Is it really worth reviewing simple, well known products which should be in everyone’s quiver? Well, I suppose it is – just to say stuff like that.
The Esstac KYWI M4 Single Mag Pouch itself isn’t new to me, but I received some fresh ones today from Tactical Kit. I’m gradually getting out of the habit of selling unused stuff, because the odds are I’ll want to try it again at a later date. I’m not a hoarder by nature, but I’ve had to change my behaviour because the buy/sell/buy cycle has become woefully uneconomical.
And, as I implied in the intro, Esstac mag pouches should be a store cupboard essential.
I first heard of the brand not through their mag pouches per se, but because of their chest rigs; really popular back in the day. I think I remember the company being a lot smaller back then, with a hefty lead time on their coveted rigs – which are all named after pigs. Now, while the rig was the draw, it was powered by Esstac’s signature product: the KYWI. Much the same as its standalone mag pouches are KYWI based.
KYWI – Kydex Wedge Insert
The KYWI is a Kydex Wedge Insert. Its hourglass shape acts like a double leaf spring, holding a mag in place even when inverted.
It’s backed with hook velcro, which attaches to loop velcro on the rear face of the pouch interior.
The base of the pouch showing the base of the KYWI and its drainage hole.
The pouch is more of a cordura wrapper – open ended and of the appropriate size to apply the appropriate tension to the KYWI, and thus the mag.
Its face exhibits optional PALS columns. Esstac also produces a naked version and offers short and mid length versions, as well as the original version featured here; amongst a plethora of other combinations.
There’s only PALS webbing on the reverse of the pouch, so the user needs to leverage MALICE clips (which Tactical Kit provides with each purchase) or buy WTFix straps (my review here); far superior in every way.
With the KYWI set to the desired height, the pouch mouth is wide open and it’s really easy to reindex a mag.
What isn’t always so easy is withdrawing a mag without hitting yourself in the chin – if chest mounted. For me, fresh KYWI’s have way too much retention. I’d prefer thinner Kydex for a weaker grip but if you keep mags within the pouches for a while, the KYWIs loosen up a bit. Or, you can heat and reform them.
One thing I really like about the pouches, aside from their primary purpose of rapidly withdrawing or reindexing a mag, is how solid a foundation they are to build outwards from. Hang another pouch on the front face PALS and the Esstac pouch makes a great platform – with no sagging even when empty.
Also, compared with mag pouches on the same spectrum – such as the Eagle FB, ITW FastMag and FirstSpear MultiMag with M4 insert, the Esstac is really rather svelte and low bulk.
In addition, this model of Esstac – being taller – is extremely stable when mounted on chest platforms, with no play or wobble. It’s also easier to position, being that it’s full length, setting the mags to the appropriate height. For me the shorter versions work better on belts, or platforms which aren’t as tall as chest options.
So that’s it. A simple idea and an old one – but not something that’s dated, in fairness. In fact, Esstac mag pouch usage only seems to be growing and growing.
It’s an archetype, done well by Esstac.