Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Blackhawk - Removable side plate carriers

If you've been a long time reader, you'll know a few things about me: I'm in Australia, I'm not MIL or LEO, but I have a keen interest in modular, rough and tough gear that I can make use of, and am more than happy to take existing purpose-made kit and modify its usage to fit my own particular need and resources.

I'm fond of armour, having been a practitioner of kendo for 16 years, and LARP type silliness, as well as a variety of adventurous pastimes that might involve a reasonable amount of blunt force other trauma. I've covered both helmets and plate carriers before (like the Platatac MAC, Strike Industries SPC and others). I've also cover lots of pouches, big and small, so when a chance to acquire some modular plate carrier pouches came up, I jumped on it.

More armour, more places, more pouches? yes please.

This is the Blackhawk Removable Side Plate Carrier It comes in pairs, and is designed to fit the Blackhawk 6” X 8” Level IV plate which is a formidable piece of armour that is outside my scope or means, but goes hand in hand with this piece.

So, what is it, and why is it so cool?

Constructed from 500D Cordura, this light but tough pouch is sewn on three sides, with a hook-and-loop mouth at the top, featuring two webbing loops at the lip, to give you purchase to open it smoothly.

On the face and back, PALS/MOLLE webbing runs in a 4x4 grid on one side, and a 3x4 grid on the other, such that the webbing on one side complements the other, rather than mirroring it.

This give you two different fits, depending on how you want to attach it to whatever you are mounting it to.

The concept of these is to give the wearer a pocket to carry a plate, on a vest or rig that otherwise doesn't have that option, wither a Front/Back configuration or a cummerbund that's just "all PALS/MOLLE and no plate pocket". The MAC cummerbund I have does have those pockets included, which as I've covered before, I have filled with polyethylene cutting boards both for space filling bulk, rigidity and also or the blunt-force trauma and stabbing and cutting protection it offers.

Sure its not ballistic protection,  but to be honest, the chances of me needing that level of protection are very slim given my situation, AND its not legal for me to acquire here anyway.

I took one of those boards out and fitted it into one of the carriers, and closed it up. Instant extra armour panel, brilliant. I fitted it first to the cummerbund, and this was where the complementarity webbing came in handy. I could choose to have it ride a little high, or a little low, just by flipping it.

Modular, light and configurable. Nice.

The "removable" part comes to bear as a result of the attachment method. The panels each came supplied with three of the Blackhawk 7 width Speed-Clips which slip in and out of the pouch to the substrate and then clip in to the top and bottom layer.

One thing I noted was that the PALS/MOLLE channels were standard 1" i n the middle two channels, but 1.5" or so at the edges, which when combined, gives you a -5- channel reach, as needed. Again, good for configuring your rig to best fit need and comfort.

Another aspect of this is that you can layer these panels over the top of regular plate carriers, and put an extra layer of armour between you and harms way, in modular fashion, without loosing PALS/MOLLE real-estate.

Here you can see I've put the pouch on the front of my MAC. No reason though that you couldn't put this on a pack, a thigh-rig or anywhere else with 3 rows of MOLLE webbing.

One of the "alternate" uses I thought of was as a admin pocket, for paperwork or other flat items, perhaps a Kindle sized tablet (it doesn't fit my iPad 1), as a thin dump-pouch, or even as a boot to catch a large slung item, like my axe or even perhaps, my Deuce.

All in all, this a pretty neat accessory, even when its primary purpose isn't applicable, having a rugged, seal-able and modular pocket is ALWAYS a good addition to your load-out.

1 comment:

  1. I must say, I thought this was a pretty interesting read when it comes to this topic. Liked the material. . . tactical plate carrier


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