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US Army Developed Ironman Ammo Pack Costs More Than Commercial Version It Emulates

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

A little over three years ago the US Army told us about this great new high capacity ammunition carriage system that they had developed for the M240 Machine Gun. It was so awesome they even hog gave it a cool name. The ‘IronMan’ was created by Natick’s Quick Reaction Cell and the Rapid Equipping Force after a Soldier identified the need for a means to carry and feed up to 500 rounds of linked 7.62. We literally thought this was a one off kind of a thing to support the 34th ID and that would be the end of it.

Interestingly, the Army spent a lot of time (initial prototypes in 45 days with an operational assessment almost two years later) and money to develop these things before they finally purchased a bunch of them. When we first wrote about it in July of 2011, we noted the conceptual similarity to the existing TYR Tactical MICO. The MICO Machine Gunners Assault Pack was created first, on TYR’s dime, and chances are really good that some enterprising GI saw the MICO and wanted one. Instead, he got the IronMan.

Above is the Army’s IronMan and below the TYR Tactical MICO. They are definitely different executions of the same concept.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s been done before. There’s no question, the concept isn’t new. Below you can see a ‘China Lake’ pack system built for the SEALs and used with the M60.


The difference here is that the government designed something that was already commercially available and incurred greater costs than the commercial model’s. Even worse, we hear reports that the issue models have trouble feeding and that units have been buying the MICO from TYR Tactical as replacements. That’s paying twice for the same capability.

In the time it took the Army to finalize and test their design, TYR Tactical has continued to develop the MICO, not only ensuring it will work with both the M240 and Mk48 but also introducing adapters for the M249 and Mk46 5.56mm weapons. They’ve also developed a tripod carrier accessory for the pack.

If any SSD readers have experience with the IronMan (or the MICO for that matter), please share it in the comments section. We are hearing that most are out of service for various issues.

From here on out, we’ll just refer to it as ‘IronyMan”. When all is said and done, the Army takes years to field a system that already exists commercially and pays more to do it. Sound familiar?

Beyond Clothing – Burrito Rolling

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Beyond Clothing made up this informative video on Burrito Rolling, also known as Ranger Rolling. Burrito Rolling is a space saving packing technique that makes it easier to dig through a pack without making a cluttered mess of the contents, while allowing for packing more items or using a smaller pack. Definitely worth a look.

ZOT Mini Mountain Ruck from Honor Point USA

Thursday, August 21st, 2014


Featuring Honor Point’s Zip Off Technology, the Mini Mountain Ruck relies on a common frame that allows the use of other bags when needed.


EraThr3 – Just What Is EraThr3?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

You may have heard of EraThr3. It’s a brand-new company by Sheri Johnson, former General Manger of Noveske Rifle Works. She is joined by Sterling Becklin as President/CEO and Jason Hulst of Hulst Customs. They plan on offering a line of bags, lifestyle gear, knives, and apparel, products that reach a wider range of demographics when compared to traditional tactical gear. Their press release can be read below:


Just What Is EraThr3?

“I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not Fight Club. It may seem like we’ve trying to keep things a secret but we’re not. EraThr3 [pronounced Era Three] is a lifestyle with a company wrapped around it. It’s not a company with a lifestyle.” Sheri Johnson, EraThr3 COOO.

How do you label EraThr3 in just one word? Easy. All you have to do is pick one. Cars, blades, gear, good booze, better tattoos, glory, resolve, off-roading, scandalous women, badassery.

It won’t be an accurate label unless you all of them and no matter what it will be incomplete, but you gotta start somewhere.


EraThr3’s leadership could be called heretical. It begins with Sheri Johnson, former General Manager of Noveske Rifleworks, hot tattooed chick now Chief Obnoxious Operating Officer (COOO); Sterling Becklin, previously President of Noveske Rifleworks, current President of ECS Case and long time outdoors aficionado turned EraThr3 Presidente; and Jason Hulst of Hulst Customs, custom car builder and HRDM (hot rod design maestro). These three possess an alarming range of talents and serious commitment. Design, fabrication, knowledge of the firearms-tactical-military industry, badass interpersonal skills and sheer lack of fear.

