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EMDOM-MM GPS Pouch
2/21/10 - The EMDOM USA/MM GPS Pouch is a GPS pouch designed for the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx or similarly-sized GPS unit that allows the user to operate and use the GPS unit without having to remove it from the pouch. This reduces the possiblity of the GPS unit being dropped during extraction and replacement in conventional pouches. The design enables the user to glance down at the GPS unit 'on the go' without having to hold it in his hand.
I have a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx unit, and while looking around for a suitable GPS case, didn't find anything I really wanted, so I decided to collaborate with EMDOM on a design. I wanted it to be molle-compatible, and relatively streamlined; and hold just the GPS unit without accessories. More importantly, I wanted to be able to use the GPS unit without removing it from the pouch every time I needed to use it. I wanted to be able to turn on, operate and refer to the GPS unit while on the move, without having to hold it in my hand. I came up with a clamshell design that holds the GPS unit inside the front portion of the pouch, which opens out and down so the GPS unit can be operated horizontally. All buttons can be accessed from either side and the GPS unit can be removed quickly if need be. When the GPS unit is mounted on a vest or shoulder strap of a pack, the pouch can be left open with the unit on, leaving the hands free.
Key Features of the EMDOM/MM GPS Pouch:
Dimensions - The EMDOM/MM GPS pouch is approximately 5.5" tall x 3" wide x 1.5" deep (internal dimensions). Although initially sized for the GPSMAP 60 series (60, 60CS, 60CSx), which are about 5.25" tall x 2.25" wide x 1.5" deep with an antenna sticking up another 1.5", the pouch will also fit any other GPS unit that fits within those dimensions. It will also hold the Oregon and Colorado series of GPS units, and any other smaller ones. The pouch takes up two columns and three rows of PALS.
Front and rear panel stiffening sheets - The front and rear panels of the pouch have HDPE sheets to protect the unit from bumps and sharp objects. The sheets spread the impact over a wider area where thin foam might still allow damage to the unit. The sheets also prevent buttons from being pressed accidentally. The inside of the front panel is lined completely with loop velcro, which also provides some padding.
Molle compatible - The GPS pouch has five rows of webbing on the back, allowing it to be used with both long and short Malice clips for vest or belt mounting.
Top antenna opening - For GPS units with a top antenna, the GPS pouch has overlapping elastic at the top that allows the antenna to protrude.
Retaining sleeve - The GPS pouch comes with a sleeve that is clear plastic on the front and has elastic straps on the sides to retain the GPS unit in the pouch and provide additional protection for the screen. The clear screen is 2.5" tall x 2.25" wide. There is hook velcro on the back of the sleeve, which secures to the loop velcro lining the inside front panel of the pouch. 60-series Garmins units 'nest' in the pouch quite securely without the sleeve, as the antenna sticks out of the pouch and retains it. The sleeve is elastic so it will fit a variety of units, but it may be a bit looser or tighter depending on the dimensions of the unit. It can be positioned anywhere in the pouch - near the top or the bottom. The clear sleeve will still allow touch-screens to function - it functions like a screen protector. I tested it with a Garmin Oregon and my cell phone screen and I was able to operate them without issues.
Full zipper opening/closure - The GPS pouch has a full length zipper that allows it to open completely. The zipper pulls can be shortened if desired.
Adjustable opening angle - The front panel opens out and down, and is designed to hold the GPS unit horizontally. The 550 cord that controls how much the front panel opens can be lengthened or shortened to vary the angle that the unit sits. The cord ends go through two small eyelets at the top of the pouch and the knot can be re-tied to lengthen or shorten the cord.
Shoulder strap mounting - The pouch can be mounted vertically on a pack shoulder strap via overlapping velcro straps at the top and bottom of the pouch.
1000D Cordura construction
Drainage grommet at the bottom
Applications - As mentioned above, the EMDOM/MM GPS Pouch can accommodate any unit that fits within its dimensions, as well as other electronic items. I found that my iPod and earbuds fit it, as did my compact digital camera. It will also fit smartphones. If the retaining sleeve isn't used or doesn't fit, a small bit of adhesive velcro on the back of an item will retain it in the pouch.
