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Review of the Emerson Adaptive Vest System (AVS)

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A Review of the Emerson Adaptive Vest System
By Gimpalong
8 December 2014

 

20141206_134204_zpse6d58c84.jpg

 

Introduction
 

One of the newer and more innovative plate carrier designs of recent years is the Crye Adaptive Vest System (AVS). Introduced at SHOT Show 2013 , the AVS was designed to fill a niche between the extremely light weight Jumpable Plate Carrier (JPC) and the larger, more load-carrying friendly CAGE Plate Carrier (CPC). Intended to be a scalable platform, the AVS has a wide variety of available components and accessory panels that can be added or subtracted depending on mission necessities or profiles.


The primary components of the AVS are the front and rear plate bags, the internal harness, a skeletal cummerbund available in three varieties and a detachable front flap available in four varieties. By mixing and matching these components, an individual can customize the AVS to their specific needs.


While "traditional" plate carriers like the Eagle Plate Carrier (EPC), LBT 6094 or Mayflower APC sandwich the wearer between a front and rear plate bag, the internal harness of the AVS supports the entirety of the rear plate bag, offsetting it from the body. The harness "arms" wrap tightly around the body and tuck under the front plate bag, while the front plate bag attaches to the padded shoulders of the harness. A front panel can then be added to accommodate 5.56mm or 7.62mm magazines. MOLLE/PALS pouches can be weaved onto the harness arms, or a skeletal cummerbund can be added via series of loops on the harness and pouches can be attached to that. The internal harness can be subtracted for a lighter weight configuration that utilizes only a cummerbund and the plate bags.

The Crye AVS is constructed primarily from 500D Cordura.


The Crye AVS is, at the time of this writing, in use with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Crye AVS replicas have been produced by two companies, TMC and Emerson. A review of the TMC version written by triggs is available here

My review will focus on the Emerson replica of the AVS.

 


Ordering/Price

 

The multicam Emerson AVS was ordered from Specwarefare Airsoft on November 20th, 2014. My order consisted of the AVS itself, a triple magazine pouch front panel and a 3-band skeletal cummerbund.


Emerson AVS: $99.44
Triple Magazine Pouch: $15.84
3-Band Skeletal Cummerbund: $7.83


For a total of $123.11 plus shipping.

The order shipped on November 25th and arrived on December 1st. 



 



20141201_191937_zps8c251b7e.jpg
The entire order in detail
 

Overview:

 

The Emerson AVS arrived packaged into a laundry sack style drawstring bag with the Emerson brand skull largely displayed.

The AVS consists of the following components:
Front and rear plate bags (standard SAPI cut, as opposed to MBAV cut)
Internal Harness

Shoulder Pad Covers
MOLLE Front Panel
Single Band Cummerbund
Emergency Doffing Cable

Also included in my package was:

Triple Magazine Pouch Panel
3-Band Skeletal Cummerbund
 


20141201_192708_zpscface7a3.jpg

Triple M4 magazine front panel (Top)

Emergency Doffing Cable (Top Left)
3-Band Skeletal Cummerbund (2nd from Top)

One Band Cummerbund straps (3rd from Top)

Shoulder Pad Covers (Bottom) - note the black rather than tan routing loops


 

Initial Impressions

 

The Crye AVS is a complicated design that retails at over $600 for the version with the internal harness. Conversely, I paid about $170 shipped for the Emerson replica. Having read Trigg's review of the TMC replica in which he mentioned poor build quality and off color multicam webbing, I was not expecting a whole lot from the Emerson version.

 

Right off the bat it is necessary to note that this is a Chinese replica. You should not expect the quality of the materials or of the construction to approach that of Crye Precision or other American-made "tactical nylon" products.

Surprisingly, I found that the Emerson version does an excellent job replicating the way that the Crye AVS pieces together. The Emerson AVS is advertised as being made from 500D Cordura and it does feel significantly lighter than my 1000D Cordura Flyye EPC. The stitching on the Emerson replica seems robust. Places that look like they should be double stitched are actually double stitched and there were very few stray threads.

