First, a caveat: I'm a professional keyboard jockey civilian. I ended up with a respectable set of armor mostly by accident, and it's not something that I will ever need or use in normal day to day life. However, I am also one of those guys that can't own gear and NOT have a solid understanding of the proper use. The actual fit of my carrier and plates has already been set up per the guidelines in the armor forum, so I have that covered. What I am unsure of is what I should be looking at beyond that. Now, with that said...

I've got a set of body armor I want to get set up. Specifically, it's an older (non-releasable) Eagle carrier with external MOLLE, SAPI-type Level IV plates (front and rear) and sewn in IIIA soft armor. The only realistic use it might see is in a shoot house class, as a local facility runs the occasional force on force shoot house, and I am on the standing list of guys that might get asked to play OpFor.

In the past, I have trained and shot with either a basic holster and mag setup on a sturdy belt, or a low profile MOLLE belt setup for pistol and carbine. I would like to set up my armor in a usable configuration as a standalone setup, but I am not really sure where to start. What I know right now is that I do want the following:

1x or 2x AR mag, 1x pistol mag, 1x IFAK, and likely a way to carry a pistol. I have plenty of options already for mag pouches (Eagle, Limitless MC-R, and HSGI for carbine / HSGI, Armageddon Gear, and 5.11 for pistol) and a few different IFAK options (HSGI, mostly). I also have a GCode retention holster that can move from my MOLLE belt, and a Crye Gunclip. If there are better options for what I am looking for, I am also willing to invest a little cash into setting this up the right way.

I've already found that drawing an AR mag off a pouch is awkward, no matter how I mount them outside of an upside-down MC-R, but they don't seem to have enough retention to keep a loaded PMAG in place for long. I also have no clue how to mount a pistol in a useful orientation, at least not with what I have. My goal is to have a basic 'fighting loadout' (again, not in any expectation of needing it for real, but because I just want my gear to actually be set up in a usable way) on the carrier without resorting to adding a MOLLE belt under it. What are some of the best ways for orienting a basic loadout on a rig like this?

TL;DR: Setting up an armor system with just the basics for the first time, and have no clue WTF I am doing. Help!

Original Post
Gara posted:

Hi WP.  This is a great thread dating over a decade with a multitude of information in it.  Lot of "here is my gear" pictures followed by questions on the layouts and suggestions on improving.  It will be a good place to start.  

https://www.lightfighter.net/t...our-fighting-loadout

Honestly, I'd forgotten about the Stud Board, as all of my time here is really spent lurking in the PR and ballistics subforums, and occasional peeks in the primary and secondary areas. Thanks for pointing out the thread, as the photos are already giving me ideas. The only thing I still have concerns with is AR mags. My carrier rides pretty high on my torso, so trying to get mags clear of a pouch is a bit awkward. Is that something that just has to be overcome with practice, or is there some trick I am missing?

Please explain the awkwardness, or show a photo of your carbine mags issue.

I am also a poseur, but to this topic I specifically wear the LBE high, and never have issues with it. Even sitting in a vehicle, when it rides up more, I don't bump myself in the face with my mags when reloading, etc. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

shoobe01 posted:

Please explain the awkwardness, or show a photo of your carbine mags issue.

I am also a poseur, but to this topic I specifically wear the LBE high, and never have issues with it. Even sitting in a vehicle, when it rides up more, I don't bump myself in the face with my mags when reloading, etc. 

The awkwardness comes from how much I feel like I have to bend my arm up and my wrist down to grab the magazine and extract it from the pouch. I'm used to loading off belt mounted pouches where I can 'beer can' the mag easily for a reload. Loading from the armor requires a lot more mobility in my wrist than I actually have, at least when I try to pull mags from the front. I'm not sure if I should be running mags more towards the sides like I see in some photos from the stud board, or if I need shorter mag carriers so I don't have to get my wrist to bend as much or pull the mags as high to get them out - or both.

Ah. I do mostly run short mag carriers, ten-speeds most often, so it doesn't take much vertical movement to clear, and I can pull forward before I clear the pouch even. I can — now that you mention it — imagine that full coverage pouches on the front could be a bit awkward. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

shoobe01 posted:

Ah. I do mostly run short mag carriers, ten-speeds most often, so it doesn't take much vertical movement to clear, and I can pull forward before I clear the pouch even. I can — now that you mention it — imagine that full coverage pouches on the front could be a bit awkward. 

Yeah, and I have some mobility issues with my wrists anyway. I might have to cannibalize a TACO from somewhere (I have a few of them) and try that on the front. The shock cord on them might let me get them far enough forward during extraction to help with my wrist angle. The MC-R seemed like an ideal solution when run upside down, but I don't quite trust the retention on them.

As you've read here, mission drives the gear.  Since you don't have a specific mission such as medic, breacher, or hazardous device disposal, I think you might be somewhat at sea on this issue.

That said, if you can't do it, you can't do it.  If you cannot access a magazine or a Taser with appropriate certainty and speed, you are out of luck.  Your options are repositioning or changing the pouches or improving/increasing your training.  If you're like many of us on LF, you may never find a perfect solution because perfection does not exist in a world of conflict.  Needs and technology also change and close-to-perfection today may be jacked up tomorrow.

In the blue world (law enforcement, not Navy), I carried AR magazines either on a plate carrier mounted fairly high for a vertical draw or fairly low in a sling bandoleer or bag.  If you find draw from up high difficult and/or painful, you might need to go another direction.

I changed my gear about a million times over my little storied career and suspect I will again if I find a better retirement gig than the rattle watch.  If high mount on the chest isn't doab;e. go for a sling bag or belt mount for AR magazines and put something else such as an IFAK up top (assuming you can access it).

Holy shit, thank you for existing.  Gear setup in the civilian world is a dying discipline and far too few understand the reasoning behind their setups.  You're on the right path.

It would be really helpful if you could get up a picture of the vest and your current setup.  It sounds like an MBAV or SPC to me, but the use of "armor carrier" suggests that it's RBAV-cut, so I don't know.

If the question is "where to start", the answer is "your intended use".  You can't set up your carrier in a way that makes sense for your purposes until you identify what your purposes are.  For a civilian, that generally means personal preparedness, from home defense, to security after a localized disaster, to civil unrest and rioting in your area, to full-on collapse and having to fight to defend self, family, and community.

I'm a strong proponent of plate carriers being rifle-centric.  If you have an RBAV or CIRAS or something big that precludes the use of a belt, I get it.  With that in mind, though, placement of pistol stuff will be secondary to rifle stuff.  The best place to mount magazines is on the front flap, no contest.  It's there that they are most easily and comfortably accessed, with the minimum in contortion and the maximum in efficiency.  The cummerbund requires extreme wrist contortions or to reach really far (depending on which side), the rear is out for obvious reasons, and the top of the front platebag will have you shoving mags into your face.  Mags go on the front flap.  I can't think of any scenario where I would want soft armor and plates, and not want more than one extra mag.  Imo, three across the front should be your absolute minimum.  "Functional fighting loadout" and "one extra mag" are incompatible, at least given the threat suggested by the armor.

It sounds like you're trying to beercan the mags, which doesn't really work when drawing off the chest.  You need to index them (grasp top of magazine with hand, index finger running along the front, thumb kinda down the back.  Bullets should be facing your dominant hand, assuming you aren't cross-dominant.

Gear pictures can give you ideas, but you must understand YOUR needs, informed by your most likely real-world uses, in order to set up the vest well for your purposes.  Different people have different setups depending on their individual wants and needs, what is available, what's trending, what their fight is, and how well they understand the rationale behind their gear.  A grunt in Iraq in 2007 might have carried 12 mags, 4 frags, 2 smokes, a radio, big-ass ifak, and 3l of water on a CIRAS with full plate and soft armor coverage.  An assaulter in Afghanistan in 2013 might have carried 3 mags, a radio, a flashbang, 1.5l and a slimline ifak on a JPC with plates front and back.  An instagram range shooter might carry 3 mags and some admin shit in a micro chest rig and tell you it's "everything you need, and nothing you don't".

None of them are wrong for their uses (well, the range shooter is a dumbass, but that's another story), but they may be wrong for theirs.  Keep that and the evolution of equipment over time in mind when perusing loadout picture threads, old and new.

Oh, and for indexing mags, I meant "index finger running down the front, thumb kinda down the rear side".  Didn't catch it in time to edit.  Indexing doesn't require much bending of the wrist at all, nor does it force you to hold your elbow high (both things required to beercan off the chest).  If you try it out you'll see what I mean, it's pretty intuitive.  Your pinky, ring, and middle finger wrap around the top far side of the mag, with your palm around the baseplate (or maybe floating slightly above it).  Your index finger goes down the side of the mag if it can (inside or outside the pouch), or in the front, possibly moving to the side once the mag is out of the pouch, if it can't.  Your thumb wraps around the top rear side of the mag, allowing you to pinch it.

So.....couple thoughts.

I run a plate carrier daily for work.  I've tried over the years to replace my duty belt with different external vests and never found one that does it well.  So...that being said, do you really want try and run a pistol on your vest?  Just my thoughts....

1) a belt serves a specific purpose.  I have to run my pistol on one, and I prefer my reloads on the.  I also prefer my primary rifle reload to either come from my belt or my active shooter bag, which hangs in the same general area as my reload (830sih weak side.)  I don't have an issue with vest mounted mag pouches but I view them as administrative reloads to reload my speed reload my pouch (learned this gem on a Panteo vid.)

2) I found that depending on where my mags sit impacts which technique I use to draw them.  My belt rifle reload I prefer the "bullets back beer can" grip to reload while chest mounted pouches I find the "bullets forward" method works best.  This is something that you can practice with empty mags and an empty gun to get comfortable with and see what works for you.

Now, that being said, if you are 100% set on a one piece does it all kit:

1. I really liked the ATS triple/triple or something similar for my reloads.  It puts your rifle/pistol mags in the same basic position.  I lieu of that, make your rifle reloads your primary, so natural fall of your hand around the 11/12 o'clock

2. pistol reloads can be more offset, 10 or 9 o'clock since they are a secondary factor

3. the pistol......I carried a back-up gun around my 1 o'clock in a kydex holster stuck in a double M4 pouch.  it was slow but it was my third gun.  The popular way seem to be chest mounted semi-cross draw in an ALS holster.

4. IFAK:  small of the back flat ambidextrious access: SoTech VIPER, OSOE  IFAK, etc.  Center mount a CAT TQ upfront and you're set to go.

Just my zwei pfenings.

Post Car posted:

So.....couple thoughts.

I run a plate carrier daily for work.  I've tried over the years to replace my duty belt with different external vests and never found one that does it well.  So...that being said, do you really want try and run a pistol on your vest?  Just my thoughts....

1) a belt serves a specific purpose.  I have to run my pistol on one, and I prefer my reloads on the.  I also prefer my primary rifle reload to either come from my belt or my active shooter bag, which hangs in the same general area as my reload (830sih weak side.)  I don't have an issue with vest mounted mag pouches but I view them as administrative reloads to reload my speed reload my pouch (learned this gem on a Panteo vid.)

2) I found that depending on where my mags sit impacts which technique I use to draw them.  My belt rifle reload I prefer the "bullets back beer can" grip to reload while chest mounted pouches I find the "bullets forward" method works best.  This is something that you can practice with empty mags and an empty gun to get comfortable with and see what works for you.

Now, that being said, if you are 100% set on a one piece does it all kit:

1. I really liked the ATS triple/triple or something similar for my reloads.  It puts your rifle/pistol mags in the same basic position.  I lieu of that, make your rifle reloads your primary, so natural fall of your hand around the 11/12 o'clock

2. pistol reloads can be more offset, 10 or 9 o'clock since they are a secondary factor

3. the pistol......I carried a back-up gun around my 1 o'clock in a kydex holster stuck in a double M4 pouch.  it was slow but it was my third gun.  The popular way seem to be chest mounted semi-cross draw in an ALS holster.

4. IFAK:  small of the back flat ambidextrious access: SoTech VIPER, OSOE  IFAK, etc.  Center mount a CAT TQ upfront and you're set to go.

Just my zwei pfenings.

