Gear, Parts and Accessories

Survival Vests and Chest Rigs

So you have your rifle of choice, and plenty of mags and ammo. You have your pistol of choice, and plenty of mags and ammo. You have food and water. To fight and survive with all that stuff you need a way to carry it. There are two requirements that seem pretty contradictory at first—your stuff needs to be secure on your person, but at the same time it needs to be easily accessible. Stuffing pistol mags into your pants pockets and rifle mags into your waistband is not going to cut it. You need a dedicated solution here. Fortunately, there are several options.

Draco vest with Holster
$50 gets you this ModGear “Draco” vest ready to go

Most of us start out with a vest that is already set up and ready to go. This ModGear vest has space for six AR-15 magazines (if you double up, two per pouch), three pistol mag pouches that will hold even thick double-stack pistol magazines, and a built-in cross draw style holster that holds another spare pistol mag. It even has a do-it-all “admin” pouch where you can store small items like tools or hearing protection. The good news is it costs about as much as a decent pair of blue jeans. The bad news is that you better like all these pouches located right where they are, because they are permanently attached to those spots. This means, for example, that lefties will want to avoid this rig due to the location of the pistol holster.

Like it? Buy it!

ModGear Draco Vest Without Holster
This version of the ModGear vest ditches the holster

This version of the vest gets rid of the pistol holster in favor of more rifle magazine pouches, five in total so you can carry ten 30-round mags. You still get pistol mag pouches as well, and the admin pouch has webbing to load up five shotgun shells within easy reach. You could stash more shotgun shells behind the webbing in that admin pouch too. All the pouches are mounted to a mesh base so the rig doesn’t get too hot, but its still pretty tough—I did some summertime 3-gun competitions in one of these vests for a couple of years and never broke anything on it. And again, the price is just $50.

Like it? Buy it!

5.11 Tactical MOLLE vest
5.11 Tactical makes this excellent MOLLE vest

If you are really tough on your gear or you don’t like the pouches and their positions on the ready to go vests, it’s time to step your game up to a MOLLE platform vest and build yourself a custom rig. This is going to cost more money, but for some of us the benefits are well worth it. This 5.11 Tactical vest is built very stout, but all you get is a bunch of MOLLE webbing, a hydration pouch pocket in the back, and a hidden document pocket on the inside. Everything else will need to be purchased separately, a piece at a time, and then mounted to the vest using the MOLLE system. This gives you great flexibility and modularity—if you shoot a 7.62 NATO main battle rifle, for example, you can buy mag pouches that fit that G3, FAL, or AR-10, and not even mess with trying to make AR-15 style magazine pouches work.

Like it? Buy it!

ModGear MOLLE chest platform
Ten bucks gets you this basic ModGear chest platform

If you want the flexibility of a custom MOLLE setup but don’t want to blow 80 bucks on the 5.11 version, Cheaper Than Dirt is here to help with a ModGear MOLLE chest platform. This is nothing but a bunch of MOLLE webbing and some straps to hold that webbing to your chest. If you want to build a basic modular setup for survival or competition and money is an issue, this unit is just ten dollars! Not everyone does HALO parachute jumps or deploys from submarine torpedo tubes to swim to their local shooting range. I’m planning on picking up one of these chest platforms myself—it will be the basis for a dedicated 12-gauge ammo carrier on the cheap. Isn’t modularity cool? Like it? Buy it!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

1 Comment;

  1. Tac Vests are great, if you can live within it’s configs. Seems that each mfgr has their own sizes. I have two. One Tac Force in Grn, and one UTG in Blk. Both are kited out the same. Don’t expect to get one to fit good in the summer, and fit over a heavy coat in the winter. I don’t like the “everything on one” like the mil Plate Carrier systems. I prefer to “layer”. That way you can ditch what you don’t need and still be effective. Remember mags, water, tools, first aid kit, and extras can get heavy. When I use a pistol, I use the drop leg. Remember it’s a vest, not a coat. Make sure you have enought adjustment if you plan to use armor. Without body armor, the mags and other junk offer not much but some protection.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.