This review almost didn’t happen, not because I didn’t want to try out Ferro’s latest pouch… Quite simply, I’ve bought far too much already this year and with a lot of different projects currently on the go, I just couldn’t justify spending money on yet another bit of tactical gear.
With that being said, Ferro Concepts are a brand that consistently deliver great products and I felt obliged to at least have a look at the DOPE, partly to see if a pouch of this design could offer anything new to the market but also because Ferro Concepts have a history of marketing incredibly well designed and manufactured tactical gear.
So after asking very nicely, Tactical-Kit.co.uk kindly agreed to lend me the Ferro DOPE system to see how it all works. I’ve borrowed it mostly because I’m intrigued to see what Ferro have brought to a market that most people would have you convinced is sewn up tight by the likes of Spiritus and Haley Strategic.
When I first saw the DOPE, my initial thoughts were surprisingly despondent… I found myself thinking it probably wouldn’t offer any considerable benefit above my current chest rig collection and that it looked rather shapeless. But remembering my initial indifference towards previous items I’d actually liked, I was hoping that the DOPE would have more to it than meets the eye.
So what is the DOPE? Quite simply the D.O.P.E. (Diverse Operations Personal Equipment) is a front flap pouch that is designed to work with the Ferro Concepts range of plate carriers and chest rigs such as the Slickster, Chesty and the FCPC. It will work with other plate carriers and chest rigs that have a similar placard attachment system, but at its heart, it is a Ferro Pouch/placard designed for Ferro rigs.
The Ferro Concepts DOPE consists of a kangaroo type pouch, allowing the use of Ferro’s current Turnover Pouches and also their newer Kangaroo Inserts.
Constructed primarily of a lightweight laser-cut laminate material, very strong and resistant to wear whilst remaining incredibly lightweight. The material used isn’t actually named by Ferro, but it’s the same stuff as they’ve used in previous products and that used by much of the competition.
Measuring 10” x 5.5” with a depth of just under 2”, it’s a little wider than the Spiritus Micro Fight, but without the (sometimes unwanted) pistol “multi-mission” pouches of the Haley D3CRM.
A large loop field sits on the front of the pouch, measuring 6.25” wide by 4” tall and flanked by a pair of laser-cut slots that allow the attachment of Ferro’s ADAPT admin panels.
Attachment of the DOPE to a host carrier is accomplished via a pair of metal G hooks and a large Velcro hook field on the rear. On many carriers this will be a pair of webbing loops (as per the JPC 2.0 and early generation Slicksters) but on my current 2018 era Slickster, attachment is via laser-cut slots either side of the chest loop field.
I’d have personally preferred the “industry standard” swift clips over the G hooks, but only because I could have used the pouch with a Spiritus Thing 2 as a standalone chest rig.
Within the DOPE sits the most radical departure from it’s competitors: A large single sleeve opposed to a pair of smaller sleeves allows for some interesting set-ups, meaning that large bulky items like belt fed ammunition, large first aid kits and other items that might otherwise not fit into a conventional pouch isn’t so much of an issue with the DOPE.
Another key difference between The DOPE and the majority of Velcro based placards on the market is it’s internal binding layout, hook to loop not loop to loop. This means that you’ll have to do one of the following:
- Use Ferro’s own proprietory inserts such as their turnover or kangaroo inserts.
- Make a loop to loop or hook to hook adaptor to allow use of popular competitor products (Haley/Spiritus/AXL etc).
- Have inserts custom made to your requirements.
It’s a ballsy move to go against the industry norm, but one that isn’t without benefit… Hook to loop means that even without a second insert within the pouch, you have a stable platform due to hook to loop being naturally self-binding. To make things simpler for those wanting to quickly build a DOPE set-up, Ferro helpfully has a list of inserts designed to work with this pouch (see below)
An included “tegris-like” rigid thermoplastic divider sits within the pouch, this divider floats between your choice of inserts and just provides rigidity and support. It’s not essential, but you might find that without the divider, the pouch may not hold it’s shape as well with it installed.
Kangaroo Insert – Triple 556
The first insert I loaded into the DOPE was the most obvious choice, a straightforward triple 5.55 magazine insert. It’s use of a more traditional shock-cord retention feels rather oldschool, but it does offer a bit of extra security for those worried about losing their magazines. The pouch is made from a fine woven nylon material but despite it feeling rather flexible, it does hold it’s shape surprisingly well once installed within the DOPE.
