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Review: BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile

It wasn’t that long ago that I announced Beez Combat Systems (BCS) overhauled their plate carriers and I was fortunate enough to have some small say in the design of their Plate Carrier Low-Profile. Since that time I have come into possession of one of these plate carriers and put it through its paces.

The BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile is, as the name suggests, very low profile for a hard armor carrier.

Thoughts on the Design

The BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile is designed to be low profile as the name would suggest. In order to fit this low profile mission, it is devoid of any extra bulk like MOLLE webbing or padding. However, when we were talking through the design, we also wanted this carrier to be scalable to match the user’s needs so we incorporated a unique feature – a large hook and loop field on the front plate pocket.

The large hook and loop field on the front of the carrier is color or pattern matched to the rest of the carrier.

This hook and loop field is the key to the versatility of this carrier. It allows the user to instantly add various pouches to fit their requirements. This hook and loop field also allows you to stabilize a chest rig by adding some small patches of hook and loop material to the back of your chest rig. Chest rigs can often slide around when worn over a plate carrier but this hook and loop system can help lock the rig in place.

So, while this plate carrier is extremely low profile, it can be instantly scaled up to meet your load bearing requirements for items like rifle magazines, pistol magazines, flashlights, and first aid gear.

The top load design is unique.

Other Features

The BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile has front and back plate pockets. The front pocket features the large hook and loop field that I mentioned above and a smaller one designed to display name tapes, patches, or blood types. The rear plate pockets has a tube sewn on the lower portion that retains the waist strap. The plates (and soft armor) are loaded into the plate pockets from the top which is fairly unique.

The rear plate pocket has a "tube" that retains the side straps.

The 2″ wide shoulder and waist straps are not padded (though pads are available, more on that later) to maintain a lower profile when worn under a covering garment. The waist straps utilize 2″ side release buckles to secure the rear plate pocket to the front plate pocket. The shoulder straps are sewn to the front plate pocket with reinforced box stitches in such a way that plastic hardware is kept to a minimum to reduce the interference with your rifle’s buttstock.

My BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile features A-TACS camo but it is also available in a full palette of other colors and patterns including the new A-TACS FG pattern. I also really like that BCS gives the user the choice between 500D and 1000D nylon. The 500D nylon would be a great choice on a low profile carrier like this.

In Use

I have really enjoyed using the BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile. It works very well as a slick low profile carrier – or at least as low profile as hard armor carrier can be. In spite of its lack of padding, it is still fairly comfortable to wear thanks to the wide straps and light weight. I have been wearing it with training plates or TAP Gamma Plates which helps keep the weight down.

The design of the plate pockets is fairly unique. When the carrier is off your body, the pockets look like they would be very loose. But, because of how the straps are attached the pockets are drawn tight over the plates when the carrier is worn, locking them in place. They do not shift at all in my experience. It is a pretty clever set up because the plate pockets are basically self-sizing whether you use just a plate, just soft armor, or both.

Donning and doffing the carrier is easy. The large 2″ side release buckles are easy to use and easy to reach when the carrier is worn.

The BFG Ten-Speed Dappers work with this carrier like they were made for each other. Hopefully the fashion police can forgive the mismatched camo patterns.

The large hook and loop field on the front makes this carrier very versatile. It really comes into to its own when you add pouches from the Blue Force Gear Dapper line. Dapper pouches have hook material on the backs which interfaces with the loop material on the Plate Carrier Low-Profile. I have been using a Ar-15/M16 Dapper™ Triple Magazine Pouch Dapper Triple Mag Pouch and it is perfect for this application. It lays completely flat when empty and it can be used to carry as many as 3 AR-15 magazines. It can also carry flashlights, first aid gear, a cell phone, or even handgun magazines. In this configuration it is the perfect plate carrier companion to a battle belt (belt rig).

In this configuration, the BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile becomes a capable fighting rig.

If you are going to use the BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile, then I recommend purchasing the accessory shoulder pads. These shoulder pads are almost worthy of their own review. They have a tri-fold design that wraps around the shoulder straps and have very comfortable padding. There are various routing points on the shoulder pads that can be used to organize hydration tubes or comm wires. The coolest feature is the webbing loop with a snap that serves as a sling retainer. You just route your sling through the loop to keep the sling off your neck for comfort and help distribute the weight of your rifle.

