S, A or B, S

Today’s post is the last bit of Crye Precision for just a little while, then I’ll be breaking it up with a few different bits and pieces. When we get back to it’ll finally just about be time for me to talk about the Generation 1 combat apparel.

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An unusual thing about CP gear in the UK is that a very large proportion of it happens to be what is termed the ‘UKSF Custom’ as seen here. I’d imagine regular AC/Gen 2 stuff was issued somewhere or other within the MoD, but from what I’ve seen the beardy blokes must have ordered in an actual metric shit ton of these combat sets in multicam. Obviously they will have issued and used the majority of what was bought for themselves, then as with anything issued a certain percentage somehow seeps out in to the civilian market. But there’s so much floating around that the original quantity ordered was either monstrous, or they had a bulk disposal at some point. The latter seems unlikely though as any G3 adoption seemed to lag a fair bit behind the commercial release of the 3rd gen. Again probably because there was so much stock of 2nd gen hanging around.

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Features wise, these ‘Custom’ tag sets are basically the same as Navy Custom, which itself is only a pretty minor deviation from commercial Army Custom. Both have a pair of covered 4-hole buttons on each cargo pocket, with little button holes sewn on the upper edge of the front thigh/ankle pockets under the flaps. These are presumably for lanyarding of equipment since they’re no use for a button in that location. There’s also buttons at the fly in place of the zip.

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I’m consistently disappointed by Crye’s usage of 4 hole buttons vs canadian/taped because they just don’t have anywhere near the longevity. But then the reality is that the intention of these sets is to last maybe a month or so of deployed usage tops, get worn out and ripped, then disposed of. On the other hand, I had lunch with a certain bunch of people in a dusty place once a while back and their CP combats had seen so much wear and washing that the Multicam NYCO had turned essentially white in a few cases. They may have kept a pair aside for barrack wear perhaps, I wasn’t going to press any questions in the circumstance.

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Ze label! It liez!

Brief history on crye combats in Flecktarn and Tropentarn. During the Gen 2/AC production era, various sets were made in both patterns and issued in some numbers to German special forces units. Some were also available commercially in a roundabout fashion if you knew where to dig and e-mailed the right person at a specific German military gear supplier, but they ran out of stock many, many years ago I don’t think many were sold by that route. No field uniforms made to my knowledge. The combat shirt is the regular AC cut with no deviations but the trousers feature 2 very prominent slotted buttons CS95 style going through the main thigh cargo pockets. Something requested by the German military that’s pretty unique to the Fleck/Trop combat pants.

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The G3 combat sets in both patterns were sold via TACWRK who presumably paid quite a bit to have a custom run done just for them to sell. I don’t know if the G3s were ever issued but if they were it certainly wasn’t in the same numbers as the AC sets. The G3s also don’t deviate from the standard cut or design in any way.

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I was definitely lucky to get this shirt in an auction, certainly in my size and hardly used. To go back to the title, all the Fleck/Trop stuff features the exact same labelling as standard commercial AC and G3 uniforms, however I’m 90% sure the fabric is not NYCO, I think they just used the label systems that were already in place. All the standard issue Flecktarn uniforms are made from a poly/cotton that’s somewhat different in material ratios to most commercial PYCO gear as well as CS95 and PCS. That fabric has of course been printed in huge volume over the years to supply the German military and I don’t believe Crye Precision had special NYCO printed.

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You’ll note there’s no rip-stop evident and while I’ve admittedly not taken this stuff to a lab for spectroscopic testing, it certainly looks, feels, flexes, smells, wears and fades exactly like all the standard issue Flecktarn gear I’ve seen. As well as the Leo Kohler Fleck gear I’ve tried, which has labelling exactly matching the UF-Pro Fleck/Trop, reinforcing the notion that there’s only one kind of material being printed in these patterns.

Minty Flavoured

So what happened was, for a while I thought the NYCO G3s in the AOR patterns would be impossible to get hold of, as at the time I was looking around for AOR G3s it was only the DRIFIRE pieces that that would pop up.

Theoretically, it only makes sense for me to pick up FR material items in Multicam because then it can have some application for my work. Standard NYCO holds its’ colours far better than the Drifire fabrics and is more likely to resist getting torn, so anything I’d add to the collection just for collecting sake, or for running about playing airsoft, is better off being NYCO.