Using the pouch - The sleeve is first put over the GPS unit, then the unit placed in the pouch by pressing it against the front panel to engage the velcro securely. The GPS unit can be removed from the pouch any time with the sleeve installed. To use the unit, the zippers are opened and the front of the pouch swung down. All buttons and the screen are easily accessed as the 550 cords do not get in the way. Depending on where it's mounted, either or both hands can be used.
I have the GPS pouch mounted on an OSOE Micro Chest rig, which places it at a convenient height and position to operate the unit and see the screen on the move.
Update - We've had a lot of inquiries about whether the EMDOM GPS Pouch fits the larger Garmin Rino 655t model with dual antenna, and up until now, I wasn't sure. I was able to test fit a 655t dummy unit in the pouch, and while it's a snug fit, it definitely works. I'd recommend the large GPS below, for a more comfortable fit.
EMDOM-MM Large GPS Pouch
10/9/16 - By request, EMDOM USA has introduced a larger version of their GPS Pouch to fit larger GPS units like the Garmin Montana series. It is designed to allow the user to operate and use the GPS unit without having to remove it from the pouch. This reduces the possiblity of the GPS unit being dropped during extraction and replacement in conventional pouches. The design enables the user to glance down at the GPS unit 'on the go' without having to hold it in his hand. It also works well with smart phones.
Ever since EMDOM came out with the original GPS pouch, I had received requests to build a larger version to fit the Montana series (or any other unit with similar dimensions). It took a while, but here it is. Like the original GPS pouch, I had the same goals for the larger version: molle and shoulder-strap compatible, relatively streamlined; and sized to hold just the GPS unit without accessories. The challenge with the Montana vs the Rino is the larger screen. Holding it securely in the pouch without blocking access to the screen was a challenge, but we came up with a way that works well.
The clamshell design holds the GPS unit inside the front portion of the pouch, which opens out and down so the GPS unit can be operated horizontally. All buttons can be accessed from either side and the GPS unit can be removed quickly if need be. When the GPS unit is mounted on a vest or shoulder strap of a pack, the pouch can be left open with the unit on, leaving the hands free.
Key Features of the EMDOM/MM Large GPS Pouch:
Dimensions - External max dimensions of the EMDOM/MM Large GPS pouch are approximately 6" tall x 3.5" wide x 1.8" deep. It's internal dimensions are sized to fit the Garmin Montana series, which measures 5.7" tall x 2.9" wide x 1.4" deep. While similar in dimensions to the original GPS pouch shown above, the main difference is in the depth, and the Montana was just a bit too big to stuff in the original pouch. The large pouch will also fit any other GPS unit or item that fits within those dimensions. It will also hold the Oregon and Colorado series of GPS units, and any other smaller ones, plus cameras, phones, two-way radios etc. The pouch takes up two columns and three rows of PALS.
Front and rear panel stiffening sheets - The front and rear panels of the pouch have HDPE sheets to protect the unit from bumps and sharp objects. The sheets spread the impact over a wider area where thin foam might still allow damage to the unit. The sheets also prevent buttons from being pressed accidentally. The inside of the front panel has a thin layer of EVA foam padding, and is also lined completely with loop velcro, which provides additional padding. The front of the pouch has a velcro field, creating two loops for pens etc.
Molle compatible - The GPS pouch has five rows of webbing on the back, allowing it to be used with both long and short Malice clips for vest or belt mounting.
Shoulder strap mounting - The pouch can be mounted vertically on a pack shoulder strap via overlapping velcro straps at the top and bottom of the pouch.
Drainage grommet at the bottom - The large GPS pouch has a hole at the bottom for water drainage.
Top antenna opening - For GPS units with a top antenna like the Rino illustrated below, the large GPS pouch has overlapping elastic at the top that allows the antenna to protrude. You can also route headphone or power cables through the opening.
Retention panel - The large GPS pouch has a retention panel that secures the unit into the pouch. It has a velcro-backed cordura panel and two clear plastic straps with velcro one-wrap on the ends that allow it to be adjusted and configured different ways. The clear plastic straps are only 0.5" wide and don't hide any part of the screen. The clear plastic is touch-screen compatible and you can select and swipe through the clear plastic should it cover part of a smart phone screen.
