1. Save the sympathy for those who never were and never went.

  2. The Beautiful Machine.

  3. In addition to developing and producing our own line, Down Range Gear takes on custom work and gear modification on a regular basis. It’s a good way to take the pulse of the user community and go hands on with gear items we wouldn’t otherwise have reason to work with. We’re using this opportunity to allow readers to take an up close look of the original piece from a designer/ builder’s perspective and contrast the view after modification.

    You’ve probably seen a lot of chest rigs that look like London Bridge Trading Company’s “Low Profile Chest Vest” (LBT-2586A.) On the surface it’s a conventional design but well built for a production item with solid construction and attention to detail.

    The Low Profile Chest Vest is a 1000D Cordura, rectangular panel that is 12 PALS columns wide by 4 rows tall. It features four, built-in 5.56mm magazine pouches surfaced with a 3 row PALS grid and two additional columns on either side. The panel opens into a large rectangular pocket for internal storage. The built-in “H” style harness is sewn into the top of the panel and is completed with a removable waist strap.

    The 1000D Cordura construction makes this rig heavy by contemporary standards although the base fabric is only 1 layer thick. Stitching throughout is consistently straight and clean with quality control evident throughout. Corners and folds are also properly aligned. Most customers probably don’t notice when this doesn’t happen, which is frequent, but we do. LBT did a good job on the details.

    The PALS grid is uniformly to specification with proper spacing and alignment, another detail most users won’t notice but noteworthy when done right. Two unusual choices were not matching the khaki webbing to the Multicam fabric and ending the 1” PALS webbing in heat sealed cuts rather than rolling it over or folding it into a seam. As a deliberate choice rather than a workmanship issue, it does not detract from build quality. If the webbing is properly cut with the edges fused, there is no fraying hazard, less so if covered by a pouch. Possibly the only down side would be the sharp, scratchy edges. The khaki colored webbing is a good solid to compliment the Multicam pattern and if there are modular pouches attached, camo pattern matching is a non-issue. Gear is the least of the potential target indicators you should be worrying about.

    The box construction, 5.56mm magazine quad makes good use of space. The interior slots are separated by a webbing divider. Retention is via shock cord over the top, looped around the stitch line on the uppermost PALS row, then passed through and knotted behind a grommet punched into the panel behind the magazine. The grommet holes are backed with webbing to reinforce the Cordura fabric. S&S Precision polymer pull tabs are a nice touch. The front and back walls of the magazine pouches are also lined with high friction, non-slip material which helps with retention but probably protects the fabric from abrasion, though this does not extend to the bottom of the pouch. Drain hole grommets are punched under each magazine. The only detail that seems to have been overlooked is the top edge of the pouch where the fabric is folded over. The edge of the material is exposed. This is something conventionally dealt with binding tape or just rolled under. It could also have been sewn behind the non-slip liner. Even then, it wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the edges had been properly heat sealed. But they’re not, so the material is fraying. An argument can be made that the user will have replaced the rig long before an issue manifests itself, and it certainly won’t be a problem over a deployment cycle, but for the money, it’s an oversight that shouldn’t have to be rationalized.

    The internal storage pocket is secured with hook and loop and opens via pull tabs at the top. The pocket spans the full interior, rectangular width of the panel though the actual opening only extends the width of the magazine pouches. Knotted shock cord from the magazine pouches protrudes through grommets punched into the front. A large, Velcro (loop) field is sewn into a good portion of the back of the panel along with heavy duty elastic accessory loops for internal organization. A pair of grommets provide drain holes at the back. 

    The “H” style harness is built on 1-1/2” webbing sewn into the top of the panel. It’s a left and right piece connected by overlapping hook and loop which provide width adjustment. The webbing then extends laterally to connect back into the chest rig via 1-1/2” buckles at the sides. The harness is overlaid with 1” webbing stitched down every 2” and features four elastic loops on either side. The waist strap is 1” webbing with adjustable buckles on either end. Velcro wraps are sewn into the harness and waist strap to take up the excess webbing.

    While the LBT Low Profile Chest Vest could fairly be called conventional by most current standards, it is, oversights aside, competently executed.

    Next in the series we’ll be examining modifications to the rig as requested by the customer. 

    Pictures are up on Flickr.


  4. Save the sympathy for those who never were and never went.

  5. The Beautiful Machine.

  6. In closing: Down Range Gear, making First Spear and Crye Precision work together. Many thanks to Ollie for helping create the opportunity and trusting me with your expensive stuff!

  7. Crye Precision Skeletal cummerbund + First Spear Tubes = Win.

  8. Think you’ve seen this before? 

    You haven’t. 

    Not like this. 

    You don’t shell out the sort of money required to buy into brands like Crye Precision and First Spear unless you’re serious about kit.

    When you’re that exacting about equipment, you want everything to be right. 

    And if you can’t purchase it the way you want it, you find someone who can do what you need done.

    This isn’t the first time a customer has entrusted Down Range Gear to modify two high end pieces of gear. It’s no small thing to send gear off to be hacked up and put back together. In the right hands, you can end up with something that is considerably better, in the wrong hands, it can be substantially worse. 

    We’re talking about retrofitting a Crye Precision Skeletal cummerbund with First Spear’s Tubes hardware, of course. 

    The catch is that because Tubes cannot be had as a standalone item, the customer had to purchase two different cummerbund systems in order to get the working solution he wanted. That’s pretty steep. 

    He’s not the only one who’s done it or thinking of doing it. 

    The Crye Precision Skeletal cummerbund epitomizes lightweight and low profile with everything that isn’t there. 

    First Spear Tubes hardware is the first good, viable hardware alternative to hook and loop cummerbund closures. 

    There are at least a few people out there who would like to see these two things together. 

    Last time we did this, the complicated part was making the Crye cummerbund’s 3 row PALS grid interface with the two 1.5” slots in the First Spear Tubes hardware. They are neither sized correctly nor spaced to align. We did that job with webbing, which was effective, if inelegant.

    We have a significantly better way to do it this time. 

    Non-woven, synthetic fabrics are game changing in that they can be cut to specific shapes to solve problems that simply aren’t possible with webbing or conventional fabric. 

    We were able to custom fit a one piece “end cap” for the Crye cummerbund, neatly binding the webbing ends, then narrowed down to fit through the attachment points in the Tubes hardware. It’s a very clean, flat, single piece solution. 

    A major gain for the user is that this also allows for everything to be sewn together closer than was possible before, which is significant because we do everything we can to minimize gaps in the user’s critical workspace (front of the vest, forward of the hips.)

    After using the Tubes hardware to upgrade the Crye piece, we went back to retrofit the First Spear cummerbund with a hook and loop closure. The customer had to buy two expensive pieces of gear to make this work. Keeping the extraordinary investment of gear in mind, making sure both could be viable for the customer was important. Does the customer have plans to use it? Can he resell it to recoup some of the cost? Don’t know, but with careful work, we’ve preserved that option.

    Buying Crye Precision and First Spear represents a tremendous investment in high end gear. We are exceedingly grateful to customers who trust us for precision work with expensive equipment.  The application of new materials and fabrication techniques to improve on the process made this a fun challenge and interesting project . 

  9. First Spear Tubes + Crye Precision Skeletal cummerbund… wait for it…

  10. There are a lot of users who think Crye Precision’s Skeletal cummerbund fitted with First Spear’s Tubes would be a really good combination. Yes, we’ve seen this before, but it’s so much better the second time around.

  11. Save the sympathy for those who never were and never went.

  12. The Beautiful Machine.

  13. Essential EDC gear.

  14. Save the sympathy for those who never were and never went.

  15. The Beautiful Machine.