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However when you’re scouring ever corner of the net for items like these and trying to put together a set, it’s bloody difficult getting what you want in your actual size. Since I had the impression I’d never assemble the standard Crye NYCO sets, I snapped up the FR equivalents whenever they surfaced, and in fairness the Drifire variants have since become comparatively scarce around the classifieds, whereas the NYCOs have been in such great supply the prices have dropped down to retail G3 levels. I’m much more an AOR2 fan anyway, partly for the pure aesthetics of it, partly because greens and browns just makes far more sense in the UK overall and also because AOR1 looks so damn similar to arid MARPAT. For a long time I actually didn’t plan to add any AOR1 to the collection due to that fact alone.

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For those interested, these G3 combat sets are manufactured by Crye, I’d imagine Drifire just send them the FR fabric and have CP put the Phoenix style tag on everything. I’ve not seen much information on who actually uses them, since NSW are apparently in a mixture of multicam and Patagonia AOR these days and I’ve only come across a very small number of pictures of the AOR G3 sets (FR or not). The fact so many of the NYCO items crop up for sale (usually brand new in packaging) could either mean that tons are being made and leaking out, or that loads were manufactured then just never made issued and hence disposed of.

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Either way I am personally far more of a fan of the G3 cut than AC, despite the collector community always losing their minds over the discontinued styles. The addition of the stretch panel in the groin alone is a gigantic step forward in my opinion. It’ll certainly be interesting to see which colourways are made in G4 outside the usual commercial offerings that have already been shown in the Crye catalogue. Since the VTX fabric is a new venture with only Crye adopting it so far, it’s unlikely we’ll see all the random stuff like Flecktarn, US Woodland, M84 etc cropping up as happened in Gen 2 and 3. AOR fabric may well get printed I’d imagine if the right people request it, which I expect they will, but the reality is everyone is using sort-of Multicam these days. The US Army and Air Force, the UK, Germany, Australia, the list goes on. So there’s much less demand for other patterns and very slim chances that the VTX will be printed in any colourway that’s not got a proven history of being in high demand; special requests from units with deep pockets excluded that is.

‘Cryefire’ AOR1

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This Crye Precision/DRIFIRE set right here is what I’d call the current pinnacle of the combat uniform concept for deployed personnel in arid environments. This is what every man and woman who puts on a uniform should be putting on in places like Afghanistan if they’re going outside the wire and it’s a bloody shame that isn’t the reality.

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While I’ve long been a critic of the cut of the G3 combat shirt, that is very much the nit picking side of me. The Arc’teryx Assault Shirt FR is roughly level pegging overall in that is has arm pit mesh, a far more anatomical shape to the sleeves and better pockets (just like Crye G4 funnily enough), however the collar design is bonkers and I frankly despise it.

From an individual/commercial standpoint it’ll be far easier to buy the Arc and it most likely will be a lot cheaper too, but then most people who get FR uniforms didn’t buy them.

What I really want to do some day is get some ripped up old FR clothing from a few different key players like Drifire, Arc and Massif and take a blow torch to it all for comparison testing; or devise a more explosive test if I can (though I doubt UK law will be very permissive in that area).

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Crye Compatible Patagonia

There are guys out there who’re very knowledgeable when it comes to which SF guys (especially SEALs) used what gear and when. I am not that guy. Some folks might well get the impression in the coming months that I’m building some kind of NSW kit, but personally I’ve no specific interest in them or what they do. I just like to have the best quality kit that’s available in a combat cut and it happens that not only do NSW get a lot of that made for them, they also have the AOR patterns that haven’t been used by many other folks.

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Back in the Gen 2/AC days at Crye (maybe early G3), Patagonia were making these early iterations of their Level 9 combat cut pant in both AORs. They started off with a layout much more akin to Crye and taking the Crye pads, before shaking things up, deleting a few things and moving to their own pad system with the 4-hole pattern. I’m always more a fan of the CP system, though the latest version of the Patagonia pads with the locking connections instead of the press studs are at a point that even picky old me actually doesn’t mind them.

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I know there were at least 2 variants of this model; earlier with the solid colours stretch as seen here then later with pattern-matched stretch. Not sure whether they perhaps did something even earlier with solid colour loop fields as well, but either way this particular set is pretty darn old in modern gear terms.

