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Crye Precision CAGE Plate Carrier (CPC)
1/10/10 - The Crye Precision CAGE (Crye Assault GEar) Plate Carrier (CPC) is an alternative to the CAGE Armour Chassis for the user that may not need the amount of ballistic coverage that the CAGE Chassis provides, and can sacrifice some coverage for weight savings. One of the differences between the Armour Chassis and the CPC is that the CPC utilizes unarmoured flanks and an external cummerbund system, and is made from 500D Cordura instead of 1000D. Besides a host of new features, the CPC also incorporates Crye's new Structural Kinetic Support System (StKSS) that transfers the weight of the CPC from the shoulders to the hips when worn with their new low profile belt.
The CPC is not simply a Crye Chassis with the armour inserts taken out - there are numerous differences in the details. Even so, the major components of the CAGE Chassis and CPC are interchangeable, and can be swapped between the two, so much of what applies to the CAGE Chassis also applies to the CPC. Crye designed in the cross-compatibility between the two platforms to give the user the option of up-armouring the CPC if desired, or in the case of the Chassis user, going a bit leaner.
Overview - Just like the CAGE Chassis, the CPC is a modular system, with interchangeable components that can be swapped out to customize the fit to the user, and to accommodate different types and sizes of plates. The CPC itself provides no ballistic protection. Front and rear ballistic protection comes from the user-supplied plates, and side protection can be added with a Level IIIA insert or side plates. The front and rear plate bags fit standard SAPI plates, and have a stand-off from the body, just like the Chassis. The front and rear plate bags connect the left and right flanks on the sides.
Like the CAGE Chassis, the CPC is cut short - and ends right above the belly button. Worn in conjunction with the Crye's new Low Profile Belt, which is a lower profile and non-armoured version of their Armoured Blast Belt, it allows complete freedom of motion when bending or sitting. The CPC utilizes MultiCam PALS webbing from Texcel Inc. for attachment of pouches. The CPC has the same dual cutaway release pulls as the Chassis - pulling either one of two release cables will split the CPC along the user's back and fall off forward. CPC components come in S-XL sizes, and can be mixed and matched to fit a wide range of people. Plate bags are sized to fit issue SAPI or similarly shaped plates with room for plate backers. The CPC is constructed mainly of 500D Cordura and is produced at Crye's facility in Brooklyn, New York City.
Like the CAGE Chassis, the main components that are assembled to form the CPC are: Front plate bag/carrier, Rear plate bag, left/right flank/torso, and left/right shoulder pieces. Shown here is the Medium CPC with Medium SAPI plate bag in the front and Large SAPI plate bag in the rear. Note that the front and rear plate bags are sold separately and size independently from the CPC, to allow for a custom configuration. A plate bag set must be ordered to complete the CPC, and it will be shipped assembled.
Additional note: in all the photos, the web strap hanging from the right shoulder is my EMDOM/MM URS strap for attaching my rifle.
CAGE Plate Carrier Components
Front Plate Bag- The CPC plate bags are made from 500D Cordura instead of the 1000D of the Chassis and have some new features that enhance utility. The front plate bag shown here is for a medium SAPI plate or stand-alone plate. It is available for different plate sizes and will accommodate most 'operator cut' plates. In case you are not using a stand-alone plate, there's enough room in the plate bag to place a Level IIIA soft insert behind the plate. In this case I have a CPC triple curve plate with DBT Level IIIA insert behind it. The back of the plate bag is lined with a semi-rigid sheet of polymer for shape retention and also some protection from fragments. The medium SAPI plate bag shown here is more rectangular than trapezoidal as not all 'operator cut' plates have the same shape. The plate bag opens at the bottom for insertion of the plate with a padded, Velcro-secured flap. There is a pull tab in the middle of the flap which opens the flap and drops the plate if it has to be ditched. The pull tab can be tucked away inside the plate bag if that feature is not needed. The side panels of the plate bag are made of a stretch-woven fabric. These allow the plate bags to expand at the sides to provide a snug fit for the plate.
The front flap is lined with Velcro underneath, to which the external cummerbund ends wrap around and attach. The front flap doubles as an M4 magazine pouch, and can hold three thirty round magazines. It will fit USGI mags, PMags and Tangodown ARC mags. The magazines are separated by internal dividers, and elastic shock cord with pull tabs are used for retention. I found the magazines secure enough inside the slots that the elastic wasn't needed, so I undid the knots and removed the shock cord. On the front of the flap are three rows and six columns of PALS webbing. Above the flap is one more row to which the shock cord retention for the mags is looped through. There is a large loop Velcro surface inside the mag pocket that allows users to adhere standard Velcro coins on mags for extrea retention. When not in use, the top of the mag pockets are held shut by internal Velcro and the pocket lays flat. When filled with mags, the sides of the flap does pull away a bit from the Velcro under it since it's a flat pocket that now has an item inside it. This does not affect the functionality or security of the Velcro keeping the front flap secured.
There is a Velcro panel at the top of the plate bag for patches/ID with two rows of Velcro-covered PALS webbing. There are vertical and horizontal webbing loops on each side of the Velcro field for mounting PTT communication accessories. Behind the Velcro patch at the top of the plate bag is an administrative pocket with internal elastic loops for retention of writing instruments etc. The top of the pocket is closed with Velcro. It's 5" deep (4" with the Velcro closed), so longer items might stick out of the top.
On the back side of the front plate bag are the shoulder strap attach points at the top, and webbing for the Groin Panel. Since the flanks are not armoured, they aren't as thick as on the Armoured Chassis, so the front plate bag has a stand-off distance from the user's body of about 1/2" to 3/4". Even though the lower half of the front plate is supported from behind by the flank panels, it has the stand-off distance at the top as well. If there's any back face deformation from a hit, the standoff distance isolates the back of the plate from the body over the sternum area. If the plate gets hit where it overlaps the flank, the impact is distributed over a larger area as the flank panels are quite rigid, unlike a soft panel, which can deform in a smaller, localized area. With a conventional plate carrier/vest, there isn't any standoff and the plate lies directly on top of the soft panel, so any back face deformation can be transmitted through the panel into the body. Vests with foam padding can help reduce this.
Rear Plate Bag - The 500D CPC rear plate bag fits standard SAPI or similarly-shaped plates. The rear plate is inserted into the rear plate bag through a bottom opening with a padded Velcro flap. There is a pull tab in the middle for dropping the plate if necessary. Like the front plate bag, the rear has a polymer liner inside it between the back of the plate and the body. Instead of the rubber-covered drag handle of the Armoured Chassis, a lighter weight webbing drag handle secures flat with Velcro when not in use. While not as comfortable as the Chassis drag handle, it presents a lower profile. The outside face of the rear plate bag is covered in MultiCam PALS webbing and has a loop Velcro field at the top of the bag. There is a heavy duty zipper on either side of the plate bag for attachment of specialty rear-mounted accessory panels. On the inside face of the rear plate bag, there are three vertical rows of webbing - the outer two form the attach points to the flanks and the center row houses the rear lacing system, which is the same as that on the Chassis, as it's interchangeable with the plate bag from the Chassis. The sides of the rear plate bag are made of stretch-woven fabric, just like the front plate bag.
Flanks - Like the Chassis, the side pieces (flanks) of the CPC are semi-rigid, and molded/shaped to conform around the users body. The flanks enclose non-removable plastic stiffening panels that provide the rigidity and also a measure of protection from bumps and blunt impact on the sides. The CPC flanks do not provide any ballistic protection, and are therefore do not cover as much of the body as the Chassis flanks. They are narrower in the back (they don't cover the upper back/deltoid) and do not extend up the front of the chest. The Chassis flank looks like a U-shape when flattened out, with the arm resting at the bottom of the U. The CPC flank is L-shaped instead.
Having the side panels split in the front and back allows the CPC to be donned and doffed like a regular front-opening garment without having to put it over the head, and width adjustments can be made by moving the panels closer or further apart from each other in the back.
The front connection from the flank to the front plate differs from that on the Chassis, but is still cross-compatible. On each flank, there is a stiffened stabilizing tab. On the fixed side, the tab captures the plate by folding back on itself and securing down to the flank with Velcro. On the 'open' side, the tab slips through the webbing on the inside of the front plate and supports it horizontally, and is kept in place by the external cummerbund. As in the Chassis, lateral adjustability is incorporated into the interface between the flanks and the rear plate bag. Once adjusted, it's solid. The front plate bag is also free to move laterally to a certain degree, relative to the flanks.
The inside surfaces of the CPC flanks are lined with soft, Velcro-compatible material, to which eight removable Custom Fit pads are attached. Each flank has 4 removable pads - front, side and two rear. Maximum thickness of the pads themselves are about .25" uncompressed. The pads provide additional standoff from the armour, which further insulates the user from impacts and blunt trauma, and the air channels molded into them facilitate passive cooling, especially when worn with the Crye Combat shirt. The pads are made of fabric-covered closed cell foam with air channels molded into the surface, and can be removed for washing. The user can choose to use or forego the pads, depending on preference. The CPC pads are shaped differently than the Chassis pads.
On each side of the flank is a pouch that will hold an MBITR radio or two M4 30-round mag pouches. The contents are retained by elastic shock cord (removable). To the rear of the flank pocket are some strange-looking pockets with the openings at the bottom. These are part of the StKSS system - more on that later.
Cummerbund - On the Chassis, the cummerbund passes through a sleeve on each side, called the cummerbund panel. On the CPC, the cummerbund does not pass through a sleeve, but is external to the flank. Each flank has a cummerbund sewn to the rear of the flank. The cummerbund wraps around the sides, around to the front. There is no length adjustment of the cummerbund as all girth adjustment is done by varying the space between the flanks in the rear, and the overlap of the Velcro in front under the front plate bag flap. The cummerbund has as compartment on the inside that opens from the top, and houses the optional Crye Level IIIA insert for users who want to add side ballistic protection. The pocket on the medium cummerbund is approximately 12" x 6", and the insert is 11" x 6". A 6" x 6" plate can also be inserted, outside of the soft armour (for in-conjunction plates). The cummerbund is lined with mesh.
Shoulders - The CPC shoulder pads are lower profile than the Armoured Chassis shoulders, as they do not contain the soft armour/ballistic inserts. Like the Chassis, the CPC shoulders are modular and adjustable. They comprise of the outer shell, nylon stiffening insert, and foam padding. Adjustments and set up are basically identical to that on the Chassis. The shoulders have an adjustable strap which can be pulled forward to shorten it, drawing it closer to the rear plate bag. A proprietary metal buckle is attached to the top of the flanks in the rear, through which the shoulder adjustment straps is passed through. One of the shoulders is attached to the front of the flank with a strap. The other has a side-release buckle on the end, to which one side of the front plate bag clicks into. The buckle strap can be installed on either side or removed entirely for an 'over-the-head' donning setup. I've switched it over to the right shoulder as I shoot primarily left-handed off the left shoulder.
On the outside of each shoulder pad are two openable Velcro loops for routing hydration tubes or communication cables. The emergency doff handles are located to the inside of each shoulder. The loops can be tucked further into the pad if desired. For added protection and comfort, the CPC comes with a Shoulder Strap Adapter which is used to adapt a CAGE Armoured shoulder piece to the CPC or allow the user to have a non-padded (lowest possible profile) shoulder.
Low Profile Belt - The Low Profile Belt is essentially a non-ballistic version of the Blast Belt, with some detail changes. So, for folks who have been asking Crye to offer something like this, your wish has been granted. It is more similar to the Gen I Blast Belt as it doesn't have removable sleeves on the sides. It's also not quite as tall in the back, as it is designed for load bearing rather than ballistic protection. The Low Profile Belt consists of the outer shell, and inner web belt, three removable comfort pads, and the foam/stiffening insert.
The outer shell is made of 500D Cordura and has two rows of PALS webbing on the side and rear sections. The PALS sections form sleeves through which the inner belt is threaded. The rear section forms a flap at the bottom which can be opened up to remove or install the insert. Behind the PALS webbing on the sides, are slots which are part of the StKSS system.
The inner web belt is made from 2" webbing and has a plastic stiffener. A non-slip dual-adjust buckle is used - the buckle prevents webbing slippage during movement, so the user doesn't have to keep tightening the belt.
The comfort pads are fabric-covered foam and the insert has a nylon stiffening sheet with foam. The stiffening sheet makes the belt rigid, and it will not roll over under load. It's easily the most supportive MOLLE war belt available. Crye will offer a ballistic insert for users who want to use the Low Profile Belt with ballistic protection, but it will have slightly less coverage in the rear as the Blast Belt.
Structural Kinetic Support System (StKSS) - Crye's new Structural Kinetic Support System is one of those things that designers strive for - amazingly simple, yet effective. Crye has found a way to distribute the load effectively between the shoulders and the hips without adding any kind of internal frame system, substantial weight or complexity. This is made possible by the fact that the flanks are shaped/semi-rigid, and are able to support the weight of the entire plate carrier by acting as their own 'frame sheets'. This is not possible with other systems that do not have the rigidity of the 'chassis' design.
