“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” done right.
For years now I have been a big fan of Blue Force Gear products. They’re at the higher end of the cost spectrum, but you get what you pay for. To this day I have yet to find a wide utility pouch that can top the BFG medium/large for carrying heavy loads thanks to their quality materials and attention to detail (if you’ve never owned one, these utilities are tapered to completely eliminate bounce and sag). Leading the “helium whisper”/ultracomp revolution is not all they’re known for though.
Blue Force Gear’s ubiquitous Tenspeed pouches kickstarted and have since dominated the market for super low-profile elastic magazine pouches. Competing with the likes of the HSGI Tacos and Esstac KYWIs, the Tenspeed line’s unique selling point is it’s unbelievably low profile. The elastic construction means that the pouch lays totally flat when empty, and can hold literally anything that you can squeeze in, making them not only literally “high speed, low drag”, but incredibly versatile too.
The Tenspeed line’s popularity has however spawned imitators over the years, and lots of them. While these “Tenspeed inspired” products have grown in numbers, they have also grown in functionality, steadily improving on BFG’s flagship product. After years of stoically carrying on, and remaining hugely popular, I was very excited to hear that BFG were updating the old line, and was therefore very happy to be sent a sample by Tactical Kit.
In terms of my kit I try to stay within the lines of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” (this doesn’t always happen but there you go). Companies are often determined to ruin products in the name of improvement, resulting in the older versions becoming extremely valuable e.g. Platatac opting to use D3O kneepads, and Source single handedly destroying any hope of Virtus being any good (fuck you Source. Seriously. Fuck you.). This is why I’m so impressed with the new stackable Tenspeeds. BFG have fixed the 3 issues I had with the old ones, but haven’t compromised an inch on what made the originals so good.
The biggest and most obvious change is the stackable function. The laminate Molle columns keep to the Tenspeed mantra of being ultra low-profile, but are still sturdy enough to handle a medium weight. Now I don’t recommend hanging something heavy and short off the top of the pouch (like small flashbangs), as I’m pretty certain the elastic will eventually wear out and cause some unhelpful flopping about. I think this system is ideal for items like pistol magazines, torches and tools. While heavy, they are long, and so will spread the weight down the entire pouch and so become very stable.
The second biggest flaw in the old Tenspeeds, that has been addressed by many of their competitors, is the sewn shut bottoms of the shingles. This brings two issues. Firstly, sewn shut bottoms means that the elastic energy in the pouch will continuously squeeze the magazine from the bottom, which can lead to your mag flying out of your kit at awkward moments. The other issue this brings is that the feed lips of the inserted magazine are often forced into tearing through the elastic, making small holes that lead to the pouch needing to be replaced. When I was first looking at the stackable Tenspeeds online, I didn’t think they had addressed this issue, which would have been a major oversight on Blue Force’s part. When it arrived however, I found that they have of course paid attention to the details, and now rely on the under-folded laminate of the Molle columns to stop over-travel when inserting magazines, fixing both of the aforementioned issues.
The final issue I had with the old pouches was a small but annoying one. Often, when re-inserting magazines, holding the elastic open with gloved hand could be tricky as it could be hard to get a solid grip. The simple addition of over extending the laminate from the Molle column provides a slick tab to help with indexing magazines, which is especially useful when running other pouches on the front of the Tenspeeds.
There’s Always a Downside
Nothing’s perfect, and I always aim to poke holes in things, especially when I haven’t paid for it. Just like with the old Tenspeeds, they’re very short. This isn’t an issue when being run on the front of a kangaroo flap, which often has a lower Molle profile on its face, but is an issue on many types of “standard” Molle flaps. It causes the pouch to ride relatively high, which means your magazines may collide with any admin gear you have set up above them.
My other gripe is that there is no facility for active retention. Now I know this product is aimed at high speed guys who don’t really care if they drop a magazine, but for regular soldiers this can be a very expensive mistake, as I found out in 2017. Since then I have always wanted to have the option for active retention if I feel that the pouch needs it. So far the Tenspeeds have proven tight enough for me to be satisfied, but we shall have to see how they do in the future.
To wrap up, I’m seriously happy with this system. When I first got my new JPC I also got a Spiritus LV Placard to go on the front, but it doesn’t work well with the e-doff handles on the JPC 2.0 cummerbund so had gone back to using an AVS Molle flap with C2R pouches. I can safely say that the stackable Tenspeeds will be replacing them. They’re a great example of how a product can be simply improved, and show that Blue Force Gear are still completely relevant and aren’t being completely overtaken by the younger generation of companies like Ferro Concepts and Spiritus Systems.
I’d just like to say thanks again to Tactical Kit for providing this item, and if you would like one for yourself I’ll include a link to their website here. And thanks to you for reading my thoughts! If you have any questions or feedback then please get in touch with me on my Instagram account @thegeardocrow.