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TheFull9

FirstSpear 'Strandhögg' Plate Carrier

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SAPI-Cut Strandhögg Plate Carrier

 

Ultra-Modern Tactical Gear from FirstSpear LLC

 

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"Never in the field of airsoft reviews was character map used so often by so few"

 

Background

 

While the basic concepts around specifically lightweight load carriage gear are not entirely brand new, the ways they have been executed in the past have never particularly pushed the envelope. A couple of different companies have in the past moved away from the standard 1000D template (using heavy cordura and webbing in every item to give extreme longevity) and produced MOLLE rigs and pouches out of 500D among other materials; Tyr Tactical for example have been producing a range of products for some time in their proprietary PV fabric which is both lighter and tougher than 1000D, although the weight saving with it isn't quite as significant as the more recent releases from gear manufacturers like Blue Force Gear and Tactical Tailor. It wasn't until SHOT show this year however that, to my mind, the big hitters really started going no-holds-barred with their weight shaving gear options, and FirstSpear were right out at the front of the pack with, what I think, are by far some of the most innovative design solutions that have been seen in years within the industry.

 

While I had neither the financial assets nor leave days available to fly over and physically attend the show this year, I did follow all the YouTube channels and various online blogs with much zeal. Although there were various intriguing announcements from many different airsoft companies with regards to new AEGs/GBBs/Accessories etc, the footage coming from the FirstSpear booth really stood out to me. Previous to that point I'd not been aware of the concept of tactical gear being built with the specific goal of weight saving in mind. Some may argue that these thinner, lighter materials sacrifice longevity and robustness, but for me in airsoft I feel that (even though I certainly do not 'baby' my kit) my gear simply does not suffer the sort of long term abrasive action that an item of equipment would do when used for a 6 or 12 month deployment with a rifleman in Afghanistan. So with that in mind, I would much rather tailor my loadout to be as light as possible to increase my comfort in game and therefore overall enjoyment and performance during a skirmish day.

 

As for real world usage of this particular PC (or the new generation of lightweight gear in general) I'm yet to really see any photographic evidence, but these sorts of transitions in personal equipment do take time. What I can confirm 100% based on communications with FirstSpear is that the Strandhögg is in use every day at the moment by personnel on the front lines. It is also available for purchase (along with various other FS products) in the AOR1 and AOR2 patterns; provided you have a U.S. Government contract number.

 

Purchasing

 

My Strandhögg came directly from FirstSpear themselves and at the time of writing, FirstSpears' store is quite likely one of the only places you'll be able to purchase one from. Op Tactical received a small stock of these PCs a short while ago but only in two variations; two different colours and only one size variation of each. They've been re-stocked at least once since then but those sold like the proverbial heated product of bakery.

 

There was something of a lead time on my PC, in that there was a gap of roughly 30 days between me placing the order and the item shipping, but then mine was amongst the first ones to be distributed so that was pretty much to be expected. FS are growing at a significant rate but they do still remain a relatively small company in relation to some others, and when you combine this with the extremely high demand for their products you can understand where the waiting times might come from. Frankly, considering how long you might have to wait on certain headborne system related items from Ops-Core or a moulded holster from Raven Concealment, I'm actually very impressed with FirstSpear.

 

In terms of the level of customer service I've honestly got to give FS a 10 out of 10, very impressive. As mentioned I exchanged quite a few e-mails with their CS rep and their replies were always timely (mostly the same day) and highly professional, plus it was always the same person you were talking to which gives an element of continuity you don't see all too often from retailers. Communications were consistent throughout the waiting period and on the occasions that I have spoken to them since then they have been more than obliging. As an example of this, FirstSpear had received a few reports from customers (who exactly was not specified) detailing some breakages occurring on the small tabs that lock the Tubes in to place. FS wasted no time in e-mailing everyone that had bought a Strandhögg to let them know that not only they could send their PC back in for a professional re-fit of new hardware, but they would also be sending every single purchaser a set of field replaceable Tubes. Originally I had my carrier sent to a relative in the US so that he could box up orders I'd made at 4 different retailers and save me some money on the shipping, which meant that FS had a U.S. address for me on their files. When I notified them of my address here on base in the UK (and offered to pay for the difference in shipping) they replied, again very swiftly, to let me know they'd be sending out the replacement kit via international mail at their own expense as soon as the reinforced items had rolled off the production line. They even included a link to a private YouTube video precisely detailing how to switch over your original Tubes with the new ones.

