Esstac 556 Kydex Magazine Insert

I receive no compensation for the video or blog post.  I’m posting this because I want others to know more about the product.  Preparedness is very important.

 

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If you’re like most American patriots you have the desire to be ready to defend your naturally born rights, family and property.  To do so requires owing and being proficient with capable firearms.  Good firearms and training mean basic ammunition load-outs, a way to carry and retain them on your person.

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Nylon ALICE LBE post Vietnam

When I first started using load bearing equipment(LBE) it was in the mid 1970’s using ALICE LBE.  ALICE magazine pouches work great but they to create unwanted bulk when worn forward of the lateral midline of the body.  Very much like we see now with the magazines being placed front and center on chest rigs.

 

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ALICE magazine pouch converted to PALS attached to an Air Force Defensor Fortis Load Carrying System

I no longer use the ALICE LBE unless it’s been converted to the Pouch Attachment Ladder System(PALS).  The ALICE magazine pouches are still on my LBE located in a more convenient place.  Their primary place has been taken by military surplus triple side-by-side pouches.

 

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Surplus triple side-by-side magazine pouch.

These pouches are fantastic for keeping a low profile but suck for shifting magazines or resupply.  They don’t hold their shape to maintain an opening that would make is easy to place a magazine in them without looking and two hands.  I had considered making some kydex inserts myself but don’t have a shop set up to make them to my quality standards.  That fact left me searching for something commercially made.

 

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Esstac 556 KYWI magazine insert.

There are several brands and makers out there, the prices vary considerably.  For the price I decided to try the Esstac 556 KYWI.  After several months of use I decided to purchase more.  They have a shape that once placed into the magazine pouch will snugly hold onto popular 30 round magazines such as the Troy and Pmag brands and of course USGI mags.  The insert has the hook part of hook & loop attached  to be used with their brand of magazine pouches and a drain hole in the bottom.

 

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The insert keeps the pouch open so that I can load the pouch without looking or having to use two hands.  The edges of the kydex are not what I’d call finished.  Meaning raw 90° edges.  At first I thought this might catch the edges of the magazines but it has not.  If it ever gives me a problem I’ll hand smooth them to a desirable angle.  So far the unfinished edges seem to help hold the insert in place.

 

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I’m satisfied enough with them to have all my triple pouches outfitted with them and a few spares.  Keep in mind that there are different height sizes depending on what you need.  Pay attention if you order some.  They also have them for 7.62 and pistol magazines.  I purchased mine from SKD Tactical however they can be purchased directly from Esstac.

 

 

Their use is demonstrated in the video.  I included an upside down shake test like you see in other review videos.  I however don’t plan on pulling off acrobatics in the field by doing somersaults or hanging upside down like a bat.  It has been my experience that the magazines will not dislodge from the pouch when jogging from one position to another or fly out when rapidly going prone.  Let me know if you’ve had a different experience with them or use something different.  -13

Defensor Fortis LCS PALS Filler Panel

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Defensor Fortis – Load Carrying System

Once again another DF-LCS (Defensor Fortis Load Carrying System) modification.  This time it’s for the elastic that connects the rear section to the two front sections.  After using the DF-LCS I was unhappy with the unused space created by the elastic connection and wanted a solution.  I had a surplus fighting load carrier (FLC) on hand when it dawned on me to break it down into individual components and reuse the parts to fill the space.

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Elastic connector between front and rear DF-LCS sections.

The PALS (pouch attachment ladder system) panels on the FLC would be perfect with little modification necessary.  Once they were removed from the rest of the assembly it would be easy to cut the parts to size, sew on the recycled edge binding, then sew the free ends together.  This would allow them to slip over the elastic connector then be laced to the front and rear section of PALS webbing with military spec paracord.

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PALS filler panel over elastic connector, laced onto front and rear sections.

The idea works well for the ALICE M-16 pouches I converted to MOLLE.  So far those have performed as expected when the ALICE magazine pouches are fully loaded with gear.  I did have to tighten the lace up to eliminate the slight sagging issue.

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Front view ALICE magazine pouch attached to PALS panel.

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Rear view of ALICE magazine pouch and PALS panel on a DF-LCS.

I don’t have a lot of detail here because it’s in the video.  The video moves from FLC disassembly, to layout, then sewing and finally how to make it work with the LCS.  Video below.  -13

Defensor Fortis LCS Belt Keeper & Flashlight Holster PALS modifications.

Time for some gear updates.  After switching from my old favorite ALICE LBE to MOLLE DF-LCS I experienced a couple of issues.  When using the LCS it would inch it’s way over my pants belt and push down creating discomfort.  I also noticed when in a sitting, crawling or in a prone position the rig would tend to climb toward my chest.  After thinking of a solution the only one I could think of was to attach straps that would keep the LCS from moving away from my waistline.

