There are so many choices when it comes to chest rigs. I wanted to get a chest rig that was not going to blow up my wallet and give me the function and features I wanted. I was looking for more than a basic magazine (mag) pouch chest rig, that was uncomfortable, with flimsy straps across your back. I wanted a slim rig that held more than four (4) mags (without being double stacked), had stable rear strap system, and would evenly distribute the chest load. After looking at the choices out there, I chose the TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib.
The TAG Marine Gladiator may have a higher price point than other standard chest rigs but it also has a lot of additional features you don’t get with a standard chest rig. Plus, this rig has the ability to carry a hydration system. Once I opened it up, I immediately noticed the craftsmanship of TAG gear, and I was very excited to start using this rig. I could see the rig was constructed with high quality material and stitching. There is no doubt that TAG products are built very strong and will stand up to whatever punishment you put them through.
Typically, the only thing I worry about with gear is can it be adjusted to fit my size. In reading some comments posted about the TAG Marine Gladiator, some stated they could not get the rig tight enough on their body. However, the rig appeared to be fully adjustable in my opinion. At 5’10” and 165 pounds, I found it easy to adjust this rig to fit my body type without wearing body armor to fill the gap.
The TAG Marine Gladiator has four (4) pouches in the front of the chest rig, an admin pouch in the chest bib, a pocket behind the mags, and two (2) pouches on each side of the mags. All of the pouches have pull tabs to separate the Velcro holding them closed. The back of the TAG Marine Gladiator is a hydration pack carrier. You can place a hydration bladder in the carrier or use it as a mini backpack to hold extra gear. The hydration carrier also has a Velcro loop strip for adding patches. The hydration carrier has seven (7) rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing and a drainage eyelet at the bottom of the carrier.
With the TAG Maine Gladiator Chest Rig, you have the option to run the rig with or without the bib. With the bib strapped to the shoulder straps, you are able to use the admin pouch, and it also provides more stability to the shoulder straps. There are three (3) rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing if you wish to add anything to the bib and Velcro loop strip for patches. To run the rig without the bib, you simply undo the Velcro straps on the back of the bib, and fold it down behind the mags. With the bib down you can also use the quick release buckle on the shoulder strap if needed. Personally, I like the extra stability of the bib as it relates to the shoulder straps (prevents them from sliding off your shoulder). Nonetheless, the removable bib is a nice feature to have. The front of the rig also has loops on the right and left sides at the bottom for attaching carabiners or other gear you might want.
The shoulder straps are nicely padded, making the TAG Marine Gladiator very comfortable to wear. They are fully adjustable and the excess adjustment straps feed back onto the padded portion. The shoulder straps also have MOLLE/PALS webbing and bungee straps for holding gear. The bungee straps come in handy for holding the water tube coming from the bladder pouch. The quick release buckles on the rig are robust and easy to use one-handed. The waist adjustment straps have Velcro hook and loop tabs stitched into the end to roll and strap down the excess length.
The TAG Marine Gladiator holds six (6) thirty round 5.56mm mags across the abdomen area. The rig design provides a smooth, thin, and non-bulky feel while still giving you 180 rounds at the ready. You do not notice the 7 1/2 lbs of six (6) loaded mags. One thing that made me look at this vest was the straight mag pouch configuration, which allows you to lay flat on your stomach in the prone position. This allows for a stable shooting platform while on your stomach.
The mag pouches cover about 75% of the mag body, have thick shock cords and pull tabs for easy mag removal, and eyelets at the bottom of each mag pouch for water drainage.
I found the mag pouches are generous in length to accommodate PMAGS. However, when using USGI mags without Ranger Plates or L-Plates, the shock cords seemed loose and ineffective. There was no real purpose/use for the shock cords when using this mag configuration. Since I typically run L-Plates on most of my mags, I found this to be the perfect combination. They added enough length to the mag to allow tension from the shock cord straps without it being too hard to clear the pull tabs.
My wife was interested in the TAG Marine Gladiator and wanted to try it on. After a quick/minor adjustment, she tested it for a while. Here are her comments:
“I found the TAG Marine Gladiator to be surprisingly comfortable. I was pleased to find it was not heavy to wear. Carrying my kids or my purse is heavier and more cumbersome than wearing this chest rig. The shoulder straps are really well padded and didn’t dig into my shoulders. I thought that it might fit a little strange for me, since I am a woman, have narrow shoulders and a chest, but it didn’t. I’m 5’4″ about 135 lbs, and I’m kind of busty. I was concerned that the chest rig would be too tight on my chest, making me feel like I was wearing a corset, but with the bib up or down it wasn’t too tight. If you are really busty, then having the option to have the bib down is definitely a plus with this type of chest rig. I was able to adjust the side straps to fit securely around my waist. If I were to add a tactical belt, or kydex reinforced belt with tactical pants, it would still fit fine.
I like the extra pouches to be able to carry additional gear and water. The pouches are nicely lined and could work like the pouches in your purse. In the top pouch, I would put some gloves and a small medical kit for emergency use. I have no complaints about the TAG Marine Gladiator. I’ll be on the lookout for my own patch for it!
Knowing that there are military units in Afghanistan testing female specific gear, I feel a woman could use this rig, until a female specific product is available. I would have no problem strapping the TAG Marine Gladiator on!”
The TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib has exceeded all my expectations. It is extremely well made and very comfortable. I have taken it out on several occasions, wearing it all day, working hard in the heat, and sometimes forgetting I was even wearing it. The fixed shoulder straps, rear hydration pack carrier, and the rig’s ability to evenly distribute load carrying weight contribute to the overall comfort of the rig.
I highly recommend this rig for the Law Enforcement Officer who wants an all day training rig, long assignment search/perimeter rig, or an active shooter rig. A law enforcement officer can simply throw it over their patrol body armor and go. With its ability to adjust to multiple body types, female officers should consider the TAG Marine Gladiator Chest Rig w/Bib.
For range day and average plinker use, the TAG Marine Gladiator will exceed all expectations. The options and versatility of this rig beat most of the dedicated chest rigs out there.
For USGI magazines with Magpul L-Plates, click the following link: http://looserounds.com/2012/10/14/magpul-l-plates/