Annual Stg Pilgrimage

The MP-44, later Stg once Hitler changed his mind, was not the first firearm to see military adoption or usage that fit the criteria of an assault rifle. There were guns that came before it that were shoulder fired, had selection options for both single shot and automatic and made use of an intermediate cartridge fed from a reasonable size box magazine. However we commonly refer to the Stg as the first since it really took the concept from the realm of small-time player in to the big time limelight.

It was by no means a perfect weapon and by comparison to the AR and AK of the modern era it has a fair few problems, especially when it comes to the magazines, the heating of the handguard, the absurd design of the fire control group and the lax headspacing of the tilting bolt locking system. That’s without getting in to the manufacturing issues Germany faced during the war. But there’s no denying the practicality of the concept for use at real world combat distances.

First Nerd Convention

Thanks to a pair of very cool people I know at Startees for getting me in to London Film and Comic Con even when it was entirely sold out. Can’t say I’ve ever been to such a thing before but it’s something I’ve been interested in for years having seen so many costumes online that have been just bang on to the game, film and TV characters. Admittedly I’ve never bought a comic in my life and once I’m done watching something that’s pretty much the end of my interest with most things, but on the other hand I did get pretty damn excited to see various iterations of Time Crisis running on CRT TVs with the light guns on a bunch of old school consoles.


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Cherry picked a bunch of the best get ups I found after walking every aisle of the halls, obviously not having one myself I went for the most ironic contextually-hipster t-shirt I owned. Which also helps with not getting Lee-Rigby’d when you’re walking the streets and your government only trusts you to carry a Glock in other people’s countries.

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Something to consider checking out if you’re near London perhaps and definitely if you’re someone in to collectables. Consider giving StarTees and my buddy Violentwind Cosplay a look if you also enjoy nice human beings (no business association, just fellow friendly nerdy people).

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Late To The Pack Party

Yesterday I hit 29 years and 365 days of living post-birth and obviously once you’re over 21 presents basically stop, but I did get one gift and it is certainly not a bad one. I’ve never actually owned any Haley Strategic Partners nylon before, I’ve had a couple of the SF Scout light mounts for some years now (way back before even KeyMod was on the scene) and I’ve had a lot of MP2s in the collection for a while, but none of the chest rigs, rifle bags or packs until today. Very quick and efficient service from Tactical-Kit as per.

Personally, I’m rather anti the idea of the Flatpacks with the PALS attachment. You can’t easily get at the contents if you weave it on to the back of a PC or PALS vest and if you use the standard shoulder straps you’ve got a sub optimal setup in terms of comfort against your back. The grey Flatpack is the one oddity in the line up in that it cannot mount via PALS but has spacer mesh on the back instead. Seeing as the only applications I would want to use this pack in are A) with a chest rig or B) as a small standalone backpack, the grey version made by far and away the most sense.

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Personally if I’m going, for example, in to London for a day trip, I cannot stand being relegated to carrying only what pockets will accommodate. I want a water bottle and light jacket at the minimum, perhaps sun glasses, a hat and some factor 1000 for my skin tone, along with the option to stash anything I happen to pick up along the way and carry it comfortably. Similar story with walking around expos, minor outdoor excursions etc. I’ve also experimented a lot with chest rigs and trying to integrate hydro over the years, something I know many many other people have tried, especially within the airsoft arena, but generally not had good results. Annoying as it is the best solution I’ve been aware of up until now is to just wear both the sets of straps for the chest rig and a small hydro pack like a standalone Camelbak or the Flatpack.

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My past experiments all involved 3L water sources when attached to another rig however, so I’m going to try a 1L Source and maybe the balance will be alright. As soon as you try and integrate the harness setup in to one unit you always created a set of scales and the balance can be tricky, even more so perhaps with real magazines that can get lighter far quicker than you’d perhaps drink water. Or indeed vice versa. If the gear you want or need to carry in front of you doesn’t balance out with the the amount you’re going to carry on your back… well unlucky sunshine. I think I’ve seen Bryan over at ITS Tactical run an LBT 1961 Chest rig + small hydro pack combo and done so very successfully, but he’s absolutely filling that chest rig with lots of dense kit like radios and batteries as well as loaded rifle mags, so there’s no chance of a couple of litres of water out-weighing that. There are many other factors to consider but I’ll leave those for another day.

I’ll talk more about these down the line at which point I’ll hopefully also have some conclusions to report on whether the Spiritus Systems Mk3 + Flatpack combo can really be made to work in the way I’d like (I’ve owned the grey Spiritus for a while already I should add). It’s certainly comfortable to wear and good at carrying magazines, but we’ll see how it all does with more running around, loaded with water etc. Right now I think this combined rig has potential to be quite ideal for indoor/urban airsoft games and perhaps for the civilian shooter taking rifle classes. Carrying water on the person tends to be less of a concern on the flat range of course because you probably have a table or stashed bag nearby, but I can never pretend to imagine every application that a rig like the Mk3 chassis might have. If we look at the mod Kit Badger has done to make the front pouch of his Mk3 a binocular caddy for hunting for example, I think we see more potential emerging with more options to consider and the more options emerge the more ideas can then branch off of those.

