Disclaimer: This item was provided free of charge by C2R FAST for testing and evaluation purposes. There has been no exchange of money, and the terms of the item being provided are that if I like a product, I review it, if I don’t like a product, it gets sent back. With this is mind I always remain as unbiased as possible, my thoughts are my own, and the sole purpose of this blog is to provide helpful information to someone who might actually need it to find the right solution for their problem.
As always I like to provide a little background information on items I review, but in this case the history is actually remarkably short. My first interaction with the C2R FAST Fulcrum came at their second media day held just a few months ago in the summer of 2022. At this event the Fulcrum was revealed in an almost completed state, along with its host of ancillary equipment which will be following shortly.
At this point the Fulcrum didn’t have its name, but I’m very glad to say that another attendee and friend of mine put up a suggestion so good that we now both have had the honour of naming a C2R product.
The reason I bring this up is it reinforces the mindset of the Hereford based gear manufacturer. They don’t dictate to a user what they should and shouldn’t be using, they take a user’s brief from concept to reality taking constant input along the way.
I’ll try to keep this reasonably concise but in truth there is a lot to cover on the unique features of the Fulcrum. As a true overview it is another contender in the battle for greatest “lightweight and semi-slick plate carrier of them all”, alongside Ferro Concepts’ FCPC, Spiritus Systems’ LV119 and Crye Precision’s JPC2/SPC. This doesn’t however cover off what truly sets the Fulcrum apart.
The first and foremost difference in the Fulcrum is its ability to accept literally any placard, from any manufacturer, ever, so long as it has hook Velcro on the back. This takes the swift clip system and its contemporaries to the next step by not only allowing a user to fit literally anything, but also literally anywhere.
Following the theme of anything by anyone, the cummerbund attachment point for the Fulcrum is a hybrid system allowing the use of any 2 band cummerbund (or any cummerbund that scales down to a 2 band attachment method at the back).
Lastly with the back panel, I have already been asked by multiple people whether or not it is compatible with this brand or that and it may come as a surprise that it is in fact compatible with… none. “But the Fulcrum is designed to be the centre of all my other components” I hear you saying, and unfortunately back panels are actually very hard to make cross compatible due to the different zip profiles provided by Crye, Ferro, Spiritus and Velocity Systems. Instead of trying to butcher the slick lines of the Fulcrum, C2R instead decided just to say “fuck it” and revamp the established back panel design altogether.
With the placard attachment method being the original concept that gave birth to the Fulcrum, it’s only right to start here in detail. With the many different brands of placards and pouches that are available now, which placard a user wants to use is actually a consideration when deciding on a plate carrier to mount it on.
Other brands (like the trailblazing AXL) have already found ways of converting one placard style to work on another vest and vice versa but the Fulcrum is the first platform I’ve seen to do this natively, and not as an optional extra.
The placard mounting system consists of the familiar swath of loop Velcro on the belly of the front plate bag and a series of concealed and moveable hardpoints tucked underneath a large chest flap/shelter. These hardpoints are constructed of a Tegris plate backed with hook Velcro and supporting a triglide buckle and webbing loop that can be adapted to work with any currently available mounting hardware.
Author’s note: C2R have already adapted these hardpoints into a “production” version, so please take this description with a pinch of salt. The function is the same, but the hardpoints look completely different.
These hardpoints can accept:
- 20mm side release buckles (split bar repair buckles)
- 20mm ITW G-Hooks (or equivalent)
- Crye AVS pattern straps
- Eagle Industries pattern straps
With all the above already listed, the system is also open to future changes thanks to the removable nature of the hardpoints, so if something completely different does appear in future, a quick blast on a laser cutter should be able to produce a hardpoint to suit it.
It’s not just compatibility that makes me like the moveable hardpoints however. The other added benefit is adjustability. As all different manufacturers make their placards to their own specifications there are often differences in height, with the Crye AVS pattern panels dwarfing the likes of the Spiritus Mk4 chassis. In most of these cases the attachment method is not height adjustable on the placard, so we turn to the Fulcrum for this instead.
