This particular piece of equipment is a bit of an oddity in my collection. It represents a middle ground solution where it does more than the Minuteman Harness, but less than the full-on Rifleman Rig. Of my lead bearing equipment setups, this patrol harness is the only one set up to support a handgun- which is why I think it represents a conundrum.
I want to review its configuration and why I made some of the choices I did. Spoiler alert, some of them were because of constraints imposed by the harness itself. Taken together with the other articles, I think you’ve seen enough variations and ideas to consider how you might put together your own set of load bearing equipment.
Philosophy of Use
To review, the Minuteman Harness is a simplified approach for an all-in-one kit designed to grab and go for patrolling a local neighborhood. It contains just the essentials with five AR-15 magazines, water, first aid, provisions for communications, and an administrative “leader” pouch.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Rifleman Harness, which carries 10 magazines, water, first aid, small administrative pouch, communications, and a field pack for 24 hours of essentials. Since my original write up, I’ve already made several changes to better contribute to its practicality.
Neither of those two rigs have provisions for a handgun. I dont want my only way to use a pistol to be with a battle belt or tactical belt that also forces me into a chest rig or plate carrier. Since I had another harness laying around unused, I decided to see what if I could create a “do all” rig that wasn’t really optimized for anything.
The General Purpose Patrol Harness does not have a specific mission in mind. I could use it for close to medium range foot patrolling with an AR, but it’s also capable of supporting heavier weapon platforms like precision rifles and reconnaissance work.
General Purpose Harness Configuration
The foundation is a First Spear Tactical Patrolling Harness. I picked this up back in 2016 or so on a closeout sale when First Spear discontinued the design. It’s their version of the Eagle Industries MLCS H-Harness, or perhaps the Air Force’s DF-LCS harness that never garnered much enthusiasm in an era of plate carriers.
From left to right:
- Tactical Tailor Magna double pistol mag pouch
- G-Code Soft Shell Scorpion speed reload
- Emdom Double M4 mag pouch
- Open space for utility items (i.e. radio, another mag pouch, GP storage)
- (Lumbar) SO Tech Viper A1 IFAK
- (Upper back) First Spear 3L Hydration Pouch with Source 3L bladder
- Open space to allow holster draw from belt line
- Emdom Double M4 Mag Pouch
- Emdom small GP pouch
- T3 Gear TQ Pouch
For ammunition, the General Purpose Harness again follows my preferred pattern of an open top Type-I pouch for a speed reload, then flapped or covered pouches for the remainder.
In all, this configuration puts me at 5+1 AR-15 magazines, a handgun, 2+1 pistol magazines, and room for other essentials. Alternatively, the rifle pouches carry a total load 3+1 magazines for either 308 PMAGs for a large frame AR or AICS magazines for a short action bolt gun.
I mention the bolt action in particular because this is an instance where I think the pistol makes sense. My other harnesses have teamwork in mind where there is supporting fire. In this case, you might be supporting from a distance. If I’m using this harness to support a bolt action, with a much lower rate of fire, then a secondary handgun is a useful backup option.
I intentionally kept the horizontal bulk to a minimum, opting for double mag pouches rather than the full-sized boxy triple mag pouches of the Rifleman Harness. Should the need arise, I do have a few spare Tactical Tailor Universal Mag pouches that hold three AR-15 mags or two 308 PMAGs. That would increase the carrying capacity at the expense of weight and bulk.
With the available utility spaces, I could also add additional magazine pouches for more rifle ammunition. The main tradeoff is weight, which I’d rather avoid for Run & Gun where I can.
This harness continues my preference for an admin “leader” pouch on the strong side. In this case it is a Small Vertical Pouch from Emdom USA. I selected this pouch because it’s only two columns wide, as opposed to the T3 Platoon Sergent pouch and Spiritus Small GP pouch that I’ve used before.
The small GP pouch is useful , signal tools, notebooks, a monocular, and other small items. I could also use it to store loose shotgun shells should that be a primary weapon.
The First Spear harness does not space in the “kidney” locations offset on the back and sides where I normally put canteens. Those sections of the harness have heavy bungee cables attaching the three main panels of the harness. It helps the harness hug and move really well, but the lack of storage space is the tradeoff.
I could have put canteens on the back, but I don’t like hard objects near my lumbar spine. So this setup uses a hydration bladder pouch on the upper back. A large IFAK takes up the lumbar back region so it’s out of the way and yet accessible by either hand.
I do not plan on integrating this harness with a ruck. That’s why I felt comfortable mounting a hydration pouch to the back.
My reasoning for this is the thickness of padding around the shoulders. It makes for comfortably wearing the harness over long periods of time, but adding padded ruck straps on top of already thickly padded harness straps is too much. The thin straps of my Savotta Jaakari-S might work fine, if I removed the hydration bladder pouch, but that would be an exception situation and not how I plan to run from the beginning.
I originally configured this to use an older Tactical Tailor Modular Holster that I have laying around. It wove into the laser-cut MOLLE slots just fine. Ultimately, I decided to keep the space open and switch to a duty-style Level II holster from Dara Holsters hanging from my belt.
As for pistol ammo, I’ve used the Tactical Tailor Magnas in other rigs, and I’m a fan. They use sewn-in magnets to provide extra “grab” on inserted metal magazines. They also have flaps for even more retention. If you don’t want or need that, you can tuck the flaps away and leave the pouches as open top.
Putting it to Use
Of all of my harnesses, this one feels the most “athletic.” I say that because of the way First Spear integrated 1/4″ bungee cords woven between the panels. This pulls the harness up against my body and lets it move with me rather than on top of me.
I think the shoulder straps are excessively long. I’ve got them shortened about as much as possible and they still “gap” a little bit during athletic movement, but the bungee around the waist still keeps everything in place. This issue minimizes a bit when fully loaded down.
The General Purpose harness weighs in at 5.6 lbs by itself, including the IFAK contents. Figure about another 8 lbs combined for a pistol and full load of ammunition, and another 6.6 lbs for a full 3 liters of water, and we’re up to 20.2 lbs total on the harness. Add another 9 lbs for a loaded rifle and the total “combat” weight is up to about 29 lbs.
That’s not too shabby, and about 5 lbs more than the lightweight Minuteman Harness (24 lbs all loaded up), most of that coming from the provisions for a handgun and an additional liter of water.
Wrapping Up: Where Will I Actually Use This?
Barring an actual Scenario-X situation, where is my most likely use for the General Purpose Patrol harness? Well, I’m torn. The thing I like most about this harness is how it moves with me. There’s enough rifle ammunition capacity for just about any training or competition event, and I keep the handgun.
Combined this makes it a good option for a run and gun competition or tactical biathlon with rifle and pistol. With run and guns in particular, the fact that it’s an LBE and not a chest rig helps with heat dissipation during the event.
The main downside is that there’s no way to carry a hard-sided water container. Bladders are fantastic, but they can also develop leaks. I like to have redundant water sources just in case.
The only way to do that here would be removing the holster and/or reducing magazine capacity to put them directly on the sides. That’s also a good amount of bulk I’d rather do without.
What Do You Think?
So with that, let’s close this one out. The General Purpose Patrol Harness is an interesting compromise. On one hand, it feels more “high speed” and less traditional than my other setups, yet it also loses some of the capabilities than I think light-infantry minded people would think are important.
As a training and competition rig, I think it might be about perfect. As a Scenario-X system, it would probably be fine for a kind of guard duty role or short range patrol work.
What do you think you would do differently?