Fingers On: Micro Chest Rigs vs. Heavy Chest Rigs

We’ve spent lots of time not too long ago speaking about physique armor and plate carriers. It’s a subject we predict is particularly related as we proceed to see pockets of aggressive unrest that embody property injury and crimes towards individuals. Your tools needs to be a mirrored image of your setting, and it’s best to all the time take steps to arrange for the worst-case situations. Present developments in equipment configuration have led to many viewing the chest rig as an adjunct or add-on to an armor carriage platform. We agree that that is positively a superb use for a chest rig. However the fantastic thing about chest rigs is that they can be used unbiased of armor as a stand-alone load-bearing platform. Whether or not you wish to carry spare magazines, radios, shelter-building tools, medical provides, or simply meals and water, chest rigs supply a versatile, ergonomic choice to preserve your survival gear simply accessible. For instance this level, and to look at the first colleges of thought in chest rig design, we’re taking a look at two particular merchandise to signify two main classes: micro chest rigs and heavy chest rigs.


Redwire Gear Emergency Administration Rack (EMR)

We’ve had our Redwire Gear EMR chest rig for years, and regardless of absolutely the deluge of compact, minimalist, low-vis, and micro chest rigs to hit the market over the past couple years, we nonetheless haven’t discovered one we like higher than the EMR. It’s a easy panel with a 6-row-by-6-column grid of laser-cut slots in lieu of conventional MOLLE-compatible webbing. It comes full with an H-harness constructed from 1-inch nylon straps and is assembled utilizing six Fastex-style buckles.

The again of the panel is roofed in hook tape from edge to edge, with a detachable loop-side panel for those who don’t want the stick-on functionality. The mix of hook tape and buckles makes the EMR usable as a stand-alone chest rig, clip-on entrance panel for QASM-equipped plate carriers, and even to connect onto some assault packs with loop tape panels (the 5.11 AMP12 pack, for instance). With the H-harness, it can be slung over a car headrest, and the waist strap related across the seat to create an ad-hoc seatback load carriage setup. When configured lean sufficient, this micro chest rig fully disappears beneath a windbreaker or hoodie.

We’ve reconfigured ours quite a lot of instances through the years, however consider we’ve discovered the goldilocks setup for it (for now):

Above: The HSGI Bleeder/Blowout Pouch holds simply sufficient trauma gear to cowl seemingly battlefield wounds.

The G-Code Scorpion pouches permit us to make use of quite a lot of rifle mags from AR-15 to AR-10/SR-25 to AK sample. The Excessive Velocity Gear Bleeder/Blowout pouch has been round for years and is a chief instance of the “if it ain’t broke …” axiom. It’s a compact, low-profile design that has simply sufficient room for a primary blowout equipment together with chest seals, fight gauze, compact strain dressing, and a set of nitrile gloves. The one factor that doesn’t match contained in the equipment is a tourniquet, which we’re capable of repair by threading a bungee-based STRAP band to the small laser-cut MOLLE panel on the facet of the pouch. There’s additionally a slot at the back of the Bleeder/Blowout pouch for trauma shears, with constructive snap-close retention.

The Demo pouch, Redwire’s reply to the rising development in drop-down or sub-abdominal type pouches, is augmented with a Mk1 chem mild panel from Explosive Ops Gear. We initially had the panel stocked with 10 4-inch miniature chem lights, however discovered these had a behavior of falling out throughout rigorous motion. So, we went with the bigger 12-inch “hand flare” chem lights that feed via each units of loops. They’re somewhat cumbersome however present extra mild than the minis and are held rock-solid safe on the panel.

Contained in the Demo pouch, we have now a small IR “firefly” beacon for marking/identification below evening imaginative and prescient in addition to a compact Sport Smoke smoke grenade and smaller elastic-loop panel for miniature IR chem lights. We even have a 50-foot size of 4-in-1 FireCord. This appears to be like similar to commonplace 550 parachute twine, however the outer nylon sheath could be break up open to disclose a strand of Dyneema that can be utilized as fishing line or a friction noticed, a strand of waxed linen tinder twine, and a strand of cotton stitching string that can be utilized to restore gear or for wound suturing in austere situations.

