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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Stevens

Budget Chest Rigs

How to Find Quality Gear Without Breaking the Bank I’m pretty passionate about finding good firearms equipment at a reasonable price for my customers. The gun industry, like any other, is rife with people trying to make a quick buck at the expense of consumers. While that’s an accepted part of life, I find it incredibly irritating because quality gear and firearms can be a choice between life and death. It’s like someone selling life jackets that are made as cheaply as possible so they pop apart at the seams if too much stress is placed on them, like when trying to make a person float in water. While I’m sure that does happen, in my mind, it is absolutely irresponsible at best and criminal at worst.

With so many new shooters joining the firearms community, the graft in the industry is out of control, to put things mildly. That being the case, I’ve wanted to inform people of some options for gear that are both budget-friendly and well-made. Do better products exist? Absolutely. In many cases, those better options are well worth the extra investment. That being said, with everything going on in the world today, it isn’t always feasible (or necessarily wise) for you to drop $200.00 on a chest rig with a strange dragonfly logo on it.

Surplus has always been king when it comes to quality gear at a fair price. Thanks to the Army’s decision to change camo patterns every decade or so, there are some really good-quality equipment options on the market. These items are all listed in order of lowest to highest price.

The first item I want to share is the USGI Molle Six Magazine Bandolier:

This piece was designed as part of the Army Rifleman Set, which included many items in a complete issued package to take a new soldier from zero gear to combat-ready. The bandolier was intended to provide extra, easily-portable ammunition in an easy-to-use and carry system. It was designed specifically for use inside vehicles and was to be used alongside the ammo already on the soldier’s kit. What most people don’t know is that, by adding some 550 cord to the two built-in loops on the bottom of the carrier, you can create a simple, but effective, chest rig.

Unfortunately, dual PMAGs will not allow the flaps to snap shut.

Next up, we have a myriad of Chinese chest rigs:

I personally own quite a number of them, my favorite being the Type 63 Five Cell version. There was a time when you could get them for under $10.00. Now, they’re a bit pricier and are getting harder to find. Despite their increasing rarity, because of the still relatively low price point, they are super popular.

You can find tons of information on how to modify them with a simple google search. Just because this piece is made in China in doesn’t mean it is poorly made. In fact, they are quite robust and handle abuse well. I generally mod mine by adding bungee cord to the pouches, making them into a poor man’s HSGI taco-style pouch.

I also like to add buckles on the two loops that fasten the rig behind your back. I also sew the X part of the harness in a place that’s comfortable for me, so it’s one less thing to fumble around with when donning the rig.

Finally, on the upper end of the budget gear spectrum, we find the Army Fighting Load Carrier. (FLC, pronounced “flick”) This rig was originally part of the Army Rifleman Set that the aforementioned Bandolier was part of.

The FLC is a simple vest that can be configured in several different ways. Since it is fully equipped with MOLLE webbing, the FLC allows you to attach any number of modern pouches to the vest. Depending on the color, prices range from $15.00-$35.00:

The FLC is a very capable piece of gear that I used for many years while on active duty in the Army. It can be easily adjusted, it is low profile, and, for the price, it is tough to beat if you’re looking for something modular. For more information on this piece of gear, here is a video on how to set up the FLC correctly:

To my readers who are just now getting into guns: it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the different gear out there. Plenty of companies are built on selling garbage gear at cheap prices to people that don’t know any better. Hopefully, this guide will help you save a few bucks while still getting some equipment that will serve you well and not pop apart at the seams the first time you try to use it.

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