Here’s your weekend rant. Take it to heart and pay the fuck attention because it’s important. If you are someone that makes gear in the U.S. of A. you should share it. If you are a warfighter that agrees with is, you should share it. In fact, everyone who is not a dirty hippie or simpering sissy should share it. It’s that important.
So: WTAF is up with POS gear in the PX?
The military follows several manufacturing laws designed to promote US based companies. This is a Good Thing, since it would certainly be a disgrace to have our servicemen wearing foreign produced boots, uniforms and field gear. Keeping things Berry compliant puts US tax dollars back into US businesses. Some are larger corporations while others are small mom and pop companies that make great innovative products with amazing craftsmanship. ‘MERICA!
This applies to almost every article of gear a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Coasty (Coasty?) or Airman is issued…except for COTS and other end-runs, but that’s a different rant. In any case, Berry compliant gear—all the kit the troops wear…except what is sold in the local PX (or BX, in fairness). The PX pretty much has a monopoly on consumer goods, based on its close, convenient option to pretty much everywhere you go on base. For the junior warriors that lack a vehicle, or when “out in town” is a half hour drive off base—it’s the only option.
Now buying a POS (that’s polite talky talk for Piece of Shit) Chinese made-computer bag isn’t a big deal. Picking up a cheap set of sneakers made by Malaysian children in a sweatshop? No drama…but kit you have to wear in the field?
Here…here, boys and girls, here is the blistering hot source of our righteous fury—the tactical gear section of most any US Army or Marine base.
Warfighters are going out on a field op. Its time to hit up the PX and stock up on pogie bait and beef jerky. Grab a few rolls of dip or some smokes to sell at insane prices to your buddies who lacked foresight. Maybe some cammie paint and a new rape whistle, since those always seem to vanish 15 mikes into the bush.
That’s when you see it. The must-have general purpose MOLLE pouches of your dreams. Pouches that are perfect for your spare batteries, NVDs and sunflower seeds. What? Only 14 bucks? Hell yeah! That’s not too much money for lowly enlisted man, and you can have it now, when you need it, not later when you’ll probably forget about it anyway. Even the most by the book, regulation-loving of 1STSGTs still have a few aftermarket items in their ruck. Uncle Sam can’t provide everything, right?!
One thing more than any other drives us to seeing red and arouses our unreasoning rage. That thing is the certainty that every day another junior serviceman is buying a piece of life-supporting gear from the PX that we know is going to fail them.
You know the ones we’re talking about. Companies with exclamation points at the end of their name. Companies that blatantly rip off much more expensive (and higher quality) American-made designs. Companies that present themselves as American, but actually import substandard tactical nylon. Condor, Rothco, Fox Tactical, Pro Force We won’t name names, but there’s a wide array of ‘airsoft quality’ gear we’ve seen torn off teammates in disgust (if it didn’t disappear in the field). Avoid it. Otherwise you wind up on some mountain in Afghanistan without a fucking GPS because the pouch tore off.
“Where the Fuck did you get that?” We rage.
“At the PX!” the answer resounds.
Try to explain why a Serpa holster sucks, why their airsoft chest rig is not as good as mayflower, or why their knock-off blowout pouch is going to vanish on a 20 klick movement. You are talking to a wall. Bottom line, not everyone is a gear queer. Not everyone can tell the difference between 500d and 1000d, or understand that something rugged will cost more money. Guys have families to support, and can’t just drop cash on Crye Tactical Tailor, First Spear and Grey Ghost Gear quality kit every paycheck. Yet they rest assured that the 14 dollar GP pouch they picked up at the PX is quality, because why else would they sell it on base? Quantico is all Blackhawk and Condor and such. Camp Wilson and the Mountain Warfare School PX suck balls. Creech is the same way.
“That open top magazine pouch that’s only ten dollars? I’m sure it’ll make it thru a whole deployment,” says the optimistic boot.
If it doesn’t, though, and Murphy wants to visit in the middle of a firefight; you Sir, are taking it in the brown-eye with no lube.
It’s not as important to everyone to invest in quality kit. If you’re gonna live inside the wire and never leave a FOB and something happens, well, Oh no my pouch tore out, now I have to go get a new pack of BBQ sunflower seeds. I’ll get an ice cream while I’m there.
Outside the wire though, there’s no room for failure. Unfortunately by default the young guys seem to think if it’s being sold in the PX it must be okay, but the fact is if you can rip a mag pouch off a dude’s chest, it’s a no-go. The youngsters don’t know anything better and frequently don’t ask. It’s these guys that are most often the victims of it. Once they’ve been in a couple years and wasted their money and had bad shit happen to them downrange, then they know not to buy that stuff again.
We propose this, to rectify things and to save MCCS and AAFES our vengeful excoriation (grunts: excoriation). The PX, any kind of PX, should only carry high quality, American made gear. It should be priced as fairly as possible, preferably better than what the gear shops sell it for out in town. If you only offer quality, E-3s will be forced to buy it or deal with the issue gear that at the very least is reliable. Even broke-ass Lance Corporals and Specialists will buy it if they have to have it, and they’ll be better off for it in the long run. Force them into buying quality. If Tactical Tailor, High Speed Gear or OSOE is the only option, that’s all they’re going to buy especially if they’re trapped like rats at a CAX or
a pre-Afghanistan workup. Granted, it should be an issue item but we have to deal with reality.
NCOs that are worth their salt should be policing their troops’ gear, and forbidding the garbage. Note that this isn’t about not allowing non-issue gear, its about allowing performance enhancing, quality kit. It’s also about gear other than LBE, 782 and TA50. It’s about knives, multi-tools…you get our point.
Next time we’ll discuss the blatant conspiracy we all ignore: overpriced German made map pens. Apparently American ink technology is lacking.
Mad Duo Clear!
About the Authors: Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore and Jake “Slim” Call are the HMFICs at Breach-Bang-Clear (breachbangclear.com). They write for current and former military, LEOs, contractors and trained and educated responsible armed citizens. They are the most door-kickingest, trigger-pullingest action figures in the tactical operator tactically operational world. Subscribe to them and stay informed about TTPs, new kit, and latest in what’s stoopid (and occasionally inspiring) in the military and modern society or check them out on Facebook.