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Testimonials

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T3 Urban Ruck: For the Daily Urban Carry

The Urban Ruck by Trident Tactical/Technical (T3) gives the user a sleek, low-profile EDC backpack that can accommodate up to 12-hours’ worth of essentials. Its 500D Cordura material allows for an optimal balance between the pack’s 20” (H) x 12” (W) x 7” (D) overall dimension, while providing for the flexibility and durability necessary to daily life.

Exterior

At the front, the T3 Urban Ruck has a 9” (W) x 13” (H) large accessory compartment (secured via zipper) that allow the user to store items of varying size and need. The exterior of the accessory compartment has a smaller accessory pocket with a split field of nylon mesh (secured via zipper), and an additional patch-sized (female) hook-and-loop field for an identification, unit, or morale patch. At the top is a plastic carabiner D-ring to hang a water bottle or other item.

Both sides to the Urban Ruck feature two compression straps (four total), with sliding buckles to ensure the contents stay secured. Additionally, both sides feature a pocket (two total) for storing Nalgene bottles or other items. At the top and bottom to both sides are (female) slide-release buckles to allow the user to mount either belts or straps as necessary with an associated buckle. On the pack’s left side, forming the corner with the backpanel, a full-length zipper allows access into the main storage compartment behind an internal divider for up to a 13” laptop.

The backpanel to the Urban Ruck includes closed-cell foam padding across the back. Both shoulder straps are contoured and anchored at the top of the backpanel with extensive bartack stitching, with QD slide-release buckles at the bottom. The shoulder straps have an adjustable sternum strap with multiple nylon webbing loops to hang accessories.

The Urban Ruck has a knapsack design that secures over the top of the backpack to the front via two slide-release buckles. At the top is a small, zipper secured accessory pocket for sunglass case or other items.

The bottom of the Urban Ruck features the same foam padding as the backpanel.

Interior

The interior of the Urban Ruck is accessed via a single drawstring. The main storage compartment includes an internal divider, with a zipper-secured pouch on the interior of one side, and a sleeve pocket on the other. Above both compartments is another zipper-secured accessory pouch.

Available in Multicam Black (featured), Coyote, and Urban Grey (Coming Soon).

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At a listed price of $220, the Urban Ruck has a significant amount of materials for its design, to include thick padding in its shoulder pads and backpanel. All of which work to give the pack a non-tactical appearance that could easily fill the role on the range, on a day hike, or commuting in your daily life. Other market comparisons would be from Tru-Spec’s Tour of Duty ($177 in Multicam Black), or Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack (in Multicam Black $335). It should be noted however that in both of the competitors listed, their packs still lend towards a “tactical-not-tactical” appearance despite being marketed for everyday life. Additionally, source of manufacturing tends to lend itself to more inexpensive products, and those produced domestically trend to higher cost (which would help explain the price difference). If the user needs to maintain a low profile in an urban setting then the Urban Ruck is appropriately (or of average) priced.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): From a comfort aspect, the Urban Ruck offered a good deal of comfort given its thick padding in the shoulder straps and backpanel. Its soft shell provided good comfort and contoured to the back when worn, and the 500D Cordura material had sufficient flexibility to not give the pack any hard edges or angles. All the zippers functioned smoothly and did not bind, while the slide release buckles snapped/secured cleanly. Weather worn for a few hours or all day, the Urban Ruck was consistently comfortable.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The main 500D Cordura material offered a good amount of abrasion resistance to withstand general range work, and performed well for an EDC bag to daily life. Bartack and X-type stitching was noted anchoring the shoulder straps two points of contact into the backpanel, and at other key stress points to reinforce the Urban Ruck’s overall durability. Double line stitching also reinforced all YKK zippers and all of the paracord pull tabs appeared to be secured inside plastic end caps.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally the Urban Ruck is more reminiscent of a day pack, one with a tactical mindset to keep that low-profile for life in urban settings. The over-the-top closure flap completely covered the drawstring opening, though the slide-release buckles were still exposed. The exterior split field accessory pocket on the front did provide immediate access and visibility to its contents, but also to anyone else (in the city this could prove tempting to thieves). The Urban Ruck was able to comfortably carry several pairs of clothing and range accessories, and could easily be configured to any need necessary. One thing to bear in mind was items placed inside the Urban Ruck can get buried down inside the main storage compartment, as unlike backpacks that open on three sides, the Urban Ruck is top-down access only. One thing T3 may want to consider is changing the material in the interior of the main storage compartment to a high-visibility color rather than black. This would make searching the interior easier.
  • Weight Average (3/5): Coming in at 3.8 pounds for 25-30 Liters of storage space, the Urban Ruck was lightweight enough that wearing it for several hours (3+) did not become uncomfortable with a moderate amount of weight (books, food, clothes, etc.). There was a notable limit to weight that could be carried however, as heavier items (ammo or electronic equipment) pulled more on the pack over time due to its lack of an internal frame. This merely reinforced the design that the Urban Ruck is intended for daily and light/moderate use. In comparison, the Tour of Duty came in at 5 pounds for 37 Liters of storage, and the FAST pack was 2.04 pounds for 28 Liters of space. This would put the Urban Ruck appropriately (or at an average) sized for its weight and offering the user a good sized EDC pack.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://www.t3gear.com/t3-urban-ruck/

IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

The Geronimo 2 Plate Carrier: Comfort and Purpose

Designed by the West Coast Frogmen over at Trident Tactical Technical (T3), the Geronimo 2 Plate Carrier is an evolution over its predecessor in that it offers T3’s flexibility and comfort, while improving on the previous generation’s functionality. Combined with traditional fabrics and hardware, the plate carrier can be used in practical, competitive, or professional roles for long-term durability regardless of the environment.

Introduced in 2015, the Geronimo 2 (G2) is designed as a low-profile plate carrier with extensive MOLLE/PALS webbing for increased functionality with the mission/task at hand. This makes it ideal for concealed situations, or as a base kit on which to add desired packs, pouches, or holsters.

Made from 500D, solution-dyed Cordura the front and rear carriers accommodate full-sized SAPI/ESAPI/AR500 plates or any soft armor (sold separately). Both carriers have (female) hook-and-loop fields at the top for identification or morale patches, as well as extensive vertical and horizontal MOLLE/PALS webbing.

The front carrier has a kangaroo pouch stitched on top of the traditional flap securing the front cummerbund. The interior of the kangaroo pouch is lined with hook-and-loop fields that can be used in conjunction with the provided removable rifle magazine pouches (that accommodate three 5.56 magazines or two 7.62), or secures the pouch to allow for mounting of a preferred chest harness or other pouches.

The rear of the carrier has a drag handle made from SCUBA webbing that is secured via hook-and-loop to the top of the carrier itself when not in use.

IMG_0324

The backpanel of the G2’s front and back carriers feature closed-air foam padding for improved comfort, as well as a 4” band of (female) hook-and-loop for mounting lower plate carrier accessories (not included). The attached hook-and-loop flap inside the front/back carriers enable for ballistic plates, regardless of sizing, to be securely held.

The G2’s cummerbund system involves the traditional two-part banded system with interwoven shock cord on the rear to adjust spacing, with the rear carrier’s overlapping hook-and-loop panel securing it.

The front of the cummerbund is secured under the front carrier’s overlapping hook-and-loop panel.

IMG_0337

The cummerbund’s sides have pouches for side plate armor, three extra rifle magazines per side, and multi-purpose pouches that can double as a pistol holster or for single/dual radios.

For shoulder straps, the G2 has wide Hypalon bands anchored into the front/back carriers via metal hardware, which are themselves anchored with reverse/bartack stitching. Each strap is wrapped in removable shoulder pads that are secured by hook-and-loop.

Specifications:

  • Small……For individuals circa 5’9”, 140 pounds, 32” belt
  • Medium…For individuals circa 5’10”, 155 pounds, 34” belt
  • Large…….For individuals circa 6’, 190 pounds, 36” belt
  • XLarge….For individuals 6’3”, 220 pounds, 38” belt

