Examining My Load-Out

Recently I took a pistol/carbine class taught by Larry Vickers. As this was my first foray into this kind of training, I had a lot of equipment to acquire. Before filling in the gaps and buying equipment, my first objective was to come up with a goal (or theme) for the equipment I was buying.

My mission profile

The gear people tend to bring to carbine classes ranges from a couple AR15 mag pouches on their belt to full on chest and belt rigs including rifle plates and just about anything they could imagine. Most of the people in a class like this don’t have a specific mission in mind. How a cop prepares and trains will differ greatly from how a civilian or a U.S. Marine prepares.

When a civilian comes to a class decked out to the max, it really makes you wonder what exactly they are thinking. Is their equipment logical for the situations they might encounter, or are they in the class to play fantasy camp?

When I set out to prepare my equipment, I started with my mission profile. I’m a civilian and unlikely to be paroling or engaging in any sort of prolonged engagement with a rifle. If I need my rifle it is to fight off armed home invaders or, slightly less likely, to deal with an active shooter situation. In either case what I need differs greatly from what I would need if I was planning on marching off to war.

To meet this mission profile, my goal was to set up my gear in a way that I could easily throw over my existing CCW gear. If it takes me more than 30 seconds to be ready to go then I am doing something wrong.

My gear

This is my rifle

My carbine for the class was a custom build (as are all my AR-15 type rifles). This one was built on a matching set of Essential Arms receivers, Essential Arms LPK, and Daniel Defense Barrel.

Here are the specs:

  • 16” Daniel Defense Mid-length Barrel

  • BCM Full-Auto Bolt Carrier Group

  • Collapsible Stock

  • Magpul MOE Midlength Handguard (green)

  • Troy BUIS

  • Aimpoint Pro

  • MOE Rail VFG

  • VTAC Sling

  • GG&G Sling Thing (Rear)

I found this rifle to be very reliable, running quite well even when it was drier than it should have been.

The VTAC sling got the job done for a quick adjust sling, and it worked fairly well for switch shoulder drills. A few times I missed the adjustment lanyard, but for the moment I’m attributing that to my own inexperience with it. The GG&G Sling Thing makes a great rear attachment point, providing a slot for a QD sling swivel on a standard collapsible stock.

In general the rifle handled very well, and the MOE Handguards I ordered would probably remain on the rifle if it wasn’t for the Troy rail already being bought and working well for me.

Glock 17

For a pistol I used my 2nd generation Glock 17. They sure don’t make them like they used to. This pistol has been through a lot and keeps ticking. The only problem with my Glock is the sights. It still sports the stock sights, and I’m seeing more and more why this is a problem. I carried it strong side in a Comp-Tac belt holster with a spare mag in one of Comp-Tac’s numerous pistol pouch options. I’ve always been a big fan of Comp-Tac, and every holster I have from them does the job well.

The rest of my gear

In order to fulfill the quick gear-up profile, I went with the BCM 03 MSF split front chest harness. This worked well for me for two reasons. Being split front it’s very easy to put on, just like any vest you might wear. It also fits in such a way that my pistol carried in my IWB holster is still readily accessible. If I had to put this on in a hurry all I need to do is tuck in my shirt and I’m off to the races.

On the front of the harness I mounted a pair of Maxpedition pistol mag pouches, one each of single and double mag. These seemed to work fine and mounted pretty easily. The mags are not super easily accessible, but my intent was to use them to back fill my belt pouch – a role they performed superbly.

I’m also a fan of keeping medical gear on the body. I still haven’t found a good way to mount a small kit, but I definitely wanted a tourniquet that I could access easily. I ended up trying the 215 gear tourniquet holder to hold my CAT-T tourniquet. It held the tourniquet well all class without losing it. Experimenting at home, the holder works well for quick one handed access to the tourniquet.

For a dump pouch I tried the Maxpedition Rollypoly pouch. This pouch folds up to be not larger than a fist. I have a few complaints about this dump pouch. To place the pouch where I wanted it, I needed to wear it on my belt. This means I’m unlikely to get it on quickly. I suppose I would just dump my mags or use my shirt or a pocket if I needed to retain them, but it would be nice to be able to throw a pouch onto my belt without taking the belt off. When it is folded up, the pouch doesn’t take much space, and it is almost small enough to really consider for wearing all the time. Unfortunately it is just large enough to be very uncomfortable when seated in a car in the position I like to wear it: 7 o’clock behind my mag pouch.

When wringing out the rifle before the class, I noticed some heat and a few scratches on my hands so I figured I would try out some gloves. I bought some Mechanix “Original” gloves. They worked well and gave me good grip on everything I handled. Like most gloves they made some very fine motor skills difficult, but it wasn’t a huge problem for me. My biggest disappointment was when I realized early into using them that they were already damaged. The seam on the right hand palm near the thumb came unstitched. The gloves still did their job, but I expected more from a 20 dollar pair of gloves. Walmart gladly replaced them, and I have not seen a repeat of the issue on the new ones just yet.

What went right

Some equipment stands alone, but ultimately for a class like this, it’s how different pieces of equipment interact and work together that matters. Did the equipment I selected meet the mission profile I was trying to fill?

For the most part, yes. Everything was placed such that it was accessible. The split chest harness was not very bulky, and I felt like I could move fairly freely with it on. It was also pretty easy to quickly don.

What went wrong

I did have a few minor problems. The placement of my tourniquet caused it to pick up dirt from the range whenever I shot from a prone position. This in itself was a minor problem that became worse as I stood up. My Aimpoint pro sat at just a low enough position when slung that this dirt then would drop off the tourniquet and onto the rear aperture.

Not good.

A little bit of attention solved the problem (knock the dirt off prior to letting the rifle stay slung), and I’m not sure the issue was serious enough to warrant moving my gear around.

The dump pouch was also a huge pain as I had to run my belt through it. Would I really need the dump pouch if I were to ‘grab and go’? Probably not, but I would still prefer some easier attachment for the dump pouch. I’m still on the lookout for a suitable replacement.

Conclusion

My equipment got me through the class and looks as though it will work in the conditions I want it for. I was disappointed that the gloves would start falling apart so soon, so I’m hoping that was a fluke.

Other than the gloves, everything else held up to the class and functioned flawlessly.

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Comments

  1. http://www.evike.com/product_info.php?products_id=34573

    This dump pouch will snap onto a belt, or Molle vest.

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