My collection of 'Heat' vests. (Travis Pike for TTAG)
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I just finished the book Heat 2, which to me, is a long-awaited deep dive into a group of characters I love. ‘Heat’ is often well regarded for its gunplay, but beyond good cinematic ballistics, it’s a great film with deep and flawed characters. In short, I’m a fan of director Michael Mann and a huge fan of ‘Heat.’

A year ago, the Youtube channel Forgotten Weapons posted a video called Forgotten Weapons Will Rock and Roll At the Drop of a Hat. The video showed Ian and friends reenacting the bank robbery scene wearing the famed Heat vest. 

The HEat Vest portrayed in the video (Courtesy Forgotten Weapons)

In the film, our crew of rogue-ish robbers wear these custom vests under their suits with magazines strapped to them in a range of positions. In 1995 the chest rig game was nowhere near what it is today, and this fabricated option gave McCauley and Company eight AR mags on tap for laying down fire when the robbery goes bad. 

The vest in the film (Courtesy Heat and BAMF Style)

The video is entertaining, and the vests look and run great. The guys are moving, reloading, shooting, all while carrying massive bags of cash, and the vests just work. 

At the bottom of the video, a link to the Forgotten Weapons store shows a pre-order form for two sizes of the vest they were offering, Large/Medium and XL/XXL, AKA Sizemore. I had to have one. I’m a big fan of Heat, and I’m a big fan of Forgotten Weapons. 

In fact, I’m such a fan of both that I hate writing this article.

Receiving the ‘Heat’ Vest 

The vests shipped fairly quickly and by August of last year they were in the hands of consumers. Before I got mine, I saw a thread about the vest on the Forgotten Weapons Subreddit, and someone remarked it had retention issues and was way too big.

In fact, these threads kept rolling in, and I just hoped mine would fit me. I’m six foot five inches tall and weigh 280 pounds. I wear an XXL Tall shirt, and it’s rare that something is too big for me. 

This is the XL size…keep in mind I’m six foot five inches tall and 280 pounds. It engulfed me. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

I was wrong. Their ‘Heat’ vest must be closer to a 3XL or so. I felt like a little kid wearing his dad’s clothes. The vest engulfed me and hung down nearly to mid-thigh. It was comically oversized.

On top of that, magazine retention was terrible. I couldn’t get it to work with polymer or aluminum mags at all. Just walking around would cause the magazines to fall out of their slots. 

This occurred after three small jumps. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Also the vest is made of 100% polyester. It feels cheap and someone described it as Halloween costume quality. That’s actually a good way to describe it. In the Forgotten Weapons video, their ‘Heat’ vests were clearly sized right, and retention wasn’t a problem. 

Ian commented on the thread on Reddit and seemed fairly surprised at the issues listed. He described some features the vest should have in regards to retention for the magazines. His preproduction model looked to be of a much higher quality and fit him well.

Ian’s vest is clearly better made with different retention tabs and proper sizing

He also said there would be a fix and to email the customer support page. I did, as did many others. I was told they were working on a solution, but they weren’t proactive in keeping us up to date. Over the next year, I would email asking what was going on, and sometimes I got a reply, sometimes not. 

What Happened With the ‘Heat’ Vests? 

Forgotten Weapons obviously doesn’t have the manufacturing capability to produce these vests. They partnered with a company called Warren James, LLC to make them. I noticed Warren James were the people responding to my emails. I hadn’t heard of the company, but they printed their name on the tag. 

On their website, they list nothing more than a P.O. Box in Tennessee and then have a full address in China. Ivan from the Kommando Store described them as a “predatory” company that makes merchandise for Youtubers. They certainly don’t make gun gear. The ‘Heat’ vest was produced in China from 100% polyester, likely making it extremely cheap. 

You can adjust the vest, but even tightened to the max made it impossible to use This is there XL size…keep in mind I’m six foot five inches tall and 280 pounds. It envelopes me (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Ian and his crew clearly got higher quality sample vests when they began their merchandising deal. From watching the video, I could see why the Forgotten Weapons crew would think they were good to go and would trust the company to produce a quality vest. I think it’s safe to say Ian got had by Warren James LLC., just like the rest of us.

As I said, I’m a big fan, and I’ve met Ian twice at SHOT. He’s always been quite kind and accommodating to a nobody gun writer.

Regardless of how tight I made the vest it didn’t fit. This is their XL size…keep in mind I’m six foot five inches tall and 280 pounds. It envelopes me. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

It’s a safe bet he wasn’t very happy about the final product either.

A New Year and a New Vest

Earlier this month, I received a random package in my mail which turned out to be my replacement ‘Heat’ vest. I opened it and noticed some immediate improvements. The retention issue had been solved with huge reinforced tabs, and the vest now seemed appropriately sized. Well, appropriately sized for an average-sized person. 

The new vest certainly reinforced the retention tabs This is there XL size…keep in mind I’m six foot five inches tall and 280 pounds. It envelopes me (Travis Pike for TTAG)

I received a medium/large replacement vest. It was much too small for my large frame and I was doing the ‘Fat guy in a little coat’ dance. Its looks, size and retention are significantly improved, but too small for me.

With what I thought was peak frustration, I emailed Warren James LLC. again and explained my problem. I just wanted a refund at this point, but that was denied. 

