With a design department in just about every tactical equipment manufacturing seemingly on amphetamines, cranking out a new product just as seemingly every day, it takes some effort to quickly recognize an item that stands above others. The Versa-Harness to be released this coming January at Shotshow, from BLACKHAWK!, is a perfect example of outstanding!
When I was flown to the BLACKHAWK! gun writer’s conference in 2011, I first learned of an olive drab chest harness that had been designed for the German Army, specifically the aviation wing. It was more along the lines of the Patrol Radio Harness presently offered by BLACKHAWK!, but with the MOLLE array to mount their Quick Disconnect System. I repeatedly tried to get a demo sample similar to the ones designed for the German Army, but it all relied on a new order by the Germans. In that time there wasn’t one. But, good things happen to those who wait: in early summer of this year, BLACKHAWK! and ATK Security Brand Director Chuck Buis let me know that they had just begun an agreement to sole-source from a company producing a really nice chest harness out of Idaho, and that one would be on its way to GCT Magazine.
It arrived in Biloxi, MS just in time for a joint venture between Student of the Gun and GCT Magazine, that TV Host Paul Markel and I had been talking of doing for the last few months. At that time, Blackhawk/ATK hadn’t yet finalized the design. They wanted the rig to be as easy as possible to go between using a SERPA holster and the original configuration that used a MOLLE system to attach a variety of holsters and scabbards. By the time marketing material and design was finished, the original idea of mounting BLACKHAWK!’s Quick Disconnect System was replaced with mounting a SERPA holster directly to the Versa-Harness, using the three screw holes of the SERPA mounted to the two side mounting holes of the Versa Harness, and a third hole drilled into the middle of the plate.
Going Tactical: BLACKHAWK!
In this configuration, the pistol barrel is held in a straight horizontal position. The problem is that by having it in this position, your covering everyone directly to the left or right, depending on whether you get a right-hand or left hand holster. In the original configuration that Buis and I had been talking about, using the Quick Disconnect System, you have a variety of positions you can carry the pistol in. As a proponent of carry loaded all the time, except when stowing your firearm, muzzle anyone is a big no-no!
Paul and I talked about this in the latest joint-venture episode between Student of the Gun and GCT TV. But, for immediate clarification, boarding a vessel is dangerous enough without a round flying directly to the left or right of you. And if you decide to use the harness on your next trout fishing float through rattlesnake-infested country, do you think your guide will be so obliging in your having a loaded firearm in his boat? Do you think he’ll still be all smiles as he anchors, stops rowing and then attempts dipping his next while standing right in front of the muzzle of a loaded weapon? Remember: treat every firearm as if it’s loaded, even when it isn’t.
Though the Versa-Harness is an excellent idea, I’d caution against just mounting the SERPA holster directly to the front plate. Invest in the Quick Disconnect System (QDS) and open yourself up to a variety of options. With the QDS you can mount a holster. You can attach a medical tool kit to your chest by joining them through the QDS. You can even mount a small angler’s tackle box. Most importantly, you can mount your pistol in a variety of positions, I thought that the configuration that BLACKHAWK! had finalized on was rigid and ONLY kept the pistol barrel in a horizontal position–I missed the boat.
Make The Gen4 Choice!
…After a quick chat with Chuck Buis, I got that old tried-and-true suggestion: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!
Yes, after reading the instructions that come with the BLACKHAWK! Versa-Harness, you’ll notice that the pistol with the issued plate-mounted SERPA can easily be modified to be carried in vertical, horizontal and 45-degree variations of either. By simply removing the buckled straps from the injection-molded plate, and reattaching at a different slot, you will reposition the pistol. Changing positions is not as fast as the QDS, but efficient, nonetheless.
What the latest episode of the GCT TV that covers the BLACKHAWK! Versa-Harness: