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Review: EagleTac G25C2

Terry at EdgeTactical.net recently gave me the opportunity to put hands on an EagleTac G25C2 flashlight. I jumped at the chance because I really wanted to see what 770 lumens from a single LED looks like. I can now confirm that 770 lumens is a whole lot of light.

EagleTac G25C2

EagleTac is a company that I have wanted to check out for sometime. Their lights generally get good reviews and seem to offer a good value for what they cost. All that aside, what really interested me in EagleTac is their documentation. While many light makers tell you how much light their flashlights can put out at the LED, EagleTac gives you that number and an actual output that is taken from a calibrated integrating sphere (a device for measuring the output of a light). The actual measured output takes into account the light loss from the reflector and lens. Many people don’t realize that only about 70-90% of the advertised lumen rating of many lights actually make it out the front of the light. This level of transparency and honesty in advertising is refreshing.

The sheath that comes with the G25C2 is pretty big and probably not suitable for EDC.

Overview

The G25C2 is a single LED flashlight that is marketed as a tactical light. At 6″ long and 1.5″ wide at the bezel, it is not a small light. It can be powered with 2 CR123A batteries, 2 RCR123A batteries, or 18650 li-ion battery in the configuration that I tested (there are battery extenders available that allow different battery options). It features 5 output levels that are spread over 2 modes, 2 strobe frequencies, and 5 hidden auxiliary modes (more on all these modes and levels later). It features a large, orange peel textured reflector, finely machined knurling, aluminum construction, black hard anodizing, a removable pocket clip, a blackened stainless steel bezel, and many other features. EagleTac lights are designed in Washington by EagleTac and assembled in China.

In the Box

Apart from the light itself, there are several items that come packaged with the G25C2 including: a glow in the dark switch boot, spare o-rings, a low profile grip ring, a tail-stand rubber boot, a lanyard, a lanyard ring, the user manual, and a sheath. Many of these items are very useful while others seem like an afterthought.

EagleTac includes many extra items in the box.

The sheath seems to be of decent quality (not great) but it is far too large to consider using on anything other than a duty belt. It is made of a semi-rigid nylon material that has small indentations that retain the light even if the flap is open. I think if I was going to carry a light like this on the belt, I would get some custom kydex made for it.

The metal gate clip on the lanyard is a bit cheap feeling but the rest of the lanyard and lanyard attachment point is quite usable. The lanyard attachment point is detachable from the light and must be removed in order to attach the tail-stand boot.

The tail-stand boot is easily one of the most clever accessories that I have ever seen included with a flashlight. It can be stretched onto the tailcap of the light and allows the light to stand on end. This allows you to sit the light on a flat surface and bounce the beam off the ceiling to light a room. It also functions well as a guard to protect the switch from accidental activation.

The user manual that comes with the G25C2 is surprisingly excellent. It contains succinct and useful instructions and information about the flashlight. There are numerous graphs and graphics that do a good job of conveying necessary information. I am so used to horrible, useless user manuals that it is extremely refreshing to find a good one.

The fine knurling and crisp laser etchings show good attention to detail.

Fit and Finish

The fit and finish are very good. The threads are large and rotate smoothly. The o-rings are properly sized to seal the light from water and dust. The knurling is very finely machined. The hard anodized finish is smooth and evenly applied. The polished aluminum reflector is massive and beautifully finished. The gun metal colored stainless steel bezel ring is a very attractive touch. The light even comes with lubricated threads and o-rings which one of those extra little things that shows that EagleTac really cares about their product. Over all this light is constructed very, very well. It certainly feels very durable and, in my testing, it showed no signs of having any durability issues.

There are a few things that might nag some users. The pocket clip is sturdy but it can loosen easily. It doesn’t loosen to the point that you will loose the light but it does wiggle even if the retaining ring is tight. I also noticed a lot of dust inside the bezel of the light on the lens. EagleTac went to great length to create an efficient reflector and uses very high quality glass with AR coatings, so it seems strange that they would allow dust in the bezel.

