Special Ops Paintball: Broadsword IX: A modern warrior's armor - Special Ops Paintball

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Broadsword IX: A modern warrior's armor Review by Lo

#1 User is offline   Lomarandil 

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 10:36 PM

Special Ops Broadsword IX:
A Modern Warrior's Armor
By Ian "Lo" Ebersole

In ancient cultures, while the armament might have received all the glory and attention, there was a reason that a warrior's armor was passed down from generation to generation. Having a set of armor that is molded to the warrior, designed to move where he needs it to move, breathe where he needs it to breathe, and able to meet every need he might have on the field of battle was essential, and that's no less true today. The new Broadsword IX vest from Special Ops Paintball is meant to be that perfect set of armor for today's paintball weekend warrior.

Special Ops carved their niche in the world of paintball based on their line of products aimed toward the paintball sniper, and on their line of versatile and well-designed vests. So before I even opened the box to unveil the Broadsword IX, this little vest had a lot to live up to. To be frank, I was expecting to be slightly let down. I've been using a SpecOps Dagger 7 vest for years, and couldn't think of any way that my tried and true favorite was going to be replaced. The Broadsword would have to come out of the gate swinging to have a fighting chance.

I was amazed when I opened the box to see just how light the new Broadsword IX is. Even as a full vest, I couldn't feel any significant weight difference against the harness-type Dagger7; and it is in an entirely separate class from other, bulkier vests. The reason why the vest is so light is readily apparent. The mesh used over the majority of the vest is a looser, larger weave with heavier cord; which translates to weight savings while not compromising strength. This would also come to bear later in the breathability of the vest. While any vest adds an additional layer to trap heat, the Broadsword IX breathes incredibly well, and with a slight breeze or a brisk jog, allows plenty of airflow. So far, the vest was holding its own.

Next, I checked the adjustability. This was likely to be a strike against the Broadsword IX, since I'm a bit of a beanpole (read as: I turn sideways behind saplings for cover). Thankfully, the Broadsword comes in an Adult and Youth size, with lots of adjustability in either. I personally picked up a Youth size. Both sides are connected with adjustable straps, and the shoulders are attached with very large pieces of velcro for adjustable length. As with most of the SpecOps lineup, the vest features an internal elastic belt similar to most podpacks, which keeps your pods or tank from bouncing around, and the Broadsword IX comes with a tactical belt which links to the vest using belt keepers spaced around the bottom edge of the vest. In short, the Broadsword IX has no shortage of adjustability, and within just a few minutes I had it fitting perfectly.

Looking over the Broadsword IX reveals an impressive set of features. Both front panels are entirely MOLLE based, which allows for any number of pouches or tactical additions to the vest. The Broadsword comes stock with a double grenade pouch (sized to hold any popular paintball grenade such as the Tippmann Squadbuster or BigBoy), a large utility pouch, and a radio pouch on the shoulder. Flipping the vest over reveals an ambidextrious horizontal tank pouch and either four vertical pod holders (in the Youth size) or six (in the Adult size). The Broadsword IX, unlike previous vests, does not feature the “+1” pod holders that are nearly standard in the paintball world, due to player feedback decrying the hassle of trying to find lost pods that drop out in the woods. While this does limit the capacity of the vest somewhat, it also keeps the weight (and presumably the cost) lower.

Unlike previous SpecOps vests, the pod holders do not entirely envelop the pods, but instead have a looser canvas bottom section and a snug elastic top section similar to "+1" sleeves. This allows the vest to hold any variety of pod sizes easily, from 100 round tactical pods up to Qpods, while contributing to the weight cuts mentioned previously. I found the top elastic section held standard 140 round pods snugly, even with the bottom flap open, but released them smoothly with a slight pull, perfect for a quick reload. The horizontal tank holder is ideal for running remote with an HPA tank, as it shortens the length of the remote line between your marker and the tank. This keeps the remote from snagging as much, and allows the player to switch hands with ease. (The horizontal tank position is not ideal for players running CO2; as it will allow liquid into the remote line).