Full zipper opening/closure - The large GPS pouch has a full length zipper that allows it to open completely. The zipper pulls are 550 cord.
Adjustable opening angle - The front clamshell panel opens out and down, and is designed to hold the GPS unit horizontally. The 550 cord that controls how much the front panel opens can be lengthened or shortened to vary the angle that the unit sits. The cord ends go through two small holes in the velcro one-wrap at the top of the pouch and the knot can be re-tied to lengthen or shorten the cord.
Original vs. large GPS pouches - I've illustrated the original and large EMDOM/MM GPS pouches below. The difference seems subtle, but the large one actually has substantially more volume, and is better suited to units with thicker (deeper) battery packs. The Blackberry classic shown below measures 5.2" x 3" and nests nicely inside the front panel, but phones up to about 5.5" x 3" can be accommodated. Center-mounted on a chest rig allows quick typing with both thumbs.
Applications - As mentioned above, the EMDOM/MM Large GPS Pouch can accommodate any GP unit that fits within its internal dimensions, as well as other electronic items like cameras and smart phones. If the retaining sleeve isn't used or doesn't fit, a small patch of adhesive velcro on the back of an item will retain it in the pouch.
The Large GPS Pouch is constructed of 1000D Cordura nylon and is available in Black, Coyoteish, MultiCam, SDU Grey and Sewer Green. Custom colours available - visit the EMDOM page for more details. Weight is 4 oz. Thanks also to Garmin for providing the dummy unit for sizing and illustrating purposes.
3/24/08 - Back in June of '07, I got a heads up from Justin at Down East Inc, of a Marine Corps solicitation for their ILBE pouches. One of these was for a 30-round M16/M4 Speed Reload pouch. The product developed by Down East Inc and marketed primarily by ITW Military Products was the FASTmag. However, I didn't like it that much as I felt that it was too wide and bulky. I voiced my concerns, and Justin told me that they were already working on a revised product that addressed those issues. I decided not to do a writeup on the Gen 1 FASTmag and instead wait for the improved version. Fast forward a few months, and the Gen 2 FASTmag was debuted around the time of the '08 SHOT Show in February. The Gen 2 FASTmag is indeed a great improvement over the first version, and worth the wait.
Some of the desired objectives by the ILBE Speed Reload Pouch solicitation were:
As far as I can tell, the FASTmag meets all those requirements. There are also the Universal Physical Performance Characteristics (maintenance, durability, operating temps, environment etc), but I have no information about whether the FASTmag has met them.
As mentioned above, the FASTmag is not meant to replace all the ammo pouches on a rig - but to provide the fastest first or second reload possible. It retains mags without lids, flaps or covers. The FASTmag is a lightweight pouch consisting of two molded high-impact polymer clamshell halves. These are permanently attached together at the bottom by the rivets/snaps. When the two halves are pushed apart, the plastic flexes at the bottom, providing tension, which pushes the halves back together. This tension is what retains the magazine in the pouch. A rubber band also provides additional tension; this rubber band can be placed at any of three positions on the pouch. The higher it's placed, the more tension it provides. Rubber pads (traction strips) are overmolded on the inside of the two halves in the center, which contact the magazine inside the pouch, retaining it with friction. A shock cord 'jump strap', or lanyard, can be pulled over the end of the magazine for additional security, especially when using the pouch upside down. It can be stowed around the bottom of the pouch when not in use.
The rear half has two 'ears', or tabs, which are inserted under PALS/MOLLE webbing to retain the top. Two straps weave through the PALS and snap at the bottom of the pouch to secure the FASTmag to any MOLLE rig. It can be mounted up or down for a normal draw, or to draw the mag from the bottom. The tabs are canted 10° to tip the mag slightly outwards from the body, something the Gen1 FASTmag did not do. A tabless version is also available for belt mounting. A drain hole is molded into the bottom of the FASTmag.
The Gen 1 FASTmag was actually 3 columns of PALS wide, which prevented mounting two side by side on 4 columns. The Gen 2 FASTmag fits just fine on two columns of PALS, and as you can see, I had no problems mounting 3 in a row on a plate carrier.
The FASTmag is designed to fit USGI 30-round magazines, but will also accomodate HK mags, Pmags and the Lancer mags I have. When extracting the magazine, a slight twisting motion is supposed to be used. This forces the two halves apart, and also allows the magazine to reduce contact with the rubber traction strips. Magazines can be extracted without twisting, but require a bit more force. I found inserting and extracting the mags to be quicker than any other pouch I've tried - the 10° forward cant greatly helps in getting your hand on the mag. I dislike nylon pouches with kydex inserts as they tend to be very bulky, but I understand the desire/need for open-top pouches without flaps. The FASTmag has a lower profile than most of these pouches, which I've also found to be very tight and did not work with all mags. While the FASTmag isn't modular (you cannot stack it or mount additional pouches to the front), I much prefer it to the nylon-covered kydex pouches. I think the FASTmag will do very well as primary mag pouches whenever only two or three reloads are needed on a low profile rig, or to suppliment a heavier/full loadout as the first or second reload pouches when ease of access and speed are the paramount factor.
It has come to my attention that ITW
FASTmags are being counterfeited/ripped off overseas. Do NOT buy these
cheaply made, low quality products made of junk material, nor support
these companies copying U.S. designed products. Theft of intellectual
property is a crime and buying rip-off products is a slap in the face
to the designers and companies who work hard to develop these products.
7/5/09 - ITW Military Products has introduced the Gen 3 version of their FASTmag. It now comes in two versions - a MOLLE version and a belt-mounted version. What's interesting is that the Belt version can be attached/stacked onto the front of the MOLLE version, creating a double FASTmag pouch for added capacity over the Gen 2 version.
Some of the improvements/changes over the Gen 2 version featured in the previous writeup (above) are:
The Gen 3 FASTmag operates in the same way as the Gen 2 FASTmag. It is not meant to replace all the ammo pouches on a rig (although this can be done if desired) - but to provide the fastest first or second reload possible. It retains mags without lids, flaps or covers. The FASTmag is a lightweight pouch consisting of two molded high-impact polymer clamshell halves. These are permanently attached together at the bottom by a rivet which also functions as a drainage grommet. When the two halves are pushed apart, the plastic flexes at the bottom, providing tension, which pushes the halves back together. This tension is what retains the magazine in the pouch. A rubber band also provides additional tension; this rubber band can be placed at a high or low position on the pouch. The higher it's placed, the more tension it provides. A rubber pad (traction strip) is overmolded on the inside of the rear plate, which contacts the magazine inside the pouch, retaining it with friction.
The Gen 3 FASTmag is easier to attach to MOLLE webbing than the Gen 2. I always had a hard time making sure that the sewn-on webbing strap lay flat - the excess tab where it was sewn always seemed to sit wrong and add some bulk. The new polymer straps are lower profile and just as secure. Stacking the FASTmags wasn't as bulky as I thought they would be. They don't stick out much more than another double mag pouch. It's nice to have the added capacity without having to take up another column of PALS webbing on a rig. I've shown the double-stacked FASTmags attached to the front of a Crye CAGE chassis, giving me two quick-access mags which I'll replenish from the other pouches.
Like the Gen 2 FASTmag, the Gen 3 is designed to fit USGI 30-round magazines, but will also accomodate HK mags, Pmags and the Lancer mags I have. The TangoDown ARC mags will also fit, but not sit all the way down. Note that the civilian ARC mag without the rubber seal and ridge will fit, but the military version won't.
Description - The FASTmag flap is designed for the tabbed (molle-compatible) version of the ITW Gen 3 FASTmag. It will not work with Gen 1 or Gen 2 FASTmags. The flap comes in two pieces; the flap portion and the front portion. The flap portion has velcro on it, a pull tab and two metal triglides attached to elastic loops. The front portion has malice clips, loop velcro which interfaces with the flap, and two PALS rows for attaching pouches. It can be used with the FASTmag right side up or inverted.
