Guarder US SWAT Vest Review

Guarder
SWAT Vest
made
by Guarder/Intrudershop

reviewed
by Arnie

Stock
Specifications

RRP
USD
210.00

Click here to visit Guarder


Well
it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Guarder
gear. I’ve yet to see anything of their’s that I’d consider
to be poorly made, or have a lot of thought put into it.

I’d
been looking for a decent vest for some time, and had my eye
on a certain style of vest I’d seen in a
film
(where else? ^_^)

“Alright
pop quiz: Airport, gunman with one hostage, he’s using her for
cover, he’s almost to a plane she’s 100 feet award, what do
you do?”

“So
what do you do?”
Well when I got the chance to pickup
a Guarder SWAT vest I jumped at the chance!

Okay
so one quick order from WGC later, and a large box turns up
courtesy of UPS. Now the first thing you should note is that
the vest comes prepackaged in a clear plastic bag, and from
the outset this vest is extremely impressive. There’s something
about a good quality vest when compared to the likes of MilForce
gear. That’s not to say that MilForce gear is bad.. far from
it, but this Guarder gear is just of a different class – and
so it should be given the price difference.

What struck
me as I took the gear out of it’s bag was that there are
no instructions included with it. I don’t know if this is
the case with all vests, but believe me you really do need
them. I’ve never used a real SWAT vest (funnily enough),
and this perfect copy of it is somewhat bemusing to work
out for a poor old layman like me. There’s oodles of velcro,
zips and popper bits everywhere.

Now
this vest has been hanging in my cupboard until I got the chance
to get to a decent CQB orientated game. This is a vest designed
for use in CQB and FIBUA scenarios, you can be certain of that.
^_^

Well
up came February the 1st and the chance to pop down to Sterling
Services for a spot of room entry and hostage rescue training..
oh and a skirmish or two. ^_^ What better gear to wear to such
a well organised site? Anyway.. the vest was beginning to look
silly in my wardrobe next to my suit and dinner jacket.

The
vest
So what’s the basic setup? Well you get a vest,
that comes with a shiny surface to the top 1/5 of it
that looks and feels like leather (it’s not, it’s synthetic),
velcro fitment panels front and back, two should pads
and a groin guard.

You
may not have seen the shoulder and groin accessories in
use before, but I gleaned a wealth of information from the
US cable-televisions The History Channel and The
Learning Channel (TLC)
. In their Bulletproof one-hour special
a veteran member of the LAPD SWAT team, who had been on
the force through the evolution of body armor through to its
modern form, explained why the panels are there.

These additions
came into play relatively recently when the real US Police
discovered that a large percentage of fatalities were coming
from shots through the arm and into the chest cavity. These
new shoulder pads mean that your upper torso is basically
covered in a bullet proof bucket when your arms are near
your sides. It’s not completely “bullet proof”,
but then again there’s no real certainty these days in anything
– my rather expensive watch is only classed “water
resistant”,
despite it being a sailing watch.

The
shoulder and groin pouches when fitted are a bit of a mobility
trade-off, but definitely worth it to stay alive in the
real world. Remember we’re dealing with Airsoft here, so
the extra pads really boil down as a cosmetic option.

Handily
all the pouches come prefitted in a fairly decent layout
that is fairly perfect for the right handed user. There’s
a radio pouch and pyro bag on the back, a large pouch on
the bottom left, a pistol mag pouch top left, rifle mag pouch
bottom right and a small utility pouch top right (note all
views are from the wearer’s point of view). Early versions
of the vest are shown as coming with velcro badges such as
‘Police’ etc, you do not get these on current issue Guarder
vests. Please also remember that in the UK and most other
countries wearing “Police” logos is not advisable in skirmish
scenarios.

Adjustments:
Now I’ve always been somewhat bemused by velcro/popper constructions
as I just couldn’t believe that things stayed on when you ran
around with the gear fully loaded up. Well I couldn’t have been
more wrong. Once you get the pouches aligned on the vest and
secured on with the poppers there’s no way to get the pouch
off without dilberately tearing from one corner to remove the
attachment.

Actually
writing this review I remembered seeing some guy at a theme
park bounce in a velcro suit onto a wall of velcro and stick
there.

I seem
to be rambling here… now where was I? Oh yes, pouches! The
other thing to note is that the shoulder pads and the groin
armour come packaged flat to conserve space.

Now
I’ve built car engines, I’ve built computers from scratch, I
even once managed to start up a tank accidentally (I was 5 at
the time – I scared the crew and the tourists on and infront
of it to death when that beast fired up) .. anyway I was saying;
it’s not like puzzles and challenges are something I find too
difficult, but the shoulder pads were somewhat of a mystery
to me. Fitting the to the vest is easy, there’s three elastic
straps that fit to one of around 8 loop points under the shoulder.
You simply loop the straps through the holes on the shoulder
and then stick them to the underside of the shoulderpad. That’s
the easy bit.

The
difficult bit came in working out how the strap that holds the
pad to the arm actually works. This still has me fairly puzzled
to this day. I think I’ve worked it out, but it’s somewhat of
a bodge. The shoulder pad came with the strap neatly folded
around the pad, but not in any way that I envisage see it could
be tightened up to hold it to an arm.

Either
side of the shoulder pad there’s an rectangular buckle with
a hole either side. The idea is that the strap goes underneath,
from one side to the other, and can be tightened. Sounds easy?
Trust me, it’s not. The biggest problem is that the elastic
tends to slip through the buckles. You’ll also find two loops
of material wrapped around the elastic, again I really can’t
explain what they are for.

For
the sake of explaining how I came to the revelation of fitting
my pads, and the crate of Asahi beer that helped the deliberations
here’s a photo of my strap setup.

Once
you put the vest one you’ll discover some more hidden pouches
and clips and things. I have NO idea what these are. I’m
guessing that the inner pouch is some sort of map pouch,
but I can’t quite work it out. To use the inner pouch you
need to undo the vest meaning that it sags at the sides,
and dangles around you. It also means that you are no longer “armoured” –
as you’d expose your chest area to potential attackers.
Then again in the middle of a firefight I’m not going to
plot a safe route back home from Oxford Street on the London
Underground am I?

First
fitting:
Okay this is the part where you ask your better
half, who probably has better things to do to “help strap
you into this darn thing”. You will need assistance the
first time that you fit the vest to yourself as unless you have
two detachable shoulders you’ll never be able to adjust the
buttons on the back and adjust the velcro at the same time.

There
are three main areas that you’ll need to adjust. The neck, waist
and the shoulder area. Guarder ship the vest out in ‘obese mode’,
meaning that there’s room for a small hockey team inside the
thing when you get it.

First
thing to do is undo the vest, put it on, and do the zip
and velcro up at the front. It also helps if you have a
bit of balast in the pockets to straighten the vest out.
Some ‘big-ish’ AEG batteries or magazines should help here.

Second
thing is to tighten the waist area. You’ll find the straps in
the back panel, get your partner/buddy to tighten up the straps
evenly either side. You need room to breath, but it needs to
be a snug fit.

It should
also be noted that it’s a good idea to do this whilst you have
a jacket or shirt of similar size on that you intend to wear
whilst using the jacket. Sorry… maybe I should have mentioned
that eariler? Oh. make sure it has a collar on it, as Cordura
is a very heavy duty material and chafes somewhat on bear flesh.

Right
now that the bottom is tightish, get your buddy to undo the
two poppers that hold the shoulders on and undo the velcro on
one side of the shoulder. Pull the front part of the shoulder
up and away, and as you do so, pull the back of the vest closer
to the front. When you are happy that the front to back tightness
is good enough, resecure the two velcroed shoulder pads and
do the poppers up. Repeat this for the other shoulder.

A useful
tip is that if you look under your armpit you’ll see the vest
sagging and looping under it’s own weight if it’s too loose.

Next
up is the neck – this bit is easy, undo each side from the back
– again it’s all velcro, and reattach at the correct tightness.

