THE THREE TIERED EQUIPMENT SYSTEM – AN OVERVIEW
The Three-Tiered System allows the average person to be combat effective beyond what they would normally be. It gives the individual resources and flexibility they would not have otherwise. The three-tiered system is the best way to go about your equipment – especially when you have no idea what you’re going to be facing.
Whether it’s going to be the Cascadia Subduction Zone or Civil War the Sequel, you have to be ready for a wide range of encounters. Fortunately, most of the situations prep the same. The scalability of the system also allows you to implement your training, no matter what it may be, more effectively. Lets take a look at each Tier and see how they stack on top of each other.
TIER 1: THE BATTLE BELT
A battle belt is nothing more than the storage unit for immediate use equipment. A launching platform to feed your primary weapon quickly and effectively, keeping you in, or getting you out of a fight. Your first Tier also includes everything you’re wearing at the time some call it EDC.
The people that do the research on these types of things have found that we as humans grab for our belt faster than any other area. This is primarily true for men, as men have a tendency for groping in that general region. This very simple reason is why we feed from the belt and we feed to it. Seconds are life or death in a crisis, no matter what it is but what provides the speed is consistency. If you practiced clapping your hands every day two to three times per day, in the same manner, how fast do you think you could clap them at the end of thirty days? You can use your imagination to extrapolate, my conclusion was “über quick”.
If you practice just the slightly more complex skill of placing a magazine into your weapon from your belt for a month, how much faster would you be on the reload? Über fast by comparison. The consistency we are creating is in our repetition of movement. Same place, same object, same motion, any weapon. We no longer have to remember what weapon is in our hand we just need to feed it, we know where our ammo will always be. This is particularly important for our covert needs.
The battle belt we choose, or make is key. One needs the utmost amount of versatility for survivability because as sovereign, prepared individuals, we have no logistical support. We are civilians, independent, sovereign, and American. It actually gives us an advantage in a lot of ways since we don’t have the lowest bidder making our equipment. We get choices and we need to exercise those choices.
A custom made belt, preferably by one’s self, or a professional gear maker is at the very top of our list. Why make it yourself? Because homemade is handmade. You as the user have far greater understanding of how you operate. It will help you with those moments of “If it was just a little longer” or “If it was just over a 1/2″ or so.” Like belt loops on your favorite jeans when you want to conceal carry. You are also training and practicing regularly with it, so you can make notes and modify it to push your training further and faster. If you’ve never used this type of equipment, understand that it’s instinctual. Especially if you conceal carry.
What makes the battle belt a key part of this system is its primary duty to keep your hands full. Our mantra of feed from the belt and feed to it returns. Whether you’re getting a multi-tool or just a quick bite to eat. Feed from the belt and feed to it is all the more important. It’s your primary carry platform, and the more you use it the more necessary you will find it.
TIER 2: BODY ARMOR
As a stand alone Tier, body armor comes in two very broad general categories: overt and covert. I lean toward a very versatile and streamlined approach that is heavy on the covert. I want my armor to do its job and it’s job alone. I don’t attach pouches to it, or anything I can’t take off quickly. The only exception to the rule is an active shooter response system that i store in my trunk. Those systems need to be easy to put on and be a single unit that has everything you need. Its job is to keep blood on the inside of the good guy. When it comes to body armor, I look at what are called slick carriers. Most of these pieces have very little externally – No PALS and very little attachment hardware or soft ware.
The armor itself is fairly simple. It should stop your 90% threat. You are most likely going to encounter: .22 LR, 9mm, and 55 grain .223 in the United States, on the Civilian market. They are the most prevalent bullets in the civilian market. Most AR500 armors made do not stop 55 gr. .223
Do your research. If it will stop 55 gr, it will, more than likely, stop a 9mm and a .40 S&W. That is something you NEED to know about your armor. What does it stop.
Whatever your choice is, make sure it’s what will work against your primary threat. After selecting the armor itself, it’s time to choose the carrier.
I primarily use a Hard Point Equipment Axis. It’s the best of all worlds in my opinion. I use ceramic plates because that’s all I have at the moment that stops 55 gr .223
It’s easy to overlook homemade. But it’s easier to make than you’d think. Your design can be upgraded and modified at whim. If you’re curious on how to get started, join the forum over at www.diytactical.com When you start making your own, it opens up a whole new world. There are also upholstery shops that have machines powerful enough to make all kinds of gear, and if you give them a pattern or sketch it out they may be able to help. You can also use an awl and sew it up yourself. It’s time consuming, but it will be solid as a rock, but a good shop can crank out an armor carrier, and a simple belt and pouch system in a couple hours once they understand what you want.
If you go with off the rack, keep two things in mind: This is something you’ll probably only need to buy once. So make it count. Look for double stitching, or side-by-side stitches, at all stress points: Shoulders, cummerbund, and fasteners. Zigzag stitches, or at the very least multiple passes over stress areas like corners and areas that have loops of material that can be caught on things.