The StKSS utilizes a rigid support on each side that connects the CPC and the Low Profile Belt, with the ends captured in corresponding pockets on both pieces of equipment. The supports are manufactured in six different lengths. A sized kit consists of two lengths of supports (a total of four) for a wide range if adjustment. My medium CPC came with long and short supports as shown below. The support is a lightweight, very rigid carbon fiber flat rod, enclosed in webbing, with a retaining strap and snaps.
The top end with the single male snap is inserted into the upside-down pocket on the CPC flank. The pocket has two mounting locations; an upper and lower one. The support is inserted into either one, then snapped in place to retain it. The Low Profile Belt has slot pockets behind the PALS webbing that the supports slide into. The retaining strap is woven through the PALS webbing to keep the support anchored to the belt. The combination of different length supports and the two flank pockets provides the range of adjustability need for the user to find the correct combination to achieve the desired offload. When the supports are captured at each end, they 'fix' the distance between the CPC and the Low Profile Belt, just like a frame on a pack does with the shoulder straps and hip belt. The distance between the CPC and the hip belt is adjusted so that the supports push up on the CPC and offload some of its weight onto the hips. The belt should be centered on the hips, not around the waist, and be adjusted so that the center line of the belt rests on the iliac crests (hip bones).
The supports can be installed into the CPC, then inserted into the belt after donning them separately, or leaving the CPC and belt attached and the whole thing donned as a unit. When donned separately, the supports are inserted into the belt by first leaning to the side one way, then the other. The retaining strap is impossible to weave through the top loop of PALS on the belt with one hand once the support is inserted into the belt pocket, so it's usually left unsnapped. There's very little chance of the support slipping up and out of the belt as the pocket is deep. However, it can happen if the CPC is moving up and the belt down during some sort of bouncing and twisting movement. I did have one side pop out during drills that involved running and moving into and out of different positions (including prone). I don't know which exact movement caused it to pop out as I only noticed it some time later, but I must have duplicated the conditions which enabled the support to be inserted in the first place. Talking to Caleb about this, he hadn't heard of it happening, but agreed that it was possible. From feedback in the field, the preferred way was to keep the CPC and belt attached, and don them as a single unit.
The StKSS can be retrofitted to the Chassis with a kit, but it's not as elegant as solution as on the CPC as it's not built-in.
How it all goes together:
Rear plate bag to flanks - The CPC has essentially the same adjustable rear cord system and dual cut-away system as the Armoured Chassis. At the rear of each flank is a hypalon flap that folds inwards. The flap has cutouts through which a series of eyelets, each with two holes, protrude. The eyelets are retained under the flap by the emergency cut-away cord/cable, which has been threaded through each of them. There are also two tabs on the back of each flank; one at the top and the other at the bottom. These are inserted through matching loops on the rear plate bag. Each tab has a hypalon channel on the end which the cut-away cord passes through. The rear cord is laced through the eyelets on both sides, and also through the vertical webbing in the center of the rear plate bag. Pulling downward on the lacing cord brings the rear of the flanks closer together, closing the gap between them in the middle. On the Chassis, the cord was 550 cord; on the CPC it is now thick elastic shock cord to allow chest expansion and some 'give'. The Chassis achieves this expansion by having an elastic front adjustment. The excess cord is stashed in a pocket located behind the bottom edge of the rear plate bag.
Emergency cut-away system - On the end of each cut-away cable is a closed loop. The loops are Velcroed to each shoulder pad for easy access. To release the CPC, a thumb is inserted into either loop and the loop is pulled hard, forward and out. As the loop is pulled away from the chassis, it releases each of the eyelets and tabs holding one side of the rear plate bag to the flank. The CPC will split along the back on one side, and fall forward. Moving your body while pulling the cord helps the CPC fall away. Note that when used with the StKSS, the CPC will not completely separate if the supports are securely fastened to the belt. They have to be unsnapped for successful vest separation.
Shoulders to flanks - The shoulder pads connect to the top rear of the flanks, where a proprietary buckle is located. This metal buckle is very low profile, and has a sliding locking bar that prevents movement of webbing through it under tension. At the top rear of each shoulder is a long length of webbing. This webbing goes over the shoulder, passes through the metal buckle in the back, and Velcros down on top of the shoulder pad. The webbing connection from the top of the plate pocket Velcros to the shoulder pad underneath the webbing strap. The shoulders are thus connected in the front to the plate bag and in the back to the flank.
Front plate bag to shoulders - One
side of the plate bag is chosen to be the opening side for normal
donning/doffing, and the other is the fixed side. In my case, the
right shoulder is the fixed side.