The Demo pouch is very versatile and could be loaded with something from medical gear to snacks to survival instruments or demolition tools, for those who’re cool sufficient to make use of that on your job. It attaches through a big hook-and-loop panel that simply presses onto the again of the EMR. If that’s an excessive amount of bulk, otherwise you don’t want the additional load carriage, merely tear it off and run the EMR in stand-alone configuration.

Why Select a Micro Chest Rig?

What’s a micro chest rig good for? It’s, admittedly, not a complete lot of load-carriage, comparatively talking. However there are some particular purposes that this type of setup is right for.

To these working in legislation enforcement or low-profile protecting roles, a micro chest rig is a good way to up your ammo or gear capability whereas sustaining most concealability. Whether or not you’re conducting surveillance, working an energetic shooter response function, or supporting a VIP escort/safety crew that doesn’t require giant quantities of ancillary gear, micro rigs are a superb solution to feed a carbine or rifle that could be a secondary or worst-case weapon, or to hold different tools like a radio, giant flashlight, or medical gear. Small chest rigs are light-weight, low-bulk, and preserve your crucial objects shut at hand and simply accessible with both hand from quite a lot of positions. If you happen to spend most of your time behind a steering wheel, these rigs can be extra snug than including tools to an obligation belt whereas being quicker than digging via a go-bag or assault pack.

Above: The Redwire Gear Emergency Administration Rack is a wonderful instance of a modular micro rig that may carry a no-frills preventing load for emergency response, whereas nonetheless being concealable below a big hoodie or windbreaker.

For ready residents, micro chest rigs let you scale your stage of response. They are often thrown over a slick plate service and simply as simply eliminated when not wanted. They’re additionally a good way to complement your EDC if/when the scenario requires a extra aggressive posture. Even for those who appendix carry a pistol or different weapon in your day by day routine, micro chest rigs is not going to inhibit your entry to pockets or beltline, particularly for those who forego the Demo pouch add-on.

The writer retains his EMR packed in a go-bag with a First Spear Slick plate service. These two items of equipment paired up permit a completely scalable response for an array of conditions that will require simply armor, simply extra gear, or each. As said, the Slick and the EMR micro chest rig, even when worn collectively, nonetheless permit regular draw from an AIWB holster, entry to an AIWB mounted blade, and full use of all pant pockets for smaller EDC objects like flashlight or folding knife.

Above: The EMR’s load carriage could be expanded with Redwire Gear’s Demo Pouch, which hangs down below the EMR.


Barrel & Hatchet Ghost

On the opposite finish of the spectrum from the high-speed-low-drag micro rigs are bigger, purpose-built chest rigs. Typically known as general-purpose or patrolling rigs, these supply a considerable improve in load carriage, buying and selling off concealability. They sometimes have a set of pouches which might be laborious sewn to the harness. Not supposed to be clipped onto a plate service, patrolling rigs date again to earlier generations of chest rigs utilized in locations like Vietnam and Rhodesia — for a very long time, these setups have been known as “Rhodesian rigs” as a result of their reputation in quite a lot of African Bush wars.

They date again to a time earlier than physique armor was prevalent on the battlefield, and have been worn merely for extra ergonomic load carriage. These days, some army models that work in robust terrain or specialise in long-range reconnaissance patrols nonetheless use them when direct contact with the enemy isn’t within the mission profile. Some models will put on patrolling rigs whereas holding slick plate carriers of their rucksacks. The patrol will cease wanting their goal to don armor earlier than placing however have all their immediate-use tools on them within the meantime.

Our instance patrolling rig comes from a brand new firm referred to as Barrel & Hatchet Commerce Firm. Their rig, which they name the Ghost, was designed by Air Drive JTACs (Joint Terminal Air Controllers) who typically work hooked up to particular operations models charged with long-range patrols. The JTAC’s job is to name in airstrikes on recognized enemy positions. This mission set is clearly translated into the Ghost’s design, which options pouches for as much as six AR-style magazines, two radios (one to speak to their teammates, one to speak to assault plane), and two general-purpose pouches for medical or sustainment provides.

