By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All photos contained in this article were taken by DefenseReview.com, and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these photos. The photos were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability).
August 27, 2010
Last updated on 8/22/11.
While getting some top-notch tactical rifle and pistol shooting instruction from Romaszka Tactical Training (RTT) in the great Pacific Northwest (Bellingham, Washington area), DefenseReview (DR) had the distinct pleasure of T&E’ing the Hardpoint Equipment (also written “Hard Point Equipment” and formerly known as Personal Protective Systems, P2 Systems, or P2Sys) Maniple-I Tactical Armor Carrier, which is, to date, the best-designed, most ergonomic, and most comfortable tactical body armor carrier/tactical vest system Defense Review has ever used for a tactical shooting course.
Billed as a “a hybrid creation between the Cohort-I and Hastati-I tactical armor carriers” that “shares features and benefits of each”, the Hardpoint Maniple-I tac vest is designed to carry both anti-rifle (Level III and Level IV) hard armor plates (SAPI, ESAPI, or XSAPI, etc. on front, back, and sides) and soft armor panels/inserts.
Even with a full complement of hard armor plates, the Maniple-I is incredibly comfortable. In fact, it’s so comfortable, it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing it, particularly if you’re running it without plates as just a (rifle) magazine and sling (more on this, later) carrier in a tactical shooting course. The Maniple-1 is even lower-profile/minimalist than the Cohort-I model, which is pretty low-profile, itself. This extreme comfort extends to vehicle operations during PSD ops, as the minimalist nature of the vest means it’s no larger (or longer) than it absolutely needs to be to hold the armor plates and soft armor panels, and thus won’t dig into your hips/waist when you’re sitting inside a car for long periods. This is a key element in Hard Point ballistic vest design/ergonomics.
In the embedded photos and video, notice the large grab handles/pull tabs. These, along with Hard Point vests’ superior design and attachment/detachment method (creating a faster and better fit with NO cumberbund system!), serve to make them the fastest vests to put on and take off that we’ve ever experienced for non-quick-release vests (i.e. vests with no cable-release system). You can remove any Hard Point vest in seconds under stress with minimal practice, and you don’t need an engineering degree and spend an hour and a half putting humpty dumpty together again, unlike a cable quick-release system vest. This quick-off/quick-back-on aspect makes the Hard Point vests particularly advantageous during tactical medical tasks where you need to open up the vest quickly to treat a wounded operator, field dress a wound (perhaps applying QuikClot or CELOX blood-clotting agents, for example), and then quickly refasten the armor while you’re getting said wounded operator to cover. The ability to apply tactical medicine quickly and effectively, and then button the operator back up in his armor just as quickly, should be a consideration when choosing a tactical body armor system. The HardPoint/P2Sys vests excel in this area, as well.
Also notice Integra-Sling, which is an integral bungee-type single-point sling that’s hands-down the best single-point sling solution DR has ever experienced. It employs a unique slider unit (running freely along the main cord) to which the rifle attaches, which eases ambidextrous rifle use. Once you run a Hard Point/P2 Systems vest with an Integra-Sling, you just don’t want to go back to any other vest and a non-integral sling, ever again. It’s an illuminating experience. The HardPoint/P2Sys Integra-Sling attaches underneath the shoulder straps via velcro quickly and easily, and can be quickly and easily adjusted/repositioned or detached/removed. In some of the photos, I left the sling detached from my rifle, so the reader can see the sling more fully. If you need to go to a two-point sling for any reason, just unhook the Integra-Sling, and attached the two-point. When you want to switch back to the Integra-Sling, it’ll be there (unless you decided to remove it), since it’s integral to the vest.
Another unique aspect of the HardPoint vests is the amount of MOLLE real estate they exhibit, which is unparalleled. Essentially, wherever there’s vest, there’s MOLLE (front and back). There’s even MOLLE on the shoulder straps for attaching extra items. This virtually-total-coverage usable MOLLE real estate makes the Hard Point/P2Sys vests exceptionally utilitarian with regard to mounting auxilliary tactical equipment. Regarding on-board ammo supply (i.e. spare loaded mags), you can run six AR magazine pouches single-stacked across the bottom front of the Maniple-1, including one on each side panel, and still have room left over. For the course, I ran Gen II Fast Mag mag pouches upside down.
In case you’re wondering why I’m not running a full load of 6 mags in the photos and video (below), it’s because they were shot while I was shooting rifle and pistol stages, during which time I had, at most, one or two additional rifle mags (AR mags) on the vest in the Fast Mags. It should be noted that during most of my rifle training with RTT, I ran a full load of six (6) mags on the vest, plus one (1) in the weapon, for a total of seven (7) mags.
Hardpoint Equipment’s president/CEO and chief engineer/designer/developer, Thomas C., has been a PSD/security operator for years, so the vests he designs and develops bring all his experience and expertise to bear. He basically set out to create the ultimate vest for himself and his PSD brethren, and it would appear he’s achieved that goal. P2Sys tactical body armor carriers are designed specifically for military Special Operations Personnel, PSD/security operators and law enforcement (LE) SWAT operators. The vests can run ballistic plates on the sides, as well as the front and back. The Hastati-1 plate carrier allows you to run plates front and back, only.
Defense Review’s personal P2Sys Maniple-I vest sports Crye MultiCam multi-environment camouflage pattern, developed and marketed by Crye Precision LLC. As multi-terrain camo patterns go, MultiCam is probably currently the most successful one on the market, and would appear to be effective in the field. It also looks pretty good.
If you’re a military spec-operator, PSD operator, LE SWAT operator, or civilian tactical shooter, DefenseReview would strongly advise you to give the P2 Systems tactical armor carriers a very serious look. For civilian tactical shooters, the P2 Systems tactical vests and plate carriers allow you not only to run both hard armor plates and soft body armor inserts for ballistic protection during tactical shooting training in multiple-person classes, but they also provide a superb platform for mounting your mag pouches and any other tactical equipment you may require for the class.
Editor’s Note: In the above photos and video clip, the shooter, DR owner/editor-in-chief is wearing ITW FASTMAG (also written FAST-MAG) mag carriers (magazine carriers) his P2Sys Maniple tac vest (tactical armor carrier). Underneath the vest, Crane is wearing a TAD Gear Raptor ProLite Hardshell (Coyote Brown/Desert Tan) lightweight windproof and waterproof jacket over a comfy TAD Gear Recon Hoodie (O.D. Green) fleece combat jacket. Crane is also wearing 5.11 Tactical pants (O.D. Green) and an EOTAC Vickers Mid-Length Combat Glove (O.D. Green) on his support hand (the one gripping the Grip Pod System vertical foregrip/bipod/weapon stabilization system)–and a LaRue Tactical hat (O.D. Green)! The tactical AR carbine Crane is using is a direct-gas-impingement (DGI) gun with an EOTech 552 HWS (Holographic Weapon Sight) combat optic. The weapon is lubricated with SLiP2000 EWL (Extreme Weapons Lubricant) gun lubricant.
Company Contact Info:
Hardpoint Equipment (formerly Personal Protective Systems, or P2 Systems)
315 W Dalton Ave. #123
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815
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