Dat Gorka.

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It’s cold and frosty outside, which meant, appropriately, that it was time for a Russian gear day for the team. That, in turn, meant gorkas, SMERSHs, and other such assorted gear from our frenemies in the East. Huzzah! Closer pic of my personal setup after the break.

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A wild Grizzly in Gorka appeared!

Temperatures hovered around freezing for day, and I can say this – leave it to the Russians to make great cold weather gear. I was unsurprisingly chilly whilst gearing up and doing pre-game stuff, but once the whistle blew and I started running around I warmed up considerably. Gorka does a great job of insulating heat (there are no ventilation holes anywhere). On top of that it works quite well camo-wise, as on two separate occasions I had people on the other team tell me they had no idea where I was as the Gorka blended in so well with the surroundings. Is it because the baggy nature of the stuff breaks up your silhouette? Is it because the muted colours blend in with the background? Is it due to dirty evil Russian communist black magic? Who knows – regardless, it works.

The switch to Russian gear was most noticeable in the layout of the SMERSH I picked up a while back. For someone who has used Western gear almost exclusively it took some getting used to – the fixed pouches and their depth/width proving difficult to get non-AK magazines out of, particularly in a hurry; Magpuls (ghetto paracord or otherwise) will be my solution for this. The fumbling around for mags also necessitated the addition of a single TACO on the belt at the 11 o’clock position for emergency reloads.

Aside from those minor inconveniences (and it’s more of a training issue than anything else) I love the SMERSH. It carries everything I need (magazines, ammo, batteries, sidearm, hydration) in a single rig that I can toss on or off quickly and easily – all in a single line. No first/second/third/fifteenth line business here. Its weight balances well on the shoulders and hips, and doesn’t give you the “weighed down” feeling of certain Western plate carriers and chest rigs.

More info on my primary (LCT AKS-74u!) once I’ve had a chance to sneak better pics of it. For now, suffice it to say that Russian gear is the new hotness. I expect to be picking up more of it in the near future.

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