The accessory shoulder pads are well designed and a must have if you want to carry magazines in addition to your plates.

Conclusion

The BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile is a low profile plate carrier that can quickly and easily be scaled up to an extremely simple, functional, and effective load bearing plate carrier. I am proud to have had a very small part in the design.

Check out the BCS Plate Carrier Low-Profile on the Beez Combat Systems website.

 

Benchmade 8 Hook with Glass Breaker (BLKWMEDR)

Benchmade Safety Cutters are some of my favorites pieces of gear because they just work so well. Their reliability and cutting power amazed me when I reviewed them. Now Benchmade has expanded the Safety Cutter line with the new 8 Hook BLKWMEDR which features a carbide glass breaker.

I keep a Benchmade 8 Hook in my truck where I can reach it easily in case I need to cut my seat belt in an emergency. This new 8 Hook incorporates a carbide glass breaker which makes it even more well suited to emergency use in a vehicle. It gives you the ability to cut your seat belt and break a window to extract yourself from your vehicle in an emergency – all in one simple to use tool.

Check out the 8 Hook BLKWMEDR and all the other 8 Hook Safety Cutters on the Benchmade website.

UW GEAR AK MINUTEMAN Mk. II Chest Rig

Most nylon gear manufacturers start from a military end user perspective and while the gear can be successfully adapted to use by civilian shooters, it would be nice to have gear that is purposefully designed for the prepared citizen. This is why a new tactical gear company called UW GEAR is unique. They build rigs with designs and features that are geared toward what they like to call the Armed Citizen (AC).

UW GEAR is a new company but one of the founders of the company, Diz, is anything but new to making nylon gear. People who have been around tactical gear for a long time will no doubt recognize Diz’s work. His gear has been sought after for years for its unique design and custom quality. Now, after a time away from custom tactical gear, Diz is back.

UW GEAR’s first offering is the AK MINUTEMAN Mk. II Chest Rig. As the name implies, this rig is made for the AK series of weapons and is available in both 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 versions. UW GEAR doesn’t build one size fits all chest rigs, instead preferring to tailor each rig to the specific magazine of each weapon.

The AK MINUTEMAN Mk. II Chest Rig has a number of standard features that tailor it to the AC. The most obvious example is the flap closure system or that the pouches are even covered with flaps at all since most chest rigs are moving away from full coverage pouches. Many chest rigs make extensive use of hook and loop material or bungee retainers to close pouches. UW GEAR wanted something quieter, more robust in harsh conditions, and easier to repair in the field than hook and loop so they designed a system that consists of a tab that can be inserted into a small retainer slot. This provides great retention and full protection from the elements while still providing easy access without the noise of hook and loop material. It is a very slick innovation.

Magazines, both empty and partially full, are precious to an AC since they do not have the benefit of a supply chain. They have a finite number of resources with which to continue the fight, so UW GEAR thoughtfully added a magazine retention pouch on the back of the rig. At first glance, the pouch looks like any other map pouch that is commonly found on a chest rig but this one is a bit different. The main difference is the length of webbing that runs from the bottom of the pouch up to the opening where it forms a small tab. This acts as a small “lever” that makes the insertion of a magazine quicker and easier. Again, it is a very slick innovation.

AK magazines are somewhat bulky and really need to be carried in a single layer that is close to the body. This is why the older green and brown Chicom chest rigs are still so popular today – they carry AK mags exactly the way that they should be carried. The AK MINUTEMAN Mk. II Chest Rig is similarly configured. It features 4 pouches that hold the magazines very close to the body without any extra layers like MOLLE webbing or pouches. If the user does want to add additional pouches there is MOLLE webbing on the sides of the rig.

The AK MINUTEMAN Mk. II Chest Rig looks like one heck of a chest rig for civilian shooters. Be sure to watch the video to see the above features in action.

UW GEAR is also currently working on a version for the AR-15. Check out UW GEAR on their website and their forum where you can interact directly with the owners and read more about the philosophy behind this rig.

SKD PIG Kangaroo Pouch Mag Insert

There is no more modular plate carrier on the market than the SKD PIG Plate Carrier. The array of options and innovative accessories make it extremely versatile. Several of those innovative accessories, like the PIG Kangaroo Pouch Mag Insert (KPMI), will work very well with carriers other than the PIG.

