In the "gadgets and gizmos" category today, I ran across this interesting item as I was perusing the sight from our friends at BreachBangClear.
Think of it as a magazine for M-16 mags.
The STRAC Technologies FAST (Fast And Smooth Transition) system is a hardened pouch designed to hold three spring-loaded rifle magazines that feed out as the operator reloads his carbine. The folks over at MilSpecMonkey did an intensive review of the product, the full version of which you can read HERE.
But, while it seems like an interesting idea, I agree with the folks at MilSpecMonkey that there are limited applications of the product. I can see uses for it in law enforcement, where tactical teams really don't have a need for any more than 100 rounds for a particular situation. And I can see where vehicle operators might like it for its more flush-to-the-body configuration.
As with most things, the FAST System has pluses and minuses. The good part is that the system functions totally as advertised. You can become a consistent reloading super star in about 20 minutes of practice and only get better from there. One of the first downsides however is the bulk. The space required by FAST is the equivalent of over 6 30 round magazines, but it only holds 3 magazines. Also some may feel the required grips for mag extraction are awkward. Personally after using it I feel the grip is "good enough". On this particular prototype, I wish the body was connected to the carrier in a more solid fashion. The only thing holding it in there is a piece of velcro on the back of the body and friction inside the carrier. With the dust cover down I can wiggle the body out of the carrier with one hand while still on my body. It doesn't feel outright unsafe, but could be better. That said, it should be noted this preview is of a prototype and the final version will solve this issue with webbing loop slots to lash the body down to one's vest. This is to get the extraction area closer to the body, but would secure the system further as well. Unfortunately the simple design only allows standard NATO magazines to be used in the FAST system. Magazines with any additional height such as PMAGs, Lancer, and HK mags will not fit. Although I wish they could fit, as a designer I can see where the system would become overly complicated if altered to do so. As the final con, the FAST System could easily be called expensive, but that is usually the price of cutting edge technology.
Here's a pretty good video of the FAST system in action at the range:
And another one with some SWAT bubbas giving their impressions of the system: