Down Range Gear

The Horizontal Belt Adapter was created to provide a niche capability so if you’re looking at it, wondering why anybody would want one, you are probably not the intended user. There won’t be many, but the few that have the need will get it right away.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_Horizontal_Belt_Adapter.html

The Horizontal Belt Adapter is designed to support any two column, MOLLE compatible pouch on a belt in a horizontal orientation. Three 1″ webbing components act as rows in a PALS grid and are sewn into columns onto which a pouch can be attached.

Down Range Gear 9295

Lengths of 1″ webbing are folded over and sewn to form two loops. The upper loop is sized for specific belt widths from 1-1/2″ to 2″ and backed with a small hook (Velcro) square to lock into compatible belts. The lower loop is built to 1-1/2″ PALS specification. A belt provides the side oriented mounting platform for the loops and attached pouch. Proper alignment with the pouch is achieved as the pouch is woven in and locked down.

Down Range Gear 9283

The applications for this are limited to specific use cases but it was designed to meet a need few other pieces of gear address.

Down Range Gear 9303

The origin dates back to  a small combat outpost in western Iraq where a weapon and source of ammunition were required at all times though PPE and a full combat load were not unless outside the wire or under fire. A 30rd rifle magazine can be awkward size and shape on a trouser belt when carried all day every day in a variety of settings. Standing up, no problem; sitting down, more uncomfortable. Given the magazine’s size and shape, small of the back was a good place to keep it out of the way and relatively comfortable but accessible. The added benefit was that when kitted up and outside the wire, it tucked neatly under the bottom edge of armor and could serve as a last ditch, emergency source of ammunition.

Down Range Gear 9289

Need and application will vary from user to user. Whether or not this is the right solution will depend as much on the pouch as the platform and adapter. If you have the need, this is one way to do it.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_Horizontal_Belt_Adapter.html

Readers are welcome to post comments. The link above takes you to the e-commerce site. Direct email traffic to downrangegear@gmail.com

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Down Range Gear

New ways of seeing things lead to new ideas. New ideas make new designs possible. The re-release of the PALS Belt Platform is the culmination of a lot of work and one of those new ideas. It moves the concept into new territory with interesting possibilities.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_PALS_Belt_Platform_For_1-1_2%22_%26_1-3_4%22.html

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_PALS_Belt_Platform_For_2%22.html

The PALS Belt Platform is designed to adapt any MOLLE compatible pouch for use on a belt by means of a compact, 2 x 2 grid that fully supports the attachment system.

Down Range Gear 9015

Running pouches with MOLLE compatible attachment systems on a belt has always been problematic. Before it was even an option, separate, dedicated pouches had to be designed specifically for belt use, complicating logistics and adding expense. That limitation continues to impact selection and availability because the best designs built for modular attachment may not have dedicated belt variants. Clearly the way forward is for users to pick the pouch they want and then use an adapter to extend it’s capability.

That’s the reason the PALS Belt Platform exists: modular pouch integration with belts.

Down Range Gear 9065

The PALS Belt Platform forms a 2 x 2 PALS grid that will support a typical rifle magazine pouch or two pistol magazine pouches in tandem. It works by spacing two webbing rows, sewn in PALS columns that, when folded over a belt correctly align into a row-gap-row configuration onto which pouches can be woven. That shape also forms the loop through which the belt is fed.

Down Range Gear 9057

When it comes to MOLLE compatible attachment systems, security comes from properly weaving the pouch into a PALS grid. That’s how they were meant to and should work. Weaving a pouch into a backing creates multiple points of contact pulling evenly across the surface, locking into the grid. Not doing it the right way is asking for trouble.Down Range Gear 9024The PALS Belt Platform is designed to be stable on belts both with and without Velcro liners. An opposing hook and loop surface is built in for contact with the underside of compatible belts. It works well with two tier, inner/outer duty belt sets. For belts without Velcro, removable, non-slip patches can be affixed to both sides to increase friction and minimize shifting.

Using PALS Belt Platform takes more time to describe than set up:

1. Position the PALS Belt Platform behind the belt. Unmask the Velcro or leave the non-slip liner on as appropriate.

2. Fold the top row of webbing over the front of the belt.

3. Pass the MOLLE straps from the pouch through the top row of webbing.

4. Weave the MOLLE straps back into the next full row on the pouch.

5. Weave the MOLLE straps through the bottom row on the PALS Belt Platform.  Secure the strap ends at the bottom of the pouch. If the MOLLE webbing on the pouch extends further, it is recommended the straps be passed through them before locking the ends down.