The KPMI is a single mag pouch that is designed to be inserted into the kangaroo pouch of a plate carrier. Several carriers have these kind of pouches and the KPMI will work with many of them including the Shellback Tactical Banshee PC. Each KPMI holds one magazine which makes it more versatile than most kangaroo mag pouch solutions (which typically hold 3 magazines side by side) since the KPMI can be scaled to the specific carrier that they are being used in. For instance, the Banshee PC’s kangaroo pouch is only wide enough to fit 2 magazines so most kangaroo mag pouch solutions do not fit but 2 KPMIs work perfectly.

The KPMI has some really nice features including shock cord retainers and elastic to help grip the magazine even when the shock cord retainer is deactivated. The opening is also slightly larger than the rest of the pouch to aid in inserting magazines.

The KPMI is just a small part of the PIG Plate Carrier system, but it is big on usefulness, even in other plate carriers. Check out the KPMI on SKD’s website.

Fire Ant Red and Venom Green ESEE Izula from BladeHQ

My favorite compact fixed blades are the Izula and Izula II from ESEE. They fit the hand well, are bull strong, have a great warranty, are made right here in the USA, and come with a very versatile sheath system. The Izula may be small but, 99% of the time, it is all the knife that I need.

Small knives like the Izula are easy to carry but they can also be easily lost. BladeHQ has teamed up with the folks at ESEE to offer exclusive Izulas with high visibility coatings. They are offering a bright red color called Fire Ant Red and a fluorescent green color called Venom. These bright colors make it easy to find the knife whether you are rummaging through your pack, searching on a forest floor, or even if you drop it in water while crossing a creek.

High viability colors make a lot of sense on a survival tool as important as your knife and, let’s face it, they look pretty darn cool too. Check out the Fire Ant Red Izula and the Venom Green Izula exclusively at BladeHQ.

Review: Thorntail Light Mount from Haley Strategic Partners and IWC

You may remember that I recently announced the most unique and important light mount to come down the pike in quite some time – the patent pending Thorntail. The Thorntail is a joint venture between Force Recon veteran Travis Haley of Haley Strategic Partners and Impact Weapons Components. This is one of the most anticipated rifle accessories around and I am fortunate to be the first one to have them in hand for review.

The market has lacked a light mount like this for a long, long time. The only thing that came close to offering the same functionality of the Thorntail is the SMC MOUNT-N-SLOT from Impact Weapons Components (IWC). However, the SMC is limited to use only on certain types of slotted handguards like the Magpul MOE Hand Guards. It didn’t take long for Haley Strategic Partners (HSP) and IWC to see the need for a similar mount that works with picatinny rails.

Thorntail on an AR-15 with LaRue 9.0 rail shown from the bolt release side.

Thorntail shown mounted on an AK-47 with Ultimak gas tube from the non-selector side

Thorntail shown on an AK-47 from the selector side.

The Problem

The best products solve problems and the Thorntail is certainly a problem solver.

Some weapon configurations allow only limited space to mount one of the most essential items on any rifle – the weapon light. The placement of the weapon light usually dictates where the shooter must place their support hand on the rifle. The support hand must be placed in a location that allows easy access and operation of the light. This can become problematic on weapons with short rails like AR-15s and M4 carbines with the 7″ carbine length gas system and even the 9″ midlength gas system. It can also be an issue with AKs in some configurations and really just about any weapon with rails that are too short.

Shooters know that much of recoil control is really just about leverage. You must be able to control the rifle in a way that minimizes movement at the muzzle from shot to shot. The ability to place your hand closer to the muzzle can greatly enhance leverage which in turn improves shot to shot speed. When a rifle recoils, it wants to move straight back in a line that is opposite of the trajectory of the bullet and that runs straight back through your shoulder. However, the shape of your shoulder, and the way the buttstock engages the shoulder, creates a hinge that converts that straight back movement into muzzle lift.

Thorntail on an AR-15 shown from above. The light is held very close to the weapon.

Thorntail shown on an AK-47 from above.

Think of what happens when you open and close a heavy door. You don’t grab the door near the hinges. You grab the handle that is placed on the opposite side of the door, far from the hinges. This maximizes leverage and makes it easy to open and close the door. Likewise, you want to be able to hold your rifle as far is practical from your shoulder (the hinge) in order to maximize leverage.

