View Full Version : Tactical Assault Gear Marine Gladiator: Short and Sweet Review

14 November 2011, 21:13
I've had this thing about 6 weeks now. I've taken it to the range a few times... And even with this little bit of experience with it, I feel like I'm ready to pass some initial judgement on it.

Overall rating: 4/10

Positives: Construction quality is good. The color (coyote) is nice. The magazine pouches can hold 2 magazines with little difficulty if you need extra ammo without enough warning to attach extra pouches.

If you aren't using the bungees, which are extremely stiff, the pouches are so loose that magazine just flop around.

The adjustments on this rig are a textbook example of a design that is just poorly thought out and poorly executed. They are so far around the back of the rig that I am beginning to think I have torn something in my right shoulder from attempting to fasten it up. (I can only lift about 30 pounds on a pectoral fly with my right arm before I have sharp, excruciating pain, which began immediately following the last time I used this rig... it has always been a strain, but I think I stretched just a little too far last time I put it on. I probably got in too much of a hurry, because after fiddling with buckles behind your back while over-extending one arm and contorting the other, you eventually get frustrated after a few minutes of this nonsense.)

At about 5'10"-5'11" and 185 pounds, I don't consider myself to be too wormy (I am actually slightly over the max weight according to the army weight chart I have seen)... but when I crank this vest down to the tightest possible adjustment, it is still too loose. Maybe it needs plates under it... that wasn't advertised, and if I wanted something that required a plate carrier be run under it, I would have just gotten a plate carrier and mounted pouches to it.

The adjustments, once tightened down to their maximum smallness so I can experience the joy of a sloppy fit, has a tendency to loosen making it fit even worse.

When you do tighten the rig down all the way, and even if it stays... you have to come up with some creative method of stowing the straps. Otherwise, you have 6" diameter loops of webbing hanging all over you. No snag hazard there.

There are buckles along the fronts of the shoulder straps which could conceivably be used for donning and doffing. However, these buckles don't actually release anything if you have the bib in use, which I do. So, in practice, they don't really benefit me, and the one on the left side has a tendency to snag the magazine under it slightly.

Not being one to complain without offering a suggestion... here is what would fix this piece. (You'll also notice in this picture that the bottom left buckle is not attached the same way as the others. [bash])
You see that area of fabric with webbing the left and right of the magazine row? That's the problem- that area needs to just go away. This would make the overall size smaller, so it would have some glimmer of hope of fitting someone who isn't morbidly obese. (Looking at how big this can adjust... the thing must be made with 300lb "operators" with soft and hard armor on with extreme cold weather gear in mind... it is HUGE... it would never need to be this big...)
Removing this area would also bring the buckles farther forward so someone with the arms of a human instead of a chimpanzee can actually reach them.
The buckles on the front need to be moved up to above the bib, or omitted entirely. I'd like to have detachment points there... but currently they aren't detaching anything, and I'd rather just not have them. The preferred outcome would be on top of the shoulders like they are on the "Banshee" Rifle plate Carrier.

I really think the whole thing is kind of sad... it had the potential of being a good chest rig... and it probably would have cost very little extra, if anything at all, to make it what it should be.

If they made an improved version with these modifications, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. I paid $140 for this, on sale... I'd gladly pay the $175 MSRP to have one that is actually right... This rig is a bit disappointing at best both on design and quality control on account of the buckle installed incorrectly.

30 September 2012, 00:45
One Year Update

My opinion of this chest rig has really improved. Some of my complaints, like the size, have obviously not gone away. However, many of the previous shortcomings have proven to be fairly easy to work around.
One of my coworkers actually bought the same rig in multicam because he liked the design. He is a big guy, and really liked how large it can be adjusted. So my complaints obviously are not an issue for everyone.

As before, I tighten the rig down to maximum tightness. I then tuck the straps back through the male end of the buckle which attaches to the rear hydration component. By taping the left and right side of these tucked in tails together with black electrical tape they are held out of the way, and stopped from loosening. This has been the #1 alteration which has made my feel satisfied with the rig. As it sits now I give it a solid 8/10 rating overall.

Initially I loaded all six magazine pouches for a total of 168 rounds on board. (Rifle's magazine excluded, and I download to 28 for easy reloads with the bolt forward.) I now leave the far left and right pockets empty since they are hard to reach anyway and add a lot of weight- I figure 112 rounds is more than enough for what I do. (Which is pretty much nothing but amuse myself.)

The bib has proved to largely go unused for what I do. Anything bulky in it is uncomfortable- it would make a nice map pouch. I probably ought to fold it down to take better advantage of the quick detach. Since I plan on eventually getting a plate carrier, though, I leave it up so I don't have as much to get used to with rifle plates.

I like the velcro pouch behind the magazines. I put my gloves there. It's convenient, and low enough I can see into the area fairly easily.

I got some of the BlueForceGear TenSpeed magazine pouches for the SR25 on sale for practically nothing. They are black, but I'm okay with that- I may spray paint them someday, but they're fine for now. I use one of these to keep Israeli-style bandages in. I consider it just my basic trauma kit.

I have a compass pouch in woodland camo that I keep batteries and some basic items in. (Can opener, flint and steel.) It does its job with little bulk.

For the back of the hydration carrier, I have a "sustainment pouch" in woodland camo. I started out using a backpack with this rig as a three day assault pack, but decided I hated the multitude of straps. The sustainment pouch is basically set up as a very small three day assault pack. I keep a few stripped down MREs in it, a poncho, some trioxane, and a warm hat and socks.

I will post up some new pictures in the next few days when I get an opportunity. I just thought I'd give a brief update at the one-year mark, especially since I have had such a reversal of my opinion on this piece of kit.