The aforementioned hardpoints all come equipped with a length of 20mm webbing and a triglide, which means the loop used for attaching the placard can be drawn in or let out as the user sees fit. The knock on effect for this is a placard that sits in exactly the right place for the user, and in the case of the taller placards also means the hardware can be pulled right up and concealed within the chest flap area, leading to a more slick overall aesthetic.
Being completely honest I actually think the current design of the Tegris hardpoints leave a little to be desired. They work beautifully and are by no means unfit for purpose, but they have the definite feel to me of being a 1st generation. The buckles for instance could really do with being flatter and I think the idea of infinite adjustability leaves some scope for indecisiveness. Luckily this is one area of the Fulcrum that can be updated infinitely, and when a 2nd generation hardpoint kit becomes available it will be far cheaper to replace that than the whole vest itself.
The second step the Fulcrum takes towards maximum compatibility is to make the cummerbund attachment method a hybrid between the traditional “JPC style” of looping the ends of a traditional skeleton cummerbund through vertical channels and securing with shock cord, and the “Slickster style” of direct Velcro-Velcro mounting.
Author’s note: The use of the terms JPC and Slickster style are just to relate the method to their most recognisable uses as of today. I have absolutely no idea who did what first or where.
Personally I’m a big fan of the Velocity Systems method of cummerbund mounting, and I’m glad to see that the Fulcrum will more than accommodate this as it uses both the vertical channels and Velcro to secure to the vest.
The cummerbund that comes with the Fulcrum is itself remarkable as it takes the form of a modern Tegris filled structural cummerbund, but with a bit of a retro nod of being a full fabric, no flashy Tegris in sight pattern matched affair. Honestly I was hesitant about 2 band cummerbunds as one of my pet hates is going to open a pouch and have it roll upwards from the bottom, but the cummerbund on the Fulcrum is absolutely solid.
The attachment method for the included cummerbund is of the aforementioned “JPC style”, which personally I think is the worst of the bunch. I absolutely understand that its simplicity and almost infinite adjustability make it an obvious choice from a commercial perspective, but having used the excellent Spiritus LV119’s “holes” method I think the days of just tying the ends together with shock cord should be left behind us. In simple terms, the “JPC” method allows for a certain amount of side to side movement, and isn’t conducive towards proper plate placement.
My eventual plan for this cummerbund is to have it converted to the Velocity Systems style of attachment, but how long this takes me to get around to will be a testament to how the current method is perfectly workable.
At the front, the cummerbund is of the now typical C2R style of tapering out to a reasonably large square Velcro panel. There isn’t a great deal to say on the effectiveness of this method without getting into the tubes vs. Velcro argument that is bordering on a feud at this point. Personally I’m a recent tubes convert, but I know plenty of people who still swear by Velcro, the manufacturer of the Fulcrum included.
With this in mind I have managed to mount my Tacbelts UK ROC tube adapters to my Fulcrum to great effect, with the Velcro flap folding back inside the cummerbund and securing to the loop Velcro concealed within. If you intend on doing this yourself I would definitely recommend using the longer ROC 80 buckle, as this helps to give the cummerbund some vertical stability that stops the dreaded pouch flapping up issue that could be caused by essentially de-linking the Tegris structure from the front platebag.
In this section of the review I’m afraid we can only look at one half of the new C2R back panel system, as the panels themselves aren’t quite in production. I can say however that having seen the full suite of prototypes, there will be plenty to choose from.
The core difference in the C2R approach is to go “zips in” and make a back panel suite that is slicker than anything else on the market. On the rear platebag itself there are the two vertical zips that provide the strength to the system and a small Velcro/MOLLE field for IFF patches. There is a hidden clue as to what one of the back panel setups is in this MOLLE field, as it provides a significant mounting point for something designed to carry heavy loads.