If your light dictates where you must place your hand and your rail is short, you will have to place your hand in such a way that you are unable to maximize your leverage.

The Solution

The Thorntail light mount allows shooters to extend the light several inches (the true distance varies according to the light used) beyond the end of their hand guard rail. This clears space on the rail and promotes optimal hand placement. Rail space that was taken up by your light and mount before is now useful gripping surface for your hand. It is that simple.

It accomplishes this with an ingenious design. The Thorntail consists of two main components (along with some screws). There is a piece that serves as a rail grabber and a 3.5″ extension piece. The extension is drilled and tapped on both sides so that the rail grabber component can mounted on either side of the extension which makes the Thorntail completely ambidextrous. It can be mounted on either side of a rail for a total of 8 positions on a typical 4 rail handguard.

This is ideal for users who are stuck with shorter rails. For instance, if your police department issues AR-15s with the carbine length gas system and 7″ rails this is a perfect solution. The current issue M4 carbines are also stuck with 7″ rails for the most part.

Even if you aren’t stuck with a 7″ carbine rail you will love the Thorntail. I am using it on a LaRue 9.0 rail to push my light far enough forward to mimic the light position on an 11-12″ rail. I like to run my hand out as close to the muzzle as possible and the Thorntail allows me to achieve the feel and performance of a 12″ rail on a lighter weight 9″ rail.

In Use

I tested the Thorntail by mounting it on two different weapon configurations – an AR-15 with a 9″ mid-length rail and an AK-47 with an Ultimak railed gas tube. Installation was intuitive, though the flashlight rings can be a little bit tricky to deal with, but I managed to get them mounted with no problems. If you can’t figure it out just by looking at it, I bet you probably have problems loading your magazines, too.

The Thorntail works perfectly on a 9" rail with a vertical grip.

My first concern was that the mount would be fragile since it does extend the light out from the rail quite a bit. I grabbed the Surefire G2L bezel that was mounted on my mid-length carbine and tried to pull it in every direction and it didn’t budge, bend, or loosen. It would take quite a lot of force or a really, really hard hit to damage the Thorntail and that sort of force would likely damage other parts of the rifle at the same time. After actually testing the Thorntail, I have no worries about its durability. Like other IWC products, the Thorntail is CNC Machined from Billet 6061-T6 Aluminum and Black Type III Mil-Spec Anodized for durability.

The Thorntail is shaped very well for the way that it will be used. Most users will likely use this mount to place their light so that it falls directly in front of their thumb in a strong, thumb forward style grip (with or without a handstop/vertical grip). There is a small angled flat spot directly behind the light is makes a perfect index point for your thumb. This index point serves as a tactile reminder that your hand is in the correct position to be able to easily reach your weapon light. I am going to place a small piece of grip tape on this flat to make it even easier to feel with my thumb.

This mount is particularly well suited to the Ultimak railed gas tubes for AKs. One of the best features of the Ultimak rails are how low they sit which allows your to co-witness your sights with an Aimpoint. If you mount an overly large light mount on the Ultimak rail in front of your Aimpoint it can obscure your view through the optic. The Thorntail is very low profile and the rail grabber portion can not even be seen through the Aimpoint.

It is the ideal light mount for Ultimak railed gas tubes.

As I stated before, I found that the Thorntail allowed me to get the same grip that I typically have on a 12″ rail but on a 9″ rail. This configuration weighs less than a 12″ rail but offers most of the same function.

I found this to be a very ergonomic mount. It holds the light in close to the rifle and forward of the rail which allows the tailcap switch to fall directly under your thumb. Once the mount is position properly, operating the light is effortless. Compare this to a typical light mount where the light is placed in such a way that you often have to stretch your thumb back from the vertical grip in order to get to the switch. The Thorntail is a huge improvement these situations.

In addition to the ergonomic considerations, the Thorntail greatly reduces the shadowing caused by the barrel of a weapon. With a typical light mount you might have shadowing from both the barrel and front site tower. The Thorntail allows the light to clear the front sight tower so the shadow is greatly reduced. In fact, when used on a 9″ rail, the bezel of the light is just 2.5-3.5″ (depending on the light, barrel length, and muzzle device) from the muzzle. This nearly completely eliminates the shadow of the barrel in the beam of your weapon light.

The angled flat spot behind the light serves as a perfect index point for your thumb.

