Questions To Ask When Upgrading Your Gear

4 April, 2015

How many times do you talk to a buddy who is into Survivalism, or militia type activities, and he tells you he bought a new piece of gear, simply because “Fill In The Blank” (a tactical gear authority, don’t you know), said it was the shiznit of all shizum, when it comes to that type of accessory. When I hear this, I usually ask, “What was wrong with the setup you had?”, and I usually get a blank stare, indicating that it was an impulse buy, and not meant to fill a glaring gap in their gear setup.

August '86 Wolverine

Ready for the Soviets at 15 yrs old

Most of us that have been into Survivalism for any length of time, have gone through a number of equipment variations, especially when it comes to tactical gear. Mine started out when I was 13 yrs old, with an old WWII issue equipment belt, an LC2 M16 mag pouch,and canteen w/ cup and carrier.  Over the next couple years, I added to that setup, and ended up with a complete LC-2 rig, which was exactly like the one I had issued to me in the military a year later.


A SAW Gunner’s needs, concerning load bearing gear, are different than that of a Squad Rifleman.

While in the military, I learned that the equipment you carry and use, has to be directly related to what your job (duty position) and/or task at hand is (the military spells this out for each unit). Sometimes, depending on your duty position you’ll be required to carry more, sometimes less, but there’s always a minimum load/gear requirement (unit SOP) to get the job done, and sometimes, we could buy our own gear, as long as it filled the stated requirements (and the Sergeants Major doesn’t see it). There are some out there who will use military terminology, when the haven’t got a clue what it means. They use it to make themselves sound “In the know”, but when you read what they write about it, you will see they are clueless, and probably, not even well read. How you are organized (set up by others, or by yourself…you know…THE PLAN!), and what you are organized for (you have documented your needed “What” and “Why”, right?), whether as a Survivalist, part of the militia, or in the military, is what drives the acquisition and eventual use of  the equipment.

We’ve all bought gear that appeared to be the answer to an apparent problem, only to be disappointed by poor quality, or just a complete lack of fulfilling the need. The purpose of this post is to review questions you might ask yourself before you acquire new gear, and hopefully, it might save you time and money in the long run. I will use a gear change I went through last year as the example.

Question #1. Do I have a need to enhance my gear, and for what reason?

My Answer: Yes. While shooting a video last year, I noticed my mag change time was slower than I liked. While studying the problem, I realized there was no way I could decrease my time, while still using a flapped mag pouch. My need was to find a mag pouch that was open topped, had good retention, but no retention strap (if available), and would accept mags for the three weapons I regularly use (M1A, AR, AK).

Question #2. What’s available, and what’s the manufacturers reputation?

My Answer: The only one I’ve found is from High Speed Gear (Taco Pouch). I was fortunate that after doing the research, and talking to people that I found out used them (Friends and students), I couldn’t find anyone who had an issue with them.

Question #3. What’s the price and in stock availability?

My Answer: Moderate but acceptable price and It was immediately shipped. I went through “Rifles Only”. Cost was $42 a piece, but it does everything (didn’t have to “make do”) I needed it to do, and was well made. By the way, Rifles Only was one of the best gear dealers I’ve dealt with, their customer service could not have been better. I bought two of the X2R double rifle carriers (for the assault vest), and two of the Double Decker single rifle. single pistol pouches (for the plate carrier).

Question #4. What is the minimum I need to accomplish the desired task?

Answer:  Two pouches per vest/PC. Although I could have gone hog wild and bought four Taco’s for my assault vest and plate carrier, I actually only needed two. I placed these on my weak/right side (first mags used). If I need more than 4 “Immediate” speed reloads on a patrol (with the assault vest), I’m in way over my head, and have probably made a huge error in judgment, concerning my situational awareness. I should have time to adjust mags from the strongside flapped pouches during a brief respite in the chaos.


Old set up


New set up


Plate carrier for home use. Everything a person needs for immediate dealings with bad guys, and all in one convenient “grab and go” piece of gear.

Question #5. Does it meet the requirements, and is it worth the money?

My Answer: Yes, and then some!  My rifle reload time was cut in half (kinda important), and the Double Decker’s on my plate carrier helped fix a “real estate” issue I was having. The PC is my “grab in the middle of the night” gear, and there just isn’t enough room on it for pistol mag pouches (2), rifle mag pouches (6), knife, and a holster, without putting the sides on it, and they are noisy (velcro) and make it hard to get on quickly.

As a quick aside on the plate carrier, check out Main Gun the home of Patriot Plates. Their plates have excellent workmanship, and as a Survivalist, these plates (steel) would be the long term answer to that type of tactical need (unless you’ve got a consistent resupply option for your ceramic plates, considering they are one time use items). I have ceramic plates also, but realize how fragile they are (there’s a reason they have to have an x-ray every year).

