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Experience changes your perception of what works. When I first started shooting, I built a MOLLE chest rig in anticipation of my first carbine course. Nearly every column of webbing on that rig was filled with a pouch of some sort. I could cram 8 magazines into it and it looked awesome. That chest rig didn’t survive the transition from looking cool in the living room to actually being used on the range. It was bulky, heavy, and hot. It interfered with my draw stroke, my sling, hydration back pack straps, and anything close to natural movement. Lesson learned.
I am a slow learner and, while my chest rig choices have gradually gotten smaller, simpler, and lighter, I feel like I have still been trying to learn the lesson from that first chest rig… until now. Several months ago I picked up an ATS Low Profile Chest Harness. The “Low Profile” part of the name is very fitting. It is a very different rig from that first rig all those years ago.
The ATS Low Profile Chest Harness (LPCH) is definitely an exercise in “everything you need, nothing you don’t”. It can hold 3 primary magazines in “shingle” style on the center of your chest. There easy to use shock cord retainers on each magazine pouch. On either side of the magazine pouches is a utility pouch that is roughly the size of a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. These pouches can be used for your blow out kit (in fact, ATS makes a medical insert for the pouches that is sold separately), various range items, extra magazines, or what ever else you can fit. The body of the rig is made from double layer 1000 denier Cordura and the space in between the layers can be used for storage as well (small, flat items work best here). The entire rig is covered with PALs webbing so you can add additional pouches.
The harness on the LPCH is basically perfect in my opinion. It features a non-padded “H” harness with a generous Velcro field in the center of the back for adding patches. The loose ends of the straps can be tucked into the body of the body of the chest rig which is an excellent feature. Many chest rigs have heavily padded shoulder straps or harnesses which may be necessary for an over loaded rig but they make using wearing a backpack a real pain. “X” harnesses also tend to pinch the neck, especially when you are wearing a pack so the “H” harness design of the LPCH is a welcome change. I tend to prefer flat, wide, non-padded shoulder straps, especially now that I have learned my lesson about overloading a chest rig. For those who feel that they need a padded harness, ATS makes one that can be purchased separately.
The LPCH is lightweight and very compact. Its footprint is very small on your chest. This is what initially drew me to this chest rig. The chest rig is small enough that it doesn’t really wrap around your chest like many chest rigs. It almost fits perfectly between the straps of my backpack. That, coupled with the thin “H” harness, makes wearing a pack with the LPCH much easier than with other rigs.
The magazine pouches are well designed. They are deep enough to retain the magazine quite well (even without the shock cord retainers) but they still allow you to get a good grip on the magazine body. A good grip on the magazine is essential to a fast and sure handed reload. No one wants to be the guy who is throwing magazines down range because their magazine pouches only allow a finger tip grip. The pouches even work reasonably well with AK Magazines (though some AK mags will be a tight fit).
I like to wear my chest rigs pretty high on my chest. This accomplishes 2 things: 1) it is more comfortable in the prone position and 2) it minimizes interference with other gear like your handgun holster. Some rigs are limited as to how how they can be run because of their padded shoulder straps or harness. This is not the case with the LPCH which can be adjusted to ride very high on the chest. The LPCH works very well with a belt rig. I find that I reload fastest from my belt, so having a chest rig that can be used effectively with my belt rig is big positive for me.
The ATS Low Profile Chest Rig probably won’t make your reloads any faster. It won’t make you lucky with the ladies or help you re-grow hair. It will do a very good job of carrying magazines and other essential gear on the range without over loading you or getting in the way. If you too have learned that less is more when it comes to chest rigs, then you might find it to be a good choice. I liked it so much that I bought one for my wife too. Even she likes it.
Jeff Randall, co-owner of ESEE Knives and Randall Adventure Training (RAT), has announced that DPx will spawn its own brand in the ESEE Family. DPx is the collaboration of renowned adventurer Robert Young Pelton and ESEE Knives. The DPx Gear H.E.S.T. was the first fruits of this joint venture and now we can look forward to many other items.
The new DPx line will feature items that are targeted towards adventurers and a the tactical market while ESEE Knives continues to serve the survival market. You can look forward to a H.E.S.T. Folder, DPx soft goods, and other items. There will also eventually be DPx specific training courses offered.
I am really looking forward to seeing what comes of this collaboration. I will keep you up to date as products are released.
The MagCinch Tool has many functions that Ar15 shooters will find useful even though you wouldn’t know it by its modest name. It has been an invaluable tool that I have been using for several years. I suppose that since it is made by MagCinch (Buffer Tech) that its primary function is to tighten MagCinch magazine couplers. I don’t own any magazine couplers and generally do not care for them but it is the multiple other functions of the tool that I use most often.
The MagCinch Tool has a set of screwdriver/scraper tips that I use frequently. One is angled for use with Phillips head screws or for scraping tight spaces. The other is sized to scrape the front of a AR-15 bolt. I rarely use them as scrapers but they are great for adjusting an Aimpoint or other optic. If you have to use them to turn more than a couple of screws, you will wish you had a real screwdriver, but they work quite well in a pinch.
The front sight adjustment tool works extremely well. It has a square hole that slips over the front sight and a small pin that you use to depress the front sight detent. You simply place it over the front sight, depress the pin, and twist. It is easy and it beats mauling the tip of a bullet.
There are also 2 different sizes of pin pushers. These have come in handy several times to push pins especially on new AR15s with very tight upper receiver to lower receiver fit. They can be used to push the pin just enough to get your fingers on it.
There is also a lanyard loop that can be used to dummy cord the tool to your gear. It would be a shame to lose such a useful tool in the field. I rarely use this feature but I can see the value.