Down Range Gear 9091

One interesting feature afforded by the PALS Belt Platform is the ability to daisy chain multiple units on a belt to support pouches in tandem. This will be useful for customers who need to support equipment but don’t want to run a full featured battle belt. Customers who want to run multiple units on their belts can take advantage of the six piece sets sold at a discounted rate.

Down Range Gear 9097

The PALS Belt Platform is sized for common belt widths in 1-1/2″, 1-3/4″, and 2″. Color options will be coyote brown for customers who need a military compatible earth tone and black for agency users.

The PALS Belt Platform has a lot of potential for law enforcement agencies. While department/agency policy may be an obstacle, the PALS Belt Platform removes the constraint of equipment limitations allowing the full range of MOLLE compatible pouches on 2″ duty rigs.

Down Range Gear 9142Some of the most innovative and original pouch designs on the market today are built for modular attachment. They can now be run as low profile, dedicated belt pouches. The PALS Belt Platforms joins the MALICE Clip Belt Stabilizer and CDH-Tac’s Lowride Panel in Down Range Gear’s line of  adapters.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_PALS_Belt_Platform_For_1-1_2%22_%26_1-3_4%22.html

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_PALS_Belt_Platform_For_2%22.html

Readers are welcome to post comments. The link above takes you to the e-commerce site. Direct email traffic to downrangegear@gmail.com

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 Gear maker CDH-Tac, Finland has an impressive portfolio. This independent designer has consistently put out practical, innovative and well executed designs.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cdh-Tac-Finland/141110645925106

Doing good work while maintaining a high level of integrity is what makes this designer stand out because when it comes to making decisions about who you want to work with, those choices reflect and character matters. It was immediately apparent that the Lowride Panel would complement a niche that Down Range Gear has been developing for some time so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to build the design under license. Not only does it fit in with Down Range Gear’s line of belt adapters but also gives us the opportunity to work closely with a great designer.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_CDH-Tac_Lowride_Panel.html 

Down Range Gear/ CDH-Tac Finland Lowride Panel

The Lowride Panel supports MOLLE compatible pouches on a belt with an extended PALS grid that drops below the belt line to clear equipment and improve access to pouches. It’s the sort of solution based design that is common from an end user who has identified the need from practical experience… and then does something about it. A lot of users are going to get the concept as soon as they see it.

By now everybody knows the real advances in pouch design are built almost exclusively for modular attachment systems, not around belt carry. To make those pouches work on a belt and get the benefits of the best in equipment technology requires a way to bridge the gap. The Lowride Panel provides that capability, opening the world of high end modular pouches to belt systems that lack the native ability to support them.

Down Range Gear/ CDH-Tac Finland Lowride PanelThe Lowride Panel uses a fold over design that bends over the top of the belt and secures below it with large, interior hook and loop fields. This makes it particularly effective with Velcro lined belts and compatible with virtually any width. The addition of a small strip of loop (Velcro) material on the back face locks it into inner support belts such as two piece, inner/outer LE nylon duty belt systems.

The outer face of the Lowride Panel is surfaced with a 2 column, 5 row PALS grid supporting all MOLLE compatible pouch attachments. The 2×5 configuration was designed to accommodate two pistol magazine pouches in tandem or a single rifle magazine pouch. If a wider surface area is required, Down Range Gear/ CDH-Tac Finland Lowride Panelmultiple panels can be “daisy chained” onto the belt.

The PALS grid is a “solid” design with 5 contiguous rows that allow for 1″ increments of adjustment. Magazine pouches typically require 2 conventionally spaced rows to properly weave in, leaving 2 rows (or 2″) of up or down positioning to find optimal height on the Lowride Panel. For a dedicated duty belt this is enough to drop pouches below armor and clear other equipment.

The Lowride Panel is built on a sturdy 3″ webbing base folded over. Opposing hook and loop (Velcro) liners surface the interior securing the two sides. The outer, 2×5 contiguous PALS grid is sewn with the webbing ends rolled and tucked in at the seam. The PALS grid is backed with an internal HDPE (plastic) semi-rigid support which provides a solid surface for mounting pouches. A strip of loop Velcro runs across the back to lock the panel into compatibly surfaced belts.

The Lowride Panel is currently being produced in coyote brown for users who require a military earth tone and black for agency customers.

Down Range Gear/ CDH-Tac Lowride Panel

Users will find the Lowride Panel equally at home on an LE duty belt dropped clear of other equipment as well as a low profile way to carry pouches below the belt line without a heavy, dedicated MOLLE belt.

