I have a pouch problem. It seems like a never ending hunt for the “perfect” pouch. What pouch, you ask? Well, that depends on the purpose. Whether it’s a general purpose, first aid kit, canteen, or magazines, I’ve been all over the industry looking for the “right” one. The latest obsession was magazine pouches. I even went so far as contacting a well known gear manufacturer to develop a custom design that I thought was lacking on the market. They were gracious enough to work with me, but the process is slow. While that was going on, another company I was already familiar with did something special, and the Savotta 2-Mag pouch pretty much nails exactly what I was trying to develop. I wasted no time and picked up some of them, and now I’m telling you about it.
Savotta actually makes two variations of the 2-Mag Pouch, one for 30 round STANAG magazines and one for AK format. So far, I’m thrilled with it, but whether it’s right for you depends on whether you have any use for a boxed double mag pouch to begin with.
Also, for transparency, this is not a sponsored post or anything. Savotta doesn’t know (or care) that I’m writing it.
Defining My Perfect Magazine Pouch
Let’s rewind and talk about the project I was trying to work on with a gear maker. A while ago, I wrote up a whole primer on magazine pouches. In that article, I broke rifle magazine pouches into three categories:
- Type I: Open top speed reloads
- Type II: Flapped pouches
- Type III: Boxed/enclosed pouches
In general, I like to mix a single Type I pouch with two or three covered pouches. This is where we get into the nuance. Most of the time, double magazine pouches only come in flapped format, while boxed pouches are typically triple mag format (a la the Velocity Systems Jungle pouches). There are some exceptions out there, like the Tactical Tailor Universal Mag pouch, which is a flapped pouch for up to three mags.
But what I wanted was a boxed pouch for double mags. It comes down to a bulk problem. I find triple mag pouches create a lot of bulk and get in the way. I would rather use three double mag pouches than two triple mag pouches on my kit.
That gets to the boxed format. They’re the best option for keeping dirt and debris out of your magazines. This matters for things like run and gun events or the tactical games Flapped pouches are probably fine, to be honest, and we all know they’ve been serving admirably for decades- but there’s just something about a boxed pouch that I prefer.
One more thing. For my “perfect” pouch, I don’t want hook and loop to be the main closure method. It’s less of a noise thing and more of a wear & tear issue.
The Next Best Option
So, to review, my ideal magazine pouch is boxed, holds two rifle magazines, and uses a closure other than hook and loop as the main system. As far as I could tell, there was only one magazine pouch on the market that met that specification, and it was the TAC Reload pouch from Direct Action Gear. They’re a Polish company that tends to fly under the radar, and I like a lot of their gear (including the Mosquito belt kit).
I came across this design, and nearly bought it. My biggest hesitation came down to the Fastex buckle closure. From my experience with the Velocity Systems Jungle Pouches, I knew this was not an ideal solution for me. It work, don’t get me wrong, but it did slow down reload times significantly.
With a little bit of time and ingenuity, I figured there was a way to rig the DAG pouch with the tuck tab closure style that I’ve come to enjoy. I like the tuck tab because it’s silent, fast, and secure. As far as I know, the design originates with Mike “Diz” Dismuke, who does a lot of freelance gear design. I was first exposed to the tuck tab with a set of GP pouches from Max Velocity Tactical. He also worked with UW Gear to get it on their magazine pouches.
The other option was to go custom. I noticed another gear maker implemented a box style pistol magazine pouch with tuck tab, so I approached them about expanding the design for rifle magazines. The interest was there, but the timeline was going to be long given I wasn’t able to order in large quantities.
I had pretty much resolved to move on and get the DAG pouches, right up until I saw a random Instagram post from Finnish company Savotta. I have their Jaakari-S backpack, and I’m a huge fan. The post showed off their new rifle magazine pouch, and it was exactly what I was looking for.
The Savotta 2-Mag Pouch
With all of that pre-text out of the way, let’s get into the actual pouch review.
Savotta specializes in equipment for the Finnish military, and places an emphasis on ruggedness and cold weather performance. They also have a slick marketing department with a sense of humor. They have factories in Karstula, Finland and Tartu, Estonia. The Estonian factor tends to focus on large contract runs. The Savotta 2-Mag Pouches appear sewn in the Karstula factory.
Out of the bag, they feel tough. Made of the same 1000D Cordura as the Jaakari backpack I already own, they weigh in at 3.5 oz each. The bottom portion of the exterior has an additional length of nylon webbing sewn in for additional reinforcement (this is the most common wear point on magazine pouches). A drainage grommet appears on the bottom as well.
A shock cord loop wraps around the pouch body. You adjust tension using a slide stop on the bottom. This helps contract the pouch in against a single magazine and reduces rattle. I prefer this solution as opposed to sewn-in bungee because it’s user-replaceable. I don’t like the idea of elastic material that eventually wears out (especially if it gets cold/dirty/wet) and cannot be replaced.
The pouch mounts using sewn-in MOLLE webbing, and utilizes a fold-and-tuck point at the bottom.
