By Todd Burgreen
Photos by Ethan Burgreen
Nothing is as individualistic as deciding how to carry immediate action items such as weapon magazines, handgun, medical IFAK, knife, and whatever is deemed a necessity in high risk environments. Some favor chest rigs/vests while others point to patrol belts as the way to go. The truth of the matter is each method has pros and cons. Factors such as accessibility, adaptability, fit, weight to mobility ratio, retention, and most effective use of limited real estate found on an operators body all come into play in the decision making process. Military, law enforcement, private security contractors (PSC) and civilians each will have different stimuli dictating what carry method works better from them. The process gets even more complicated when multiple weapon platforms are in the operator’s inventory. Training experience, observation, and communication with personnel from the above mentioned cross section – military, law enforcement, PSC, civilian – indicates that patrol belt use is gaining ground as favored base method with chest rigs or body armor carriers available to supplement. This leads us to our specific topic; this article is going to focus on High Speed Gear’s (HSG) answer to the quandary with its Sure Grip Modular Padded Belt System patrol belt and TACO magazine pouches. High Speed Gear was founded by Gene Higdon and his wife Becky in 1999. Their first products were ghillie suits and rucksack modifications for the Marines located at nearby Camp Lejuene before turning their attention to the creation of the TACO magazine pouches. This was based upon feedback from customers inquiring about a better way to carry weapon magazines. High Speed Gear also offers a myriad of pouches and other tactical gear besides TACO magazine pouches.
Many train and operate with multiple calibers either by choice or necessity. Others are tasked with training different weapon systems as part of their job description. The logistics of maintaining different belt systems or switching magazine pouches on one belt repeatedly is daunting. Imagine having to accommodate AR magazines one day, AK 47 magazines the next, AR-10/SR25 magazines another training evolution, or AK 74 magazines another time and so forth. You get the point. Just as important in any transition between gear systems is making sure nothing effects magazine draw stroke muscle memory, pistol presentation or obtaining medical equipment. Accessing gear must remain seamless with no hitches caused due to different feel or location of pouches. High Speed Gear’s TACO magazine pouch was developed with this set of circumstances in mind.
The HSG TACO is adjustable to many different magazine dimensions including being able to accommodate Saiga 12 gauge magazines. It eliminates the need for different gear per weapon magazine used and, just as importantly, keeps your items in familiar instinctual locations. HSG offers various styles of TACOs including single rifle and pistol magazine pouches, double stack rifle magazine pouches, and combination rifle and pistol magazine pouches. The HSG TACOs are not confined solely to patrol belt use and can be fitted to most equipment carriers thanks to the use of its MALICE attachment method. MALICE clips are HSG’s way of adopting their TACO pouches to ALICE and MOLLE gear systems.
HSG features its own patrol belt labeled as Modular Padded Belt System for use with its TACO magazine pouches. It is one of the slimmest and sturdiest on the market measuring only .75 inches thick and 4.5 inches tall. The feature that makes it stand apart from other patrol belt designs is the use of Neoprene as padding material. The Neoprene adds a unique “gel” feel to the belt while adding a level of grip keeping it secure to user’s hips. The HSG belt has a removable HDPE stiffener sheet through the entire main portion for added stability where the MOLLE rigging is located. There are three access ports located around the belt for the attachment of subloads directly to the interior belt. Two of the access points are located at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock – i.e. holster, dropleg pouch, etc., - and the third is located at the 6 o’clock position to attach dump pouches. HSG has also made arrangements to accommodate four suspender attachment points. There is a 2 inch strip of material sewn the entire length of the interior belt channel for securing whatever belt option is chosen. The belt chosen for this evaluation was the HSG Cobra Rigger Belt. The HSG Cobra Rigger's Belt is constructed of 2 layers of 1.75 inch Type 13 webbing rated for 7,000 pounds. The Cobra Rigger Belt is sewn together with bonded 138 nylon thread with 5 rows of stitching the entire length. The two layers are not only sewn together, but are laminated with an industrial strength adhesive to give more rigidity and stiffness. The proven quick release COBRA parachute buckle is used to secure the belt and is rated for 4,000 pounds.
