ICS MS-15 Modular Drop-Thigh Panel


ICS MS-15 Modular Drop-Thigh Panel
ICS MS-16 Modular Tactical Holster
by DumboRAT

Stock
Specifications
RRP

The
MS-15 Modular Drop Leg Panel has a New Taiwan Dollar
(NTD) MSRP of 750, which translates to about $22 US.

The
MS-16 Modular Holster has a NTW MSRP of 850, which
is only $25 USD.


When
you mention Taiwanese or other foreign-made airsoft-specific
“tactical body gear” to experienced skirmish players,
what you’ll usually get is a frown, if not an outright smirk.

The
first thoughts to pass through a dedicated gear-enthusiasts’
mind is that such items cannot possibly be superior to, or even
at the level of real-deal tactical gear from US or other recognized
international makes. Typically, this is a field dominated by
the likes of High Speed Gear Inc. (HSGI), Spec-Ops Technologies
(SOTECH), Special Operations Equipment (SOE), and other such
high-end manufacturers.

The
same can be said when it comes to holsters — specifically,
the tactical “drop-leg” or “thigh-rigs”
that are so sought-after for Mil and Tac-Sim players looking
to emulate their favorite television or movie heroes.

The
HSGI Saddle Holster and SOTECH Ground Pounder are among some
of the most highly regarded “ballistic nylon”/Cordura
thigh rigs available today, equally praised by real-life military
operators and law-enforcement officers as they are by gear enthusiasts
and experienced airsoft players. Similar items from BlackHawk,
LBT, Eagle Industries, Bianchi and other recognized tactical-gear
makes have also garnered high marks.

However,
one of the biggest complaints of players who hop on-line to
look at these pieces is sticker shock.

High-end
gear does not come cheap, and these tactical holsters are no
exception. Most mentioned here are in the $80-$90 (USD) range,
when all’s said and done.

Unfortunately,
what then happens is that the player on a budget or the newbie,
looking at such shocking sticker/tag prices, out of instinct
and need, turn toward the various much cheaper offerings from
the “imitation” tactical gear makes. Foreign or domestic,
these items often confirm the frown or smirk that more experienced
players give them — and these sub-par holsters are often the
cause of lost magazines or even outright lost GBB sidearms in
the field. At nearly $50 per magazine and well-upwards of $150
as an average price of skirmish-capable GBBs, it only takes
one loss or first-person witnessed event for most players to
come to the stark realization that investing in a proper holster
that will work to well retain their expensive sidearm is a necessity,
not a luxury. It’s a mandatory investment.

But
what if you just don’t have the money? Are there any compromises,
or must you be doomed to constantly worry about your sidearm
during skirmishes?

Luckily,
there is hope.
ICS
(I Chih Shivan Enterprises Co., Ltd, website URL: http://www.icsbb.com/
[bi-lingual English/Chinese]), which is a Taiwanese airsoft
manufacturer much more well-known for their AEGs and AEG accessories,
has recently stepped on to the market to offer tactical body
gear as well.

Among
the items introduced is a low-priced tactical drop-leg/thigh
modular accessory panel, which pairs with a low-priced, multi-mount-option,
multi-retention, tactical light/laser enabled holster to make
a mid-priced tactical thigh holster that, in my opinion, represents
one of the best deals available for skirmish-viable gear.

Wait
a minute here…..I thought you said above that most experienced
players frown at Taiwanese airsoft-specific imitation/cloned
“tactical gear.” What’s going on here?

Yes,
it’s true, most of the past offerings from the Far-East have
been decidedly sub-par in this respect, but over the past year
or so, if you’ve been monitoring the market at all, you should
have seen a decided trend in the improvement of such Far-Eastern
body gear. The various MOLLE and other modular-gear replicas,
as well as clones of items offered by SOE and the other top
US gear-makes have been getting more and more accurate, sophisticated,
and most importantly, durable. Today, ask anyone who is without
pretense, and they’ll say that yes, specifically for airsoft
use, the modern crop of imitation airsoft-specific gear is more
than “good enough,” and thus allows the player-on-a-budget
– even if he/she is hard-core MilSim – to outfit themselves
relatively accurately in a cosmetic sense without either breaking
the piggy bank or undue worries of whether if the gear they
have on will fall apart when playing.

