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Posted: 10/10/2003 7:37:36 AM EDT
I found a Brit assault vest on the clearence page at Sprotsman's guide. www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?bt=C&a=74864 I received it yesterday.

It's made by Web-Tex. You can go to the link for a general idea what it looks like and what it has. I was pleasently pleased with the unit, especially for the cost.

The vest is made of the same nylon mesh that the Brits use on their PLCE. It's tough stuff, quite, comfortable and cool. Defintely not cheap mesh. It has adjustments for length as well as width. There is a drag handle. Inside the mesh near the bottom edge is a series of belt loops big enough for a std GI pistol belt. There are two fastex-type (though I haven't checked to see if it's some metric size, or US) buckles on the bottom edge of each side. One female, and one male. The vest buckles in front with three fastex-type buckles.

There are two panels on the front. All the pockets are attatched to the front panels. The right side has four pockets. Three on the bottom row, all the same size, and a slightly smaller one above on the breast. They have nylon extensions (gussets I think they are called) with cord-locks, so you can fit all sorts of stuff in them. Each of these pockets will hold four FAL mags. The smaller upper pocket will hold two. There is a zipper that opens full length at the inside edge that contains a patch pocket inside. The pocket formed by the mesh and panel is the full size of the panel, the patch pocket is just a patch inside that pocket.

The left side panel has another utility pouch on the bottom rear, two mag pouches that are kinda odd sized (more on that later) and another smaller upper pocket. There's also a long pocket that's like a pen pocket only bigger towards the inner edge. There is a zipper that opens full length for another pocket just like the right side, only instead of a patch pokcet there is a pistol holster. The holster will take a Browning HP, or similar sized gun (I tried it with a CZ-75, M1911, and Makarov as well and they worked).

All the pouches are closed by an adjustable flap and fastex-type buckle. The two mag pouches seemed to be for M16 mags, which would make sense with the SA-80, but three 30rd M16 mags had a hard time fitting. They work fine, but it just seemed kinda tight because they stuck up kinda high and the flap had a hard time closing. Three FAL mags were VERY tight, though doable. There are dividers sewn into the mag pouches, which made it even harder to fool around with, so I cut them out.

With the dividers gone, it was easier to fit FAL, M14 and even AK 20 rd mags in there. It's still kinda tight getting the last mag in there, but after messing withit for a while, it got easier and the mags are definately secure. If you fill all the pouches with FAL mags, you can pack 26 mags in there (that also weighs a ton). Oddly enough it seems you can pack about the same number of M16 mags per pouch because of the pouch sizing and the M16 mag length.

Construction was very good quality. It's all nylon. Some type of Cordura like fabric wtih a waterproof coating on the inside. Not as quite as thick as the Cordura in an Eagle vest for example. Stitching was high quality and tough enough, not overkill, but plenty good for most uses. Overall quality was excellent. I don't think it's as durable as a vest from Eagle, or one of the other list of usual suspects, but it's definately much higher durability than ANY of the cheap knock-offs. I'd rate it slgihtly less or on par with USGI ALICE gear.

The fastex-type buckles on the pouches are a bit small IMO. I think they would be hard to use with winter gloves on. I'll have to try it out and see. The buckles on the bottom edge are for hanging the bayo scabard, gas mask bag, drop holster, etc, that are available elsewhere (like E-bay, etc).

I think for the price of just under $53, it's a great bargin. It's easily worth more than that, and really seems a better product than the vests out there costing about $100. It's definately better thought out than most vests, has excellent workmanship, good durability, and good comfort and features. The combination of features results in a vest with most things you need and not much you don't. The pistol hoslter feature lends this vest to being a great trunk vest.

If you're looking for an inexpensive, but high quality vest, don't need the high-speed/low-drag name brand, but still need features like full adjustability and a pistol hoslter, this would be a dynamite buy at the clearence price.

Ross
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