The main closure system is a tuck tab, as expected. Savotta also sewed in a secondary hook and loop closure. If you use it, it provides just enough grab to hold the pouch shut if you let the lid fall on its own after a reload. A plushy loop side is on the pouch body and a section of hook is on the inside of the lid. Interestingly, Savotta sewed the silencing strip directly onto the hook portion, so you can adjust it to wherever you like (by folding it), and never risk losing it. Smart.
Mounting it Up
I mounted them to the Minuteman Harness, one on each side. The pouch seems designed around the dimensions of standard aluminum AR-15 magazines for best fitment. PMAGs do fit without issue, but I find the tuck tab just a hair tighter to close on the PMAGs than aluminum mags. To be fair, this might work itself out with use and break in.
As expected, operating the closure is simple and effective. You reach down, grab the tail and give it a firm downward tug. This clears the tab of the tuck tunnel, and the pouch lid becomes free to open.
Closing it is the reverse operation, and takes a bit of finesse. Pull the tail down and use your fingers to “feed” the tab upward a bit, then maneuver the wrist to pop the tab back into place. With a little bit of practice, the whole operation takes one hand and very little time. Less time than fishing a Fastex buckle back into place, at least.
Reload Speed Test
The protective characteristics of the pouches are not in question here. The boxed magazine style is the king of that. So the question is how quick are these pouches to reload from compared to something more traditional?
I set up my shot timer and grabbed the Minuteman Rifle. I have some pre-existing data about reload times from different pouches, but that article was quite a while ago and I might be out of practice (or more practiced…who knows). So I tested open top, flapped, triple mag boxed, and the Savotta 2 Mag pouch. For each pouch style, I gave myself five “practice” reloads to groove the movement, and then did ten reloads on the clock. Random start on the timer, and it completed when the mag went into the well (with enough noise to signal the timer).
Each reload happened from the respective pouch filled to capacity and secured with the primary closure (i.e. tuck tab, hook and loop, mini buckle, etc.). Here are the results.
|10 Reload Average
|Savotta 2-Mag Pouch
|Esstac Kywi Open Top Pouch
|FirstSpear M4 Mag Pouch (flapped)
|Velocity Systems Jungle Mag Pouch
Of course, take these reload times with a grain of salt. I tested this across three different harnesses, each configured with the respective pouches. Each harness has a slightly different ride height and position of the pouches, so ergonomics was an issue here. For example, the flapped pouches on my Run & Gun rig are farther to the side and ride high, which makes me crank my arm up to get them out.
I was also noticeably slowing down by the end with the Jungle Mag pouches, and my “pinching” muscles were getting clumsy with handling the small buckle. Of course, that’s an indicator all on its own…
In reality, the only time that the fastest possible reload time matters is if you’re in competition or find yourself performing a solo CQB fight. These times are purely for illustration purposes. For the most part, reloading should be done from behind cover and while your teammates support you. The difference of a fraction of a second to even two full seconds is minor in the grand scheme of things. As Jim Wendler likes to say, don’t major in the minors (AKA don’t over focus on unimportant things).
The boxed lid of the Savotta pouch did get in the way of extracting the magazine a bit more than the flapped pouch. The Savotta pouch body also comes higher up, leaving less room to grasp the magazine itself.
With that said, the tuck tab and two-mag format of the Savotta pouch clearly has an advantage over the other boxed pouch in the lineup. The Savotta 2-Mag pouch was only 0.4 seconds behind the flapped FirstSpear pouch, yet offers a lot of benefits for that very small loss in speed.
Something I’ve been more appreciative of over the last year is the flexibility of a pouch to do things other than what it’s marketed for. For most of my time being a gun and gear nerd, I sought out purpose-built pouches and used them only for the thing they were designed to do. On top of being expensive, this is short sighted. More and more, I’ve come around to using magazine pouches to hold first aid kits, radios, optics, and even used them as improvised retention holsters for a pistol.
The Savotta 2-Mag is for AR-15 mags, but it also holds a single PMAG LR-20, M14 magazine, AICS magazine, radio, IFAK, smoke grenade, or just about anything similarly sized. Doesn’t work as a holster, though (I tried).
That’s not to say that it was perfect at these other tasks, but it was capable. That flexibility means a lot when you don’t want to configure your gear every other day for different stuff.
Wrapping Up: Is it My Favorite?
I’m pretty confident in saying that the Savotta 2-Mag Pouch is my current favorite on the market. It offers the protective benefits of a fully boxed mag pouch, but is much faster to access. There are no clips to fumble with and no hook-and-loop to gum up with mud and dirt. The tuck tab is simple, rugged, silent, and just flat out works.
Given the materials involved, I think it will have plenty of lifetime durability as well.
Going forward, my standing suggestion for configuring harness pouches is one speed reload with two of these Savotta 2-Mag pouches. I think it’s reasonable to also have 1-2 flapped pouches for misc items that wouldn’t otherwise fit in this one (like a pistol, if it came down to it), but that’s certainly not a requirement.