This
is precisely the quality mold that the ICS
drop-leg panel and holster fit into as well. Price-matched and
for the specific purpose of airsoft play, there is nothing that
even remotely rivals their quality and sophistication of design.

Quality
of manufacture is apparent from the first moment you pick up
this rig.

While
the majority of the rig is single-stitched, the critical stress
points are all double-stitched. This attention to detail is
not only present on the body of the holster and the various
leg and drop-down straps where such strength is absolutely needed,
but also extends to even the Velcro pads — their stress edges
are also double-stitched to prevent separation of the pad from
its attachment point on the holster or its accessories.

The
nylon on both the holster and the rig is nice and heavy, an
elastic portion on the thigh strap is doubled-back for greater
support and resilience, Fastex buckles as well as other rings
and sliders are made out of quality plastics. Even the main
drop-down extension for the modular thigh panel is high-quality
stuff, with thickness and rigidity that rivals even that of
various Eagle Industries gear that I have.

Compared
to my favorite mid-priced tactical drop-leg thigh holster, the
BagMaster BTR2-L (US-made, marketed for the real-steel market),
for which the two are price-matched, the quality of the ICS
rig is easily superior. The BagMaster thigh rig carries a higher
percentage of single-stitching only, the elastic is singly configured,
and more critically, the drop-leg strap on the BagMaster is
much, much more flimsy. (Side note: If the BagMaster BTR-2L
is so badly built, why do I love it so much? The answer is that
price-matched, it is still a bargain and again is fully skirmish
capable – furthermore, even completely without the thumb-break
retention strap, this holster still managed to hold on to my
1-kilo+ hand-cannon without loss through several hours of rough-and-tumble
field-play. In other words, it’s earned my trust.)

For
the money, the ICS
gear is clearly superior in terms of quality of build, and is
truly one of the most impressive pieces of “affordable”
gear that I’ve seen to-date.

The
buck, however, does not stop here. The ICS
rig is actually jam-packed with some very nice and very skirmish-practical
features.

First
and foremost, modularity. As a belt mounted holster, the ICS
is easily capable of securing onto any pistol belt or military
web-belt you’d care to pair it with. The extra cross-security
strap that further pins down the large, two-inch wide Velcro
tab (the large vertical strap you see in the picture below)
that services as the belt loop (easily swallows and secures
even a 2 and 1/4 inch wide belt) insures that the holster will
not break away from the belt. Although a “police duty belt”
that is female (loop) Velcro-backed will offer even more security
and will work to insure that the holster will barely, if at
all, displace during use, it’s use is not mandatory. With the
cross-length security strap, break-away is extremely unlikely
under even the worst abuse or field-use stress.


Note holster in upper left corner – the thigh panel dominates
the foreground of this picture.. The main belt loop is the wide
Velcro flap opened and displaced up and to the right – a smaller
ancillary security strap ties it down and prevents break-away
when the holster is belt-mounted. For mounting on the MS-15
Modular Drop-Thigh Panel, the main belt loop flap is threaded
through the two horizontal loops at the top and bottom of the
panel and is further secured via Velcro on each face — it’s
NOT going to move!

Modularity
aside, what you’ll notice almost immediately is that the ICS
holster features a supplemental retention strap that is closed
via a quick, silent-release Fastex buckle and loops over the
backstrap/thumb-web area of the GBB pistol replica (see picture
below). This item provides absolute fail-safe retention security
even in the case of primary retention (i.e. thumb-break) failure
or accidental disengagement. Many of the real-deal tactical
gear makers actually call their holsters with this type of supplemental
retention capability “airborne/jump/water/extreme ops-enabled.”


Note that the Fastex buckle retention strap here is reflected
to the left, having been opened from its closed position (see
title photo).

But
ICS does this one step better. The strap above is actually a
tertiary retention strap.

In addition
to this supplemental retention device, the holster features
a secondary Velcro “over-strap” that lies atop and
covers the thumb-break, preventing against accidental disengagement
of primary retention. In fact, it is impossible to disengage
the thumb-break without first disengaging this secondary shield.
With this in-mind, of course, the logical question of speed
of draw and presentation arises — and to this end, ICS addressed
this issue by placing a pad of Velcro over the very base of
this over-strap, thus allowing it to easily double-back over
itself and tucking itself out of the way when not needed.