Front plate bag to flanks - There is stiffened 'stabilization tab' sewn to the outside front of each of the flanks that folds back on itself, secured by Velcro. On the non-fixed side, the tab slides through the loop on the inside of the front plate bag and stabilizes the plate. It is not captured. On the fixed (non-releasable) side, the tab passes through a loop on the back of the front plate bag, folds around to the inside, and Velcros down to the lining. So, the plate bag is 'fixed' at the top, and in the middle.
Cummerbund - The cummerbund wraps around the sides from the rear of the flank to the front of the front plate bag, and under the front flap. During normal use, the cummerbund is detached only on the opening/releasable side; the fixed side is left connected to the front of the plate bag.
Donning/doffing and initial
adjustment - The rear elastic cord adjustment is loosened
and the CPC is donned like any other break-front vest. The male buckle
on the front plate bag is attached to the female buckle on the shoulder,
then the stabilizing tab on the flank is inserted into the loop behind
the front plate. The front flap on the front plate bag is flipped
up, and each side of the cummerbund is pulled forward and wrapped
snugly to the front. The front flap is folded down over the cummerbund
ends and pressed firmly to secure the cummerbund.
To adjust the StKSS, the supports are first installed to the CPC, then to the corresponding slot on the Low Profile Belt. The CPC is donned with the belt attached. The correct height is achieved via the combination of support length and CPC mount. The supports should be centered on the hips by adjusting their position fore or aft on the Low Profile Belt. Correctly adjusted, a lot of the weight of the CPC will be transferred from the shoulders directly to the hips without pushing up the CPC off the shoulders.
Observations and notes - For users who already use the CAGE Chassis, the CPC should be a seamless transition, and even the differences are easy to figure out. Like the CAGE Chassis, the CPC can look a bit complicated at first glance to new users. It's actually a very straightforward design. But to get to that point and figure out elegant solutions to design requirements requires a lot of thought and ingenuity in the design process; which is something Crye continues to deliver. Any complexity in the construction or design is there to make it easier and more comfortable for the end user. The CPC/StKSS user guide is clearly illustrated and explains how to set up and adjust the CPC.
Donning the CPC takes about maybe 30 seconds, as the front flap needs to be lifted up and one side of the cummerbund is pulled forward and secured to the front of the front plate bag. This is done after connecting the male buckle to the female one on the shoulder. It's also easier to flip the front panel up when the internal mag pouches are empty. Since the CPC rear cord is elastic, there's some give, and this allows the CPC to expand with the torso when breathing heavily or when seated.
The CPC is shown below with the Low Profile Belt (note that the StKSS is not installed). When compared to the CAGE Chassis on the previous page, you can see that the CPC presents a lower front-back profile.
Shown below are some additional accessories that are offered separately for the Armoured Chassis and CPC systems.The first one is a lightweight 330D Cordura pouch that installs on the rear plate bag, Blast Belt or Low Profile Belt. The attachment tab has hook Velcro on one side and loop Velcro on the other, and attaches between the belt pad and the inside of the belt. It has a Velcro-secured flap closure and partially elasticized opening. It rolls up when not in use and has a drainage grommet on the bottom.
Also shown are two zip-off panels that attach to the rear plate bag of the CPC or Chassis. On each side of the rear plate bag is a heavy duty YKK zipper, to which the panels attach. On the rear of the panels are four straps that secure with snaps, that further secure the panel to the PALS webbing on the plate bag. Once attached, the panels are very secure, yet easily removable.
Using zip-off panels enables the user to quickly switch between pre-configured rear pocket combinations without having to mess with the individual pocket attachment systems. They're made of 500D Cordura for minimal weight. One panel is covered completely in PALS webbing for the user to configure themselves. The other has a sewn-on pocket configuration. At the top are six individual pockets for mini-flash bangs or 40mm grenades (for access by a team mate). In the center is a utility pocket with zipper closure. I found that this will fit the Kangaroo hydration bladder from The Source. At the bottom are three rows of PALS webbing. Both panels also have full size compartments behind the PALS or sewn-on pockets, the size of the panel. The compartment is closed in the middle with a Velcro tab, and can be used for low-profile hydration bladders (usually 50 oz). Breaching tools can also be carried in the compartment (they'll stick out the top) so the bottom inside of the compartments are lined/reinforced with tough Hypalon material.
A third available zip-on component not shown here is a small pack with an expansion area for charges or longer breaching tools.
Wearing the CPC - The CPC feels very much like the CAGE Chassis, but a bit more close-fitting with a slimmer front to back profile. The plates sit closer to the body and front-mounted pouches don't extend as far out. It is easy to don and doff, and the semi-rigid flanks feel contoured to my body. With the Level IIIA insert installed, the cummerbund support attached pouches without sagging.
