Baby Got Modular Back – Tyr Tac Assaulters’ Panel

So you’ve got modularity on the front of your rig, that’s good, probably the priority, but now what about the back?

Check out this article if you’ve missed it for a detailed discussion on what I find to be the ‘perfect’ assembly of gear to form the optimal modular magazine carriage:

With the front business out of the way it’s time to look at the party in the back, in this case in the form of the TYR Tactical, LLC Standard Assaulters’ Zip-On Platform. 70oz hydration size to be exact. If you happen to use something like a JPC 2.0 or Vel Sys Scarab then you will already have zips built in to your rear plate bag and a few choices of modular back panel available to you. The great thing with the Tyr product however is that as long as you’ve got enough PALS real estate you can mount it to absolutely anything. Since the zip mounted panels aren’t currently something FirstSpear offer integrally with their PCs and I wanted that modularity on the rear as well as the front, I thought I’d see what I might be able to puzzle together.

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There is a very substantial caveat here in that you need to really take the time to count your PALS rows and columns before purchasing any piece of kit like this. Especially from Tyr given the fact they not only are they a brand that’s up there in quality and price but also build almost everything to order and have a fair lead time. If there’s one thing buying lots of gear over many years has definitely taught me, it’s that it is crucial to take a few minutes and do a careful visual check of your current kit vs the size of what you’re buying. It may make you feel like you’re going a tad cross eyed trying to count PALS rows on a small website image but it’s so much better in the long run than waiting ages to get something just to find

This can apply to sizing on things like belts as well, but for large pouches and platforms it most definitely comes in handy. If you read the above linked article for example you’ll have seen a custom setup on the front of my MBAV cut FS Strandhogg – I had to very specifically buy the MBAV to make that whole thing happen as the SAPI cut I already had in my possession at the time simply lacked the necessary number of PALS rows to attach both the loop field and the female 1″ buckles. Just the same happened on the back as well, with the SAPI cut having the steeper angles at the top it lacked the necessary height of PALS rows, but the more rectangular MBAV provided more space and just manages to fit the Tyr panel.

As you can see the Tyr setup is simple to install, you just thread on the 2 separate zip mounts and you’re ready to attach any of the numerous panels that are on offer. There’s simple PALS panels like this one which have an internal space for a hydro, then there are other variants with sewn on pouches, one with a small pack and even one for specific breathing gear. Swapping between any of those, or indeed just going back to slick, takes around 30 seconds. The zip mounts have internal stiffening and are also available to buy on their own, so once you’ve bought a panel you can share that between multiple platforms if desired. Exactly the sort of product line-up that I like to see.

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Construction wise they definitely went all out on bar-tacks and webbing as you can see in the pictures. Personally if an option was available with none of the loops on the panel itself and with slicked down zip mounts I’d go for that. Even though I’m often a critic of hypalon I’d actually like to see the zip mounts made from said material, or even just a lighter cordura since they’re mostly going be covered and protected when in use – that would shave a nice bit of bulk and weight by comparison to the current all-webbing design. There’s no denying the long term durability you’re getting here though.

The only slight shame is that there’s no commonality or cooperation between manufacturers even though these rear zip panels have become quite popular now. For example, just off the top of my head I know Crye, Tyr Tac, Velocity and LBX are all making them but none of them are interchangeable on account of the zip types and panel sizes. There has been some standardisation on the Velocity Systems spec for front placard mounting so it is possible, but there’s been a lot more demand in the market for the placards by comparison to rear panels so you can see how the current situation has come about.

The picture accompanying this post shows the 70oz panel attached to a Medium Ranger Green FirstSpear AAC back panel, I’ve since moved the entire setup to my Medium Multicam MBAV Strandhogg but fortunately both are tall enough to accommodate. Again if this is something you’d like to add to your own kit be sure to take the time and count/measure everything up.

MG-42 – Basics and Firing

Last piece of footage from 2018’s visit to Battlefield: Vegas. I should actually have one more video to upload since I paid to shoot the Reising SMG, but the person working the till/reception clearly didn’t know what that was, didn’t articulate it correctly on the receipt that the RSOs work from when pulling the guns from the racks and I got so caught up in things I forgot to remedy the issue myself before leaving. This also came close to happening to me in 2017 when I shot the BAR since that also was missed from my trolley though luckily on that occasion I realised the mistake myself just as I was about to leave the premises.

I know it’s an incredibly busy venue and there’s a TON of weaponry floating around so this isn’t me saying the staff are all out to scam you by any means, but this was something I meant to mention in a full updated review of BFV which I never got around to so I’ll mention it here instead. If you go just remember you’re paying a lot and it’s a unique experience so don’t get too carried away in the moment and miss out on anything you’ve shelled out for.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Since I mentioned the MG-42 in the previous post about the Garand I might as well slightly elaborate here. As discussed previously there was a stark contrast between US/Allied doctrine and German doctrine for the infantry. The US standardised on a self-loading infantry rifle (the Garand) in the 1930s, but Germany focused heavily on the MG and manufactured over 14 million K98 pattern bolt-actions for the majority of their forces to use with only around 1 million self-loaders produced – and that’s if you combine the G-41, G-43 and Stg44 production numbers all together.

Now the MG-34 that preceded the 42 had already been a successful general purpose machine gun (unlike the more specific weapons of WW1) however the 34 uses an incredibly complex receiver painstakingly machined from billet, which Forgotten Weapons of course has a great video showing off. Germany naturally wanted a gun that could be produced far faster and more economically, so the 42 makes extensive usage of stampings. The Stg44 is also a largely stamped gun and as we know an infamously successful one. On a related note, original AK-47 type rifles were in fact stamped but when the Russians couldn’t get that quite right they temporarily switched to heavy, expensive machined receivers only to then go back to stampings for the AKM a few years later (as soon as they’d figured the stamping out, likely with the help of a few former Nazi engineers).

The MG-42 fires the same 7.92x57mm cartridge as the K98 that most troops were equipped with and does so at a rate of roughly 1200 rounds per minute – for reference an ROF is more like 600 is typical of other guns of the period. The locking of the action is accomplished via roller delay very much like the entire G3/MP5 family of weapons that came after WW2, so there is no gas piston or gas system of any kind on the MG-42, unlike the Bren gun or BAR. Just one of a great many of examples of how this weapon’s legacy post WW2 is surprisingly wide in scope. Being stamped with looser tolerances than the MG-34 and featuring an ingeniously simplistic operating mechanism, the 42 proved to be a lot more rugged and reliable in use, although the fact it fires so quickly and requires frequent barrels changes made it less than ideal for use in the cramped confines of tanks and the like so the MG-34 was pushed in to vehicular mounts in most instances.

Doctrine placed the MG at the heart of the German squad. In the ‘light’ role the 3 man team for the MG-42 consisted of not just the gunner himself but an assistant gunner and another man dedicated to carrying ammunition. Other riflemen in the squad could also potentially carry a tri-pod or more belts of 7.92 for the MG alongside their K98ks. Given the very high ROF logistics was of course an issue so the gunner had to keep his bursts short and controlled, but even then keeping the beast fed was very much a team effort.

A great number of nicknames emerged for the weapon on account of the fact that at 1200 RPM the human ear cannot pick up the individual shots, instead a continuous cutting or ripping noise is heard when the gun runs at its’ intended speed. Even the incredibly old and well worn example I am firing in this video is still firing at a higher rate than is normal for the vast majority of small arms throughout history.

Many elements of the 42 live today within the MG3 and FN MAG series (e.g. British GPMG and US M240). With the MAG for example the bi-pod and trigger mechanism are almost literally identical to those on the 42, the top cover/feed mech is also incredibly similar as is the attachment for the butt stock. The 50 round drums that were originally produced for the MAG also share characteristics with drums used on the MG-42.

The MG3 was used extensively in the German military right up until the early 2010s and as far as I can tell is still in quite extensive service with various countries around the world even though is it borderline identical to the MG-42. It is finally entering the era of being phased out by newer designs like the HK MG5 in some places, but it’s taken a great many decades of development for anybody to come up with something objectively better.

