Hunting Vest Short Term Review: Molle Load Bearing Tactical Vest and Chest Rig

A few months ago we posted a Review Preview for this Molle Load Bearing Tactical Chest Rig being repurposed as a hunting vest. The timing was a bit frustrating, as we […]

A few months ago we posted a Review Preview for this Molle Load Bearing Tactical Chest Rig being repurposed as a hunting vest. The timing was a bit frustrating, as we wanted to get out and review the vest immediately, but had to wait for hunting season to roll around. Even though we are only in early Archery season now, the vest has been on a few hunts, and even helped bag the author’s first deer and coyote.

molle tactical vest as hunting vestWait, what? You bought a tactical vest for hunting?

Yep, and it is working pretty well. We looked at various hunting vest that were designed and built just for hunting, found lots of great options… then scrapped that idea and looked for something different.
While the purpose built hunting vest looked great, each was set up for a certain type of hunting. Most had a series of sewn-on pockets, pouches, straps and do-dads. Since we are always trying new things here at Gear Report, we wanted a flexible weight bearing platform that would give a broad range of reconfiguration options as the seasons, and our needs changed. We looked at a variety of other options, but for budget and configuration reasons, settled on the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set, model CS-007.

As noted in our Review Preview, here are the goals we set:

  1. A hunting vest that we can reconfigure as our needs change, instead of buying a different vest for each hunting season
  2. A secure chest mounted holster with positive weapon retention for predator hunting
  3. The unofficial, bonus goal, is to also have gear that can be used for tactical training and airsoft matches

We will see how the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set did against those goals below.

molle tactical vest as hunting vestAnd you picked ACU… the same pattern that the US military is moving away from?
Truth be told, a vest in one of the newer camo patterns would likely blend in better with our existing hunting gear (anchored by a surplus Dutch Tanker coverall in the Dutch DMP pattern – somewhat similar-ish to the US M-81 woodland pattern) and typical hunting environment. Something like multicam/OCP would have been nice. However, we found the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set was available in black, tan, olive or ACU camo in one price range, or in multicam for a big price premium. Well, we like multicam, but not enough to pay that much extra. Besides, ACU should blend in well enough with the fall browns in our Virginia, NC, SC and Georgia hunting grounds. Right?

*Update, April 2016: The ACU camo color scheme is a bit light for the environments where I use it. In the above pic it is clear that the ACU boonie hat sticks out like a sore thumb. Shortly after that picture was taken I dusted the hat with flat black spray paint just enough to make it a few shades darker, while preserving the camo pattern. It seemed to work well. May do the same to the molle vest.

Goal #1: One vest, many configurations

“We want a hunting vest that we can reconfigure as our needs change, instead of buying a different vest for each hunting season”

So far, we have used the tactical vest in two ways:

  1. Wearable range bag: to carry and organize a variety of pistol and rifle magazines, hearing protection, target tools (stapler, masking tape), Gerber multi tool, shooting glasses.
  2. Hunting vest: to carry a 3vGear hydration bag, backup sidearm on the chest mount, sidearm magazines, gloves, binoculars and game calls during archery-only deer season

The change from range bag to hunting vest involved only adding the 3vGear hydration bladder to the backpack area of the vest and removing one of the Double Pistol Mag Pouches. Pretty quick and simple. So far, the vest is meeting the goal.

We expect that as we move to Black Powder muzzle loader deer season soon, that we will add another pouch or two to carry a pair of Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs and some black powder specific items like projectiles, powder and ignition caps.

Transitioning to rifle deer season will vary only as we replace black powder components with rifle ammunition cartridges or magazines.

5ive Star Gear 1 Qt. molle Canteen / Utility Pouch

5ive Star Gear 1 Qt. molle Canteen / Utility Pouch

Predator hunting should be similar to rifle season for deer, likely adding a bluetooth speaker and electronic game call.
The 5ive Star Gear 1 Qt. Canteen / Utility Pouch is quickly becoming a favorite as the go-to pouch for carrying a variety of somewhat bulky items.

As a bonus, the grab handle on the back of tactical vest worked well as a connection point for a line to drag a deer out of the sun to a shady spot for field dressing.

So, you are saying the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set is PERFECT for hunting, right?

Um, no. It is working well, but is not perfect.

  • The Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set appears to be sized to wear over the top of a plate carrier (body armor). This makes it a bit big & loose for a hunting vest when worn over light clothing on the author’s 6’4″, 205 lb frame.
  • The Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set is not exactly silent. Any movement by the wearer makes little noises as the fabric of the vest rubs against the garment that is worn under it. If it were a tighter fit then it would have less movement and would be be a good bit less noisy. That isn’t to say it is really loud, just that is isn’t silent.
molle tactical vest as hunting vest

See how the chest mounted holster flops forward a bit

Goal #2: Chest Rig

A big driver for going with the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set for hunting is the ability to attach a handgun to the front of the vest. There are purpose made hunting vests which have built-in chest holsters. However, I was unable to find one that had a positive retention holster. The thought of reaching for my backup firearm in a time of need only to find that it fell out of the holster somewhere in the woods is rather frightening. A positive retention holster doesn’t guarantee that the handgun can not fall out, but makes it significantly less likely. I attached a BlackHawk CQC Serpa Holster to the BlackHawk STRIKE CQC Ambidextrous Platform on the molle chest pannel of the Condor tactical vest. This provides easy, out of the way access to a Glock 17 in case something bad happens, like I stumble into a pack of coyotes (a growing problem in the areas I hunt) on the way to or from the stand or when field dressing a deer. The only issue I have had with the Condor tactical vest as a chest rig is that the loose fit of the vest means that the center flap/pocket that the Blackhawk holster attaches to depends on straps from the top corners to the shoulder straps to provide vertical support. As the vest is currently configured there is not enough support, which allows the holster and pistol to flop around a bit. I will try some combination of 3 things to fix this:

  • Insert a rigid plastic sheet in the chest flap/pouch to give it some internal support
  • Make and insert a metal frame in the chest flap/pouch to give internal support
  • Adjust the shoulder strap length (currently as short as possible) to lower the entire vest around my waist. This maybe be enough to take up the slack in the corner support straps for the chest flap/pouch and eliminate the floppiness of the chest holster.

Goal # 3: multi-use gear

So far, the Condor Tactical Gear Modular Chest Set has only been used at the range and for hunting. However, the quality of construction appears sufficient for use in tactical training or for sports like Airsoft or paintball.

Gear Report rating:

Gear Score
Sturdy molle compatible vest that can be reconfigured a variety of ways and is a very good value.

Please leave a comment to let us know if this review was helpful to you.
We will continue to update as we learn more about using this tactical vest for hunting.

What do you use to organize your gear when you hunt?

Originally posted 2014-10-16 10:16:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.