Showing posts with label plate carrier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plate carrier. Show all posts

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Emergency Use Vs Longer Term Survival, System Compatability and Overall Gear Thoughts

Imagine if you will a continuum between the shortest term emergency we can think of (say an hour or two) all the way to a true Hatchet style long term survival situation.

Shorter term situations inherently lend themselves to carrying just the things we need.

Example, lets say I work 10 miles from home and am a pretty fit guy but not a marathon running champion (a reasonable description of me). Something happens, say a disaster in which a bridge a half mile from work goes down or is blocked. Thankfully this being Louisiana and not near the Mississippi it's not a huge water obstacle. Lets say it is the dry season so the water is shallow enough to walk but vehicles aren't getting through. There are no reasonable alternative routes so I'm walking home. Well what do I need? A comfortable set of seasonally appropriate clothes with a hat, good broken in boots, and a couple quarts of water. Some munchies to replace a meal or four would be nice. A weapon would be good as I just might need it for self protection. A flashlight in case it gets dark before I make it home. Really I do not NEED anything else for this scenario. I'll be home in under 3 hours hoofing it and that's if I can't hitch a ride with somebody.

On the other hand there is a breaking point where you simply cannot carry enough consumables to rely on them. One can't carry enough food to walk hundreds of miles or live for months as well as the other stuff they will need. I hesitate to say there is an exact breaking point but it is more of a gradual transition from consumables to tools and equipment to gather food, traps, fishing stuff, etc all. For example I do not carry trot lines, a cast net, 110 conifer traps, an ax and a cast iron frying pan all the time, though I would if I was going to the woods for a year.

On the low end I still like to be fairly tool heavy (as Dave Canterbury said). To me there are two primary reasons for this. First of all I like to keep a variety of capabilities all the time, cutting stuff, starting fires, carrying water, heating up water/ cooking, etc. The basic stuff to do this is within arms reach at work being a Power Point Ranger getting ready for some briefing. Second short term emergency situations can very easily turn into longer term ones. Situations start out bad then get worse. Lets say a violent conflict makes it so I cannot get back home and there are no good options in other population centers (Partisans in Central/ Eastern Europe during WWII come to mind) so I'm headed to the deepest darkest woods in the area. All of a sudden I need tools more than another box of granola bars.

Based on this my kits tend to include: a good fixed blade knife, some sort of container I could cook in, cordage, flint and steel (lighters too of course), some sort of shelter plan, etc. 

System compatibility is important. All your stuff needs to work together in it's intended pattern of use. This means your holster, fighting load (if applicable), ruck sack, etc all have to fit together. Carrying a handgun with modern type hiking backpacks that rely heavily on a big padded hip belt is difficult. Your options are to put the gun in a fanny pack, strap it to your pack's hip belt, put it in the pack or employ a chest rig/ hill people gear kit bag. A normal holster simply is not in the cards.

Honestly this is what led me to the current tiered system I am employing. I redid my fighting load into a war belt plus a plate carrier with (to be determined) pouches or the TAP. I have an assault pack/ get home bag as my level 2.5. It lives in my car but could be attached to the ALICE (which would suck a lot) or configured as needed based on the mission. Lastly is my Bug Out Bag.

Not saying the way I did it is the only way. There are a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat. What matters is that your gear is compatible with the stuff it is going to be used with. Testing it is really the way to figure out of it will in fact work together.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Body Armor: A Tale of Two Vests

Well my rifle plates finally arrived yesterday from Spectre. From  making the order to my doorstep took a day short of 7 weeks. The plates are covered in this thick foamy stuff which isn't a bad thing.

In the meantime I kinda stumbled into a nice set of soft body armor.

I was going to write a post about body armor but realized I have already done that. We will hit some new points and rehash the older ones.

Some folks folks argue that armor slows them down. Sure there are some situations where you are best off with a rifle, camelback, 2 spare mags and an IFAK but those are few and far between. Long fast movements with a very low probability of contact like say an old school foot messenger in a pretty safe area would be a good example. To put it into perspective a PC with a set of plates weighs about 20 pounds. Assuming you are of a healthy weight and in shape it is pretty doable for most situations.  Everyone makes different choices but there are few situations where I would choose not to wear armor.

It is true that body armor will not stop everything. It is not a magical talisman that prevents being shot in the pelvis, face or extremities. That being said it is the best compromise between protection and mobility for most scenarios.

A plate carrier with rifle plates is a good option for a rather crazy scenario. They probably would have sold really well during the LA Riots or Katrina. Max Velocity said something worthwhile on the subject "Overall, I feel that anytime I am going to be carrying my battle rifle, for whatever reason, I want to be wearing at least a plate carrier with load out to carry my first line ammo scales plus IFAK and ancillaries. I could be wearing that in the low profile way I described, or openly in a tactical way."

 Anyway here is the Shellback Banshee PC with plates. To put the cost issue into perspective I am into this PC and plates for somewhere between $450 and $475. Not cheap by any means but doable with a bit of planning or by selling a gun that has been collecting dust in the back of the safe.

I think the reason body armor gets no love from a lot of the survivalist community is that it isn't sexy. Folks have no problem spending 300-500 dollars on a gun. Heck some folks do not have a problem spending that much on accessories for a gun or even on a new knife.  A blog friend of mine who no joke has well over 50 grand in guns described body armor as "ruinously expensive". He would be infinitely better off selling a couple guns and getting a PC for every family member.

As shown it is currently wearing a Condor double Kangaroo pouch because the cost was less than half the price of a set of HSGI double taco's. This is set up for home defense. (Yeah my load out is 3x rifle and 3x pistol mags. If I can't handle the job with that it's not getting done.) Not shown are a pair of pants with a holster and an IFAK stuffed in the cargo pocket. It is easy to take off that pouch and I am still kinda fiddling with whether the mags are best suited on the PC or belt.

You aren't going to conceal a PC with a bunch of pouches on it though a slick one is relatively doable. Worn under a sweatshirt or wind breaker (obviously in appropriate weather) somebody would have to be looking for body armor to see it. Keeping your mags and such in a chest rig lets you go slick PC, only mags/ kit or both which are options that suit a lot of scenarios.

The soft armor's role to me is for a variety of more mundane scenarios. Stuff like buying/ selling things or otherwise carrying around large amounts of cash. Maybe a trip to a stop and rob to get a few things when the situation is a bit iffy. There are a variety of scenarios that fall short of running around with an M4 and a full OEF style load out but aren't quite normal either. A glock, soft armor and a couple 33rd Glock mags in the cargo pocket or murse would be about as ready as you can be and still look fairly normal/ fit into normal society.

A line I wrote that Commander Zero quoted is worthwhile in terms of where body armor falls in the grand priority list. "There is a time for everything. If somebody asked me whether they should get a couple hundred rounds of buckshot and pistol ammo for guns they have less than a hundred rounds for and put the remaining bucks into a currently empty pantry or get a plate carrier I would say food and bullets. On the other hand if they were looking at getting a 4th handgun/rifle/whatever or a new optic vs body armor I would say to get the armor for sure. That 4th handgun/ rifle could certainly be useful but a plate carrier could save your life.

Finally to close I will paraphrase John Mosby aka Mountain Guerilla “If you have 6 AR’s in the safe but not body armor and night vision you’re screwing your friends and buddies."
 
Where does body armor fit into your defensive setup?

Are you one of those guys we talked about with a safe full of guns but no body armor? If so why?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Project AR Upgrade, Class IV Body Armor, Washers N' Dryers and Dogs

Today was pretty busy. We had to do all manner of running around errand type stuff. It isn't a done deal yet but looks like we are getting a dog in the next few days. More to follow on this. Also we were able to pick up a washer and dryer. Bought them used at a pretty good price. Finding the place was an adventure. I spent an hour or so puttering around dirt roads out in the desert trying to find some little lane. Got them here and hooked up so we can wash clothes which will be really nice. Also it means we can get back to cloth diapering which will be good.

