One of the questions that follows the purchase of a shotgun and especially a fighting shotgun, since in my part of world it is the only available firearm, is usually how to carry the shot shells. Well, one option is the traditional bandoleers and shot shells pouches and the other is the practical/tactical way. This way converts chest rigs and pouches made for carrying magazines for assault rifles, like AK-47,AR-15,M16/M4 and similar, to fit shell cards or round strippers. Another example is the pouches that holds linked ammo for the machineguns like M240 and M249, are perfect for keeping a great amount of shotgun shells, cause are big enough and the flap cover they are equipped with, prevents the shells of any accidental drop during your training or practice.
The biggest problem of all these options is the weight of the shotgun rounds. When you spend the rounds during practice, if you are wearing a chest rig, you have probably noticed that as the weight reducing, the rig ‘falls’ to the front. The weight distribution isn’t good. The result with the M60 ammo type pouches is the same; worse if you were these pouches on a belt.
The tactical gear manufacturers has enough options to offer; leg rigs holding 20 rounds (BLACKHAWK, SPECTER GEAR), different kinds of pouches that holds 6 -12 rounds (TACTICAL TAILOR, BDS TACTICAL and others), card shells and round strippers (Esstac , California Competition Work and more).All these type of equipment needs to be carried on a chest rig or MOLLE/PALLS vest or warrior type belt, which means extra cost for the owner. There are only couple companies that make rigs dedicated for shotgun users, SOE with the micro rig and Tactical Tailor with the TAC VEST 1C SHOTGUN (this vest is discontinued).
However I found the solution, with the help of a good friend of mine who runs a shop called Hellenic Arms Company; it is the Eagle Industries TAC-V1 –UTILITY Vest and I will try to review it. The vest is made of 1000 Denier nylon Cordura and has messed areas for body ventilation. There are six small straps, with Velcro and snap button at the bottom of the vest, in case you want to wear a belt, like LC-2 or duty belt, and want to connect it with the vest. The vest has 3 magazines pouches, 2 small chest pockets, 2 large utility pockets and a small pouch over the left shoulder for compass or personal field dressing. At the right shoulder there is a non –slippery surface made from black suede leather. The vest closes with heavy duty YKK zipper.The vest has an emergency carrying handle at the back and Velcro surfaces. Also there are two rows for adding extra gear using ALICE clips or MALICE clips and enough metal D- rings to hang items like chemical light sticks. As you can, also see I had added a small first aid kit at the back; it’s the H1 pouch from TACTICAL TAILOR. The vest comes in different sizes (medium, large, etc) but it’s adjustable; you use the three straps at each side, to make the adjustments for the desirable width and the shoulder straps to control the height. Before you buy one vest, make sure that you try it on, to find the correct size and then make the adjustments when you have load your gear on it.
Let’s take a look at the pouches of the vest and see what each one of them holds inside. At the right chest pouch there is a 5 rounds card holder with Velcro at its back surface, which holds 10 pellets 00buck shot. The small pouch at the left, under the compass pouch, is used for small items like ear plugs, binoculars, flashlight and extra batteries or other similar items. Outside, there is a Velcro area, which has a 5 rounds card holder on, with a combination of 3 slugs and two 9 pellets 00 buck shots.
At the right side of the vest, there are two large utility pouches; you can put 15 or 20 shells easily. I keep 15 rounds of 9 pellets 00 buck, I think it’s good amount of ammo and the weight is kept at a reasonable level. I also made a small modify at these pouches, for extra security, I sewn a small Velcro patch with some Kevlar fabric, to be sure that will last. I have found out, that when you carrying your shells in pouches like the above, is more easily and quicker to reload your shotgun; but that is only my humble opinion. I have tried it, fits me and works fine for me .
At the left side of the vest there are three magazines pouches. Each one of the three magazines pouches can hold 2 AR 30 rounds magazines or one 7,62×51 magazine, like the ones that used for M14, FAL, HK rifles and other similar caliber rifles; however I had discovered that they can hold a 6 round stripper in each. The two brown strippers holds 6 rounds each of 9 pellets 00 buck, while the black stripper holds 6 slugs. In conclusion the total amount of shells is: 30rounds at the large pouches+18 at the strippers (6 shells x 3 strippers) +10 at the Velcro holders=58 rounds. Enough ammunition for my 590 and different types of it, offered you the flexibility you want at the range or at patrol duty ; but the best part is that the weight distribution is all around the upper body; you don’t put pressure to your waist (the opposite happens, when you wear a heavy loaded belt without shoulder straps), and you eliminate the phenomenon of the ‘falling’ rig, while you spend your ammo down the range.
I think that using a vest, allow you to carry more ammo and not tired you up during the process. If you like, you can add and a belt, resulting more carrying capacity of ammo and gear. The vest has and two interiors pockets for maps and other papers and also at the back of the vest is sewn a pouch that accepts any 2lt or 3lt water bladders, like SOURCE or CAMELBAK. I know that as a design, it’s old, comparing with the modern MOLLE platforms but is a very good choice. The cost is also significant low, $150 was what I paid, when for a MOLLE rig you need $70 at least, plus $35-40 for each pouch; for example if you buy a chest rig for $70, two pouches for your ammo $40 each, a general purpose pouch for your small items $35 and a first aid pouch for another $35, you have spent $220, almost the double price; as you can see the cost rises. The ammo capacity is good enough and you have to remember that if you wear a web belt, you gain extra storage capacity. Also, because it has so many different types of pouches, it provides you the ability to carry different type of ammunition.
If you are looking for an effective, high quality made, heavy duty working vest at a reasonable price, and doesn’t mind the fact that it isn’t MOLLE, then you should consider the TAC-V1-UTILITY.
Hellenic Arms Company