HSGI Factory Tour
In late March 2018, High Speed Gear (HSGI) invited industry media members including Spotter Up writers to come take a tour of the flagship factory and HQ in Swansboro NC. The event was the first of its kind for High Speed Gear and involved an in-depth factory tour and range day, as well as allowing the writers to assemble their own personal battle belts to use on the range. Sig Sauer was on site for the range day and provided several P320 X5 pistols and MCX Virtus Gen 2 rifles for us to run alongside our HSGI belts systems. Several additional companies sponsored the event and provided products for the writers to test and use on the range. Lalo provided boots and shoes, Walkers provided electronic ear pro, Streamlight provided a rechargeable handheld flashlight, Mechanix Wear provided shooting gloves, and rats medical provided a R.A.T.S Tourniquet.
When we arrived to the HSGI HQ in Swansboro we were greeted by a friendly crew of employees representing the sales, marketing and production divisions, who led us into a conference and showroom lined with HSGI products including plate carriers, holsters, mag pouches (aka tacos) and belt systems. We were invited to explore the gift bags provided to us from the event sponsors, which included a HSGI belt system of our choosing and a full set of HSGI kit including holsters and tacos. After getting a nice brief and demonstration of the evolution of the sure grip belt designs and new products including the holsters and polymer tacos, the writers gathered around the table with the staff and started putting together our battle belts and making sure everything fit properly and was set up how we wanted it for range use.
“Made by moms in the USA”
Once we had gone over the product lines and went hands on with the belts and all the accompanying gear, we were introduced to the production manager and given a brief rundown on the factory, how they run the operation and his approach to production. At this point much emphasis was put on the value of the employees who make all of the gear, mainly using sewing machines and assembling by hand. All of the products at HSGI are made right here in the USA by local residents, and HSGI takes great pride in their employment of a local work force. They even have a work from home program so local workers who cannot leave home due to medical or family reasons can complete assembly and production tasks from their own homes.
The design of the operation can be described as a large-scale custom shop and frankly was very impressive. With all employees being cross-trained for each aspect of production, assembly, packaging and staging for shipping. They have the ability to flex as needed to accommodate large orders and to make custom orders on the fly. They maintain a set level of stock in all raw materials and components, and are always taking end-user input to improve designs and innovate new products.
The factory itself was a mix of manual labor and state of the art production techniques. One area of the factory is filled with traditional production using sewing machines and manual assembly, while in the next room employees are operating high tech laser cutting and laminating machines, technology for which the phrase “high speed” definitely came to mind. The level of organization was very impressive and the production manager boasted of their ability to fulfill orders quickly because of it. You can follow us on our tour through the facility and get a close up look at their product lineup in the video below.
The Battle Belt
The heart of HSGI’s product line are their neoprene-backed belt systems and universal mag pouches, affectionately known as “tacos”. They recently started producing their own holsters as well, so along with various pouches, belts, plate carriers and other accessories they make everything you need for a complete color-matched kit; and when i say color matched i mean exactly matched including various camouflage patterns. Apparently that is easier said than done when it comes to so many different types of products, and HSGI accomplishes it masterfully. I went with the Laser slim-grip belt because I’m shorter than average and didn’t need the full size battle belt, and this offered all the functionality that i needed without having to sacrifice possible attachment space. The neoprene backing of the belts offers a great friction surface to keep the belt in place as i demonstrate in the video below, along with a couple other cool pro tips.
Sig Sauer Demo Range Day
Sig Sauer USA was on site with several P320 X5s and MCX Virtus rifles chambered in 9mm and 5.56 nato respectively. After providing a brief on the manual of arms and unique modularity features that are the hallmark of these two weapons systems, we made the 30 minute drive to The Spartan Ranch where we would be spending the day shooting and putting the guns and HSGI battle belts through their paces. The belts worked as expected during the day, staying in place without discomfort or needing readjustment, and the holsters, drop pouches and tacos all worked flawlessly making ammo management and reloads a breeze. See the video below to watch us run the snot out of these guns and put the battle belts and accessories to good use.
Sig Sauer provided the guns and ammo, Defense Targets provided several fun steel targets with smaller and smaller swingers to torment us with, as well as a bunch of unique IPSC targets to run drills on. In a half day i was able to put a few hundred rounds through both guns and get a good initial impression of them. After establishing a 50 yard zero for the Virtus with the Sig Romeo 4T Optics, we proceeded to run some rounds through both guns in free fire, and eventually running some fun drills under the instruction of Doug Flavin from Sig Sauer Academy.
The p320 X5 feels great in your hand and is an inherently accurate gun. It comes with what i would call a good trigger and a tiny fiber optic front sight. I was able to make 50 yards hit on steel silhouettes easily and i managed to nail a 6″ swinger a few times at 50 yards without too much trouble. Its a good shooting gun. The trigger has a slightly longer reset than the Glocks I’m used to shooting, and the extra mass of the slide higher above my hand made it harder for me to shoot fast without the gun climbing on me. Ive seen local Master class shooters run this gun extremely fast, so i know with some practice i could get used to the different felt recoil. Overall i enjoyed shooting the X5 and it ran like a champ with no lube straight out of the box for several hours of constant shooting.
The MCX Virtus is also an inherently accurate gun. I really enjoyed shooting it, and was able to hit a credit card sized swinger plate at 50 yards shooting it offhand. The 1 moa dot and variety of reticles of the Romeo 4T was a big help in acquiring a quick and precise sight picture and the brightness setting was satisfactory for shooting on a clear sunny day. The MCX Virtus has the same manual of arms as an M4/AR-15, so there really wasn’t any learning curve to using the rifle, despite being an internally unique design. The recoil impulse of the MCX was just a slight backward push, essentially what you would expect from an 8 lb AR-15, maybe just ever so slightly less rise due to the recoil system being centered in the receiver as opposed to back closer to your shoulder like a standard AR. I think users–particularly law enforcement departments– who are looking for a modular rifle that can be reconfigured for different missions, and can easily replace parts would be especially interested in this rifle. Check out the video below to watch us run the guns.
Several companies provided samples of their products to sponsor the event, and while i didn’t get much time with most of these, i did get initial impressions and will continue to use them and evaluate.
Streamlight Polytac X USB LED: this is cool polymer housing handheld flashlight from Streamlight. It fits right into a taco nicely so its an easy addition to your battle belt if you want it. This model has a tail cap clicker with programmable settings, a USB rechargeable Li-Ion battery and a pocket clip that you can use in either direction, so that is all pretty damn cool! I may do a short article on this light at some point.
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R.A.T.S Tourniquet: This is a neat take on the TQ. The Rapid Application Tourniquet is essentially a long line of rubber with a nylon sheath and s simple yet effective locking mechanism which can very quickly and easily be deployed. One of the other writers demonstrated how to use it on my arm and i would carry one of these anywhere considering how well it worked and how small of a package it is. Very cool.
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Lalo BUD/S Grinder Ive actually owned a pair of these for a couple years, i wear them everyday in the gym and that includes 180 days straight in dusty Afghanistan last year. I can say without a doubt that these are the best gym shoes I’ve ever owned, and are some of the most comfortable and durable shoes I’ve ever worn, period. Read the SpotterUp review here.
Walkers Razor Series Ear Pro: These are good electronic ear pro. I don’t like them for indoor ranges as much as my Peltors because they pick up more ambient noise it seems. But they do the job and are comfortable and adjustable.
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Mechanic Wear Tactical Gloves: Sweet shooting gloves. I received the “Recon” gloves which are goatskin leather lined on the palm and fit really nice, allowing for plenty of dexterity. I like these gloves a lot, time will tell how durable they are. I found the claim of being touchscreen capable to be only partially accurate on my iPhone X, and would have to take them off to use the phone.
Going into this event i didn’t know that much about High Speed Gear, other than that they make battle belt systems and the ubiquitous taco mag pouches which i see everywhere. The factory tour was really an eye opener into how a successful gear maker produces so much quality product here in the US. I was very impressed with both the quality and design of the products and the level of organization and productivity in the factory. Everything i saw in the factory and my experience using the products on the range all lived up to the name “high speed gear”. I would recommend all of the companies involved in this event without hesitation. Big thank you to the employees of High Speed Gear and my fellow industry content producers that i shared time with in North Carolina. Go check these guys out!