Setup and usage - The flap attaches to the tabbed FASTmag by inserting the triglides through the top tab holes. The flap is then secured when the FASTmag is attached to PALS webbing. The front portion attaches to the front of the FASTmag by the malice clips. The FASTmag flap was designed to be used with USGI 30-round magazines, so any mags that are longer might not work well with it. Pmags are too long. The elastic has some 'give', and I had to use that stretch to ensure that the velcro in front overlapped enough to be secure with my USGI mag and ranger plate on the bottom.
It's possible to attach the flap to the belt version of the FASTmag, which doesn't have the tabs on top, by sliding the straps on the back of the FASTmag through the triglides as shown below. However, it doesn't work well with 30-round mags as the attach point of the flap is now lower than before, and shortens it. It can be used with 20-round mags though.
The FASTmag flap also folds in half, on itself, and can be tucked away behind the mag for immediate access. Inserting a mag is now a two-handed job, just like most flapped mag pouches, instead of just being able to insert it into the FASTmag. I found the FASTmag flap to work the same as other mag pouch flaps, and secure as long as USGI mags were used. I'd like to see CP Gear work on a version optimized for the front FASTmag or just a simple camo cover without flap.
1/28/06 - This is the Eagle Industries Universal Chest Rig, SKD MOLLE version, from SKD Tactical. The UCR is an SKD-exclusive version of Eagle's CR-PHUTV (Chest Rig, Paul Howe Universal Tactical Vest). The CR-PHUTV has been in high demand since it was introduced in early 2005, due to it's simplicity, great value, and versatility. It was designed by Paul Howe (a very well-respected veteran of the Army Special Forces). The original CR-PHUTV had two MBITR radio pouches on each end, but SKD Tactical had Eagle remove these, and replace them with two columns of PALS instead, to allow attachment of any MOLLE-compatible pouch that fits in that space. This further increases the versatility of this rig, as the MBITR pouches were sized rather specifically.
The main body of the UCR is basically a panel 21.5" wide x 7" tall. On the front are 4 open-top rifle mag pouches, with four pistol mag pouches piggy-backed on the front of the middle two. On each end of the panel are the SKD-mod; 2 columns X 4 rows of PALS. On the back of the panel is a trapezoidal-shaped mesh pocket for storing flat items. It has no closure. The panel is actually made of two layers cordura, and is 'hollow' inside, to form an internal storage compartment. This compartment is accessed through the velcro opening between the shoulder strap take-off points, and has a couple of tabs to assist in opening. The compartment has grommets on the back for drainage.
The shoulder straps are padded, and attach to the body with 1-1/4" buckles in front, and 1" buckles at the sides. A dual-adjustable 1" waist belt completes the strap system. All plastic hardware is from National Molding but is cross-compatible with ITW Fastex hardware.
On the front of the rig are four pistol mag pouches, with two flaps that cover two at a time. These will fit most pistol mags out there, but the flaps are a bit short. The flaps are perfect for Glock 19 mags (for which the rig was designed for), but the velcro will have only about 1/2" of engagement on longer mags. The G17 mag seems to be the limit for engagement of the velcro with about 3/8" of engagement. Two single stack .45 mags will fit in each pouch, for a total of 8. If Eagle extended the flaps by 1" and made them separate, that'd be my personal preference.
The four rifle mag pouches are sized for two M4 30-round mags each, but will also fit one AK or FAL mag. Each pouch has 1" elastic for retention, while the two outer pouches also have an adjustable 1" strap for added retention. Other than that, the pouches are open-top and have no lids. They're quick to access and seem to be secure enough. The AK mag is shown bullets down in the pouch, but it is more prone to the mag catch tang snagging than with the bullets up. The two end pouches will also fit a handgun, if you choose to carry one there. I was able to fit my Kimber Warrior with light in there.
I have a short torso, so I tend to wear a chest rig high, or else it'll interfere with any belt rig I'm wearing. I also have trouble wearing a pack with most rigs as they interfere with the use of a hip/waist belt, but the UCR is probably the most pack-compatible rig I currently have. It's a very stable platform, with no slippage or shifting of the load whatsoever, when adjusted properly. The shoulder strap adjustments are like all others I've seen - they tighten by pulling up and back. Hence they have to be pre-adjusted before you put the UCR on, which isn't difficult or awkward at all. The waist strap can be adjusted on the go if needed. Removing the rig is accomplished simply by unbuckling one end of the waist belt, and lifting it over your head. I haven't found a need to unbuckle the shoulder straps too at the front yet, although that would be the fastest way of ditching it.
