‘Minute Man’ Load Carrying Harness: An old favorite with some modern twist Part #2

At the previous part,i had talked about the general idea behind this set-up and i had discussed about the belt,the Y suspenders and the padded sleeve.In this part i will explain the type of the pouches and some gear essentials that i carry on my harness.

The ammo pouches i choose to carry are two MOLLE M60 woodland camo pouches,made for Specialty Defense(SDS).These are military issued and are designed to hold 100rounds of linked ammo for the M60/M240 machine guns.The great thing with these pouches is that they can accept four M16 30 rounds magazines each or three M14/FAL 20 rounds magazines each.Also they can accept at least 25-30 shotgun rounds each,although the rounds will be noisy while you are moving;but in case you are wearing the harness and are on the move something went really bad…As you can see these pouches can cover the ammo needs for the rifles,in case a call to arms and for my shotgun in case of a SHTF situation.

Starting to discuss the pouches from left to right side of the belt; there is first a small OD green pouch that can accept  a pistol mag or a folding knife or a multitool or a flashlight or even a tourniquet.Personally,i keep a flashlight but if i had to join the military again i would put a pistol magazine there.Next,is the woodland camo ammo pouch and next is my trauma kit pouch.This pouch is a Tactical Tailor 1V utility pouch and it contains a pair of EMT shears,latex gloves,a 4” Israeli bandage,couple adhessive tapes and gauzes and antibiotics pills.(I also keep a packet of Celox but it got expired and i have to replace it)

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Contents of the first aid kit

After the small first aid pouch is a Maxpedition small rollypolly OD green dump pouch.I can use this pouch to throw my empty mags in or to carry some extra shotgun shells.Right next to it is my Escape and Evade pouch;it’s an Eagle Industries MOLLE horizontal utility pouch.The folding dump pouch,the E&E pouch and the canteen pouch

This pouch contains my survival kit, 50ft of 550 paracord,a SOL emergency blanket,the belt extender,a small pouch with an extra metal clip and a camo paint for the face.In case of an emergency i can drop all the harness,take off that pouch and try to survive.The main goal is to never leave my harness no matter what…I can drop the backpack but never the harness and the long gun.

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Contents of the E&E pouch

Next to the E&E pouch is a water canteen pouch in woodland camo,made from Safariland and is also military issued.I have a 1qt water canteen and a stainless steel cup at the main compartment and at the small pouch i keep CRKT Eat’n’ tool.After the canteen pouch is the second M60 pouch.

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The right side;woodland camo ammo pouch and same camo canteen pouch
Water Canteen,Stainless Steel cup and Eat 'n' tool
The water canteen,the stainless cup and the Eat ‘n’ tool

When i am wearing the belt there are two small spaces left on each side,one before the first aid kit and the other between the canteen pouch and the ammo pouch.These are left on purpose in case i had to wear a drop leg holster for the pistol on the right side and place my knife at the left side or just to put my knife on my right side(my strong side).I have one last small pouch,also made from Eagle Industries, attached on the left shoulder strap and it carries a small SOG folding knife.This folding knife closed makes a great strap cutter.I used to carry the knife that way and when i was serving,especially during parachute jumps.The place there is very convinient and easily accessable in case something goes wrong…

SOG knife at the shoulder strap sheath
SOG folding knife and the knife sheath

When i was serving,i used to run the harness with the usual ALICE ammo pouches,a butt pack and a usual water canteen pouch.After i finished my military days,i upgraded the pouches with the new MOLLE style pouches,since MOLLE was starting to spread fast and i think that the harness still have many days to serve me well.I  want to get me a chest rig sometime but i will never leave this harness of duty!Don’t forget that many companies in our days offer MOLLE padded belts and suspenders,which is the upgrade of the old style LC belt and padded sleeve.

In the current time where MOLLE platforms have taken over the field,old trusty gear can be found for less money and with couple budget friendly upgrades you can have a very good system for your long gun and for any case.

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‘Minute Man’ Load Carrying Harness-An old favorite with some modern twist PART #1

In a previous article i had reviewed my personal survival kit which is part of my battle gear.This means that the survival kit stays at the belt all the time,until the need arises and i have to use it.