I ordered a set of ceramic level IV rifle plates to fill out my TAG Banshee plate carrier. Some thoughts on body armor are floating in my head but that can wait for another day.

Pulled the trigger on Project Upgrade AR. BCM 14.5" Mid Length with a pinned Battle Comp 1.5. Not 100% it was worth paying the extra for the comp but I haven't heard anything bad about them so it seemed like a good idea. Also got a BCM bolt carrier group, Gunfighter charging handle (the medium one) and Flat Earth Magpul hand guard with a BUIS to match. The Magpul hand guard and potentially the BUIS are relatively temporary until Phase II which will be a Rail and DBAL.

Today was a pretty good day in terms of life and preparedness. These days do not happen often. It is worth noting that it would not have been possible without a lot of saving and selling off a couple of guns. Selling things I do not use or need to fund the purchase of more useful stuff is something I am getting to like.

Speaking of which the M1 Garand seems to have a buyer. Nothing is 100% until it's over but this looks promising. I am pretty psyched about it. Think those funds will start filling in some holes like night sights and a surefire weapons light.

Anyway I am going to relax for a bit and enjoy Sons of Anarchy which is cool. Maybe it is just a nuance of programing here but the CBS show Vegas seems to have prudently moved to 9 o'clock.





Friday, August 10, 2012

Body Armor, To Buy Or Not And When To Use


The topic of body armor has come up again recently. I have talked a bit about it in the past. Anyway here we go, some of this will probably be new and some will be rehashed.The first question is if you should buy body armor. I would say that folks who think they might end up on the two way range some day would be well advised to acquire body armor. It saves lives and gives a useful advantage. It broadly comes in two types soft armor (like cops wear)  and rifle plates. Soft vests can sometimes be had pretty cheap. They will stop most pistol rounds and buckshot. It comes in class 2A, 2 and 3A. Each successively heavier type stops larger/ faster bullets but is also heavier and thicker. A lot of folks recommend class 2 as a good compromise. One of these might be handy if you have to make large cash transactions or otherwise function at increased risk in a normal non mad max world. Rifle plates are solid ceramics or steel plates that stop heavier/ faster rounds including most common rifle rounds up to the .308/30'06 range. They are relatively heavy, cumbersome and expensive. Then again they do stop rifle bullets. While a stripped plate carrier could theoretically be concealed under a coat or sweatshirt they are not something most folks would wear outside of a war zone or situation where a gunfight was likely. When to buy it is however a practical question. Once you have some basic weapons w/ ammo and ancillary stuff, some food and other gear it might be a good time to look at body armor. The subject of cost comes up here. My experiences as a consumer and brief google research show the following for prices. A soft vest will probably cost as much as a decent used revolver (around $300) and a plate carrier with rifle plates costs about as much as a mid shelf AK or lower end AR ($600ish or more). This is honestly something folks on really low budgets may have a hard time affording. I wouldn't fault somebody who was doing their best to slowly work through their families needs in a logical way and had to put off the purchase of body armor indefinitely.That being said if you have several nice pistols and a half dozen military pattern rifles but no body armor your priorities are skewed. I would recommend that you stop collecting guns. Delay the purchase of your next toy vital survivalist tool, consider maybe selling a safe queen and get the stuff you need to have every possible advantage on the two way range. Personally I would place body armor before gen III night vision. This is simply because of cost as body armor costs about 1/5th as much as a PVS 14 monocle. [While night vision is another topic most of the things said about body armor could be amplified about night vision. Very useful but very expensive.]When to use it. Personally body armor is part of my home defense plans. I want every possible advantage, fighting fair is for idiots and losers. Lots of folks talk about how body armor is not useful for insurgents or  guerillas or generally in modern "4G" warfare. I have to observe that most of them have not been a boots on the ground (vs say a senior FG officer in some redundant "command") participant in one of these conflicts. Lots of lives are saved by body armor. There is a reason that historically speaking fatalities are down (though amputees are up by percentage) in our recent conflicts. Body armor saves lives. A plate carrier will typically weigh around 20 pounds (plates at 7-8lbs each, a couple pounds for the carrier, potentially side plates, etc) give or take. A full up IOTV weights more and to be blunt I would not recommend it for most civilian or G applications.Some folks talk about how the added weight slows you down. Some argue this is a significant factor in recent conflicts, particularly Afghanistan. I read a great article about this called Bring Back The Light Infantry which I linked to in an old but if I do say so myself pretty awesome post.For me if things went all Red Dawn and I was playing guerrilla with remaining parts of my unit, buddies or whatever I would be inclined to wear body armor far more often than not. The decision would be a trade off between the protection body armor offers and the decreased mobility it brings. Mostly this would be an issue if we needed to carry a particularly heavy load to sustain ourselves for a long period or due to heavy items needed for the mission. Also if speed was important and the risk of contact was quite low I might consider ditching the armor. Certainly I would wear armor if conducting any sort of planned operation such as a raid or ambush. Basically unless there was a really good reason (or reasons) not to I/we would wear our darn body armor. Not too long ago I found myself doing a timed run in interceptor body armor, a uniform, boots and a helmet. Two miles took me 16 minutes plus a few seconds but I do not remember exactly; so about a minute to a minute and a half longer than it would in shorts and running shoes. Of course adding a chest rig with a bunch of magazines and a rifle would be an increase in weight but you would have that stuff either way. The point I am trying to get at is that body armor, especially a basic plate carrier with 2 rifle plates, just ISN'T REALLY ALL THAT HEAVY. If you have a strong core, a bit of muscle and run/ ruck regularly like you should be doing anyway wearing body armor, though it does increase the suck a bit really isn't an issue. I have to humbly submit for consideration that if a person who isn't fit enough to go play war wearing body armor isn't fit enough to play anyway.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mo Molle, Mo Problems