My belt rig isn't going anywhere. In fact, I have a second belt (current is a HSGI, but I have an Armageddon Gear Brokos belt) I need to fit out as a more basic/lightweight option. The idea of what I want with the vest is a (theoretical) 'oh shit' basic setup - something that I could put on and have the bare essentials on it without other gear - and add a belt under it if time/situation allows. The HSGI 'heavy' rig would probably be the one to go with that, and keep the Brokos for light training or if I decide to take a break from PR matches to shoot 2-gun.

quadrail posted:

Holy shit, thank you for existing.  Gear setup in the civilian world is a dying discipline and far too few understand the reasoning behind their setups.  You're on the right path.

It would be really helpful if you could get up a picture of the vest and your current setup.  It sounds like an MBAV or SPC to me, but the use of "armor carrier" suggests that it's RBAV-cut, so I don't know.

If the question is "where to start", the answer is "your intended use".  You can't set up your carrier in a way that makes sense for your purposes until you identify what your purposes are.  For a civilian, that generally means personal preparedness, from home defense, to security after a localized disaster, to civil unrest and rioting in your area, to full-on collapse and having to fight to defend self, family, and community.

I'm a strong proponent of plate carriers being rifle-centric.  If you have an RBAV or CIRAS or something big that precludes the use of a belt, I get it.  With that in mind, though, placement of pistol stuff will be secondary to rifle stuff.  The best place to mount magazines is on the front flap, no contest.  It's there that they are most easily and comfortably accessed, with the minimum in contortion and the maximum in efficiency.  The cummerbund requires extreme wrist contortions or to reach really far (depending on which side), the rear is out for obvious reasons, and the top of the front platebag will have you shoving mags into your face.  Mags go on the front flap.  I can't think of any scenario where I would want soft armor and plates, and not want more than one extra mag.  Imo, three across the front should be your absolute minimum.  "Functional fighting loadout" and "one extra mag" are incompatible, at least given the threat suggested by the armor.

It sounds like you're trying to beercan the mags, which doesn't really work when drawing off the chest.  You need to index them (grasp top of magazine with hand, index finger running along the front, thumb kinda down the back.  Bullets should be facing your dominant hand, assuming you aren't cross-dominant.

Gear pictures can give you ideas, but you must understand YOUR needs, informed by your most likely real-world uses, in order to set up the vest well for your purposes.  Different people have different setups depending on their individual wants and needs, what is available, what's trending, what their fight is, and how well they understand the rationale behind their gear.  A grunt in Iraq in 2007 might have carried 12 mags, 4 frags, 2 smokes, a radio, big-ass ifak, and 3l of water on a CIRAS with full plate and soft armor coverage.  An assaulter in Afghanistan in 2013 might have carried 3 mags, a radio, a flashbang, 1.5l and a slimline ifak on a JPC with plates front and back.  An instagram range shooter might carry 3 mags and some admin shit in a micro chest rig and tell you it's "everything you need, and nothing you don't".

None of them are wrong for their uses (well, the range shooter is a dumbass, but that's another story), but they may be wrong for theirs.  Keep that and the evolution of equipment over time in mind when perusing loadout picture threads, old and new.

I'll be honest, outside of that shoot house class scenario I outlined (and if I do one of those as OpFor, obviously my job is to get shot a LOT, and I would probably pull the plates for that), the only remotely plausible scenario I can think of would be a home defense situation where I had time to not only get my SBR out of the safe but also make it to the armor in the closet (I do live in prime hurricane country, but plan for anything over a Cat 2 is GTFO, so disaster scenarios are less of a concern). So, lets go ahead with the idea that this would be set up for HD with a Mk18-ish carbine. At this point, I'm tossing the idea of mounting a pistol to the vest in the trash, but I do want to have room for a single pistol reload. Here's a photo of the carrier in question, with me wearing it.

 

The single rifle mag is on there just to screw around with placement, but I can actually draw it from there fairly easily and without bending my wrist at all.

Yep, it's an MBAV.  Looks good.

I'd do two or three mags across the front in whatever pouches you have, as long as they're quick-access (kydex, elastic, or open-top), one or two mag pistol pouch on the front flap, weak-hand side, IFAK on the cbund (or front flap strong side if you have an two column one and only run two mags).

It seems weird now but I'm pretty sure the kangaroo pouch on the MBAV was meant to hold a pistol.  If you want to keep it on the vest you could put it there, I guess.  Maybe find an elastic velcro holster so it can lie flat when not in use?

