me are the integrated belt, with the same biothane materials as the FS Line 1 I reviewed a while back, also the internal padding across the hip bones to buffer against holsters and spare mags on the sides of a belt. I’m also a big fan of the stretch pockets that bridge the standard front and rear ‘standard’ pockets, they’re ideally placed for quick access to items like pistol mags and lights.

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There’s a few other shots thrown in just for the sake of taking a look at some top end kit, especially in the AOR2. There’s a close up on the pull tabs since I’ve got a couple here now that I’ll be trying out at some point. They’re not unique on the market necessarily in terms of general shape, but compared to the bad old days of fabric tabs on shingle pouches that would always end up laid flat on your mag bases, pull tabs like these made of modern materials are certainly the way to go.

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SHOT Focus – Samson Manufacturing

One company I wanted to put some specific focus on from SHOT was Samson Manufacturing. They’re not quite the sort of company I’d usually shine a spotlight on, but I think what they do is provide a very solid mid-price product line. The trends I see online are for most people to really go in hard for either the very cheapest stuff or the absolute most gucci and expensive, because there’s a large interest base at the two opposite ends of the spectrum. Lots of people want the very cheapest and lots more people want to live in that luxury realm as it were, because there’s mass appeal in both of those. Reality of course is that the true value for money lies somewhere around the middle.

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If we’re talking freefloat AR handguards for example (which these folks have been making for a long time now), Samson offer their new M-LOK SXS series which are visible in the first picture. For $185 for the 12″ rail which will nicely suit 14.5 and 16″ barrels is made from 6061-T6 aluminium, which is a great choice for rails, definitely up to the task and actually has some small advantages over 7075. You’re also getting US military standard/spec Type 3 hard coat anodising, a weight of 9.5oz minus barrel nut (Titanium nut available) and of course full length 12 o/clock pic rail with M-LOK at 3, 6 and 9. The inner diameter is 1.3″ which is a standard across dozens of companies and makes for just the right type of slim, ergonomic grip everybody is looking for. There’s no timing of the barrel nut and there are anti-rotation tabs to hug the upper receiver. You don’t have QD sockets, but then I’m not a fan of QD myself so I wouldn’t personally mind that at all.

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Now, can you spend a lot more and get super tough 7075 rails for military usage, or Alu-mag/Alu-lith alloys that weigh far less? Yes. You can also spend much less money and get inferior metals and much weaker surface finishes along with pic rails and M-LOK that are suspect dimensionally. But Samson also offer their SXS Lightweight (2nd picture) with similar qualities to the SXS MLOK and at barely over 6oz minus barrel nut. They’ve also got KeyMod, forearms for Sig and H&K platforms and tons of other products that I’d say hit a great place on the cost/performance curve.

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Additionally they’ve had a soft spot with me for a long time as they deal with the ITAR legalities somehow or other and will actually ship their rails out of the US. So folks in places like the UK here and around the world can customise personal rifles, airsoft replicas, mag-fed paintball etc with some rather nice accessories that give the popular, modern AR look and ergonomic feature set.

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Bye Knees

Having talked about integral knee pad options a bit recently, I happened to spot this by pure chance when watching some video over at Funker530 – Combat Footage​. The issue with Crye Precision​ combat pants is that the pads, when fitted in the regular fashion, can come out when moving through thick foliage and/or when crawling. I’ve had it happen to me and here’s a perfect example of it happening down range while doing the real thing (tap this link not the thumbnail):

This is why some service personnel either fully tuck in the plastic knee cap on Gen 2s, or will use the combat knee pad but cover it with the NYCO flap on the Gen 3s. Gen 4 is meant to address this and I look forward to trying it out and seeing what happens.

CoD – Future Bullshit Guns

Pro Airsoft Supplies messaged me and said “hey, we’re bringing in all these S.R.U GBB kits for WE Airsoft, would you like to try the G5, SCAR-L or AK?” and I’d already seen the amazing absurdity of the AK kit, so naturally I picked that one because all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

This thing is as terrible ergonomically as it is brilliant aesthetically.

