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Old 03-05-2005, 08:17 PM
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MOLLE Equipment Primer

I. Introduction

The newest and hottest form of tactical gear on the market today is best described by one word: modular. Of the many kinds of modular gear systems out there, none has grown as much fame and widespread use as the MOLLE system. MOLLE allows the user to interface various types of equipment rigs (anything from load bearing vests, harnesses, chest rigs, body armor, and tactical vests) with every type of pouch, pocket, or accessory imaginable. The MOLLE system has two features going for it that prompts this popularity: it can be universally used on any size pouch and it holds extremely secure when mounted. In this short introductory primer, I will outline how MOLLE gear is designed and how it attaches together. I will also outline various spin-offs and enhancements to the MOLLE concept available on the market today.

II. Sizing and Spacing

MOLLE webbing consists of a grid network of rows and channels. The webbing itself is 1 inch in width and is stitched down on the vest or pouch body leaving a channel in the webbing every 1.25-1.75 inches. These channels are what the attaching straps will feed through. These 1-inch wide straps of webbing are then spaced parallel with 1 inch of space between them. The following picture of an SDS IRACK indicates the spacing of the MOLLE grid:



III. Nomenclature

MOLLE gear is known by many names; however it is important to note that all of this gear is cross compatible. One acronym you may find is PALS. PALS stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. Basically, any type of gear you find that has the strips of 1 inch wide webbing spaced 1 inch apart and sewn in the usual MOLLE grid pattern is PALS, so it is basically the most general term for this type of gear. MOLLE stands for Modular lightweight load bearing equipment. Although MOLLE tends to be the most well known name in reference to this type of gear, technically it should only refer exclusively to the MOLLE gear made for the U.S. military. The MOLLE term itself was coined by the military when it began issuing their form of this gear. One example of the earliest MOLLE gear is the SDS RACK, which was made for issue to the 75th Ranger Regiment of the U.S. Army. Since then, many companies have adopted the MOLLE/PALS concept and built their own variants.

IV. How to Use MOLLE Gear

The following is a picture guide on how to properly attach MOLLE equipment. The pouch is a double pistol magazine pouch and it is being mounted on an FSBE AAV.

1) Here is the pouch, lying on the vest where it is to be mounted. You are looking at the backside of the pouch. Note the 2 attachment straps which snap onto the pouch at the bottom and also note the 2 horizontal webbing strips on the pouch which line up with the spaces between the webbing on the vest



2) First step is to un-snap the attachment straps on the pouch and pull them out from under the horizontal straps.



3) Feed the attachment straps through two channels of the webbing on the vest, be sure only to go through one strap.



4) Bend the attachment straps back up and feed them through the channels in the first strap on the pouch’s backside.



5) Bring the attachment straps back down and feed them through the next lowest row of webbing on the vest.



6) Feed the attachment straps through the final row of webbing on the back of the pouch and snap them back into place.



7) Here is a picture of the pouch now attached to the vest. Also see in the second picture, looking at the side, how the attachment straps fed back-and-forth through the webbing on the vest and the back of the pouch.




- As you can see, the idea of the MOLLE attachment method is to weave the attachment strap between the vest and the pouch itself. This creates the same basic connection as sewing a simple stitch to join 2 pieces of fabric, and allows the pouch to sit securely and not move from side to side or up and down on the rig.

V. Other Kinds of PALS Attachment.

In the tutorial shown above, the method of attachment used is known as the Natick Snap. However, there are three major methods of attachment available on the market which will all integrate onto PALS webbing in the same fashion. These are: The Natick Snap System, the MALICE Clip, and The Soft-Strap System. The Natick Snap is, as shown above, characterized by the attachment straps being sewn onto the top of the pouch and the bottom securing with a snap. The Natick name comes from the military’s Natick testing facility where new equipment is tested, designed, and approved for use by the U.S. Armed Forced. Therefore, all of the MOLLE gear issued to our troops uses this system of attachment. It is also the most common form of MOLLE attachment and is used on gear made by SDS, Blackhawk, Battle Labs, Safariland, and many others.

The MALICE Clip system is the next most common form of attachment. Made by Tactical Tailor, the MALICE clip comes in 2 sizes. The short size is designed to replace the old ALICE clip, and thus is similar in size, but can also be used in MOLLE type gear. The long MALICE clip has the same design as the short, but is about twice the length and is more commonly used on pouches for rifle magazines and utility items, as well as many others. The MALICE clip is basically a removable version of the Natick system.

Shown here are two long MALICE clips:



These open and slide into webbing slots on the back of pouches which lack a sewn on attachment strap or straps. Shown here are 3 MALICE clips being fed on a TAG EOD pouch:



From this point, the pouch is then weaved onto the vest just as the tutorial above outlined:




The only difference is the closure of the strap at its bottom. Instead of a snap, the MALICE clip slides into a channel at its base and locks into place:



When locked, the clip will not re-open unless a small, flat object (such as a screwdriver) is pressed into the slot on the back of the locking mechanism:



MALICE clips make an ideal attachment solution for small time gear makers who cannot afford to pay the royalties to copy a design like the Natick system, but instead can save time and money by just using these clips. Likewise, major manufacturers also use this method, including Tactical Tailor, TAG, PPM, and many others.

Paraclete, a high-end gear maker famous for their RAV body armor, originally designed the Soft-Strap System. The Soft-Strap is very similar to the Natick system in that it uses sewn-in-place attachment straps on the back of the pouches, however, instead of a snap to secure the straps at the bottom of the pouch, the attachment strap folds over and feeds back upwards and under a piece of webbing, as seen in this diagram:



Pouches and equipment utilizing this attachment method are made by Paraclete and more recent products by TAG.

VI. MOLLE vs. ALICE

Besides the MOLLE system, many people are also familiar with ALICE gear. ALICE has been around sine the Vietnam era and has served the U.S. military as a line of combat gear up until MOLLE hit the scene in the 1990’s. However, even with it being a retired system, it is not uncommon for you to see pictures of soldiers still using ALICE pouches mounted onto MOLLE rigs. While there are several adapter pieces made to properly mount the two systems together, some simply take the standard ALICE clip and attach it directly to 2 rows of MOLLE webbing, as shown here:



However, as seen in the picture, this cross-mounting causes a “bunching up” of the vest in order to conform to the wider distance between the two straps. For this reason, I advise that ALICE clip equipment not be forcibly mounted to MOLLE webbing in this fashion, as it can cause the webbing to pull too much and eventually tear at the stitches. Either utilize the adapter unit or look for a rig, like the Blackhawk STRIKE line, which has both ALICE webbing (2 inch) and MOLLE webbing (1 inch) available.


-I hope you found this simple primer useful as a source of information and explanation on how MOLLE gear is used. In the future, should more information on new advancements and types of MOLLE/PALS gear come to light, I will try to keep this article up to date.


-D_Man-
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Last edited by D_Man; 03-05-2005 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 03-18-2007, 02:41 PM
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SWAT A4 SWAT A4 is offline
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Necro, but it's stickied, so Oh well!

Just a small add-on to this perfect review. I made a .gif image on one of my reviews. Same thing, just animated.
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