I’m calling this entry part 1 because thus far I don’t have any platforms or pouches which are specifically designed for the MP2’s, so I’ll be revisiting them further down the line.
Let’s be clear to start with – The concept of a plastic insert for a magazine pouch which allows solid retention without any lid or bungee is not any kind of brand new idea. ESSTAC have been manufacturing their Kydex Wedge Inserts for quite some time now and there have been a range of pouches available from them that make use of said inserts. There are also a couple of other moulded polymer inserts for magazine pouches on the market right now, such as the MUKI from Predator Gear Inc which is somewhere between the MP2 and KYWI and will be of interest to my fellow europeans.
Anyway, the HSP offering – One key feature that attracted me was the vertical sizing. As I’ve talked about before when discussing mag pouches I personally prefer something that’s 4 PALS rows tall such as the HSGI TACO, it gives more than adequate retention but also exposes an extra amount of the magazine to grab on to that manages to feel disproportionately larger than it really is. This has always felt particularly evident for me when drawing a quick access mag from a belt pouch mounted on the reaction side hip (left hip in my case). Having that extra inch of mag to grip means the difference between easily grabbing just the mag and having it fill my hand for a secure hold, vs potentially getting caught up on the pouch and also having one or two fingers hanging off the bottom of the mag when in a ‘beercan’ grip. I’ve always been of the opinion that shingle type pouches were a bad move in this regard. They were really big a few years back but I only ever tried a couple of them myself as I found that they’re usually slow and fiddly to reinsert magazines in to with the tight and compact manner in which they’re constructed. Also being a full height pouch (5 PALS rows) just isn’t as conducive to expedient magazine access.
What the MP2s actually do very well, perhaps ironically, is mimic (in an updated fashion) the classic double mag pouch design of old, particularly when using the lids-tucked-in trick. It’s a technique I saw online, used myself for quite a while and found to be one of the best overall solutions going at the time (around 2009). For those unfamiliar, this is the pouch design I’m referring to:
As far as I’m aware it was an Eagle design originally, but this setup that utilises the elastic in the middle of each caddy section has been copied so many times around the world by so many gear companies it’s become probably the most ubiquitous PALS mounted mag pouch ever at this point. It’s those elastic pieces that allow this design to work so well with the lids tucked; if utilised with just one magazine instead of the intended two that is (they were always overly tight with 2 anyway).
Now the HSP site lists quite an array of mag pouches from a wide range of gear manufacturers with which they claim the MP2 insert will function, but if you are going to use the inserts with something other than an HSP platform that’s specifically designed for them (I’m sure we’ll see them releasing their own HSP PALS pouches soon enough), then I’d strongly recommend a pouch in the style displayed above. I have tried my MP2s inside a FirstSpear M4 Single, which isn’t a massive departure from the original EI pouch in shape and design (good thing too because it’s still one of the best going) but does bring the materials and attachment system right up to date. The great thing about the bands of elastic in these pouches is that they grip the MP2s right at their narrow point and hold them in extremely well, even adding a little security to the overall retention. With this combination you can use the flaps in the intended, secure manner when in your boat/helo/herc, then once you’ve got your feet on the ground you simply tuck the lids and you’ve still got really solid retention yet have gained instant access to your ammo feeders without any hindrance like lids, velcro, excessively tight kydex or bungee cord/tabs.
The plastic that’s been used to actually mould the inserts doesn’t have any stand-out weak points or likely lines of breakage and maintains a good strength throughout. How tough they are exactly I can’t say for certain just yet since I don’t have a spare to smack with a hammer or run my car over, but I’m confident HSP have done good testing already in that regard. There are drainage holes built in to the bases which should align nicely with the grommets fitted to most pouches and I feel that in general the entire geometry is very well thought out, both in terms of the internal ribs to aid mag retention (beyond just friction) and external shaping to ensure the inserts stay where you put them.
If I had my own tactical soft goods business I’d already be churning out 1/2/3 mag pouches in various colours and camos that used either FirstSpear 6/9 or Blue Force Gear hypalon backers for attachment and mimicked the D3CR with a single row of PALS to retain these inserts with the best possible security. They are an extremely fast and versatile solution and bring a very interesting answer to the old question about which way is best to carry mags both securely and yet also allow for quick and unfettered reloads when the situations calls.
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