This is a ‘first glimpse’ review of the C-202 F.PC MG Vest made by OSO Gear in collaboration with Project Gecko. We were so impressed by the originality of the thinking behind this piece of equipment, the pragmatic approach to its design, and the practicality and efficiency of its features that we asked Eliran of Project Gecko to share this in-depth ‘sneak peak’ with with us.
Words and photography by: Eliran Feildboy, former IDF special forces and CEO of Project Gecko
The C-202 F.PC MG Vest is a front-plate machine-gunner vest – on the back there is no plate, but a panel of breathable mesh material. The idea of an ‘exposed’ back, without no plates or pouches came out of the operational need for having a specific back pack.
Every machinegunner will tell you proudly how much more he carried than his fellow team-mates. Regardless of whether its special-ops or regular infantry, the typical machine-gunner must carry various additional tools & other accessories to ensure his efficiency in the field.
So, there is a need for a practical vest that will distribute as evenly, and handily, as possible the weight of the gunner’s ammunition & tools to enable him to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.
What are the common problems with current MG vest options?
- Freedom of movement
- Pressure on the lower back, stomach and shoulders – especially if plates are carried
- Bad pouch positioning that causes muscle fatigue and discomfort
- The common feeling of ‘suffocating’ due to weight & heat
- The non-functionality of the vest in tight quarter, such as vehicles & helicopters
- Excessive sweating
- Uncomfortable when carrying any kind of third-line backpack
How does the C-202 fix these problems?
First of all, this is a plate carrier – and due to a smart design which looks like two wings, you can load up a SAPI plate and it would be kept in its proper place. Please note – avoid the insertion of plates under the 222 x 298 mm. It is also important to remark, that this vest can accept and work efficiently with the British Osprey Plates.
The components of this vest are designed to be quickly attached or disconnected from each other. This version of the C202 has only a front plate and the back is made of a basically flat net. Might not be so common in most PC’s, but we have a damn good answer which is a result of the way we do things in Israel (which we’ll come back to in a separate section).
Going hand-in-hand with modularity is the ability to adjust your equipment properly according to your body. This is highly important, and has a direct impact on your performance and the ability to perform effectively over longer periods of time.
Something that I personally like regarding those adjustment points – each adjustment webbing has a ‘Webbing locker’. This is great since in the IDF for example we were always to secure with duct tape those webbing’s from flying around like piggy tales, With those ‘Lockers’, you wont need the duct tape. Just shorten the webbing as you want, and secure it with the elastic part. This is also great, because during a mission the load out or the mount of equipment changes, and so is the capacity. Instead of removing and adding new duct tape you get a better and more efficient solution. Easy, simple, and saves you time and hassle.
Balance & weight
Carrying a ‘normal’ backpack of let’s say, 40% body weight, often sucks with a plate carrier. Why? Well, for me personally it often reminded me of the story of ‘the princess and the pea’. In most PC’s the plate will get in your way, cause an imbalance, add weight and bulk on your back, and generally create a higher ‘suck factor’ that makes the user less efficient.
Machine gunners always carry a lot – utility kits, cleaning kits, spare barrel & ammunition and the rest of the standard equipment…so they pretty much can not avoid having to also use a backpack. So this vest design accepts that reality and sets out to make it work as an integrated part of the solution right from the start – rather than think about it as an after thought, or in the false expectation that the backpack will be left on a vehicle or in the rear…
This is what it all boils down to. The first thing that pops into the mind of every machine gunner when you talk about comfort are the shoulders. Many shoulder problems are caused by the breakdown of soft tissues in the shoulder region – caused by over-stressing the area. That’s why the C202 has 3D-mesh padded shoulder straps that act as ‘pillows’ between the vest itself and the shoulders. The 3D mesh material also acts as an outstanding air-flow element, and allow the shoulder straps to take a perfect shape around the users shoulder, and not some bulky default kind of a shape.
What I also personally like in the design of this plate carrier is the fact that the buckles and other adjustment parts do not have direct contact with the user’s body. They also don’t get in the way of other equipment such as backpack straps, comm’s cables, etc.
Why a mesh panel instead of a back plate-pouch?
The detachable mesh back panel improves air flow and moisture evaporation, and reduces heat build-up.
The flat panel also provides a clear place for attaching a backpack. The mesh panel also makes using a backpack with the vest more comfortable, as it transfers some of the direct weight and pressure from a heavy backpack off of your back and reduces the well-known problem of abrasions and rashes caused by a combination of sweat, lack of air flow and pressure against your skin.
This vest was made with a great focus on the implications of carrying heavy loads, and the possible damage that may be caused to the vest becuase of this. So, on the C-202 key stress points on the vest, especially the lower part and the center, are stitched carefully and have added reinforcing material especially there to deal with this problem.
Technical Details of the C-202 MG Vest:
- Weight: 1.4kg empty
- Main material: 1000D Cordura Nylon
- Inner material: 3D mesh for maximum airflow
- 2x front pouches for standard Machine-gun drums (7.62mm & 5.56mm)
- 2x side pouches for 2x 5.56mm 80-rd. belts, 2 each M18/L83smoke grenades, 3x M4 mags, 2x AK mags, IKAK
- 2x pouches for IFAK / medical kit, etc.
- 2x pouches for fragmentation grenades (M67 type or similar)
- 2x ‘quiet release’ pouches suitable for fragmentation, flash-bang or smoke grenades
To purchase, visit Project Gecko’s webstore.