The user manual that comes with the G25C2 is excellent.

Output and Run Time

The G25C2 has 4 output levels in mode 1. The version of the G25C2 that I have uses a CREE XM-L U Bin LED to pump out 770/320/59/2 lumens depending on output level. The actual measured output is 640/267/49/2 lumens. These numbers underscore just how much advertised claims and actual measured output can vary. I applaud EagleTac for publishing these numbers.

The run time on this light is pretty impressive. It will run for 1.1/3.5/20/200 hours depending on output level. It wasn’t that long ago that LEDs finally became capable of “tactical” level output and you could get 60 lumens for 1 hour. Now, with the G25C2, you can have 770 lumens for 1 hour and about 60 lumens for 20 hours. Amazing.

User Interface

The user interface of the G25C2 sounds somewhat complicated on paper and in some ways it is complicated. However, if you stick with the basics, it can be very easy to use. Most of the switching between modes and output levels is accomplished by twisting the bezel but there are some clicks of the switch involved in switching between some functions. Thankfully, the levels are basically set-and-forget. Levels can be selected with the bezel and the switch is only used for on and off when the level is selected.

Twist the bezel to select the desired output level.

There are 2 modes each with 4 settings. My sample G25C2 came set in Mode2 which has 2 output levels (770/90 lumens) and 2 strobe settings. Mode 1 consists of 4 output levels (770/320/59/2 lumens). These modes are basically just two different sets of output levels. They dictate how the flashlight behaves when you twist the bezel. Moving between the levels included in each mode is accomplished by twisting the bezel so you can set the desired level and then you can be assured that hitting the switch will result in the light mode of your choice (or in Mode 1, disorienting strobe).

The 5 auxiliary modes are somewhat difficult to access. Switching through them involves quickly rotating the bezel quickly from level 1 to level 3 (or 4) and then back to level 1. The modes are accessed in this order: Disorienting strobe/Flash(Hi)/S.O.S./Beacon/Flash(Lo). This is a bit cumbersome but I suppose these are basically hidden modes that are not necessary to most users.

In Use

I think it is hard to get a real idea of what a light is all about by shining it at white walls and the ceiling so I basically set about using this light for real world tasks as often as I could for several months. I am not police or military so I can’t comment as to whether this would be a suitable duty light for those types of users but I was struck by just how well this light works for general utility, camping, hiking, and preparedness. The long run times of the lower output levels make this exceedingly useful for those times that the power goes out or when the sun sets on the trail and you are still miles from your car.

The lanyard ring is well executed and the tailcap switch is perfect in terms of feel.

EagleTac did a great job of splitting up the output levels. They are spaced well enough that each level is very distinct from the other and provides drastically different run times.

The lower output settings on the G25C2 are great. The 2 lumen setting is actually more than enough light to get around in a dark house or even a dark trail and at 200 hours run time, it conserves battery capacity for times when the higher output modes are needed. The 59 lumen setting is great for when you need to look further down the trail or need to light up a bathroom during a power outage but is still relatively thrifty with the battery at 20 hours run time.

This tail-stand boot is one of the simplest, most useful, and most clever flashlight accessories that I have seen.

The higher output settings are really awe inspiring. The 770 lumen high mode is absolutely amazing. 770 lumens is a lot of light. It is enough light to light a large room when bounced off the ceiling and enough light to spot items over 200 yards away. The 320 lumen setting is no slouch either and it can be handy for those times that you may need high output but still need to conserve run time.

The beam is very balanced thanks to the reflector design. I mentioned above that it can throw enough light to see items over 200 yards away which would make you think that the beam is very focused, and it is, but it also has a very bright and wide spill beam. Much of the light is focused into a tight hotspot but there is a lot of useful spill that lights a very broad swath of your vision.

This grip ring allows the G25C2 to be more easily used in conjunction with a handgun.