In conclusion, there are always good reasons for updating and changing out your gear. The post I did a year ago on my choice for load bearing gear hasn’t changed in eight years, except for the Taco pouches. I saw a need, and I rectified it. If you’re using and old LC-2 rig, and it covers what you need it to, knock yourself out (still a big fan BTW). Newer isn’t always better. Ask yourself the questions in this post, and they will help you answer some of the more important factors when you are buying tactical gear.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

16 thoughts on “Questions To Ask When Upgrading Your Gear

  1. People underestimate how important kit is. Its JUST as import as skills. Anyone who says otherwise is just wrong. But there is a huge difference between the guys who really use kit and the chronic plague that is gear collectors that think they are getting shit done. This bullshit about the more skills you have the less kit you’ll need gear is an outright bullshit story told by people who have never untethered themselves from the tit..

    Anyhow…I usually try to buy gear to fill a required roll or to fit into a hole in my system that can be improved upon. Improving your kit is an endless tasks that grows as you learn more and your skills expand. Priority is a second factor. Money is the third. On occasion I do treat myself to something just for fun. I never look to create a problem to buy a solution in a box, though. That’s amateur grabb assery best left to air-softers and re-enactors because for them its about looks and status. Another thing I never do or ever have done is buy what I’m told unless Ive asked first. Qualified experience (ACTUAL EXPERIENCE) is priceless to me. So many ppl out there chase the latest and greatest w/o even measuring up the kit they have. They are cheating themselves….

    Gear dont have to be top of the line to get the job done properly. This is another lie perpetuated by the tit suckers. Paying high end prices is not the only road to go. I often troll second hand stores, the bottom shelf of the surplus store in the bargain bin and yard sales. In Alaska you can find all sorts of kit at yard sales and second hand stores. At yards sales guns, ammo and mags are quite common as are all types of field kit. Especially this time of the year when ppl come out of hibernation and move to new homes.

    Next time we talk you’ll have to tell me how you got that lanyard on your Glock Knife…


  2. Pingback: MDT: Questions To Ask About Your Gear | Western Rifle Shooters Association

    • All gear has problems. No gear is 100% perfect. That’s a no brain’r. ..Anyone that spends time in their kit and in the dirt using it knows this. Anyone that doesn’t make stupid comments like yours. You should stick to being a skeptic.. and a quiet one.

    • Ya read my mind!

      “Back in the day” of the VietNam era, we wore our mag pouches on the sides; some wore them on the belt up front. we could hit the deck very easy and hug Momma Earth while the shit flew above us in prone.

      • “Back in the day” you also used canteen carriers as mag pouches…just saying. I agree that wearing something that can’t be moved to get flat is detrimental, but seeing as how quick access to reloads is of some importance (tell me how fast that was accomplished “back in the day”), and if needed, I can still go flat when required. Even back then, knowledgable imdividuals were using VC chest rigs, I think your observation is an understandable, but moot point. I’ve been using this stuff for a few years now, and have “gone prone” a few times. If you wanted to comment on the rig, maybe you should go to the post I wrote about it.

        • I own both the the Patriot Plate (and carrier) and mag pouches as well as a Chinese chest rig, both stocked and at hand for whatever situation might arise.
          I’ve also got more surplus gear than the Army/Navy store trying to find what worked for me. I don’t care if it doesn’t work for you as long as it works for me.
          Thankfully I’ve found it and I can stop spending mon…. oh wait – the taco pouches…. Be right back….

  3. Pingback: Questions To Ask When Upgrading Your Gear | From the Trenches World Report

  4. Gear is one of those areas where I’m constantly baffled. There are so many options, many of them bad, and I simply have no experience with any of it to feel I can make a sound decision before making a purchase on a limited budget. I read constantly, but everyone has an opinion, and most of them are different. It’s one of those things that make me uncertain about attending any tactical training classes because most of them have the presumption that the attendees know what gear to have and be ready to go with it. I was a medic in the Army Reserves about 25 years ago but had no infantry training and no real training on anything gear-related – we just had what they gave us, and most of my time was spent working in an Army hospital. I do like the PC set-up you have above, though, for its simplicity and for the reasons you stated. Thanks for posting, more to think about!

    • Start cheap and work your way up. Form your own opinions based on what works for you and your needs. You will get limited information from what others tell you. Especially because most ppl really dont use their kit but either repeat what they hear or buy shit cause the guy next to them did. No one will decide better for you then you. Even cheap gear will give you the direction you need to be facing..


  5. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:
    If you’re buying it because it’s the latest and greatest you are probably wasting your money. Research, train, learn to use what you have and figure out exactly what upgrades are worthwhile.

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