SVT-40 Shoot

Quick magazine blasted through an SVT-40.

I was really impressed with this rifle compared to the G-43, which is certainly a contemporary equivalent or rival design. Both self loaders with 10 round detachable box magazines and short stroke gas pistons, really quite similar manuals of arms and sighting systems too. The cartridges are also very similar indeed, yet the recoil from the SVT felt like nothing comparatively.

Granted in the modern US there’s a plethora of ammo available with different loadings and I can’t account for that in my perceptions because I don’t know the brands or loadings I fired. The lubrication state and age/wear on the guns could also come in to play to an extent, but I have to say I think even when considering all of those factors I’d sill find the SVT to be the better all around rifle with a much softer recoil.

Of the bolt actions rifles I’ve fired, the Mosin-Nagant has been by far the worst/least pleasant in terms of recoil, action of the bolt and trigger pull, as well as iron sights (and I’ve fired a few different Mosins to check). I don’t know how reliable the SVT was in field conditions, but in terms of recoil and sheer volume and rate of fire going down range I’d be one very happy comrade if somebody handed me this instead of the Nagant rifle before I stormed Berlin.

Beyond Let Down

I don’t like having to write largely-negative leaning pieces on kit, doubly so from a quality brand that I would generally recommend. It simply isn’t fun for me to do, saying negative things always brings about a negative sort of mood and feel and general atmosphere. That said the blog would be entirely pointless if I praised anything and everything; most pieces of equipment have both positives and negatives of course, but I’ve been very picky with my purchases for many years now which usually means I’ll only have to mention a couple of small niggles and mostly have the pleasure of just talking about positives. If there’s one talent I would lay claim to it’s having a good eye and the patience needed to not buy anything that’s going to disappoint me. The majority of the time at least.
As some of you may be aware, I bloody LOVE a jacket. I’m sure I’m not the only bloke out there who enjoys tac gear and also invests in non-tactical styled jackets from his favourite military brands, then spends all summer being annoyed and eagerly awaiting the return of the cold. My collection includes winter layering options from Kuhl, Massif, Arc’teryx, Era3, Magpul and, as in this case, Beyond Clothing.
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This is the Helios Alpha Jacket, which utilises a 40D nylon shell fabric with 80g Polartec Alpha inside; more than decent selections there no doubt. Within the PCU layering system, other Beyond offerings at Level 3 use the exact same materials with the same weight of insulation, which I’d say makes this jacket also an L3 item. Beyond themselves market Level 3 as active insulation i.e. fairly light on actual heat retention, but enough when the individual is outputting some exertion in cooler climates.
Now this is where a bit of opinion and interpretation comes in. This particular jacket variant was offered in Black, Grey and Navy. No camo patterns, CB, PCU Alpha Green or any other options you’d expect in a true military garment. Police or urban use then perhaps? But the myriad of pockets, rattling zips and general styling are frankly excessive for any tactical usage. Certainly when we’re looking at a primarily mid layer and if you cross examine the A3 (Level 3) Sweater also from Beyond with its’ slick exterior, you will find these notions reinforced.
That, to my mind, leaves this as either a jacket for civilian sporting applications or as a purely everyday/fashion item, perhaps with a dash of added practicality for those of us who prefer to not get frozen when going in to town socially during December. But again, given the excess of styling and features built in, I don’t see or find this jacket to be practical for almost any sporting activity that would be classed as truly active and involving of a lot of rapid movement.
So if we conclude this is an everyday jacket, which I myself do, how then does it perform? Herein lies the problem. If you very lightly insulate a garment as per appropriate spec for active usage, but then style it for casual wear, you’ve got a real misalignment of intended use versus actual use. After quite a few dozen hours worth of combined wear time in the Helios Alpha outdoors in winter, I’ve found it fairly average in blocking wind and to not provide very much in the way of insulation and that’s an issue when you’re walking about the shops not generating much excess body heat. I’ll not bother talking about precipitation because if you expect a jacket with a translucent, wafer-thin shell fabric like this to save you in anything more than the lightest of intermittent drizzle you’re living a fantasy.
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Unfortunately this crisis of personality is far from the only problem encountered in this one example I have here. The chest sizing is correct for me, yet the cut is very short and the waist has fixed elastic, meaning it’s never quite the right tightness that you want it to be; same story with the cuffs. If you pull the waistline down over your belt it’ll hook itself on there and stay in place for a short time, but then as soon as you twist or bend even slightly it jumps back up over the belt and settles above the waist line, letting all that unpleasant winter wind in to your torso area because that fixed elastic now has slack and leaves gaps. If I happened to have G3 combat pants on this wouldn’t be an issue as they’re very high waisted by design, but I don’t wear my everyday jeans like someone from the 50s, so there’s a problem.
I’ve also found some really lacklustre stitch work in a few areas. A few stitching points have started working themselves apart under absolutely no real stress or strain and worst of all is the main zip, there’s also lots of threads just hanging out and I don’t mean the types you get in all new clothing that are free floating and just pull right out. After a short time (again under non-stressful use) the main zip has developed a habit of splitting apart at the base, right where the two halves first join when zipping up the jacket. Not only is this annoying, ridiculous looking and bad for insulation it’s an absolute nightmare to fix as the coil fights remediation of the non-standard separation. It just isn’t designed to come open from the wrong direction and getting things back in order is an irritatingly lengthy process.
I did buy this jacket deeply marked down in a sale, but it was categorically not marked as a 2nd or blem item, the original (expectedly high) price was lined through right beside the lower price I paid, so the implication is that it was worth that $200 or more. Even at the lower price I wouldn’t expect problems like the zip coming open for no reason. I genuinely really like the aesthetic of this jacket, the cut and colour are smart and fit my tastes very well indeed from a looks perspective. But from a company who charges even more than Crye for equivalent gear and sets themselves up as an Arc’teryx competitor or equivalent, only the best possible quality in design, materials and assembly should be expected and as far as I am concerned it is simply not delivered here in many respects in this Helios Alpha.