Tyr vs HSGI – Promiscuous Pouches

The toughest kind of gear writing is to try and compare two outwardly extremely similar products, or borderline identical in this instance. So let us examine the TYR Tactical, LLC Combat Adjustable magazine pouch versus the most obvious competition in the form of the standard High Speed Gear TACO (both pictured pouches are Tyr of course).
First thing to note is there are 2 main variants from Tyr, the standard ones that I have here and cost $33 each, then the ‘Happy Mag’ types which include a plastic clip internal to the base of the pouch (presumably kydex) and cost around $50 each. I’d probably find a lot more comparative differences in the Happy Mag version, but for my purposes the extra cost just isn’t justified when the TACOs already work well and I’m not 100% certain the overall function of the pouch would actually be better in terms of what I personally want out of it when the kydex is added.
I originally picked up a couple of the CAPs since I’d seen a few folks rave about them on forums as somehow being miraculously better than the TACOs and in reality the 1st gen attachment on the TACO had, without a doubt, annoyed me significantly. I was also cognisant of the fact that, at that time, I’d not found anything all-around better than the HSG design after many years of trying alternatives so I was keen to see if anything on the market could usurp the current king of the hill.
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Since the differences between the two aren’t necessarily immediately obvious even when holding both in front of you I’ll try to break them down as best I can. The first one that stands out to me is the size change, because they both share a height and depth but the CAP is slightly wider. Only by 6mm/~1/4″ but that is going to make the CAP slightly better suited to 762×51 magazines. On the other hand of course the TACO is perhaps very slightly better at dealing with 556 mags and will fare more positively when multiples of the pouch are stacked up or mounted adjacent to each other. The good thing about 545×39 and 556 mags of course is they fit very nicely and neatly in to the constraints of 2 columns of PALS, whereas other larger magazines can be mildly awkward when positioned next to each other purely on account of the design of the attachment system – certainly if we’re talking about more than 2 magazines being neighbours or a vest that is particularly crowded with equipment. Not a common situation perhaps but some folks will run their gear that way.
Attachment on the CAPs is achieved via integrated webbing strap using the tuck tail method that Crye also uses on the SPS, although the Tyr does not use Hypalon and the ends of each web strap are sewn double thickness to provide friction once doubled back and tucked. Frankly by comparison to current production TACOs I’ve got no real preference either way as once mounted it makes no odds and both pouches will sit securely at the same height.
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Routing of the bungee cord may look different from the TACO but adjustment is accomplished via the same manner and in the same location via a cord lock and the tail can be stowed up amongst the PALS if so desired. A difference is that the sides of the CAP are cordura laminated on to free floating strips of plastic, whereas the TACO of course incorporates a U-shaped injection moulded piece that is riveted in to the base of the pouch.
On the inside the CAP has small sections of non-slip material to aid somewhat in adding friction for retention whereas the TACOs have small areas of loop velcro in the same areas so the end user may add adhesive hook to their magazines. The CAPs also come standard with bungee over-mag retention and while the HSG design incorporates a webbing tap on the front to add the bungee there is none included by default.  The stitch work from Tyr is easily recognisable as the superior of the two products in question. The per inch count is far higher, doubly so in fact at 10 stitches per inch vs 5 on most areas of the HSG pouch. The bar tacks are also far neater and more compact. That said I’ve never had issue with a TACO falling apart on me by any stretch, but the numbers are the numbers.
Drawing of a magazine is smooth and easy on both competing pouches though I think reinsertion is perhaps slightly easier on the TACO. There is often a certain amount of wrangling to be done with both designs, but the CAP tends to close in towards the body whereas the TACO will tend to close up in the perpendicular fashion with the tips of either side of the U-shape insert coming closer together at the top/opening of the pouch. I tend to find that the natural motion of inserting a mag will make life slightly easier with the HSG design in terms of re-opening the top.
Overall, if there are any nuances about the CAP you prefer then by all means go for it, especially since it retails for a dollar less than the TACO (OEM’s websites) and is better sewn. There’s certainly not enough difference to go to the bother of selling all your TACOs and upping sticks, but if you’re in the market for an adjustable or multi-mag compatible pouch I certainly would keep the Tyr offering in mind. Also stay tuned because thoughts on the FirstSpear Multi-Mag will be forthcoming at some point in future and that thing is an entirely different kettle of fish#.

Half – 1 – Half

Using this TYR Tactical, LLC Gunfighter-E as a jump off point, let us talk belts a little bit. Just as a priming note, from this point on I’ll be describing the depicted style as a simulated 3 row belt, or just simulated 3, since it basically does the job of 3 inches (vertically) of PALS space, despite only being a 2″ tall piece of gear.

