A little bit of my personal thoughts/opinions behind the meme which I won’t be putting on social media; which as always are worth precisely what you’ve paid for them.
First of all, are the differences between the Onward Research and Green Force Gear offerings as massively drastic as the meme format could potentially imply? Not really, no. But are there differences which fit the objective definition of significant? I believe so. Why the comparison? Because the formats are of course very, very similar and the prices are within a small paper note of each other.
On a basic level, I would say the GFG offering is a peg above in terms of value for money given that it is not only cheaper but has far more GP capacity built in and very useful capacity at that. 556 Magazine capacity of both is obviously the same, so we’ll proverbially set that aspect aside. With the USD and Euro hovering around basically being a 1:1 exchange rate for the past few years, it actually helps make the comparison easier to lay down. However when you also factor in the availability and prices of proper materials for personal military equipment in Europe, along with the general level of taxation and costs of doing business in terms of just paying wages, moving materials, running a building etc then the price point on the WCSIG is even more impressive. I appreciate none of that matters to the consumer who receives the item and uses it, but it is all a part of the grand scheme comparison.
For me one of the biggest let downs on the Recce Rig is the shortage of PALS on the sides for anything significant, assuming the buyer wants to do more than larp on the flat range or play short airsoft skirmish games. 2 columns isn’t a bad start for, perhaps, a 1L pouch on one side and maybe a radio on the other, which is a decent amount overall when combined with up to 8 x 30 round AR mags; plus the map pocket on the back and the ability to add a dangler. However 3 columns should really be the minimum and 4 would be the way to go for a much better product all around. Functionally, being PALS on the Recce vs fixed pouches on the WCSIG is a mere matter of preference admittedly, you add a tiny amount of weight and bulk but gain pouch selection options with the PALS – it’s 6 and 2 threes. But in terms of cost the difference is significant.
If the Recce did have 4 columns either side (which it doesn’t), then given that it already is the more expensive option, and even if I’m being super generous and assuming you find a couple of surplus GP pouches for $10 each, that’s $180 vs $150 now which looks even less favourable for the OR product. If you opted for quality, modern GPs available in a non-standard issue colour like the Shaw BFG, then the price comparison goes fully and entirely out of the window. I would also expect a larger version of the Recce Rig to jump up to at least $165 out of the gate, maybe even up to $175.
What I do prefer about the Recce, given the implied use case, is the flapped magazine pouches. I would be extremely interested to see the result of GFG doing the cost analysis on their option if they added flaps to cover the magazines. The WCSIG is trying to be that do-all chest rig for potentially serious use in the woods or in the desert, which means the wearer will be going prone in the mud/sand and probably being rained/snowed on. Your rounds aren’t poorly protected inside the WCSIG, but flaps often do quite a lot to prevent the natural world ending up in the unnatural environment of a rifle’s chamber. Personally I’ve never been a huge fan of bungee cord shingle-style retention for equipment, it always seemed a just little more slow and fiddly and slightly less reliable overall, not to mention the protection aspect. The bungee retention absolutely works, but I’d rate flaps the better option all things considered, which is part of why the style of mag pouch that the Recce has built in has been a global staple for decades now.
Harness wise it’s a choice of X vs H. I’d prefer H myself as per the Recce, but many people prefer X and both rigs use a totally standard array of 1″ side release buckles, meaning a swap is as easy as pie with dozens of great alternatives available. It raises an interesting point about the classic sales model vs the à la carte one that Spiritus has brought to the fore, but either rig would cost more if sold piecemeal. Features wise the Recce has slightly more cable routing options with the one-wrap, but the laser cuts in the WCSIG bring it pretty close.
If we are working to the assumption that somebody is looking to buy a new production, modern load bearing rig and has a bit of money available, as opposed being on a very tight budget where used surplus would be their best option, then I do maintain the basic premise of the comedic image at the top of this post.
There is not in fact a huge gap between the two choices, but that in itself is precisely why the comparison can actually be made and in a relatively simple fashion. Trying to compare a cheap belt rig to an expensive plate carrier would be be a totally different type of conversation revolving around intended use case, the two would lack relevant qualities and features to actually be put side by side. But if we assume the use case of two products to be the same, then the comparisons on finer details start to make a lot more sense. As is the case here I would say.
Why are the prices for each rig set at the points they are? Something I neglected to discuss when first writing this.
The construction methods differ fairly significantly between the WCSIG and RR, something which is not immediately obvious by outwards appearance – they both just look like MC/RG/CB cordura. But in terms of design and manufacture the more modern way in which the WCSIG is put together is probably the main reason for it’s fairly low price, which is not the norm when looking at tactical gear made in Europe and doubly so in Scandinavia where taxes are very high indeed. I would imagine that if GFG tried to exactly copy the Recce Rig the price they might offer it at would potentially be a fair bit higher than from Onward. Perhaps if Onward was selling the WCSIG they could do it at a lower price, though it is tricky to say for sure.
Being a laminate construction using laser cutting and made from just 2 pieces of said laminate, the WCSIG is pretty simple in terms of the cutting part of the cut and sew process that is used to create soft goods such as chest rigs. On the other hand, the RR isn’t necessarily all that different in construction when compared to chest rigs from 18+ years ago. It may be 500D cordura rather than 1000D and put together in an efficient version of the typical early 2000s process to create an end form that is pretty well in line with modern thinking. However, it is comprised of an awful lot more than just 2 pieces of fabric and uses webbing rather than a negative space PALS grid.
I don’t follow Onward anywhere online, but from a quick look at their social media I didn’t see any mention of who their OEM is. I have seen an Instagram comment where somebody asked ‘Who’s making these?’ and the reply was ‘We are’, but I am skeptical to be honest. Every single aspect of the Recce Rig looks like it’s been put together by Tactical Tailor. The colours available, the black pouch linings, the type of multicam webbing used, the shaping of the pouch lids, the stitching style, the use of MC loop to close the pouch lids.. the list goes on. Either they are made by TT, a sub-contractor of TT, or Onward has setup a manufacturing facility that copies everything TT does down to pretty small details and follows TT’s design philosophy unbelievably closely.
If my original guess is right an Tac Tailor does make the Recces then they will of course make a profit on each one and then charge for warehousing and shipping. Then Onward will again have to make a profit on top of their warehousing activity costs and of course the usual shipping charge at checkout. This is not some terrible thing and very far from uncommon in the gear industry, because somewhat-similarly to firearms manufacture there just aren’t huge and well established facilities that can churn out nylon goods in every small town – there are more of them than there are good firearm factories, but they aren’t ten a penny.
If you combine that more traditional construction method with the extra layer of costs involved in the Recce (again, many US companies run like this) and put that against GFG being both manufacturer and retailer then I think we can establish why the respective costs are what they are despite the high cost of doing business in Europe.