UW Gear, the UW stands for “unconventional warfare, are a rather unconventional outfit themselves. Their motto is “Don’t forget nothing” (from the standing orders of Rogers’ Rangers), and reflects their philosophy of rugged self-reliance and individual readiness.
Their MINUTEMAN MKII Chest Rig is made to order and is available in AK and AR versions. It is specifically designed to give the rifleman an optimum platform to carry 3 x 30-rd mags, plus additional gear if required. It is intended for unsupported operations where mag protection and retention are critical, but with quick access as well. To that end, the mag pouches feature UW Gear’s unique Fast Tab closure system, which is brilliantly simple yet cunningly effective.
The prototype version I received features four single mag pouches, the production version features three, as well as two triple rows of PALS webbing on either side for admin, first aid, pistol mag, radio, and/or accessory pouches. The shoulder straps and upper-back cross strap also feature PALS loops.
Speaking of the shoulder straps, you might also have noticed that they are not padded, to give a nice no-bulk low profile, and that they have an H-harness type of profile rather than the traditional free crossing X-harness type of arrangement. The H-harness set-up provides a more stable and comfortable ride for the rig, with less bulk on your back when combined with a hydration carrier or day sack / ruck sack. Because of the more ergonomic seating of the rig with the H-harness type straps, you also don’t get the problem of the shoulder straps getting bunched up into the side of your neck.
Another little detail which is quite nice is the inclusion of elastic strap-retainer loops to help keep all your loose ends under control. It might be a little thing, but this is a very nice and practical feature to have – and its amazing how many other rigs don’t include them.
On the inner side of the rig is another very handy feature, a large square “Kangaroo” pouch that can be used for a ready-mag or as a dump pouch for empty mags, or as an admin or map pouch, or just as a handy general purpose pouch for what ever you need. The pouch also has a stiffened strip of nylon webbing that runs down the length of the pouch on the inside. This helps give the pouch some structure that, combined with the grab-tab at the top, helps keep the contents of the pouch under control and easier to access. Here again we see UW Gear’s careful attention to the little details that can make a big difference.
The little detail that makes the biggest difference to the performance of this rig, and the reason I love this rig so much, is actually a pretty big deal. I’m talking about UW Gear’s Fast Tab magazine pouch fastening solution. Throughout the decades that I’ve been involved in studying and collecting military gear, on through my military service in the airborne infantry, my participation in WWII living history, playing airsoft, and up reviewing and featuring gear here on Strike-Hold!, I’ve seen or used LOTS of different solutions for fastening the flaps on magazine pouches – and it often seems like each “innovation” has just been more complicated than the previous (with the exception of Velcro). Well, UW Gear have changed all of that. I don’t know how they came up with the idea for their system, but its so simple that at first I couldn’t believe it would actually work – but it does – brilliantly.
As you can see, the system consists of a stiffened webbing tab on the magazine pouch flap that slots up and under another stiffened piece of webbing attached to the pouch. To open, you simply tug on the webbing pull tab and the stiffened tab slides right out from under the strip of webbing on the pouch. Inserting, or re-inserting, the flap tab is easy, very quick and easily done with one hand – even when wearing gloves. Perfect, right?
Well, you might be wondering if it actually provides enough security so that the magazines won’t fall out of the pouches when in use. To put this concern to the test I loaded up the rig with full magazines, turned it upside down and shook it up and down vigorously – no problem. Next I went out into the field and did some low-crawling, rushing and combat rolls between firing positions – again, no problem. The only concern that I have would be in wearing the rig on parachute operations – but some “Hundred Mile An Hour” tape over the pull tabs should take care of any potential problems on that front.
So, all in all, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want one of these rigs – especially as they are available in a variety of tactical colors and camouflage patterns, in AK and AR versions, UW Gear will also custom-build the rig to match other calibers and/or rifle platforms too (mine was built to carry Galil mags – and in PenCott-GreenZone camouflage).
UW Gear also sell separate single and double MOLLE mag pouches and a triple-pouch bandoleer based on their Fast Tab fastening system.
Check out their website for full details, including pricing and availability.