Down Range Gear/ CDH-Tac Finland Lowride Panel

This is the first outside design produced under license by Down Range Gear and it would not have been possible without the confidence of CDH-Tac. Under our agreement, profit for every unit sold is paid back to the designer as a royalty. Association with a designer as good as CDH-Tac naturally makes you want to do better work; we’re better for it and the customer ultimately benefits.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_CDH-Tac_Lowride_Panel.html

Readers are welcome to post comments. The link above takes you to the e-commerce site. Direct email traffic to downrangegear@gmail.com

ImageBecause it was one of the earliest Down Range Gear designs, it is fitting that the new MALICE Clip Belt Stabilizer be among the first featured with the relaunch of this blog.

http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_MALICE_Clip_Belt_Stabilizer.html

The MALICE Clip Belt Stabilizer allows the use of a pouch equipped with the Tactical Tailor MALICE Clip to interface with a belt.

ImageTraditionally, manufacturers have had to build separate versions of each pouch for modular attachment and belt use. With the advent of adapters like the MALICE Clip Belt Stabilizer a user can run the same pouch interchangeably to fill both roles.

This capability makes the pouches more versatile, increasing the options for belt gear, simplifying the loadout, and making procurement much easier: don’t worry about compatibility, just buy the pouch you want to run and then find the appropriate adapter. Our job will be to make sure thatImage the search begins and ends with Down Range Gear. For law enforcement and agency users, it opens a whole new world of possibilities for both duty rigs and discreet carry. Now, every pouch is a belt pouch, and not in a superficial, quick fix way.

The MALICE Clip by itself forms a viable belt loop. More than any other modular attachment system, the MALICE Clip is ideally suited because of it’s rigid structure, secure locking system and useful fold over, single piece design.

Taking a closer look: the MALICE Clip slots in behind the pouch webbing, then is bent over the top and folded over. For belt use, rather than weave it into the MOLLE backing, simply securing the end results in a closed, rudimentary belt loop. The problem is that at best it’s a 2″ – 3″ belt loop made of a piece of plastic and not inherently stable.

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The Belt Stabilizer doesn’t actually attach the pouch to a belt. It does provide a channel for the MALICE Clip to feed into behind the belt, giving it a friction hold and stability. The MALICE Clip hugs the Belt Stabilizer against the belt. Then when the belt is donned and cinched down, it also pulls the Belt Stabilizer against the wearer’s torso creating a second contact surface to hold the pouch in place. Those two points of friction are important and you won’t see the full benefit of the design until it’s actually being worn.

The original Belt Stabilizer was surfaced on both sides with a high friction, nonslip liner. The LE Variant was designed with hook and loop to interface with Velcro lined belt systems.

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For 2013, everything learned from constant design iteration and practical use has culminated in an updated, hybrid design with a removable nonslip liner that peels off to unmask an underlying hook and loop construction. This two layer system gives users the best of both concepts in one package: the friction hold with nonslip material and hook and loop, to take advantage of Velcro liners.

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ImageHere’s a walk through of how it works in three simple steps:

1. Run the MALICE Clip through a channel in the Belt Stabilizer.
2. Slide the pouch onto the end of the MALICE Clip.
3. Fold the Malice Clip over and insert the end into the tab at the base, locking it to secure the loop.*

*For greater convenience, it might be easier for some users to install the Belt Stabilizer over the belt and not have to thread it on after installation.

Down Range Gear 8005

Down Range Gear 8017Down Range Gear 8035The current, default configuration for the Belt Stabilizer is a 2 column design which will support the width of a standard rifle magazine pouch or two pistol magazine pouches mounted in tandem. A 3 column variant will be released later in the year. Customers who require a configuration other than what is provided can “daisy chain” Belt Stabilizers onto a belt to achieve the desired width. Combinations of 2 and 3 column Belt Stabilizers should address most needs. For those problems that can only be solved with an off the shelf solution, custom fabrication is always an option.

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http://downrangegear.net/Down_Range_Gear_MALICE_Clip_Belt_Stabilizer.html

Readers are welcome to post comments. The link above takes you to the e-commerce site. Direct email traffic to downrangegear@gmail.com

Down Range GearBack in October 2011, when the last post was made on this blog, Down Range Gear was facing a fundamental small business problem. A lot of unique concepts were shown publicly without the business infrastructure to sell them. Among other things in this business, you live and die by your original, differentiating ideas. If you show your cards and don’t make an effort to play the game, you’re stupid. And the business suffered for it. Hence the year (+) long retrenchment.