If the weather ever holds out long enough to get some video I’ll be posting one just briefly going over the kit some time in the next week or two; and if not video then another blog post.

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Crye Online

Crye have, for some reason, never done social media before now.  A couple of days ago they started an Instagram account and now finally they’re on Facebook.  Twitter and YouTube should be coming if not already.

On the one hand their commercial sales no doubt make up a small fraction of their overall business so they never ‘needed’ social media, but then that’s always been the case with various other companies in the world of firearms and tactical gear and they’re all very active in the usual places.  I’ve seen people on forums and pages say “oh they’re not the power house they once were with SOF wearing patagonia and drifire” but anyone who’s not parts of the supply chain and thinks they know about everything the military buys (especially SF contracts) definitely has a vastly over-inflated opinion of their own knowledge base.

Of the few interviews I’ve seen coming out of CP, they’ve been doing nothing but expand and buy up more square footage from the very start.  I can only presume they’ve either hired in somebody new to doing public relations type stuff or they had a meeting and somebody said “hey why aren’t we going this?” and now they are doing this.

Shoot Las Vegas (Not Literally, Obviously)

Just straight up gratuitous phone footage of me blasting stuff at Shoot Las Vegas. I’ll write a review of the business later, but right now I’ll score them an easy 9/10 if not higher. If your personal belief is that using good looking women to promote your enterprise is a bad thing you won’t like them that’s for sure, but that’s not my personal outlook on things. Especially when the lady they post the most online also runs their social media and more importantly is one of their RSOs and works as such 6 days a week. But anyway, here’s the break down.

Single Action Army:
I realised I’d never fired any sort of revolver before this trip, but I’ve used SAAs many times in games and I bloody love that old school feeling of spinning the cylinder to load each round through the gate and cocking the hammer manually each time with the single action trigger. This model is obviously a slightly longer barrel than the US military variant that was adopted. Surprisingly not too much recoil for a big old cartridge and no slide to reciprocate.

Henry Repeating Arms Lever-Action:
Chambered in .45 Long Colt, same as the SAA. Again I’d never fired lever action before this, but the rifle is an early variant of the Henry without the King’s loading gate, so loading was done by dropping cartridges down the magazine tube from the front. You notice the rear site is a gigantic, cavernous notch with multiple angles inside it? Well I had no idea where to put the front bead inside that cavern so I started with it lined up at the top, then later realised it had to be at the bottom and got a hit. The subsequent miss is presumably just the fact I suck.

20″ AR/M16 style setup with Spike’s Tactical 37mm launcher:
The selection at SLV is very good considering it’s waaay out in the sticks, but I’ve obviously been in the service a while and fired a few things along with visits to other rental ranges and range days during SHOT Show trips. I basically just wanted to shoot an M16 clone with the heatshield around the barrel that you only see on M16s with UGLs. It’s as iconic as they come. I had an Action Man with that gun as a kid (the 203 fired green plastic ‘missiles’ via spring that cocked on loading, amazing).

Kahr Firearms Group/Auto Ord M1928 Thomspon:
I’ve fired this exact setup before, but it was the time I took my PivotHead glasses to the range and they let me down worse than any other piece of gear in history. If you’ve ever held a Thompson (real or replica) you’ll know the stock and controls make it a competitor for least ergonomic gun ever made. I presume it was setup to be hip fired after jumping in to a WW1 trench. So I don’t think I hit anything but I do not care a single jot – It’s a Chicago Typewriter *with* the drum.

FN America/Herstal P90:
I did not know this PDW had an AUG style 2-stage trigger as well as the fire selector, very, very odd. Also no idea where the EoTech was zero’d so I probably entirely failed to take in to account that huge bore offset, but it doesn’t matter because it fires rapid as hell and barely moves so I had a great time blasting sand. Which is all I do care about in this context.

Heckler & Koch G36:
I didn’t really expect a lot from this since it’s just a plastic assault rifle in 556, but it’s the easiest to control in automatic of just about any rifle I’ve fired, which makes little sense given how light it is. Felt like firing an SMG. Obviously you’ll note ALL of the shots hitting low but at least they’re fairly consistently low in the ground, so I can only imagine the sights were set for a lot further out than I was aiming.

