Monday, August 9, 2010

1911 Grips

So I'm pretty sure I want a set of the VZ Operator's II scales to slap on the ol' Kimber, but I can't decide between the "Tiger Stripe" and the "Hyena Brown." What do you think?

Rappeling on the Blackhawk! CQB

So the other day I alluded to a somewhat irregular product review.  I headed up to camp and while I was there I decided to see how the belt handled itself in a more vertical aspect, since its abilities as a gun belt have been pretty well gone over by everyone else.

First off, some of you may recall I won a $50 gift certificate for Blackhawk! from Hell in a Hand Basket a few months back.  I picked up a pair of kneepads they were clearancing for $10, and a tan CQB Rigger's Belt (tan being authorized for wear with ACUs.)

Now for it's main use, a belt that'll keep your pants and gear off the floor, it works fantastically well.  It's constructed of some pretty stout webbing, and the hardware is all "parachute grade" cast metal (don't know if it's steel or aluminum, don't have a magnet on me... I'll fix that when I get home.(ETA- it's Steel))  The tail end has a decent amount of hook & loop to keep it out of the way, and to back-up the main buckle.  I really like this sort of setup, since it seems that my waist size is always right between the holes on any leather belt.  It also has no issues holding up my loaded Sig with it's light and a spare mag.  It is pretty darn good for all day outside-the-waist carry, assuming you're in casual clothes.

But I'm also a BSA certified Climbing Director, so when I noticed that all the hardware is parachute rated, and the webbing is good for up to 7,000lbs, the little greasy gears started turning.  So finally, on the last week of camp for the year, I was able to get up there for a visit, and it so happened to be a rappel day for Climbing Merit Badge.  That last part is important to the plan, as I sure would not want to take a hard fall on just an unpadded waist-belt.  If you fall during a rappel, it's going to be much less of a shock (assuming your belayer is awake;) and an emergency rappel is really what you'd be using it for anyway.  It is not a replacement for a harness.

Seeing as I'm not completely suicidal, I did have my harness on, and ran a Prusik Loop from the belay device to my belay loop, my biggest worry being the buckle on the belt loosening.  The device (a Rescue 8 with ears for those curious) was clipped directly through the triangular buckle on the belt though.  So I hooked it all up and slid down the rope.  It's about a 45 foot decent on our face.

It works.  I also grabbed my little mini-tripod and some duct-tape and rigged up a "helmet cam" with the up-armored camera.

Like I said during the first run, it's not too bad, but it is definitely less comfortable than my padded harness.  You don't realize how much weight actually gets distributed through your leg loops until you're not using them.

After two rappels the belt had not loosened whatsoever, and the heavy-duty double webbed construction kept it from rolling or folding when weight was placed on it.  I'd feel quite confident using it for an "oh crap get me down from here" situation, or simply as fall protection in a high angle environment where a harness is not available.  It boils down to "while you may never actually do it, rest assured that you can."

If you've been contemplating picking one up, do it, you won't be disappointed.