Original SOE Gear 12 Gauge Micro Rig
John Willis is the man behind Original SOE Gear. Willis has a background in supporting Naval Special Warfare personnel by repairing their gear. Just like the riggers of World War II, when equipment needed modification or even fabrication John stepped up and produced many custom products. Johnís work earned a reputation that spread farther throughout the military and even into the law enforcement community. Original SOE Gear currently offers a variety of nylon gear on their website that can be used with a wide selection of weapons. Among their product range are several versions of Micro Rigs.
It is not unusual to find a chest rig for carbines, rifles, and SMGs. However there arenít many dedicated shotgun rigs. The Original SOE 12 Gauge Micro Rig is Johnís offering to shotgun users that want something more than a pocket full of shells but less than a full blown PC with 96 rounds of buckshot and 10 pounds of other gear. For those not familiar with the concept, a Micro Rig is intended to give the user a way to easily carry a ready supply of ammunition and BOK. It is minimalist equipment; it is not intended for a protracted fight. It does not carry snivel gear. There may be occasions when there wonít be space for larger chest rigs or fighting gear, where weight needs to be kept down, or where only a fairly small amount of extra ammunition is required. A law enforcement officer may have to support a shotgun with a quickly donned means of carrying extra shotgun rounds. In an active shooter situation the officer can grab the Micro Rig from the vehicle and have at least 24 rounds of shotgun ammo plus other essential items. The Micro keeps the officer from having to worry about putting on several pouches, or having to always keep extra rounds on their belt or in pockets when it isnít needed. For the private citizen that carries a shotgun in their truck or trunk, it would be a handy means to have some extra shotgun shells and other incidentals. The Micro Rig is ideal for these uses.
Iíve used several methods of carrying shotgun rounds. Claymore bags and dump pouches are used frequently for carrying more than a handful of rounds. It works great for carrying a lot of shells, but isnít much on organization. The rounds were not secured in the compartment and could fall out with a lot of movement even with the pocket flap snapped down. Iíve also kept extra shells in a pocket in the event that I needed them. Reaching into the pockets would result in the shells coming out in whatever direction, and this is also the usual case in stowing shells in a Claymore bag or dump pouch. This does not lend itself to being able to quickly load a shotgun, and makes loading in the dark much slower. Belt carriers and pouches can be used to carry two to twelve rounds of shotgun shells. They keep them in an organized fashion and make indexing the rounds a lot easier. However with a duty belt the officer is usually going to be limited to the small two round carriers, and maybe even a pair of them due to weight or space available. With butt cuffs, it can be difficult to shoot the shotgun from the support side, something that may be quite frequently needed in an active shooter call. Sidesaddles are not universally liked as some feel that they upset the balance of the shotgun. Locking racks in squads can also prevent add-on shell carriers of various types from being used. Original SOE Gearís 12 Gauge Micro Rig can provide the shotgun user with extra ammunition and support gear in a relatively small and lightweight package that can be quickly donned when needed.
Original SOE Gear uses 1000D nylon in the construction of the Micro, and the stitches are all heavy duty. The Micro is available in a variety of colors from Multicam to black. Their gear is heavy duty to say the least. The 12 Gauge Micro Rig consists of two shotgun shell carrier pouches placed on the left side of the rig and a utility pouch on the right sewn onto a base with a large document sleeve pocket. The shotgun pouches each hold two shotgun cards: one on the Velcro externally and one internally. The utility pouch can be used as a BOK carrier to provide the user with a means to not only support the shotgun, but treat a gunshot wound. No pistol mags are provided for, although a pistol mag pouch could be attached to the side. Additionally, the utility/ BOK pocket could be used for other items, and small or thin items could be placed in the document pocket. The Micro Rig has a set of cross straps and a smaller securing strap so that the rig rides securely on the chest. The strap arrangement also allows for other carry options. It would make for a useful first responder active shooter item for an officer equipped with a shotgun.
12 Gauge Micro Rig.
Front inserts pulled down off of the Velcro.
Second pair of inserts pulled out of the pockets.
Second pair of inserts in place on Velcro with first pair below.
The shotgun pouches hold the 4 shotgun cards. Each card holds 6 rounds in elastic loops. The top of the card has a doubled-over web pull tab. The outer set of cards attach to the front of the shotgun pouches by Velcro. Once they are emptied they are pulled down and off the Velcro using the pull tab, clearing the front of the pouch. The inner set rest inside the pouches and are pulled up by their pull tabs and then fold over and down to attach to the Velcro just like the first pair when needed. Both sets are secured to the Micro body by strips of 1" nylon web strap sewn to the bottom edge of the cards. The web straps attach to one of four slider buckles on the bottom of the shell pouches, with the inner card straps passing through a slot in the bottom of each pouch. The straps can be removed if desired, allowing the cards to be completely detached from the rig. This allows two options that I will cover shortly.
The two pairs of slider buckles that connect the inserts to the rig.
By having the shotgun rounds secured in individual loops, obviously organization is helped. Not only in terms of differentiating one type of round from another, but also in the direction of the round in the carrier. One of the virtues of the shotgun is its ability to shoot a variety of rounds. Buckshot and slugs are the most commonly used ammo types in LE. In addition to these types, LL rounds of various sorts may be carried in different inserts and used as needed. For obvious reasons, it would be a bad idea and probably against a departmentís P&P to stow LL rounds with standard rounds in the same Micro. In gun games, a shooter may need buck and slugs as well, with the addition of birdshot. For the private citizen using the shotgun as a defensive gun the loads would be similar to the LE basic loading, but it may be that with a truck or trunk gun the shooter could have birdshot added in. With the shotshell inserts all of the rounds on the insert could be the same, or there may be a systematic organization of different rounds as is often seen on sidesaddle carriers.