When setting up the CAGE Chassis, I preferred to install the rear custom fit pads, and leave out the front and sides pads as it was comfortable without them and I wanted the lowest profile possible in front and the sides. With the CPC, I left all the pads in, as it felt low profile enough. With the Level IIIA side insert installed, the sides of the CPC are actually about 1/2" thicker than the flanks of the Chassis with its integrated armour.
I found it more convenient to leave the Low Profile Belt attached to the CPC via the supports, rather than separate them, as I have no need to quick-ditch either. I played around with the StKSS support height adjustments so that I could feel the majority of the weight of the CPC on my shoulders reduced without noticeably pushing it off my shoulders. The CPC is not supposed to be floating around your ears.
At the Range
As with the CAGE Chassis, my goal at the range was to get an initial/general feel for the CPC; overall comfort, mobility, etc and see what changes, if any, I had to make to my shooting style. I'm not someone who uses this gear for a living going in harm's way, but I write from my limited point of view and experience in order to (hopefully) provide useful information to those who might. I also design gear so it's essential that I actually use it in any way possible for me with different systems so any flaws in design and function can surface.
The temperatures at the range varied from sunny in the low 60's on one day to overcast and drizzly in the 50's on another. The CPC was loaded up with six 30-round mags; three of which were in the mag pocket in the front flap. I had removed the elastic retention for the internal mag pockets as the magazines are quite secure in there without it. I placed my Source Kangaroo reservoir in the zip-off panel pouch on the back, and had an EMDOM Baby Shingle on the left front. I tucked the valve of the hydration tube into the admin pocket at the top of the front plate bag. I had a medium plate in front and large plate in the rear with soft armour plate backers behind the plates. I was also wearing the Crye Low Profile Belt with a couple more 30-round mags in an EMDOM AK/M4 mag pouch, my EMDOM dump pouch, four 9mm mags in an EMDOM 6o4 pouch, and my S&W M&P pistol in Safariland holster. I was shooting my KAC rifle-length URX upper with Trijicon TA44SR-10 1.5x ACOG attached to the CPC with my MM/EMDOM URS Sling. I was wearing the Crye AC Combat Pants and a t-shirt, then later the TAD Gear MultiCam Spectre Hoodie.
Comfort and Mobility - Like the CAGE Chassis, the CPC is very comfortable and form fitting on me. First, the combination of body-contoured panels and the padded shoulders carry and distribute the loaded-up weight very well, even without the StKSS. I adjusted the CPC the same way I wear the Chassis so that it was a semi-snug fit - basically taking any 'play' out of it without putting any undue pressure around my chest. In the photos below, you can see the StKSS support between the bottom of the CPC flank and the top of the Low Profile Belt on the sides.
StKSS - Although the StKSS supports are rigid, and maintain a fixed distance between the points of attachment on the flank and belt, the upper attach point on the flank allows the support to pivot, and swing an arc; to follow the natural motion of the torso with respect to the hips. The StKSS allows full twisting motion of the upper body and bending at the waist. You could do the Hula Hoop if you wanted, wearing this setup. Side bending range of motion is very slightly restricted, as that is along the axis of the supports, but the upper body can move inside the CPC enough to compensate for that. Sitting isn't a problem; the CPC is just offloaded a bit more in the seated position, but doesn't end up being pushed too high.
When I first saw that the StKSS consisted only of a rod on each side, I was a bit skeptical. That skepticism evaporated after I adjusted it for the correct offload and wore it at the range for the first full day. The supports are extremely effective at offloading weight from the shoulders to the hips. The CPC literally felt like it didn't have plates in it. My hips barely noticed the weight being transferred to them, as the Low Profile Belt was both comfortable and positioned correctly on my hip bones. The difference is like wearing a backpack that has no frame or hip belt, and one with a frame and hip belt.
I thought that it was pretty amazing. And more amazing was that it was so simple. The StKSS does not added any appreciable weight nor bulk to the system yet makes a world of difference in reducing fatigue on the trapezoidal muscles and upper/lower back/spine. At the end of my range days, my shoulders and back didn't feel as fatigued and tired. They normally ache a bit since I don't do this on a daily basis; only occasionally, and my body doesn't ever get used to it.