Make
sure everything is symetrical and you can’t go far wrong.

Corduna’s
history:
Cordura is actually a brand name rather than a
specific material, as Du
Pont
(the manufacturers) have transfered the name of ‘Cordura’
across different types of nylon material over the years.

Curiously
enough Cordura started off being used by the military in tyres,
and then was developed further into a material for luggage.
More recent developments have led to the use of Cordura in sporting
lines. Du Pont‘s
material is rather famous in motorcycling circles for example
as it was the material that allowed safety clothing manufactureres
to produce jackets, trousers and gloves etc. of a more lightweight
breathable (and waterproof) material that still had the protective
qualities of leather.


Cordura – perfect for safely sliding along tarmaced runways
with your lady in your arms

“…Cordura®
is one of DuPont’s most popular fiber products. Its origin dates
to 1929 when chemists at the DuPont Rayon Company succeeded
in strengthening relatively weak rayon filaments into fibers
suitable for use as sewing threads and tire cords. Subsequent
tests on commercial vehicles proved that the new rayon lengthened
tires’ life span, so in November 1934 DuPont started production
of Cordura® durable cord rayon tire yarn. Research during
World War II improved Cordura® and enabled its manufacture
on standard rayon production equipment, thereby boosting both
quality and output. The tendency of Cordura® to strengthen
when heated led to its extensive use in military tires made
from synthetic rubber, which ran hotter than natural rubber.
Consequently, Cordura® became widely known as an essential
product for America’s war effort. In 1950 DuPont introduced
Super Cordura® tire yarn, but Super Cordura® faced a
formidable rival in another DuPont product, nylon. After performance
tests in the 1950s showed nylon’s superiority, DuPont phased
out Super Cordura® and replaced it with a new industrial
nylon yarn called N-56. The last Super Cordura® rayon plant
closed in 1963 as DuPont officially exited the rayon business.

In
1966 DuPont transferred the Cordura® brand name to the N-56
nylon product line. In 1977 DuPont researchers discovered a
process for dyeing Cordura®, which opened a wide variety
of commercial applications. By 1979 soft-sided Cordura®
luggage had captured about 40 percent of the luggage market.
In the 1980s DuPont expanded its Cordura® line into sporting
apparel and equipment, including boots and shoes, golf and ski
bags, and backpacks. A softer version called Cordura® Plus
entered the market in 1988. Subsequent improvements made Cordura®
even lighter in weight and gave the fabric greater protection
against fading from sunlight and washing. In 1996, Cordura®
Plus Natural, with the look and feel of natural cotton canvas,
became immediately popular with sporting goods and marine apparel
manufacturers…”

Du Pont website

Build
quality:
The build quality of the inside of the vest is
very nice, not a stitch out of place, and all everything is
secure fastened.

The
zips are of a decent quality, and certainly look to be the type
that will stand the test of time. Each ‘part’ of the vest has
it’s own individual Guarder label, which is rather cute, and
very pleasing to see. Inside the jacket you’ll find foam inserts
rather than kevlar. These help the vest keep it’s form, but
I suppose you could take them out to fit real keval if you wished,
or simply to remove the padding to help keep the vest from getting
to hot for you.

Features: Firstly
there’s a radio loop over the shoulder, that looks like a
Cordura loo-roll for passing cables over your shoulder and
keepingthem snag free. The cable collector can be placed
on either side for left or right handed radio useage. You’ll
also find some nice non-slip padding to rest the buttstock
on in the shoulder area.

On
the back of the vest there’s an array of buckles, but I’ve
yet to discover their use. The Airsoft replica has plastic
buckles so they aren’t really suitable for any load bearing
purposes. They are handy for fitting a shotgun holster to
them though.

Inside the vest you’ll find plenty of zippers
and the ability to remove the foam lining if it needs cleaning.
At the front you’ll find to buckles for cliping the groin guard
to.

Performance
in the field:
So how does the vest fair out in the real
world?

Breathability
– This is a problem you wil face with any armour copy, so it’s
not one you can really hold against the Guarder replica, although
it is worth mentioning.

