Or at least, reviews the stuff he took to the two gun match. Most of this isn’t really “for competition”, but you run the match with the gear you have, which may or may not be the gear you want. It’s better that way: now I know what changes I want to make. Had I gone out and bought a bunch of stuff right before the match, it would probably still be wrong. Anyway, let’s get on with it.
Rifle Mag Holder: Tactical Tailor MAV chest rig
I’m kinda split on this one. On the one hand, I really didn’t need it for the competition. I went to my rifle reload all of once, because 30 rounds is actually a lot, even when you’re double tapping. So I didn’t need a giant chest rig that can hold twelve AR mags. That said, it didn’t drop magazines everywhere. Retention is good. On the other hand, it’s a really nice chest rig. I got the “Two piece complete MAV” kit, which comes with four magazine pouches, each ready to hold three 30-round magazines. It also comes with two large utility pouches and two small utility pouches. So there’s plenty of space to haul things. The ‘Two piece’ part refers to the fact that this chest rig has a front closure, which is a lot easier to get on and off. The small utility pouches are sized for two pairs of handcuffs, or a similarly sized load. The large utility pouches are sized for a canteen, water bottle, 1.5 L hydration bladder or a properly-sized sandwich. The large utility pouches are closed with adjustable buckles; everything else is closed with velcro. I had no problems losing rifle mags from my chest rig.
The MAV is reasonably comfortable loaded up, but if I did that for long periods, I might want to replace the standard straps with the padded kind. The MAV itself is covered in PALS webbing, so you can place the pouches where you like (or swap them out for other pouches).
And yes, the MAV is Berry-amendment compliant.1 Great for a carbine class, a bit excessive for competition. I might get a belt holder for a single 30-round magazine instead, since that should suffice. Especially if I’m also loading up the Surefire Mag-60.2
Pistol Mag Holders: Blackhawk Glock Mag holder, PerSec Kydex Glock Mag holder
I used these because they were the pistol mag holders that I had. They go on your belt. They worked great. I didn’t lose pistol mags, unlike other people. I also didn’t need more than the two on my belt (plus the one in the gun). That said, the PerSec Holder is paddle-style, and while this is great for concealment, it’s less ideal for competition, because it’s rather wide and eats lots of belt space. I’ll want to move that to concealed-carry only, and get more things like the Blackhawk holder for competition.
Eye Protection: Smith Aegis Echo
I got these because I wanted something that met MIL-PRF-31013 and ANSI Z87.1 standards for durability, because I’d rather not lose an eye like Paul von Mauser. I picked the Echos in particular because they’re big, so they fit someone with a large head (me) well, and because they have thin alloy temples, so they work well when worn in conjunction with over-the-ear hearing protection. I usually like that (sometimes doubled up), so I figured this was a good choice. One small complaint is that if you’re not wearing the over-the-ear hearing protection that these are designed to work with, and you tilt your head down, to load a mag, say, these will slide down your nose. Oh well. When worn with muffs, they fit great and are super comfortable. I got these in a kit which came with a clear protective lens, a grey polarized protective lens, and a yellow protective lens. So, all the lenses you could possibly want for high light, low light, and indoor uses. You can swap lenses pretty easily in just a few seconds, and I have to give Smith Optics big props for making an easy-to-use, secure, quick-detach lens system.
Plus, they’re very comfortable when worn with muff-style hearing protection. Very easy to wear through the whole match, or a long class, without discomfort. Strongly recommended if you like over-the-ear hearing protection of any type, or doubling up.
Hearing Protection: MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X
Yes, these are over-the-ear hearing protection. These are active, or “noise-cancelling” hearing protection. They’re stupidly durable, have excellent battery life, and are beloved by operators everywhere. The whole thing is waterproof. I got these with the upgraded gel earcups. These are absolutely phenomenal. Very wearable all day. When other people take their earpro off during periods when the range is cold, I usually leave these on. They’re that comfortable. Battery life is at least 600 hours of use. These have the regular headband instead of the neckband. That’s less good if you’re wearing them with, say, a helmet, but it is nice in that you can flip them around so that the microphones point backwards, making it easier for you to hear an instructor or range officer. I have absolutely no complaints with these. If you do want to double-up on your earpro, these are still a great choice for the outer component, because you can turn up the volume on non-cancelled noises to compensate for the earplugs.
There are probably those of you out there who are wondering why I would spend about $300 on NRR 18db hearing protection. My first answer is, would so many hardcore operator types wear them if they sucked so bad? In all seriousness, and because I generally dislike being lazy and just appealing to authority, hearing protection works differently against different frequencies. Since MSA is a responsible company, and does not know what frequencies you are going to want protection from when you buy their product, they list the low number. You will get 18 decibels or more hearing protection, depending on the frequency.
So what’s the relevant frequencies for guns, and what noise reduction do we get there? Well, for guns, you probably want to look at the 1-2 kHz range, and go as high as 4 kHz if you’re shooting a bunch of compensators. In that range, the Sordins are going to give you about a 30 decibel noise reduction. 30. Suck it, haters. Maybe that’s why people who have the budget and are hardcore love these things. Also, they’re super comfortable.
If you’re a super-scientific type, and want the really long version, check out this post from Trevor on the Trigger.
1.) I.e. Made in the USA from American-sourced materials.
2.) Just in case you hadn’t gathered, it holds sixty (60) rounds of 5.56 in a nifty quad-stack configuration.