Although Crye was one of the first to make a combat shirt, other companies are now offering some worth while variants such as this Propper TAC-U Combat Shirt. The basic concept of a "combat shirt" being the sleeves and upper portion are done with more traditional military jacket materials while the torso is done very low profile with light weight breathable materials; the intent that armor will be covering that zone all day anyway. This concept change certainly helps a lot to keep cooler in hot climates and prevents pressure points from any extra buttons or pockets. The TAC-U Combat Shirt in particular uses 65/35 poly/cotton Battlerip fabric which includes a Ripstop weave, and torso has a 60/40 knitted Cotton/Poly Blend.
I suppose battlerip is some made up word, but the ripstop line is visually less pronounced compared to the usual ripstop materials. As a big plus the torso material is camo matched, multicam in this case, where in the past this commonly had to be a solid color. This issue is particularly noticeable on the back armpit area when not camo matched.
For a cool new idea, the venting has been moved to the side shoulder area rather than down the sides of the back. This way the vents aren't just negated outright by being covered by armor. To keep the torso as minimal as possible, the shirt uses a partial zip which then leads up into an overall loose fit collar. The collar is comfortable, but I would like some adjustability to tighten up to keep out hot brass. Loop velcro has been added to the back of the collar for a name tape mount option, I personally probably won't use that location, however that shouldn't stop others.
Zippered pockets are on the bicep zones with no additional velcro pockets as seen on other designs, perhaps to streamline the area. I recommend some small pull cords to make the sliders a little easier to grab with gloves. As is, the sliders are short and zippers on the biceps can always be a little tricky to zip up and down with natural fabric folds. One finds themselves commonly having to stick an arm out scarecrow style to make the zipper straight and easier to manipulate. Loop velcro fields are on both sides, being approx 3.75" x 5.375" with rounded corners being a nice touch. The loop sizing is somewhat unique as 4" x 4" (with 4" x 2" flap above) is more of an ACU standard so it will be hard to fit both a full size US Flag and a larger unit patch on the same side. Moving down the sleeve, Propper got pretty creative with the forearm pocket options. Both arms have zippered gauntlet pockets, however the left side has pen / chemlight slots while the right side has a velcro closure pocket, sized about right for small electronics. Depending on the circumstances the velcro pocket can be a little hard to retrieve items out of, but I still like that it exists. The elbow areas have velcro closure pockets for pad inserts as well, that said the sizing seems small and non standard so I am not sure which pads currently fit. Word is Propper is working on a pad to offer, but until then the user will just have to cut up their preferred insert type to fit.
The cuffs sport a nice wide velcro strap for solid adjustability and interior cuffs to offer a good fit with protection from the elements. When not wearing gloves, the interior cuff even has thumb holes which help for both sleeve anti-twisting and partial hand coverage options. It would be safe to say with all these sleeve features it would be very difficult to try and roll up the sleeves, but no complaints from my white ass that needs to stay covered up anyway. Comfort wise between the shoulder construction and articulated elbows, the freedom of movement is great. The classic test doing the "hulk" or "fat man in little man's coat" movements is where many other designs will start to feel tight around the shoulder blades. An upward elbow strike is another good one. Some slight resistance is felt on the Tac-U shirt, but fortunately the stretch in the materials makes it very minimal.
Being priced fairly affordably, the TAC-U makes for a solid combat shirt option having a great feature set and near full multicam exterior (solid coyote loop velcro). The main savings consideration is that the materials used aren't particularly flame resistant so if you aren't in IED country, take advantage of the extra buying options.
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