The very simplest way I can describe an armor carrier is: It’s the envelope the armor goes in. That’s it. No need to over complicate it.
TIER 3: SUSTAINMENT EQUIPMENT
Both Tiers 1 and 2 are simple and can be used in conjunction to make one an extremely effective fighting force. But adding Tier 3 is a key piece that can turn the tide. Very simply put Tier 3 is your additional equipment. It’s sustainment equipment.
The first layer of your third Tier is your chest rig. It extends your fighting and survival capabilities far beyond your belt. This adds more equipment and more ammunition. Setting up your chest rig is an individual task it has to work for you. There are somethings that experience will teach you, but here are a few pointers if this is all new:
- Your medical pouch should be the very first thing on your chest rig. DO NOT place it over your secondary weapon or you may need to use it sooner than you want.
- Stay flat. Keep your profile as thin as possible. Keeping your magazines to a single stack is best. It helps get you closer to the ground when you only have inches of air between you and bullets whizzing overhead.
- Keep it thin. The more narrow you are the more areas you can enter and exit effectively. Things like vehicles become death traps if you can’t get out quick enough.
WHAT TO PACK
Your mission will drive your equipment. If my role is primarily search and rescue, I’m yarding out all my rifle magazines and replacing them with the other necessities for that mission. More medical, lights, lines, and lock-ins. All the equipment changes, because I’m no longer fighting in an urban landscape, or doing reconnaissance for the Wolverines, I’m now using a familiar piece of equipment in a different scenerio.
The load out remains the same. I don’t have to swap my chest rig, just what I put in it.
Making sure that you have what you need, not everything you think you could need is important. That requires experience. You get that through training. Going out and doing.
EXTENDED TIER 3
Your ruck is the final extension of your 3rd Tier. It’s your home away from home. Be very conscious of what goes in there and why. Rucking and doing operations like that are the best teacher. You need to carry it twice as far as you think you’ll ever need to. At least once, and take notes. It’s absolutely invaluable training.
If you have actual seasons, and there’s a stark difference, you need to keep up on it. Use a date every year to swap out your cold weather for your warm weather equipment. Cycle out your food and water, and make sure your medkits are still stocked up. If some new multi tool came out and changed the game, is it in your ruck? These are good things to know, addressing your kit at least seasonally will help.
Your vehicle is an extension of your third tier also. It’s an additional storage locker for some necessities, but you can’t always count on it.
If you live, work, and spend 85% or more of your time in a wilderness environment, have at least a carbine in your trunk. It may be a huge life saver. Not just from a Combat perspective, but a signaling perspective. Every hunter knows that 3 rapid shots means I’m in trouble. Rifle reports in conspicuous areas can save your life.
The opposite can be true in certain urban areas, and States. Use your vehicle as additional storage space.
If you live in the colder regions remember to never leave your vehicle. Always stick with it and stay as long as you can. There are hundreds of stories of people who left their vehicles only to be found hours later, dead face down in the snow. Don’t be them. Pistol flares and all kinds of signaling devices are at your disposal. Be prepared. Have seasonal readiness.
Look at your area of operations and think through scenarios. Are you more likely to have to leave your vehicle in gridlock and hoof it home, or get stranded in the wilderness and take a little camping trip. Which doesn’t sound so bad right now, but all the electronics didn’t mysteriously go out either.
You have to go through the process of Mission versus equipment.
My recommendation is:
- Know what your route is
- Know your potential rest points/traffic congestion points are.
- Hike it at least once and take notes. Preferably in all seasons.
- Remember what your Tiers are for and equip them accordingly.
The entire system focuses around: speed, ease of transitioning from environments, and versatility. There are the broad sweeping environments that you could be transitioning from/into: urban, wilderness, and water. There are going to be very few individuals who will transition from all three in a short period of time. If you are, please email me for some additional pointers and equipment advice: (firstname.lastname@example.org). What typically happens in warfare is a transition from urban, through wilderness, back into urban. In modern warfare it would most likely be urban to suburban, then wilderness or water. No one fights wars over wilderness.
The versatility aspect comes into play a lot and may require covert carry then, overt carry. Having all three Tiers allows you to cache what I need in your third Tier and use your first Tier and it’s accessories in a more covert manner.
Consistency comes with time and lots of practice, speed comes with lots of consistency. Setting up all of our gear to be consistent is a major obstacle that the 3 Tiers System overcomes.
Get your equipment setup and start practicing. Whether you’re doing wilderness rescue, daily covert carry, or refounding a Nation, you’re going to need to practice with your equipment. Having three Tiers of organized and trained-with-gear is going to increase your survivability and everyone around you.
In my next article, I will be going more in depth on Tier 1 – The Battle Belt.
God bless, and remember, there’s no such thing as Wasted Ammo.