Suppressors get hot, brass scalds the skin and the ever present danger of IED’s has made heat resistant and flame retardant fabrics a necessity in today’s highly volatile field of combat. There is no shortage of clothing that is flame retardant. However I’ve yet to find one that has longevity and can survive harsh environments that both training and a deployed environment can inflict. The original flame retardant Crye field sets issued to SERE Specialists were flame retardant and did not survive well. They frequently tore, the multicam faded to a dull green brown even when washed correctly and the material frayed easily. Thus my general experience with flame retardant clothing was a negative one.
Enter FirstSpear’s the Asset, technical field shirt. The name’s a mouthful but I’ve found this combat shirt to be top notch and constructed of the finest materials not to mention some of the best workmanship I’ve seen in a garment. FirstSpear came to the market determined to construct a garment that would be, “Developed and engineered to be a gunfighter’s best friend…” The thought and construction definitely support this in every form and fashion.
I want to start about by saying that the body of the shirt is tight. Constructed from Polartec flame retardant material it contours to the body due to the pattern used which stands in contrast to the Crye combat shirts which while not baggy offer some excess of material to aid in movement. I’ve found however that the cut and slight stretch of the material used in the Asset allows for an excellent range of motion and has not impeded my movement in the slightest. The tightness of the garment if anything aids in equipment use during high stress environments. I’ve had other combat shirts that have excess material come out over my pistol and impede my ability to draw or get caught in a belt mounted HSGI taco when trying to replace a magazine. I’ve yet to have this happen with the Asset.
Inherent to many flame retardant designs is the general inability of the clothing to breathe. FirstSpear has dealt with this by incorporating a thinner wicking mesh at the armpits. This combat shirt has proven its value over the past 4 months as I’ve used in my job and also while at the range. I’ve worn this for days on end under a plate carrier or chest rig and haven’t found myself anymore sweaty than with a standard Crye G3 combat shirt. The sleeves are constructed of a Kevlar Aramid material which is both heat and flame resistant while still allowing for adequate airflow. FirstSpear has stated that the Aramid material is extremely resistant to wear and has long lasting durability. The neck on the Asset is cut wide to allow for neck sleeves or balaclavas for those of you who routinely find yourselves breaching doors with explosives.
If you’ve used short barreled M4’s with suppressors attached you understand how hot that combo can get. Hot enough that if you have to drop to the prone with it you’re very ginger about where that rifle goes. The Kevlar Aramid material of the sleeves makes me more comfortable when dealing with those types of scenarios or in general the punishing heat radiating off the barrel and suppressor after a day of high tempo shooting. The shirt is cut long to ensure that it won’t come out while you’re running around doing ops. The Velcro on the sleeves is well placed and minimalistic. Regarding Velcro size on the sleeves, if you need 4 inches of Velcro space for unit patches this shirt isn’t it. There is enough for a flag on one side and an identifying patch on the other.
While the colors offered (Coyote and Black) have somewhat limited my ability to use this shirt in certain training situations (Parachuting primarily, can they please offer a multicam sleeve variety?) I have very few complaints against it. If you’re looking for a well-constructed flame retardant shirt that will hold up under hard work, you couldn’t go wrong by picking FirstSpear’s the Asset.
Author – Michael Jones is an Active Duty USAF SERE Specialist (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) currently residing in Eastern Washington. He spends his time teaching SERE and parachuting from anything that flies. On his off time he shoots and spends time with his family.