 

Quality and Construction

 

For the full break-down of all the different materials used by FS and where they were employed in the design of the Strandhögg, I've produced this video which goes in to a fair amount of depth. I fully recommend viewing it in full 1080p in order to see the greatest amount of detail.

 

 

Moving on to some detailed views of prominent features, starting with one of the best (but least publicised) design aspects of this particular plate carrier.

 

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What you can see here on the interior of the Strandhögg is another piece of genius design work from FirstSpear. On both plate pockets as well as the cummerbund FS have incorporated a spacing system using two sections of perforated neoprene type foam held inside 3D spacer mesh at either side (top and bottom in the case of the cummerbund). The absence of this foam combined with standard 2D mesh material running down the centre potion of each component creates a channel for air to circulate which provides the user with excellent comfort and ventilation. All the mesh materials used are very soft to the touch, and although one might imagine the decrease surface area of contact may cause the user to feel areas of pressure rather than an evenly spread load, I can confirm this is not the case in the slightest. There are numerous other relatively new types of load bearing system which incorporate a layer of spacer mesh next to the clothing, but they cannot compete with this design in terms of heat dissipation and moisture wicking. Currently I'm unsure as to the purpose of the loop velcro field, but it's not noticeable while worn and doesn't cause any discomfort to the upper chest.

 

This PC beats every other carrier and chest rig I have ever tried in terms of it's continually high level of comfort provided to the wearer throughout a skirmish day under the summer sun. So far I have only taken mine to one skirmish, but during that one day it rained heavily for short periods at least 5 or 6 times and then the sun shone intermittently with such heat as to dry up all the ground water in minutes, yet the only thing that humidity affected was the fog inside my eye protection. Pairing this rig with a high quality UBACS will make for an ideal armour & load carrying solution in warmer climates. The days of taking off your PC to find the insides entirely soaked in sweat and the torso portion of your combat shirt hanging like a damp cloth are over. Even wearing the Propper TAC-U under this carrier (which is not an ideal hot weather shirt in the slightest) the sweat just evaporated right away from my body.

 

One slight 'issue' is highlighted by this picture however. I say issue in inverted commas because it really isn't a problem, it's a minor point that I just wanted to highlight that may be a very slight downside for some people, and that is how short the Strandhögg is, standing at just 12" off the ground. Now this may well be in part due to the fact my carrier is sized for Small SAPI plates, and that does mean overall it is pretty small indeed, unfortunately however I don't currently have any information with regards to how different the medium/large/XL variants are constructed in terms of having extra MOLLE rows or columns; this is an area in which I do feel that FistSpear's website could perhaps be improved.

 

As I mentioned however, the stumpy nature of the Strandhögg may be of slight concern to some. This characteristic of the plate pockets does tend to cause your primary magazines to sit higher up than one perhaps might be accustomed to when using other setups, and it can feel a little strange at first. You do have to reach that little bit higher up than usual to get a firm hold on to the top of your magazine and (depending on your pouch selection) you may well have to withdraw that ammunition source at an angle that you're not accustomed to. This may result in a slightly slower reload on account of the fact that the mag will have to come up closer to your chin than normal before it is free of the pouch and you are able to start moving it towards your rifle, but the difference is very much minimal in my experience. This picture of the front plate pocket separated from the rest of the carrier demonstrates this point quite well:

 

