Disclaimer: This item was provided free of charge by Platatac 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.
Before I begin this review it’s worth noting that I will be building largely on my previous views of the Platatac Peacekeeper Mk.4, an excellent piece of equipment that I’ve used for many years and did a pretty comprehensive review of. I’d advise reading this first to get some context, and anything not covered in this review that is also present on the Mk.4 can be assumed to be of the same standard.
I became aware of the Peacekeeper Mk.5 (PK5 for short) several years ago, not long after receiving my PK4. I knew from the off that it was more of an iterative upgrade rather than an overhaul, but still I’ve been looking forward to its release for a few key reasons which we’ll cover in this review. Since receiving it I’ve tried to get as many hours inside the PK5 as possible under my belt, but luckily thanks to its familiar form factor a lot of the comfort part of the thoughts can be ticked off pretty much out of the gate.
SIMILARITIES TO THE PK4
Hopefully at this point I’m catching you just after you’ve had a quick flick through my PK4 review (if not, this is your last chance). I will first go over some of the similarities to the PK4 platform as it’s important to be able to contrast this against the new stuff.
Firstly the PK5 stays true to the traditional Peacekeeper profile that we’ve seen pretty much since the Mk.1, that being 3 large magazine pouches, a “hotdog” pouch, 2 MOLLE fields and 2 large utility pouches. This is an unapologetically load bearing profile and I’m glad that in the age of micro rigs the Peacekeeper hasn’t bowed down and sacrificed any of its capacity. I know more than a few recce guys who laud the PK series for it’s ability to carry enough mags and water to fight a small war while still being able to sit comfortably in the front seat of a Jackal or WMIK.
The PK5 also utilises the same buckle layout as the previous iterations, so any fancy back panels you may have acquired for your PK3/4 will work here just as well. In a similar vain there is still an internal velcro field concealed within the bottom seam of the vest allowing the mounting of danglers with a loop forward/up velcro orientation, and is similarly limited to danglers with a shorter velcro mount as the internal field is only ~3″ deep. Finally the large utility pouches on the PK5’s flanks still contain internal MBITR/152 pattern pouches, complete with integral bungee retention to keep your radio in place.
WHAT’S NEW THEN?
So into the meat of this review, what’s new on the Peacekeeper Mk.5 and what do I think about the changes?
Probably the most obvious difference on the PK5 is the updated magazine pouches. Those who have either just read or remember my PK4 review will know that I was never the world’s biggest fan of the older style magazine pouches, thinking the sidewalls too low and the flaps too long to comfortably only hold one magazine. That has been addressed and then some in the PK5.
The new pattern of pouches still has reasonably low sidewalls which would have been a negative had it not been for the new bungee retention around the sides of the pouches, allowing you to really cinch down to hold one AR magazine, but more importantly allowing you to loosen off to finally comfortably store 7.62 magazines. During my time using the PK4 I never really had a 7.62 pattern rifle to try, but comparing the two now the PK5 is definitely more suited to the task.
On the PK4 you can get a mag in there, but it’s a battle to get it past the elastic. On the PK5 it can range from all too easy (loosened all the way off) to impossible (cinched all the way to closed). This gives the user unlimited ability to set their retention and re-indexing difficulty, meaning the PK5 will play host to just about any rifle pattern magazine, taking two per pouch for STANAGs.
Now that we can finally accept pretty much any magazine on the market we need to make sure we’re keeping it in place, and this is where the second magazine pouch upgrade comes into play: floating lids. Now let me first say that while I am a big believer in never trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none when it comes to gear, something like the Peacekeeper actually requires this ability as its magazine pouches are fixed, and the user may need to switch calibre depending on what weapon they’re carrying into the jungle.
The floating lids on the PK5 mag pouches mean that no matter what magazines you put in there, you can always have proper velcro alignment on closure, instead of the old PK4 which worked in a set few positions, but was often best with the flaps just tucked away. Pretty much all floating lid designs have their shortfalls, especially for those of us with OCD who have to have them all lined up perfectly with each other, but if you’ve used the system elsewhere you’ll manage here. If you need to take your C8 out one day and an AK pattern rifle the next for some deniable tomfoolery, you won’t have a problem with the PK5.
HOT DIGGITY DOG
Next on the list of upgrades is the second most obvious, the reworked hotdog pouch. Looking back to the PK4 the old pouch was okay but it has definitely benefitted from the undeniable popularity of the Ferro Concepts Mini Dangler. The PK5 hotdog is larger and has “sideways” MOLLE on the bottom instead of elastic, for stowing tourniquets and chemlights with the included adaptors, but the biggest upgrade by far has been the forward opening zip, as opposed to the over the top configuration on the PK4.
The PK4 pouch was by no means useless, but having used both I can say with confidence that in this case bigger was definitely better. The new hotdog can take frags, smokes, water bottles, 4 AR mags, the list goes on (I definitely would not recommend trying to run those last two in there though. Pain if you go prone. Trust me). My only issue with the new pouch is it does tend to sag somewhat. Annoyingly this is exactly what the PK4 pouch needed to make the zip more accessible, but in the case of the PK5 I’d have liked it to be rigid and upright.
RE-WORKED ON THE INSIDE
The final area of notable change on the PK5 is on the inside of the rig, in the spaces facing the body. On either side there are now two 4-way stretch tweave pockets with bungee closure at the top, intended to take MBITR/152. Now I can’t comment on the efficacy of these pouches in this role as I don’t have a 152 to test, but I can take a stab in the dark and say this might not be the most comfortable place to carry a radio. However, I also have the same opinion of wingman, inside the cummerbund pouches on plate carriers. The internal pouches on the PK5 are located at the same position on the body, and as plenty of people find this solution perfectly comfortable on their plate carrier then I’m willing to keep an open mind on this chest rig.