The G2 is available in OD Green (featured), Black, Coyote Tan, Multicam, Desert Digital, and ABU Tiger.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $315.99 the G2 is an all-inclusive plate carrier (unlike many other designs that do not include magazine holsters) that gives its user the functionality to use it immediately. While it does not include are newer quick-release or tube buckles, cummerbund styles, or other hardware found in more recent plate carrier designs, such as by First Spear’s Strandhogg Plate Carrier ($486), it did make up for that by capitalizing on the materials to be a solid system. For comparison, alternatives to the G2 would be Shellback Tactical’s Banshee 2.0 ($325), Mayflower’s Assault Plate Carrier ($259), and Spartan Armor’s Leonidas Plate Carrier ($229). Again, it should be noted that in all these market alternatives, none featured an included magazine and sidearm holster system that the G2 does.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): In comparison to the market, the G2 was very comfortable—one of the most comfortable tested to date in fact. Weather it was the connection between the shoulders and front plate carrier, or the padding itself, shouldering a carbine was very comfortable and the buttstock easily found the shoulder pocket. Often other vendors overlook that element in design and carriers/plates will actually hinder proper buttstock placement. The adjustability of the cummerbund ensured proper fitting to the point it was tested during regular 2 mile runs without any adverse effect to comfort. During stressor drills (sprints/pushups) at the range, the G2 neither shifted nor limited freedom of movement.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Throughout the G2, extensive bartack/reverse stitching was evident at all key stress points to include; all MOLLE/PALS webbing, carrier/shoulder connections, and cummerbund. These factors, and the use of 500D Cordura ensured the G2 had a high degree of abrasion resistance and longevity. A lot of thought went into reinforcement of the carrier and regardless of plates used (we ran both AR500 steel and UHMWPE plates), the G2’s hook-and-loop held the varying sized ballistic plates in place. All this gave the G2 high marks for durability.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): From a functional aspect, the G2 is a bit of a legacy design, one with a proven field record. Without any of the newer quick disconnects at the shoulders or cummerbund it was difficult to doff the plate carrier quickly, such as in an emergency situation. Otherwise the included function of the cummerbund’s radio/pistol holsters, and the included holsters to accept both 5.56 or 7.62 magazines were bonuses over other market competitors (though the pistol had some play in it). The cummerbund was comparable to other legacy designs, and offered the user the ability to customize the amount of tension to the torso. The backpanel design and method in which the G2 secured ballistic plates were a welcome change over others that tuck the securing flap up inside the carrier without any pull tab, sometimes making it difficult to access. A potential alternative for T3 to consider is making the exterior of the kangaroo pouch (female) hook-and-loop rather than MOLLE/PALS webbing to accommodate an increasing number of chest rigs that are similarly designed, such as the D3CRX by Haley Strategic or Spiritus Systems. It may also be of interest for T3 to consider laser-cut nylon over the traditional MOLLE/PALS webbing to cut down on weight while having minimal loss to function or durability.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At 3.0 pounds (without plates) the G2’s weight is to be expected given the quantity of 500D Cordura material involved. It also places it on par with market alternatives that use a similar design. The Banshee comes in at 3.2 pounds, the Leonidas is 2.3 pounds, and the Mayflower APC is 1.9 pounds. As the market has moved to more minimalist designs in recent years, newer materials like laser-cut nylon, polymer nylon, and other lightweight hardware have kept the MOLLE/PALS functionality while drastically reducing the weight of plate carriers in general. As such this put the G2 at a disadvantage given its legacy design.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://www.t3gear.com/t3-geronimo-2-g2-plate-carrier/

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spartan Armor Omega: Forged for Protection

In production since 2014, Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is one of several flagship protective armor plates offered by Spartan Armor Systems. It represents years of development by the manufacturer to bring some of the most lightweight and protective systems on the market.

Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is a single cut, multi-curve, multi-hit, stand-alone body armor system developed in-house by Spartan Armor employees with over 20 years of combined industry experience. It is made from lab-certified AR500 steel, and consumers have their choice of plates formed on a continual die (i.e. flat), or with Spartan Armor’s patented Advanced Triple Curve (ATC) process. In the ATC process, plates are manipulated using a custom machining tool that avoids “creasing” the steel to form a more anatomical curve. This attention to detail and manufacturing gives Spartan Armor an added advantage over its competitors by extending the life and durability of their products.

Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is available in three sizes; 8”x10”, 10”x12”, and 11”x14”. This armor meets National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level III specifications, meaning it is rated up to 7.62mm NATO and other rifle calibers as per NIJ 0101.06 standards. It includes either an ergonomic “shooters cut” or “swimmers cut” in the corners designed for improved range of motion (based on the user’s intended use) and to accommodate a variety of gear. For maximum protection, Spartan Armor Systems developed a proprietary Polyurea Coating called “Encapsaloc” to improve moisture resistance, prevent secondary injury from spalling, and reinforce against abrasion/impact damage.