Thankfully, for those who’re not directing F-16s dropping bombs on ISIS fighters, the radio pouches could be repurposed to carry every kind of issues from water bottles to energy bars to sun shades. They’re open-topped with bungee retention cords that may be adjusted for tightness through pinch clip. When adjusted correctly, these pouches may even accommodate a full-sized service pistol with weapon mild. Even the magazine pouches will maintain different sundries, because of the Ghost’s distinctive design that options strengthened openings.

Above: The GP pouches on the Ghost rig are nice for these Nutrient Survival single-serve rations.

We’re not large followers of the flap-top magazine pouches, however since these pouches are supposed to be multipurpose, we perceive the good thing about extra closure/retention. Stated flaps buckle closed, with no hook-and-loop to make noise or get mudded up. The final-purpose finish pouches are easy. There are not any elastic loops, pile tape, or something contained in the pouches.

Those that prefer to meticulously arrange each merchandise in each pouch is perhaps triggered by the shortage of sub-compartmentalization, however the unadorned GP pouches on the Ghost could be pressed into service to carry odds and ends, and even left empty to select up scavenged objects on the fly. Our pattern got here with an H-harness, by our request, however an X-harness is the present manufacturing commonplace. Usually talking, the X-harness is extra snug for long-term put on, however the H-harness is less complicated to make use of when throwing a chest rig on over physique armor.

Talking of armor integration, we tried to combine our Ghost with our Protection Mechanisms plate service. The highest-mounted clips on the Ghost click on proper into the QASM-style feminine buckles. The Ghost additionally includes a sq. of hook-side tape on the again facet of the primary panel, which is positioned completely in case your plate service options loop-side tape on the entrance plate bag.

The Ghost is considerably bigger than a micro chest rig or load-bearing placard, with the radio and GP pouches extending effectively previous the perimeters of a plate service. We tried to make use of our AXL superior chest rig retention equipment to safe the ends of the Ghost to our cummerbund however ran right into a hiccup. The facet buckles on the Ghost are all male-end buckles, which defies the development of male buckles up prime, feminine buckles on the facet. The AXL retention equipment additionally makes use of all male-end buckles. So this was a no-go by way of utilizing the AXL equipment to safe the Ghost to our plate service.

We loaded one GP pouch with Nutrient Survival single-serve rations and the opposite with a mix of 4-in-1 survival twine, an AR multi-tool, and a Sport Smoke smoke grenade. The radio pouches handily accepted an insulated water bottle and a Leupold recognizing scope.

Why Select a Heavy Chest Rig?

If concealment isn’t a difficulty for you, a bigger patrolling-style heavy chest rig just like the B&H Ghost affords benefits in each the quantity and array of apparatus you may carry. Likewise, if utilizing a chest rig for common outside actions like looking or climbing the place armor integration isn’t a priority then a stand-alone rig is probably going the best way to go. Whilst you could not want 6 … or 9 … or 12 magazines as a part of your loved ones preparedness plan, there are a mess of general-use rigs out there, and enormous flap-style magazine pouches could be repurposed to carry every kind of different issues.

After all, there are additionally all-MOLLE variations of those sorts of bigger heavy chest rigs that may be personalized advert infinitum to your particular wants. Particularly for those who’re the pack mule for younger youngsters or different members of the family, the additional storage capability might be a boon. Utilizing a heavy chest rig along side a small daypack or belt-mounted load carriage may also assist distribute the load of survival tools over a number of completely different areas of the physique, decreasing fatigue on a particular level.


These are simply two particular merchandise showcasing two total weight courses of chest rig. We’re not going to declare a winner or let you know that it’s best to decide a micro chest rig over a heavy chest rig (or vice versa). Quite the opposite, we urge you to take a tough have a look at what your reasonable wants are and make the only option from there. No matter what dimension, type, kind, or sample of chest rig you assume you want, there are at the least two choices available on the market at this time that suit your parameters.


Extra Articles on Chest Rigs and Plate Carriers

To study extra about tactical load-bearing tools equivalent to chest rigs and plate carriers, try a few of our earlier articles under:

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