The Afghan Exit: A Veteran’s Perspective on How America’s Departure from Afghanistan Will Be Worse Than Vietnam

As I write this, the United States is currently on the fourth day of emergency evacuations for all U.S. citizens, Afghan employees, and anyone else fearing Taliban rule since the terror group […]

Review Posted: SOTR-Lite: Keep the Lungs Clear In Any Environment

objective, the air quality can often contain high concentrates of lead, carbon, chemicals, and other particulates. Without proper precautions, these can prove harmful if inhaled and a tactical respirator like the SOTR from Ops-Core can prove an invaluable resource.

Review Posted: HEL-STAR 4 EXO: See Through the Darkness

Identifying Friend or Foe is critical on the objective, or in low-light/no-light training. The use of tactical light emitters, like the HEL-STAR 4 EXO from CORE Survival, provide for clear identification on the end-user’s helmet, protective gear, or a K9 harness.

Body Armor For The Laymen: Part 1

Body Armor For The Laymen: Everything You Wanted to Know About PPE But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Body Armor For The Laymen: Everything You Wanted to Know About PPE But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Body Armor For The Laymen: Everything You Wanted to Know About PPE But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Review Posted: DA Warhawk Modular Gunbelt System: Lighter and Smoother

With its improved design and features, the Warhawk Modular Gun Belt by Direct Action offers end users the ability to integrate a variety of pouches and accessories on a solid, two-part foundation. 

Review Posted: Pelican Dayventure Tumbler: For the Everyday Drink

Introduced in 2020, the Dayventure Tumbler by Pelican is part of the company’s new drinkware line as Pelican further expands its line of products. 

Review Posted: Pelican Travel Bottle: Quench Your Thirst

Introduced in 2017, the Travel Bottle by Pelican is part of the company’s ongoing drinkware line as Pelican expands its line of products beyond hard cases. 

Review Posted: DA Spitfire: A Lightweight Modular Foundation

Introduced in 2016, the Spitfire Plate Carrier by European-based Direct Action is the predecessor to the Mk II released several years later. 

Review Posted: iM3220 Long Case: Strength & Protection

The Storm series of hard cases is well known for its strength and updated features. As such, the iM3220 by Pelican makes an ideal protective case for long rifles and other equipment. 

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Grey Man Tactical Armor Panels: Hangers for Hard Use Professionals

Similar to its other Rigid MOLLE Panel Series, Grey Man Tactical has further expanded its line of rigid panel inserts to include a Tough Hook configuration for plate carriers, and headrest mount for ballistic helmets.

Made from the same blended material as other Rigid MOLLE Panels (RMPs); the Tough Hook configuration is simply the hook mounted on a 15.25” (L) x 25” (H) RMP Heavy Duty panel, the same panel as other Grey Man Tactical other vehicle configurations. For the purpose of utility, the hanger hook has been cut off allowing the user to utilize the carrying handle in its place.

The RMP Heavy Duty panel itself uses a single sheet of black, 0.188” (3/16 inch) Glass Reinforced Polymer (GRP) that gives it added strength and rigidity when mounted. It has 0.25″ (1/4 inch) holes around its outer edge that can facilitate use of paracord, shock cord, Chicago bolts, or other types of mounting screws.

The Tough Hook itself is mounted to the top of the RMP using a custom spacer and hardware from Grey Man Tactical, one designed specifically to fit inside the MOLLE slots and leverage the RMP for overall support. The hook is rated for a load weight of up to 150 pounds and will keep the plate carrier up off the vehicle’s floorboard and within immediate access.

Product Link: https://greymantactical.com/collections/vehiclermp/products/toughhookkit-platecarrier.

Similar to the other RMP configurations and material, the Helmet Rack Kit (HRK) enables for secure mounting of ballistic lids or bump helmets.

The HRK is an 8 x 6 RMP with a multi-buckle design, that straps to the back of a vehicle headrest. It includes an angled aluminum bracket that anchors to the center of the HRK and has sufficient profile to let the helmet rest flat against the headrest.

Product Link: https://greymantactical.com/collections/vehiclermp/products/rmphelmetrackkit

The RMP Tough Hook Plate Carrier is available with a hanger in Black (featured), Tan, and Grey, while the Helmet Rack Kit is only available in Black (featured).

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): The RMP w/Tough Hook ($169), and the Helmet Kit ($100) both reflect the material and design used by Grey Man Tactical throughout much of its line. Prices vary based on dimension, with larger panels obviously incurring a higher cost. But both these kits include all the necessitating hardware to mount the panels to the vehicle car seat. Grey Man Tactical continues to be the leader in vehicle mounting accessory MOLLE panels. Market alternatives would be 5.11’s Vehicle HEXGrid panel ($44.99) or EOD Gear’s MOLLE Seat Back Panel ($49.97). But in both cases the market alternatives lack the rigidity and size to appropriately mount any substantial gear aside from small pouches or accessories. For those with a need to have plate carriers in a professional capacity, the RMP w/Tough Hook and the Helmet Kit are priced at a good cost to the consumer for the function and durability gained.
  • Comfort – Average (3/5): Once assembled, the RMP w/Tough Hook and the Helmet Kit had no notable pull on the back of the car seat or headrest, nor did they become dislodged during transport. Some minor pinching of seat material was observed as the combined weight of the plate carrier and other items rested on the RMP and pulled on the mounting straps, but this is to be expected. One observed aspect for improvement to Grey Man Tactical would be to consider a larger aluminum spacer block between the RMP and the Tough Hook (or offer different sized spaced based on plate carrier dimension). While attaching plate carriers with standard wide-spaced shoulder straps, the straps slid easily over the hanger and into place. But when using plate carriers with a narrower/shorter shoulder strap design (such as shooter or swimmer cut plate carriers) it was very tight and difficult to get the narrower straps around and over the hook with a smaller space. A larger spacer would give more maneuverability for narrower plate carriers. The alternative would be a hanger design that is more angular, such as the first rendition of the Tough Hook.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): As with the other Grey Man Tactical RMP series of MOLLE panels, the principle material stemmed from an HDPE material that was blended with a Glass Rigid Polymer (GMP) for added strength and rigidity. This ensured that there was minimal sagging from the panel once mounted to the car seat, and bearing the combined weight of the carrier regardless of how angled the seat was. The MOLLE grid itself and the associated anchoring plates made for solid anchoring with no excess movement. It should be noted to users that prolonged direct exposure to UV light (sunlight) will have a detrimental impact to the polymer over time, making the material brittle—this is common to almost all known strains of polymer. The Helmet Kit likewise was made from just the HDPE material, and the aluminum hook still held the weight of a ballistic helmet with no bending or warping.
  • Functionality – Average (3/5): Functionally, the RMP w/Tough Hook and the Helmet Kit were both easily installed with little difficulty. Likewise, the supporting hardware for the Tough Hook and helmet bracket were easily installed and fully supported the necessary items while allowing for immediate access. While the RMP w/Tough Hook did come with two ring-type mounting straps; those only worked with car seats with removable headrests. The alternative was to use a single strap that went around the base posts of fixed-type headrests. Functionally and aesthetically the rings were more appealing, giving the support straps a straight line to the RMP and a cleaner appearance, whereas a single strap had to bend and fold around—and left a good amount of excess that had to be folded away. The solution and recommendation to Grey Man Tactical is an easy one: Rather than a fixed ring-type mounting hardware consider switching to a carabiner or clip-style ring that allows the user to clip the posts of removable and fixed style headrests. Elsewhere, users need to be aware that the aluminum helmet hook did not have any type of rubberized/polymer cap or ball, so the hard edge of the metal rested directly on the interior padding/lining of the helmet. Again, this would be a recommended area of improvement for Grey Man Tactical to address so as to not only add stability when the helmet is mounted, but to protect the interior liner material or padding.
  • Weight – Good (4/5): The RMP w/Tough Hook and all its hardware came in at 62 ounces, and the Helmet Kit with all hardware was just 8 ounces. This meant both were very lightweight (without body armor) and added very little to the overall weight of the car seat while unloaded. With the weight of a fully loaded plate carrier and helmet, the steel frame of the car seat provided ample support to the RMPs and its overall weight. In contrast, 5.11’s Vehicle HEXGrid panel (8.8 ounces) or EOD Gear’s MOLLE Seat Back Panel (12.8 ounces). While these alternatives were lighter, they were both intended in design and material only to carry the weight of small accessory pouches and would never support a plate carrier or helmet. This gave the RMP w/Tough Hook and the Helmet Kit a very good weight ratio for its strength and function.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://greymantactical.com

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

BFG – Vickers Combat Applications Sling: The Original

Establishing itself in 2009 as a benchmark in rifle slings, the Vickers Sling brings forward a design fostered out of years in personal application, and use in the field by armed forces. Developed by former Delta member Larry Vickers, and in conjunction with Blue Force Gear, the Vickers Sling allows for rapid adjustment to customize its overall length and weapon retention.

