All this is FWIW as it's just broke-dick poseur me:
I have used a lot of rigs. ALICE, the SDS RACK, commie chest rigs, belt lines. A few years ago, I took that info, sewed my own, and it had some fun features but it got worn out so at the beginning of 2016, I started looking to replace it. Had some wish list ideas, etc. but I stumbled across a MACHS (a Hellcat Mk2 with extra pouches) for a steal, hardly used at all. I thought it fit well, and still do, so snagged it and got it configured the way I like it, and have used it for a bit, happily.
Before I get to my main point: it’s not terrible for our discussion here. I quite like how it has (for example) wide, doubled, but unpadded shoulder straps. I’ve been rained on in it, and it's often 90-100% humidity down in the mossy hollows of MO and OK where we do our stuff, and it is fine there. Doesn't get uncomfortable or noticeably heavier from the rain. Hell of a lot better than many other rigs I have had. It IS old school bombproof tech, so is heavy, and has too many bits. I have since then updated to have tubes, and I think that makes it even nicer, by dropping about 6 oz of weight (that velcro/snap panel is a huge item) and making it stiffer. More on this in a minute.
But doing this means I also needed a 7.62 rig. Both M43 and x51. So, I bought a TT 2 piece MAV (and 10 speeds, etc). Fight Light series, thinking that it would be notably lighter and high tech. I wore it a bit, but the last time was to FOP3. Where I decided for real it was not what I wanted from it. Fundamentally, it was not stable. That stiffness I get out of the tubed Hellcat? That is what I mean. It buckled under some conditions, and that makes it not always comfy, and things are not always where I want them.
Also, not as light as I hoped for. Slightly lighter versions of the same old school construction methods. So on the way home I stopped at Brad’s and bugged him for a hell of a long time, trying on various things, mostly the Mayflower Jungle… bits. Didn’t put together a whole thing, but did try on the belt/harness setup.
Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s nice. So nice that to people who like ALICE and belt setups I suggest it, first off (before the price turns them off). But I have settled very well where I like to wear my rig (high) and know how belts work for me. They don’t much. The pouch bottoms stab me, and tilt, and snag on my ruck belt, and so on. I want a platform tall enough to mount the pouches TO, not hang them FROM. If that makes sense. But I liked the modern funny laminate materials.
(I did buy a PC from Brad, because man did everyone slick in those at FOP make my IBA seem bulky and silly. So, getting used to that now, and I was guilty for using all his time and going “nawww” to everything he offered.)
So when I got home I went looking. And being a cheapskate, was thrilled to find BFG apparently discontinuing some of their -Minus stuff (still have inventory on the Last Call page, FWIW). So, it’s like half price. That is totally me. So, got a SplitMinus and a few pouches. And over the past few weeks I have put together… this:
I can do a million photos instead, but this seemed to offer the chance to see every angle, but you tell me if not clear enough etc.
Yeah, it's not perfect yet, dammit. Just noticed the back straps need tightening, as I said you need friends around to help fit your stuff! For the record, it is (my left to right):
- 10-speed 7.62. Gray for some reason I cannot recall, but once assembled I hit it with some Rapco Khaki paint. Works great. Carries anything at all. Can dump them when transporting the rig, so I added elastic cord, simply woven through the back of the rig cutouts and molle webbing. Knotting at each tension needed, so no noise from cordlocs.
- Folding pouch from some UK pack. Roll top and velcro. Using it for pens, lightsticks, squinchers, etc.
- SAW pouch. Also UK issue. On my other rig I have SpecOps X6, and ideally I'll get some Helium Whisper SAW pouches but at $80 a pop, not eager to do that. Left one here has velcro sewn to the top to hold the patch indicating that it has a (home-sewn) IFAK pullout.
- Mayflower Jungle Buttpack (empty here and the straps stupidly hanging down) woven through the back 1" belt of the rig, and the D rings attach via the little velcro tab things to...
- ... a First Spear hydro pouch. Accidentally got the small one, but in the end, perfect as I get a little stowage below, and less weight in water above. A lot of times I wear an assault pack it's just to have backup bottled water and rain gear. Buttpack can handle those duties I think, lightening me up.
- Another SAW pouch, empty. This is my Mission Specific Stuff pouch. Day optics, LRF, thermal, batteries, food, small water bottles, gloves, etc. It varies, but is a great solution for that, been using for years. Where the idea of the SAW sized pullout came from.
- Bang pouch. I have none of those, but a few mini-smokes, and if those dry up will turn it into something else. Previously was on the shoulder so this is probably better use of the space.
- And back around to the matching 10-speed 7.62
Not visible is: Nothing. A big benefit of these is that there is no inside pockets, etc. I have never been able to use these properly. They are too small, only work with flat things, never have loops to keep pens and lightsticks upright, etc. So good riddance.
I also did mod it to have tubes. The laminate they are using is NOT hypalon, so hypalon or vinyl glue techniques do not work. The tubes are in vinyl (either Tempur door scraps or FMTV cargo bed scraps… I cannot recall which) I tried some good glues and techniques and it was meh. Holding, but not trustworthy. So ended up sewing, and it sews like gangbusters.
The cordura (?) finish layer is nice for glare and noise, but it does soak up water pretty good. There’s not much of it, so it doesn’t get super heavy, but if was doing jungle or maritime stuff full time, I’d give the whole rig a waterproofing soak (stupidly, I just spent the weekend doing that to a bunch of other stuff of mine, forgot to do this…)
The laminate is very shape-supporting. It doesn’t compress and fold up and squish like fabrics. Putting the repair tubes into the slots I glued/sewed was a bear. Very doesn’t work like fabric/webbing loops. Even more so, when you just wear it around; the SR-attached front was nothing to write home about, but with the tubes, the whole mountable panel is rock solid. The rig is now not hanging off me, but as I have always liked (and gotten my home-sewn ones to do especially) is practically bolted to me. Nothing wobbles, and everything is where I expect it to be every time I reach down.
Speaking of which, I was initially hesitant to order the split minus as I was sad about the end of the real estate. I thought: I want a tall belt so can use it all. But that’s not true. Laying stuff out I realized some simple geometry: If my diameter changes (and it does, clothes and armor…) then the rig has to change sizes. Where does it change? Well, for belts it’s the front. And that means your pouches move further away from the centerline when you get bigger.
So while I don’t have as much room around back for e.g. canteens, I do know where my pens, lightsticks, and magazines are all the time, no matter what I wear. Find the centerline, sweep out and there it is, where it always is. Do wish it had ONE more column around the back. Not sure I'd use it, but just to be more laminate instead of webbing bits, might be fun.
Only thing I do not love so far is the sides can twist while picking it up, and putting it on. I think maybe a 6 point system would make that not happen. And yeah, I am considering simply sewing something to add it on. When I see TRAJAN AURELIUS’s photo of the old school belt line, that extra strap looks… extra. Like I could just rig it in there to the shoulder strap ladders and go three columns back on the front/side panels. Seems to make sense, so, I might play with that soon here.
ETA: I weighed it of course. 13.34# with water, IFAK, all the other doodads (pens, strobe) and 4 mags.
The fully configured Hellcat, with only 4 mags (to be equivalent; it's a 6 mag rig) is just under 18#. Not a world of difference, but in general, I'll drop 4.6 # if I can.