The tactical belt is quite sturdy, and adjustable through velcro to fit your exact size. Beyond holding your vest (and pants) in place during a sprint or slide, it also offers the option to easily mount a leg holster or any number of accessories to your kit. And as always with SpecOps goods; the vest has integrated sling points and an internal pouch perfect for camelback style hydration systems to keep you cool on a long summer day.

The Broadsword IX seemed to be holding its own easily enough on a visual inspection: lightweight, adjustable, plenty of nice features. It was time to take a run through the jungle. I started simply by shooting a few pods through my automag using the vest to reload and feed the marker via an HPA tank and remote. I had stripped the MOLLE grenade pouch off the front right side (I can't throw worth a hoot) and replaced it with a map pouch, which allowed me to carry a complete set of gear for a day of scenario play easily, including maps and IDs, a microfiber, a granola bar, and some allen wrenches.

Even with a full loadout, the vest did an admirable job of distributing the weight well, to the point where I hardly felt any load at all. By the time I was down to two pods, the difference in my mobility between being loaded and wearing only my jersey was negligible, a testament to the vest system in conjunction with the internal elastic belt. Reloading was fast and easy, the pods coming out with a very slight pull, but not before. While standing still, pods stayed nicely even in open holders, although it was necessary to close the holders to retain full pods if running or jumping. (At this point, some of you are saying "well, duh!". Just wanted to make the test thorough.)

As luck had it, I picked a warm and muggy day (rare for Colorado) to field test the vest. Running through some light vegetation, the ventilation of the Broadsword certainly showed compared to heavier vests. I was able to run much more comfortably and longer with the Broadsword before becoming warm. The Broadsword IX does not breathe as easily as a SpecOps Dagger vest or a podpack, however it's certainly a step above most other vests. The hydration sleeve comes in handy during tests like these, and certainly during a long summer scenario game. Since the vest is primarily made of the sturdy mesh mentioned before, the cool water against your back also has a cooling effect which is worth mention. And despite risking sounding like a broken record, it's worth saying again: this vest is light!

Getting back to the house, I was determined to find some flaw with the vest. The stitching and fabric quality didn't show any flaws, and the quality of the camouflage print on the vest was certainly up to par (previous SpecOps goods have had issues in that regard). If I had to nitpick, the belt keepers are a bit tricky to adjust. Beyond that, the only potential flaw I found in the design is in the attachment of the front panels across the sides. This connection features two adjustable straps with keepers on each side which link the back panel to the front. Instead of the adjustable strap being stitched into the vest on either end, the front actually attaches using a small tab which slides into the MOLLE webbing. While this is certainly secure when held taunt and while the tab is stiff and new, it does offer the possibility of coming free with heavy use. I'll personally throw a few stitches into mine to hold it securely, but it does pose a potential, if unlikely, issue.

At this point, I'm really at a loss. I don't mean to decry the Broadsword IX as the perfect vest that every paintball player should immediately go out and purchase. However, it's tough to find any reason that a player who enjoys playing with a vest shouldn't give the new Broadsword a long hard look. With the combination of incredibly lightweight construction, sizing that will fit any player under the sun, several camouflage patterns to match your current gear, your choice of four or six pods with a horizontal tank on the back and goodness knows what attached to the MOLLE in front... it's simply the set of armor on the market.

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#2 User is offline   TPX 

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 12:36 PM

Really nice review. You should post some picks to show how it looks.
<!--sizeo:2--><span style="font-size:10pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Disparando paintballs, ocho en una vez con mi T9, y T8. Currently have: t8-black-with trg, t9-black with longbow stock, milsig paradigm-black,upped mech ion-black,stock a5-black, cci phantom-green. Spec-Ops official fanboy #1<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->
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#3 User is offline   5N1P3R 

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 07:18 AM

I read this on Recon Online right when it came out :(

Good job.
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