I tried the Thorntail with a Surefire M600 Scout and Surefire G2L. It worked perfectly with both and there are additional flashlight rings available that allow the use of most of the best weapon lights on the market including the Surefire C and E series lights and the Streamlight PolyTac. There is also a version in the works that will work with the Surefire Millennium series lights. Shooters will find that lights that use the flashlight rings like the Surefire G2L can be pushed even further forward than those with fixed mounts like the Surefire Scout lights since they can be slid very far forward in their rings.

Conclusion

It is my opinion that this is not merely a unique product. It is an important product that has been missing in the market. It allows the shooter to place their hand closer to the muzzle end of the weapon in order to control recoil and solves the problems that have been plaguing short handguards for as long as they have been around. The Thorntail blurs the distinction between short rails and extended rails. It represents a funtional and ergonomic improvement for the way weapon lights are mounted. I could not be happier with how this mount functions.

The Thorntail is available for pre-order on the Impact Weapons Components’ website (remember to use the code “triggerjerk” at checkout to receive 5% off at IWC).

Note: The finished Thorntail mounts will feature the HSP logo, not the IWC logo as shown.

Disclosure: These mounts were provided to me for review, free of charge, by IWC for whom I am an independent product rep.

Panteo Productions Make Ready with Travis Haley – Adaptive Kalash

Panteao Productions and Travis Haley have teamed up for another installment in the “Make Ready” series. This time the subject is the AK family of weapons.

I am very interested to see this one. Much of the AK specific training that is available right now leans toward the “Keep that $%#@ off my AK” crowd instead of acknowledging that there have been advances in techniques and gear in the last 20 years that have really enhanced the capabilities of the AK. I trust that Travis will address these enhancements since he is not one to shy away from taking a progressive and contrary point of view as long as it leads to improved performance. One needs only to look at the AK that Travis is holding on the cover art for the DVD and using in the preview to see that this won’t be your typical AK training video.

This is going to be a must see for AK shooters. Check out Make Ready with Travis Haley – Adaptive Kalash on the Panteao Productions website.

Review: US PALM AK30 Magazine

The AK-47 has long lived in the shadow of the AR-15 in the minds of most American shooters. Much of what we think of the AK is clouded with myth, misinformation, and exaggeration. That is all beginning to change. There are a number of high quality AKs available on the market right now that are really beginning to challenge what people think they know about the rifle, and there are a number of American manufacturers who have stepped in to fill the void of American made accessories for this foreign rifle. One such manufacturer is US PALM and they have released no more controversial product than their AK30 Magazine for the AK-47.

I have tried to keep track of all of the conflicting reports on the AK30 since its introduction because I have been very supportive of US PALM’s efforts as an American company that is innovating the AK. Some very serious users have reported good things about the magazine. Some have reported short comings. We have really arrived at the point where it is difficult to sort out the real story so when US PALM offered me a chance to check out the latest version of the AK30, I jumped at it.

This review will cover my initial impressions of the magazines. I have 390 rounds through 3 different magazines at this point (210 through one, 90 through one, and 90 through the last) which is admittedly not enough to get the full picture. I have also put them through countless dry fire cycles. My plan is to share some initial thoughts on these magazines and share what I have learned so far. Then, I hope to be able to share updates as the round counts grow.

Price and Short Sightedness

There is one thing that I would like to address right up front. As a policy, I generally do not talk about what an item costs on Jerking the Trigger. I prefer to let you, the reader, decide what something is worth instead of telling you what I think is expensive or inexpensive. In the case of these magazines, I feel the need to address cost because so many people dismiss the AK30 magazines without trying them due to their cost of around $30 a piece (though they are often on sale at various places for less).

The main argument is that 2-3 steel magazines can be purchased for the cost of 1 AK30. I think that this is extremely short sighted and AK users should know better. How many times have AK users had to buy all of a certain kind of magazine, ammo, or small part before importation ceased or the surplus ran dry. It happens all the time. US PALM AK30 Magazines are made here in the US. When they run out, they make more.

When you buy a surplus AK mag and you take it home only to find that a magazine spring is rusted to the point that is breaks when you load the magazine (yes, it has happened to me), you are stuck. If you are lucky, the place that you bought it from will replace it. The same thing is true when you get a magazine that has been subtly misshapen enough that the follower binds (yes, it has happened to me). The same thing is true when you get a magazine that just doesn’t work (yes, it has happened to me). If that happens with an AK30, US PALM falls all over themselves to make it right.