Since this blog went on hiatus, a lot of things have changed. The wider industry of course never stands still. A number of concepts that first showed up on this blog years ago have gone mainstream. Despite the quiet outward appearance, Down Range Gear has maintained a very busy tempo behind the scenes. That’s what the rest of this post is about.

Down Range Gear has a new look, the best example of which is emerging at downrangegear.net, the new, standalone e-commerce site. If you haven’t found it yet, take a few seconds to have a look around. It’s a work in progress but the look and feel is starting to settle and the hard work of developing and listing product is well underway. It will steadily fill out in the weeks and months ahead.

Introducing downrangegear.net

Downrangegear.net was built on basic and dated software which will constrain functionality until it is migrated onto a more sophisticated platform. Despite this handicap, the design is deliberately simple. Functional issues aside, the key idea was to strip the site down to it’s most essential components in order to load quickly and then get out of the customer’s way. That means a clean design with big pictures, an intuitive layout that shows everything up front without the need for elaborate navigation with never more than 2 clicks to make a purchase.

If the site looks empty it’s because of the lack of extraneous content and clutter. Does the customer need to read a copy write notice? There are good legal reasons to have one but what does it have to do with buying gear? Shipping, warranty, contact information and a few links are all tucked in at the bottom and out of the way. You can find them if you need to but you probably didn’t jump on the site to read about that. The things you’re looking for are always front and center.

Down Range Gear is going to be spread out over several different websites, each with a specific focus, playing to the strengths of the platform. We’re saving downrangegear.com for other purposes so it’s being used as a landing and redirect page in the interim. Downrangegear.net is the commercial hub. This WordPress blog will support the site with a focus on gear information and related features. We chose to establish a separate Tumblr account because that format lends itself as a dedicated gallery for custom, one-off projects. We’re still looking for the best place to load the massive photo archive. A few other, satellite sites will be specific for products that need to stand apart. Other social media is still out for the time being. Word of mouth has worked very well for Down Range Gear but it’s only effective if the products are good; the quality of the work needs to speak for itself.

Shopping At Down Range Gear.

The only items listed for sale on downrangegear.net are those built and ready to ship. While the standard is 24 hours, a majority of orders will be filled the same day. If it’s on the site, it’s in stock. If it’s in stock, it ships. The downside is that certain options (colors/patterns) are limited to what is on hand so if you’re wondering why the item you’re looking for only comes in the color(s) you don’t want, that’s why. Availability will improve as time goes on.

Orders can be customized on a case by case basis though the work may be subject to additional cost.

Down Range Gear is going to have a very specific color palette. With few exceptions we’re going to be focusing on coyote brown as a solid earth tone, black for government/agency customers and Multicam where appropriate. This will expand to include ranger green and foliage/gray but there won’t be any “ninja” options in the core product line.

Orders are diligently followed first with receipt confirmation and then verification of shipment with tracking information. The email messages are generated from the primary Down Range Gear Gmail account (downrangegear@gmail.com,) meaning that although they are pre-formatted for efficiency, they are sent and monitored by a real, live human being and not automated from a secondary account. That means that we receive and respond to replies from those messages, putting you in touch with someone who knows gear and has a vested interest in your experience. So if you need to talk to someone at any point in the order process, just reply directly to the email notification and we’ll be in touch promptly.

All shipping is via USPS unless otherwise specified. Shipping is a flat fee of $5 regardless of the size of the order and applies anywhere in the US to include APO/FPO orders. The only exceptions are for special shipping instructions from the customer or overseas orders.

Merchant services and payment processing at downrangegear.net go through PayPal. This can be controversial for some people and alternatives are being explored but all other considerations aside, PayPal is a very good starter platform for a small business because it’s easy to implement, straightforward to use, is reliable and well established. When the time is right and it makes sense to migrate to a different system, we will. Right now, we just want to design, build and sell gear with as little friction as possible.

Customer Service.

Competition and the rate of change in this industry can be grueling. A sense of humor helps but it does get ugly sometimes. While not above a little professional jealousy, as fellow consumers, we’re just as excited about the next great piece of gear as anybody. That’s the fun part. The business reality is that there are many paths to success: make a quality product, release breakthrough design concept, foster a new technology, build a fancy website, have a good business model, ride the wave of hype, get an endorsement from an industry personality, market like hell… the list goes on. At the end of the day, the customer makes the deciding and most important vote.