This light is not very well suited to pocket carry because of the size of it’s bezel and reflector. It could be carried on a belt or in a bag but I prefer my lights to be more accessible. This isn’t really intended to be an every day carry light.

The switch on this light is deserving of praise. It is a forward clicky switch which means that you can press lightly for momentary on or press and click for constant on. This switch offers good resistance and a strong click. It doesn’t feel mushy or sound weak like some low quality switches.

This impressive, large, and well executed reflector is responsible for the well balanced beam of the G25C2.

Conclusion

This would be an impressive light just by virtue of its output but the other features like well thought out output levels, long run times, useful accessories, quality construction, and a well balanced beam shape really make it a great light. It is probably more complicated than I would want for a pure tactical light but all the extra modes turn this into an excellent light for the camper, hiker, or prepared citizen. I’m impressed.

Check out the EagleTac G25C2 for a great price at EdgeTactical.net.

Disclosure: This light was provided to me, free of charge, for review by EdgeTactical.

Pull Forward Lat Straps from Beez Combat Systems

Most chest rigs require you to make adjustment to the fit while the chest rig is off your body. Then you must repeatedly check the fit, remove the rig, adjust the fit, and then re-check the fit until it is adjusted to your liking. Beez Combat Systems has designed their harnesses to be adjusted while you are wearing the rig. This means that you can easily adjust the fit to adjust to layered clothing or to ride over a plate carrier.

This video shows how the adjustments work on the BCS AK-47 Low Profile Chest Rig.

Welcome OC Tactical

It is my pleasure to welcome OC Tactical as the latest Jerking the Trigger advertising partner. Mike at OC Tactical has a great line of gear and does killer custom work.

OC Tactical’s hottest item right now is the Multicam Grande Patch Panel which I have reviewed and I really, really like it. The Grande Patch Panels turned out so well, that they spawned some copies so make sure you are getting the real deal right from OC Tactical. The Grande Patch Panel will be available in Coyote Brown shortly.

OC Tactical is also well known for their excellent Hearing Protection Covers for Peltor, MSA Sordin, and Howard Light electronic hearing protection headsets.

 

AR-15 on a Budget: Where to Spend and Where to Save Without Sacrificing Function

You’ve decided to purchase an AR-15 for self-defense and high round count training courses. That is just the first of many decisions that confront the new AR owner. These decisions can be nearly overwhelming, especially if you are on a budget. So how do you get a top quality carbine that you can count on to protect your life and to stand up to high round count training without breaking the bank? It’s all about knowing where to spend more to get quality and functionality, and where to save money while still maintaining quality and functionality.

The AR Itself

This is one place to make sure that you spend enough money to get something that is going to work for you. I always recommend BCM, Daniel Defense, Colt, and lately I have been impressed with Spike’s Tactical as a high value brand. All of these brands do the little things that tend to add up to a quality carbine.

Buying a complete carbine from one of the manufacturers above is probably the most surefire path to reliability but purchasing a complete upper to drop on to a lower that you built yourself can save you some cash. If you do, go the complete upper route, buy one from the manufacturers listed above and build your lower with the best quality lower parts kit that you can find.

Most of what makes an AR reliable happens in the upper. Make sure you buy a quality upper and bolt carrier group. I generally recommend a 16” carbine with mid-length gas system and a flat top for its all-around utility, longer hand guard to support various shooting styles, and shootability. When all is said and done, expect to have at least $700-1000 just in the bare bones rifle.

Sights

One of the easiest ways to save money is to stick with the standard front sight base as your front sight and avoid the temptation to add an extended hand guard with folding front sight. The standard front sight base can also be a reliability and durability increasing choice if it is properly pinned with taper pins. The taper pins are an extremely durable way of attaching your front sight and serve to pull the front sight base down tight to the barrel to form a tight gas seal.

You can save some money at the rear sight as well. If you are going to mount a red dot type optic like an Aimpoint, consider using a fixed rear sight. Many people get worked up about having folding sights thinking that they won’t be able to see anything past the sights but that generally isn’t the case (especially if your red dot is set up for lower 1/3 co-witness). Fixed sights like those from Troy or LaRue can be a high quality, rugged alternative to a folding sight.

If you actually need a folding rear sight, check out the Magpul MBUS. This folding plastic rear back-up sight is an excellent value and costs about half of what other folding sights cost. Yes, it’s plastic but it is also a back-up sight (as in not your primary sighting option).

Trigger

If you are building a home defense carbine that will see some high round count training, just stick with the standard fire control group that came with your quality rifle or lower parts kit. The trigger will likely not be as crisp and light as a match trigger but it will be usable, have durable sear geometry and reliable primer ignition, and have a strong reset. Match triggers are nice to have but are unnecessary on a non-precision rifle, especially if you are just going to mount an Aimpoint on your carbine. This is a good place to save money.

Stock

There are a ton of really slick stocks on the market that can be really tempting. You may want to consider if you actually need an aftermarket stock or if the standard stock is good enough (it probably is). You can save a ton of money by sticking with whatever stock your carbine comes with. If you can’t articulate why a new aftermarket stock will work significantly better for you, don’t buy it (this applies to just about anything you are considering buying for your rifle).

It is a good idea to spend some money on a real mil-spec receiver extension (buffer tube) if  your carbine didn’t come with one (it will if you stick to the brands listed above). Most “mil-spec” receiver extensions on the market are just mil-spec in dimensions, not materials. So, be careful when you buy. A soft aluminum non mil-spec receiver extension can cause headaches down the road.

Hand Guards

Hand guards can be one of the most expensive upgrades to your rifle which means they can also be a place to save a ton of cash. It is important to remember that hand guards aren’t just for holding – they are a means to mount a sling, a light, and potentially something like a hand stop or vertical grip. I consider a sling and a light to be absolutely necessary on this type of carbine.

Free float hand guards don’t have to cost a ton of money but there are cheaper options than even the cheapest free float hand guard. Weigh your needs carefully. If this was a precision rifle then it would make sense to drop some money here but we are talking about a defensive type carbine so you may not actually need to free float the barrel. You can always add one later if you find that the lack of one is holding you back (unlikely).

The cheapest, but still very functional, set up is to use standard hand guards. You can attach your light to the front sight base using something like the light mounts from Midwest Indsutries and attach your sling near the delta ring with a Blue Force Gear UWL or IWC QD Micro Sling MOUNT-N-SLOT.

My favorite budget set up is to use Magpul MOE hand guards with IWC products to mount my sling and light. This set up will also allow you to add a vertical grip like the Magpul MOE MVG or handstop like the IWC Weapon Control MOUNT-N-SLOT. I have actually come to prefer a set up like this over most railed hand guards. It is relatively inexpensive, light weight, very durable, and there is no need for extras like rail covers.

Muzzle Device

This is a great place to save money. Most uppers are going to come with a muzzle device installed and typically that is going to be an A2 flash suppressor. The lowly little A2 doesn’t get a lot of respect but it is actually a pretty decent muzzle device. It suppresses flash reasonably well (especially if you are using good ammo), it isn’t terribly loud, and it reduces muzzle climb a little bit.  The close bottom on the A2 also keeps swirling dust to a minimum when you are shooting from a prone position. The A2 is quite compact compared to most muzzle devices on the market. If you are on a budget, keep the A2. It isn’t exotic but it works.

Grip

If you can make the standard A2 grip work for you, then keep it. There are few things that you can do to enhance the standard grip without spending any money. Many shooters find that simple grinding off the finger groove is a great improvement. You can also heat stipple the grip if you need more traction.

If you need something a little more hand filling, it is hard to beat the Magpul MOE line of grips. The MOE line probably has something that will work for you at a reasonable price.