First off, why choose the Tyr out of the dozens of options on the market for a belt that features 2 rows of half inch webbing with a 1 inch gap? Well first off bear in mind this was originally ordered nearly 2 years ago now so when I buy another belt of this type it may come from a different brand, however at that point there weren’t quite as many prime cut choices from the big names available. The two options that consistently came up in discussion were the Tyr Gunfighter and Ronin Tactics variant. Every drone and his dog was buying the Ronin which I personally believe is an overpriced piece of gear made by a company which has quite literally zero originality in its’ product design. Granted it is a long running debate as to the fact that there’s nothing new under the sun and especially so in the world of gear, which is somewhat true and almost every company copies some ideas in some form or another, but if your *entire* product line is seemingly comprised of intellectual theft you will not get any of my cash – end of story. That notion will probably rub some folks up the wrong way, but if you came here for niceties and appeasement of the popular brands/products instead of what I find to be the complete and raw truth, you made a bad decision. I think Ronin is great at marketing and social media… and that’s about it.

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Obviously the materials the Tyr uses are more than up to the job, particularly reassuring is the main body of webbing being the same as some parachute harness straps I’ve worn, as well as the AUSTRIALPIN Cobra front and centre. If you want an example with regards the stitch work throughout I’d recommend taking a look at the sheer volume of thread in the zig-zag pattern to the right of the label and any of the bar-tacks that are visible. I’ve had traditional 3″ PALS belts in the past (and indeed plate carriers) where the bar-tacks in the PALS webbing could not take the strain applied over time by the tight MALICE clips on first generation HSGI TACOs. Even though those exact pouches are long out of production, I still judge any traditional webbing PALS (i.e. not laser cut) via an assessment of whether the tacks would hold up to mounting a legacy TACO over an extended period. If the strength is there to withstand that, the strength will be present for aggressive usage. The sewing on the grosgrain ribbon that is covering the cut ends of the webbing adjacent to the cobra buckle is at a low count per inch granted, however it is more of an aesthetic nicety than anything else and despite the appearance in the picture, is very much straight and level.

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So yes it’s all built very nicely, the PALS is neatly in spec, the hook & loop interface you’d expect for a modern belt of this type is present and the spacer mesh ‘base belt’ that comes included is frankly a superb piece of design work. But absolutely nothing is perfect so what are the negatives? Primarily the design of the adjustment, whereby you are losing a good few columns of PALS in an area that will be quite crucial for a lot of people. That said, the disparity is not as drastic as first appearance would suggest and unless you need equipment mounted in front of your pistol on your weapon/strong side it is a simple matter of slightly offsetting the entire belt. It doesn’t take much of a shift to get your pistol mag pouches settled in the spot you’re likely to want to have them settled. Newer designs do facilitate adjustment in a better way and maybe an update would be a good move, however the Gunfighter design has been around a lot longer than many others and from what I’ve researched it did a fair amount in terms of growing the entire concept and popularity of simulated 3 row belts within the gear market.

Is there still any value in older style belt sleeves with 3 full rows of PALS vs a new 2″ belt with two half inch rows of webbing? In terms of full on PLCE or ALICE style setups yes, but I think you need to be mounting a great many pouches around your waist with a substantial combined internal volume before you make that step change to the old ‘warbelt’. Fact is the British Infantryman is the master of belt webbing and as the gear they use shows, PALS isn’t actually necessarily the best choice for setting up a belt as primary load carriage for a large amount of equipment. Some older and less modular, but more robust, systems tend to be the preference and I can understand that entirely. For myself in a hobby context when I only have a holster, dump pouch and a couple of mags on a belt, the much lower overall bulk of an unpadded 2″ belt is definitely the way to go. Even if just from a transportation perspective let alone anything else. Given how many years a great many folks have spent searching for a solution to their belt gear not bouncing around when running or riding up when crouching, there’s just no arguing the merit of the velcro interface compared to the classic old thickly padded 3″ belts that lacked said interface. Especially given that they tended to have extraneous mesh and cordura above and below the actual PALS rows, resulting in a belt that could be pushing 4 or 5 inches tall in places. Not conducive to unhindered quick movement.

In future I’ll be looking to the Raptor Tactical Odin Mark IV and Eagle Industries simulated 3 row belts as potential purchases.

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All Weather Bargains (At The Time Of Posting)

Quick heads up – Level Peaks ‘Warehouse’ on eBay currently have various G3 lowers going for a steal. The regular NYCO combats are a good £100 less than UK stockists who actually have any stock, however the real uber bargains are the All Weathers which for some crazy reason are priced the exact same as the NYCO.

