has been in the tactical nylon business since 1982. While the company may not have necessarily invented the load-bearing vest, it definitely led the way in the refinement of it. Many of the design features seen in personal load-bearing equipment today were developed by Eagle.
Eagle does major research and development work for SOCOMM (military), and much of the equipment used by SOCOMM personnel is produced by Eagle. However, recently Eagle has formed a law enforcement division to focus on gear specific to police work. Ben Lenett, a retired Arizona police officer and respected trainer, heads the division.
Lenett has focused on both new equipment and on modifying Eagle’s current line of military equipment to meet LE needs. Sometimes, this may mean making sure a piece of kit is made in target-indicator black or accounting for our need to have identifiers on equipment. From new equipment to modifying existing equipment, Eagle has been busy. Here is a very small sample of the equipment Eagle has to offer law enforcement.The Patrol Bandoleer
Patrol rifles are commonplace in law enforcement today. Like any weapon, you need to have reloads with you when deploying it. For many, that may be a spare mag attached to the gun or a mag coupler. While effective, these carry methods are not without issues. One problem might be the weight added to the carbine; another issue might be that there is only one reload. The patrol bandoleer addresses these issues in an effective package.
The patrol bandoleer has a stiff back panel with two M4 mag pouches attached, each capable of holding two magazines. The bandoleer has a pistol magazine pouch on both sides of the M4 magazines if an officer wants to carry extra pistol magazines, too. These pouches also work well for a multitool or utility knife, as well.
All of the pouches have Velcro® closures that secure and open quickly. The bandoleer has an adjustable shoulder strap and small belt loop with snap button to attach the bandoleer to a duty belt. You still need use the shoulder strap when using the belt loop.
Working with the patrol bandoleer is as easy as grab and go. The rig can be carried in your pack with the strap exposed. When needed, just grab the bandoleer’s strap, throw it over your head, grab the rifle and go. You can attach the bandoleer to the duty belt if you want or let it hang. The shoulder strap is adjustable and has a FastexTM buckle for quick detachment if the bandoleer snags on something. For those who want a minimalist approach for patrol rifle response, the patrol bandoleer is the ticket. Plate Carrier with Cummerbund
Eagle has two versions of the Plate Carrier with CummerbundTM—the LE model and the standard model. The main difference is the standard model has PALs (Pouch Attachment Ladders) webbing on the upper chest and no Velcro on the vest. Also, the standard version comes in several colors to suit different military units. The LE Plate Carrier comes in black and ranger green.
The LE PC comes with a Velcro panel on the front for ID panels, with no PALs webbing on the chest. The back of the carrier has PALs webbing with Velcro sewn on for ID panels or to attach MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment) equipped pouches. Otherwise, the carriers are the same. The carrier comes with PALs webbing 360 degrees for attaching pouches.
MOLLE pouches allow users to configure the carrier to their load-out and mission and are the best way to go for a carrier or vest. Because the MOLLE system is a DOD standard, many manufacturers make pouches and carriers that integrate with each other. For instance, on the Eagle PCs, my partner and I have used pouches by Eagle, Paraclete, SDS and Tactical Tailor without issues.
All of the PALs webbing is bartacked stitched to handle the weight of loaded pouches. The shoulder straps are box-x stitched for security, as well. With Eagle products, stitching is not a problem. The carrier is adjustable at the shoulders and has two straps with Fastex buckles at the waist to cinch the carrier tightly to the body. The cummerbund can be completely removed, and one can wear just the front and back plate panels, and the straps become the primary adjustment.
The cummerbund uses a lace system in the back to adjust for size, and the first couple of inches on each side of the lace system are elastic to give further adjustment. All of this is hidden in the back panels and is accessed through a flap. To put the carrier on, you throw it on over your head snap in the Fastex buckles, if you don’t already have them snapped in, bring the sides of the cummerbund around and secure them to the Velcro under the front flap. Overall, the system is secure and fast to put in place.
