by MoondogWe all need a place to store spare magazines, BBs, batteries, canteens, etc. Tactical Vests are worn more for style than necessity in airsoft games but they can be practical as well as tactically-fashionable. Here we’d like to discuss the pro’s and con’s of various types and brands. The term Tactical Vest or Tac Vests is often used to describe three seperate types of tactical carrying systems: webbing, vests, chest-rigs.
A system of belts and harness/suspenders that are designed to carry pouches, holsters and bags.
ALL-PURPOSE LIGHTWEIGHT INDIVIDUAL CARRYING EQUIPMENT. This is the system developed by the US Army late in the Vietnam war. Other countries have their versions.
Pro: Light weight, low heat retention, modular, inexpensive
Con: Old fashioned style
Covering most or all of the torso, some lightweight vests feature intigrated harness/suspenders in a vestlike configuration. They come in various types.
LBV (Load Bearing Vests) were developed in the 1980’s as an improved ALICE web harness with intigrated ammo pouches. They are being phased out by the US military and being replaced by MOLLE plate carriers.
PRO: Light weight, less-heat retaining than tactical vests, inexpensive
CON: Old fashioned style
Developed by the South African Army during their war with Rohedsia in the early 1980’s, this varient on the LBV is a favorite with Special Forces and Contractors due to its lightweight design and many storage pockets (6 dual-mag pockets, 2 large dump-pouches, a map-pouch and large-first aid-pouch) and intigated hydration backpack. New reporductions come in various camo types.
PRO: Light weight, less-heat retaining than tactical vests, moderately priced
CON: Fixed pouch configuraiton. Not modular
Designed for SWAT and special forces for CQB, these vest feature a mutitude of pockets. Because they were originally designed to be worn over bodyarmor, it can be a little bulky for smaller players. The UTG version offers a detachable cross-draw holster and an intigrated pistol belt with extra mag pouches.
PRO: Many pockets, many camo choices, UTG version moderately priced
CON: Bulky for smaller players
SWAT Tactical Vest
A modular variant of the Tactical Vest, this design features modular pouches attched via gromets to the vest body.
PRO: Modular design
CON: With pouches, more expensive than std. Tac Vest. Only for use with SWAT style loadout.
CIRAS, MOLLE Tactical Vests/Body Armor
MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, pronounced “Molly”, this is the newest modular vest system issued to US forces. There are wide variety of special pouches and bags that can be attched via straps to customize your loadoat. CIRAS body armor reproductions are a popular design.
PRO: Modular design. Modern design.
CON: With pouches, more expensive. Heat retaining.
Designed to be used with backpacks, chest rigs have all their pouches and attachements points on the front and sides of the body. This open design allows for the maximum cooling due to the lack of rear torso coverage. The design is also the most comfortable for larger XXL+ sized players.
Ranger Chest Rig
Developed for SAS and special forces in the 80’s, this chest rig is the most affordable tactical carrying system at $18-$20
PRO: Many pockets. Very inexensive. Non-heat retaining
CON: Old styling. Not as Gucci as full vests. Can be bulky when laying prone.
Infinity/Eagle Industries MOLLE Chest Rigs
A chest rig version of the modular vests, these lighter chest rigs offer many of the same bennifits, save for the back attachement points.
PRO: Modular. Light weight. Non-heat retaining
CON: Not quite as Gucci as a full-vest. Can be bulky when laying prone.
Chicom/VN Chest Rig (above) and the ’80’s’ Soviet chest rig.
The mother of all tactical vests, this Chinese design from the 60’s is the probably most produced tactical carrying system in the world. A must for any NVA loadout.
PRO: Light weight. Non-heat retaining. Very inexpensive.
CON: Difficult closure system. Limited carrying capacity vs. modern designs.
A few things to consider before buying
1. OD or Coyote Brown solid colored vests match with the broadest range of camo types. Buying black or camo patterned vests limits your mix and match options. Though black is ideal for SWAT style loadouts.
2. Make sure your vest has pockets that can fit your magazines. ie. MP5, AK and G36 mags will not fit in LBV pockets.