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Gear question: MOLLE vs Panels



View Poll Results: MOLLE vs Panels
MOLLE is king, panels are a poor long term investment 162 51.27%
Panels are neat, but too expensive for the drawbacks 8 2.53%
Simple, easy-modular gear would be good for beginners 31 9.81%
I can fit 3 tennis balls in my mouth if you let me prep for a minute 115 36.39%
Voters: 316. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 26th, 2006, 20:05   #1
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Gear question: MOLLE vs Panels

This is a gear question, but I'm looking for for feedback from geardos and novice players alike. I'm going to be stocking gear at ASCA more actively soon, and I'm wondering if there is any interest in panel-based modular gear. I have a feeling the gut response is "laaaaame", but still I thought I'd consider it.

My interest isn't in making or saving more money, it's just about bringing in what's good for the player. MOLLE is the standard for tactical gear, but the panel based gear might present a more simple but still airsoft-friendly option.

For those not familiar with the panel-based vests, basically in the picture below, the shotshell pouch and triple pistol pouch are fixed on the vest, and the m4 pouch and holster are on panels that cover one entire side of the vest, attached by buttons and velcro (very securely). It allows the user to change the panels very quickly.

MOLLE is on the left, panel based is on the right.

The pros and cons...

Existing standard, almost unlimited options for pouches and pouch arrangement
Many different vest types, supported by a wide variety of gear
Easier to resell individual parts

Somewhat more expensive (about 25% more for the particular loadout pictured, for instance)
Heavier (somewhat)
Labour intensive to mount/change pouches

Very quick to re-spec your loadout (takes seconds)

Limited options in terms of pouches
Currently only one base type of vest supports it
Buying and selling panels limited to owners of the vest

I think MOLLE is still a clear winner, and I intend to stock quite alot of it, but I wonder if there is room for more noob-friendly gear. Less thinking involved, easy to respec your loadout (switch from an armalite to an AK one round to the next, just swap the panel out). I realize many of us here already have rigs, but think about your friends who might just be starting: would you recommend they give it a try, or go right to MOLLE?

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Old August 26th, 2006, 20:18   #2
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MOLLE hands down. Every rig I have is MOLLE and I can swap out pouches as I need to. Yes, it is a bit more of a pain to install them, but in the end it will save you money as you can get the base vest you want and outfit EXACTLY how you want. If you go from a plate carrier to a chestrig, just move pouches back and forth.

Even though the panel option is a cheaper "alternative", in the end you'll probably end up going MOLLE anyways. There are lots of cheap options out there for MOLLE vests which are clones of popular makes and models for less than half the price of the original. I have a Wasatch clone which cost me around $225 to outfit with Hyd pack, and various other pouches. A real HSGI Wasatch would have cost me $500+ for essentially (in airsoft terms here) the same thing.

I think clones are the wave of the future. I mean think about it. How ridiculous is it to spend $500 on a "toy" gun and then another $500-600 on a rig to carry your $10 mags? We use replica guns, we have replica camo, we might as well use replica gear. Only makes sense.
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Old August 26th, 2006, 20:24   #3
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Miles I think you covered the basic pro's and con's for each type of vest.

I've owned and used plenty of the non-modular gear, a modular (panel) tac vest (similiar to what you posted up there in the black) and now the MOLLE based gear. Personally, now that I have gone to a MOLLE system I could never go back to anything else. It's just TOO easy to change your loadouts. I have disagree with your comment about it being labour intensive. Sure it's certainly not as simple as a panel type vest, but still easy once you've done it a few times.

It also takes awhile for people to figure out exactly what type of gear suits their playing style and MOLLE gives you a ton of different pouch and accessory options -AND- plenty of manufacturers to choose from. Color/camo is also an important option. Companies that produce MOLLE type equipment also provide a variety of camo patterns to choose from and they are all very easy to obtain.

I'd sure like for some of the Contra boys (looks at Yuxi) to chime in on this one. Those guys know their stuff.
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Old August 26th, 2006, 20:32   #4
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Personaly, I think that you should probably concentrate on MOLLE, but keep some panel in stock as well. I have a friend who has a panel vest and loves it, and, as you said, it is cheaper and easier to rearrange, making it a great for newbs. I personally am thinking about getting a Panel vest because it's alot easier for me to aquire... though I love the look of MOLLE.
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Old August 26th, 2006, 20:32   #5
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I don't currently plan on carrying the panel gear, I'm just curious. My beef with it is, it isn't much (20-30%, for good panel gear) cheaper than MOLLE, so the only advantage is because it takes less brain power, and you can re-spec it in a hurry.
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Old August 27th, 2006, 00:47   #6
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I voted MOLLE (and would specify a preference for MOLLE II vs having to use MALICE clips), and here's why: panels were originally on LE vests, but even they have gone towards MOLLE now. Point in case, there's a lot of MOLLE pouches (and gear) available for relatively cheap, whereas panels is almost like buying into a proprietary system.