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Made from a thick, 1.25” wide, Invista solution-dyed Cordura webbing, the Vickers Sling has “triglides” on both ends that allow the sling to be attached to M4/A2-style swivel sling loops, or on QD loop hardware.

The Vickers Sling uses TEX 90 bonded nylon thread throughout for its maximum durability against moisture rot and tensile strength.

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At the front is a patented “Quick Adjuster” buckle with off-set colored pull tab for easy visual recognition.

All associated hardware on the Vickers Sling is made from either DuPont Nylon, anodized aluminum, or is made from phosphate steel for maximum strength.

Specifications:

  • Minimum Length: 54” (with the adjuster slide tightened)
  • Maximum Length: 64” fully extended

The Vickers Sling comes in 13 different colors to include: OD Green (featured), Multicam, ATACs, Kyrptek, Wolf Gray and many more. In addition, Blue Force Gear offers a padded variant to the Vickers Sling, as well as customized hardware to fit specific needs.

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Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostFair (2/5): At $49.95 the Vickers Sling really set the standard for adjustable two-point slings. Over time a lot of companies have attempted to mimic its design, specifically the adjustor buckles, but few have still had the success of the original. Market slings comparable to the Vickers include; the Operators Two Point Sling ($35.99) by First Spear, the Simple Sling ($29.00-$42.00) by Snake Eater Tactical, or the MS3 Gen2 ($47.45) by Magpul. Yet the Vickers Sling is in the higher price range (and perhaps the oldest) of slings on the market, so its cost is most likely directly attributed the volume of material involved (see Weight below) to name recognition.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): Very thick, the Vickers Sling moved easily and manipulated between the carry/slung position to a combat ready position quickly. The adjuster buckle slid easily over the Cordura webbing and did not bind. The offset color of the pull tab made it easy to find the adjustor buckle. The sling itself was very comfortable because the material did not cut into exposed skin. The thickness of the sling itself however, also made it heavier than newer slings on the market and effected the overall score.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Given the Vickers Sling was made from dominantly Cordura and quality hardware, the sling held up to continual adjustment and did not fray. The hardware did not involve overly complicated or spring-loaded points, which often pose the potential for failure, and thus the Vickers Sling effectively embraced tactical minimalism.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally, it’s hard to get too complicated on a sling. And the Vickers Sling embraced that simplicity, all while offering a functional and efficient adjustment design that made it easy to go from sling to deployment in a second. Attaching it to either A2-style sling points or on QD hardware was easy, and multiple M4 or other carbine-style stocks have considered cuts or points for mounting slings in various configurations for maximum comfort. Other vendors have attempted to mimic the design, but again the original remains a consumer favorite.
  • Weight Fair (2/5): At 117 grams (or roughly 4.2 ounces) the Vickers Sling was notably heavier than most of the aforementioned alternatives, predominantly due to the material’s thickness. That weight increased markedly if the sling became wet with sweat or water. In comparison, most of the alternative slings measured roughly 3.3 ounces with its associated hardware because their nylon was thinner and of a tighter weave.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

Product Link: https://www.blueforcegear.com/vickers-sling

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

T3 Gear Padded Helmet Case: Keeping the Lid Protected

Often storage of your helmet is one of the last things considered when packing away your lid. But when you consider the cost of the helmet, hearing protection, and night vision—the dollar amount represented in such a small number of items can get exponential pretty quick. Enter the Padded Helmet Case by T3 Gear that can be used independently or in conjunction with the Gen 3 Kit Bag or other similar gear storage containers.

Introduced in August 2021, the Padded Helmet Case (PHC) is a structured 14” (L) x 10” (W) x 7” (H) equipment bag made from 500D Cordura fabric, and completely padded on all sides.

Exterior

On the exterior of the PHC, the bag has a minimalist structured that is rectangular in design, with a flip-top lid secured by a dual-shuttle oversized zipper. All sides of the PHC are sleek and free of features to avoid accidentally snagging the PHC on gear while being stored, or transported.

At the top, the PHC is designed to be stored vertically and has  1.5” wide dual nylon carrying handles (one anchored into the lid and the other anchored into base) that are folded at the top for grip.