Here, I’m holding the secondary “over-strap,” you
can see the underlying snap-equipped thumb-break.


In this picture, all three (3) retention systems are engaged.
The primary thumb-break is engaged, which is covered by the
secondary “over-strap” (red pointer). Note the closure
of the tertiary retention strap fastened over the grip.


Speed-draw mode. Notice that the secondary retention strap (red
pointer) is doubled-back (it will stay retracted and out of
the way and not at all interfere with thumb-break disengagement,
thanks to Velcro). Note also that the tertiary retention strap
is disengaged; you can get the strap out of the way and keep
it from flopping around and getting snagged by either tucking
the entire thing into the thigh panel or by doing as illustrated
in this picture – by re-fastening the Fastex buckle and tightening
the strap down. Either way, this tertiary strap manipulation
takes only a few seconds.

What
does this set of retention features translate to in skirmish-play
use?
If you know the action is going to get hot and heavy
and you’d like to have your sidearm available at a moment’s
notice, or if you’re prepping to enter a close-quarters environment
where a long-arm to sidearm transition may be necessary, then
it’s time to disengage the tertiary “ops” strap, flap
back the secondary over-strap, and just use your holster as
any other thumb-break holster. Look at the “Speed-draw”
photo for an example.

If you’re
expecting a bit of runnin’-‘n-gunnin’, you’d want to either
engage the secondary or the tertiary strap and leave the other
undone/disengaged, depending on your preferences and the situation
at-hand. For example, if you don’t want to bother with the tertiary
strap, the secondary over-strap will keep your GBB extra secure
until you rip open this Velcro covered assembly overlying the
main thumb-break. However, if you need your draw to be as quiet
as possible and do not wish for the sound of ripping Velcro,
you can just as easily tuck away the secondary strap and leave
only the primary thumb-break and the tertiary “ops”
strap engaged for a silent Fastex-buckle release.

And
finally, of course, if know that you’re going to be pounding
ground and will likely be doing some crawling or climbing before
you reach your objective, you can just rest comfortable in knowing
that essentially there is absolutely no way that this holster
can lose your GBB with all three retention devices engaged.
Look at the picture above with all three retention systems engaged.

Designed
for skirmish field-usability, all of the ancillary straps, such
as the two-part thumb-break, are secured to the holster via
Velcro and their own elastic retention straps in the same manner
as high-end real-deal holsters. Thus, while remaining fully
adjustable and allowing for a variety of GBBs (I’ve tested this
holster with everything from a full-sized 1911 to a USP P8 to
a Beretta M9/92F), these straps are also well-protected against
loss themselves. Furthermore, as first-line enabled gear, a
single magazine pouch is placed along the forward spine of the
holster (which itself is rigidly reinforced to help maintain
holster shape as well as to serve as a front sight track and
rear sight protector). This mag pouch has an adjustable-height
lid and is large enough to accommodate most single and double-stacker
magazines alike, including the wide and hefty Western Arms double-stacker
30/25-round SVI/Para magazines.

As a
further gaming concession, should you have this thigh rig on
your first-line gear, you can easily ditch the holster while
still retaining its position on your pants belt by unclipping
the main Fastex buckle on the drop-thigh extender. This allows
you to easily remove the thigh holster completely should you
and your buddies decide to go off-field and into town for a
quick bite from a fast-food joint — while it keeps your precise
belt mount position up-top (as you will be able to keep this
loop on your belt!). When you return to the field, it’s just
a matter of clipping the drop-thigh component back into its
buckle, and then fastening your thigh strap.