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Many of you will have also no doubt have clocked the fact that a couple of the pouches I have used are hanging below the bottom edge of the Strandhögg, the fact this is happening again serves to highlight the short stature of this PC. To my mind, the most likely origin for this characteristic of the Strandhögg is simply the super-lightweight nature of FirstSpears' design criteria. As much as it's great to use lower deniers of cordura and other modern materials to shave off the ounces, on a basic level the most simple and effective way to save on weight is to simply put less material on there in the first place. For anyone out there that may be concerned with the protruding portions of the pouches digging in to the waist when leaning around cover then let me put your mind at ease, this doesn't happen. You will need to make sure you're buying your pouches accordingly because a standard length hydration carrier (for example) would stick out by quite a long way indeed; I've used the Patrol Incident Gear hydro pouch on my rig which was specifically released by SKD tactical for usage on shorter types of load carriage system, yet I'm still left with 1-2 MOLLE rows of the pouch protruding despite mounting it as high up as I could without obstructing the drag handle.

 

I should mention at this point that upon initially donning the Strandhögg I found that it had a tendency to slide downwards at the back (and conversely upwards at the front) and dig in to my throat, presumably on account of the thin materials making the whole construction extremely flexible. This did concern me to start with as I'd expect a $420 piece of gear not to cause that sort of discomfort to the user, but much to my relief I found that once I had taken the time to properly tighten the cummerbund (it just goes down to my pencil sized torso when the bungee adjustment is down to absolute minimum) and had attached pouches this problem ceased to manifest itself. I was also worried to begin with that the weight of a full 2 litre hydration bladder would overcome the lesser weight of 3 metal mid-caps on the front of the carrier but fortunately this proved to be a baseless fear.

 

Revolutionary plastic

 

Aesthetically, the new laser cut PALS may stand out the most to a lot of people and it may be the key weight saving feature on the Strandhögg, but for me it's not the 6/12 that's primarily contributing to the overall excellence of the design. Sure, if you set it up with lightweight pouches then you will notice how much less you're weighed down than before with this carrier, but when you're at a game or spending a long day practising on the range (airsoft or live firing) the thing that you will actively and consistently take notice of is how much quicker and easier you're finding it to don and doff your equipment.

 

The current crop of videos currently out there don't show how the system works very clearly, but it is surprisingly simple, which is good because simple kit means less chance of anything going wrong. The basic premise is that the central portion of the female half of the connection (the segment with the paracord grab-handle) protrudes inwards slightly when at rest. When you slide in the male portion this small segment is temporarily pushed outwards, but once the cut-out in the male portion lines up with the grab-handle then the locking segment clicks in to place, fully securing the cummerbund/shoulder strap. To release, you grab the paracord handle which exerts outwards force on the locking segment, disengaging the system so as the two parts of the Tube are free to slide apart.

 

Here's the male half of the left shoulder strap Tube, clearly showing the central cut-out within which the locking tab fits. Followed by the female half of the Tube that attaches to the left side of the cummerbund, highlighting the lock tab itself with the paracord handle.

 

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On first seeing images of the Strandhögg online I was slightly concerned that the length of the grab-handles attached to the tubes would be an issue. Primarily as a snag hazard which might hang up the user, or cause unwanted release of their PPE at a critical time; but also that they might become a general annoyance by swinging around during dynamic movement, causing a distraction. Fortunately, there were again concerns that I needn't have had. The plastic shrink-wrap that FS have added to the paracord since their initial prototypes prevents the loop from opening up and creating a snagging point for branches/railings/weapon parts and other terrain hazards to hook in to. Admittedly there is still a small amount of potential for the cord to get caught on certain elements in the operators' environment, but then there always will be on any piece of gear that isn't totally flat and smooth. The handles also do not cause a distraction as I had feared at first, I went sprinting at full pace a fair few times when I skirmished this rig, and if they were bouncing around then I didn't notice it in the slightest. Though I couldn't say for certain whether they were or not on account of the fact that I simply didn't notice them at all.

 

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In terms of the quick-release functionality that Tubes provide I went through most of the different points in the video, but I would like to add to that just for emphasis. The great thing about Tubes and the speed with which they allow you to remove your equipment is that it does indeed work brilliantly for 'day-to-day' ops, airsoft skirmishing and practice, but in the event you do fall in to the sea or get set on fire, you can escape your heavy/burning gear just as quickly using Tubes as you ever could using the old steel wire based systems, without all the weight and the massively over-complicated fuss that came along with that old style of QR design. Bearing in mind that it's not just that wire you're removing by using Tubes instead, it's the cordura for the handle, all the metal grommets that the wire routed through and the webbing sections that those grommets were mounted on to, all that stuff really adds up. There is a very small potential for hindering access to the paracord pulls if you were to stack really deep pouches right up directly either side of the Tubes but you'd really have to be going some to manage that, considering there is a fairly wide gap between the sides of the front plate pocket and the leading edges of the cummerbund.

 

Other concerns that I have seen aired by other people were that these plastic components may create pressure points due to the absence of mesh or padding underneath them, as well as some folks worrying whether they'll be able to properly shoulder a rifle. Unfortunately I've not as yet tried pairing the Strandhögg with a large, heavy pack, so I can't comment on that, but I have put a few BBs down range running around wearing this PC and I can confirm that you do not physically feel the Tubes under a standard weighted load. Getting the butt of your weapon in to your shoulder is also no problem what-so-ever, there is a small area you can't use very well, but I do emphasise the word small. Live fire or airsoft, you won't struggle getting in to a good firing position while wearing one of these carriers.

 

 

Six of one, two half-dozens of the other

 

Something I failed to mention in the video which I would like to now address is the difference between 6/12 from FirstSpear and the inverse-MOLLE/laser cut PALS etc that you'll see from other gear makers out there. It's pretty simple: Loop velcro

 

While the whole idea of 6/12 is not a particularly huge leap forward over MOLLE in my opinion, but it certainly does have some small advantages and it's always good to see gear companies pushing technology forward rather than just sitting still with what we have now. Due to the ease with which you can access the inner surfaces of the Strandhögg, it's no more difficult to attach standard MOLLE pouches than using the old system with strips of webbing sewn to the outside of the rig. It'll maybe take you a second or two more per pouch to do the weaving since you need to alternate between the inside and outside to complete the process, but it's really nothing much of a hindrance.

I can't help but think that perhaps FS could've shaved off even more weight if they'd stuck to simple laser-cut PALS vs adding the loop velcro layer, taking in to account that they only make a (comparatively) limited range of 6./12 compatible pockets, whereas there are an abundance of other manufacturers out there already producing every type of pouch that anyone might ever need, and if you employ a pouch system like Helium Whisper as I have then you've already made the weight savings that 6/12 offers without the need for that velcro. That said of course it will be an awful lot quicker and easier to attach 6/12 pockets seeing as all you have to do is feed the 6/12 tabs through the laser cuts and press down the velcro. Either way, it's pretty much a non-issue and what is for certain is that FS have used an extremely low-profile, low 'fluff', high quality velcro for the interior of the Strandhögg which I'm sure only adds to the strength of the MOLLE cuts.

 

To further alleviate any fears anybody may have with regards to the strength and tear resistance of the inverse-MOLLE cut outs, I would highlight the fact that the cuts are not simple line slits in the cordura, they're fully formed rectangles (all be it very narrow ones) with rounded ends. Much like an engineer would profile a metal part within a machine that comes under stresses to lessen the chances of cracks forming, FirstSpear have taken the very sensible move of rounding the edges on all the laser cuts to drastically reduce the chances of tears occurring. Also having a properly formed gap for your MOLLE straps to pass through prevents the material puckering in or outwards as straps weave through, which would leave the entire face of the 6/12 uneven and not sitting flat.

 

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As you can see, the critical areas that need reinforcing have also received the appropriate treatment. With double/triple/X stitching patterns on areas of webbing that secure the shoulder straps and a few other key weight-bearing areas.