Since the Crye web store had their price hike on G3 stuff earlier this year even the Field All Weather have been over $360 and over $410 for the Combats. So if they have your size in (or even somewhere close), get yourself some sweet soft shell trousers with all the multitude of features that you like having on the standard variants.

They didn’t have any size that would work for me in Multicam in the combats, but I went one waist size up and got myself a set of the MC fields to replace and upgrade from my ECWCS L5 pants. I’ve already got 2 pairs of the AW Combats in the collection here so these fields will round out my options very nicely. And remember even the normal G3s are going for £300 in the UK and even more around other stores in Europe, so under 200 for the All Weathers is pretty much unprecedented.

Alternatively if you’re basic and/or never going to do stuff in the rain, they’ve got some MC Arid, Black and RG stock in normal NYCO G3 combats as well as some reasonable deals on the NYCO fields. Not nearly as much of a steal as the All Weathers though.

Outpost Post-Game Analysis (July 18)

A very rare occasion of me actually appearing in the site photographer’s album post-bbwar.  60-70% of the time I’ll scour the pictures from a game day I’ve attended and if I have had my soul taken at all it’ll be a quarter of my back through a door way, or something along those lines.  An enjoyable little skirmish at Xsite Airsoft Limited’s ‘Outpost’ site, enhanced by playing alongside my buddies Femme Fatale Airsoft and the lads from Project Cerberus.  The game that airsoft is can take a lot of forms for different folks and as long as they bear in mind it is always just a game then I fully support all of them.  But for myself, I really get the most enjoyment from a mixture of a modicum of sprinting around in a crazy fashion, hopefully confirming that my gear facilitates carriage of equipment comfortably alongside allowing smooth access to mags etc, but crucially the social element has to be there too.  The entire game is built on the interactions between human beings and since I don’t get off base as often as I’d like or perhaps should, just being out of the military environment for a while is really a pleasant break – even though the average air force camp is the least military of military settings.

The game in question was a couple of weeks back which wasn’t far off the peak of the heatwave the British Isles are currently in the midst of.  I’d say tipping in to 33 degrees or so, maybe even slightly more in the direct sun being such a clear day.  This was actually the first occasion I think ever in my time playing airsoft that I deliberately forwent carrying a sidearm or indeed any gear at all on my belt line and opted for just a primary with the bare minimum of load carriage (taking in to account I use mid-caps and usually don’t fully load them).

Starting from the top, the good old (long discontinued sadly) Grey Ghost cap combined with the Turbofans/plastic lower performed really quite well given the conditions.  I could’ve gone with a mesh cap of course but I’d actually been extremely stupid and gotten my forehead sunburnt a few days before, so I had to completely cover that up.  I even had factor 50 on my face under the hat just to be sure.  First time I’d been so careless as to get that burnt in about a decade, so definitely a strong kick up the rear end in that regard.

Tried out one of the Patagonia Level 9 Next-to-Skin shirts for the first time since I fancied having the full multicam pattern to complement the chest rig.  To be frank it’s just what you’d expect of a modern combat shirt that’s designed to be a bit of an all-rounder with no-melt/no-drip.  Not bad in the heat but somewhat slow drying in the torso compared to other fabrics that aren’t concerned with FR.  As I expected the pattern started fading slightly in the torso as soon as I washed it that evening, even with a careful hand wash which is a gentle of a wash as one can perform on clothing.

The chest rig was part Spiritus Systems and part Ferro Concepts with a couple of GP pouches in the mix.  Again the first time I’ve not had a dump pouch on in many years so most of the time I was just dropping mags, reloading, firing, then picking back up and re-stowing the mag back in to the chassis during a lull.  Given the nature of the site and the game that was an option for me, but reload with retention would of course still have been possible, it’s just not always quite 100% ideal with the elastic inserts.  Realistically the time difference with a kydex insert would not be anything significant and I’d probably still choose to drop empty mags in the given context, since the option was there.  Either way having such a compact chest rig was most definitely to my benefit and a few other people were seriously sweating inside their plate carriers.  I didn’t have hydration on me which seems dubious in the context, but the games were pretty short and personally I was absolutely fine come the end of the day through just drinking plenty of water during breaks and occasionally snacking on a bag of McCoys salt & vinegar.  At least one guy fell down (literally) but he was in all black clothing with a black PC and I’m pretty sure a black helmet, maybe drinking coffee and/or red bull between games too, quite possibly not enough water.

