During my time on active duty in the Army, I tried to make my kit better in every iteration. As I moved from different IBA (improved battle armor/Interceptor battle armor) setups to the plate carrier I was issued before going to Afghanistan, one thing always rustled my jimmies: I had to cut tie-downs, unbutton, unweave, reposition, rebutton, reweave, and then re-tie-down all of my pouches (and remove/replace the plates before and after, respectively) anytime I wanted to shuffle my setup around or add some new piece of gear. It was a long, annoying process that I went through hundreds of times. Some people would skip that process and just have various FLC (fighting load carrier) setups that they could just put on over their slick (no gear attached) armor-bearing vest. That always looked a little sloppy to me so I never did it, choosing to go the hard way.
We shooters are always trying to streamline our kit and make it more “high-speed”. This should be as true for civilian shooters as it is for military personnel. High-speed is a two-element state of being: efficiency (most important) and looking cool (probably just as important).
As I tried more types of shooting with different guns — competition, steel matches, hunting new creatures, skeet, run-and-gun classes — my need for modular gear became apparent.
To make my life easier (and to save money), I asked my guy (shoutout to Swan) who sold me my Mayflower APC for help with the problem. He guided me to a previously unknown world of geardo bliss that I now call home: online gear stores. He told me to search for something called a “chest rig”, get one that detaches from its straps, and get these little clips from Down Range Gear to secure it to a plate carrier.
With these instructions, I jumped in and bought my first chest rig.
WHAT: Haley Strategic D3CRX 5.56 chest rig and straps (so you can wear it). Comes in 6 colors (mine is Coyote Brown), weighs a pound, and costs $180.
There are a lot of competitors, but Haley’s dedication to making equipment based on feedback from down range really impressed me. I bought this 2 or 3 years ago and since then the competition has really expanded. Check some of them out:
–Spiritus Systems Micro Fight chest rig: 6-clip attachment, 9 colors, $70 for the rig and either $40 for the fat straps or $20 for the skinny ones. This is a very popular rig with Instagram dudes, I’ll have to try one out to see if it’s actually good.
–Condor Outdoor MCR3, MCR4, and MCR5 chest rigs: 6-clip attachment (please note that Condor used bigger clips than most other options on the market), 3 colors, $20, $25, and $35, respectively. These are made by Condor, so expect to get what you pay for. Some of their stuff is surprisingly durable, but I’m not sure you want to take the chance of your plate carrier/chest rig coming apart at the wrong time (is there a right time for that?). Low-cost, easy option, good. Good for extremely light duty.
–SKD Tactical PIG UCR (universal chest rig): weird 6-clip attachment (their clip is attached to the rig with a longboi strap for some reason), 2 colors, $124. A solid option, I borrowed one of these to use for a run-and-gun class once and it worked perfectly after proper adjustment.
-And the 10 offerings from Velocity Systems: 6-clip attachment, most come in 4-6 colors, $110-$275. I’m going to get one of these when I decide I need another kit. Velocity stuff is always reliable at great prices — and these are versatile layouts.
WHEN: When you’re ready to make your kit more high-speed. But really, when you need to change between loadouts quickly and have a simple solution for doing so.
WHERE: On the included X-strap, an H-strap, or on any plate carrier with sides and space for clips or straps to secure it. You can wear the rig on the straps for a low-pro solution under a jacket or you can wear it on a vest/plate carrier for more overt applications.
HOW: Try it on and fit it to yourself before your first use. It’s a one-size-fits-all-type thing and most people who aren’t over 350 pounds will fit. Tape up the slack or die. Wear it as high or low as is comfortable, just know that, like a bass guitar, the higher it’s slung, the cooler. Attaches to straps/plate carrier with a 6-clip setup: two on top and two on each side.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This will enable you to hot swap between loadouts like a pro instead of having to drag a spare FLC, LBV, or (oh jeez) another plate carrier around. If you need to carry more commo gear…switch to your commo loadout. If you need to carry more ammo…switch to your all-ammo loadout. It’s that simple. Just plan ahead and buy a couple different rigs, even if it’s just for a caliber swap (I have the 5.56 and 7.62 versions of the Haley rig). This will save you time and make you more efficient. Best of all, you’ll look cool.