The Haley Strategic D3CR Chest Rig has created its very own disruptive environment. It has very quickly changed the perception of chest rigs.
I haven’t worn a chest rig in years. I won’t go through all the ones I’ve used in the past, but none of them have stayed put very well – X-harness, H-harness, back panel – you name it. In fact, the ‘bounce’ of past chest rigs is what eventually pushed me towards the Crye JPC; my go to load bearing platform, prior to the DC3R.
The JPC is discrete enough and is bounce-free, because it locks down over the torso. The thing is: even a minimalist PC is really bloody hot in summer if you’re doing anything more than standing around in the shade. Plus, I don’t need armour; so I’m wearing all that nylon to prevent bounce.
I decided that a bit of bounce during summer was preferable to overheating, which sent me down the chest rig route again.
However, the D3CR is like a limpet. It stays put.
I’m not going to detail the rig’s backstory, so you should listen to Travis Haley talk about the D3CR in this video:
One of the things I’ve really got into since using a JPC is Kydex. So in looking for something lighter to wear in summer, I decided I wanted open top mag pouches. I also decided I didn’t want PALS all over the place and that all pouches should be integral, to reduce weight. Aside from M4 mag pouches – of which I wanted four – I also wanted a couple of utility – or general purpose (GP) – pouches.
Another requirement was 500D over 1000D. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen tactical nylon made out of the heavy stuff. Things have moved on.
Lastly, I didn’t want hydro-routing options all over the place, extraneous One-Wrap, or exposed hook velcro. I’ve really had enough of that stuff carving holes in apparel and abrading nylon until it’s reduced to fuzz.
The first port of call with my requirements was Mayflower/Velocity Systems. I’ve always liked the look of Mayflower kit, but the weak pound and general ball ache of importing from the US to the UK put me off.
That’s when I remembered the D3CR and I know a few guys who swear by the rig.
I knew that in the UK Haley Strategic is a Tactical-Kit brand and that’s always a good sign. Tactical-Kit has been my go to kit retailer for some years and they had the Multicam D3CR in stock (although I almost bought Tropic). As usual, the consignment arrived next day and I also tacked Haley Strategic’s Kydex insert equivalent onto the order: the MP2 Magazine Pouch Insert.
I was going to use some pre-existing Kydex inserts, reasoning that ‘they are all the same’; but they’re not.
I’ll start with the inserts, before moving on to the rig itself.
4. Haley Strategic MP2 Magazine Inserts
Just a word of warning: Maine Coon cats like to get involved in everything. As it transpires, they also love Haley Strategic MP2 Inserts! Who knew?!
Once my cat had given his permission for me to retrieve the insert, I noticed some interesting things. I knew the MP2 was injection moulded, but I hadn’t reckoned on how precise the units are.
They look and feel like quality; a theme which permeates the entire rig.
The secret to the MP2’s usability lies in the chamfered edges at its mouth, its ‘ears’ (more on those below) and the raised section mid-way down the inside of each face.
The latter produces a solid click when inserting mags and crucially – something which Haley Strategic has clearly thought through – the insert is perfectly tensioned by the internal dimensions of the D3CR M4 magazine pouches.
Not so tight that you smack yourself in the face when retrieving mags, but not so slack that mags jump out. And that’s the Haley difference. When these inserts are used with the D3CR Chest Rig, they are a pleasure to operate.
So this isn’t a generic pouch/insert combination. It’s synergistic.
As the mag is drawn, a strong interference fit is created between the insert and the inside of the mag pouch. This stops the insert from being pulled out, along with the mag.
However, the insert also features ‘ears’ for additional self-retention. You can see the ‘ears’ in the pic above. These hook under the PALS ribbon directly above the mag pouch.
I’ve exposed the ears in the pic below, so you can see how they interface with the PALS:
I can’t say how well the MP2 Inserts work in other mag pouches, but I can say they work really well within the system they were designed for.
More background on the MP2 in this video, along with an excellent section on ammo management:
5. Haley Strategic D3CR Chest Rig
I want to say straight off that the DC3R is really light and really comfortable. Crucially, as I’ve mentioned previously, it doesn’t bounce around when moving.
I also want to say that the quality is up there with Mayflower/Velocity. So much so, it makes me wonder whether they build these things for Haley Strategic.