FN F2000:
Same super freaky selector + dual stage setup as the P90. Do not ask me why that automatic ROF is so insanely high, it makes no sense to me, especially since I’ve handled the rifle previously at the Leeds collection and it weighs about 4lbs at a guess; all plastic body. Genuinely fits the bill when you say ‘feels like a toy’ in relation to a firearm because it feels like budget airsoft or a NERF gun.

FN SCAR Light/Mk16:
Fitting squarely in to the ‘boring, 556, short stroke, metal upper + polymer lower, AR layout’ modern assault rifle category, I was going to pick something else initially. But then SLV had the short version in sandy colours exactly like my TM replica and I changed my mind very quickly. Great controls, very light recoil. I can see why these guns are so pricey and so popular.

Just a regular 91/30 from what I can see in he video but I didn’t look the rifle over in person. Honestly the worst shooting experience I’ve had, the only gun that’s ever bruised me. Nothing to do with SLV of course, it’s just an old bolt action with no muzzle device and a beast of a round from the late 1800s, back when range and power was king. Combined with a metal butt plate of course and zero padding so ALL of that x54R force is going in to smacking a piece of metal right in to you. I guess I’m just a masochist.

The .50 I’ll throw in to a separate video because I want to have a nice big thumbnail on YouTube with the Barrett front and centre, because why not right? I probably could have got a ton of views over there if I’d uploaded each gun separately with big thumbnails and capitalised video titles, but then they hate guns and I’d make nothing from it. I’ve also had mostly just bad experiences with trolls on any video that has gotten large numbers of views.

PataWrongia More Like…

Gear I was trying out for the first time yesterday at Ambush Adventures The Billet site:

-Custom Blue Force Gear, Inc./Magpul Industries Corp. 1-to-2 point sling:
I’ve been using setups like this that I’ve made myself for years, but yesterday was the first time using it with QDs instead of Paraclips. The rotation-limited QD sockets that the MS4 adaptor and ALG rail have built in are good once you get things set the way you like, but you can’t realistically see where the segments and dividers are within the socket (without taking undue time clipping in) and sometimes you end up having to go back and mess with the attachment. Regular QD sling swivels are also a pain to manipulate compared to clips or hooks, which is why Magpul and BFG make their own versions with better control mechanisms.

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-Crye G3 All-Weather Combat Shirt:
Thicker in the torso than the regular G3 shirt, giving just that little bit more insulation and still a decent drying time. Unfortunately the wind will still go right through the torso and it definitely was doing that yesterday in a biting fashion, but the unlined softshell on the sleeves and yoke cuts out any wind and still breathes very well indeed.

SKD Tactical/Patrol Incident Gear [PIG GEAR] FDT Deltas:
I’ll be replacing at least a couple of pairs of my Alphas with these, if not most of them. All the same brilliant fitment and dexterity without the bloody annoying velcro tab to get them on and off every time where the hook part of the 2nd glove you put on always ends up eating some small part of the 1st glove. The Pig silicone letters peel off very easily but that’s always been the way with small grip additions like that on glove palms and fingers; be better if they knocked a few $ off the price and just never put those adornments on in the first place.

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– ALG Defense EMR V2 M-LOK Handguard:
A true pleasure to get to grips with. There’s not a massive different between this tube and the V1 I changed over from, but the small piece of pic rail at 12 o/clock up front is exactly what I want personally with no other wastage. It’s slim, extremely light and with just enough texturing in the geometry and anodising to not make things too smooth and slippery. You can’t beat 95%+ Geissele Automatics, LLC quality at a fraction of the price. I may add some covers/panels of some type just to decrease heat transfer slightly in winter, or possibly a cordura wrap as metallic rails act like a perfect heat sink, but that sort of thing entirely depends on your glove choice and circulation in the hands.

Grey Ghost Accomodator rifle mag pouch:
With an AEG mag, the function is perfect. Just enough grip to hold the ammo source, but no resistance to drawing it. I’ll need to try it again with a GBB rifle mag (they weight the same as a real one loaded) to see how it really retains something that has the necessary mass to carry momentum under movement however.