The front plate bag is 6 MOLLE rows wide and 6 MOLLE channels tall and has a loop velcro field for attaching patches. There is also a build in admin pouch similar to the one found on the Mayflower APC. There is also a built in kangaroo pouch, but this pouch is intended for use attaching the velcro on front flap panels as opposed to holding magazines, although you could fit magazines into it if you felt so inclined. The plate pocket is secured with velco as well as a button. There are two vertical loops of 3/4" webbing on either side of the of the velcro field for attaching comms equipment (PTTs, etc). unfortunately, compared to the real Crye AVS, these 3/4" vertical loops are shorter than they should be.

The rear plate bag, like the front, is 6 MOLLE rows wide and 6 MOLLE channels tall.

The back of the rear plate bag features a drag handle that velcroes neatly down when not in use. There is also a loop velcro field for adding patches or other velcro accessories. On either side of the rear plate bag are two zippers that are designed to interface with Crye's line of zip-on panels. Whether or not these will actually work remains to be seen. The plate pocket is secured with velcro as well as a button.


 

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The front and rear plate bags. The MOLLE panel has been installed on the front plate bag.


 

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Backs of the front and rear plate bags.
 


20141208_080058_zpsa7bd7601.jpg
Detail of the stitching on the front plate bag. Note the vertical 3/4" webbing for attaching comms equipment (PTT). On the real AVS, this webbing is longer.


20141208_080453_zpse24d0398.jpg
Detail of the AVS zipper. These are used to mount Crye's zip-on panels. For example.


 
 


20141208_080234_zpsc6947a08.jpg
Detail of the stitching on the back plate bag. 

Arguably the most complicated part of the AVS is the internal harness. On the rear of the harness a series of tabs thread through and snap closed to attach the rear plate bag. An elastic bungee cord is weaved between the two halves of the harness to hold it together. On the Emerson replica, the tabs snap together, but don't seem especially robust and I was careful not to put too much pressure on them when installing the plate bag onto the harness. The elastic bungee is sturdy and has a large, black plastic cord lock to tighten everything down. It is possible to tuck the plastic cord lock away between the plate bag and the harness, but, annoyingly, I have found it likes to pop out and sit uncomfortably against my back. Easy to remedy, but something to be aware of. The hardware itself seems robust. The rear plate bag attaches via four D-rings on the shoulders of the harness. These D-Rings have an Emerson logo engraved onto them. Unlike the plastic D-Rings of the TMC version, these D-Rings are metal.

 

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The internal harness. Note the harness arms with MOLLE/PALS sewn onto them.
 

20141208_080406_zps6d7c3355.jpg
Detail view of the metal D-Rings that the rear plate bag mounts to harness
 

When assembling the vest I made use of Crye's Operator's Manual rather than the instructions included by Emerson which basically rip off Crye's imagery and add a bit of broken English.

 

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Terribad Instructions.
 

Replica vests often suffer from poorly spaced MOLLE/PALS webbing that can make it hard to weave pouches through. In the case of the Emerson, I found that the MOLLE webbing was spaced more or less evenly across the entire vest. None of the MOLLE channels are too small to fit a pouch on to. 
 

One poorly stitched area that I discovered was the MOLLE panel that the AVS ships with. The top row of MOLLE on this panel seems to be stitched on unevenly.
 


20141207_170622_zpsc4f51dcc.jpg
Notice how the top row isn't straight.
 

20141207_170723_zpsf2c05a82.jpg
The rear of the MOLLE front flap panel


 

20141208_080545_zpsf697836f.jpg
Detail of the front plate bag with the M4 front panel installed.
 

I also noticed that the standard MOLLE panel was installed incorrectly out of the box.

Another area for concern is where the plate bag shoulder straps are attached to the actual plate bag itself. This area looks like it should be reinforced and it seems likely that that the shoulder straps could tear out of the platebag with rough use. Only time will tell how well the stitching in this area holds up.

One major visual differences between the Emerson replica and the real version is the quick detach shoulder buckle. This buckle allows for quick doffing of the vest and adds a measure of convenience. On the real version, the shoulder buckle has a distinctive inverted "V" shape, while the Emerson version has the standard square buckle similar to the CPC. In fact, one of the first comments I received about the vest was "is that a CPC with an AVS cummerbund?" The Emerson buckle, despite being the wrong shape, clicks in positively and the plastic seems high quality. Again, it could probably be damaged with hard use. Happily, replacement buckles in the correct shape can be purchased from Crye. It should be noted that the vest can be used without the shoulder buckle if the user prefers.
 



