Ferro Concepts is a relatively new addition to the tactical gear manufacturing market, compared to the likes of LBT, HSGI, Blackhawk! and others. They hail from Alberta in Canada and their products have been rapidly adapted by those who have to trust that this gear will hold up under the worst of scenarios and keep them in the fight. Their main offerings include the FCPC, Assault Back Panel, Slickster armour carrier, the Slingster and the EDCB belt, alongside various other accessories.
The FCPC that I have is version 4, there is now a newer version 4.2 which has some minor tweaks and changes but is generally quite similar. The FCPC is a very customisable base to start building a load out from. You start off with the ‘Base’ which is the front and rear plate bags, sized by SAPI plate, and the shoulder straps. You then can build from there with various options for the cummerbund and front flap.
There are 4 options offered by Ferro Concepts for the FCPC:
- Carry Elastic Cummerbund (CEC): A slick, no MOLLE option that has 8 in built pockets (4 each side) for M4 mags, radios and other items.
- Airflow Cummerbund (AFC): A stripped back MOLLE option that has a considerable amount of the bulk compared to a regular cummerbund option removed.
- Elastic Cummerbund (4EC): The slickest option, a simple elastic option with no carriage.
- Side Armour Cummerbund (SAC). Looks more like the traditional option, with MOLLE and the ability to hold side SAPI plates.
Front flap choices
There are also 4 options of front flap available for the FCPC:
- Kydex Triple AR15: This front flap holds 3 M4 mags and comes with Kydex inserts and optional bungee retention.
- Six AR15: Holds 6 M4 mags, 2 in each pouch. Closed with a Velcro flap over each mag.
- Kangaroo:Fronted with MOLLE, it also takes various inserts for different size magazines. Originally designed to hold 3 M4 mags but depending on your insert it could hold Mk17/SR25 mags.
- MOLLE: A basic MOLLE front flap that you can attach pouches as you wish.
- As it comes with vertical PALS on the upper section, you can also attach chest rigs like the Haley Strategic D3 or some of the Mayflower offerings and not purchase a front flap.
You can either pick and mix your options, or Ferro Concepts offer an ‘Assault Solution’ which is the FCPC Base, Airflow Cummerbund, Kydex Triple front flap and the FC Shoulder Pads. As I have no need for side armour, but did want some MOLLE options on the cummerbund, I went with the Assault Solution, sourced from Tactical Kit (http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/). At £325, it is far from a cheap option for airsoft load carriage, but given airsoft doesn’t come close to the riggers of the real world it should last and it will also always hold a decent second hand value should you move onto something new.
My experiences with the FCPC
As you’d expect from a company’s whose moto is ‘Stay Light, Fight Right’, the FCPC is a light piece of kit made from 500D material. The only real weight to this rig will be from what you add to it in terms of plates, extra pouches and whatever you load those pouches up with.
Whilst the airflow cummerbund is a few grams lighter than a regular version with all the material present, the real benefit comes from the additional ventilation the removed material allows, I wasn’t really expecting much difference however on some of the hotter days skirmishing compared to my PIG PC it was a very welcome feature that allowed some extra air through the plate carrier, helping to keep heat soak down. Despite the loss of material, the AFC holds its shape nicely, with a slight bunching towards the rear where it enters the back plate bag.
The cummerbund attaches and adjusts in the same way as the Crye Airlite and has plenty of adjustment through how you choose to thread the bungee at the back. I found it easier to attach pouches to the AFC than a regular cummerbund as you can thread the webbing straps through without having to try and squeeze your fingers between the MOLLE and the backing.
Fitting the front flap is a breeze, as it’s a simple case of inserting the top portion of Velcro under the flap on the top half of the front plate bag, and it secures to the bottom via the usual Velcro of nearly all plate carriers. The Kydex triple holds three M4 mags across the front of the rig, and the retention from the Kydex is excellent and I haven’t felt the needed to add the bungee over the top, especially as if I need to mag change from the rig, the Kydex only makes for quick extraction.
I would definitely recommend a set of shoulder pads with this rig, whether that be the FC option or something else. The shoulder straps are just simple Velcro backed cordura and will get uncomfortable after extended use or a fully loaded rig.
The top half of the front plate bag also has an in built small admin pouch, complete with some elastic loops, suitable for holding pens, lighters and other pieces. Unlike the Crye JPC however, the loops are not large enough to hold pistol mags, which I don’t find to be an issue as having mags that close to the top of the carrier looks like its asking for trouble when they meet your chin.
The back plate bag is a fairly bog standard affair of MOLLE webbing to which you can attach any number of mini-MAPs, assault packs or other assorted pouches. In this case I went with another of Ferro’s main offerings, the Assault Back Panel, which is reviewed further down this article.
Overall I have found the FCPC to be well balanced when loaded with 3 M4 mags, faux plates, hydro and a few other bits and pieces, and the Airflow cummerbund means that unlike a number of other PC, wearing one in summer doesn’t cause me to overheat and need to dump gear. As you’d expect with a carrier of this level, I’ve not found a stitch to be missing, substandard or coming part, even with our site being snag central for any and all gear.
The Assault Back Panel (ABP)
The ABP is Ferro Concept’s take on an all in one back panel that is designed to fit onto any MOLLE back plate bag, and is designed to hold a 2L hydro, up to 6 M4 mags (although only 3 if they’re P-mags) or other buddy gear such as smokes, flashbangs etc, and a small utility pouch beneath to hold anything you don’t need immediate access to but is worth bringing along. There’s also some loop velcro on the utility for any call sign/morale patches you might want to attach.
It comes with its hypalon type straps used to attach it to the back plate bag. It also comes with two small tabs at the top to secure the very top edge of the ABP so that there isn’t a chance of it flapping around under load of movement. At the moment I have been running it with a small med kit in the utility pouch, a 2L Source hyrdo and a Boafeng radio in one of the top pouches. At AI I’m expecting to run it heavier with potentially 3x EG18x smokes stashed in the back for buddy use, and probably some extra snacks etc in the utility. The top pouches are closed by a simple elastic loop over a buckle, which makes for a very quiet system, that you could easily be stacked up by a door and have a buddy grab a flashbang from your back without any kind of Velcro or buckle noise. The one downside to this system however is that if you try to put something that doesn’t quite fill the pouch out, the covering strap will not have much if any attention on it, result in the flap coming loose and potentially whatever is in the pouch coming out.
The ABP will cover the whole of pretty much every plate carrier that it sits on, so if you normally have something else on your back panel, you’ll have to consider whether to move it or if this panel is for you. Normally I only ran a hydro on my back, so the additional carrying capacity that this provides is welcome, and sticking with Ferro’s ‘Stay Light Fight Right’ motto, the ABP itself is very lightweight and doesn’t any much additional weight except for what you load into it.
I would definitely recommend the ABP to anyone in a team that utilises buddy mags or consumables, or if anyone is looking to carry a hydro and a few other bits and pieces on their back without having to juggle pouch space and position so that it doesn’t upset the balance of your plate carrier.
Overall, the combination of the FCPC and the ABP, along with some help from BFG, is probably the most balanced and comfortable load bearing equipment that I’ve used for a while, with the cleanness of the kydex triple keeping the front plate bag low profile enough when getting prone or crawling through the undergrowth. The airflow makes a surprising difference during a hot day and stops the front and back plate bags from becoming as soaked with sweat as they otherwise might (also helped by the mesh on the insides of the plate bags).
It is certainly an expensive set up for use during airsoft, however I’m pretty confident that this rig will at last me on the skirmish field, and if you’re in the market for a real steel rig, Ferro Concepts should certainly be up among your options.