 

Pouch Selection

 

I do feel I ought to say at this point, that to my mind, using anything other than specifically lightweight pouches on this particular plate carrier is something of a waste of its' features, to a certain extent. Personally I mainly went for the Helium Whisper line from Blue Force Gear when I fitted out my Strandhögg, and I certainly don't regret that decision. I honestly believe that the 6/12 pockets from FirstSpear would struggle to challenge the weight savings offered by the BFG Whisper series, and functionality wise they're not all that different.

 

With the above said and out the way however, I am acutely aware of the fact that Helium Whisper/Fight Light/General employment of 500 or 330D cordura are still an emerging concept for many gear makers at this time. Although you certainly can get enough different types of pouches to fill your loadout and carry what you need by shopping within these new line-ups, you may well struggle to find the ideal type of pouch that you previously had in 1000D flavour.

 

The 1000D 'template' for gear design has been around for a good few years now and there is an enormous range of options out there in terms of pouches using that style of construction, (much more so than this newer gear) which does mean it is more likely you'll be able to find exactly the design of pouch you want if you stick to that heavier equipment. Magazine pouches for example come in a million and one different varieties using the old material specs, and you might not be able to find just that perfect size of utility or hydration pouch in a lightweight configuration for your needs, so all I'd recommend is taking your time with your shopping. This newer kit often costs exactly the same as the older style, so I'd simply suggest you weigh up your own personal needs in the areas of functionality vs. weight saving, and decide appropriately. If you can have both then great go for it, if not, then take the time to think it over carefully.

 

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I have tested the Strandhögg with a few types of 1000D pouch and the 6/12 legacy compatibility does work just fine, the only concern that springs to my mind is with regards to MALICE clips on certain types of pouches. The PIG hydro carrier that I have mounted went in to position on the rear panel without issue and is mounted securely, without exerting constant strain on the laser cuts as certain MALICE-attached pouches can do. The main culprit of this in my experience is the HSGI TACO, rifle or pistol format, the dimensions they're built to always cause the same issue. I'm not putting down the TACO as it is a brilliant pouch design and I'm have complete faith that HSGI know what they're doing in terms of putting nylon gear together. However, despite the faith I also have in the strength of the Strandhögg, I personally would not mount any TACO pouches to this particular plate carrier. Not because I feel the cordura would be in imminent danger of being ripped apart, but I think that constant tension could potentially cause damage after extended periods of time, and when there are other pouches out there which do the job I ask of them just as well as a TACO without this (small) risk, I'd rather not take any chances with a $420 plate carrier that could not reasonably be repaired and would likely prove difficult to replace.

 

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In terms of choosing other utility/ordnance pouches for your cummerbund I'd just be sure to check the dimensions of what you buy before you hit that order button. The cummerbund itself is 6" in height so bear that in mind. Hydration carriers are a similar story, as I mentioned even my PIG specific-to-short-rigs pouch is too long for the Strandhögg and though (again, as previously mentioned) this does not cause a performance problem, many will find it undesirable, even if only for aesthetic reasons.

 

In Conclusion

 

A piece of load bearing equipment for the newbie airsofter? Probably not, unless you're mega-rich. But for all of you out there who have tried a few different chest rigs and PCs over the years and want something really new and different, you'll be hard pressed to beat the Strandhögg.

 

I have spent some time trying to change the way the shoulder straps are rigged up but I can't seem to get them much longer at all, which does leave the issue of the mags sitting a bit higher than most people would probably like. Plus the cummerbund Tubes being where they are do remove 1-2 columns of MOLLE estate which might be pretty important to some, although personally I think it can be turned in to an advantage in that it'll guarantee you keep the draw route clear for your belt mounted sidearm + magazines.

 

Other than those niggles, I cannot knock the Strandhögg at all. It's fast, light, cool (in more ways than one), very gucci and a highly refreshing change. When you compare this PC to the armour rigs of old like the EI CIRAS or EPC... well, you can't really compare, that's how much of a difference there is. Easy to transport wherever you're going, be it a skirmish locally, a big event in another country or a live firing course that's going to require you to buy a plane ticket, the Strandhögg will follow you where you need it to. It won't make you an SAS trooper or a SEAL operator, heck at the time of writing it won't even make you look like one of those things, but what it will do is lighten your load, lower your temperature and take just a little bit of hassle out of your skirmish day.

