Some of you might remember that I reviewed the Blue Force Gear MP7 Chest Rig a few months ago, A great and lightweight bit of gear albeit one that’s for a pretty specific purpose…
At its core, The chest rig is built around a quad “Ten-Speed” SMG pouch. But what happens if you want the same carriage capacity but combined with the protection offered by a plate carrier? Well, Blue Force Gear has you covered… Using the same material within a set of standalone pouches, you can have the same low profile carriage option for everything from Pistol to Battle Rifle magazines.
I’ve owned a few of their pouches in the past, From their Smoke and other “standard” format pouches to several in their Ten-Speed line, Including the Quad MP7 pouch as both a standalone and integrated within the aforementioned Chest Rig. In this review, we’re looking at two specific cases… A brand new, virtually unused Quad MP7 pouch and a worn and abused Double M4 pouch. Do they offer a solution that’s needed? What are they good for? What are they not as good for and how long will it last? I’ll try and give you an overview of this over the course of the review.
With a constant need to carry more and more specialised equipment such as Jammers, JTAC terminals and Breaching tools plus body armour, weapons and water… your average soldier is carrying a lot more gear than he would have been 20 years ago. This need for low weight gear grows exponentially when you look at certain roles within Special Forces or those who work around vehicles and confined spaces…
Looking at Blue Force Gear’s Ten-Speed Line, It’s the very embodiment of how a smart idea can solve a problem that people didn’t even know they had. So without further interruption, What makes the Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed pouches such a desirable pouch?
Firstly, We can’t talk about Ten-Speed without going over it’s two primary materials… ULTRAcomp (Laminate backer) and Ten-Speed (Elastic). Both materials have been used in previous products, both BFG and other companies have used these materials (Or similar) for a number of years in various applications. However when put together it allows the creation of some fantastically simple yet very adaptable pouches.
ULTRAcomp is similar in feel to hypalon, it certainly has some of the same characteristics. It’s laser cut into a pattern that works well for threading through MOLLE, the earlier versions were actually made from hypalon and straight cut as opposed to the beaded cut now used to prevent lateral movement within the MOLLE attachment.
The primary benefit, or at least the most striking compared to any other is in the compactness of its design. When empty, The ten speed material snaps back against the ULTRAcomp laminate and becomes a virtually flat sheet, certainly for those who don’t want straps, buckles or flaps snagging on doorways and vehicles this provides a fantastic solution.
The other obvious benefit is in its open nature, this allows a quick deployment of the pouch contents at (forgive the phrase) high speed. The first thing everyone thinks when they look at the ten speed pouches is “Will it hold my magazines securely?” Well it’s only natural to wonder, Especially as the pouches are so minimal in nature.
In my experience and that if it’s users, retention isn’t an issue. With a fully loaded 5.56 magazine being on par with a GBBR magazine in weight I’ve never had a magazine drop out even whilst hopping through windows.
This brings me onto another point, Adaptability. These pouches are fantastic for holding more than just magazines… The M4 pouch in particular will comfortably hold practically any M4 magazine but at the same time will hold AK74 (5.45 soviet) magazines, CAT Tourniquets, 6″ Compression Bandages, Mobile Phones, Radios, Small pyrotechnics and practically anything of that size. The ten-speed elastic stretches around the object and retains most things securely… even if they’re small relative to the pouch.
Durability… It’s another obvious concern. Let’s be frank, a pouch made from elastic isn’t going to last forever… The Ten-Speed pouches will start to show signs of wear from almost the first time you use them. Any angular shapes (such as magazines) will leave marks on the outer fabric and will result in a faded look early on in their life, But the pouches will go on to serve you well for a pretty long time.
The units that use these pouches would probably regard these as a perishable item and for the most part these are not going to be private purchase items, Us airsofters however will have to suck it up and accept that we’re buying something that’s meant to shine bright not fade away, and that in a couple of years we might need to consider buying another pouch to replace one that’s looking a little threadbare.
The M4 pouch I have is actually a recent purchase, I couldn’t pass up the deal of 3 various BFG pouches for £35 posted and snapped them up. However it’s been through the wars and shows signs of being used and abused. Cosmetics aside, It still does the job… Sure, it doesn’t hold quite as firm as it would when new but it’s not going to result in anything falling out. The fraying along the lip is also not anything to be worried about… I’ve not seen any that become frayed to the point of being unusable, although I’m sure there are cases out there. My point being that you should expect some surface wear almost immediately… If you want gear that looks showroom fresh for months, these are not the pouch for you.
One of the only criticisms, and one that has a fairly good counter argument is that putting things in the pouches is usually a two handed affair… It’s not impossible to reinsert magazines into the pouches one handed but it does take a fair amount of practice and it’s never going to be as fast or consistent as an open “Taco” type pouch.
That being said, it’s not advertised as such and if you have a need or wish to re-index magazines quickly then you should probably look at a more relevant design such as a kydex carrier, G-Code Scorpion or an HSGI Taco.
The other thing that puts people off is their price… Well, tactical gear isn’t cheap. For a relatively basic looking pouch your looking to pay around £40 for a triple M4 or quad MP7 pouch, There are clones available on the market but I’ve seen nothing that compared to a genuine BFG pouch… Poorly stitched, weak retention and overall they didn’t look great with a pattern that isn’t anywhere near the genuine Multicam pouch, And if it doesn’t look good, What’s the point?
At the end of the day it’s about choosing the right tool for the job. If you want a pouch that’s low profile, light, easy to extract magazines from quietly yet has the retention to keep them in place then these are a great choice. If your after something a little more traditional… There are probably better options for you.