For lighter loads, the method of providing further tension is simple, each panel will have wings that rise up to the shoulder strap buckles and will have a Tegris tab that slots into this buckle and provides enough purchase to pull the panel tight vertically, while the zips perform this horizontally. What all this comes together to accommodate is a suite of back panels that are much lighter weight than their peers, and when attached don’t look like an addition to the rear platebag, but instead seem to be one with it.
When these panels do become available I’ll be sure do either update this article, or give them a rundown of their own.
THE FULCRUM ITSELF
Having gone into extensive detail on the unique features of the Fulcrum I just want to touch on the more “mundane” aspects of what is a truly remarkable rig. With bells and whistles aside the Fulcrum still shines as a premium plate carrier that bears the unmistakable hallmarks of being a C2R product.
With comfort always being a concern for anyone wearing armour there is nothing to fear when donning the Fulcrum. Inside both plate bags is the ubiquitous C2R airmesh padding that rarely appears on the other flagship products. Personally I think this is a must on pretty much any plate carrier as prickly heat is a mean bitch and any steps taken to prevent it are fine by me.
This theme is continued up to the shoulder straps of the Fulcrum. The squadron laminate straps themselves have had their geometry tweaked slightly from the previous C2R vests in order to give them a better fit to the user’s shoulder and spread weight across the chest and upper back, as well as on top of the shoulders. The slip on pads are also an improvement on the last iteration I’ve tried, namely those that came with the Chameleon.
As stated in my review I didn’t think too highly of the older pads and as such ditched them almost immediately. Having given feedback however I was determined to give the Fulcrum pads more of a chance and I’m glad that I did. My situation definitely does not require the use of shoulder pads, but I can now still use them comfortably without feeling like I’ve got a pair of 2×4’s Velcroed to my clavicle. They are slicker, more flexible and still retain the ability to route comms antennas/cables so are a definite improvement. I’ll be interested to see how long I keep them on in future.
The use of a 2 band cummerbund also helps with comfort and getting a proper plate placement. As is becoming more widely understood the rear platebag is supposed to sit higher up the wearer’s back, with the front bag coming up to the collarbone. This means that with a traditional 3 band cummerbund you’re going to have some orientation issues. The 2 band cummerbund however is attached right at the bottom of the rear bag, which allows it to ride at the necessary height without the user having pouches somewhere in their armpit.
The internal Tegris of the cummerbund may not be as rigid as that of the Ferro 3AC but it is more than adequate to provide structural support to the system, and adds to the overall feel of the Fulcrum giving you a good fatherly hug. If this isn’t enough however, the adaptability of the Fulcrum means that attaching a 3AC or other cummerbund is no problem whatsoever.
I can’t go into too much detail on a few points of the Fulcrum as they are not yet ready for public release, but as with the Chameleon before it there is a host of ancillary equipment currently being developed that will support the overall system. Unlike the Chameleon however a lot of these parts will also be able to be adapted to other plate carriers via conventional mounting systems.
What this means is that even if the Fulcrum doesn’t quite tickle your pickle, it’s still going to be worth keeping an eye on.
As I always say if we’ve made it this far into a review then obviously I like the item overall and the Fulcrum is absolutely no different. It is however one of the easier systems to write about as it does so much so well. There are always going to be shortcomings for some (eg the lack of compatibility with someone’s chosen back panel brand) but overall the system will be pleasing to just about everyone who gets their hands on it.
I ended my Chameleon review with a message of “this might not be for everyone” purely down to its original function, but the Fulcrum is another story altogether. I would (and have been) happily advise anyone looking for a SAPI cut plate carrier to give it serious thought when deciding on which system to use next, and I have received a lot of positive feedback from those looking at it in person.
Another massive thanks has to go to the team at C2R Fast for providing not only the Fulcrum for review, but also an insight into its design and development. Writing this blog can be difficult at times but when someone puts the time and effort into a product and actually listens to feedback, it is always easier to sit down and provide it.
If you’ve got any questions about the Fulcrum, please head over to my Instagram account @thegeardocrow and send them there.