This rig was designed to be worn alone, over body armour, in a vehicle, with a pack etc. Shown below is the rig worn with a Kifaru Express. I'm able to utilize the hip belt of the Express with the UCR - something I have trouble doing with most other rigs. The UCR shoulder straps are low profile enough for the pack straps to sit on top of, but definitely more comfortable than 'seatbelt' webbing alone. I think they're a very good combination, and would recommend this rig for use with a pack if you're looking for one with minimal interference. Also shown is the rig worn with a Crye armoured belt rig.
SKD Tactical has added more versatility to the already versatile CR-PHUTV with the MOLLE modification. I'd have to put this rig at the top of my list of recommendations for sheer value. Even though it'll work well for experienced and 'beginning' shooters alike, it also makes a great 'starter rig' for someone new to the gear/tactical carbine world. In general, I've noticed, most people start out by needing carbine mag pouches and some pistol pouches, which the UCR offers already built in. Try building a modular rig with equivalent capacity for under $90. You'll be hard-pressed to do it, and also match the quality of Eagle Industries.
8/06/06 - This is more of a suppliment than a full writeup to the Eagle Industries Universal Chest Rig, SKD MOLLE version, shown above. SKD Tactical is offering an all-molle version of the UCR platform. It's not a standard Eagle offering, but exclusive to SKD. The molle version shares the same 12.5" x 7" panel and shoulders straps as the UCR and has the same internal compartment in the center and mesh pocket in the rear (refer to the writeup above for details). The only difference is that it has no sewn-on pockets, but a PALS grid of 14 channels x 4 rows so the user can configure the chest rig with his own pouches. It's a simple, low-profile platform that isn't too bulky to be worn over body armour. I've shown it below with the Esstac Toaster pouch and EMDOM 6o4 pistol mag pouch.
Esstac Double M4 "Toaster" mag pouch -
Just when I thought that there wasn't anything really new that could
be done in M4 rifle mag pouch design, the double
M4 "Toaster" pouch made by Essential Tactical and carried
by SKD comes out. The Toaster is a pouch that holds two M4 30 round
mags. What makes this pouch unique is that the front magazine will
'pop up' like a piece of toast when the lid is lifted up. Inside the
pouch is an ingeniously designed elastic suspension system, which
serves two purposes - to provide elastic retention for the inner magazine,
and to pop the front mag up. The first 1.5" elastic strap loop
is sewn to the rear of the pouch, and retains the inner magazine securely.
The second elastic strap is sewn vertically to the first elastic strap
and to the inside front of the pouch, leaving some space at the bottom.
When the outer magazine is inserted, it stretches the front strap
as it's pushed to the bottom of the pouch. The lid is closed while
pushing the magazine down. When the lid is opened, the front mag pops
up about 1.5" higher than the inner mag, making it easier to
grab and extract as it puts more of the mag body in your hand.
2/21/09 - The idea of a small, lightweight 'micro' rig isn't a new one. There may be times when there is no need or time to don a full rig (or space to store it), and all that's needed is a few magazines or essential items. The old Biafran Mile Run pouch comes to mind, as does the SORD MFF reviewed below.
The solution has come in various forms; small bags, bandoleers, small chest rigs etc. Original SOE Gear now offers their take on the small, lightweight rig in the form of their Micro Rigs. Originally designed as bandoleers for a quick grab and go, the Micro Rigs can also be worn as mini-chest rigs for a more stable platform.
Description - There are two models: the AK/M4 Micro Rig, and the PALS Micro Rig. 1.5" wide webbing is used for the shoulder straps which are connected to the platform with side-release buckles at the top and side corners of the platform. A 1" wide waist strap is attached, also with side-release buckles. The platform/panel also forms a full sized internal pocket with velcro closure. Two tabs at the top aid in pulling the opening apart. Inside the pocket is a 12" wide strip of 3" loop velcro for attaching optional organizers or velcro-backed pouches.
