The Emerson AVS, A great plate carrier for the money but not without it’s drawbacks…
Firstly, that buckle… I was drawn to it as soon as I saw it. Why the correct Vee Stealth ITW buckle wasn’t used in the replica I don’t know… It’s relatively easy to source once you know what your after and it’s a visually important part of the rig.
Secondly, putting on and taking off the rig… not an easy task if using the standard harness/single strap cummerbund set up. Your either stuck with ripping the velcro up a well fastened placard to remove a cummerbund strap or pulling the quick release cable, neither an ideal option.
Finally, making the chest admin pouch usable under “fighting” conditions. A velcro sealed pocket being the supplied and noisy option. So, It was whilst I was looking over the rig and trying to work out how I could make it a bit more suited to my needs that I managed to find solutions to all three of my issues.
Firstly the buckle, Whilst I could have opted for the usual “upgrade” of an Austrialpin Cobra buckle, I simply wanted the look of a generic AVS vest. After a little searching I managed to source a half dozen Vee Stealth ITW Nexus Clips in FDE from a supplier in the Far East. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as simply replacing the current generic clip with the correct one, The female clip is sewed within a closed loop meaning that you have to either unstitch the current clip and replace with the Vee Stealth or have a new strap made which replaces the whole clip completely.
Luckily I have the benefit of being able to call upon the skills of Andy of Tacbelts UK, for a modest payment for his time he created a new strap which gave my AVS that iconic look! In addition to this he suggested that the shoulder straps be reinforced with additional stitching into the plate bag, I couldn’t really turn down this advice having been let down with repro gear in the past… Although I’ve been assured that it’s a common issue as evidenced by this shot from AR15.com
As you can see below, a neat triple row of stitching helps take the pressure off the plate bag and keeps thing rock solid.
With the shoulder buckle sorted I now wanted to make the AVS a little easier to put on and take off. It’s always intrigued me how some rigs are incredibly tough to put on and take off, especially once fully loaded. It seems unnecessary and with quick release systems like First Spear’s TUBE system it makes it difficult to justify why so many modern carriers lack a straightforward release system.
The AVS is a fantastic rig and one I’ve found very comfortable to use. There was one little thing that confused me though… Why hasn’t a buckle been included within the single strap cummerbund? It’s hardly going to add any bulk or reduce its load carriage capacity and with any high quality buckle it’s unlikely that even under load it would fail. It would also make the rig extremely useful on waterborne operations… the emergency release cord being the usual option but under high pressure and looking for a cord you’ve rarely used I’d imagine you’d waste a moment finding it when seconds mattered.
With this in mind and knowing exactly what I wanted, I discussed with Andy about modding my strap near the velcro tab end to include an ITW Nexus buckle to allow the rig to be quickly worn or removed and with an additional benefit of a consistent fit (the cummerbund straps can be adjusted and will never move unless required by the wearer).
It’s funny how great minds think alike, I was having a chat about plagiarism the other day and it’s firmly of my belief that if you give 5 people the same problem, At least 3 of them will probably come up with the same solution. It just so happens that Crye has seen the problem and come up with a solution that’s very close to my own, I genuinely had no idea that this was even “a thing” but since looking at other AVS users own solution to the same problem, It’s great to see that I’m not alone in modding the AVS and hopefully it’ll help people who might otherwise be getting a little frustrated with their own rig.
Rich at The Reptile House showed me Crye’s AVS Customisation Kit (Including John and Mike‘s own modifications) and I have to say I was intrigued by their method of overcoming the same problem. I’ve also seen the aforementioned tubes being used instead of standard clips, courtesy of Flimmur Tactical.
It appears at a casual glance to be an identical solution but upon closer investigation the Crye solution uses a split clip to attach to the placard itself on the “pen holder”… My design effectively sitting a little lower profile and balanced with the other, non clipped side.
Now there’s always going to be the argument that in the world of reproduction you should go as close to the original source as possible. However in this instance I personally feel my way suits me best. I’d welcome any feedback on why Crye‘s method is superior but as it stands I’m not convinced Crye made the right choice in their attachment method.
Finally, the admin pouch. On my old JPC it never got used… Too noisy and barely any room once plates have been placed in the bags, certainly tricky to open fully with the standard velcro working against you. After seeing several zip mods over the last couple of years I was tempted, however with the uncertainty of ordering something that’s “one size fits most” I didn’t want to mess around ordering something I wouldn’t be happy with and ultimately end up getting rid of.
Again I let Andy work his magic and tailor a zip to the exact length of the flap, This one simple addition has changed the admin pocket from a never to be used waste of time to an asset that holds notepads, tools and mobile phones or indeed anything I want held in a secure and easy to access pocket. Made from a tough concealed zipper with genuine Multicam material, the pull tab being paracord encased in heatshrink which gives a silent yet easy to manipulate way of using the zip. He’s done this same Mod for a number of people and it’s proven popular as an alternative for the full flap on the Spiritus Systems Fight Light Chassis.
there’s a bit of work left to do on my own AVS, I’ve yet to narrow down the choice of pouch for my Baofeng… I’m torn between a dedicated radio pouch or the SEAL Team choice of a Crye 556/762/MBITR smart pouch which ultimately might offer me more modularity. I’ve also got to look at options for the rear… Panels vs pouches, slick vs loaded… there’s a massive amount of choice out there but I guess that’s the beauty of the AVS… it’s Lego for geardos.