The Cons for MOLLE... pricing, maybe, they're cheap but it ads up. Heavier? They're pretty light, and when you consider a lot of players are going towards things like plate carriers and full armor now, the weight is negligeable. Reconfiguration time, I dunno if anyone actually reconfigs on the field; the only scenario I can think of is if someone ditched their hot/heavy armor, but I'd just say put some of your mag pouches on a leg panel or something, instead, if you plan on ditching your armor.
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Old August 27th, 2006, 01:27   #7
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For more experienced type players, I think MOLLE is the clear winner.

I've shown my friends my CIRAS comparing to my panel type tact vest. For the guys who are in the forces (or experienced), they much prefer my CIRAS over the tact vest, but for new guys whom I'm trying to introduce the sport to, think the tact vest is a better choice.

My guess would be, new starting players aren't to a point where they feel the need for full customization since they wouldn't know how to customize in the first place (or at least they don't think they can before they buy), but rather choose to adopt the "regular" routines first before realize it might not be right for them. (Don't know if I explained this clearly or not)

Also, I think for a lot of players starting out, they don't think ahead for the long term. (ie changing to new guns or buying new guns, it's more like I buy one gun, pistol, BDUs, vest, and that's the end of it)

If you opt to sell molle only, it would be really newbie friendly if there are pre-made packages customized for certain models. (ie MOLLE system for AK-series, Armalites, G36, etc) I think a lot of new players would feel more comfortable buying a "solution". If I was starting out as a new player today, I look at the picture of the MOLLE system from above, I would be thinking, "Uhhhh, what do I do with it?" Where as the panel type would be, "Hey cool, I can put rifle mags in there, pistols mags, even got a pouch for my pack of smokes. I think I'll get that."

Perfect example, when I was looking into getting a CIRAS since it was getting good feedback left right and center, I didn't know what pouches/panels I would need or want, so I went for the pre-configured package instead of buying the plate carrier and individual pouches. I shifted around the pouches after each game until I felt comfortable, dropped pouches that I don't seem to use. Only now do I realize I didn't need some of the pouches in the first place or short on some other pouches.

Hope this helps
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Old August 27th, 2006, 01:51   #8
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I'm a bit disturbed at the second place ranking for the poll right now...
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Old August 27th, 2006, 02:14   #9
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MOLLE is FUCKING IN-LOVE with my ciras...i even wear it to bed with
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Old August 27th, 2006, 03:16   #10
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From a noob point of view I think phenom said it best. They look at molle and go whaa? They also may look at the price of a molle vest and pouches and think its a better deal to go with the 'all in one' panel vest.

As for repro gear being the 'wave of the future' I cant dissagre more. I've used cheap and top of the line repro gear and I cant stand to look at the crap now. Yes I run a real CIRAS, yes I spend the better part of my pay on gear but after my team mates started getting decent gear they all look at it the same way. When it comes down to it you need gear that fits you, is comfortable and works. I've seen too many people lose pistols to broken holsters and had rigs that fit aquardly to ever take repro gear seriously. Even if you argue that this is airsoft, take a look at a fake CIRAS and a real one, there isnt a comparison.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 00:30   #11
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Personally i haven't used any MOLLE gear, but the tac vest i have right now just isn't cutting it, for under $70 it was a good base to start from. But as soon as i have the cash for a CIRAS i think i'll stick with MOLLE, it just has so many different applications (light load, to all out rambo with mag pouches everywhere)...i like the idea of MOLLE gear being adaptable, which is the main drawback to my current gear.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 16:20   #12
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Molle, go to pretty much any retailer and they sell molle, not panel. It's kinda like looking for gear that fits a P90 mag(hard to find) but everything Ive found for the p90 has been molle so that's what I went with. Also if need be I can reconfigure everything in a short time if I go to my MP5.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 17:01   #13
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Originally Posted by ILLusion
I'm a bit disturbed at the second place ranking for the poll right now...
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Old August 28th, 2006, 17:37   #14
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The real push dot (panel) vests are actually just as heavy if not heavier than the MOLLE ones. You also have very limited options on what panels/ pouches you can add.

Even the LE agencies I deal with are now looking to switch to MOLLE instead of push dot.

The only area where this is different is CF soldiers being deployed. About 60% go with fixed chest rigs (ie. TAG Operator and Rifleman). The rest however do go MOLLE platforms.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 18:40   #15
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Interesting stat on canadian forces, quick question: Does the Canadian army allow self bought gear, or is this frowned upon? Meaning plate carriers, vests etc, not just the odd flashlight and things like that...Sorry if this is a silly question but it is something i'm completely unfamiliar with..
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