AK/M4 Micro Rig - The AK/M4 Micro rig has two mag pouches sewn on the left side with adjustable lids. Each pouch will hold 2 M4 mags, PMags, or AK mags. The lids are secured with velcro, and the openings of the pouches are stiffened so they don't collapse completely. To the right of the mag pouches is a utility pocket measuring 6 x 6 x 2 inches. A blowout kit of IFAK will fit in the utility pouch. The utility pocket flap also has 3 ” wide loop velcro inside to attach (optional) organizers. The lid is secured with velcro. The AK/M4 Micro rig also has a tubular webbing grab handle which the PALS rig doesn't.
PALS Micro Rig - The PALS Micro Rig is 7” tall by 13” wide and has 8 columns by 3 rows of colour-matched PALS. Other than the lack of pouches, everything else is the same as the M4/AK Micro rig.
Both rigs are constructed of 1000D Cordura nylon with OSOE's typical overbuilt construction.
Setup and usage - Both Micro Rigs can be worn as either a mini-chest rig, or over the shoulder as a bandoleer by removing one shoulder strap. I found the 1.5" shoulder straps to be very easy to adjust by sliding the triglides up and down. Releasing the rig is as simple as undoing the waist strap and lifting it over your head, or unclicking one of the shoulder straps.
The M4/AK Micro Rig is optimized for right handers, as the rifle mag pouches are located on the left side. Worn as a bandoleer (shown in the two right photos below), however, worked well for me as a left hander. For bandoleer configuration, I just removed one of the shoulder straps. It goes on and off quickly. When worn as as chest rig or bandoleer, I found it important to ensure that the waist strap was snug, to prevent the whole rig being pulled up when extracting mags, and also to prevent shifting of the load when on the move. Worn properly, the Micro Rig is very stable.
The Micro Rigs have a lot of uses - as an active shooter response kit, minimal range gear setup, or worn with a pack etc. The PALS Rig will actually accomodate four double mag pouches, so it's possible to load it up with 8 mags. That's a bit much for the unpadded shoulder straps, in my opinion, but OSOE offers padded shoulder straps if you need them.
Note: Some customers contacted me in the past concerning issues with backordered items from OSOE. OSOE is not taking individual orders anymore and is directing customers to purchase from their network of dealers. To avoid any delays in orders, it's a good idea to verify with the dealer that items are in stock.
Another item from OSOE is a camera strap made from tubular webbing for comfort. It attaches with two 550 cord loops on the ends. One side of the webbing is flat (non-tubular) and the end is pulled to shorten the strap. The ladder lock is pulled up to lengthen the strap. The flat webbing must be separated from the tubular side in order to thread it through the 550 cord loop. It is then routed back through the ladder loc, where it will not slip out by accident. I installed the strap on my Nikon D80 SLR, and found the tubular webbing very comfortable around my neck and didn't find it too heavy for the 1" wide webbing.
1/29/06 - This is the Military Free Fall rig (MFF) from SORD Australia (Special Operations Research and Development). SORD carries a variety of miltiary and tactical equipment, and also manufactures products of their own design. The MFF is one of SORD's own products, and it's designed as specialized rig for anyone who may not have the room for a full-sized vest or chest rig, or requires little or no interference with webbing, harness or packs. Designed for free fall parachutists, drivers, climbers etc, the MFF only covers the front of the chest, out of the way of most other equipment with the minimum of bulk.
The single trapezoidal panel has 3 rows of PALS webbing on it. The upper corners are angled off, which restricts the column of PALS on either side to two rows of PALS. The center portion has 6 columns x 3 rows of PALS webbing. The panel is lightly padded and retains its shape. The shoulder straps are 2" wide, and are constructed of 2" wide webbing with 1" webbing sewn on top. This makes for a very low profile, flat strap, which is more than adequate for a rig this size. The shoulder straps connect to the front via 1" SR fastex buckles and ladder locks at the sides of the panel. A 1" waist strap is attached and adjusted to the panel with ladder locks. It was spec'd this way for parachuting, to prodive more security than an SR buckle. Both the shoulder and waist straps are long enough to wear the MFF over body armour. Construction, quality and materials are very good.