The name of AR500 steel refers to its “abrasion resistance” and its 500 Brinell Hardness rating.  The Brinell rating is used to rate the hardness of steel and various other materials. The higher the Brinell rating, the harder the steel. Higher Brinell ratings also translate to faster velocities and heavier caliber rounds defeated, without penetrating the plate or going beyond the maximum acceptable indentation or deformation. For AR500 steel, the National Institute of Justice has set a deformation maximum of 44 millimeters.

While the Omega includes the industry standard of a 5-year warranty and a 20-year shelf life, this is standard across a majority of body armor manufactures. Engineers from Spartan Armor maintain that, shy of droppage or extreme environmental conditions, the hardened steel has an infinite shelf life.

Specifications:

  • 10×12 Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 Body Armor
    • Shooters Cut:
      • Base Coat 8lbs 10oz.
      • Full Coat 9lbs 11oz.
    • Swimmers Cut:
      • Base Coat 7lbs 7oz.
      • Full Coat 8lbs 1oz

Video of Spartan Armor Systems Special Threat Testing for Omega: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05n4EC6wA-o

Link to NIJ Body Armor Compliant Manufacturers: https://nij.ojp.gov/body-armor-compliance-testing

  • See “Find Compliant Armor” and select Ballistic Resistance, Standard-06.

Featured in this review for the Omega, was the Leonidas plate carrier by Spartan Armor, but it did not play a factor in the evaluation of the ballistic plates themselves.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $151.75 for a set (two plates), $75 for a single plate, $62 for a raw steel plate, or $419 as part of a full body armor package with Spartan Armor’s Leonidas plate carrier, the Omega has a large degree of application and very good affordability. Spartan Armor’s direct competitor for steel protective plates is AR500’s version ($119 per plate) of the same design and same protective level. A simple search on the internet reveals cheaper ballistic plate alternatives, but these are often ballistic plates that are “pending” NIJ certification, or are stated as “meeting NIJ standards” but have never been certified. When your life is on the line, having questionable protective armor is not a place in your kit you want to skimp on. Spartan Armor is proud that all its ballistic armor has been certified by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the gold standard for protective armor, and met or exceeded its standards.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The weight of the Omega’s steel plates was notable, especially after wearing it in a plate carrier for longer than an hour. The weight pulled on the carrier and on the shoulder straps, so ensure your carrier has sufficient padding in that area as well as a decent cummerbund. Despite that, the ATC curvature of the Omega was very comfortable and contoured to the chest and back, giving the plates a higher than average score. During stressor drills (sprints/lunges) the Omega’s cut and ATC did not impede flexibility.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Given that the root material for the Omega is still AR500 steel, the durability of the plates went without question. And while that means your carrier and hardware will likely wear out long before the plate or its anti-fragmentation coating, wearers should take care not to drop their plate carriers. The Encapsaloc will help ensure some mitigation from impact as well as any potential fragmentation or corrosion, but still care should be taken as it’s entirely possible the plates can still damage other items due to sheer mass.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): As previously noted, the Omega is one of many ballistic products by Spartan Armor Systems that has been submitted to the NIJ, tested, and certified as a Level III, multi-hit ballistic plate. Thus, it will provide protection against some pistol and rifle calibers, at a distance of 50 feet or more (see chart), but not others. There was little in our evaluation process that could deduce anything more that hasn’t already been done to it in a formal laboratory, and under the strictest scientific methods of measurement. The Omega’s rating is readily found on the NIJ database (link above – model AR550) While the Omega steel plates have the industry standard of a “5-year lifespan, 20-year shelf life” this merely covers the wearer in the event of droppage or damage. In reality, the lifespan of the AR500 plates to maintain their protective rating is indefinite provided they remain undamaged.
  • Weight Average (3/5): The one (and only) downside to AR500-based ballistic plates is their weight. The Omega weighed in at approximately 10 pounds per plate, and its weight varies depending on the desired cut and coating. At 20 pounds for the set, the weight of the Omega plates bared on the carrier/body after a time (1hr+). This weight is consistent to other ballistic plate models of similar design and appeared in research to be the average weight for most ballistic plates of similar material.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.spartanarmorsystems.com/steel-core-body-armor/spartan-omega-ar500-body-armor-level-iii/

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

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