Web-Tex Combat Vest review


The Web-Tex Combat Vest

By Ian (aka Hairy)

Stock Specifications
Model

Web-Tex Combat Vest

Featuring 4 ammo pouches, 2 small utility pouches, 2 large utility pouches, mag light pouch, multi-tool pouch, large internal map pocket, large internal pocket with holster, rear water bladder holder, 1.5ltr water bladder with neoprene pipe cover and bite valve, double mesh on shoulders, velcro adjustment with double straps, day pack fittings for side pouches, including waist belt. (available in British DPM)
RRP 95UKP


I approach this review with a little bit of trepidation – after asking “how’s the new Web-Text vest?” on various UK forums, I had a whole load of replies along the lines of “it’s been out for 9 months”.

So, this is a review of the “new” vest, with a few comparisons with the one that has been out for a while…

As you have probably surmised from that last paragraph, there are two vests, and I have experience with both. That said, I think it only fair that I point out that I am a newbie myself, with just under a year of skirmishing (20-25 skirmishes, all at a single Woodland location). Please take this into consideration while thinking about your own Airsoft requirements.

The basic features

  • DPM only (at time of writing). IRR
  • Double-layer Olive Drab (OD) mesh construction. (Appears as brown in the photographs because of the camera flash)
  • Zip and/or clipped front
  • Four triple magazine pouches (two per side) with both Fastex and (optionally silenced) Velcro closing
  • Twin kidney pouches at rear, Velcro/Fastex fastening
  • Twin Fast Field Dressing (FFD, small pouches) on the left front. Velcro fastening
  • Multi-tool pouch on the right front. Velcro fastening
  • Maglite pouch on the right front. Velcro fastening
  • Rear hydration pouch
  • Webbing loop on left shoulder for (e.g.) radio or microphone
  • Twin “map pouches” (open areas covering the entire inner front of the vest)
  • Horizontal holster in the left map pouch
  • PLCE-style belt loops
  • Clips to take one or two “rocket pocket” day-sacks
  • Includes lightweight Fastex duty belt, hydration bladder, bite valve/tube, and neoprene cover

To save time, it’s probably worth pointing out that this vest is a copy of the Arktis Jungle Battle Vest, and that the “standard” Web-Tex vest is a copy of the British Army Soldier 2000 (“S2000”) vest.

How does it Compare? So, let’s consider the differences. The first is that “IRR” thing; without getting into details, let’s just say that things coloured with mineral dyes glow in Night Vision, and things coloured with vegetable dyes don’t. This won’t mean an awful lot to the average Airsofter – unless you plan on night games against “loaded” opposition – but will mean that the vest will fade that bit faster in use. Although hopefully not all that quickly for a weekly/fortnightly “warrior”!

The next thing is the difference in pouches between the two vests. The Combat Vest has twice the ammo capacity, but at the expense of any useful utility pouch. A useful compromise – albeit one for us right-handed majority – would have been three ammo pouches, and one utility pouch. A bit of work with a knife or thread ripper (removing the internal dividers) would make that happen.

The advantage of the Combat Vest is that both rear pouches are accessible by the wearer – on the standard S2000 copy, you should either rely on someone to help, or try and grow arms like an Orang-utan – it’s for sure that you won’t be able to access and close either pouch comfortably. The Combat Vest is much better – again, you have both Velcro and Fastex, but both are very easy to manipulate, even while in an “oh poo, let’s relocate right now” style of situation. They are reasonably sized, but their low height might make a water bottle a tight fit (unlike the S2000 vest, which can easily take a full standard Camelbak).

The magazine pouches are very slightly different – the S2000 is still the only vest I know that will take KSC TMP magazines (although – trust me – you’ll run in circles, with three and a half kilos hanging from your left waist!). The pouches in Combat Vest ones are shorter – more like the Real Deal – and have a much longer cover. You can place an AUG magazine in the new vest without a bit of “booster” dropped at the bottom of the pouch

And maybe it’s time to mention the first downside – the tops of the mag pouches interfere with the operation of the FFD pouches above. And vice versa. Ironically, lefties have the advantage here, as “their” pouches are so much easier to access. It’s not critical, but it is a small step backwards.

Another comparison is in how the front fastens, and the map pouches. The Combat Vest zips up the front (note to other two Services – the RAF has the right idea on this one. Sorry). The zip fastens upwards, and starts to unzip as soon as you give the vest a stern look, let alone put it on. Add a loop of paracord and loop it around the top clip to fix this. One good thing that the zip does do is to isolate the smock – I’m not sure about real combat, but I find it a right royal pain in the fundament working out which of the zips I’m pulling down has a) cigarettes, or b) my sidearm. “Smoking kills”, but you can’t score an Airsoft hit with one…

The map pouches are also slightly different – on the S2000 vest you get a very short downwards-angled holster only really suitable for a Glock 26 or 27, and an inside pocket on the right. On the Combat Vest, you get a large horizontal holster on the left, and absolutely nothing on the right. On the plus side, this means that you can use the right map pouch as a primitive dump pouch, without catching mags on the pocket. But remember to add a loop of paracord first, to avoid the zip slipping too far down to be useful (i.e. magazine he go in, magazine he drop to the floor..)

The big disappointment is the holster itself, While the S2000 version was hardly ideal – the new one can take a Browning- sized weapon, such as a WA Infinity or KJW Para Ord, it’s almost as though it was designed by your opponent, rather than your friendly armourer. But to explain that comment, it’s first necessary to discuss…

Fit and Comfort Both vests are wonderfully adjustable. Both have Velcro-assisted front shoulder adjusters, three rear “kidney” adjusters, and vertical adjusters on the back. As on the S2000 vest, each shoulder also has a fairly pointless adjustment strap. On both vests, these slip during use, and so are worth “setting” by taping or otherwise locking the loose straps.

On the S2000 vest, the mesh is continuous, so you end up with a couple of rucks in the material; that said, it’s not something you can feel through a shirt, let alone a jacket/smock. The Combat Vest is a bit more problematic, as it comes in various sections, which end up getting folded over themselves.

And that leads to the other problem – the vest itself seems to have been designed for Gimli the Dwarf – even I (undertall as opposed to overweight. Honest.) find myself at the very limits of adjustability to get the waist belt around my waist. The overall impression is that it’s been designed as a semi-chest rig.

That said, it will drop to the waist, but the fact that the Fastex clips are under the Velcro means that it has very little grip (another downside to the S2000 rig, where the clips are on top), and can get a little noisy or maladjusted during use – particularly when crawling. And, to be honest, unless you can get the belt loops near your waist, then it’s more of an “upright” vest than a “crawling” vest.

Which brings me to the holster.

It’s obviously been designed for a long-handled sidearm, like a Browning. It’s a long way into the vest, and has a remarkably stiff and fiddly Velcro-fastened clip. This is too long for a short weapon, such as a Glock 27, but a little too short for a longer weapon. Put it this way, by the time you’ve got your Browning back into the tight, padded, holster and got it locked-down, you’ll be the best-dressed corpse on the battlefield. The S2000 vest, in contrast, is a pain to use with a long weapon, but gives you the option of either Fastex buckle or using map pocket zip to stop it falling out.

It’s also quite remarkable, really, that someone would go to that much trouble to precisely align the metal edge of a pistol so precisely to your lower rib. If you’re unlucky, then a dive over a log onto hard ground could see you coughing blood. Unlikely (let’s not get silly, here), but I’ll be leaving my G27 behind on the average skirmish – I’ve broken a rib in the past, and I’d prefer a walk to the Respawn, thank-you very much.

Damn. This sounds terrible! Why on Earth would I buy one?!?

Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s probably worth remembering that I am comparing this to a very close copy of something that the British Army considers ideal to equip its soldiers with. And, no, I’m not going to mention the L85A1… I’m a civvie, remember?