They are airsoft guys which I don't get and is not my thing but the video is hilarious and makes a good point. Just because you can attach a pouch does not mean you should. Every piece of MOLLE webbing does not need to be filled with a pouch.

You need ammo, some basic survival stuff like a knife, fire starter and whatnot, water to last until you get back to camp/ your ruck and that is about it. Figure out what fits your situation and put it all together then use the thing. Shoot and move in the kit you plan to fight with. You may find out that it gets heavy fast which means you should cut out some unnecessary stuff and or do more PT.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed the video.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Can Haz Plate Carrier

On the advice of a reader I ended up looking into then getting a TAG Banshee plate carrier. The reviews were favorable and it looks like a lot of kit for the money (including when compared to the Condor equivalent). I also ordered a chest rig to go with it. Plates will be ordered shortly after we go back to the states. I am uncomfortable ordering then without having my hands on the carrier they will go in AND being able to personally take delivery of them. If I order a package and something is wrong getting on the phone the next day is a lot more likely to lead to a positive end then if it is months down the road.

My vision is to keep the plate carrier set up in a sort of home defense load out. Probably 3 rifle mags, 2-3 pistol mags, an IFAK and a holster. I generally do not like holsters on body armor but for a throw on at 3am setup it seems to be the way to go. Toss on plate carrier, stuff handgun in holster, grab long gun and go. Doesn't get much simpler. I will have a chest rig (got a couple options here with another on the way) in case there is the need to rapidly reconfigure for a different purpose. Taking off some MOLLE stuff only takes a few minutes. It would obviously be set up how I want it and loaded mags could be kept in there if the situation called for it.

Up to now most of what I've got in terms of tactical type gear is stuff that has been picked up for work. I am pretty psyched about getting a start on the setup of personal gear that I want to have. Once I get some plates this will be a solid start. Likely I will pick up the few various pouches I will need and a warbelt of some sort in the next couple months.

Have you been looking at your gear situation and filling the gaps?

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