Shooting - Shooting with the CPC mirrors my previous experience with the Armoured Chassis. As with any other plate carrier, the main challenge I've encountered is finding a place to put the rifle butt. Placing it on the plate puts it out too far for me, even with the stock fully collapsed, and then only the toe of the stock is on it. Putting it on the shoulders puts it farther outboard than I like. With both the CAGE Chassis and CPC, however, I'm able to get a very comfortable and solid platform by placing my stock with the toe hooked behind the front plate, and the butt resting on the shoulder pad. This is enabled by the standoff gap behind the front plate bag, something other plate carriers or systems don't have (hence the issue). This places the stock just to the side of my chin for my normal cheek weld.
I normally shoot my handgun using the isosceles stance, with my elbows slightly bent. Some armoured vests are wide across the top of the chest, between the shoulders and don't allow my arms to come together enough to use my normal stance. The Chassis, with its elastic cummerbunds, allow the flanks to move together when the arms are extended forward. The CPC flanks don't extend as far up behind the front plate as the Chassis flanks, so it's a non issue. I'm able to use my normal handgun stance/hold without restriction.
Shooting from different positions with the CPC isn't much different from the Chassis, except that in some rollover positions, there's less bulk on the rear of the shoulders. Other than that, it's similar to other plate/armour carriers and prone positions will be modified from shooting without armour to account for the additional bulk.
Like Crye's CAGE Chassis, the CAGE Plate Carrier works as an integrated system when combined with the other CAGE components like the Low Profile Belt, and worn with the AC Combat Shirt and Pants. They've been designed and tested to compliment and work with each other, providing the war fighter with a combat uniform and armour package that enables him to fight the enemy, not his equipment. The new Structural Kinetic Support System built into the CPC and Low Profile Belt provides another level of comfort for the war fighter above the rest.
Note: the CPC and Low Profile Belt and accessories will be rolled out publicly at the 2010 SHOT show. I do not have any information on availability or pricing, so please contact Crye Precision AFTER Jan 2010 to inquire. As a rule of thumb, they will be available for purchase when they are added to Crye's website.
Crye Precision GunClip
3/10/11 - The Crye Precision GunClip is a new approach to carrying and deploying a handgun. While it looks like a holster, it isn't. It allows the handgun to be deployed quickly whether it has a light or suppressor mounted without having to go through the normal draw stroke of extracting the handgun from a holster.
Overview - At first glance the Crye GunClip looks like a simple exposed-muzzle belt-slide holster. It's not, however. It's a gun holder, and the pistol is inserted and drawn from the side instead of out the top. This allows the user to skip the normal draw stroke where the muzzle of the pistol has to clear the top of the holster before it can be put into deployment. It can be mounted to most belts of molle platforms, and is currently only available in right-hand configuration to fit Glock 17, 19, 22 (or 24) and 23 pistols. It's available in black or tan.
The Crye GunClip consists of a mount/adapter to which the gun clip is fastened to with a single screw. The clip itself is molded to fit the Glock model pistols listed above, and grabs the pistol on the slide and trigger guard. The pistol snaps in and out of the clip, which has enough tension to keep the pistol in place. A retention flap covers up the side of the pistol, and has a snap which releases it, allowing it to open and the pistol is then extracted from the grasp of the clip with a slight twist outwards. The snap on the flap is retained by the release tab, which the shooter unsnaps with the middle finger. Note that the clip is designed to have the pistol oriented a certain way, it is not reversible. There's even a little warning sticker inside to show the correct orientation of the pistol in the GunClip. You should NOT flip it around and try use it on the left side - the pistol will not be properly retained. Also note that some aftermarket oversize magazine release buttons may not be compatible with the GunClip.
The mount can accommodate belts up to 2.75" tall and also attaches to molle webbing, so it can be mounted on a molle battle belt, plate carrier or rig. By loosening the screw, the mount slides open, and also allows the clip to rotate a full 360° so that a cant angle can be set.
Using the GunClip - In the photos below, I have the GunClip mounted onto a Crye belt. It's padded, so that's why the GunClip sits out a bit further than normal. To insert the pistol into the GunClip, the retention flap is left open. The pistol is inserted so that the top of the slide engages the front of the clip, then the pistol is rotated inwards so that the clip engages the trigger guard. The retention tab is then snapped shut. To extract the pistol from the GunClip, a normal grip is obtained on the pistol, while simultaneously unsnapping the retention tab with the middle finger. The pistol can be rotated either way (butt out or slide out first), but I found it more natural to rotate the butt outwards first, so that the trigger guard is dis-engaged from the clip. The pistol can also be pulled straight out from the GunClip without rotating it, as when mounted on the front of a plate carrier. Either way, the pistol is now free from the GunClip.
