There have never been more people in the business of making tactical gear than there are today. 10 years of the GWOT, new technology, and the rapid spread of new ideas have spurred development like never before.
There are manufacturers on the top of their game- like HSGI, Eagle, Tactical Tailor, Raine and Spec-Ops who make great gear, and make it in the USA. Their gear is great, but it is also pricey, proving that you do get what you pay for.
There are vendors selling imported stuff that is of marginal quality, or just junk. If it says made in China, it falls in this category. The only thing this stuff has going for it is price.
And there are all levels in between. Stuff made in the US that isn’t so hot, stuff made in Korea that is good. It leaves a lot too look at when you are in the market.
But there is one thing that most people don’t look at, and they should, because it is a viable option that, for most buyers of tactical gear, it is their best value. And that is USGI surplus MOLLE gear.
Why? In the last 15 years the issued equipment has come a long way. A USGI MOLLE mag pouch or shingle works, it holds the mags, it stays on. Yeah it may not be as high-speed as some, but it gets the job done, and at a fraction of the price. A USGI 100rd SAW pouch holds 20rd mags for an M14, HK-91 or similar rifles well.
Just got an AR-15 and need a cheap, basic way to hold the magazines? One of the military issue 6 mag bandoleers will do that for under $10. Lots of our law enforcement customers are getting these for active shooter response, they put 4 mags in the first 2 pouches, then first aid gear in the last one. Cheap, rugged, simple and quick to grab and go. Why drop $200+ on a solution that won’t do much more?
Need a basic tactical vest, the basic riflemans set, as pictured below is under $40. It holds 6 mags plus a canteen, with plenty of space to add more pouches. All that for less than some vendors get just for mag pouches.
Packs? The later generation USGI surplus MOLLE packs in desert, coyote or ACU digital are great packs, well made, and as rugged or more than the high dollar ones, at about 25% of the price.
USGI Surplus MOLLE gear is:
- 100% American made
- Held to strict quality standards
- You know it is made from 100% MILSPEC fabric that meets all specs for durability and low IR reflective signature.
- And it is cheap. You get gear that is all of the above, but priced often even cheaper than the crappy Chinese imports. So you get the best of both worlds.
If you don’t see a color you want, you can also dye the USGI stuff to meet your needs- coming soon is a write up on how to dye/paint it and what colors work.
So, before you buy cheap gear, or before you buy high end gear, take a look at the real USGI surplus stuff and see if it will meet your needs. If you were shopping for expensive gear, you can save a bundle and still end up with quality gear. If you were shopping for cheap gear you can spend the same amount and get stuff that is far better than anything imported. You don’t have to go exclusively with surplus, surplus pouches hook to a different MOLLE/PALS vest just fine, and vice-versa.
You can save hundreds of dollars, and still have a rig that carries your gear just fine. And you can put that money saved toward training classes, weapons, or other stuff that will return far greater dividends than paying 10 times the price for gear that is only maybe 10% better in how it works. You may not win any geardo fashion shows, but I bet if you are reading this still you don’t care about what people think about your gear, only that it works.
I could try and sell you a bunch of stuff that costs a lot more and tell you that unless you drop hundreds of dollars on gear to carry magazines and gear you will fail. Plenty of vendors out there doing that. But I would rather sell you what you what will get the job done at the best value for your dollar. These days, getting the best value goes a long way.