Apr 16, 2010

Molle Attachment Systems

The first thing I want to say is that I'm really splitting hairs in the article below. It may appeal to connoisseurs of militaria or those afflicted by the Gear Fetish, but the truth is that all the systems below will, generally speaking, do a pretty decent job of attaching one piece of MOLLE gear to another.  Note that for the purposes of this post, I'm only talking about how well the attachment system works, not the quality or functionality of the pouch itself.

For any followers of the Everyday MOLLE Movement, however, you will probably end up shifting pouches from one pack to another quite often, so you may want to pay closer attention to the kind of attachment system you end up using on the bulk of your gear.


That being said, let's talk attachment!
The first thing to understand is that MOLLE attachment systems can be broken down into two main categories. Let's call them Detachable systems and Integrated systems.

Detachable Systems
By "detachable", what I mean is that the means of attachment is not a part of the pouch itself; it is a completely separate piece of hardware.  Probably the most common and well-known Detachable system is Tactical Tailor's Malice Clip, but others include Blackhawk's Speed Clip and Maxpedition's TacTie.  If your pouch has PALS webbing and the platform you're attaching it to has PALS webbing, then you can use any of these Detachable systems to join one to the other.  This is actually an important fact to note.  In other words, Tactical Tailor pouches are sold with Malice Clips, but you could use a Blackhawk Speed Clip to mount it to your vest if you so desire.  Or you can buy a Maxpedition pouch and mount it with a Malice Clip.  Think of it like a pair of sneakers; the sneakers will come with shoelaces when you buy it, but you can replace them with any other shoelaces you want.

Integrated Systems
By contrast, "integrated" attachment systems are a part of the pouch itself.  They are typically a set of straps attached to the top of the pouch that have a fastener at the bottom to lock it in place.  Examples of manufacturers that have Integrated systems include Eagle, S.O.Tech, and Spec-Ops.  When you buy a pouch with an Integrated system, you're pretty much committed to using that method of attachment.  Theoretically I suppose you could cut the integrated straps off and use a detachable system instead - but that would be a bit like buying a 4" revolver and then sawing off a couple inches to get a 2" barrel. 


Detachable Systems
Advantages:
- Easy to replace attachment hardware if it becomes damaged or lost
- Freedom to use any type of Detachable hardware you choose
Disadvantages:
- One more thing to lose if it becomes separated from the pouch

Integrated Systems
Advantages:
- Can't be lost or separated from the pouch
Disadvantages:
- You're stuck with that attachment method for the life of the pouch
- Difficult to repair or replace if it becomes damaged



Specific Systems

Tactical Tailor MALICE Clip (Detachable)
Overview: 
A heavy duty polymer strip with a locking tab closure method.  While the literature claims that the locking tab requires a screwdriver or some other tool to open it, it's actually very easy to use a fingernail to open the tab by hand if you're in a pinch - which I believe is a feature, not a defect.  It's not something you'd want to do a hundred times in a row, though.

Advantages: 
- Very easy to thread through tight webbing because you're only pushing a slim piece of plastic with nothing to get hung up.
- Given that the straps of made of a stiff polymer, you can actually get away without doing a complete threading (in which you alternate going through a loop on the pouch, a loop on the vest/bag, then a loop on the pouch, etc), even on bigger pouches.  This is very handy if you're in a hurry or if the pouch doesn't require all the extra support and security of a full thread.

Disadvantages:
- It would be preferable to have a screwdriver or other tool if you have to detach a lot of pouches.
- I've noticed that if you're not careful, the plastic around the tab can get chewed up by metal tools you use to open it.  So far, it has never affected the overall functionality of the tab, other than to sometimes make it a little harder to open because the tab becomes a little deformed around the edges, and it's then harder to work in the edge of your tool.  But of course, you can always just get a new Malice Clip when the old one gets too worn.



















A well-worn tab.














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Paraclete's patented "Paraclete Attachment System" (Integrated)
Overview:
It's patented for good reason - it's a smart design.  It's a soft fabric strap with a stiff section a couple inches long at the end.  After you thread the strap through your webbing, the stiff section tucks back neatly into a slot at the bottom of the pouch.

Advantages:
- Very easy to thread through tight MOLLE loops because you just have to slide the stiff end through and the rest of the soft fabric strap follows.  Think needle and thread.
- Almost nothing to break or malfunction.

Disadvantages:
- Because it's just a soft fabric strip, bigger pouches really need to be fully threaded through alternating webbing to hold the pouch tight and supported.  So you can't cheat by not doing any threading at all like you can with the Malice Clip.
- It can be a bit difficult to get the strap back out through tight webbing when removing the pouch because there's a little finger loop at the base of the stiff end (used to pull it out when it's tucked away) that has to be pushed through "against the grain".  It's not so much an issue going in because the loop is facing the "right way".






























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Eagle Industries button snaps (Integrated)
Overview:
Known as the "Natick Snap", it's essentially the traditional MOLLE fastener.  It's a strap stiffened with polyethylene to give it some inherent support along with a button snap at the bottom to lock the whole thing down.

Advantages:
- No frills, and no nonsense. 

Disadvantages:
- The thickness of the button snap itself can sometimes make it difficult to thread through tight PALS webbing.




























 








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TAD Gear velcro straps (Integrated)
Overview:
It's essentially like the Natick Snap except it substitutes a hook and loop fastener for the button closure.

Advantages:
Not really sure there are any distinct advantages to this system, unfortunately.

Disadvantages:
- The hook and loop fastener just never gives you as much confidence as something like a button snap.  With a button snap at least it's either snapped shut or it's not.  With hook and loop it always feels "sorta" locked tight.





































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Coming Soon...
S.O.Tech's Flex-Tab
Spec-Ops' modified Natick Snap
TAD Gear's licensed version of Paraclete's patent

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, OG. Good info. The Malice clip seems like the way to go. I just bought a OKC 3S bayonet and now understand it has built in Natick type fasteners. I only need the upper ones to hang the scabbard from a belt. When I add the double shingle type mag pouch, I'll get a bag of Malice clips. - CW

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