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As you’ll note there’s a stretch panel at the back of the waist, but none around the knees or in the groin; funnily enough the AOR2 versions of these I owned some time ago also had the groin ripped apart where a guy had clearly gone down fast to a squat/knee. The butt pockets are gone vs CP as well, though on this model the other 8 are still present. Closure on small pockets is just velcro, with buttons added for the main cargos. One big plus over Crye is the use of slotted buttons with edging tape holding them. Far superior to the 4 hole direct-sew type Crye put on the NC/UKSF Custom cut and will, astoundingly, be continuing to mount on the upcoming G4 hot weather items.

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The Rarer Kryptek

I’m confident in saying this isn’t something you’ll see every day.

The vast majority of the NYCO that’s ever been physically printed in Kryptek Outdoor Group patterns has been in Mandrake, Highlander and Typhon. With perhaps the possible exception of some tiny sample production that never leaked outside the company, the majority of their patterns have never been printed on cotton blend fabrics.

PLATATAC retailed their Tac Dax MkII sets in the three aforementioned colours for a good couple of years and Haley Strategic Partnerssubsequently also carried them for a time. They remain the all around best quality combat cut apparel to have ever been manufactured in Kryptek colourways and the fact the patterns had a big spike in popularity within the ‘tactical’ community, which has since long faded (but picked up in the hunting sphere), means that such uniforms might well never appear commercially again.

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For one reason or another, Nomad, the all-out arid colourway from Kryptek, was only ever printed in comparatively limited quantities. Even companies like OPS and Vertx that went big in to making Kryptek pattern apparel only manufactured small amounts of clothing in Nomad. The set I have here was only sold off by Platatac quite some time after they stopped production on the MkII uniform. Presumably in some sort of warehouse clearance, since they had a lot of their legacy product line on sale at the time and a fair few interesting prototypes also rose to the surface.

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Incidentally if anyone ever sees either part of the MkII set in Typhon or the shirt in Mandrake for sale (Med-Reg, in good nick) you’d be doing me a solid if you gave me a shout and I’d certainly owe you one.

Best VALUE Camo Trousers

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There aren’t that many products that I will very strongly recommend with a genuine emphasis, but these Leo Köhler GmbH & Co. KG Explorer model trousers are one of them. You can check my video review of these here going through what features there are to go through:


It’s a very simple cut and the price at Flecktarn.co.uk has gone up a fiver since the review, but if you want something that’s a true step up in material quality compared to issued MTP (and most issued European camo) with a wider range of patterns available, while also not spending more than 50 quid, these are the trousers to buy. Some pretty cool and popular patterns are available too for you folks in the UK, including MC Tropic and Black and both the 2 popular Pencott patterns:


ASMC.de do also carry them but for some reason are asking 70 euros, which is a fair hike over £50 since the exchange rate is close to one to one at the time of writing.

In the UK however, I’ve looked through everything UK Tac and Tac-Kit have in stock trouser wise; the Explorers provide the best all around value by comparison. You can certainly get better if you spend quite a lot more money and you can get worse for spending the same, or even slightly more money in some cases (looking at you LBX), but the best quality for the money is here. I think they’d be a far better option if they cost, say, £55 and you could insert a knee pad with perhaps some ankle adjustments or padding in the waistband, but still an outstanding option in the literal sense even in the current configuration.

Head of Human, Body of a Lion

Here’s a creature from ancient Greek myths that died out a long time ago – the Sphinx. Though this version from from Arc’teryx LEAF.

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For those who’ve been cutting around long enough you may remember that LEAF used to offer a full line of inclement weather clothing based on the cut of the Talos NYCO gear and each set was named after creatures from the Greek legends. There was the Sphinx, Minotaur, Gryphon, possibly Centaur though I’m not certain and probably more I’m not remembering. But they were all hybrid creatures of at least 2 different animals, which is the key here.

There were all types of materials used in some mixtures that pretty much only existed in those specific garments and haven’t really been seen much since, or in some cases only until fairly recently and not in large production numbers or from prolific companies. As far as I’m aware all the shirts were combat type with different fabrics on the torso vs the sleeves, generally something thinner and more breathable with less water resistance. For example the Gryphon was a hybrid of Gore-Tex hardshell fabrics for the sleeves, collar and hood with a Tweave Durastrech softshell in the torso. Being a shirt designed to go under body armour, this of course means the area not covered by the armour is thorougly water proof but you’re not holding in unnecessary sweat under that armour.