Also wore some Roman Kurmaz workmanship for the first time in the form of my G3 combat trousers made from the Hyperstealth/US4CES Mexican Marine fabric, though sadly hidden in the image.  Discovered you really have to wear those things in the intended manner (high waisted) once you’re sweating because if they’re not a baggy fit they will cling and be inhibitive when it comes to climbing up stuff.  Not that this is the trousers’ fault; I spent a couple of months in the states earlier this year eating a lot of pizza and when I did go to the gym I did quite a bit of leg work.  It does give me an interesting frame of reference to see how the Gen4s end up performing by comparison in hot weather, being made entirely of stretch fabric as they are.  Quality of stitching wise the report is very favourable on Roman’s work as the sticking of the fabric to me meant that the stretch segments in the design were definitely being put under strain and absolutely none of the sewing showed any hint of giving way in a post-wash visual scan later that evening.

The SKD Tactical PIG Deltas did exactly what I wanted in a glove as expected, similar story for the Under Armour boxer shorts and Darn Tough Vermont Socks.  I used a couple of wire pull Enola Gaye pyros for the first time as well which was a real luxury compared to striker lit pyro (thanks to Kelly for those).

Stock Tokyo Marui SOCOM AR with old PTS/Magpul Industries Corp. furniture and mags just worked of course.  Nothing to say about that that you won’t know already if you know anything about the platform.  The FPS is somewhat low so to BB takes a little bit to get to where it’s going, but I love the faux bolt-lock feature and since the ROF is also pretty low short bursts are very easy to pull off consistently.  Not the absolute best indoor gun when you’re set to semi, but then it and my batteries are all many years old at this point and my bar of comparative standards is also set very high.

Low Calorie Cuisine

If you’ve no idea what the High Speed Gear TACO line is by now then you need to just go and look that up because you are lagging behind the times my friend.

At this point I’d say HSGI are probably doing most of their business in TACO form, they have dozens of variants before you even get in to colour options and today I’d like to talk about the version I think might well be the best in breed. The one big caveat to that is that I’m yet to try the polymer TACO and there isn’t an abundance of information out there discussing it either, so things could change if I ever pick one up. Especially since the LT is the most expensive of the 3, with the original in the middle and the polymer model being cheapest.

Right now though we’re looking at the TACO LT standard size variant, PALS mounting (vs belt). I mention the PALS mounting specifically as it will do the job of the belt mount using some simple velcro one-wrap; check through my videos on YouTube to see the explanation of how to do that effectively. I’ll tend to opt for the classic original sizing versus any of the double stacks because I think the lower profile is a bonus in most situations and as far as magazine compatibility, the standard rifle mag size pouch is probably going to provide the widest range of service. That said if you have different needs then the HSGI range will cater to just about any desire.

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The great prospect about the LT is that it claims to be 30% lighter than the original model and that was what I really wanted to test out because functionally it seems to perform exactly the same as the original. So if about a third of the weight can be shaved then that seems like an optimal trade deal. Granted you pay a few dollars more, but the cost to benefit in your own specific application is a very personal thing, so I won’t try and elaborate on every single usage possibility.

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Now the standard pouch I’ve depicted here in the weight comparison is not the latest production model. There have been 3 styles of PALS backing on the regular TACO that I’m aware of; the original where the webbing was as tight to the back of the pouch as it could be which created essentially a global meme in terms of how stupidly hard it was to route the MALICE clips. Next came the pictured version which still used webbing, however the manufacturing process involved actually putting some slack/extra material in the mix to open up the loops, which certainly helps. Now the latest versions use a laser cut section of cordura which I’d imagine will make attachment a breeze compared to the originals, especially when combined with the HSG Clips.

Taking that in to consideration the standard pouch shown here may weigh a gram or so more than the current production but I think the differences are small enough to not warrant concern. As you’ll see from the scale numbers though, the 30% claim is not a lie at all, the percentage is pretty much dead on (even an underestimation to a small degree) both with and without the clips attached. We can also see that the 3-row MALICE clips weighed 19g per pair whereas the HSG Clips knock that down to 13g. MALICE are truly bomb proof of course and almost no amount of force that might realistically be applied would ever break them, but unless you’re so unlucky as to be dangled under a helicopter just by your pouch clips I very much doubt the HSGI alternative will ever fail you either. Whether the gen 2 MALICE with the skeletonised geometry and lower weight, but theoretically stronger securing method, might be an even better option I am unsure at this time but it’s a potential to perhaps bear in mind. We’re really getting in excessively deep in to the weeds at that point though for 99.99% of people.