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Right segment of DF-LCS before adding belt keepers.

The idea came from my experience wearing a duty belt with belt keepers that were designed to hold the duty belt in line with my pants belt.  With this in mind I measured the area I wanted to place the keepers, doubled the length then added a inch and a half.  The extra length would give my fingers a place to work the snaps I intended to use.  Once I had the dimensions for the strap I cut six lengths of poly webbing, folded them in half and sewed them so the two halves would work as one.

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Right segment of LCS after belt keeper straps were added.

 

After sewing the keeper straps together they were sewn onto the three segments of the LCS.  Next the holes were punched then the snaps were added.  It was an easy project taking no more than 45-60 minutes to complete.  After testing the idea seems to work well to prevent the LCS from moving around and causing me trouble.  The LCS rig still has some movement/flexibility however it won’t move away from my waistline.  I made a short video, the link is below.

 

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I also modified what was labeled as a MOLLE flashlight holster to meet PALS specifications so I could attach it to my quick response belt.  The holster had the vertical snap strap but did not have the ladder webbing.  To fix this issue I removed the belt loop strap, opened the sewn seam to join the holster, added the new ladder section, then sewed the piece back together.  Time spent was about a half hour.  I made a how-I-did-it video the link its below.  -13

ALICE Magazine Pouch Turned MOLLE

From the Laboratory of Insane Schemes.  ALICE military surplus has been my load bearing choice since the mid 1970’s.  Not perfect for sure but it was a great place to carry my canteens and other items that would fit into ALICE 30 round magazine pouches.  Cut off the grenade pouch and they fit together nicely on an issue pistol belt.

Moving into the 2000’s.  After checking out some of the PALS / MOLLE surplus available I decided to change over.  Although the webbing can be hot and heavy the PALS way of attaching pouches or attachment of any kind to LBE or packs is a good one that almost makes the attached item a part of what it’s attached to.

Moving forward left unused canteen and ALICE magazine pouches packed in boxes and me wishing I had a better way than the adapters made to use ALICE on MOLLE.  The adapter still leaves the pouch flopping around like its on a pistol belt.  Not a very good solution.

I had the idea recently after a resupply to take apart an ALICE magazine pouch and see if I could convert it over to a MOLLE pouch.  If it would work it would fit perfectly on the space fillers on the DF-LCS rig elastic section I’d made from a zippered FLC purchased to salvage for parts.

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Inside view of FLC adapter/filler and “new” MOLLE magazine pouch attached.

First I had to figure out where the attachment straps would be placed near the top of the pouch and where to snap it on.  At the top I chose the hinge point for the lid so it wouldn’t interfere with access.  Snaps on the bottom.  When the snaps are on the back of the pouch they tend to push it out due to the bulk of the snap.  If snap popping becomes an issue they can always be changed to lift-the-DOT.  We’ll see what happens in the future.

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Finished pouch.

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Location of snaps

The web straps were the same length.   Doubled, folded in half and sewn together.  Measuring the magazine pouches for the PALS webbing I discovered that the pouch width could vary as much as a 1/4″ between 4 pouches.  I chose the widest width and cut all the pieces that size.  There are no actual dimensions in here because the variation in pouch width, measuring devices and points of measurement may not be the same as mine.  Duplicating it exactly may cause problems.

After lots of seam ripping and thread picking the pouch was in half and the ALICE webbing was removed.  Laying out the PALS is as simple as can be 1″ x 1 1/2″.  Since the pouch is so small I sewed a center line and the edges like I’ve seen on some issue pouches.  Sew the straps to the hinge point.  Keep it simple.

Although the snaps used and the Pres-n-Snap are designed to cut through the fabric without punching a hole, I did punch because the amount of pouches were small and I wanted more precise location of my snaps.  I’ve had puckering and slight movement of the snap post under pressure from the hand press that the finished snap was visibly off mark times I haven’t punched a hole first.  It’s also much easier on the body with a hand press if the hole has been punched.

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With the holes punched and the webbing sewn on, the stud part of the snap was installed on the bottom of the pouches.  I try to leave them until the end of the project or leave them off for as long as possible.  In the past I’ve put them on early thinking I’m saving time but they were in the way of the sewing machine on many occasions or were scratched up.

Once the snap half was in place the pouches could be sewn back together again.  The top and bottom received four stitch lines and the whole side of the pouch received two stitch lines.  That complete, the other half of the snaps were installed on the web straps and that was it.  Those are the steps I took to convert ALICE to MOLLE.  Now I have some of my favorite pouches to use again.  There’s a video below of the process.  -13

Materials used: Mil Spec DOT snaps, poly webbing, sunbrella thread.