Last
but not least, this ICS holster, as I mentioned earlier, is
designed to be able to swallow a tactical weaponlight-enabled
medium to large-framed GBB pistol replica. Of my small collection,
everything from a G&P frame-attached accessory rail Insight
Technologies M3 (or M6 visible-laser/white-light combo) equipped
WA High-Capacity Series CQB Special to a Glock SafeAction Tactical
Illuminator mated KSC G18C to a G&P/Walther tactical-light
equipped Maruzen Walther P99 fit securely within. But unlike
most other tactical-light/lasersight enabled holsters, the ICS
holster is designed so that its use even without the under-barrel
accessory is readily possible. ICS achieves this by using a
double-sided Velcro setup under frame of the pistol — thus
closing this section when a light, laser, or other such accessory
is not used, tapering off the holster and allowing it to hug
the frame of the pistol better.


The ICS holster fits the gigantic WA High-Capacity Series CQB
Special (double-stacker 2011-type) with an under-barrel tactical
light and adaptor. Even the fat 30-round magazine, equipped
with a huge bumper/base-plate, will fit in the incorporated
mag pouch.

With
all of these packed features and its very, very nice construct,
what would you imagine the retail price to be?

Once
again, keep in mind that most high-end real-deal tactical drop-thigh
holsters offering a combination of different primary and secondary
retention features and may or may not be under-barrel tactical-light/laser
enabled hover around the $80 range.

The
ICS?
The MS-15 Modular Drop Leg Panel has a New Taiwan Dollar
(NTD) MSRP of 750, which translates to about $22 US.

The
MS-16 Modular Holster has a NTW MSRP of 850, which is only $25
USD.

Combined
cost, even if you should buy the item from your favorite local
retailers (US or UK), you should be able to get the complete
combined MS-15/16 set for between $40 to $50. Unfortunately,
not many retailers feature this product on their websites —
as such, if you’re interested in this item, get your local retailer
to special-order it for you by having them contact the good
guys at ICS, they’re wonderful at answering e-mails. In the
US, either you or your retailer can contact Specialized Distribution
(http://www.airsoftsd.com/
– tel: 626-281-0979), who will direct you to a retailer near
you which carries this product.

$40-$50
is an outstanding price for a tactical thigh holster! The BagMaster
BTR-2L, considered a “real-steel”/real-life pistol
holster, costs nearly $40 and doesn’t have half the features
of the ICS MS-15/16 combo and isn’t even double-stitched like
the ICS!

Are
there any shortcomings?
Only two that I can see.

First
is that the holster is open-bottomed. While this increases the
number of GBBs (and tac-light/laser or mock suppressor-equipped
GBBs) that can utilize this holster, it also lends to this holster
the critical flaw of being unable to contain accidental light
discharges, which can give away your location under darker conditions.
Unfortunately, unless you are willing to step up into the $80+
range, there really are no tactical-light/laser enabled holsters
that successfully navigate this issue.

Second
concern is that the holster, when used in “closed”
format with a GBB that doesn’t use a tactical light unfortunately
will not secure the replica tightly. This is especially true
the “smaller” your GBB happens to be. However, luckily,
as long as you are properly using the retention straps, you
will not have to worry about this issue.

A final
“neutral” concern that you should be aware of is the
fitment of different light/laser units.

Most
all under-barrel laser units can be paired with this holster
just fine. However, larger or bulkier tactical weaponlight and/or
LAM unit may or may not be able to be fitted into the holster.
Specifically, combinations of such larger units along with a
large-framed GBB such as a 1911/2011-type replica or, say, a
H&K Mk23 Mod0 SOCOM paired with a large SureFire weaponlight
or one of the replica ITI/Wilcox LAM units for the Mk23 can
be a difficult – if not impossible – fit. Luckily, you can rest
assured that the smaller tactical lights such as the ITI M3/M6,
along with its various clones by G&P, G&G, Walther,
etc., can all fit just fine, even with the larger-framed GBBs.

Conclusion:
Truly, I feel that the ICS MS-15/MS-16 combo is an excellent
choice for newbies and experienced players alike. It’s built
tough enough to easily match most mid-grade “tactical nylon”
goods intended for real-steel/real-life use — and this, combined
with its multitude of features (tac-light/laser enabled, multiple
retention systems), makes it one of the absolute best-buys available.
All the while, most importantly, the ICS holster will make sure
that you won’t be leaving your favorite and expensive GBB out
on the field.

C. Allen
Lee
aka DumboRAT
Contact: CXL77@po.cwru.edu

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified:
Tuesday, July 29, 2003 6:48 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft




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