G-Code

Archive for May, 2008

New Safariland 6004 Accessory

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

These are photos of a new 6004 accessory called the MOLLE Locking System. In fact its not intended solely for the 6004, it can be adapted to a variety of Safariland products. The mounting fork easily slides into MOLLE channels. Additionally, the MOLLE Locking System allows the user to retain the same leg shroud but easily change out actual holsters by means of the fork affixed to the rear of the holster that slides into a MOLLE receiver plate mounted on the shroud. It is also compatible with a MOLLE panel, belt mount, and shoulder rig.
New Safariland 6004 HolsterNew Safariland 6004 HolsterNew Safariland 6004 Variant - Fork

A Website for the Do-It-Yourselfer: DIY Tactical

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I mentioned the gang at DIY Tactical in a recent post about the SOF Industry Conference. They are the go-to guys for folks who want to have it their way. They even service small government customers with repair materials. Mike Rinaldi, who owns DIY spoke with me about his customer base and some of the products he sources. The problem many smaller custom shops have is that they can’t meet the minimums from the mill for specialty materials. In addition to the hobbyist and small businessman Mike says he sometimes gets calls from larger companies doing prototypes of small runs and need to use a fabric they don’t normally stock. But they offer more than just standard Cordura. They also webbing, hardware, and thread. If they don’t have it, they will get it.

DIY also sponsors a forum for the burgeoning entrepreneur where one can get advice on anything from setting up a small business to how to time a finicky sewing machine. Remember, the late, great Logan Coffey started out in his room in the barracks.

DIY Tactical

The Blue Force Gear Universal Wire Loop

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Blue Force Gear, manufacturer of the popular Vickers series of slings has recently released a new product. Machined from a 6061 aluminum billet, the sling loop is bead blasted and arrives with a non-reflective black finish. The nylon coating renders the cable virtually silent and provides a degree of flexibility unavailable with hooks commonly used to attach slings. The loop adapts to all varieties of weapons and accommodates nonconventional carry options. Two different lengths are now available.

Blue Force Gear Universal Wire Loop

Blue Force Gear

Field Jacket – a Eulogy

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Don’t expect to see a tear filled goodbye to the Field Jacket from me. Instead I am jumping for joy. Starting in FY09 the Army will cease fielding the M-65 Field jacket. Instead, each Soldier will be issued a Gen II ECWCS (Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System) parka in UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) and it will be transferred as an OCIE item with the Soldier from assignment to assignment much like the laundry bag.

It amazes me to see so many still wearing the venerable M-65. The basic design for the M-65 hails from WW II and remained relatively unchanged over the years. Soldiers wore the M-43 Field Coat during their march to Berlin. Over the years there were small changes like a redesigned collar or the introduction of Quarpel (Quartermaster Water Repellent), the precursor to today’s DWR treatments. In the 80s the Field Jacket was transformed from OD Green to Woodland Camo but the basic design didn’t change. Later a 3-Color Desert variant was issued as Organizational Clothing for operations in the CENTCOM AOR. Finally, when the ACU was fielded the Field Jacket saw its latest change. The pattern was changed to UCP and velcro was added to the sleeves for shoulder sleeve insignia and to the zipper flap for rank.

Its replacement, the Army version of the Gen II ECWCS parka is also in UCP and began its life as a Marine Corps garment. The Marine Corps wanted a replacement for the first generation of ECWCS which featured out dated design features. The Marine Corps has moved on to an even more improved version of the garment called APECS (All Purpose Environmental Clothing System). The USAF has also adopted APECS in conjunction with their switch to the ABU.
ACU Field JacketUCP Gen II ECWCS

Duffel Bag Drag

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Recently I posted about the Army’s plans to replace an old GI standby; the cotton towel. Well another military icon may be on its way out as well. While it might not be as sexy as a new rucksack, the venerable duffel bag is one of the few items that will follow a Soldier into civilian life. Other than updating the material and shoulder straps in the 80s the design hasn’t changed since before WW II. The Army’s PM-CIE plans to incorporate features of the flyer’s kit bag into the new design while retaining the ability to secure the new bag’s zippered opening with a padlock. The new duffel will also feature cargo handles on each end in order to facilitate loading of the bag on to trucks and pallets.

There will be a user field evaluation in FY09.

The 330 Revolution: Genesis

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Lightweight – A recent history
The move toward lightweight military equipment is almost cyclical in nature. Today the market is saturated with “bomb-proof” gear designed to last a lifetime. But as the owner of Mayflower pointed out to me, we fought the Viet Nam war using parapack fabric. It was lightweight but not overly robust. Heavy, over engineered load carrying systems are a fairly recent phenomenon. The British made the jump to high tenacity nylon first when they fielded PLCE. But here in the US, on an almost parallel path the early Tactical Load Bearing Vests were made from ballistic nylon that quickly transitioned to 500D Cordura and Field Packs, Large Internal Frame were manufactured from 1000D Cordura. When the full jump to MOLLE came the materials transitioned as well. The benefit was obvious; the more abrasion resistant texturized nylons had a longer service life. In the fall of 2001, members of SOCOM began operating in the mountains of Afghanistan wearing these same systems. Quickly, they realized that to maintain the edge, they would need to shed pounds from their load wherever possible.

