Tactical Tailor

SHOT Show 17 – SOTech’s “British” Load Carriage Vest

Let’s face it, I’m jaded. I look at cool military gear everyday, so it’s hard to get me excited about much of anything. When I walked into the SOTech booth, it was more to wish Founder Jim Cragg congratulations for his company’s 20th anniversary than to check out more gear, as my fun meter had already pegged by day one of SHOT Show. Then, I looked on a lower shelf, and spied this beauty.

It’s a simple affair, mesh shoulders with no adjustment for length, connected directly to large, top loading GP pockets at the front and a big day pack at the rear. The vest also offers side adjustment and two front closure straps with QR buckles.

Unless you’re a true connoisseur of load carriage, you may not recognize this modern take on a classic British Load Carriage Vest, used by UKSF during the 70s in Oman, the 80s in the Falklands and Brunei and up until Operation Desert Storm in SW Asia. In fact, one was still being worn by a member of Executive Outcomes in the late 90s.

The Pack, Lightweight Combat was manufactured by several firms including Chelsea Quilt Company, commonly known as CQC, Ltd, and Mills Equipment Company (MECO). A common misconception is that this is the 72 trials pattern webbing because of its similar cut and materials, but while both were manufactured from Butyl rubber, they are distinctly different pieces of kit. The Lightweight Combat Pack was often used by UK special operators because the large ammo pouches to the front were adaptable to a wide variety of magazine types from Bren to Armalite magazines. The original model also often incorporated a specific pocket for SLR (FNFAL) magazines sewn to the front of either side’s large pocket to facilitate quick reloads. The lightweight design was intended specifically for use in tropical environments but often saw action in other regions, especially the desert.

SOTech created this no frills vest at the request of a customer for use on Close Target Recce where it can be removed from a pack and loaded with equipment needed for a short duration mission. It’s still a simple design, made from 500D Cordura and Mil-Spec mesh, with modern QR buckles. It won’t be for everybody, but some guys will get it, and use it.



23 Responses to “SHOT Show 17 – SOTech’s “British” Load Carriage Vest”

  1. Bradkaf308 says:

    Very cool. I was thinking of this the other day funny. They also have a new belt out also?

  2. Mayflower says:

    They beat me to it! I have an original and was gonna make myself one in MC!

    • Lasse says:

      I was just thinking that you were asking if anyone had one for sale via FB some time ago.

    • rob says:

      If you guys need an original for the pattern I have one and am in the DC area, can swing by and drop it off some time.

  3. DesignatedDiver says:

    Their definition of ‘close target recce’ must be different than most.

    • straps says:

      So you’re saying you’d be suspicious of a burly dude in an overstuffed Multicam vest lingering in your peripheral vision?

  4. straps says:

    I have an Eagle SWAT Medic Vest (bought used at a Bragg Blvd. pawn shop in the 1980s) in continued use as an ENG video shooter’s vest. It has 4 front GP pockets instead of two, which has allowed it to remain relevant through every camera, storage media, battery and broadcast format. It’s worked better for me than the 5.11/Domke/Cabela vests my colleagues have used/disused over the years.

    the value of a GP deal like this for operating operationally, SSE or even post-apocalyptic looting can’t be overstated.

  5. pbr549 says:

    SSD, Ive never been to a SHOT Show, so if you want to take someone who would be very excited and enthusiastic the entire time for you, I’m game LOL. I’d pay my own way and everything!

  6. Insane Soldier says:

    SO Tech should make more of these!! Please put this on your site Jim!!

  7. m.j. says:

    When I lived in Japan, a buddy of mine introduced me to a guy from NZ who made these – got one made up in DPM.