As you can see from the photos below, it's an extremely compact rig. It just covers the chest area, and it's nice and stable. I loaded it up with a BH STRIKE double M4 pouch, a SOTECH small utility pouch and a Maxpedition flashlight pouch. I could have added another pistol mag pouch on the PALS next to the M4 pouch but didn't need to. Just like the Eagle UCR reviewed above, the MFF interfaces nicely with a pack. Even better actually, due to its compact size. The photos below illustrate how there is absolutely no interference whatsoever with a pack, and the low profile shoulder straps are almost unnoticeable under the pack's straps.
The pics below show it worn over a Crye belt rig, and the same pouches attached as in the previous photos. I'm carrying two FAL mags instead of M4 mags, since that's what I'm shooting. Wearing it, I'm reminded of Eagle's Biafran Mile Run rig, which was a minimalist chest pouch designed to carry only a couple of essential items, only it was smaller and wasn't modular. The MFF might suit the same purpose as well, with greater versatility. The only change I made to the MFF was to replace one of the waist strap ladder locks with a SR buckle, to make donning and doffing easier. (SORD tells me that they had already planned to implement this in their updated model)
The MFF is about as small/low profile a chest rig as you can get, and still be practical. Depending on what pouches you install, its carrying capacity might surprise you. Besides its intended military users, I also think it's perfect for the backcountry hiker or hunter to carry ammunition or essentials within reach and quick access when wearing a pack. It'd also make a good platform for field photographers with the right pouches.
Here's another example - shown below with the EMDOM USA Wide 3" pouch (found on this page) - this might give you medics and SAR guys some ideas. Just by chance, I also found that I could flip this rig around and wear it backwards like a little small-of-the-back pack with NO adjustment of the shoulder straps.
PARACLETE R.A.C.K. (Ranger Assault Carrying Kit)
As far as the story goes, the R.A.C.K. in its first incarnation was originally made by Tactical Tailor for 2/75 with sewn down pockets. When the entire Regiment wanted it, Natick stepped in, added PALS and had SDS (Specialty Defense Systems) produce it for the U.S Army Rangers. Blackhawk also makes their version, as does Paraclete, as shown here. Thanks to J.S. for the loan of this item for pics. Since I have neither the BH or SDS versions on hand, I can't compare them to this product. The main panel has 3 rows of PALS webbing and 20 channels/columns. The bib (which can be folded out of the way) has 3 rows and 6 channels. The bib is held up by two tabs of webbing which go through D-rings on the shoulder straps. On the inside, the main body has 3 mesh pockets for maps or small/flat items and the bib has 1, with velcro tab closures.
The quality is the usual high standard of Paraclete with all high-stress points bartacked. At first, I had reservations about the comfort of the shoulder straps as they are only 1.5" wide and unpadded. However, donning the vest and loading it up proved to be more comfortable than I thought. Quite a pleasant surprise, actually. It's quite form fitting, just like the BH STRIKE chest harness. The shoulder straps are a bit difficult to adjust as you have to pull up and back. You can pre-set the length of the straps, but have to get used to taking it on and off. The advantage to the thin straps are that they do not affect the wearing of a ruck at all. The shoulder straps are connected to the front of the main body via side-release fastex buckles, in case the rig needs to be ditched or taken off quickly. The bib attachments will have to be released first, of course. The setup shown here consists of the following Paraclete pouches: 1 quad pistol mag, 4 double M4, 1 radio, 1 small GP and 2 flashbang pouches.
PARACLETE RAV (RELEASABLE ASSAULT
VEST) ASSAULTER KIT
As the name implies, this vest released via a 'rip cord' handle for emergency doffing. It's covered in PALS webbing and will hold soft and hard armour plates. The assaulter kit comes with a zillion pouches and pockets. The smoke green colour is REALLY nice. Don't write me about it - this one isn't mine.
PARACLETE RAV (RELEASABLE ASSAULT
VEST) - DESERT
This is the 3-colour desert version of the RAV. This thing has almost too MUCH PALS webbing, making it tempting to fill every available space with a pouch. This vest is designed for mounted patrols or door kicking, not long range jungle walks or mountain climbs. Too friggin' heavy, bulky and hot (with plates and ballistic panels). Some of the key features of the RAV include:
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