The shock cords come bundled with the excellent S&S Precision Rubberised Pull Tabs, a personal favourite of mine due to their excellent grip and tendency to hold whatever you put into the pouch firmly in place.
Kangaroo Insert – Half Pocket
This resembles a certain aftermarket addition to a competitor carrier, but it’s different enough that the two really can’t be considered rivals. Overall it takes up half the width of the DOPE and is often seen in Ferro’s promotional material paired with pistol magazine pouches.
A cordura panel on the top of the pouch provides a hard wearing external face to brave the elements, a Zipper runs from end to end with a pair of sliders equipped with Ferro’s “staple” ITW zipline orbit pull tab loops.
The main body of the pouch is a close woven nylon material (the same as used in the Triple 556 pouch above) that allows items to sit comfortably within the pocket without risk of damage or wear. The pocket is a closed bottom design, keeping it’s contents safe and secure… A feature that makes more and more sense the longer you think about it.
I can imagine the half pocket being used by people with a traditional set up of 3 rifle mags, a pair of pistol mags and a little admin space for odds and ends. Whether a vanilla set up like this is using the unique benefits of the DOPE to it’s maximum advantage I’m not entirely sure, but it’s always welcome to have the option of a conventional loadout.
Kangaroo Insert – Small Pocket
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the half pocket was the “small” one, but the full width “small” pocket is a half depth insert that allows you to pair up the pocket with one of the many Magazine inserts or even by adding another pocket to the DOPE. It is in essence, a large admin pouch.
All three Kangaroo Pockets share a very similar method of construction and identical materials, but the Small Pocket has one thing that the half pocket does not: A strip of elastic is held on the forward face of the pocket and divided into three sections to retain small items such as multi tools, lights and medical gear. The hook to loop nature of Ferro’s design means that you can only orient this pocket with the loops facing toward your body.
Kangaroo Insert – Large Pocket
Double the depth of the Small and Half Pockets, this pouch uses the entire volume of the DOPE and allows the carriage of much larger items than you’d usually see in front pouch/placards. Items such as binoculars, large trauma kits and linked 5.56mm ammunition.
An integrated strip of elastic sits on each face of the pocket, divided into three sections on one side and six on the other, with an additional separator sitting inside the pouch to allow some degree of organisation.
The divider will sit flat within the pocket when not needed, this means that it shouldn’t affect the carriage of large items… I’m sure that someone somewhere won’t like it and choose to cut theirs out, but I’d personally keep it unless absolutely necessary.
I couldn’t really review this pouch without comparing it directly against the Spiritus Micro Fight and the Haley D3CRM, so how does it compare? Well, it holds it’s own as a plate carrier placard. It’s lighter than both, the same width as the Haley (wider than the Micro Fight) and folds down flatter than both when empty. It’s use as a chest rig is limited due to its reliance on G Hooks, leaving you with only Ferro’s own Chesty harness as a suitable chassis.
The only critique I can really make (aside from its use of G Hooks) is that it’s maybe not quite as aesthetically pleasing as either of it’s competitors, although it’s far from the shapeless mess I’d half expected. Hopefully my photos have given you guys an idea of how streamlined and well tailored this pouch actually is. The quality of manufacturing is impeccable, and I don’t use that term lightly.
Ability wise, A pouch with a capacity to carry 3/6 x 7.62 magazines is something that’s rather unique, I’ll bet most people couldn’t even name another modular pouch that can fit three or even six 7.62mm mags in it, I certainly struggled to think of one.
The additional ability to carry a rather large volume of linked ammo or other bulky items in such a low profile package is something else that I feel is not all that common.
There’s the left-field question of it’s potential use to those who carry other equipment such as medics, dog handlers and press. Three groups of people that might need to wear slick armour but might also need access to vital gear very quickly.
The overall system is a refreshing take on what has become a very samey market. Ferro has introduced a product that gives those looking for something a little different from the norm a valid alternative.
One thing’s for sure, I really like this pouch. Enough that I’ll probably end up buying one to slap on my Slickster once my wife has gone through her Marie Kondo phase and actually let’s me bring stuff into the house!