Matrix "SDEU High Speed Tactical Vest" review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
A tactical vest is often one of the first pieces of equipment that new players purchase, often immediately following their first gun purchase. It offers them a place to put magazines, holsters, hydration kits, pouches, as well as offering a bit of protection from those high FPS BB hits that may scare away new players. I have owned several different styles and configurations of vests, from $30 cross draw rigs to a $300+ Eagle Industries rig, and I'm always looking for new styles to try out. I came across the "Matrix SDEU" rig at Evike, and was immediately attracted to its unique design, and plethora of MOLLE real estate. The price was quite attractive as well, coming in at $75. I decided to jump into this rig, and Evike was nice enough to provide it, so I could give it a review for you readers!
As mentioned previously, I found this vest at Evike, priced at $75. The vest was quickly shipped out, and arrived two days later, via UPS ground shipping. It came in a very nondescript cardboard box with no additional packaging. Damaging a vest in shipping is very difficult to do, so additional packaging/protection wasn't really necessary. Evike has two vest designs that are labeled as "SDEU" style, one with integrated magazine pouches and no MOLLE, and this one, which has no integrated pouches, and with a ton of MOLLE space. This vest is available HERE, and is available in tan, OD, and black.
When the arrived, I was pleased to be greeted with the smell of fresh nylon wafting out of the box. I took the individual pieces out of the box (5 in all) and laid them out on the table to get a good view of the rig. It was a bit smaller than I expected, but a test fit assured me that I would be able to use it. Having reviewed items for as long as I have, you start to look at items with a VERY critical eye, and I immediately started looking for negative aspects about the vest. I found a few strings that were hanging a little long, and a few "Irish Pennants" that needed to be cleaned up with a lighter, but overall, my initial opinion of the build quality was positive.
Now, this vest is modular in several ways, namely the ability to mount the different included protection pieces, as well as the MOLLE compatibility. The set consists of five pieces: The main vest unit, the throat guard, the crotch guard, and the two shoulder protectors.
From this point on, click all thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.
The main vest unit is a single unit, which has an integrated cummerbund to ensure a snug fit. The front houses the majority of the useful MOLLE, which wraps around onto the side panels. There are three lines of Velcro front and center on the vest, for nametapes or patches. The shoulders each have a large swatch of Velcro, which serves the dual purpose of offering a place to put patches, as well as giving a semi-high friction surface for the butt of your rifle. Both shoulders also have the plastic d-ring for mounting the deltoid guards, and the right side also has a loop of nylon for your hydration system hose to go through. The vest itself rides fairly high, making it great for vehicle use.
Main vest unit
Lower front MOLLE
Vest opened up
There is a raised collar that is not removable to protect the sides of your neck, as well as offering a bit of chafing protection from slings, and from the vest itself.
Neck and shoulder area
The back of the vest is covered entirely in MOLLE, and has an integrated drag handle. There is a very large pocket integrated into the rear of the vest to hold a hydration bladder. At the very bottom of the vest, you can see the buckle used to secure the groin protector.
Rear of the vest
The inner surface of the vest is nylon, which doesn't breath very well. With extended use, the vest can start feeling a little warm, but it's not as bad as some vests that I've used. The inner lining has come free from the stitching in one part of the vest, but I think that it was a fluke. The vest is filled with a relatively soft and flexible foam, in order to stiffen it up and keep its shape. This foam does offer a bit of protection from high FPS hits.
Inner Matrix logo
The throat guard is attached by Velcro located both inside the main vest and on the collar. It features a small bit of MOLLE, which I could be used to mount something if you so desired. The guard doesn't feel like it's in the way, unless you're trying to look down.
Throat guard attached
The deltoid protectors are attached using the plastic d-rings on the vest, and are adjustable to fit your arm using Velcro. Like the rest of the vest, they feature MOLLE webbing and Velcro to mount things. The attachment strap is adjustable for different sized wearers.
I am so full of win, it's not even fair
The groin protector is attached by a sandwiching Velcro flap located inside the vest. I sound like a broken record, but it is covered in MOLLE webbing as well. It has a strap that can go between your legs to buckle in at the rear if you REALLY want it to be secure. One nice feature about the groin protector"bib" is that it can flip inside the vest and be held secure by a square of Velcro inside, if you want to keep it installed, but not use it.
Securely attached inside the vest
Flipped up for storage
The vest is donned by first undoing all of the Velcro, and sliding the vest over your head, like a poncho. You can then put on the inner cummerbund, and then secure the two side panels onto the Velcro on the cummerbund. It's pretty easy to put on, but the head hole is a bit small, and if you have a very large head, you could have issues with this vest. It is easier to put on the vest if you remove the deltoid and throat guards first. You can wear this thing in any one of several configurations and combinations of parts. I personally will be running it with just the throat and groin guards most of the time, as I'm not terribly concerned about my arms.
Here are some pics of me wearing it. I am 6'1", 210 lbs for reference purposes. Ignore the horrible wannabe Punisher hair-do. You can see in the pics how it rides relatively high, keeping you plenty flexible.
I do foresee a skull stencil being painted on this vest in the not-too-distant future.
There is a metric ton of MOLLE real estate on this thing. The front lower section, counting the side panels has 16 columns x 4 rows, with one additional row being located in the center at the bottom, and two more rows at the very top, making the very front have 7 rows. The rear has 8 columns x 8 rows, along with a few partial columns located on the edges. There are also 3 more rows on the groin, 1 on the throat, and 3 more on the deltoid guard. Long story short, this thing has a lot of MOLLE. Happily, the MOLLE webbing seems to be made to proper specs, as I mounted up a few pouches from various manufacturers with no issues.
Having no prior experience with the Matrix brand of gear, I didn't really know what to expect as far as build quality goes. I was pleasantly surprised to see double reinforced MOLLE stitching, and sturdy multiple panel construction. The edges are single stitched, which bums me out a bit, but it seems to be strong enough. The vest is made in the Philippines, as indicated by the tags. The outer material appears is a Cordura type fabric, on par with my older Condor rigs, but not as nice as my Eagle rig, as one would expect in this price range.
Overall, this seems like a sturdy rig that will take the abuse I plan on throwing at it. Aside from the few extra threads that were quickly burnt off, and the inner liner that came off its stitching, I'm very pleased with the initial build quality of this vest.
Very unique look
Loads of MOLLE/Velcro
Integrated hydration carrier
Decent starting price - $75
Almost a Punisher: War Zone vest!
No included pouches
Head hole is kind of small
Very tall/large users may not fit well
Some small QC issues (long threads, inner liner issue)
Can get warm with extended use
I am happy to say that my initial experience with the Matrix brand of gear has been a positive one. This vest is comfortable, unique, sturdy, and has plenty of room to customize, which is all I can ask for in a rig. Plus, it looks pretty badass if I do say so myself.
Many thanks again to Evike, Deadrag Airsoft Radio and of course, AirsoftRetreat!