A Letter to the Metrotactical Geardo
“Knowing what works vs. what looks cool.”
Ok nerds, put down your copy of No Easy Day, take off the woodland Crye precision pants you ordered off Ebay that some MARSOC operator wore while going commando for nine months in the Stan’. I’m about to give you some insight on the do’s and don’ts when selecting kit while still in the military.
First off, let me tell you that I was guilty of choosing cool over practical. From my time as PFC Retard in Iraq to Sergeant Slightly Smarter in Afghanistan, I was always picking kit based off of what I saw special operators wearing in the field. I thought if a Special Forces operator had it maybe I needed one, from clothing, plate carriers, pouches, NVG mounts, even down to eye pro and gloves. I wanted it all, and not until I started teaching did I realize most of that shit sucked for my mission.
Let’s figure out what our mission is. Are you doing night time raids in helos, patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, or pulling tower guard in Iraq? Do you have to carry special equipment or a special weapon, i.e. Thor, Minehound, gizmo, SAW, 240, or 203? Also, we have to throw in factor X. X is how fucking stupid your 1Sg and CSM are with unit SOP and different pouches on your kit. The X factor is obviously the most important. To test the X factor I would only change one pouch at a time and see if anyone noticed, before I slowly added more. If you don’t have to worry about the X factor, fuck you, and I wish I was in your unit.
Pouches. How many pouches are out there just for the M-4 mag? Every tactical company has about ten different M-4 pouches holding them vertical, upside down, to six at a time. We now need to figure out what’s going to work for you, your unit SOP, and the X factor. I break down carrying my mags for my M-4 into two categories: when I want to and when I have to. So the “when I want to” pouches are a little slower to reload from than “when I have to” pouches. Meaning, whatever secures the mag might be different.
Whether it’s buckle, velcro, bungie, or rubber band, the “when I have to” pouches might not have the same securing system as the “when I want to” pouches. This being said, when you’re practicing with them make sure you practice both. I’m not going to cover brand names or companies because I will be biased (Tactical Tailor, Grey Ghost Gear, cough cough). What’s important to me is will it hold my mag, does it last long, and if it rips or tears how easy will it be to replace it. This should be your concern when purchasing pouches. Money is always a big factor as well but let’s face it, I’d rather spend the money on quality pouches than on that stripper that’s just paying her way through college.
Other pouches, i.e. pistol, radio, medical (IFAK), admin, and miscellaneous pouches should be chosen in the same manner. Does it do what I need it to do? Does it secure what it needs to secure? Can I access it easily? Does it cost less than an iPhone? And is SGM going to chew my ass out for seeing it on my kit?
These are all the factors I weigh in when choosing pouches.
Clothing. If some of you have the option to purchase combat tops and combat bottoms or better cold/wet weather gear, I would do it. Remember, the Army is a lowest bidder organization and most of our shit is sewn by blind people (no offense to the blind people, if you’re reading this in braille).
Daredevil is cool as fuck. Having combat tops on both deployments definitely helped with the heat. But the Army-issued ones ripped easy, and the fucking turtle neck design is stupid. There are several companies out there that make better ones. Same with the combat pants. You always have to wear knee pads so let’s wear pants with them built into it (it might even help you get promoted). Again, there is more than one company that make after market pants. My Army issued pants actually held up longer than the brand name ones that cost three times as much (cough, Crye).
Now to wet weather and cold weather gear. There are tons of companies that make gear in Multicam. I would rather have a jacket that can hold up to the wear and tear of everyday military life because the current issued ones don’t.
Plate carriers. As stated before, if the X factor lets you wear them I hate you. But this also means you have to weigh your options of price, performance, durability, and maneuverability. You have to figure out your plate size and if it will accommodate your issued plate. Most plate carriers on the market will always accept an ESAPI plate, but it’s harder if you have sizes small to extra small. All plate carriers have a selling point. Whether that be lighter, stronger, comfortability, modularity, or ease of getting on/off, you have to decide which one is going to fit your needs. There is no point in getting that high speed plate carrier you saw a Delta guy in if it doesn’t last you a few months deployed. There is a big difference between wearing your kit for a short mission and living in it overseas.
Eye pro, gloves, and NVG mounts. Eye pro is something you always have to wear but is never issued. The same person that will yell at you for it not being APEL approved is the same asshole wearing his at the range. So again the X factor always applies. This time I will mention a company because they offer a good military discount online: Oakley Standard Issue. But don’t use this to buy those sweet sunglasses you plan on wearing to the club. Find ones that won’t fog up too quick, and will protect your eyes and fit well while wearing a helmet.
Gloves. X factor will harp about fire retardant or genuine leather. To defeat this you must be smart when purchasing your gloves. Make sure that it covers all of the X factors needs. I added NVG mount last because I do believe the Army issues the worst NVG mount ever made. One screw on something that is not supposed to move doesn’t seem like that good of an idea. I’m just ball parking here. There are several companies that make NVG mounts that still fit with your standard rhino arm. Again, how many of you out there have broken a rhino arm? They’re like condoms, they always break when you need them the most. I purchased my own base plate and rhino arm years ago and still have not had to replace them yet.
In conclusion, always weigh the pros and cons of whatever you are about to purchase for the military. Is it the right color, will the Army change to a different camo next year, is it going to last, how much does it cost, and is the X factor going to bitch me out for it?
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: Brent Brabant is a currently serving as an instructor at AMIC (Advanced Army Marksmanship Course) at JBLM. A combat veteran of both Iraq (where he served as a scout) and Afghanistan (where he served as a senior sniper), Brabant is currently assigned to 5th Bn, 20th Inf. He was previously with 4th Bn, 9th Inf., where he once humped all 25 miles of the Manchu Mile carrying a Barrett .50. That’s way more impressive than his hair, which is really fucking saying something. Brabant is a graduate of SFAUC (where he earned “Top Shot” in his class) and too pretty to be allowed to live. This and his inveterate smartassery make him a perfect contributor to this august and grandiloquent publication.