Magazines

The AR-15 magazine has come a long way over the years. Magazines like the Magpul P-MAG and Tango Down ARC magazine work tremendously well and don’t cost that much. The new Troy Battle Mags cost even less and are getting good press. However, those old aluminum GI mags are still the value leader. You can buy aluminum mags with upgraded followers and springs for $8-10 each. Polymer seems to be the way of the future for AR mags, but the aluminum mags work better than ever with their new advanced springs and followers.

Optics

There really isn’t much money to be saved here. A poor quality optic will ruin your day just as fast as a poor quality carbine. I prefer Aimpoints over anything else for this type of carbine. You can shop the secondary market to save some cash or go with one of the lower priced models. You will not regret spending some money on your optic. Don’t skimp on the mount either.

Lights

There is quite a range of quality and price when it comes to lights. I have been very impressed with the Streamlight PolyTac LED line of lights for use as budget friendly carbine lights. You will probably spend more on your light mount than you will on the PolyTac. The Surefire G2 and G2X lights are other favorite lights that don’t break the bank. All of the lights mentioned happen to be fairly light weight as well.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Know

I don’t want to fool you into thinking that building a carbine the way that I have outlined is inexpensive. It is a significant investment. However, there are specific areas of the carbine where you can spend less and still have full, or even enhanced, function. There are also places where you can save money by not spending anything at all.

Here is a rule of thumb: If you can’t explain a part’s purpose or why it will help you significantly better, don’t buy it. Beyond that, if you haven’t shot your rifle in its current configuration to learn what works and what needs improvement, don’t buy any thing new until you have. Not buying things that you don’t need is the best way to save money when it comes to AR building.

Build Your Dream AR15 Today

Emberlit EL-Mini

I really enjoyed testing the Emberlit Camp Stove. It is one of the least bulky and most functional ways that I have found to cook food on the trail. Now the Emberlit Camp Stove is about to get even less bulky with the future introduction of the Emberlit Mini.

The Emberlit Mini will be a scaled down version of the titanium Emberlit UL Camp Stove. With the smaller size, comes some advantages and some trade-offs. One advantage is that the smaller stove will work better with steel water bottles and the steel cups that nest on Nalgene bottles. It will also weigh less than the larger stoves. However, it will take more work to keep the fire up and you might see some longer cook times due to the lower capacity.

The EL-Mini will also feature a new design feature that is somewhat like a lanyard loop. It allows all of the pieces of the stove to be joined together with cord or a small carabiner. This new lanyard hole requires that a small extension be added to the top of each section of the stove which means that even though the opening in the top of the EL-Mini is smaller, the overall size at the top is about the same as the larger models. It will handle smaller cookware while still be very stable with larger cookware (the video below does a good job of showing this).

The new EL-Mini, or the full size stoves, would make a tremendous addition to a vehicle emergency kit or BOB. The Emberlit Mini Camp Stove will be available soon from Emberlit.com.

Mountain Ridge Gear Alpha Pack

I have been testing a prototype of a new backpack, the Alpha Pack, from Mountain Ridge Gear for the last several months. The pack has been nothing but impressive and now the production version is finally available for purchase.

The Alpha Pack is more of an admin pack than a “3 day assault pack” though its construction certainly makes it tough enough to handle just about anything. It is constructed from 1000D nylon, all cloth edges are bound, the interior is completely lined with 420 denier pack cloth, the webbing and hardware are all military grade, and the sewing cleanly executed.

Eric at Mountain Ridge Gear has a gift for designing really useful organization features. The organizer in this bag has a ton of various sized slip pockets and pouches to hold everything from multi-tools, to flashlights, to business cards, to whatever other small item you would want to carry. The organization is built into the front pouch which also happens to function as a beaver-tail style load carrying area. I use the beaver tail to carry my lunch bag to work but it can also be used to carry a rain coat or any other item you can comfortably secure.

The interior of the main pouch is large and useful. It is lined with loop material so you can add whatever pouches you want. It zips open about 2/3rds of the way down the side of the pack to allow access to the contents. The exterior bottom sides of the main pouch have 3 rows and 3 columns of MOLLE webbing that are perfect for adding bottle holders.