The MagCinch Tool isn’t nearly as full featured as some of the “Leatherman” style tools that are coming to market for the AR-15, but it is much less expensive, much lighter in weight, and still extremely useful. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked to pass the MagCinch tool down the firing line to fix some small problem. It is a worthy addition to your gear.
Recently I found myself 2 days before a hike without a map ruler for 1:24000 scale maps. I didn’t know of any retailers locally that would have what I needed and I didn’t think that an online retailer would be able to get the ruler to me in time for the hike. Sure, I could get by by just using the scale on the map, but those are often scaled in miles and I prefer to have the option to measure things out in yards or meters if possible.
MapTools.com to the rescue! I was already on their site to order some other tools (which will be reviewed in an upcoming article) when I noticed that MapTools.com has a free download section. They have a ton of great tools in .PDF format that can be downloaded for free. I downloaded a 1:24K map ruler and had several printed on overhead transperancy sheets at a local office supply chain. You may also want to consider laminating your ruler since the printing may rub a bit under field conditions. The rulers worked perfectly and I was able to share some spares with others on the hike.
I recently sent a USGI Cammanga Lensatic Compass through the washing machine and briefly through the dryer in the name of science (or maybe I just forgot to take it out of my pocket). I am am happy to say that it passed the washer and dryer test with flying colors. These are compasses are TOUGH.
The compass displayed no additional paint chipping (it was already quite well worn). No moisture made it into the capsule and there was no fogging. The sighting wire is still straight and intact. All of the tritium elements are still intact and working. The rotating bezel is still in place and clicks positively.
There are compasses that are lighter in weight. There are compasses that have more features. There are compasses that require less additional map tools. But there are few compasses as tough as the USGI Lensatic compass and few that make taking relatively precise azimuths as easy. I own other compasses, but I often find myself reaching for one of my old USGI Lensatics because I know them and trust them.
Note: Stay tuned for some upcoming compass and map tool reviews. I hope to take a look at some of the excellent UTM tools from MapTools.com, the venerable Brunton 15TDCL (AKA the real Silva Ranger), and the superb Suunto MC-2 Global.
I hope that you know the importance of having a blow out kit on your person whenever you are at the range. We previously discussed a basic kit that could be contained in the HSGI Bleeder Pouch. Blow out kits are serious gear for serious situations. A blow out kit can literally save your life but how will you handle injuries that are less than life threatening? Build a booboo kit.
A booboo kit is just another name for a first aid kit. It should be compact and comprehensive. Think about all the common little injuries and issues that you deal with when you spend a day (or days) outdoors, at the range, or in training. You will probably deal with things like headaches, cuts, burns, scrapes, stomach aches, blisters and more. These are all things that can ruin a day at the range and can not (and probably should not) be treated with the items in your blow out kit.
You will also find this type of kit to be useful when you are not on the range. You may want to add it to your hiking pack, your hunting pack, your vehicle, or even keep it at the office.
A basic booboo kit should cover the most common injuries you encounter. The following list will not be comprehensive. You will want to consider adding and deleting items as you see fit.
Cut Treatment – Band-aids, gauze, first aid tape, triple antibiotic ointment, butterfly band-aids, medical grade super glue
Medications – Pain relievers, antacids, anti-diarrheal, cold meds, allergy meds, anti-itch ointment
Sprains and Breaks – Ace bandage, SAM splint, chemical cold compress, triangular bandage (used as a sling), finger splint,
Burns – Burn gel, burn dressings
Sanitation – Hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves, cleansing wipes
Other – Tick removal tool (tweezers or dedicated tool), mole skins for blister treatment, snake bite kit, scalpel blades, glow stick, space blanket
Rite in the Rain is famous for their paper. While most paper turns into a mushy mess in the rain, Rite in the Rain paper remains intact and you can still write on it even when it is soaked (if you have the right writing utensil). This paper is amazing stuff.
I have been using Rite in the Rain’s pocket notebooks for years. I used one most recently to record distances, azimuths, and pace counts on an orienteering course. There was a threat of a rain all day and while little more than a sprinkle ever fell on us, the Right in the Rain notebook handled it easily. These notebooks are a must whenever I am outdoors. It seems that I am always finding a use for them. I often use them in carbine training classes to record information and take notes. The notebooks also have rulers and map scales printed on the plastic covers. The rulers often come in handy on the range.
If you need to write in the outdoors, there simply is no substitute for Rite in the Rain products.
I did part of an orienteering course on Saturday and it was great fun. I have done them before but it seems I always forget how much I like doing it. Not only is it fun, but it has great training value. Unlike just going for a hike where you stay on trails, with orienteering, there is no trail. You simply have a map and compass. It is up to you to break brush until you find your flags.
The two courses that I have easy access to have some pretty steep terrain (for this part of the country) and heavy underbrush. You will find yourself exercising your brain and your body. It can be very challenging and rewarding to find your flags. It is definitely not just a typical walk in the woods.
If you are lucky enough to have an orienteering course near by, I strongly suggest that you take a buddy and spend an afternoon brushing up on your map and compass skills.
ESEE Knives (formerly RAT Cutlery) maintains a forum on BladeForums that is an excellent source for survival information, product information, and fellowship with good people from across the world. Mike and Jeff (the owners of ESEE) formed the “RAT Pack” to encourage people to contribute meaningful content to the forum. RAT Pack members must have 25 meaningful posts in the forum and are eligible to take part in the many giveaways that are offered on the forum. Recently, my RAT Pack number was drawn in a random giveaway and I am now the proud owner of a brand new RC-3MIL!
Readers of Jerking the Trigger will know that I mention ESEE Knives fairly regularly on this blog. It is just this sort of generosity, community, and access to the owners that draws me to ESEE. They make straight forward, hard working knives that are functional and backed by the best warranty in the business (many claim this, but in ESEE’s case it is true).