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A Tale of Two PCs  

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Diceman624
(@diceman624)
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26/07/2019 9:45 pm  

As a result of the topic in the Question section, I have a short write-up on the SKD/First Spear STT plate carrier in comparison to the First Spear Strandhogg.  I'll do my best to make this to the point, but it will be pic heavy (once they get loaded).  To lay some foundational expectations, I find the following to be of utmost importance when wearing a PC for professional or recreational use:

1. Load distribution-how does it 'ride?'

2. Ventilation-I know it'll get hot with movement, but how hot?

3. Overall bulk-how much does it impede my mobility?

Let's start with the STT.  Advertised at just under $200, this is a basic, no frills PC.  The front and back panels offer a single pocket for your plate, plus any backers (trauma pad or soft armor) you can fit.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/gbvB2iX4U7MrtREz7

All load bearing consists of laser cut MOLLE/PALS, which I think does an excellent job of distributing the load and compressing overall bulk.  Looking at the backside of the front and rear panels, however, you'll notice in the photos the lack of extensive padding or ventilation.  In fact, the padded straps seen are all the separation you get from the front and rear panels.  These are anchored by velcro, should you ever want to remove them.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ji1ULVCx5HQ4wdAr9

The pads you see on the shoulder straps are actually PIG BRIG Mk 1 pads, also purchased from SKD Tactical, and they do the job well enough.  The First Spear Tubes design is excellent, as it allows for quick and quiet donning and doffing; something I didn't have with my professional use RBAV.  This system is also one of the few systems I've found commercially that allow for quick release in an emergency situation.  Simply pulling the tube lanyard out and away disengages the connection, and the PC will fall away.  For the price, I consider this a good starter PC, but it's limited by pocket size for the plates.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/LSrjcnqmgKg1rh9DA

Trying to fit my 3S9M plates and trauma backers in the single pocket is impossible, but doable with plates closer to a half inch thick.  It also gets very hot, very quickly on account of limited padding and insufficient airflow on the body side of the panels.  While this may not be a huge issue in more northern climates, here in Louisiana, it's a no go.

On to my go to PC, the First Spear Strandhogg.  Both it and the STT are sized to carry 10" x 12" Shooter cut plates, but the Strandhogg offers a second pocket that I've thrown the trauma backers in. https://photos.app.goo.gl/yXCDFhS1h9TdJ91bA

This enables both plate and backer to be easily and independently inserted.  On the flip side, as the side profile pic shoes, the second pocket adds a little bit of bulk to the PC. https://photos.app.goo.gl/ttAktZoCrF7kqNzSA

On the back sides of both front and rear panels, you can see the mesh padding, which offers increased airflow superior to the STT. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z8RLXuDwKvxGqWp9A

I should note that the cummerbunds for both systems are interchangeable, and have rudimentary pockets for side plates or other load bearing pouches.  The interiors are lined with velcro, and it features the same laser-cut MOLLE as the front panels.  The shoulder straps have integral padding, and like the STT, adjust easily from the rear of the PC.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/Uyfx8cCeHj2M6GN76

The Tubes function the same as the STT,   What the Strandhogg gives you over the STT  comes at a significant price, as it tops out at just under $490.

Both PCs do add bulk, which is unavoidable, but the shoulder straps make the difference when it comes 'ride'.  The STT straps and their added pads tended to dig into the side of my neck when manipulating two-point slings; the Strandhogg so far hasn't.  However, I have to let the sling out further to get around the back panel on the Strandhogg.  Ventilation is much better with the Strandhogg, and I don't have to cram my trauma backers in the main pocket like I do on the STT.

Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.


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Jerry
(@rto-jerry)
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27/07/2019 8:46 am  

@diceman624 Nice write up review on your PC gear. You mentioned adjustments to sling with plate kit. I was wondering how much of a challenge is an A2 fixed stock and plate kit? Does the combination effect POA in any significant amount. I'd imagine there to be some adjusting required to running any type of speed drill shooting or ready up drills. Have you taken any classes utilizing plate gear? If so, how did you perform? Any take aways to share for those considering PC purchase? Thanks!


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Diceman624
(@diceman624)
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27/07/2019 11:10 am  

I haven't yet taken a course with a PC, though I intend to.  Otherwise, I've used the PC on a shot timer in open bays with adjustable length, an A2 and a Magpul MOE stock.

Fixed rifle length stocks are useable, though I feel like they rest right on the shoulder joint, and not in the 'pocket'.  In other words, theres a reason all those Marines look the way they do when shooting A4s in body armor.  I didn't notice any POA shift, but I was also shooting inside 20 yards most if the time.  I also remember that I felt like I was really reaching far forward while holding the rifle.  If you're not used to it, it will feel a little awkward.

That said, I also found that my stock placement didn't differ too much between fixed or adjustable length stocks.  Rather, my experience has been that my support arm is impacted more by PC wear, and side PC-mounted pounches are a no-go for me.  My arms can't bend high enough to make effective use.

As far as advice or lessons learned, I can offer the following:

-PCs are a definite buy once, cry once item.  Better you buy one you can comfortably wear for a while than get a cheap one you barely wear because of how uncomfortable it is.

-Follow sizing directions to ensure proper fit on the cummerbund; PC sizes are for the plates to be worn

-Balance the load front and back to avoid spinal compression or injury.  If it comes with an elastic internal cummerbund, don't remove it because it's there to help distribute the load.

-Shakedown your PC to make sure nothing conflicts with belt mounted kit.  Things can and will pinch in squatting and kneeling positions (those of us with spare tires, take note).

-If you plan to run a PC, size your sling so that it factors PC bulk at it's common shooting length.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by Diceman624

Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.


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