20141208_080156_zps6c043299.jpg
The shoulder buckle uses incorrect hardware compared to the real deal.
Also of note is how the shoulder strap attaches to the plate bag. I could see this pulling out if used roughly.




Another major visual difference is that the cable routing ties on the shoulder covers of the real Crye AVS are tan, while on the Emerson version they are black.

Lastly, Emerson has stitched a roughly 1.5"x3" patch to the inside of the rear plate bag that includes the Emerson logo, web address and product information. Personally, I think this is sort of a nice touch, but others might not like it. Similarly, the accessory panels and skeletal cummerbund have Emerson tags attached to them. Likewise, the snap buttons are engraved with the word "Emerson."

The AVS also ships with an emergency doffing cable. The cable installs through the skeletal cummerbund and, when attached, holds the cummerbund onto the rear of the harness. Pulling the cable allows for the cummerbund to be pulled away so that the wearer can escape the vest quickly. I opted not to install the cable since I, as yet, have not attached the cummerbund.

When ordering the Emerson AVS, I did not have high expectations for the item's build quality. And while the vest is certainly nowhere near "MILSPEC" or Crye level stitching and construction, it is very well built for a Chinese copy. Having owned a Mayflower APC, Flyye 6094 and Flyye EPC, I would say that the Emerson AVS is certainly inferior to the construction of the Mayflower, but only slightly inferior to the Flyye designs. Only time will tell how well the Emerson replica will hold up to hard use, but for $170 shipped I find it hard to complain.

 

Coloration

 

Although my pictures do not do the Emerson replica justice, I think that the multicam coloration looks pretty spot on. I compared the vest coloration to an issue pair of multicam trousers, an issue multicam combat shirt, an HSGI multicam 40mm pouch and a Flyye multicam GP pouch and the Emerson's color seems about right (see below). It certainly replicates the true color of multicam better than the off color TMC AVS replica.
 

20141206_134253_zpsea60dea1.jpg
Left side detail of the AVS. Note that the black buckle and strap was a donning/doffing modification that I made. It is described below.
 

20141206_134239_zps4534d16c.jpg
Rear of the AVS.
 


 

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Bojack4_zps4738dca8.jpg

 


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HSGI 40mm Pouch, Flyye GP Pouch
Issue Multicam Trousers
Issue Multicam Combat Shirt
 

Fit/Sizing

 

]I am 5'6", 145 lbs with a 36" chest and the Emerson AVS fits me snugly when tightened down. Set up for me, the "arms" of the internal arms meet in the center of the front plate bag. The height of the front and rear plate bags can be adjusted and there is plenty of adjustability to raise or lower the bags' positions. I would recommend the Emerson replica to anyone my height/weight or taller. Anyone smaller than me might have a difficult time getting the vest to fit properly. My estimate is that the Emerson AVS replicates the medium size harness and plate bags from Crye. Again, the Emerson plate bags are cut to the standard shape for SAPI plates as opposed to the MBAV cut designed for plates and soft armor.

Overall, the AVS seems like a good fit. The entire system is surprisingly light despite the harness which I had initially thought might add a lot of weight. The vest rides high enough so that it doesn't interfere when I crouch, but stays low enough that the top of the front plate bag doesn't wedge up against my neck. This had been a problem for me when using an LBT 6094 or Eagle SPC, but mostly relates to my height, so those who are taller shouldn't have any issues. 


Set-Up

 

As noted above, the AVS can be pieced together in several different configurations. My intention is to run the AVS using the front and rear plate bags and the internal harness. Since the "arms" of the internal harness have MOLLE/PALS webbing attached to them, I am opting to run only the harness and forego the skeletal cummerbund. On the front of the AVS, I am running the triple magazine panel to carry three 5.56mm magazines. In the Crye recommended set-up using only the internal harness, a single-band cummerbund is attached to the rear of the harness, runs along the harness arm and then secures via velcro under the panel/flap on the front plate bag. I am not a huge fan of having to lift the panel attached to front plate bag, so I have opted to add a .75" buckle to the front plate bag so that the harness "arm" can be unclipped and slid off. This method is described under "Part 4 - Set up, notes and observations" on the Military Morons review of the Crye AVS. 

