Hands on with the Haley Strategic D3CRM (Disruptive Environments Chest Rig – Micro) is pleasingly different to what I expected. Playing around with it dispelled a lot of my assumptions – and in a good way. I would go so far as to say it’s one of the best ‘micro’ chest rigs out there.
A micro is characterised by three mags front and centre (as opposed to the four of previous rig generations) with no fixed, flanking real estate. It’s a movement that was heralded by the Spiritus Systems Micro Fight.
Now, while this article doesn’t recommend one over the other, it’s useful and absolutely valid to compare the D3CRM to the Spiritus Micro Fight. They are the two top tier micros which people generally have a hard time choosing between. Hopefully this review will help.
Like the Spiritus, the D3CRM allows a number of magazine formats to be carried; a feature made possible by a choice of removable inserts which are sold separately:
I’ll be looking at the 556 version in this review – although note that more recently HSP has simplified the design so it looks different. Its capabilities remain the same, however.
5.56 Mag Insert
The 5.56 insert utilises HSP’s excellent MP2 retainers – which I fully reviewed, here. It’s one of the very best mag retention systems I have ever used. In fact, I would go so far as to say it could be the main reason to select the D3CRM over all other options. It’s certainly very high up on my list.
I find MP2s more usable than Kydex, because although they work on a similar principle they deliver just the right amount of retention when used in HSP products (and that’s key). With Kydex I normally need to break it in, or tweak it with a heat source to suit me. Haley’s MP2s, on the other hand, are plug and play.
Each MP2 is held firmly in place within the insert by elastic.
Instead Spiritus uses a simple elastic insert, but no ‘leaf spring’ mag retainer – Kydex or otherwise – and their method is sometimes criticised. That said, it’s not as bulky and I find it pretty usable – just not as retentive as Haley’s belt and braces solution.
However, according to some on The Spiritus Symptoms Facebook group, it is possible to cross pollinate the Spiritus with the D3CRM’s 5.56 insert – so that’s worth exploring, though I’ve not tried it myself. Equally, there is an aftermarket in Spiritus-orientated Kydex, so that’s also worth looking at before making a decision.
Secured into the chest rig by Velcro, the 5.56 insert containing the MP2s lives in the rear compartment of the D3CRM body and is height adjustable because it features a base. Spiritus’ insert does not feature a base, so mag height is not adjustable. I’ve never needed to adjust mag height, in fairness.
Unlike the Spiritus the D3CRM doesn’t lend options with its front compartment. Whereas the Micro Fight’s can be configured as a utility pouch or to carry an additional three 5.56 mags (or something in between), the D3CRM’s equivalent is an unambiguous utility pouch; and a clamshell-opening one at that.
Using chunky dual zips and knotted paracord, it’s relatively soundless upon opening but has no limiter. So care must be taken with loose items.
I’ve purposely not filled it with crap, so readers can appraise it bare. The Sharpie is for scale and just about fits in the utility pouch in this vertical orientation. I get that it’s an art director’s job to dress marketing pics to make them interesting – and HSP’s images are well done in that regard – but you can end up with the impression that a product billed as minimalist is overly busy. The D3CRM is absolutely minimalist and I think educated readers can make up their own minds about what they want to store in utility pouches – so no play acting from me.
The compartment is approximately 1.5″ deep and is equipped with loop Velcro on the internal front face (for add-in organisation), with elastic retainers on the internal rear face.
Externally, the pouch features loop Velcro for patches etc.
Flanking the rig on each side is a Multi-Mission Pouch (MMP). This style of MMP is meant for pistol mags, torches or multi-tools – if you use those things. If not, the MMPs can be largely forgotten since they collapse when not in use. It’s also worth noting that like the D3CRX (REVIEW) the MMPs here contain rare earth magnets for additional retention. To be fair, these pouches are something that for me are surplus to requirements and I wish they weren’t included. The Spiritus, of course, doesn’t have this issue, being pretty slick externally.
Here I’m simply using an MMP to carry a DMM Tactical Carabiner, so that’s one use and other users really love these pouches. As usual, it’s all use case dependent.
Like the rest of the D3CRM, the pull tabs on the MMP bungees are very good quality; texturized and rubberized.
At the base of the D3CRM, both front and rear compartments are perforated with grommets for drainage – same deal as the Spiritus; although with the Mk4 version two of the grommets can be used as a TQ holder with Spiritus’ URK component.
Mayflower Placard Standard
Like the Spiritus, the reverse of the D3CRM features hook Velcro in the Mayflower placard style, plus Fastex QDs up top.
This has become the universal format for chest rigs and most modern manufacturers have adopted it. It can be used to secure the rig (as a placard) to a compatible PC; a dangler type pouch can also be hung from the Velcro, if additional utility is required (in either chest rig or placard modes).
Under normal circumstances the full-width Velcro is covered by a flap which prevents exposed loop ripping up the wearer’s apparel.
The only real difference here between the Haley and Spiritus is that the latter has full coverage velcro in the Mk4 version.
On to the rig’s weakest feature for some users – the X-harness. This is fully removable – side clips included – which is convenient if you want to swap it out for an H-harness. Both Haley and Spiritus sell optional H-harnesses.
That said, this is a competent X-harness. It’s really easy when in situ and the D3CRM works well riding high or low – which can’t be said of all chest rigs. The X-harness offers enough slack for the user to wear the D3CRM over a slick carrier if desired; or, it cinches right down on the small framed amongst us. Again, not always a given.
As I find usual with X-harnesses, they are best worn with a stand-up collar to prevent chafing. The D3CRM is no different in this respect.
The front of the X-harness features webbing columns in PALS spacing for cable management etc. The structures are similar to those of the Spiritus, although in the latter they are positioned further up the harness.
The rear of the X-harness is canalised, meaning that strap twisting is minimised when donning the chest rig. It doesn’t completely prevent this, but that’s just one opportunity cost of going with this kind of harness as opposed to an H-pattern. I tend not to use the pass through with the way I wear the harness, but it’s there if required .
This is an excellent Micro chest rig and although prior to release some may have dismissed the D3CRM as a Spiritus Micro Fight (REVIEW) wannabe they’re very, very wrong. I was one of those people until I realised Haley was to standardise on its MP2 inserts (in hindsight, why wouldn’t they?) which are the absolute jewel in the crown of this rig.
Sure, the X-harness is not to everyone’s preference and swallowing the additional purchase of an H-harness won’t be an easy one. But, it’s worth doing it for a rig as good as this, if you really don’t get on with the X-harness.