The Alpha pack makes a great EDC bag or office bag. I have also used the prototype extensively for traveling. This bag is versatile enough to fill a few roles. There are more features than I have listed here and more pictures than I have shown, so you should definitely head over to MountainRidgeGear.com for more details.

Carlson Comps KSG Enforcer

Greg Carlson of Carlson Comps was one of the first people in the country to have one of the much sought after Kel-Tec KSG shotguns. Greg immediately set about designing a muzzle device for the KSG based on his experience and the result is the Enforcer.

The Enforcer was designed with breaching in mind. It has 4 teeth that are designed to bite into the door without being overly aggressive or overly flashy in terms of looks. The teeth are just aggressive enough to bite into the door but still allow the muzzle to be repositioned easily.

The 4 ports serve to cut down on flash a bit and the entire surface of the Enforcer is knurled to aid in adding and removing the device. The Enforcer is CNC machined from steel and black oxide finished.

All of you lucky ducks who already have a KSG in hand (and those who plan on picking one up in the future) can purchase a
KSG Enforcer from Brownells
.

Review: UW Gear AK Minuteman MKII Chest Rig

I am blessed to have a lot of interesting gear pass through my hands. I have been able to handle gear that I like a lot and some gear that I don’t like much at all. Sometimes, though, I am lucky enough to get my hands on gear that I immediately connect with and wonder if I may be looking at one of the next big things. That has certainly been the case with UW Gear and their Minuteman MKII Chest Rig.

AK Minuteman MKII in Pencott Badlands with 3 pouches and 2 columns of MOLLE

About UW Gear

UW Gear is a small nylon tactical gear maker that was formed to specifically to address the needs of the “Armed Citizen.” John and Diz are both shooters who have an absolute ton of gear making experience between the two of them. Many of you gear hounds out there will immediately recognize Diz and know his past work.

I have really enjoyed getting to know John, Diz, and UW Gear for one big reason: They are very transparent with the reasoning for why they make their gear the way that they do. They have always been willing to share with me why they design their gear like they do, why they choose certain materials, what they tried that didn’t work, and how they are thinking of improving. I have never really seen a more open gear maker.

Minuteman MKII Overview

The Minuteman MKII Chest Rig was UW Gear’s first official product. Their product line has grown to include other items but the Minuteman MKII is still the flagship and serves as a showcase for their innovative flap design.

It is available in several formats that can customized at the time of purchase. The main format is a 3 pouch design that holds 3 magazines but a 4 pouch design is available by request. The user can customize the width of the chest rig by specifying how many columns of MOLLE webbing they would like on either side of the magazine pouches (none, 2, and 3 columns are the standard configurations).

The construction of this chest rig is top notch. 1000 denier nylon is used throughout. There is double and triple stitching through out. Every single spot where webbing is joined to the rig utilizes a box stitch. The materials are top notch. From a pure craftsmanship standpoint, these rigs are as good as I have seen.

UW Gear designed the Minuteman MKII to be bomb proof in durability, compact, to ride comfortably without padding, to ride close to the body, be field repairable, and to offer excellent magazine retention. Those goals dictate many of the design details of the rig.

Magazine Pouches

The pouches are by far the most eye catching part of these chest rigs. If you don’t like covered magazine pouches, these might convert you. If you love covered mag pouches, these will spoil you.

Most of the magic of these pouches stems from the flap. You will not find any metal hardware or hook and loop on this rig. UW Gear purposely avoided them when they designed this rig because snaps can pull out, rust and rattle. Hook and loop is noisy and clogs with mud. Instead of the well traveled path, they designed an innovative, unique, and extremely functional flap closure that I really, really like.