The HSG TACO, albeit rifle or pistol model, is constructed/assembled from a pouch of nylon, bound tight by shock cord, and given structure and retention by a U-shaped piece of polymer plastic. The ingenious combination of these three elements makes for a magazine pouch imminently adaptable while maintaining retention characteristics. The cord and clip arrangement allows a user to expand and contract the shock cord for different magazine sizes. The HSG TACOs are designed in a way to allow for a full grip on a rifle magazine when extracting from the pouch. This is important for smooth loading procedures. HSG offers a retention kit for users wanting a higher level of retention for magazines. The kit consists of shock cord and pull tab. The cord must be removed before the magazine can be drawn. Experience has shown that the inherent TACO retention is more than enough without the extra retention kit option. With that said there may be military or law enforcement units that require secondary retention on for their magazines. The HSG pistol magazine pouches are just as adaptable as the rifle variants with the caveat that the pistol magazine can double as multi-tool carrier, tactical light, or whatever else operator desires.
No one can be all knowing in every facet of a subject as broad as weapons, firearms training, and personal defense. From time to time we depend on subject matter experts for recommendations and guidance to supplement gathered information. This approach assists in getting us up to speed as quickly as possible when it comes to increasing skill sets. One place recommended for grounded information is Gabriel “Gabe” Suarez. Suarez is the owner and CEO of One Source Tactical, Suarez International, and TSD Combat Systems. Mr. Suarez is a controversial figure within certain circles for various reasons; some of which are his “out of the box” thinking when it comes to personal defense methods and tools that best serve this mindset. No matter preconceived opinions, one can be sure that any ideas presented by Mr. Suarez are well thought out and proofed during numerous training cycles by himself and his many staff instructors spread around the U.S. and world.
When queried about the philosophy of use behind chest rigs and patrol belts, Gabe responded, “…that the chest rig is more suitable for mounted operations or work in and around vehicles. The chest rig can be ungainly compared to a HSG patrol belt if most of the work will be done on foot or individual’s mobility a prime requirement. One could use both but care must be taken in not overloading the operator. Anything is doable on a shooting range, but moving through rough ground with elevation changes will make an overloaded operator miserable and may even create a dangerous situation physically.” Gabe has been running a High Speed Gear patrol belt with TACOs almost exclusively for three years now. The HSG distributes weight far better than most front heavy chest rigs. The open top HSG TACO may concern some with its retention properties. Gabe uses the HSG patrol belt and TACO pouches during training classes and long mountain treks without any cause for concern. Gabe assures that the High Speed Gear TACO has no peer in terms of balancing retention with accessibility.
When asked to speak about the HSG adaptability advantage Gabe responded with, “Well... if you have one rifle and that is all, the flexibility of use is not such a big deal. But for my purposes I may be teaching a class with a Knights SR-15 one week and then with a Kalashnikov in 7.62x39 the next. And maybe even a Guerrilla Sniper course with a PTR-91 rifle that uses HK G3 magazines. Not having to have several rigs or to have to reconfigure a single belt rid is a great convenience for me. If there is a likelihood of needing to use different platforms with different magazines, this (HSG) is a great benefit.” Gabe was asked to share his HSG belt set up. “I (Gabe) am right handed so most of the time I will be reloading left handed. Nonetheless, there are times when reloading with the primary hand is preferred… such as when one has transferred the rifle, or when one is in low prone. So I add at least one magazine on the primary side. I have pistol magazines on the left side in tandem with the rifle “TACOs” – three of them. I have two utility pouches at the right and left kidney with a trauma kit and a “stuck-in-the-weeds-overnight” kit. There may be better places to put these, but a 32-inch waist does not leave much room. I also have a knife on the primary side because, well, I am a Spaniard and we like knives.”
Gabe notes he never had issues with the cord construction of the HSG TACO pouches. He makes note that the HSG Sure Grip Modular Padded Belt System is quite comfortable. The Suregrip “gel” belt rides much smoother and does not give those rough points the hard nylon type does. Gabe closes his observations with, “HSG is one of the best companies in the world making tactical nylon. They are easy to work with, do not have an elitist attitude, and will work with you for your special needs, whatever they may be.”
Gabe’s observations related to the HSG patrol belt equipped with TACO pouches is supported by numerous training classes attended, weapon evaluations, and input from other operators. Anyone needing a flexible patrol belt set up that does not compromise on retention, accessibility, and maximum effective use of limited space on one’s person should consider the HSG TACO pouch. The HSG TACO pouch is a no compromise candidate relying on its adaptability for its sole attraction; it offers a user the capability to adapt his equipment to the mission at hand without concern of losing performance. This peace of mind is invaluable for someone working in dynamic shifting environments.
Sites of Interest
High Speed Gear, Inc.
105 Seth Thomas Lane, Suite 5
Swansboro, North Carolina 28584
1616 Iron Springs Road
Prescott, AZ 86305
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