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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gearing Up!: NC Star M4 Chest Rig

Greetings again Ladies and Germs.  Welcome back to the Gearing Up! series of articles, wherein Animal rambles and rants about gear.  Today I will be talking about the NC Star M4 Chest Rig, a piece of tactical gear that I discovered through a Facebook friend.  Though this NC Star designed this piece with M16 and M4 users in mind, my friend uses it for her AK type airsoft rifle.  As some of you may know pouches that fit AK47 magazines will pretty likely fit Nerf N-strike magazines as well.  With this in mind I decided to grab this piece of gear to try out.

With Hydration bladder and FASTmags
I bought the rig for $32 off of Airsoft GI, in black so that it would match my existing supply of pouches.  It's a split front rig, so donning and doffing is quite easy, like putting on a vest.  The front closures are quite secure between the velcro, snaps, and two buckles. They're also easy to release thanks to a quick release pull.  Each side of the split front sports eight columns and three rows of PALS webbing, as well as three rifle magazine pouches. Each of these pouches, with bungee retention, holds two M4 magazines or one 7.62 magazine.  With the bungee retainers untied and removed one can fit one N-strike magazine into each pouch.  The last ones inserted on either side of the chest will be a tight fit, not made any easier by the rubber feet on N-strike magazines.  Each side also includes  a small velcro closure map pouch, that you could miss if you weren't looking close enough.

The padded shoulder straps are also attached to the chest panels with quick release buckles. They each sport two columns and three rows of PALS webbing as well as two D-rings.  Following them up they join the back panel with a contoured yoke to spread your load across your shoulders.  The back panel itself sports six columns and five rows of PALS webbing, as well as an integral hydration carrier.  The flap of the hydration carrier also features two inch velcro tape for the mounting of team identification.

Adjusting the rig is pretty easy, particularly compared to X harnesses like the Gryffon Golem.  Everything was in easy reach of the wearer to adjust.  All adjustable straps also include a velcro end so that you can secure your loose strap.  No help was needed to get it fitted, though Rebound did keep it centered while I worked on it.

The retention bungees and toggles pass through two loops, one on the front and one one the back of each magazine pouch.  This makes it quite easy to remove the retainers or replace the bungees with the proper length for N-strike magazines.  All pouches front and rear include drainage grommets.  N-strike magazines have a tendency to catch on the edge binding  of the pockets when stored inverted, just carry them mouth up.

The integral magazine pouches neatly offset the lower smaller amount of PALS available on the front.  By including capacity NC Star has made it possible to use that PALS space for other things. Things like more ammo, holsters, or other pouches.

It doesn't come with a hydration bladder, but those are inexpensive and easy to find.  Installation is easy.  Open the flap, slide the bladder in, feed the hose through the opening in the flap.  Route through PALS as desired.

This rig has pretty much everything you need, right out of the box, at a reasonable price tag.  It's comfortable, easy to adjust, carries a reasonable amount of magazines, and has plenty of PALS space.  The bungees are as easy to untie and replace as a set of shoelaces, and hydration bladders are cheap, if you even want one.

If you are willing to spend a bit of money for a better product, but don't want to shop for pouches right away, this rig is for you.

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