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If you want to read more it looks like Arc’teryx never got around to deleting this part of their site even though the product is long discontinued (Thanks to militarymorons.com for being a superb archive of cool info like this):


Other shirts in the line included mixtures of different softshells, some with insulation, there was one example with softshell sleeves and a fleece material torso for cold weather wear under armour etc. They were all of course, incredibly expensive on the civilian market and did see some some limited use by SF, but we’re talking the late noughties here when everyone was in Iraq and Afghan and while, yes, obviously places in those countries do get cold in winter/at altitude, the cold and wet just wasn’t a focus equipment wise for most parts of ISAF.

I won’t run through the features on my Phinx here because there’s already a video up on my channel going through the Talos trousers with are just the same so you can go back to watch that if you’re interested. Materials wise the vast majority is a superb Tweave softshell that’s light, blocks wind and a good amount of rain, breathes, is incredibly resistant to any form of damage and basically never fades. There’s 2″ webbing reinforcement on the knees which is a huge plus to my mind over PCU L5 and Crye All-Weather field pants, plus of course the Arc knee caps can be fitted. Also very light nylon reinforcement of the pocket edges, cordura for a torch/knife and a very soft fabric lining waist which is common for waists and collars in all sorts of garments; something the Crye G4 combat pants will also be bringing. I presume this is to alleviate friction against the skin for long term wear by serious dudes spending days/weeks ‘out’, though being a hotel dweller myself I’ve had minimal experience with wearing armour or belts so long they chafed the skin even through clothing. Though that minimal experience was enough to know that when it starts it is no fun at all, that is for sure.

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Essentially I wanted a set of trousers that would serve me as well as anything could in typical English winter weather and as I’ve mentioned in the past softshell is the way to go. ECWCS L5 trousers in multicam can be had far cheaper and will do a similar job in many respects, but when these came up in my size with fairly little usage on them they just fit the bill too neatly. They certainly could work very well for any outdoor pursuit being a fairly innocuous colour (and not camo), plus of course for the odd weekend airsoft game on the tan team they’ll be quite literally exactly what I want in a lower garment.

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Strange Pants By Germans

Welcome to the Euro zone, it’s like the twilight zone but with weirder tac gear.

Crye have pretty much nailed it when it comes to the cut of a combat trouser in my mind, however if I only ever bought their stuff I’d get bored and I like to try out different options here and there. Partly to keep my own interest levels up, but also bring some more varied coverage here of commercially available kit (at least at the time I buy it).

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I wanted a pair of trousers in PenCott Camouflage GreenZone that could take an external knee pad, and at the time I hadn’t yet gone off the D3O pads, so I opted for these Leo Köhler GmbH & Co. KG Defender 2.0s. At a quick glance they might not seem that unusual, but the more you dig the more strangeness you find going on compared to what you’re generally accustomed to.

Apart from the usual 2 upper front pockets and one butt pocket with a button (alas 4 hole type), the only other storage you’ll find is right on the front of the legs just above the knees. These pockets have both a double press stud cover and a zip for closure. The zips on the side of them are mesh ventilation, a feature you’ll also see on some UF-Pro offerings and on Vertx without the zips, but overall a much more European feature I would say.

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Much like G3 combats there are stretch panels at the lower back and in the groin, which is definitely a big plus. These are not found on the knee pads, but as long as you buy the right size and wear them properly I don’t find that an issue on other designs which also don’t feature stretch around the knees (including Crye fields). I’m not sure why the stretch fabric goes up over the NYCO at the back of the waist, but it doesn’t seem to inhibit function.

The ankles have elastic and 3 press studs for adjustment, which combined with the location of the cargo pockets gives these trousers a distinct feel of an aircrew or tank crewman’s coveralls. Whether that was something they had in mind I’m not sure but I’d imagine some military unit or other came to LK with a list of requirements and this garment was the end result. As is often the case with anything coming from a decent company in the tactical realm that seems strange.

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It is tempting in a way to replace these with something that could take an Airflex knee pad, but I’ll probably just wear these with internal foam padding only. Overall the sew work is decent and I’d say you’re actually getting a pretty bloody nice set of features for the price too. As long as those features fit in to what you want/need.

ASMC GmbH carries the Defenders 2s in Multicam, GreenZone, Flecktarn and RG; the first 2 being in NYCO, possibly the RG too; then the Fleck is PYCO as with literally everything else I’ve ever seen made in a Flecktarn pattern.

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