The first thing I did was adjust the rig to size, then gather the excess webbing with ITW Web Dominators – also from Tactical-Kit. I try to keep a stock of these little critters to hand, although I’ve just exhausted my supply.
Alternatively, you can chop the excess webbing with a good pair of scissors (I like Fiskars) and seal the ends with a small butane torch. Far more satisfying, if permanent.
I left the waist strap free at one end, so I can better adjust for layers or a big lunch:
The harness is H-pattern. The rig stays put. As I mentioned earlier, I was prepared to accept bounce as the opportunity cost of staying cooler in summer, so I feel like I’ve had my cake and eaten it all in one go – without getting any on my beard.
There’s loop on the rear of the harness:
There’s also a huge hook field aft of the mag pouches. Luckily, it’s completely covered:
And it will remain covered, unless I want to attach the rig to a PC.
You can do this by using the hook field and the Fastex buckles of the rig, together with those of a compatible PC. If the rig doesn’t have this compatibility, you can use a Velocity Systems Swift Clip Kit.
The D3CR Expansion Pack Double Magazine Wedge also attaches to the rig’s large hook field:
I like the look of the Wedge and I strongly suspect I’ll buy one when it’s back in stock at Tactical-Kit.
Until then here’s Travis, talking D3CR expansion items:
Lastly at the rear, there’s a cool Haley Strategic logo tab:
Now let’s have a look at the front of the rig.
Pouches, left to right, front row:
- 1x GP pouch
- 1x Stuffit pouch
- 2x Multi-Mission Pouch System (MMPS) pouches
- 1x GP pouch
- 4x M4 mag pouches
Just to note, I’ve removed all the bungee cords from the mag pouch mouths.
They’re actually pretty decent in a ‘definitely not an afterthought’ type way.
The tabs are really nicely made in grippy, textured Hypalon.
I didn’t get to try them because I went ahead with using the MP2 Inserts; but the bungees are a quality item.
A. GP Pouches
I’d characterise the GP pouches as small, but not in a bad way. They are discrete – empty or full – but useful. They are flapped, and the flaps close with velcro. The flaps also feature colour-matched loop velcro on the exterior, for patches. I prefer flapped GP pouches to zipped ones, so I’m really happy with these.
B. Stuffit Pouch
This is an expandable pouch to stuff things into (there’s a clue in the name). It works on the HSGI Taco principle. I’m using it here for a 500ml bottle of water, which it is holding with style. When not in use the pouch collapses and can be stowed flat by cinching the bungee cord at the base, tightly.
C. MMPS Pouches
On the face of it, these look like pistol mag pouches but they’re actually a lot more versatile. The side gussets are some kind of elastic, which means the pouches will also hold multitools or flashlights, etc.
I’ll probably be using mine for fast access to bangs, so I removed the bungees from these pouches, too.
When empty they stay well out of the away, drawn closer to the rig by elastic sides.
Apparently the MMPS pouches contain rare earth magnets. These are strong, permanent magnets which will help retain ferrous objects. Again, it’s something a little bit extra from Haley Strategic.
D. M4 Mag Pouches
These are open-topped and can also be used for a variety of AK mags. Because of this, they’re not ridiculously tight on my M4 Pmags.
Here’s how the M4 mag pouch looks without the MP2 Inserts and bungees. Also note the MMPS are closed up without a load:
Here’s how the rig look from the top:
As you can see it’s really thin, minimalist and it’s as light as it looks. Maybe lighter 🙂
My angle is that if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all. Sometimes that’s difficult, because I have very high standards.
However, the fact is that the Haley Strategic D3CR Chest Rig and MP2 Magazine Inserts make it really, really easy to write a good review.
It’s always relatively easy to match user requirements to a manufacturer’s blurb. That’s what marketing is all about. It can be a very different story when the item arrives and you compare it to your needs.
The D3CR has completely aced my requirements list. Not just fulfilling my acceptance criteria, but delivering features and functionality in a way which has made me smile and think, “This is a well designed product, which has been properly thought through.” The MP2 Inserts are like that, too.
Simply saying that the rig is light, minimalist, ergonomic, cool in the heat and extremely well made doesn’t even begin to say it all.
So, if you’ve skipped to the conclusion, I will simply say this:
Buy a D3CR because it is truly disruptive: it will make you think about chest rigs in a different way. You may think less of your current chest rig, but that’s a good thing.