COWAN! reviews the 5.11 TacTec

People has asked how we pick what we review – it’s simple. Some stuff we choose, and buy, because we’re interested in it. Some stuff is sent by the manufacturer. We always try to run the good with the bad, keeping in mind this filter: if we say something is good, and it sucks sweaty dog balls, some poor LCPL may spend the last bit of disposable income on it. That’s a serious responsibility, especially if it’s a case of that individual buying something he needs for deployment with everything he has left over after diapers and ramen noodles. Just keep in mind that different things have a different intended use, and we try to review them in that light. The Newer Better Boot Company may build something specifically intended for guys walking pavement a lot in the summer, vs. the Older Awesome Boot Company’s boot that was made to wear while killing assholes on the Hindu Kush in winter. What is suitable for one is not going to be as suitable for others. We try to make sure you read reviews in context, but if you have questions, or require further clarity, please don’t hesitate to ask. Leave a comment below, ask on Facebook, send us an e-mail. Thanks. Mad Duo

A Review of the 5.11 TacTec


The TacTec is a simple, well thought out Rhodesian-style chest rig with several good features. For good or ill, 5.11 Tactical has become the standard for everyday “tactical casual” when it comes to clothing. Their pants, polos, jackets, gloves underwear, boots, shoes,  socks, hats, sunglasses, knives, flashlights, kilts, belts (and on and on), have given their customer base a single supplier for anything they might need for duty. For that matter it has given them virtually everything they could possibly need to look like they’re on duty even when they are trying to blend in.  

The brand is a hallmark of the emergency services professional and the PMSC world, making us instantly recognizable to each other and (unfortunately) to the everyday taxpayer or mope who might be hip to the clique tactical clothing world.  5.11 has been accused of jumping the shark more than a few times, usually by someone who happened to be wearing 5.11 at the time.

From where I sit, they haven’t jumped any damn shark, and hope they keep it that way.  

If the market wants it, 5.11 is going to make it (including the tactical kilt, which has been demanded by Scotsmen and Punk Rock musicians alike).  So 5.11 making more tactical gear is like Ford making more trucks; even if they didn’t make one before, why should anyone be surprised (or skeptical) if they suddenly started?

The market wanted a better, lighter weight basic chest rig. 5.11 responded.

They aren’t new to making load bearing gear. I had one of the 5.11 V-TAC rigs over my soft armo

r during relief operations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005-2006.

 It was light, breathable and very durable (durability was definitely put to the test).  The 5.11 SlickStick System is probably the easiest way to attach anything to a MOLLE panel, and I’ve used the ammunition and gear pouches frequently (I often still do).  Thus when I got my hands on the 5.11 TacTec Chest Rig, I was confident it would hold up to my usually-favorable opinion of 5.11 gear.

The TacTec has been on the market for a while. I’ll admit I didn’t know anything about it until I received one at the behest of the Mad Duo (grunts: behest). Unless you go looking specifically for a 5.11 chest rig, you may not know they offer them.  Well, they do, and if the TacTec can be used as a standard for 5.11’s gear, then the standard is high.  

The first thing to know about this rig is that it has options; the harness can be used in an H style or an X style and the magazine pouches can be run open top, flap covered or with bungee retention. Note – bungee retention parts come with the rig, but it does not come with instructions because 5.11 didn’t want to make it too easy for you.  The shoulder straps are padded, the rig has an admin pocket worn against the body and there are loop panels on the front and back for identification or your choice of patches. According to the whole thing receives a weat

herproofing treatment.

When I took it to the range to run it, I decided to go with the open top pouch configuration.  Magazine access is unrestricted while the rig still provides sufficient retention to keep magazines in place unless you purposefully index one.  In multiple body positions I found the TacTec comfortable; no sagging, swaying under weight or bouncing in my face during sprints and the occasional SEAL slide (No, I don’t really do the SEAL slide, since I wasn’t a SEAL).  From prone to standing and many positions in between, the TacTec remained in place and even under the weight of *MAGAZINES*, it didn’t cut into the shoulders or effect balance.   

I don’t know how it would hold up to the terrible weight of self-guiding eternal capacity assault massacre magazines for .30 cal ghost guns, I’m sorry.

I ran the rig pretty hard and was pleased to find that it doesn’t snag easy, buckles remained secure and it did not interfere with my rifle sling or any other equipment.   It was more rain than clear skies the two times I used the TacTec on the range, which usually means my gear gets heavy as it soaks in water.  The TacTec nylon is waterproofed, so water retention was minimal.  Within the constraints of the punishment I administered, durability is good to go. Obviously I will need to abuse in other ways, for longer, for a more thorough long-term evaluation.

Obviously if you dress from head to toe in 5.11 or are brand loyal because of their quality, this rig is a must.  However, even if you’re not a 5.11-ophile it is worth a look. Should you want a chest rig, or like to wear your equipment over soft/hard armor, the TacTec Chest Rig is an excellent choice. Since it can be had for less than a hundred bucks it may be an easy choice. The TacTec comes in black, Sandstone or TAC OD (green) and is pretty versatile for a “simple” chest rig.

MSRP is $67.99; you can find it online here.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang & Clear


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