G-43 Shoot

The tossbag AI from Google demonetised this the second I put Nazi in the title of course, because history is a bad thing and we should pretend none of it happened right? I’ll make no bones about it, YouTube video titles will be a tad vaguely clickbait’y going forward because, as anyone in that realm will tell you, it’s absolutely the only way to have any hope at all. Content style will not change though which I hope is evident; just shooting, kit reviews, airsoft etc and personally I think the title/thumb matters zilch as soon as you’ve gone past clicking on the video and started watching. That aside please do tap/click to watch, tag mates, hit share, whatever you can do to give the finger to these corporations that act like genuine fascists.

Now I myself was first introduced to the notion of self loading rifles used in large numbers by the Germans and Russians during WW2 when I played Call of Duty: United Offensive (which I seriously believe to be the pinnacle of the game series btw) and ever since then I’d been intensely curious as to what the actual firing experience would be with the G43 and SVT-40. They’re not as easy to find as M1 rifles, as you can imagine.

A future video will show the SVT, which I have to say purrs like a kitten where the 43 kicks like an angry mule with steel shoes on its’ hind hooves. Whether the ammo used was a contributor it’s hard to say, but case volume for the explosive charge is borderline identical between the 2 rounds, barely 0.1 cubic centimetres between them. They both use short stroke gas pistons. The 43 is flapper locked versus the SVT’s tilting bolt, but I’ve no clue if that would affect felt recoil to be honest.

I didn’t really rate the sights, the cockling handle is far less ergonomic than the SVT and yes the box mag is far easier than the En Bloc of the M1, but that’s a result of being designed much later on; the Garand was dreamt up when stripper clips were far more prevalent and comparatively ‘the norm’.

Since I’ve already shot the K98, MP40, MG-42, STG-44, Luger and P-38, the G43 ticks off another big name on the list. Might do the MG-34 next perhaps, any other German weapons of the era that you folks would consider iconic? I really want a crack at the FG-42, but chances are REAL slim of finding an original. Since I’ve fired so many American, British and Russian weapons of WW2 it only really made sense to compare what the enemy were using.

Beyond A5 Brokk Shirt

Quick look at something non-tactical from Beyond Clothing.

Picked up a couple of these A5 (PCU Level 5) Brokk shirts in their sale a while back, interesting pieces. Main construction is an extremely lightweight softshell, very thin, blocks wind and provides the slightest of protection from a light shower. That said, a large portion of the shirt is also made from mesh which will of course let wind and rain through, so it’s an odd one, though most of the mesh is on the back. with some on the sides. Most of the front, shoulders and arms is made of the nylon shell.

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There’s a 2-way 1/2 zip on the centre with a pair of handy mesh pockets that are built in, one on the chest and another on the lower back. Elasticated cuffs that are sewn in place with adjustable elastic running through the waistband, mesh lining through the collar.

Very technical cut with lots of articulation, retains barely any heat and the wind will come through the piece from front to back (especially with the zip down) but obviously if you’re needing to keep the weather out this isn’t the shirt for you. The idea of the softshell is to keep the thing supremely light, mega packable (which it definitely is), abrasion resistant, colour-fast and breathable – all in one package. Replacing the shell with more mesh or a thinner, cheaper synthetic would increase wicking and air permeation, but you simply can’t beat a level 5 fabric when it comes to taking the knocks and scrapes of life and retaining colour through loads of wash cycles.

I use these for short runs when the weather is in between and as a general handy shirt to throw on between my room and the gym when, again, the weather isn’t quite t-shirt friendly. When the temperatures are low enough it’s actually absurdly handy to be able to stash my key and Magpul wallet inside, rather then having those bare essentials in my shorts pockets and getting jabbed by them when sitting/lying down to do different exercises. Frankly they also just look cool.

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