That is the advantage of dealing with a US company. It costs more, but in some senses it is an investment in the future of the product that you are buying. That may not be enough for some users, but that is not the only thing that the AK30 Magazines have going for them.

Honestly, I think much of the hubris around these magazines stems from people who are slow to accept plastics as a replacement for metal. The reality is that plastics are not just a cheap replacement for metal but are actually better for some applications. Plastic doesn’t dent and deform like metal, it doesn’t rust, it can be colored, and it weighs less. Plastic is here to stay and I, for one, am glad.

Weight

Holding an AK30 magazine for the first time is kind of surprising. They look like they would be heavy but they are surprisingly light weight. I think that may be one of the better compliments that you can pay this magazine. It is obvious that work went into making this magazine durable, but at the same time, weight is kept to a minimum.

I weighed 4 additional types of magazines that I own in order to compare the weight of the AK30. The heaviest was a Chinese all steel magazine at 11.35 ounces, followed by an all steel Hungarian 20 round magazine at 10.05 ounces, a Bulgarian Circle 10 at 8.70, and then the AK30 at 7.50 ounce. The only magazine I have that is lighter than the AK30 is the plastic Polish Radom magazines at 7.05 ounces. There is a 3.85 ounce difference between the AK30 and a comparable steel magazine. That really adds up if you are carrying 4 or 5 magazines! I should also point out that these Chinese magazines are a bit lighter than most Eastern European steel magazines because they lack the large spine on the backstrap of the magazine.

Shape

I am really impressed with the handling characteristics of the AK30. It is obvious that a lot off care went into making the AK30 easy to manipulate. The sides of the magazine are covered with a deep grid pattern like a waffle. The front and back straps of the magazine are covered with large parallel ridges. This makes the AK30 very easy to hold and manipulate, even with winter gloves on.

The magazines also have  a very flat, broad bottom that makes them a very stable shooting aid when used as a mono-pod. The AK30 lacks a traditional floor plate (more on this later) so there is no fear of forcing debris into the magazine or damaging the floor plate when using the magazine mono-pod technique.

I am also extremely impressed with how these magazines fit the magazine wells of my 2 AKs. The can be be inserted and removed smoothly and they exhibit very little wobble. US PALM has sized these magazines very well and the result is that they fit properly sized magazine wells very positively. Some users may find that the fit is tight with certain AKs, especially those that are imported in single stack configuration and opened up once they are in country (like WASRs). That is due to out of spec magazine wells, not the fault of the AK30.

These magazines were designed not only to feed cartridges into the chamber but also to be handled in a quick, positive fashion by their user. I really like that type of attention to detail.

Baseplate and Follower

The AK30’s baseplate gets a lot of negative attention. It can not be removed by the user since it is glued on during manufacturing. This means that there is no way to remove the magazine spring and follower for service or cleaning, which has rubbed some AK users the wrong way.

Most shooters will never wear out a magazine spring so there is little need to replace one. Even if there was, the market is not exactly flooded with replacement springs. Premium quality, modern stainless steel springs like those found in the AK30 don’t take a set and are good for 100,000+ compression cycles. Think about that for a minute. That is 100,000+ loading and unloading cycles. You will probably wear out the magazine body before you ruin the spring.

Cleaning is also pretty much a non-issue. If you drop a steel surplus magazine in the mud you have to open it up to remove the spring and follower, clean out the gunk, oil the spring and inside of the metal magazine body to prevent rust, and then reassemble. US PALM designed the AK30 magazine to need less maintenance. It is made from plastic and stainless steel so rust is less of an issue. If debris does get into the magazine, the AK30 can simply be submerged in water and shaken clean. The follower has several holes in it to allow this method of cleaning. I had occasion to test this since the magazines have been dumped on wet ground during reloads. It works fine and the magazine continued to function.

Some of the earlier generations of the AK30 had some very public struggles with keeping their baseplates intact. It seems that some AK30 Magazines made it out of the factory without sufficient glue to hold the baseplate during rough use. US PALM has responded the way that all great companies do, they redesigned the magazine to prevent that from happening. Now all AK30 Magazines have locking tabs that retain the baseplate even if the glue gives out. However, this shouldn’t happen since the glue that is used essentially bonds the two plastic pieces (mag body and baseplate) into one piece together much like PVC primer and cement.