Looking back, I think that for the most part, the ALICE gear we used for so many years held up pretty well and at a fraction of the weight. However, I realize now that part of the problem is that the designs themselves were never updated. Unconsciously, we associate pack cloth with poor performance. It may not have been the materials nearly as much as the designs. Fortunately, new lightweight fabrics engineered for strength have entered the scene and a small cadre of forward thinking manufacturers are developing new designs to capitalize on their availability.

Modularity – Its strength is its weakness
I know I was leading the charge to move to a more modular solution but I have written in the past how I feel that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of modularity. Let’s face it, the average guy sets his kit up and changes very little. Members of some units cut the attachment system from their pouches and rigs and have the Riggers sew the pouches fast. I prefer a “hybrid” approach meaning that certain pouches such as those for ammunition will always remain in the same place but a warrior may be issued a different radio or other ancillary item based on METT-T. I am also an advocate of using the right material for the right job. Many “monolithic” load carrying solutions on the market are made entirely from one material; usually 1000D Cordura. Others utilize specific fabrics for different applications in their designs but overdo resulting in equipment that you can pass on to your grandkids but weight a ton. Just as with modularity, a balance must be made.

Solutions – An answer for the masses and a call to action
Considering weight, cost and flexibility, currently the best rig I have seen that espouses these principles is the SKD version of the Universal Chest Rig manufactured by Eagle. It is inexpensive and you can buy it today. However, others are applying the principles I have discussed and are producing kit for a small customer base. Soon, I expect to see these designs gain wider acceptance. I also hope to see larger manufacturers adopt at least some of these weight saving principles as well. Not only will they result in a lighter load for our warriors but we may also realize lower manufacturing costs.

SKD Universal Chest Rig

My friends at Military Morons, have a great review here

The 330 Revolution Pt. 1

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Mayflower Research & Consulting LLC, a little known manufacturer of highly specialized load carrying systems displayed an ultralight chest rig designed for use by the military athlete at the recent SOF Industry Conference. Manufactured from a combination of 500D and 330D Multicam Cordura, the UW Chest rig is designed to carry 4 ea 5.56mm magazines, 2 pistol magazines, up to 2 small radios (MBITR) as well as two GP pockets. Additionally, the H style harness features loops to route antennas, comms wires and hydration bladder tubing. Lessons learned in the mountains of Afghanistan have been applied in the design of this innovative chest rig. Don’t let the lightweight construction make you think that it won’t stand up to punishment. The entire design is intended to take unneeded ounces off of the wearer’s load. When used in conjunction with other equipment built with this new approach the Soldier can take pounds off of his back. All buckles are ITW Nexus IR and all materials and workmanship are 100% American. In addition to Multicam, the UW rig is available in Ranger Green and Coyote in 500D Cordura. While most of Mayflower’s work is customized to the end user, a standard version should be available soon.

Mayflower US Chest Rig in Multicam

PCU Going Green?

Monday, May 26th, 2008

There has been much talk over the past few years about “green” technologies. To some this means recycled materials and to some it means renewable supplies. For Natick’s Program Manager for SOF Survivability Systems green technologies are a move from olefin-based materials to natural based fibers. The largest concern is that the natural materials provide similar durability and performance as the currently used petroleum-based ones. One technology that has shown promise is bamboo fibers treated with coconut oil. At the recent Soldier Systems APBI representatives from PM-SSS briefed that these new green technologies might find their way as early as FY09 into the Protective Combat Uniform program or another combat uniform. While it remains rumor, there has been a great deal of buzz over SOCOM developing a new camouflage pattern and that a solicitation for both a pattern and new combat uniform may come in FY09.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Monday, May 26th, 2008

For those of you who haven’t seen it; do so. It is a fantastic addition to the franchise. Overall the movie was very well done but two accuracy errors stood out for me. The Soldiers were wearing the correct Ridgeway style caps but the Colonel had sewn on rank. Additionally, during the scene with the troops in NBC garments, they were wearing M-17 protective masks and not the M-9 as would have been the standard issue at the time. In fact the M-9 soldiered on for quite some time after the M-17 series was fielded for those involved in decontamination operations.

If anyone noticed any other errors shoot me an email at admin@soldiersystems.net and I will add them.

Survivability Through Mobility

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Finally the tide seems to be turning and the conventional wisdom of armoring service members like tanks seems to be coming to an end. At the Soldier Systems APBI in May MARCORSYSCOM officials stated the they were “willing to accept risk for the sake of mobility” and the term “Survivability through mobility” has become PM-ICE’s mantra in their quest for a replacement for the Modular Tactical Vest program. The effects of this push can already be seen with the fielding of the new plate carrier to Marines in Afghanistan. PM-ICE representatives also stated that they were looking to reduce the area of coverage on the MTV replacement and reduce cumbersomeness in order to increase lethality.

Marine Plate Carrier