Johnson says, “The first question we get asked is, are you building firearms? The short answer is, maybe. Maybe at some point. They may be part of the journey but they’re not the entirety of the destination. We want to stay in the firearms industry, we love it, but we won’t be taking the usual path. We love to shoot and we train a lot but we’re not door kickers and we won’t be confined by the traditional ‘tactical’ world. EraThr3 is the embodiment of a more urban approach. We geared toward an overall lifestyle that includes—but is not centered on—firearms.”


EraThr3 will begin with a focus on accessories, some apparel, knives, packs and gear—we have a lot of radical gear planned, but none of it will be designed inside SOF or door kicker constraints. We will bridge the gap between the tactical world and people who love what we love, giving us the best of both worlds. We want to see our kit at the range, on the summit, on the streets.

Firearms part of the journey not destination.

EraThr3 has broad range of products is in the final stages of development now with several piece undergoing rigorous (if unorthodox) testing now. We will launch officially in October.

“We’re back in the garage again,” Johnson continues. “Just a little startup company, doing what we love and loving what we do. It’s awesome.”

Though all of the EraThr3 triarchy come from powerful positions in large companies, we reject the standard ‘stuff shirt CEO’ paradigm. We find nothing wrong with having a good glass of whisky in the middle of the day and returning to work after sobering up and we absolutely plan on partnering and doing awesome projects with cool people.

We’re not going to settle – you shouldn’t either.

Here’s to the future!

If you want to know more, you can find EraTh3 on Facebook here:

OR Summer Market – Cilo Gear

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Cilo Gear is well known for building ultra-lightweight mountaineering packs. Over time, specialized customers have come to them to build customized load carrying solutions. We’ve highlighted several in the past. This newest pack is the 40 Sniper Pack. While it was designed to carry a full length bolt gun vertically or at left or right canted. The kicker is that the users of these packs don’t have a primary duty as snipers but use accurized rifles in certain applications. They can carry the packs in the bag and get them into action very quickly but due to the means of carry they maintain a very low profile.


This 40 liter pack weighs less than 4 lbs and is made of MultiCam face fabric reinforced with Cuben fibers. The secret sauce is the cradle that holds the action of the rifle in place. I’ve seen guys run with it and it is very stable. In addition to a EDMF frame sheet which has a great deal of vertical strength that doesn’t sacrifice lateral mobility, it also accept and old school ALICE frame for you Luddites out there.


If you’re a customer for this pack, contact Cilo gear with your government email address for photos of it in use and additional information. This is not a standard production pack.

OR Summer Market – Kelty

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

According to Kelty, the old way of pack fitting is dead.


Try Kelly’s Perfect Fit Suspension and Watch Out, those zombies bite!

Grey Ghost Gear – JED Bag

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

JED bag 1

New from Grey Ghost Gear, the JED Bail Out Bag is designed as an all-in-one solution for getting out of trouble fast during vehicle operations, a go bag meant to be fought from without any unnecessary ‘cool’ features. The interior features multiple mesh pockets along with elastic loops for four 40mm rounds. The zipper runs the full length of the bag for fast access to the inside. The outside features sections of loop material for attaching hook backed pouches, such as those from Orange Diamond Concealment or Tactical Tailor’s Low-Vis line.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what JED stands for, it’s Jim Erwin Developed.

Hogue Gear – Small Single Rifle Range Bag

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Hogue 1

Hogue Gear’s Small Single Rifle Range Bag is capable of securely storing one rifle up to 34″ in length. The nylon exterior features one front zippered pocket and one Velcro outside pocket with three magazine pouches with elastic retention. Reinforced handles, multiple d-ring locations, and an included shoulder strap with non-slip pad allow for multiple carry configurations. The heavy duty YYZ zippers can lock to d-rings for added security. A Velcro loop patch allows for an ID or morale patch.


The interior features a dense foam padding with quilted non-tear brown suede lining which protects a rifle while stored the bag. A nylon stock pouch further secures a rifle when it’s stored in the bag.

Hogue 2

Available in Black and OD Green.

Warrior Expo – Vertx EDC Line In Alternative Colors

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Vertx has built a few versions of their new EDC pack line in some rather no traditional colors. If there is enough interest to put these in production, they will take the low profile designs to the next level of blending in to crowds as they make their way though the urban sprawl. There are several concepts floating around including what you see here.


Warrior East – Kelty

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Kelty is introducing Berry compliant manufacturing! This includes the popular commercial Redwing.


Contact for details.