Interior

The interior of the PHC is accessed via oversized zipper (with dual paracord pull-tab shuttles) and opens along three sides to allow for the flip-top to open completely flat. On the innermost side of the flip-top lid is a 13” long, zippered secured cable or small accessory pouch made from nylon mesh. Elsewhere on the lid’s interior is a 13.5” x 6” field of hook-and-loop (female) fabric for attaching various morale, unit, or identification patches.

On the bottom of the PHB’s main storage area is an adjustable two-point strap with slide-release buckle for securing a helmet to the bag.

On the left and right side of the interior are hook-and-loop (female) fields to attaching helmet accessories or other items using similar hook-and-loop (male) attachments.

At the rear of the PHB is a second 13” long, zipper secured accessory pouch made from nylon mesh for the end-user’s larger accessories.

The Padded Helmet Case is available in Multicam (featured), Coyote, and Black.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Excellent (5/5): With its list price of $97.95, the PHC is comprised of fully-padded Cordura nylon and YKK zipper to give a robust and minimalist helmet bag to protect high-dollar lids, night vision, and other accessories during transport. In contrast, other market alternatives for helmet bags include the Helmet Bag ($199.00) by Otte Gear, the Helmet Hut ($178.10) by First Spear, or the Combat Helmet Bag ($149.99) by Hard Headed Veterans. All these alternatives are above the cost of the PHC, however are larger than the PHC to allot for storage for night vision in the same bag. Yet for its size and functionality of the PHC, this puts it at an excellent price point amid the market and for its design as a dedicated helmet bag.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the PHC (empty) was of a good light weight (empty) design and didn’t include excess frills or bulk on the exterior that otherwise made the bag off-balance or unwieldy. The placement of the dual nylon carrying handles at the top of the PHC were wide enough in material, and anchored to the sides. This allowed for the PHC be sturdy enough to allow the case to slide easily in/out of storage cases from a vertical position, but there was no corresponding front handle for those who would prefer to store the case horizontally (perhaps having a smaller overall kit storage case). Either relocating the handle of having a collapsible one on the opposing side of the main nylon handles would be a recommendation for T3 to consider improving in later versions of its helmet bag. The zipper shuttles, though not YKK branded, were over-sized and moved smoothly and around corners without any hang-ups.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The durability of the PHC lent itself to T3 Gear’s choice of using 500D Cordura nylon as the principle material throughout the entire bag. This material choice is common amid the tactical market, and gave the PHC itself an appropriate (or average) level of abrasion resistance against gear or other hard-edge items that were otherwise thrown into the storage container with it. The paracord pull-tabs ensured a smooth pull on the dual shuttles and that the zipper line itself wasn’t over-strained. There was extensive bartack, X-pattern, and double-line stitching noted throughout the bag at all stress points along the zipper, anchoring the carrying handles, and securing the internal pockets/hook-and-loop.
  • Functionality – Average (3/5): Functionally, the PHC did a good job of doing as intended, meaning it was an 360-degree padded bag that was dedicated to holding a helmet safely and securely. The two-point cinch strap did an good job at securing a Large TW EXFIL helmet to the base of the interior; but with securing a rounded item, a three-point strap would have further added to that stability while the helmet was inside the case. Perhaps one notable aspect of the PHC end-users should be aware of is in the overall design of the featureless exterior, and how the wedge-type opening presents the contents readily for the end-user. Without any type of external que (hook-and-loop panel, identification card sleeve, etc.), there was no way to visually and easily recognize when picking up the PHC (stored vertically or horizontally) as to which end is the top or bottom. Likewise, when opening zipper-enclosures, we generally do so with the zipper closest to the eye to visually follow the zipper around and with the opening immediately there. However, to properly open the PHC and fold out the wedge with the smallest portion forward and larger (with the helmet) in the rear, the zipper has to be facing away from the eye with the PHC opening from back-to-front. This is a little off-setting and could be considered a point of recommended improvement for T3 at a later time.
  • Weight – Average (3/5): Weighing in at 19 ounces (empty), the PHC did well to keep its weight to a minimal level while still keeping all sides padded to provide maximum soft-case protection. As noted above, this gave the bag a slim and minimalist profile that was neither off-balance nor unwieldy as it was transported to/from the range. Alternatively, other market options like the Helmet Bag (18.8 ounces) by Otte Gear, the Helmet Hut (31 ounces) by First Spear, or the Combat Helmet Bag (16 ounces) by Hard Headed Veterans demonstrate that the PHC is appropriately (or of average) for its weight and design amid the market of alternatives available.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.t3gear.com/t3-gear-padded-helmet-case/

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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