The gen 2 might be better, but mine is too small to find out This is there XL size…keep in mind I’m six foot five inches tall and 280 pounds. It envelopes me (Travis Pike for TTAG)

They shipped a third vest, but it was the ‘Gen 1’ variant. Another 3XL or 4XL with the dodgy retention. I had achieved peak frustration and once again emailed the same customer service rep I had been dealing with. After explaining the problem, and providing photos, I was told that the fulfillment teamed shipped the correct ‘Heat’ vest, and the problem was now “solved.” 

A ‘Gen 2’ ‘Heat’ vest does seemingly exist and appears to solve the problems, but I’ve yet to get one that I can fully test to find out. 

With that said, the Kommando Store is now selling their own American-made, Berry-compliant rig they are offering if you too have a ‘Heat’ itch that needs scratching. 

 

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18 COMMENTS

  1. The good people at Kommandostore dot com released their own take on the Heat vest which is much, much, superior in quality to Forgottenweapons’ offering. I suggest anyone interested go check it out.

  2. Forgotten Weapons made a cheaply made movie with real guns firing real bullets… there’s an Alex Baldwin joke in there some place.

  3. Got me a couple of .357 bandoliers from a Amish guy outside of scotsville ky that are excellent. $50 for the pair 4 years ago. Got 2 .45lc from a prop house in ca 6 years ago $60 ea cheap mexican crap. Sure hope I have to work in bowling green again.

    • I’ve done business with the Amish there in KY. Never regretted it. And had the chuckle of seeing the ‘No Horse and Buggy’ signs on the interstate on ramps.

  4. I like Michael Mann movies. Did you ever see Thief? Credits said “Guns by Hoag”. Word is James Cann went through Gunsite 250 to prep for the movie. Besides, I’m a Wille Nelson fan too.

    • The “word” I heard is that they wouldn’t let him train at Gunsite since Gunsite isn’t in the business of training professional criminals, so they just told him to look like he knew what he was doing.

      • Fire, not the way I heard it. The story back in the day was that Cooper hosted Cann in his home because of Cann’s celebrity. It was said that Cann later complained that he had to live with a Nazi while he trained. Cann was Hollywood. I can believe it.

  5. As far as the vests, extra mags and reloads. Yeah, that added realism. I was using Eagle Industries gear about that time. Still do. I understood they’re coming back. Hope so. That was really good gear.

      • Don’t worry, in just a few years when they manage to mix social-emotional learning technology with the Metaverse everyone will be Walter Mitty “for real”.

        Until people have a bad thought and they go to the digital gulag.

        Florida’s got the experiments well underway with their little “heart math” program. Because, you know, the GOP will save you from Leftist technofascism. For sure.

        For all the technical illiteracy on the Right, you’d think they’d at least read the WEF’s own documents on this stuff. “Ed-tech”, lol. Nothing but a giant biodata harvesting front and even DeSantis doesn’t see it even though the WEF and other groups publish the documents telling you what this is all about.

        Just go read WEF’s Vison 2025 and compare it to their 2016 document. Then go read Psychodata: disassembling the psychological, economic,
        and statistical infrastructure of ‘social-emotional learning’
        by Ben Williamson.

        Verbal Kint, as himself, was absolutely right. So was Nietzsche, as much as people don’t want to hear that.

        “You cannot derive an ought from an is”.

        But hey, I’m sure you’ll be allowed to keep your real-life guns.

        • World Economic Forum (WEF)? Had to hunt around a little to find their Future Focus 2025: Pathways for Progress from the Network of Global Future Councils 2020-2022 report. At 134 pages, won’t get to it today. https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_Focus_2025.pdf

          But the Williamson article is certainly troubling.
          From the abstract: “Psychology and economics are powerful sources of expert knowledge in contemporary governance. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is becoming a priority in education policy in many parts of the world. Based on the enumeration of students’ ‘noncognitive’ skills, SEL consists of a ‘psycho-economic’ combination of psychometrics with economic analysis, and is producing novel forms of statistical ‘psychodata’ about students. Constituted by an expanding infrastructure of technologies, metrics, people, money and policies, SEL has travelled transnationally through the advocacy of psychologists, economists, and behavioural scientists, with support from think tank coalitions, philanthropies, software companies, investment schemes, and international organizations. The article examines the emerging SEL infrastructure, identifying how psychological and economics experts are producing policy-relevant scientific knowledge and statistical psychodata to influence the direction of SEL policies. It examines how the OECD Study on Social and Emotional Skills, a large-scale computer-based assessment, makes ‘personality’ an international focus for policy intervention and ‘human capital’ formation, thereby translating measurable socio-emotional indicators into predicted socio-economic outcomes. The SEL measurement infrastructure instantiates psychological governance within education, one underpinned by a political rationality in which society is measured effectively through scientific fact-finding and subjects are managed affectively through psychological intervention.” Chilling. Glad that my kid is at a charter school. I wonder how much of the online ‘learning games’ and other tools are monitoring and calculating (psychoanalyzing) his development given the so-called “need” to address the gender gap in AI–according to one of the WEF’s other articles.

      • jwm, I was no Walter Mitty. That shit was in my county car every day I worked. Often on my torso. Wore some of that gear in the Army. Why wouldn’t you want quality support gear for your weapons? Support gear is the first thing I buy after a new weapon. All that was anticipated, often bought, before the purchasing of the weapon. A handgun without a reload is better than nothing. Good luck with that.

  6. Sheesh, and then there’s the Glock 7 I got from them! It set off the metal detectors in the airport and STILL cost me more than I make in a month!

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