Today @ Down Range Gear

Last week Down Range Gear shipped a modified Eagle Industries chest rig with an improved ATS Tactical Gear H-harness.

Among the list of requested modifications and improvements:

-Retrofit the ATS H-harness with the Strap Replacement Kit.

-Upgrade the waist belt with a dynamic strap system.

-Retrofit the chest rig and H-harness with 2″ SR buckles.

-Partition the main chest rig compartment into 3 distinct pockets.

-Line the center pocket with hook and loop in order to accommodate a velcro-in, modular holster system.

-Design and build a velcro lined holster to support a 1911 pistol with a Surefire X-series weapon light.

The end result was a more functional chest rig.

Using shock cord sheathed in tubular nylon webbing (resulting in a dynamic strap system that will expand and contract due to it’s elastic properties) as opposed to more conventional (static,) flat webbing is one of those concepts which changes a things once you realize the possibilities. The basic concept is simple: replace regular 1″ milspec webbing with tubular nylon and shock cord for improved function and comfort. A strap that stretches means that the rig will move with you. Tubular nylon is a softer, more forgiving material and has rounded edges, moreover, it will not bite the way inflexible, flat webbing will because it will give when pressure is exerted against it. Another benefit is in mitigating the need to constantly adjust the webbing in order to cinch up or loosen the harness when worn. If done right, it should be adjusted for sizing once, fixed in place and seldom, if ever, messed with again. Elastic tension does your resizing for you. Should adjustment on the fly be needed, the Strap Replacement Kit is engineered for an ergonomic, front pull to tighten down, as opposed to a more awkward rearward pulling motion.

These can be dropped in to retrofit most harnesses, chest rigs and straps used on armor systems. Why isn’t anyone else doing this? It’s a concept sure to catch on as it is asked for by customers and embraced by manufacturers.

The Eagle Industries chest rig required major “surgery” in order to make it meet the customer’s needs. First, the chest rig was completely disassembled. The center pocket was lined with hook material on one side and loop on the other in order to accommodate a velcro-in modular holster. The top edges of the two side pockets had small pull tabs sewn in under strips of hook and loop. While the chest rig was opened up, two 2″ side release (SR) buckles were added to make the vertical supports compatible with the straps on the ATS H-harness. The waist strap was severed and all four 1″ corner attachment points were retrofitted with female SR buckles.

After the chest rig was reassembled, the main compartment was divided into three pockets. Unfortunately, this meant having to sew over the trapezoid mesh pocket on the back side of the chest rig, narrowing it.

Several different holster concepts were attempted before choosing a suitable design. A holster supporting a pistol on a chest rig with pouches should be as narrow as possible so as not to throw off pouch placement. A custom holster was fabricated around an HDPE core, lined on both sides with hook and loop to mate with the pocket. The holster was cut as low as possible to make it easy to index the grip yet support a fully adjustable, conventional thumb break.

To properly support the holster, the center pocket had to be narrowed, making it less likely to sag or the velcro separate under weight.

The chest rig came with an integral 1″ waist strap sewn into the bottom edge. This was severed and replaced with a female side release buckle. The waist strap was then completely redesigned and built from scratch using the same principles as the Strap Replacement Kit. The new waist strap has male SR buckles on both ends so that the user can secure it from either the left or right side. At the core of the design is shock cord sheathed in tubular nylon with a pair of ladderlocks on each end. These support adjustment for webbing which runs out to the buckles and is shortened via a front pulling motion consistent with the Strap Replacement Kit. There are few places where the elastic properties of a dynamic strap system will yield greater user comfort than against the wearer’s back and waist.

How did it all turn out? Here are some comments and pictures from the customer himself:

“Got the gear yesterday. Everything fits well with room to adjust. It’s a thing of beauty to have slack control on the waist strap while wearing the rig, a feature missing on the half dozen chest rigs I’ve used before. The drop in straps are very comfortable and the holster funcitons exactly like I hoped it would. I started to breath heavily and rapidly and, as advertised, the straps gave a little instead of staying taut, which was, shall we say, awesome. I should quickly note also that I’m a big fan of the adjustable depth on the holster. As it was the grip rested a little low, and the modularity of the thumb break and internal velcro strip made moving things around really easy.

In sum, the modifications were all that I had hoped for and even more–and for the price, a smokin deal. Anyway, I’m a supremely satisfied customer, and if in the future some piece of gear is found lacking, you’re definitely my first stop.

Thanks again for working on my gear, it turned out excellent.”

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3 comments
    • j said:

      how do you get one of these?

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