Shotguns are notoriously slow to load. By orienting the rounds the same way on the Micro, the user is able to practice and develop muscle memory so that loading can be done quickly and intuitively. With the heavy and bulky ammunition used by shotguns anything to make loading the individual rounds easier and more consistent is good. The Micro fosters this through its layout of all the rounds being accessible in the same way. This leads to economy of motion and repetition that will allow the shotgun user to quickly learn where the rounds are going to be and what position they will be in which will help to minimize the effects of stress and darkness on loading.
As mentioned, the cards can be completely removed if the web straps on them are not secured through the slider buckles at the bottom of the pockets. This allows two things. First, the pockets can be used to hold a 30 round AR magazine each, allowing a little more diversity to the platform. If the Micro is used in this manner, there is not a means of securing the AR mags in the carrier. The second option is to use other shotshell carriers or additional shotshell inserts from OSOE. If the front two cards are not secured, Vang DSACs or 3 Gun Gear cards with Velcro on the backs can be used instead of the original cards. At the same time, the Micro inserts can be transferred to the shotgun. This would allow the user to shuttle entire inserts from the Micro to the side of the gun, and then load the shotgun from those directly to the gun. This method would obviously cut down on the reloading time because of the shorter movements required. When the insert on the side of the gun is emptied it is removed and the process started again. Doing this would maximize the benefits of both the speed of the weapon-mounted ammunition carrier and the organization of the Micro. The DSAC cards fit almost perfectly on the Velcro, but the 7 round 3 Gun cards will overhang the Velcro by about the width of one round. Using DSAC or similar pattern carriers with the Micro let me integrate several other bags that have Velcro for ammunition carriers. Various additional inserts can be dedicated to specific round types and stowed off of the Micro. Depending on the situation and need, these could be quickly grabbed from another bag and inserted into the Micro or placed in a pocket or pouch.
PMAGs in pouches.
Vang DSAC carrier on Micro Rig.
The BOK pocket is a fairly roomy arrangement. I was able to get a complete BOK in one of Johnís Medical Insert Trays inside with room left over for more medical items, a Sharpie, a small Streamlight LED and some chemlights. A small DL123 spare carrier was put in as well so that I would have two spare sets of batteries. It is possible to stow a pair of EMT shears in the back of the pouch and still allow the flap to close. The inside of the pocket is lined with Velcro on the body side so that a small organizer or Velcro pouch can be placed inside the utility pouch. The outside front of the pocket flap has a large Velcro strip on it for ID panels, moto patches, or IR panels. If the user wants, a Velcro attached organizer or pocket can be positioned there. Yet another option for that Velcro panel is a 5th shotgun shell carrier. It should be noted that placing a lot of items in the utility/BOK pocket will cause it to extend quite a bit and can make attaching something like a shotgun shell carrier or pouch/organizer on the outside difficult due to the curvature of the pocket flap.
OSOE Medic Insert Tray in BOK pocket with other items.
Medic Insert Tray opened up.
The right side of the BOK pocket has two MOLLE loops in a single column, one on top of the other with a space between them. It could be used for any single column MOLLE-type pouch to attach such as a knife, light, or pistol mag holder or it can be used with the addition of rubber bands or shock cord to hold something like the SOF T Tourniquet. I used the MOLLE loops to stow my SOF T and then slid a pair of EMT shears into the MOLLE loops as I found it stowed better there than inside the pouch. The bottom of the pocket has two elastic loops for attaching a pocket smoke cannister or similar sized object.
SOF T in shock cord on the side of the BOK pocket.
Loops on bottom of the BOK pocket.
The base of the Micro has an internal bib-type document pocket that has two web pull tabs in the center for opening the pocket, which is secured by Velcro strips at the top. The opening for the pocket runs just about the entire length of the pocket. This is a common feature to this type of gear. This is a great place to put NFA paperwork for an SBS or whatever. It is roomy, spanning the entire inside of the Micro body. In mine I have my NFA document, a waterproof bag, Rite In The Rain tablet, pen, and a few other small items. The inside of the pocket is lined with Velcro so that an organizer can be positioned for smaller items if desired. I threaded a Grimloc through one of the pull tabs to use as a base for dummy cording items such as a small LED.
Document pocket in Micro Rig body. Pull tabs and Velcro shown.
The Micro is worn with two 1 1/2" nylon cross straps with side release buckles at both the top and side attachments. A 1" strap with two side release buckles secures the bottom of the Micro rig across the back. It is quite comfortable and easily adjusted to fit. There are no free web strap ends hanging around, with the bitter ends being sewn to the slider adjustment buckles. There is plenty of room on the straps to fit a large individual or over armor. If desired, the straps can be reconfigured to allow the Micro Rig to be carried as a bandoleer or bag under one arm by using just one of the large straps and the smaller strap across the body if needed. The strap arrangement can be replaced with the sturdier OSOE H harness, which would allow for a hydro pouch to be carried as well.
The Micro is about 13Ē wide and 6 ĺĒ tall. The shotgun shell pouches are 5 ĺĒ tall, 2 ĺĒ wide, and about 1Ē deep. The BOK/ utility pocket is about 6Ē wide, at least 5 ĹĒ tall (due to the adjustable flap), and 2Ē deep. Loaded with 24 rounds and materials I listed the net weight is right about 5 pounds.
The 12 Gauge Micro Rig is available from Original SOE Gear at: http://www.originalsoegear.com/12gamicro.html
The order process is probably a little different from what you're used to. To place an order follow this procedure. Place the item in the cart and go through the checkout process. OSOE will then contact you by email to let you know when your gear is ready and arrange payment.