Brand loyalty is a strong influence on people’s attempt to find the best option. Ford vs Chevy, Coke vs Pepsi, we all have our preferences. Is it safe to blindly rely on our loyalties with our choices in guns, gear, and training? Is it wise to consider a piece of gear without knowing other (possibly better) options available?
My gun/gear purchases are work related. I don’t bother with cheap options. I have that bin of crappy holsters, AR15 accessories, and cheap optics from over a decade ago. I have learned inexpensive usually means not for work use. I am one who believes you get what you pay for after a few bin related issues. Serious use items need greater scrutiny. A blind assumption that a specific brand will always provide the optimal option is a wrong assumption. I have used Glocks for years without issue. I just bought a new G34 for duty use, but I won’t buy a G43. G34’s have had great reviews, Glocks in general are an outstanding option – G43s seem to still need some proving. I am not going to make the blind purchase based on my previous experience with Glock. (I did buy a G43 over a year after I wrote this)
Everything we potentially invest in requires assessment and study. To get the optimal solutions we cannot blindly purchase products based specific brands names only. There is not a single brand that does everything the best. There are brands that produce a great majority of products at a subpar level. There is no such thing as THE best plate carrier – so many mission variables and end user requirements make that statement plain dumb. We need to be objective in our search for the best, and some brands universally fall short.
Do not let appearances or emotional attachments to concepts or brands sway you in determining what the best option is. If you feel the need to buy and use a plate carrier but you won’t be using rifle plates at any time, you need to reassess and find the gear that fits your needs. If you are buying gear only because it is produced by a specific brand, it is time to reassess priorities. If you are pursuing a specific look with your gear (motivated by appearances versus functionality)… bad, bad reader! Emotional attachments are difficult to realize. We rationalize the worst options for concepts nearly to the point of brainwashing ourselves. Being surrounded by people who think similarly makes it more difficult to shake (another tip of the hat to law enforcement). If the terms hindsight bias, confirmation bias, and Dunning-Kruger are terms you are not familiar – read up and keep them in mind in your assessments.
I have been in the market for a new plate carrier for over a year now. Blue Force Gear, Crye Precision, First Spear, Tyr Tactical, SKD, and Velocity Systems all provide top notch offerings of plate carriers and they are still evolving. I could go with an old school Eagle Industries type carrier, but why? Newer, lighter materials combined with newer designs make the old stuff/designs near obsolete. To ensure I make the right choice I need to know if the options I am considering fit my needs. This is not a small task.
There are brands that provide sufficient options across the board but nothing outstanding. Old designs with old materials can still get the job done, but is that the best option for your needs? Mission drives the gear train as Pat Rogers with EAG Tactical says. In the quest for the best you need to know your mission. You need to know what gear can do for you. You also need to know what features fall short compared to others. If 1″ wide plastic side-release buckles can break, should it be used in a critical area on the gear you are assessing?
Here is a test to see if you are assessing your current and future gear:
Are you running a drop leg holster?
If you are still using or considering a drop leg holster for your sidearm and have no obstruction due to a large armored vest, it is time to seriously start assessing your gear. If you look at the original purpose of the drop leg, it was to move the secondary off the belt away from an armored vest which obstructed the draw of your sidearm. Most of us don’t have that issue any more – thus a drop leg is being used because we have always done it that way or just for looks. Neither of those reasons are acceptable. If your drop leg still has two straps and/or is closer to your knee than your belt, you need to assess.
Here is another test:
Are you running a three point, two point, or single point sling?
What advantage does your choice offer over the other two? I have an answer to this, but you need to make the distinction of the better choice by using logic and without letting emotional attachment get in the way (because emotion makes bad decisions with guns and gear). The answer is not single point or three point.
Every item/pouch you have mounted to your gun/gear requires a purpose. Filling Pals/Molle for appearance sake is counterproductive to being effective. Same goes for filling all Velcro with patches. Let your mission parameters (what you are going to do) guide you on weapons and gear selection. Do research. Don’t let savings get in the way of being objective when weighing options. It is time to be smart with your guns and gear.