My buddy TX2Guns over at The Tactical Hermit sent in his take on chest rigs after linking to my last post on the topic of gear for low or untrained people. . He knows his stuff, having been on the two way range a time or two. Read and heed. – NCS
All of us CO’s worth our salt have our “BUG-OUT” or “GO-BAGS” packed and ready to roll at this very minute, but how many of us have our “GO-RIGS” ready?
A “GO-RIG” is another name for your fighting rig. This is the rig you transport mags & ammo for your Main Fighting Rifle and Sidearm. It will also have your blowout/trauma kit, spare weapon parts for field repairs and maybe some weapon cleaning gear. I have discussed one of these rigs, the“Mad Max” Chest Rig“ in a previous article. We will discuss some others such as the Rifleman’s Belt, MOLLE Tac-Vest and the Bandolier (Sneaky Bag) as other options.
Before we get into the rigs themselves, let’s talk about how you separate your ammo out. I have found specifying a specific sneaky bag or bandoliers for each weapon is more convenient than piling it all into one bag. There are several benefits to this, the first obviously being weight, the second, is being able to grab specific ammo for a specific weapon when you need it. For instance, one bag may have all your AK mags, another your 12 Gauge, another your .308 ammo and so forth.
An often overlooked issue is being able to have your sidearm holster, IWB or OWB, ready to deploy, along with plenty of mags, first thing. This would be the Number One Item I put on (if I don’t already have it on already for whatever reason like I was asleep or in the shower) when the SHTF before my rig. I also have “MOLLE Pack Holsters” that can be attached to any of my MOLLE packs, giving me the option to carry my sidearm on the pack versus on my person; This just gives you more options on how to deploy. I also keep ALL of my pistol mags together in a bag in the event I need to grab all of them at once or just a couple, depending on the situation.
The MOLLE Tac-Vest
I tend to use this set-up with my DM (Designated Marksman) rifle, but it can easily be used with Assault Rifle too. The great thing about these MOLLE vest, is that you can modify them exactly how you want it. The various pouches (which are sold separately of course), can be placed anywhere on the rig, and there is plenty of MOLLE real estate to move things around. In this rig, I have 6 Rifle Mag Pouches, a dual pistol mag pouch in which I carry my multi-tool and flashlight, a Trauma pouch, a Camelbak Water Bottle Pouch and a Mag Dump bag on the side. I carry my sidearm on a Spec-Ops Gear drop leg thigh holster which has room on the flank for another dual pistol mag pouch. The only negative thing about this rig is it can get very heavy over time, which is why I prefer it as a DM set-up where I most likely would be doing static over-watch.
The Shihan Chest Rig
This is the rig I use most often to train in. It has 4 AK rifle mag pouches and 4 pistol mag pouches, in which, again, I keep a multi-tool and flashlight in two of them. My cell phone/radio pouch is on the side and I keep a small blowout kit in the back mesh pocket. I wear my drop leg thigh holster for my Glock which has a dual pistol mag pouch, giving me 4+1 mags total. I favor this rig because of the weight, it rides very nicely and because of the waist strap, does not shift when running/ducking/diving, etc. You can also use one of the rifle mag pouches as a pistol holster if you are willing to lose a rifle mag; the bungee straps work great in securing the gun, but FYI, the draw is awkward if you need it in a hurry.
The Bandolier/Sneaky Bag
This can either be used as a stand alone rig or a supplement rig, depending. In this one I have (10) AK mags plus (4) Glock 30 Mags, on the side I have a small blowout kit and some spare parts. I won’t lie to you, this dude is heavy and I have never used it as a stand alone rig for that reason. I pretty much have this thing packed and ready to go in the event I need ALOT of AK ammo in a hurry! Now I have friends who run AR’s that use this rig as a stand alone, but let’s face it: eight to ten .223 AR mags do not even come close to ten fully loaded AK mags in weight! The key to using this in the field is slinging it so the weight distribution is even, also rigging a supplemental waist strap t the one already provided helps greatly.
The Hybrid Rig
This is a rig I used the most during Hurricane Ike, where I did not need to go into full-blown “Mad Max” mode, but just needed to tote the essentials plus my pistol for basic security. I base all of my BOB’s and VBOBS off Camelbaks or something similar, and this one is no different. Water is life, so every good survival pack needs to start with a way to tote it! What I typically ended up doing during Ike was securing the firearm on my person in my IWB and then slinging the pack, but keeping everything together like this allows you to be able to grab one bag and then deploy as needed.
The Rifleman’s Belt
There are many variations of this rig, but the one I use is based on the HSGI Padded Belt held up by High Speed/Low Drag Suspenders. I am a big fan of HSGI kit; their “taco” mag pouches are one of the only truly “universal” mag pouches out there, being able to fit a variety of weapon’s, including AK mags. My belt is in the process of being built, but I Googled the above picture for you to get an ideal. Once more, this a truly universal rig, being that the pouches are all platform inter-changeable, you could realistically use this with your DM Rifle, Assault rifle or Shotgun. A word of warning: HSGI kit is expensive, but if you were going to build one rig for ALL your weapons, this is the way to go, no question.
No matter what rig you choose, keep it outfitted and ready to deploy in an instant!