Patagonia PCU Level 9 Combat pants:
Big fat meh on these. They look cool and different to the G3s yes, but they’re not better in any way from what I’m seeing so far; certainly not when compared to NCs with the buttons. The normal front pockets are too shallow, the front thigh pockets seem too small in general as well. The main thigh cargo pockets are too far around the back of the leg and by far the worst feature is the fly. The button arrangement overall makes taking a piss a nightmare mission that would genuinely need SEAL training to complete. It’s hardly impossible to do a button fly that works either, other trousers have them, but the Pata arrangement is a fail. The L9s are just a step down from the NC or G3 in most ways. Not the worst trouser ever by any means and they’re not a million miles behind the Cryes, they’re just straight up not as good, so there’s no reason to recommend them for the vast majority of folks. Doubly so when Crye combats are far easier to find.

What folks want to know most I’m sure is what failed. Frankly these days I’m a bit disappointed if nothing goes wrong at all because then there’s nothing I can change and improve. I’ll say this beforehand however – I neither baby my kit nor do I deliberately trash it. I own enough now that if something falls apart I’m not going to be stuck and without kit to use, but on the other hand I’m not about stepping in to any recreational activity purely to ruin stuff I’ve purchased.

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The Patagonia knee pads were frankly unsurprising in their fragility and lacklustre performance. As with anything this is just a sample size of 1, however given the thin and brittle type of plastic that’s been used for the external caps I was pretty much expecting something to go wrong from the start. Bearing in mind I didn’t crash my knees in to any sharp edges to cause the split, this was the first outing for these pads and I only took a knee maybe 7 or 8 times during the day. A day of casual airsoft – not war fighting. As mentioned the plastic is just brittle, it doesn’t flex and cracks were simply bound to propagate. I liked the padding of the internal components of the pads, they’re a bit small compared to Crye but do a decent job. The other issue of course is the press/pop studs, which I knew weren’t nearly tough enough as soon as I took them out of the packaging. Move to a kneeling position too fast and guess what happens? At least 1 will disengage. Easy enough to take the time to remedy that in an airsoft game, not when you’re taking actual fire and have bigger concerns than protecting the stretch panels on your trousers from abrasion. The newer iterations I have on the way (which I’d presume are current issue) do have a positive locking system instead of the press studs.

What really disappointed me was the G-Code Holsters RTI rotating belt mount, which as you can see decided to shed 2 screws and would’ve shed 3 if the body of the holster hadn’t actually retained the 3rd. Those 3 sets of chicago screws worked themselves incredibly loose somehow, the other 2 were also loose but not to the point of the outer screws falling out (yet). I only drew and re-holstered maybe a dozen times and I’d rather expect draws and holstering actions to be the movements this gear should be designed to hold up to the best. Is this a parts or materials issue? Nope, it’s assembly. I’ve got lots of G-Code products here and this is the only one to have an issue anything like this. Clearly that bloke on the assembly shop floor was having a bad day; either that or the torque specs he was working to were far too low. Or the torque tool got a hard knock and was producing vastly different numbers to its’ setting. Either way those 2 screws of the 5 are gone forever now, I was lucky to catch the third right as I was packing up to leave.

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Highly fortunately I’ve got a bunch of spare G-Code nuts and bolts in a small organiser unit here that’s designed for DIY use and is full of similar ‘just in case’ bits and pieces. Wouldn’t want to be the guy on deployment or between shifts who was relying on this thing to mount his holster, especially if he’s only armed with a pistol in the first place. If they don’t respond to this post G-Code will be informed directly of this issue so they can double check their assembly processes. They’ve responded quickly in the past when I brought up a very minor issue with a slightly corroded piece of non-essential hardware. I’ll update here with my findings, but having talked about this item recently and sung its’ praises based on the other one I have (that has performed very well), I’m hardly thrilled by this turn of events. The toolbox and loctite will be used shortly to return the mount to full working order with the addition of spare screws, I’m just glad my holster and pistol didn’t even up clattering on to concrete.