I took a minute or so to give the LT pouch a close-in inspection and really nothing jumped out at me in terms of how or where the weight has been saved, the only obvious difference is the laminate backer piece but the disparity in mass between the laminate and webbing will only be a couple of grams I’d wager and doesn’t account for all of the weight saving. Either way, as I mentioned earlier functionality seems to be the exact same, so the LT is winning in that respect.

If a non-lidded pouch is suitable for your personal magazine carriage needs, i think that overall the TACO LT is very much worth considering. You can even use the webbing on the front to add a shingle style elastic retention if you’re planning to go parachuting with kit on. All the versatility and fast access of the original design, but shaving just a bit more weight off of your gear. Never a bad thing.


I’m taking a buddies’ advice and massively jumping my own queue to talk about a sort of gear system that I’ve been building up over the past few months. One which is pretty much pivotal to the end goal I’ve really been looking for for at least 4 or more years now. In the past I’ve always posted kit in chronological order of purchase, but that tends to mean any given notion I’ve adopted will have become much more popular in general after the 18-24 month delay I’m currently working through. Now, it’s nigh-on impossible to talk about this sort of thing without sounding astoundingly arrogant, but honestly at this point there’s almost nobody else that I look to when it comes to trying to formulate the all around best, most efficient load-carrying configurations available using quality nylon goods; aside from the manufacturers themselves (the ones that are innovating anyway). I look at the equipment I want to carry, decide on the ‘best’ pouches to carry it in then on the ‘best’ platform to mount those pouches to. Many years ago while starting out in airsoft before I joined the raf I would spend hours upon hours scrolling gear threads on forums to try and find the most optimal configurations that had already been dreamt up by people more experienced, knowledgeable and imaginative than myself, but truth be told I’ve mostly reached a point where looking at what other people do is no longer bearing of fruit; at least within the very specific niches for which I use this stuff. I still look around and certainly do not think I know everything because I don’t, but what I do know quite well is the best solution(s) for myself.

I have tried out and played around with more types of pouches and rigs than I can really remember now and granted sometimes I do occasionally experiment with some new configuration that turns out to be unwieldy, but after so many years of trying and failing I have to say I’ve gotten fairly good at knowing what will comfortably work and what won’t before ever actually using it. The ratio of successful attempts to failures is in a good place all things considered.

An idea I had begun to adopt a fair few years ago was the integration of modular placards in to 500D kit, because I was ending up with so many different PCs and chest rigs threaded with different size pouches just to facilitate various magazine styles that it had become prohibitive just in terms of storage space, let alone expenditure. I’m also pretty OCD about wanting to be able to use any given type of magazine with any given gear colourway and that’s just not a realistically achievable end state without using placards, not unless you have gargantuan amounts of money and storage capacity.

Then, only a matter of months ago, I had what I’d class as a pretty sharp-turn sort of moment. I’m hesitant to say lightbulb since that implies I was blazing a hitherto unexplored trail and I’m never the first person on the planet to come up with a good new idea, far from it, but it was a lightbulb just in terms of my own personal outlook and future planning. I looked at my ever growing collection of placards, looked at the Spiritus Systems Mk3 Chassis, looked back at the placards then thought “You know? I can do this in a much more efficient way”. Now when I say *I*, what I’m really meaning is I’d make use of the core concept that the folks at Spritus have crafted with their Chassis in order to form the centre point of a larger structure, one that facilitates any popular magazine type being quickly mounted to whichever style of rig one might lend their fancy to on a given occasion. So far, having played around with the depicted gear a little bit, I think I’m fairly firmly on the right track as far as achieving the stated goal.

When you look at the attached image, you can build the desired loadout by working from the top down if you like, but l will generally do things the other way around. First, decide on the weapon type you’ll be using and by extension the extra magazines you’ll be carrying. When we’re discussing the Spiritus chassis and D3CR-M then secondaries and other equipment may come in to play given the presence of the front pouch, but if you’re using a single cell placard (which Ferro offer in their ecosystem) then most likely it’ll just be a case of 2 to 4 box magazines. Next, you securely mount the appropriate insert for said magazines within the ‘core’ component, the keystone of the whole system. The more inserts you own, the more flexibility you have and not only are inserts cheaper and smaller than complete placards dedicated to one mag type, but they can of course also be moved around in to differently coloured/patterned nylon equipment. Finally, pick your mounting platform, clip in your two 1″ buckles and slap down the velcro at the back.