It stands
to sense that being wrapped in a lot of material (particularly
non vented gear) will somewhat increase your uper body temperature.
The Guarder gear is no exception, and you will get rather warm
when you’re wrapped up in it. I found that it was fine for 3-4
hours at a time, but got rather too warm after a day’s use.

Remember
this gear is designed for CQB use really, so therefore for limited
time frame engagements, and not for running around outside of
buildings for huge amounts of time.

Getting
warm is all par for the course really, so as I said it’ not
a bad point, but bear it in mind when you choose your inner
layers of clothing for under the vest. You will need soemthing
that won’t be too uncomfortable when damp, and won’t rub against
the neck and armpits.

Comfort
– I’ve already said that Cordura rubs, so don’t do a Keanu
and just wear a t-shirt under vest, trust me it’s like wearing
a sandpaper bucket.

The
vest bends nicely in all the right areas, but it does restrict
neck and upper torso movement somewhat. It’s a very good idea
to make sure that you firstly know where everything is in your
vest, and secondly can reach and get to everything yourself.
There’s nothing worse than trying to crane your neck downwards
to look into your lower pockets fumbling for something.


Jeff Daniels: “I haven’t been able to see my feet all
day”
Keanu Reeves: “So you didn’t know that
you’ve still got your flip flops on?”
Jeff Daniels:
“You’re kidding right? Nice haircut by the way!”

Loadbearing
– Boy can you load this vest up! I managed to load into
my vest on it’s first outing 8 TM 200rnd MP5 mags, 4 pistol
mags, 2 3000rnd bags of BBs, 2 spare batteries, a loading tude,
8 TM shotgun shells and I still had room for lots more. The
front big pocket really is a proverbial bottomless bucket (I
shall refrain from making any sexist remarks comparing it to
a ladies handbag, but you get the picture ^_^).

You
really don’t notice the weight on you until you take the vest
off and drop it to the floor (and then try to pick it up afterwards),
so take care when you pop back at the end of a skirmish. I would
recommend getting a buddy to support the vest as you get out
of it, if you want to take it off loaded up. This will avoid
any undue wear and tear on the stitching. This may be a slight
overkill, but I prefer to do this than risk putting undue stress
on gear – after all nothing is indestructable right? Similarly
don’t undo the zip all the way at the front unless you plan
on taking the vest off. This isn’t for any reason other than
the fact that craning your neck downwards to align and zip up
the centre zip when either side ofthe vest is loaded up with
bulk and weight is well.. somewhat ‘stress enducing’.

Pocket
sizes:
The rear pocket is suitable for just about any
radio, it’ll fit just about anything from the standard issue
Kenwood radios, to the smaller civilian PMR sets.

The
top pouches will fit standard pistol magazines. Standard
9mm Beretta/Glock magazines fit nicely although extended
magazines are more of a snug fit. The lower right bag pocket
will happily fit a standard first aid pack or other sundries.
There’s a small pocket opposite the pistol pouches that will
fit tools, such as a Leatherman or keys. The lower pouches
will fit 4 standard mp5 hicaps, or two AK /M4 mags.


Conclusion This
is quite simply the best looking and best
fitting CQB vest I’ve ever had the pleasure
to use. The vest will fit a multitude of people,
although anyone seriously thin or excessively
portly might have difficulty fitting in. Another
lovely Guarder product and one that I don’t
hesitate to recommend to others. I’ve given
mine a hammering and it shows no signs of wear
and tear despite having been brushed up against
numerous brick walls and door ways.

External
Links:

Guarder/Intrudershop


the manufacturers of this fine Airsoft product.

Click here to visit WGCWGC
are official dealers of the Guarder range,
so we recommend dealing with them for international
orders (as do Guarder themselves)

Site
links:
MP5
Tactical Handguard
– a comparative
review of the standard Guarder MP5 Tactical
Handguard
Guarder
LTH review
– a review of the Large
Tactical Handguard

Guarder
2001 Glasses review

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified:
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 10:29 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft
Speed
(1994) photos are copyright relevant parties.




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