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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.

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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.

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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.

DA Vanguard: Trousers For the Field Professional

The Vanguard Combat Trousers were introduced by Direct Action Gear circa mid 2019 as the company’s entry to the tactical trouser market. Made overall from a 39% Cotton and 60% Nylon  Cordura NYCO blend, the Vanguard offers the wearer a wide degree of flexibility while sacrificing none of its durability.

Starting at the waist, the Vanguard has six 2.25” wide belt loops (two in the front, two on the sides, and two at the rear yolk). The waistline is secured by a hook-and-loop tab, with a YKK zipper at the fly. The use of a hook-and-loop tab over push-through button eliminates any pinch or pressure created from the button when wearing a riggers or gun belt. Furthermore, the gusset and other panels include a four-way Elastine stretch material that allow for extreme flexibility and maintain comfort when performing more dynamic movements.

The Vanguard has an adjustable fit with hook-and-loop tabs at the knee and ankle that allow the user to modify the amount of material when needed. The trouser uses a traditional two pocket layout at the front of waist (reinforced to accommodate clip-on items, such as pocket knives, and a mesh bottom for ventilation), with none at the rear (considering rear pockets are inaccessible when sitting in a vehicle).

The front of each thigh includes a zipper-secured accessory pocket, with internal organizer, that uses a YKK shuttle and is ideal for notebooks or other immediate-need necessities. Directly behind the front thigh pocket is a cargo pocket that uses hook-and-loop panels on the outside and inside of the pocket to utilize it as an impromptu dump pouch.

The knees are reinforced with 500D Cordura nylon panels and include bottom-up access for the inclusion of Direct Action neoprene pads (sold separately).

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Lastly, at the calf there is a small, second set of accessory pockets that are similarly secured via hook-and-loop flap.

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The Vanguard Combat Trousers are available in Multicam (featured), Adaptive Green, and Black. Their sizing runs from a Small to a 3XL (with variance between a Regular or Long inseam length).

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Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At a MSRP of $199 USD (keep in mind Direct Action also offers sales overseas in the Euro) the cost of the Vanguard is very well priced considering its features, volume of reinforced stitching, and quality of material. In comparison, other market alternatives that run similar designs in tactical trousers are Crye with its G3 ($273) and G4 ($279) Combat Pant, Massif’s Hellman Combat Pant ($349), the Special Operations Pant ($139.70) by The Requirements Group, or the 24-7 Tru-Spec Xpedition ($123.95) trousers. So, while $199 may seem (and feel) like a lot of money to invest into a single pair of tactical pants, other vendors (who cater to defense contracts) are obviously more expensive whereas civilian branded attire is less. In addition, a lot of the cost is dictated by where the manufacturing of the trousers is done, in this case the Vanguard is produced overseas. It is left to the consumer to determine if that cost is appropriate for its moderate (or average) cost within the current market.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): The main emphasis of the Vanguard, per the manufacturer, was the comfort of the wearer, and to that point Direct Action did an excellent job in designing a very comfortable pair of tactical trousers. The Vanguard’s inner waistline held a lining of nylon and closed-cell padding that hugged the waist. It also had the added benefit of padding a riggers belt or gun belt if worn. The four-way stretch panels in the rear, yolk, and gusset gave a great deal of flexibility in more dynamic movements that included; shooting from the knee, bending over barricades, and entry/exit of a vehicle. The use of neoprene knee padding (sold separately), slid into the knee panels, did mitigate some impact to the joint; however, larger rocks were still less than comfortable to come down on. It should be noted that sizing between European and US sizing is different, and consumers should choose the appropriate fit for their needs based on Direct Action’s sizing chart. The Vanguard Combat Trousers run true-to-fit so the size you order will be the dimensions you receive. It would be a recommendation to Direct Action that in the future it consider adding a waistline slider panel on both sides to maximize on the waistline’s comfort (although that may not be possible in its current design).
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Direct Action invested a lot of effort into making the Vanguard as durable as possible. This included extensive bartack and double line stitching at all key stress points, as well as all joining lines between the four-way stretch material and the Cordura NYCO material. During rifle drills and physical stressors, this reinforced material handled the various dynamics movements well and neither pulled nor separated during evaluation. It should be noted there has been issues with four-way stretch materials in other brands, with it separating from other fabrics due to poor stitching, however at no point was this encountered with the Vanguard during its 30-day evaluation. Other notable aspects of the Vanguard’s durability were its reinforced Cordura panels to the pocket and knees, both of which held a good level of abrasion resistance. The adjustment tabs at the knees held X-type stitching, and it would have been nice had the ankle tabs held that added reinforced stitching as well.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): From a functional aspect, the Vanguard performed very well as a tactical trouser; maintaining a comfortable fit while giving the utility need for the field, in a vehicle, or on the range. The pockets provided readily available access with their hook-and-loop enclosures, while the YKK zippers at the fly and thigh pockets slid smoothly and was crisp in opening/closing. The reinforced areas of the front pockets ensured pocket knives or other clip items didn’t fray or tear at the stitching or material over time. The reinforced knee panels were a nice feature, but despite adding the neoprene padding, didn’t extensively mitigate impact to the knee or soft tissue from debris (i.e. rock or branches). The panels resisted abrasion well (which is to say friction), but to truly protect the knee Direct Action should consider adding polymer or other removable knee pads similar to what Crye or Masstif does for their tactical trousers. Often this feature is what separates tactical trousers in many of today’s modern elite military units, to those for law enforcement or civilian markets. It should be noted that often by including this feature there is a corresponding impact to cost and may explain why Direct Action opted not to include that in the Vanguard so as to keep it as a more marketable alternative.
  • Weight Good (4/5): Weighing in at 1.32 pounds (or 21.12 ounces) the Vanguard was very lightweight and breathable given the amount of material involved, something attributed directly to the choice of Cordura over other traditional materials available. In comparison, the market alternatives noted above came in at a variety of weights to include; the G3/G4 and Hellman Combat Pant (3 pounds each), and the Xpedition (1.7 pounds). These all demonstrate the variance in weight between trousers directly supporting defense contracts (with their strict regulations), or those supporting law enforcement or civilian. While the Vanguard is of a very light weight overall, its features and materials lend itself more to supporting the latter in any environment the mission (or training) takes you. If Direct Action were to add the protective knee pads to improve the Vanguard’s functionality, it would have a corresponding increase to weight but still keep its weight comparable to other tactical trousers.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://us.directactiongear.com/vanguard-combat-trousersr#MCM