Metal Reinforcement

Metal reinforcement or the lack there of is another point of contention for many users and it is probably the most valid. There are three key areas that other successful plastic magazines have metal reinforcement: the front lip, the back locking tab, and the feedlips. The AK30 has metal reinforcement on the front lip and the back locking tab but it lacks any metal in the feedlips. US PALM has chosen to make the feedlips very thick and they have made them thicker since the initial introduction of the AK30. These thicker feedlips have greatly reduced the reports of broken AK30 feedlips.

I have been using the AK30 magazine for some time now and I have a friend who uses them extensively. We do not take it easy on these magazines and they have not let us down yet. I have experienced no breakage of any kind. One of the biggest tests for any AK magazine are certain types of speed reloads that the shooter executes by sweeping the empty magazine out of the magazine well using the fresh magazine. This tends to send the spent magazine flipping end over end where it can land on the feedlips or any other part of the magazine. I have done this on concrete, grass, dirt, and gravel with no ill effects.

In Use

There were no surprises. So far, all I can say is that these magazines work. I have 390 rounds through them, 210 of which are through the same magazine, without  hiccup.

I have purposely been running most of the rounds through one magazine so that I can see the effects of a higher round count. I plan to continue this treatment of that particular magazine and to continue using the 3 provided AK30 magazines exclusively when I shoot my AKs so that I can report back on their longer term durability.

The only real issue that I found in use that their thickness can cause issues with some pouches. They fit in all the single magazine pouches that I own but they were a tight fit in some double AK magazine pouches.

Overall Impressions

I am really impressed with these magazines so far. They work as advertised and they have handled everything that I have thrown at them so far. They have been dropped on a variety of surfaces with no breakage. They have been used while wet and dirty without issue. I greatly prefer the way that they handle versus a typical steel magazine. They are grippy and easy to manipulate without the sharp edges of a typical steel magazine. I have also been impressed with US PALM as a company. They have taken steps to address many of the perceived short comings with the AK30 and they have taken excellent care of their customers. Time will tell the whole story, but right now, I really like what I see.

Check out the AK30 Magazines on the US PALM website and stay tuned for full reviews of the US PALM AK Battle Grip and AK30 Rebuild Kits.

Disclosure: These magazines were provided to me for review, free of charge, by US PALM.

A-TACS FG Plate Carrier Cumber from Beez Combat Systems

Beez Combat Systems (BCS) makes a ton of great armor carrier options. Their fullest featured plate carrier is the Plate Carrier Cumber. BCS was also one of the earliest adopters of the original A-TACS camo and as a result, they will be some of the first makers to have their product line available in the new A-TACS FG pattern.

The Plate Carrier Cumber is a compact plate carrier that has a lot of options that you won’t get from a large product tactical gear company. For instance, the Plate Carrier Cumber is available in your choice of 500D and 1000D nylon. Having the option of the weight saving 500D fabric is very nice.

BCS also packs in other features like routing points for comms and hydration hoses and top loading plate pockets, both of which are hard to find in a plate carrier. The BCS shoulder pads are also very slick. They features a webbing tab that can be snapped down over your sling to capture it and keep it from rubbing your neck.

The Plate Carrier Cumber in A-TACS FG will be available from our friends at PredatorARMAMENT. The folks at the Predator Intelligence group (PredatorARMAMENT and PredatorBDU) are also out in front on all the latest camo patterns.

Blue Force Gear UWL with Push Button Socket

I think the previously reviewed Blue Force Gear Universal Wire Loop (UWL) is something that every shooter should have in their tool box just waiting to help you solve some tricky sling mounting problem. Blue Force Gear (BFG) has now made the UWL even more versatile with the addition of a socket that accepts push button QD sling swivels.

The BFG UWL with Push Button Socket lets the user decide whether to attach the sling directly to the UWL, use a push button QD sling swivel, or both. When you are using the UWL with Push Button Socket as a front sling attachment point, it makes sense to choose one attachment method or the other. However, if you are using this as your rear attachment point, the UWL with Push Button Socket can be used to turn a 2 point sling into a single point sling.

This is one clever piece of gear. Check out the UWL with Push Button Socket on the Blue Force Gear website.

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