Whether you're using no light, a light, or suppressor, the draw is the same. It takes practice to get used to the draw, but it's less cumbersome than drawing the pistol out of a regular belt-mounted holster to clear the muzzle, especially when wearing armour. Crye designed the GunClip so that once the retention flap is unsnapped, the pistol can be extracted without it hanging up or getting caught. A quick twist of the wrist and it's out, whether you're seated, standing, or in tight quarters. Note that the GunClip is not designed to be a LE-duty type holster with retention to prevent someone else from grabbing the pistol out of the top - treat it as you would an open-top kydex holster.
Observations and notes - Drawing a pistol from the GunClip can be done quite quickly once you get used to the different draw. Replacing the pistol in the GunClip is a bit slower than just showing it back into a holster, as the retention flap needs to be secured. The GunClip will hold the pistol without the retention flap secured, but a bump can knock it out of the clip. It's very secure in the GunClip with the retention flap secured. There were a couple of times where I found the snap difficult to engage, and had to either press harder or ensure that the flap was completely closed, but I later found that using my thumb to snap it worked better than using my middle finger. Here's a short video that illustrates how the pistol is drawn and replaced in the GunClip
Note that I'm a left-handed shooter, and never wear a holster on my right hip, although I do practice shooting right handed. Drawing from the right side actually feels unnatural for me, but that's hard to tell from the video. The GunClip is very small and unobtrusive, and so versatile that I predict that it'll become quite popular. Crye is also planning on introducing a left-hand model, and others that will fit other weapons in the future.
Crye Precision MagClip™
5/29/11 - The Crye Precision MagClip is another example of Crye's 'out of the box' thinking. It's a plastic clip that attaches to most M4 magazines which provides new options for carrying and using them. It's ideal where low visibility, rapid access or additional capacity is needed without the need for a magazine pouch.
Description - The MagClip is a plastic clip that clamps around the body of an M4 magazine, providing a means of attaching or hanging off many different platforms. The MagClip has a split clamp with screw that is loosened to slide it over the magazine body. The screw is tightened up, keeping the MagClip in place. The MagClip can be positioned at the bottom of the magazine, for upside-down carry, or near the middle of the body, with the opening at the top. When installing the MagClip in the middle of the body, it's imperative to verify that the body is not squeezed such that it impedes the movement of the follower or rounds inside. Make sure to test fire the magazine in that configuration before you carry it that way. The MagClip is designed to fit USGI mags, HK mags and will also fit Pmags, although it's a bit tight on them. It will not fit the TangoDown ARC mags.
The MagClip has two hooks that are shaped such that they either hook over any horizontal flat surface, like a belt, paints waist etc, or secure the clip to two columns of molle webbing.
To use the MagClip, it's simply clipped over any horizontal edge and the magazine grabbed when needed. Whether you mount it in the middle or at the bottom, and bullets forward or aft, is up to you. In the pictures where I have it mounted in the middle of the magazine body, I've configured it for upright carry on the front of a rig. I'm a left hander, so with the bullets facing left, I just grab it with a beercan grip and it's ready to insert into the rifle without flipping it over. When inserting the clips into molle webbing, you might have to guide the 'hooks' into the webbing if the webbing is laying flat against the rig.
Observations and notes - As mentioned before, most of the photos you've seen are with the MagClip mounted only at the bottom of the mag, where there's no chance of it inhibiting the travel of the follower due to compression of the magazine body. When I mounted it at the middle, I checked the follower and also shot it that way, and didn't have any issues on a Magpul E-mag. I picked the E-mag as the PMag is slightly thicker, and the MagClip is tight around the middle of the body. For the PMag, I'd probably just leave it at the bottom of the mag body. When mounted in the middle of the body, the magazine is carried higher, and when used inside the waistband or clipped to the belt, it's less likely to get pushed up when you sit down.
Yes, the MagClip has limitations, and Crye is fully aware of them. Obviously, they're not as secure or protected on a rig as mags carried in regular pouches. You can't put two of them in double mag pouches with the MagClip installed (you can fit one in a double mag pouch though), or single mag pouches. But when used as intended/designed, they're incredibly versatile. The pouch-less carry options are almost endless; you can clip a mag to your pants, inside or outside the waistband, inside a pack, to a cummerbund, to a vehicle seat pocket etc. They're great to keep mounted on a couple of mags that you want to use at the range without putting on your kit, and want quicker access to mags than storing them in your pants pockets. Yet another innovative product from Crye.
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