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.

 

Vortex UH-1 Razor Holographic Optic: Built Tough

Introduced at SHOT in 2017, the UH-1 Razor is Vortex’s premier reflex optic and first model using holographic sight technology. Its robust build and overall design play a fitting tribute to its UH-1 “Huey” namesake that was the US Army’s workhorse in Vietnam.

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UH-1 ERB-CQB Reticle

Designed with the tactical consumer in mind, the Razor features an ERB-CQB Holographic Reticle using FHQ Technology that minimizes stray light emissions from the optic. The Razor’s exterior utilizes a matte black, aircraft-grade aluminum housing to minimize reflectivity. The high-quality optical glass is coated in ArmorTek to increase scratch resistance, then sealed in an anti-reflective coating. The interior of the optic is sealed with Argon gas to maximize performance of the overall system and minimize parallax. The Razor also comes with a built-in picatinny quick disconnect mount and throw lever for ease in mounting.

The power source for the Razor is a lithium CR123A battery (with an average 1500hr run time in the UH-1). Alternatively, the optic can also use an LFP123A rechargeable battery that can be recharged using a micro USB cable connected directly into the side of the Razor’s housing. The UH-1 has 15 different brightness settings, and the reticle will pulse when 25 hours of run time remain (but that feature can be cancelled). To prevent potential power drain, the optic has an auto shutoff feature that power downs the Razor after 14 hours of inactivity (but again that feature can be deactivated if desired).

Vortex also backs up its optic line by offering a transferable lifetime warranty that supports the optic, regardless if the owner is the original purchaser or not.

Specifications for the Vortex UH-1 Razor:

  • Power: 1x
  • Objective: 35mm
  • Elevation Adjustment: 0.5 MOA per click
  • Windage Adjustment: 0.5 MOA per click
  • Reticle: Red ERB-CQB; Red 65-MOA Segmented Circle; 1-MOA Red Dot
  • Length: 3.6”
  • Width: 2.05”
  • Height: 2.5”
  • Weight: 11.08 oz.
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $649.99 the UH-1 is a bit of an enigma. In comparison to the current market of holographic optics; EOTech, Leupold, Holosun, Sig, and yes…even Sightmark, holographic technology is only new for Vortex and not the greater market. The price point for the UH-1 at the time of this writing places it in the upper tier of the red dot market, and in the reviewer’s opinion out of consideration to most civilian consumers. Even in comparison, the price of the UH-1 places it on par with high-end EOTech XPS models that are specifically marketed to the military. With luck, in the future Vortex will offer something comparable at a more reasonable price range now that it has adopted the holographic technology into its optic line.
  • ComfortGood (4/5): The Razor mounts easily via its integrated mount, and the field of view looking through the optic is one of the largest on the market (though as a rectangle). This translates to rapid target acquisition when transitioning between multiple targets. The Razor’s red ERB-CQB holographic reticle shows up bright in full sun, but somewhat broken. In comparison, in low-light or indoor settings the reticle is bright and clear, a difference likely attributed to the volume of ambient light entering the optic.
  • DurabilityExcellent (5/5): The Razor’s aircraft-grade aluminum housing, and sealed internals makes it an extremely robust and durable optic. Some surface marring was attained during normal range stages and stressor drills, but none of these penetrated the hardened exterior coating. This supports the conclusion that the Razor is more an optic designed for customers within the Department of Defense and not civilians.
  • FunctionalityGood (4/5): The speed in which I was able to acquire the target with respect to the Razor’s ERB-CQB reticle was notable. In essence, lining up a 10-ring circular target within the circular design of the reticle made for quick follow-up shots that were easily center mass. This is a clear advantage over red dot optics like Aimpoint that feature only a single dot as the point of aim. Zeroing the optic was easily achieved and the audible/tangible adjustment dials provided easy movement of the reticle.
  • WeightFair (2/5): At an overall weight of 11.08 oz. the Razor is 0.06 oz. heavier than an EOTech XPS, and 0.03 oz. heavier than a EOTech 512. The Razor is also 1.58 oz. heavier than a Leupold Carbine Optic, but in comparison to Holosun or other holographic optics, the Razor is more than three ounces heavier. This weight is directly attributable to the military grade, heavy-duty design and durability of the UH-1.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://vortexoptics.com/red-dots/razor-amg-reddot/vortex-razor-amg-uh-1-red-dot.html

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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