 

It is pricey? Yep, pretty much. Will it appeal to those people who are stuck in their ways and refuse to adapt to changes and disruptive technology? Nope. But it's a damn comfortable little plate carrier, and it's the sort of gear item that you look at after trying it out for a while and think "yeah, definitely money well spent on that one".

 

Cheers for reading.

 

Chris K

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Excellent review, looks like a great rig. Good to know they didn't just cut slits in the fabric.

 

Thanks, I've been enjoying it that's for certain.

 

I know for many people (myself included) the strength of this new MOLLE system was a big concern, but with the velcro backing and the correct profiling of the cuts it seems that FS have really got it right on that side of things.

 

That is one in depth review CK, nice one!

 

Very interested in your theory with the HSGI TACO's as that was what I was going to put on mine.

 

Cheers, hopefully it was at least a slightly interesting read.

 

I've only got pistol TACOs here with me on camp at the moment unfortunately, but I'll see about trying one on the 6/12 and having a look at how sits. I'm fairly certain I can tell you already what it's going to look like, which is why I specifically brought the subject up in the review because I took an educated guess that it would be a fairly likely pouch option for people buying this carrier.

 

At the moment I'd suggest looking at the TACO-a-likes from Tyr Tac. I'm still not actually certain what their mounting system is, but if it's not MALICE (bane of my airsoft life) then it's almost bound to be a much better choice.

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I was in a similar boat when the Helium Whisper stuff first came out, really wanted to see what it would really be like for myself.

 

It's all very simplistic in design, but in a good way.

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At the moment I'd suggest looking at the TACO-a-likes from Tyr Tac. I'm still not actually certain what their mounting system is, but if it's not MALICE (bane of my airsoft life) then it's almost bound to be a much better choice.

It's not MALICE. The attachment system is like all of their products.

 

It's a pretty nice pouch and would recommend it, especially those who like to jump platforms.

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What is the system they actually use? I've been through their site a few times, but I just looked again now to try and double check and I still can't seem to find a single product page that depicts the back of one of their pouches.

 

From the side view it looks like fairly standard weave straps which definitely would be much better suited to the strandhögg than MALICE.

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Can't say I have to be honest. Until around 18 months ago I mostly stuck to Warrior for pouches, seeing as it was a lot easier to get in the UK for reasonable prices and built extremely tough. I never saw much point in paying to import Para/EI (fairly pricey to start with, then add shipping and UK import taxes and fees) when I could get 1000D gear that was just as solid in country. I've always just bought gear based on performance primarily, but cost effectiveness is a close second.

 

'clete used stiffened sections of webbing on the ends of the straps that tuck to secure from what I've read? Either way, definitely better for a strandhogg than MALICE to my mind.

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Well, FS sent out my field replacement kit for the Tubes but they've only just come through because they got delivered to my uncle in the states who hid them away somewhere for a while. Anyway, considering my original ones have performed flawlessly and these have cost me nothing at all, very impressed with FS once again.

 

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I actually prefer the colouration on the original ones in terms of adaptable environment camouflage, but the moulding on these replacements is a lot more crisp and refined. Plus they have gucci looking logos on them that'll be great for macro shots, so as an airsofter I felt the only option was to go ahead with the replacement.

 

For anyone who was perhaps unsure as to the quality of the polymer used in the original tubes, let me just put your concerns to rest. I just tried to cut off my old ones with a pair of snips (as advised by the mfg) and I just bent the handles on the tool while making minimal impact on the outer surface of the plastic. Think I'll have to break out something bigger and more heavy duty.

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Nice of you to say so, glad it was useful.

 

Skirmishing experience with this recently has really highlighted that its' main issue is the short stature. The front tends to ride up a bit (probably because the water on the back weighs more than airsoft midcaps) and your ammo does end up being very high indeed. It's not a game-ender, I've spent a few games running this thing now and when you're in the fight you don't notice it in any sort of negative fashion, which is exactly what you want from any gear item.