When i was serving i was a big gear-holic!(still am,but since my budget are limited,i try not to spend much;that doesn’t mean though that i don’t try to learn what new gear is out and what can offer).I had three different types of load bearing equipment but all had the same configuration in mind,five different types of boots,couple knives,backpacks and other stuff….I used to own an Eagle Industries Air Rescue vest,an Arktis NL-rig and an ALICE belt,harness and few pouches.After i finished my service and due to the bad financial situation i am facing the last years,i had to sold most of my gear to cover basic needs.But,since i’m still considering as reservist(all Greek male population considered reserved military personel until the age of 65) i had to keep some things,in case of a draft and also because i am  preparing for  emergency situations.I had sold the two vests but i kept all the ALICE gear that i had and i also bought couple new pouches for my rig.I really like ALICE equipment(and the concept in general)for couple reasons;it’s very affordable,still can be found in large quantity,it has very good construction quality,it’s light and offers awesome ventilation,so it’s perfect for hot weather and long range patrols.During the hot summers,it was my preferable gear and for eight years had served me well.Drawbacks are the limitation of the things that you can load and that you cannot combined it with a large pack.The waist belt of the pack will interfere with the LC belt causing problem;you had to remove pouches from the belt which is no good,during an operation.If you choose a smaller pack,like a medium ALICE pack(without the frame,though) or a modern  3-day pack,you will not have any problems.

I had set up the configuration of the harness with two things in mind;that the gear should served military rifles and my shotgun.Legal firearms you can own here are shotguns and under specific circumstances handguns.Shotguns are wide spread,cheap and the process to get one is very simple .On the other handguns have  way more restrictions;to own one you must prove that your life is in danger(forget it,only rich people can go that way)and you need to carry one or be a member at a shooting club,no permit to carry though;the trick with the club is that you must participate in certain number of matches every year to keep the ownership license of your handgun,otherwise you will loose it.This is expensive and not many can afford the fees for the matches and the ammunition you had to provide during them.I used to be a member of an IPSC shooting club when my finacials were better but after i moved in the countryside and without a stable job,i had stopped that hobby for saving reasons.Luckily, i hadn’t prurchased a handgun by that time,i needed two more matches to be eligible to apply for a permittion to buy one handgun,otherwise it would have been confiscated now…The military rifles that are in service are the M16 and M4 family,FN FALs and HK G3.The first two(the M16 and the M4 are the standard issue since 2000,limited number of FALs are kept for the reservists) are used by my fellow Raiders,Marines and Spec-Ops Units and the third is the basic rifle of the rest armed forces.So,the gear should have the ability to accomodate magazines and ammunition for these type of guns and other essentials like first aid kit pouch,water canteen pouch and other items that i will explain them during this article series.

The belt i am using is a simple LC-2 belt with the black quick release button;i also have a belt extender in case i had to wear body armor so i can wear the harness over it.Adding the green padded sleeve from Eagle Industries make this belt very comfortable to wear,even for long period of time.The padded sleeve isn’t something new;English soldiers used to add such sleeves to their belts,so the system is already tested and proven.Keep in mind that many companies nowdays offer padded MOLLE  belts(aka war belts),even the issued US Army FLC vest comes with such a belt.It’s simple the modernization of this system.

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The padded sleeve on the belt

The straps are ‘Y’ shaped,padded,similar to the issued ones;the particulars i use, are made by Eagle Industries and have some unique features that you will not find to the issued ones.First off,the straps are shorter than the surplus ones.Also,they have a sternum strap that helps when the harness is fully loaded,distribute the weight better and also makes the shoulders straps more stable;it works just like a sternum strap on a pack.There is a loop at the sternum strap for the hoose of the water bladder.The shoulder straps have two web loops to attach gear instead of the one that the issued straps have.Also at the end of the retantion straps there are retaining bands.

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The Y suspenders;notice the two web loops on the shoulder strap and the sternum strap.

The common features between the issued and my suspenders are the retaining snap hooks at the end of the starps,the two wire loops at the shoulder straps(one on each side) and of course the adjustment procedure is the same with both systems.

Continued in PART #2….In the second part of the article,i will analyse the pouches and what i carry in them…

Shotgun Vest;A Good Way to Carry Your Shells

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.

REAR AND MEDIC POUCH

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 .

POUCH 2

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.

POUCHES 3

 

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.

LINKS:

Hellenic Arms Company

https://hellenic-arms.gr/EN/index_en.html

https://hellenic-arms.gr/eshop/tactical-vest-molle.html