On the front carrier is a pouch, nicknamed the “kangaroo pouch.” It is behind the security flap for the cummerbund and has soft Velcro on the inside. The original design was for a holster with Velcro if the mission required. On the military side, this was a request for certain units with vehicle operations missions.
The pouch works well as a general utility pouch. It is where I keep small tools or small operation-specific items handy. The carrier has enough PALs webbing for any law enforcement mission. You can easily fit a radio pouch, double pistol magazine pouch, three M4 magazine pouches, a med kit pouch, and utility pouch on the front and sides of the carrier.
On the back panel is room for flash-bang and gas mask pouches. Eagle also makes a great MOLLE hydration pouch that fits a 100-ounce CamelbakTM bladder. With MOLLE on the outside to put more pouches on it, this fits well on the back panel. This is just an example of how a load out could be arranged on the plate carrier, and it shows how much you can do with it.
The plate pockets on the inside of the carrier on the front and back can accept rifle plates up to 10-inch by 12-inch without problems. A unique feature to the cummerbund is pockets on the side for small rifle-rated plates. A few armor manufacturers have produced these to give users 360-degree rifle protection. These plates fit in a vertically oriented pouch on the inside of the cummerbund.
The Eagle Plate Carrier with Cummerbund used in conjunction with separate soft armor gives users a light, mobile protection and load-bearing system. Having used the system for about eight months as my primary SWAT call-out gear, I’m very happy with it. Its load-bearing capacity and the increased mobility versus traditional tactical armor is noteworthy. It works well also as a patrol rifle response kit for those who want more protection if engaging rifle threats or to support more extended patrol rifle operations. Rhodesian Recon Vest
The Rhodesian Recon Vest (RRV) is named after the concept of a chest rig that was popular among the special forces of the Rhodesian Army in the African wars of the 1960s and 1970s. The chest rig is a light and flexible load-bearing method. Eagle enhanced the concept of the chest rig with the RRV. The RRV can carry up to a 10-inch by 12-inch rifle plate or just run as a load-bearing chest rig. If you don’t want to have a plate in or anything on the upper chest panel, the panel folds down in a pocket, giving a slick chest rig with PALs webbing.
The RRV has the same “kangaroo pouch” as the plate carrier, though the RRV’s is slightly larger. Additionally, the RRV has a map/document spot in the upper chest and mesh pocket on the back of the rig. The RRV can carry almost as much as the Plate Carrier with Cummerbund does on the front and sides. The RRV is designed to carry “just enough” to get the mission done.
The shoulder straps on the RRV are heavily padded for comfort and are designed for full adjustment. The shoulder straps can be crossed or worn as an “H-harness” with an accessory strap attached. All of the straps have Fastex belts to release them quickly. The waist strap on the rear adjusts for size, as well. For rapid response, the RRV was set up with all the straps snapped in place and just loose enough to slip into the RRV.
All that was needed was to throw the vest over your head and cinch down the waist strap, which had been left loose. With that, you quickly had front rifle protection, magazines, medical supplies, etc., on you and ready to go. While not specifically part of Eagle’s law enforcement line, the RRV works well in the LE arena. If someone wants a completely modular chest rig with or without rifle plates, the RRV exceeds those needs.
All these items were carried for months (in the case of the RRV, more than a year) in the back of vehicles or in gear bags and used in training and operations. The 1000 Denier Cordura nylon Eagle uses on everything does the job, holding up to the abuse very well. Again, stitching on the gear was never an issue. Eagle backs all of its products with a lifetime guarantee. Owner John Carver’s motto is “If you don’t shoot it, stab it, or blow it up, we will fix.” That is a great company policy.
This is a very small sample of what Eagle has to offer. Currently, Eagle has MOLLE pouches for about any piece of kit or operational need. It has several other chest rigs and hydration carriers. Eagle’s CIRAS body armor carrier is standard issue for SOCOMM, and the company has released an LE version, as well. Eagle’s commitment to quality and innovation for more than 30 years makes it an excellent choice for tactical gear.Mick Williams is a patrol officer, SWAT team member and defensive tactics instructor with the Bloomington, IN, Police. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos courtesy of Eagle Industries.