 

20141206_134342_zpsff25bc88.jpg

Detail of the .75" buckle set-up designed to allow donning and doffing without the need to lift the velcro front panel.
 

20141206_134407_zps8e871d7e.jpg
The AVS shown with the .75" buckle unclipped, allowing the harness arm to be pulled out.
 

I am running faux plates in both the front and rear plate bags of the AVS. I definitely recommend this as while the plate bags are quite stiff, they also really need something in them to properly fill them out. I have used foam harvested from an OD USGI camp mat to make my fake plates, but camp foam can be easily found that camping stores like Gander Mtn or even at your local Meijer or Walmart. Inside the rear plate bag I am running a Source ILPS 3L hydration bladder.

In the future, I will likely add two single magazine pouches on either side of the front panel to bring the total magazines carried up to five. Expect additional photos to be added down the line.
 


Final thoughts
 

Prior to purchasing the Emerson AVS, I spent a considerable amount of time researching the Crye AVS as well as several other designs (Crye JPC, SKDTac PIG, Ferro FCPC, Firstspear). Once I had settled on the AVS, I wanted to understand exactly how it fit together and was constructed. In order to gather this information I relied heavily on the reviews done by Military Morons and by Extraordinaire on YouTube. Although I could have afforded the real Crye AVS, I was hesitant to drop such a considerable amount of money on a vest that would be used solely for airsoft. Having been able to handle the Emerson AVS replica up close, I'm satisfied with my decision to purchase the replica over the real deal. 
 

For those looking to invest in a modern, lightweight scaleable plate carrier system without breaking the bank, I would recommend the Emerson AVS replica. Is the vest a match for Crye's materials and construction? No, but it's a well put together facsimile of a great design.

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

My intention is to update this review as the vest sees field use and as I add pouches.


Please feel free to comment or ask questions. I will try to provide timely replies and updates!

Edited by Gigueand
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Easily gets a like for Bojack Horseman faces alone.

 

Looks like they used real 500D then some rather iffy webbing which is odd, but it seems mostly covered up when assembled and worn.  Like the quick-release mod you did on the side as well, very nice.

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Yeah, obviously it's not a perfect reproduction. That said, and for the price, it's a solid rig. The quick-release mod I blatantly stole from the Military Morons review of the real deal.

Edited by Gigueand
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Just a brief update on the Emerson AVS.

I've added some pouches to the rig. Specifically, two Esstac KYWIs M4 magazine pouches, an Eagle SAW pouch and an Eagle RLCS MBITR pouch on the harness arms. On the front of the PC, I've swapped out the M4 Flap for a real Crye M4 Flat Flap that holds 3 magazines. On the rear platebag, I've added a Crye 11X6X4 GP Pouch from the Smart Pouch Suite to carry my HPA tank. My ILPS hydration bladder is installed inside the rear plate bag.

Initially, I had the KYWI pouches installed on the Crye M4 shingle, but they seemed quite bulky to run out front. The KYWIs are also super, super tight. So they may not be ideal for placement on the sides of the PC. I've run my radio wire underneath the front flap from right to left.

I also purchased the Crye AVS Customization Kit that comes with extra buckles, straps and other fun bits. I removed the Emerson shoulder buckles and replaced them with the Crye versions. The Emerson buckles weren't the correct shape compared to the real AVS, so I think this is a nice touch.

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The M4 Shingle is the real deal from Crye. The coloration is a bit brighter than the rest of the AVS.

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You can see here how I've run my comm wires under the front panel. Keeps things pretty tidy.

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Note the correct Crye shoulder buckle. The Crye buckle is a bit more green than the Emerson one which is basically a flat tan. The Emerson Buckle also wasn't the correct shape.

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The Crye 11X6X4 is holding a 68ci/4500 PSI HPA tank. A very low profile solution to carrying a tank in comparison to, say, a standard MAP.

Edited by Gigueand

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Was the sizing OK for you? I am typically M/L and the vest felt too big, I had to have the front arms shortened by a tailor. Another trouble was with shoulder covers - they were toot tight to be applied on the harness...

 

What is your experience now, does it still hold well?

 

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It was sized a bit too large for me. I had to tighten the thing down to its smallest size in order to get it to fit appropriately. The should covers were super tight, but once they were on they weren't going to go anywhere.

 

No idea how the vest is holding up. I sold it quite a while ago.

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