Comfort aside the benefit of these new pouches is undeniable as they replace the frankly rather useless side mesh pouches on the PK4 with a comms option that allows you to carry two radios and two water bottles in the utility pouches, alongside a potential 13 mags across the rest of the rig, one in the gun and maybe 8 UGL rounds in the hotdog. While you may not be going anywhere fast in this get-up, and will almost certainly have the spine of a 70 year old in your early 30’s, you won’t be running out of ammo, water, comms or bombs if you did end up in a bug out situation.
Between the new radio pouches we have a return of the central mesh map pocket, now with full width velcro across its opening. This is a necessary change as the internal pouch running the width of the PK4 is now gone, so the mesh pouch has to be either for admin, or for carrying 3 of those 13 magazines in a shingle. One thing I didn’t like about the PK4’s map pouch was the fact that to open it you had to really battle with the fact that your chest tried to keep it closed. This has been remedied on the PK5 by an inclusion of a full width zip adapter which makes this into a true document pocket and actually useful.
Ultimately I think the changes made to the inside of the PK5 are absolutely spot on and really make use of the space without compromising too much on comfort.
WHAT DO I WANT TO SEE ON THE PEACEKEEPER MK.6?
As much as I like the PK5 there are some things that I would like to see changed on the PK6, and just some ideas that I think would be the next iterative improvement.
Firstly, and this has been a gripe with both the PK4 and PK5, put a zip front on there for fuck’s sake. When I was fat I could reach the side clips with ease, but having lost enough weight that the rig actually fits me now makes the contortions necessary to get it on simply painful, and it gets worse when you add layers. It’s not impossible to do solo, but seeing as zips exist and the trend for split front rigs has resurfaced, I think the PK6 will have to have a split front capability in order to justify an upgrade.
My second request would be to get rid of the smaller zippered pouches on the front of the side utilities. In both the PK4 and PK5 I’ve found them useful, but somewhat uncomfortable as they make what is a large chest rig feel even larger. Having used my Peacekeeper Jungle which doesn’t have these pockets I was happy to see them go, and considering I never use the MOLLE on the forward facing side of the utilities on the PK5 they could be moved there or simply be swapped out for two complimentary frag pouches like the old VM.
The final change I would suggest for the PK6 is actually to the magazine pouches and is a pretty major change. Platatac have recently launched their own micro rig family called CRABS V2, and as I’ve got a set to hand it’s clear that this would be a perfect combination. I said in my PK4 review that the Peacekeeper platform bridges the gap between plate carriers and chest rigs, and I think following the trend for changeable placards on the Peacekeeper series would be an attractive offering, akin to Spiritus Systems’ THING series but on a much larger scale.
With the CRABS system especially in mind there is the potential for scalable placards that can be configured to carry just about any combination of magazines, administration, medical, the list goes on. Equally a simple MOLLE panel would allow the user to decide on their pouch of choice, and if this was designed to be in line with the top three rows of the current MOLLE fields then there is the potential to run pouches across the two if needs be. Having experienced the C2R Fulcrum’s appetite for third party placards it would be easy to say that I’d expect the hypothetical PK6 to include this, but looking at the architecture of the Peacekeeper this is actually a rare moment where I’d say the semi-proprietary nature of the CRABS expanders is necessary, and legitimises the Platatac micro rig as a standalone option as it could be ripped off and used with the PK6 harness if the user needed to scale down at high speed for a quick smash and dash.
I am overwhelmingly impressed with the Platatac Peacekeeper Mk.5. I am unashamedly friendly with Platatac, but far from making me blind to their faults it actually means I have a channel to provide constructive criticism and it’s really nice to see it acted upon.
While I do have some improvements for the next model the PK5 is by no means a slouch and as a result I haven’t touched my PK4 since it arrived. The question I’ve been asking myself throughout my T&E though is would I go out of my way to upgrade or wait to see what comes out on the PK6. Annoyingly I’ve landed firmly on the fence so will give the following answer:
If you are a recreational, base Multicam, STANAG pattern magazine user with a PK4 then honestly, probably not. You’ll manage fine and while you could get a benefit from the upgrades they may not be worth the cost to you. If you are literally anyone else, I’d say make the jump. Professional users will make great use of the extra capacity, especially if using a variety of weapon systems is within your job description. And for both recreational and professional users the wide range of colour options available for the PK5 is very attractive.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed my PK5 is in the 2023 chic Rhodesian brushstroke, but it is also available in most solid colours, most if not all of the Multicams, Woodland, Tigerstripe of both varieties and depending on when you’re reading this, some more patterns to boot. While looks aren’t everything, finally being able to have a Peacekeeper in just the right pattern for you is definitely a bonus.
Oh, and as a final thumbs up from me, the PK5 comes with both an H harness and the dreaded, god-awful abortion that is an X harness, for those of you who’s families hate them and prefer to get tangled in a mess of unruly straps every time you put it on.
Thanks for reading through what I thought was going to be a reasonably short review, that turned into a reasonably long one. These take a fair amount of time and effort to write properly but some are easier than others and this was definitely one of the lighter workloads. I really appreciate Platatac providing the PK5 to take a look at and I’m hoping they’ll continue to bring out improved versions based not only on my feedback, but on the guys out there putting them to real use.
If you’ve got any questions about the PK5, or if you just want to hurl abuse at me please direct it all to my Instagram account @thegeardocrow, where I’ll be sure to give you an answer or some fun new swear words to use.