Each flap has a stiffened tab on it that mates with a slot that is sewn into the pouch. The tab is simply pressed up into the slot to lock the flap closed. This can easily be done with one hand and it is extremely secure. When you need to open the pouch, you simply grab the tab and pull up and slightly away from you just like you would with a hook and loop flap. It opens quickly and easily and with no noise. This flap closure system is durable, repairable with needle and thread, completely quiet, operable with one hand, more secure than most any pouch that I have ever seen, and just down right cool.

Each flap has a stiffened tab...

Each pouch has a sewn on slot that accepts the tab.

You simply press the tab into the slot.

It's easy to close the flaps, even with one hand.

The pouches themselves are very tall. They offer nearly full coverage for the magazine (retention was chosen over speed). The webbing this sewn into the slot for the flap tab is continued all the way to the interior bottom of the pouch which gives it some structure and makes it easier to insert magazines with one hand.

UW Gear was also able to avoid the use of hardware like grommets which has many of the same problems as the snaps mentioned above by sewing drainage holes into the pouches. There is a small, reinforced gap at the base of each pouch that allows the pouches to drain quickly and shed debris. This is just another one of the innovative touches that seem to abound on this rig.

Magazine Retention Pouch

Using the “admin” pouch that can be found on the back of many chest rigs to retain a partially depleted magazine isn’t necessarily a new concept but UW Gear has taken it to a whole new level by designing their admin pouch to actually support this technique. This is another one the features that you won’t find anywhere else.

The webbing tab opens the pouch for you as you index it with the magazine.

The pouch on the back of the Minuteman MKII can be used to store what ever you want: maps, shooting gloves, a pad and pen for note taking during your carbine course – but it is designed to do a lot more than that. The pouch features a wide webbing tab that sticks up slightly above the top of the chest rig and runs all the way to the bottom of the pouch. This webbing allows you to press open the pouch with a magazine as you insert the mag. It basically acts as a target or index point to quickly lever open the pouch during a reload where you retain the partial magazine.

There is room for 2 magazines, side by side, in the magazine retention pouch.

This simple webbing addition to the pouch makes it suitable for partial magazine retention for up to 2 mags. It can be used much like a dump pouch but more efficiently since the magazines are hold in a bullets down position, ready to be grabbed and reused if needed. Gone are the days of frantically digging through a dump pouch for a magazine and hoping it comes out oriented in a way that makes it easy to insert into the magazine well. The Minuteman MKII lets you store your partial magazines in a way that makes them usable immediately.

Harness

The Minuteman MKII’s “H” harness is one of the best that I have used. It is comfortable without being padded. UW Gear purposely set out to build a comfortable harness that wouldn’t need padding so that the rig would work better with a backpack. Great care was taken to make sure that the harness and its hardware would not get in the way of shouldering your rifle.

The well designed "H" harness offers comfort without bulk.

It consists of a wide double layer of the same nylon material that the rest of the chest rig is made from, a layer of 1.5″ webbing, and then a final layer of 1″ webbing that is sewn like MOLLE webbing. The result is a harness that is wide enough and has enough structure to distribute weight very comfortably with adding a lot of bulk to your shoulders. Since the top layer of 1″ webbing is sewn on like a row of MOLLE webbing, it can be used to attach various items – possibly even a small pack that UW Gear may be introducing in the future.

I am starting to sound like a broken record but, again, I have never seen anything quite like the construction of this “H” harness and it works unbelievably well.

Observations from Use

This rig wears very well. It rides close to the body and is not overly wide. Even the 4 magazine pouch version that I have feels compact in comparison to many rigs. The harness fits like it was made for me.

Having used both, I can see why UW Gear is standardizing on the 3 pouch design versus the 4 pouch, especially with the AK rigs. AK mags are long and have a somewhat severe curve which can make them difficult to manipulate in and out of the pouches. You generally have more dexterity around your body’s center line because of how you have to bend your arms to reach the magazines. The 3 pouch design, places all 3 magazines close to your center line for easier manipulation and it keeps the weight down. Additional magazines can be carried in the magazine retention pouch if your situation dictates the need for more magazines.