Firstly, it’s comfortable. Not necessarily as comfortable as the basic S2000 vest, but both will give you a backache is loaded and not properly adjusted. Once adjusted and locked into position, it is an extremely comfortable vest to wear. That said, I’ve made a couple of adjustments – a stiffer PLCE belt, strap-loops, and a couple of stitches through the shoulder pads to keep them located.

So, What Else? Unfortunately, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the vest includes a hydration bladder – I’ve seen the design elsewhere, but it’s neither Camelbak or Platypus – but, again, the vest designer was a few chips short of a Happy Meal. Believe it or not, the rear tensioning straps go over the bladder pouch.

This means that the vest is over-tight at the start of the day, and loose at the end. Sorry, but this is plain poor design, and would have been easily sorted by passing the vest traps under the bladder pouch.

The bladder itself is quite interesting, as well. Good points and bad. The inlet cover is screaming “break me” (brittle acrylic, or similar) when it’s not screaming “loose me” (no retaining strap, unlike a Camelbak). That said, it has a drain valve at the very top (unlike a Camelbak, you’re not still trying to dry it two weeks after using it).

On the upside, the tube connects to the bladder via a screw coupling (big plus), but is made of an unbelievably soft material. This twisted at least once an hour – enough to prevent the bladder from being used. At some point this will be replaced by a Camelbak tube and mouthpiece.

On the plus side, the rig includes a neoprene insulating pipe, and a pipe clip that fits to the adjustment strap on either shoulder. Unfortunately, this clip is designed to be used without the neoprene sheath, so it’s basically useless. Paracord to the rescue. Again.

The Verdict I realise that this review sounds very negative. I’ve spent an awful lot of skirmishes in my S2000 copy, and only a couple in the Combat Vest. So, what gives?

Well, the first is price. The genuine Arktis was traditionally on sale for £125, without bladder. They’re now both around £75-85, but only the Web-Tex includes a bladder, tube, and neoprene sheath. I can’t comment on Arktis durability, but current Web-Tex gear seems to be excellent, at least for civvies and Airsoft use.

Well, the first is price. The genuine Arktis was traditionally on sale for £125, without bladder. They’re now both around £75-85, but only the Web-Tex includes a bladder, tube, and neoprene sheath. I can’t comment on Arktis durability, but current Web-Tex gear seems to be excellent, at least for civvies and Airsoft use.

The Combat vest gives you two accessible ammo pouches while flat on your belly, and a usable dump pouch. Both are eminently comfortable for use throughout a day’s skirmish. The S2000 copy has two grenade pouches (perfect for two large Enola Gaye smokes and a Thunderflash) – the downside is that one pouch gets in the way of shouldering your primary weapon (unless, like me, you move the damned thing).

If you’re willing to spend two minutes with a Stanley knife shortening a large smoke or Thunderflash, both will fit in – respectively – the Combat Vest’s Multi-tool and Maglite pouches – much more useful to the average ‘softer than what they’re designed for. To be honest, the biggest pain is that the FFD will not take a standard speedloader – you’ll need to keep those spare BBs in a bag, or make up a custom item.

So, would I recommend one vest over the other? To be honest, no. Both are versatile and well-made. Like the cheaper SAAV, both respond extremely well to a minor bit of customisation. Both are very good value for money at £55-£75 (look at spending the higher amount, once you’ve bought a hydration bladder and a PLCE belt).

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Comfortable
  • Good ammunition capacity
  • IRR (although if you really care about this, then you are probably considering spending double this)
  • Highly usable
  • Constructed well enough to last for a large number of Airsoft skirmishes

Cons:

  • Poor design of hydration bladder pouch
  • Poor holster design
  • Not actually made by Arktis (snob value)

Rating: 8/10

External links: Links to external sites of interest.

Web-Tex – the manufacturers of this product

 

By Hairy

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified:
Thursday, March 17, 2005 11:07 PM
Copyright ArniesAirsoft

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