Quick-access TQ somewhere if you want.  The BFG TQ NOW is a good option for your application but you can use bungee cord as well.  I'd put it on the cummerbund, as far forward as possible.

Generally agree with quad. My setups have changed drastically from 1996 to 2005 to 2006 to 2007, then again in the LE world 2014 to present. 

With your stated mission on that rig... double mag low center, one pistol mag either attached or left of it.  Small ifak on left side or low back. 

Pretty much how I have my current minimalist PC for work arranged, though I have more ammo.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So low speed, i'm in Park.

"I could stand to hear a little more.." Jayne

Training is brief. Death is forever. PAY ATTENTION.

Joined: 6/14/03 1:02 PM

I would say you need to really scrub this down to what works for you.  When I ran an AK for awhile, I had to sit down and really explore different ways of grabbing a reload, due to the length of the mag, and the fact that most AK pouches are full length, again due to the length and curvature of the mag.  So if you have issues with grabbing a reload, first, consider an extended capacity mag in the rifle, to possibly extend or eliminate the time to a reload.  Or a mag coupler/buttstock pouch, to have the reload on the rifle.  Then, starting from a 3-mag pouch, center mass, I'd look at something cut down, perhaps with a kydex insert.  Try different mag orientations until you find what works best for you.  And this is the key.   What everybody else is doing doesn't mean shit, if it doesn't work for you.  At one point, again with the AK's, I even turned the mags right-side up, with bullets pointing to the right (left-hand reload).  I beer-canned it, right out of the pouch and into the mag well.  Something like this might work in your situation, without a lot of high elbow, and wrist articulation.    Don't be afraid to experiment.  Another option, which might feel awkward at first, but requires minimum wrist articulation, is with bullets down and to the left (for left hand reload),  turn hand, palm out, thumb down, and beer can mag (works best with cut-down pouch).  Elbow has to come up on this one but at least wrist can be locked in place.  Reload as usual.  I would be looking for some kind of beer can grip, like you're used to, just modified to work out of center-mass position.  Again, kydex insert would be optimum for you because it gives you a little gap, or stand-off, between the mag and the carrier, for your hand to get on the mag, for a beer can grip.             

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

For cut down mag  pouches the Esstac kiwi comes  in a short configuration.  The only issue I’ve ever heard any noise on is because they’re as short as they are they may have a tendency to flop out away from your body. 

Mojo/Mark
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Yo homey, is that my briefcase...?
Vincent from "Collateral"
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You want the good life, you break your back, you snap your fingers, you snap your neck... Prong/Demon Hunter
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Because...I Can. 


Joined: 9/30/09
Location: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks)

Ok, here's what I have ended up with for now. Initial impressions are that it's quite workable, but I might tweak more over time. Looking down at my belt line with the armor on, here's the arrangement from left to right(Note: I'm right handed):

  • Armageddon Gear pistol mag pouch w/21rd Glock PMAG (on first row of cummerbund next to flap)
  • 2x MC-Rs set upright with 30rd PMAGs (First 4 rows from L to R on flap)
  • HSGI Blowout pouch with CAT attached to side with BFG TQ carrier (inside pouch is QC gauze, chest seal, 4" izzy, tape, and nitrile gloves)
  • On the right cummerbund is a velcro platform for a HSGI 5rd shotshell carrier - because I had them laying around, and the platform itself weighs nothing.
  • I also laced two chemlights through the webbing under my left armpit because I have a habit of sticking chemlights *everywhere*.

Playing with all of this has identified one other weakness - my sling. I have a Mk18-ish SBR (LMT 10.5" upper with DD RISII rail, AAC SDN6 can, T1 micro, STR stock, BCM primary and forward grips, Troy irons, Streamlight HLX, Geissele SD-E) that I have typically run with an Armageddon Gear single to two point convertible sling, but that sling just doesn't seem to play well with armor. Any suggestions for a better, armor-friendlier sling? Need QD swivels and ideally single to two point convertible.

Try Magpul.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So low speed, i'm in Park.

"I could stand to hear a little more.." Jayne

Training is brief. Death is forever. PAY ATTENTION.

Joined: 6/14/03 1:02 PM

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