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G&P FSBE Vest Review
Introduction
G&P had laid low for quite some time in the past, only to surface just during these past couple of years as a major airsoft aftermarket accessories supplier; and a good one at that! Having launched their complete AEG series earlier last year, it looks like they have managed to secure quite a big piece of the airsoft market pie. Inside that piece, lies a respectable quantity of replica vests and body armor that were produced in recognition of the bitter pricetags that come with the real deal vests.

The Full-Spectrum Battle Equipment (FSBE) Amphibious Assault Vest (AAV) vest is essentially a combination of a MOLLE-covered rig for load-bearing purposes, with ballistic (body armor) properties. The real FSBE costs more than $500, and that is without the body armor plates that provide the bulletproof capability. The G&P FSBE, providing maximum ballistic protection against 6mm BBs, comes at just the one tenth of that price, essentially giving a breather to those who are after some expensive-looking kit but afraid to get their moth-ridden wallets out.


So, why go for the G&P FSBE?
Well, how I ended up with one of those is pretty ironic. My trust usually lied (and in part still does) in Guarder, another renowned airsoft product company, which produces their own line of FSBEs (renamed MOD II for what I understand to be copyright reasons) but back then they had yet to produce the vest in desert tri-color camouflage pattern. G&P did, and in addition to that, theirs was around 30 bucks cheaper than Guarder, so that made the deal even better for me.

Once you pick up the FSBE, you will find that it is neatly constructed and made out of Cordura, with the interior filled with some kind of hard foam to loosely simulate the ballistic plates that are used in the real AAV. Being foam, it basically replicates the bulkiness of the plates, rather than their weight but die-hard nuts... erm… players, can even replace the foamy contents with phony plates or even the real deal ones if they have them.

Both the front and back side of the vest is ridden with one-inch webbing, which is compatible with all MOLLE, BALCS, Paraclete SOF-SNAP, Blackhawk STRIKE and MALICE pockets and pouches.

The front, seen here with an assortment of pouches. The back can be used to hold MOLLE compatible hydration packs, radio pouches, backpacks or canteens. You can see the drag handle on top, and the quick-detach handle on the bottom.

Taking this vest into action is a testament of what the word 'modular' really means...
Ding, Ding, Ding! Did someone say "pouches"? I knew I had forgotten something… Well, what did you expect? For $55 you only get a the replica AAV and a total of ZERO pouches to go along with it, so if you thought you would get away with grabbing a complete vest for that pricetag, think again. Regardless, this is undoubtedly an eyebrow-raising fact for many, meaning that you will probably spend another two-figure number to get some pouches to go along with this vest, that is unless you plan on wearing something else on top of it (i.e. a bandoleer).

But that's not G&P's fault now, is it? Surely not. Back to vest, it also features two things also found on the original one: The first, is the rear drag handle stitched to the top back, which is there for your buddies to grab a hold of in order to pull you back from danger, or drag your sorry injured self to the respawn point. I am sure that more recreational uses have been devised by the more creative bunch of airsofters... The second, is the quick release handle, which lies below the front side of the vest. The handle is there for you to pull when you need the vest to collapse on its own, essentially separating the two sides (back and front) from each other. It may be a lifesaving feature in real life, but in airsoft I would not ditch my vest that way because it is a real pain to get it back to one piece after you have done that. Still, it is good that the feature is retained in the repro, regardless of the fact that you need to give it a good pull in order to make it work…

PS: Wiggly white tail not included...

How the vest actually performs is dependent on what kind of combination of general use and/or ammunition pouches the wearer ultimately decides to go for. Since there are no pouches in the vest package, you can set off to find the ones you want… or purchase G&Ps SPEAR vest package that more or less contains all the pouches you will ever need in your life:

http://www.gp-web.com/en/productspop.php?pid=489

Yes, it is expensive, as it retails in HK shops for $165 but chances are that your quest for five to six ammo pouches for example will cost you around the hundred dollar mark anyway, so I just felt like listing your options there for you.

Going back to the stress test, you can be sure that the outer shell itself can withstand a lot of contact with dirt, mud, bushes and anything else you might encounter while you're moving during a prone position. By all means do not be afraid that the webbing will get loose after getting soaked wet or anything like that since those things are triple stitched and believe me when I say that when you secure a pouch through them, it ain't coming off… Other than that, there's nothing more to say.




Credits/Acknowledgments

This review was brought to you by Federal.

February 15, 2006. Athens, Greece.

 

 
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