Now first off, I'm not a part of the military; however, I have military friends who have served, some in Vietnam, some in the first Gulf War, some currently in Iraq or Afghanistan. When I go to the range with them they like to occasionally gear up and I noticed that they like to practice shooting primary with 3 things on them: gloves, goggles/glasses, and THE VEST. They emphasize these 3 because gloves affect trigger and grip; goggles/glasses affect sight; and the vest determines the flow of ammunition (from vest to firearm) along with the convenience of life-saving equipment!
So with that I got myself this vest because of its price and reviews compared to other similar products. Out the box at first I was very skeptical about this vest. I tried it on and I didn't like the feel of it. It was too stiff (it feels like a spine alignment brace), the Velcro always made noise when I simply moved (and I'm not fat either, I'm 5'8" with a waist of 32 at 155lbs), and the vest was also surprisingly heavy regardless of the mesh. This vest, without my treatment (read Recommendation(s)/Suggestion(s) section), will prevent you from leaning forward/bending forward. The belt and adjusting side straps are a pain to adjust (so have friend do it for you while you're wearing it and then give him/her a cookie).
Aside from that, my military friends actually loved this vest. They said that it feels better than the FLC (Fighting Load Carrier) over their IBAs (Inceptor Body Armor) that they use (although not very customizable). It's a fraction of the cost of other competition such as BLACKHAWK! gear and it is actually is very similar in quality. I don't think UTG's intention was really for military or law enforcement (more for airsofting), BUT it most certainly can be used for those purposes (also a great survival gear option)! Because I got this, my friends want to buy the same thing and take it with them on another tour (year) if needed. Anyhow, I gave this a (4/5) because you do have to put work into it before it can be a (5/5) due to minor quality issues.
Pro(s)/Con(s) *As you can see, I take product reviewing very seriously to help others like you in deciding whether to buy or not!*
- Surprisingly tough stuff! (Not flimsy mesh material, but heavy duty and thick)
- Lots of pockets (FOUR .223/5.56mm magazine pockets and THREE pistol magazine pockets with Velcro fastening)
- Gives two options of either using a pistol holster (fits Glock 17, M1911, and P220 just fine) or an TWO additional magazine pockets bringing you a total of SIX rifle magazine pockets
- Has a walkie-talkie pocket at the left collar bone
- Macho belt with 2 slim pockets
- Vest has THREE very very large internal pockets/pouches (2 on each side of the front and 1 at the back to hold a plate or a water pouch)
- Does come with a Velcro'ed-on 6-shotgun-shell-holder (mainly for switching to specialty shells such as breaching shells); you may also choose to take this off and put a name patch on instead (when using the shell holder, Velcro may not be strong enough to keep it fastened)
- Quality is definitely a (4/5), the vest is a tad bit uneven at certain areas (but you might get lucky and buy a perfect one)
- Very stiff (Please read my Recommendation(s)/Suggestion(s) section below)
- Aside from choosing the 2 mag attachment or pistol holster, this vest is not customizable like the real Fight Load Carriers
- Although this vest is adjustable, it really fits people best who are at least 5'10" (178cm) and have a waistline of at least 34" (86.36cm); so if you're bigger than that and under 7' tall then this will work for you
- Very sharp corners on certain areas (most notably the Velcro sections)
- Although this vest is heavy duty, it is also just heavy (over long trips, it will begin to slow you down); also this vest is not exactly the best quality, yet still strong
- Straps are very annoying and difficult to adjust (I doubt you can adjust it while wearing, but it's still faster than lacing it like BLACKHAWK's vests)
- If you're not tall like me, the shoulder Velcro adjustment is not a problem; however, when you adjust it, it'll leave a fold in the mesh and can feel annoying after a while (could potentially cause blisters around that area if it chafes)
- The vest smells terrible (go wash it because the camouflage won't help if people can smell you first!)
- Speaking of camouflage, the right side rifle stock grip with the plastic tube is black (defeats the purpose of the whole camouflage)
- Round the sharp corners of the Velcro by cutting it (it will take time, but it's worth it)
- Give your vest a heavy wash in the washing machine (this eliminates the stiffness, now I can bend, lean forwards, etc.; also, I feel that my movement is not restricted!)
- As for the Velcro noise, it's going to be there until you break into it more often
- Take out that darn plastic tube from the right shoulder, believe me, that plastic tube does not help and it also adds weight! (make a small incision at the bottom of the black rubbery area, pull out the tube, have your wifey or a really good friend (if you don't know how yourself) sew that up good)
- Adjust your pistol holster and make sure when you have a holstered loaded pistol not point in a direction that will cause you harm or death!
- Cut any extra threads (don't pull them off, you might undo a sewing)
- Take off the little belt pockets if you're not going to use them to decrease weight (I took them off to attach bigger better pouches)
Bottom line is, whether you're in the military or not, this vest is great as quick secondary choice tactical/emergency response jacket in real life situations. As for airsofters/paintballers, this vest is definitely the best choice to play with.
Thanks for reading this review. Enjoy!