Among other things, we do what we do at Down Range Gear for the sheer joy of it. Everybody understands the satisfaction of putting out good work and that is reflected in the smallest details.

We honestly believe that customer problems are service opportunities as there is no better way to demonstrate real character than when things go wrong. We’re not going to hype the gear; there’s a power in the simplicity of understatement. When you’re proud of what you do, it can be difficult not to make a big deal of it but we strive to under promise and over deliver.

Our commitment doesn’t end after we’ve made a transaction. We sincerely believe that customer service starts in earnest after the order has shipped. We’re professionally invested in making sure the gear works and respect that there is no more honest feedback than from a paying customer who has skin in the game. Feedback drives the constant improvement that a business needs to stay fresh and innovative. You can’t fix the chink in your armor if you don’t know where it is, so when a customer takes the time to point out a problem and gives us the opportunity to make it right, that’s actually doing us a favor. We’re grateful when you do that.

We don’t do a lot of advertising and marketing, the time, money and effort generated by positive word of mouth from doing right by the customer more than makes up for it.

Custom Work, Parts And Materials. 

Some really great ideas come from customers who have identified a need or bring a fresh perspective. The challenge with taking on obligations to do custom work are balancing them with the limited production capacity necessarily for developing the existing product line. That’s what we weigh every request against. We know there’s a constant need to customize gear and we’ll try to help whenever possible. As the business matures and the product pipeline finds it’s rhythm, the ability to do custom work will only improve.

Customers will notice that in addition to finished product in an establish product line, we’re also offering parts and materials for sale. These items are drawn from the same stock used to build finished product, essentially giving customers to access to a portion of the raw materials used to build gear.

The Future.

The apparent low barrier to entry has made for a crowded market. Anyone with a good idea, a sewing machine and a little time can hang out their shingle. That’s starting to change as technical materials and sophisticated fabrication methods change the industry but there’s still room for good ideas to stand out. Of course it takes more than that to run a business that will fulfill the needs of it’s customers and live up to it’s potential. The painful lesson learned is that business fundamentals still matter.

The big question is where does Down Range Gear fit in the wider industry? Is there still room for what we do and the way we do it? This is an existential matter! Are we making a difference? Does Down Range Gear stand out? These are questions we ask on a regular basis. You have to look externally at the wider industry and then internally at what you’re doing to find the answer.

At least part of the answer is that Down Range Gear doesn’t really play in market segments unless there’s a contribution to be made, something to add, or differentiate by feature or process. The excuse that there are only so many ways to build a certain design as a means to justify overlap in the industry really doesn’t hold up. It differentiates those who create from those who don’t among informed customers.

A certain amount of overlap and random confluence of design are inevitable but reworking an existing design just to stamp your brand on it is, if nothing else, a boring way to run a business. It might work if your primary goal is to chase dollars (not that there’s anything wrong with capitalism and giving customers choice is a good thing) but if that’s all there is, you’re just going through the motions, always one step behind. It’s not personally fulfilling and there’s no joy in the work. We can do better one design at a time by doing things that haven’t been done before or in ways they haven’t been done.

It takes a lot of photography to drive this blog.

Though not in the same class as professional photography, the pictures are adequate to show the work in detail. And we really want customers to see everything. The pictures on the blog are high resolution and expand to full screen on white backgrounds to showcase the work. Click for the full page image and zoom in to see the fabric weave or a close up view of stitch work. Nothing says how much care or take pride in the work more clearly than the pictures.

We show everything. Buying decisions are made on those pictures and if a customer can’t get hands on a sample, the next best thing is a clean, detailed picture and useful descriptions. If a piece of work won’t stand up to that kind of scrutiny, it doesn’t ship. The attention to detail really drives the business.

In order to capture the half dozen or so images that illustrate the typical blog entry, literally hundreds of pictures may be required trying variations in light and angles. They all get processed through image filters to find the best way to present the product.

In the past, a select few have been loaded onto the blog with the remainder stowed on disc. The collection is extensive. It occurred to us that making these images available might be of interest to our customers (and, let’s face it -competitors.)

An organized Photobucket image library has been accumulating. As of this writing, it shows a relatively small selection but will grow with continual updates. The end result will be an expansive, detailed  look at Down Range Gear’s portfolio.

Down Range Gear Photobucket Album.

Periodically checking in will not only show items currently offered, but from time to time, also reveal pending, unreleased projects. At lest two such items are in the album as of this writing. Whenever practical, blog entries will link to more extensive picture collections to give customers and readers an expanded view of the item.