Look mom, no grommets! The pouches have reinforced drainage gaps.

I like to wear my chest rigs high on my chest. This keeps my handgun and draw stroke unimpeded. It also allows the chest rig to slide up into the natural gap that is formed between your high chest and the ground when you are shooting from prone. The Minuteman MKII is designed to ride high or low depending on the wearer’s preference. To support a nice high ride, the top corners of the rig are angled to allow the body of the rig to ride higher without digging into your underarms. This is just another example of UW Gear’s cleverness.

All that adjustability usually leads to a ton of unsecured straps flapping in the breeze, but that isn’t the case with the Minuteman MKII. All of the excess straps are secured with elastic keepers or pinned between your body and the rig. There are zero unsecured straps to flap around.

The flap system is very, very cool and very, very functional. It works. It retains the magazines tenaciously and clears out of the way quickly. You really can’t ask any more from a mag pouch flap. The potential down side here is that these flaps might not handle anything that adds length to the magazine like Magpul Ranger Plates. They also aren’t going to lend themselves to a double magazine pouch which is fine for me since these were designed from the start as single mag pouches and I prefer single mag pouches.

This rig is definitely different from a lot of what is out on the market right now. The magazine pouches are the complete opposite of the low cut open top pouches that are the norm these days. There is no denying that they are not as fast as an open top pouch but they are far more secure. There is always a trade off, and when you need security, nothing but a covered mag pouch will do. These are the best covered mag pouches that I have used.

The admin/magazine retention pouch works well. It is definitely an improvement over a dump pouch in terms of how it keeps the magazine ready to be used again but it does feel slower than a dump pouch. This may not be an issue since a reload with retention is typically only done when you have time. I think the pouch might benefit from a little bit of bellowing at the bottom to allow just a bit more space so the mages aren’t pushed up by the tightness of the pouch.

I have found that this rig works perfectly with the way I use my gear. My primary way of carrying magazines is my belt. The belt is a comfortable place to carry a small load of magazines and it is a very fast place to reload from. My emergency reloads come from my belt. Admin loads and top offs (“tactical” reloads) come from the chest rig. This basically means that I reload my rifle from my belt and reload my belt from my chest rig (see my post on magazine management). It is nice to have a chest rig that offers the security I want since I don’t necessarily need extreme speed from it but that is efficient enough to emergency reload from if I need to.

AK Minuteman MKII in Pencott Greenzone with 4 pouches and 3 columns of MOLLE

Conclusion

The AK Minuteman MKII is a bomb proof chest rig that is dripping with unique features and unique functionality. It is comfortable, low profile, and well suited to any shooter but especially for the armed citizen. It works perfectly for me and the way I use my gear. I think it will probably work for you, too.

The Minuteman MKII is available for the AK-47, AK-74, and AR-15 on the UW Gear website. You will also want to check out the UW Gear Facebook page and their forum where you can interact directly with John and Diz and read more about the philosophy behind their products.

Disclosure: One of the two chest rigs shown was given to me free of charge for review. The other was purchased by me.

Giveaway: NukoTools Titanium GBi

According to Ramdom.org, the winning number is… 2997. That means that “Joe” wins with a guess of 2999. Joe will have 24 hours to respond to my email to claim the Ti GBi. Congrats Joe!

I recently reviewed the NukoTools Titanium GBi and it generated a lot of discussion. It seems that just about everyone loves titanium, especially when it is hand made into a flesh rending last ditch self defense tool.

NukoTools Heat Colored Ti GBi

This is your chance to win your very own Ti GBi courtesy of NukoTools. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with  a number between 1 and 3000. I will draw a random number on the evening of April 6th, 2012. The person who picks the number that is closest to the winning number without going over will win.

This contest is open to those in the USA or US Armed Forces only. One entry per person only. You are responsible to verify if this item is legal to own in your area. Please use a valid email address when you leave a comment so I can notify you if you win. If the same number is chosen twice, the first person who posted the number will win.

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