 

However if FS were to make a version of this rig which was taller (more like APC or Eagle PC length, covered the torso on your average 5'10/11-ish bloke) that would be the ideal solution to my mind. Obviously you'd gain a few ounces, but it'd be well worth that.

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I had to use a cutting disc on a dremel to get the old Tubes off my Strandhögg in the end, the type of cutting disc which I've used in the past to slice through aluminium components with ease. Normal wire snips just weren't doing it and a hacksaw pretty much just made heat and smoke (though that was somewhat the wrong tool for the job admittedly). But between me, my brother, a dremel cutter and a vice in my garage the old set was eventually removed with no damage to the plate carrier. After a fair while sitting down with a pair of needle-noise pliers and swearing a lot I'd fitted the Tubes field replacement kit that FS sent out, leaving me with the (mostly intact) parts of the old Tubes that were no longer of any use. Except for chucking out a window, stamping on and then smashing with a hammer to see how much they could take before they broke:

 

 

All 4 female connector portions were chucked out the 1st floor window, 3 of them got stamped on and two were hammered repeatedly. The fall did nothing what-so-ever to any of them, one of the locking tabs was broken by extensive stamping on paving slabs, and one of them shattered to bits after substantial stamping and then even more hammering. One of the shoulder parts however simply refused to die after getting all three treatments and it's still here now, it'd work again if I could fit it back on the PC.

 

Just to reiterate, all of the items tested were made out of the weaker, supposedly 'dodgy' batch of polymer that FS has since replaced in terms of their production facility. All new Strandhöggs, Seige-Rs, replacement cummerbunds etc will ship out with the newer, better moulded and toughened polymer. Not that it was even really needed in my opinion.

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Update on the rising issue with the front plate panel.

 

Problem is, as with any PC really, this thing isn't designed for airsofters.  If you actually put ballistic protection in to it and have the weight of loaded magazines on the front then it sits very nicely; the issue being that I (and probably 99% of players) don't want to run plates or any form or armour in game and most of the magazines airsofters use are extremely light.  However, I tested out the Strandhögg with three GBBR magazines on the front for the first time just recently and the way it hangs on the shoulders is instantly miles better, even with just 1 or 2 magazines it's much improved.  Having a loaded hydration system on the back can be an issue for obvious reasons, so I'd recommend just going with a 1L bladder setup.  Even ignoring the balance issue, a 2L bladder is too long to fit on there without over-hang anyway, and you're not exactly going to die of dehydration at most day-skirmish sites because you only have 1 litre on your person; especially considering a lot of the time you probably don't need any to get by and if you're playing CQB you can leave a bottle in the safe zone which will likely only be a few dozen metres away at all times.

 

All that said, I've run this PC at every game I've attended since I purchased it and I've always used either plastic midcaps of some description or the light TM EBB 82rnd metal mags, no worries.  Just avoid a really tight magazine pouch, go with either a simple shingle setup or lidded pouches.  Otherwise the retention of the pouch overcomes the very small mass of the front panel and you lift the whole thing up along with the magazine you're trying to remove.

 

I'm currently in the process of swapping around the pouches I utilise on my rig based on the experience I've had with it in use, but if anyone's after a better view of the PC itself than picture alone can provide, have a watch of this::

 

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Re hydration solutions, CK, you are bang on the money about smaller bladder solutions being better, these are how I run my Strandhogg's:

 

MC - this is First Spears smallest hydration pouch in 6/12 format with a Source 1LTR bladder.

On the sides are BFG M4 pouches which I use to store pyro's and sweets.On the other side is a First Spear radio pouch and smallest utility pouch, both 6/12.  

 

dscf0677me.jpg

 

Black - using a Camelbak Pakteen with 1.5LTR bladder, also have the First Spear small hydration pouch in black too but I prefer this setup and it just about fits the back..

Sides are exactly identical to the MC one

 

dscf0680j.jpg

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