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In the depicted example I’ve used what I initially purchased to begin building this system. Multicam being generally the most proliferant material choice for anything tactical, I started there. The inserts shown are the Spiritus elastic types for 556 NATO mags, modern double feed plastic 9mm mags (eg Scorpion and MPX) as well as classic metal 9mm mags (eg MP5 and Glock). If you use the slightly larger D3CR-M in place of the Spiritus Mk3, you’ll be able to use the Haley Strategic Partners inserts as well of course to include their MP2s and if you sew some hook back to back you should be good to use Ferro inserts as well; though I’ve not tested that out for myself just yet.

The pictured centre piece is the Spiritus chassis which happens to be fitted with a Bergspitze Customs zip for the front pouch and 1″ compression straps of my own design and manufacture. The Mk3 Chassis gives the greatest amount of modularity currently available on the market since it features 2 fully loop lined pouches versus the single one on the D3CR-M. Ferro offers a single cell modular placard (no front pouch) but their top mounted webbing is longer than the industry standard and won’t sit properly on most relevant plate carriers, as mentioned they also line the inside of one surface with hook instead of loop. Ferro also use G-Hooks, but the webbing is still 1″ so that can easily be changed if you’re able to modify around the other discrepancies. Edgar Sherman Design is planning on making something which can be pretty much thought of as a single cell Mk3, but that is an undetermined amount of time off in the future. Personally I’m exploring the single cell modular placard by having something custom made right now and I think it’s going to be a pretty damn good solution if I say so myself.

The flexibility to move between PC and chest rig with the same load of magazines is, for me, a great luxury. The PC option here is represented by the front panel from an MBAV cut FirstSpear Strandhogg, with a loop field from Dead Coyote Tac and 1″ female QASMs with webbing backers from J-Tac Custom Limited. I mildly frankenstein’d the chest rig platform next to it by using the Ferro chesty wide (following a Reptile House review & recommendation) with Spiritus fat straps taking the place of the included Ferro H-Harness, enabling any PALS pouches to be added to the sides and any hanging GP bag of your choice to be dropped in to the mix. There are of course lots of other cross compatibility options available like the HSP X-Harness or Flatpack, you can also use the Spiritus wings in place of the chesty wide and the same chest rig base will also easily mount Vel Sys and ESSTAC placards… the list goes on.

To boil it down, if you have the right gear (which may take a little while to assemble admittedly) you can pick almost any weapon type and be comfortably accommodated within either of the 2 most popular types of modern load carriage options. A belt line won’t really fit in to this placard system of course and you can maybe go with RTi mounted pouches to have speedy modularity in that arena, but right now I don’t have the perfect answer – the Raptor Tac version 4 belt may get there in future but we’ll see. A Vel Sys type PALS placard with TACOs was my previous entry in this context and it did do pretty well in terms of the fact it did support 556, x39 and 762 NATO mags, but then you’d need a different setup for many SMGs; particularly if you want to keep everything as neat and concisely mounted as possible. Not to mention of course the flaps and zips that can be added to the Mk3 and D3CR-M which allow for carrying of absolutely anything your magical little mind can conjure up.

I’m investing a fair bit right now in to extending the notion seen in the image across all the major colourways I want to have in my collection and that is costing a pretty penny, but if this flexibility is something you’d like in your gear locker it doesn’t necessarily have to make the wallet wince if you just focus on one pattern or colour.

Does it apply to most military personnel? Not really, it would be frankly useless on my personal work gear because all I ever need is old school 556 pouches woven on to my armour and that’ll never change. SOF perhaps, when a person might find themselves switching between a 556 carbine, 308 rifle and maybe an SMG under very specific circumstances; often wearing overt armour but perhaps sometimes going for a smaller rig when reconnaissance or concealment are the order of the day. Certainly the principle is applicable for the civilian shooter and airsoft or paintball player where the options for weaponry are almost limitless and no authority from above is dictating load carriage choice. As always, have a think for yourself, decide your priorities and check out every option you can before hitting Checkout.