COPIED? TMIL Systems PRIME Versus The TYR Tactical MICO Belt-Fed Backpack

TMIL_TYR

I know very little about belt-fed machine guns and the feed chute systems available to guide the ammunition reliably. So when the TMIL Systems PRIME belt-fed manpack and ammunition system popped up on my Twitter feed, my first thought was that it might qualify as news-worthy. Then I got that weird ‘gear deja vu’ feeling. And after a minimal amount of searching, I found it: the TYR Tactical MICO belt-fed backpack and feed chute has been around for about five years and has been covered by several major digital and print publications.

So, just as I was about to punt the entire story into the trash, I decided to reach out to TYR Tactical to see about licensing agreements, updates and feature upgrades to the MICO system. “Well the interesting thing is the TMIL system is a copy. They didn’t bother contacting us or licensing it from TYR Tactical they just straight up copied the MICO the best they could,” said Jason Beck, founder and owner of TYR Tactical, which is based in Peoria, AZ.

Now, the idea to use a feed chute and backpack/canister to supply ammo to a belt-fed machine gun is nothing new. Field expedient versions of such systems on typically crew-served weapons were used successfully by U.S. troops in Vietnam.

And of course turret mounts and flexible mounts for belt-fed guns like the Browning M2 have been around for decades, incorporating feed chute systems into their helicopter, vehicle and ship-based deployments.

But the similarities between the recently unveiled TMIL Prime system and the battle-proven TYR Tactical MICO are unmistakable. Even a cursory look at the sections of the PRIME and MICO’s feed chute sections and backpacks by an untrained eye would reveal very few differences. “From what we can tell, everything from the magazine, top lid with roller ([an]exact copy), the way the top flap comes over to the 3 side buckles on each pack, all are direct copies,” said Beck

“The MICO has been in service since 2010 and is utilized by US Combat forces all over the globe as well as International SOF Units,” said Beck. In November of 2014, the TYR Tactical MICO was assigned a National Supply Number (NSN) which gives stocking and ordering capabilities of items by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) as well as NATO Forces. As such, the existence and application of the MICO is no secret.

Before I jumped to any conclusions, I wanted to confirm that this was not a good-faith error made on behalf of TMIL. “I have never met with TMIL nor have they ever tried to contact me. In no way is this a miscommunication,” said Beck. All signs are now pointing to TMIL attempting to copy the parts used in the TYR MICO. Beck has an idea on who the individual(s) were that played a part in the technologies “borrowed” by TMIL to make the PRIME system.  A lack of direct evidence prevents us from reporting those names in this article.

A close look at both products detail the similarities between the two:

TMIL Systems Prime

TMIL Systems Prime

 

TMIL Systems Prime

TMIL Systems Prime

 

 

TYR Tactical MICO

TYR Tactical MICO

 

TYR Tactical MICO

TYR Tactical MICO

 

TYR Tactical MICO

TYR Tactical MICO

 

TYR Tactical:

TMIL Systems:

The feed chute design pictured is patented by Xavier Gonzalez, CEO of GSI International, based in Mesa, Arizona. A request for information on the TMIL PRIME from GSI International was not immediately returned.

image image

image

A request for further information from Allepo Systems International, TMIL’s parent company, was responded to by Business Director Michael Berry. “The PRIME manpack is not a copy or breach to any product or contract related to TYR Mico or other company,” said Berry. “We made a great product, PRIME MANPACK, integrating an advanced feed chute, manufactured with all authorizations at ISO Std [sic].”

“TMIL uses feed chute manufactured at GSI international while Aleppo Systems is responsible for worldwide marketing and integration’s [sic],” continued Berry.

TYR Tactical doesn’t hold any patents on the MICO backpack system, so it is unclear if there are any legal ramifications. However, the similarities between the veteran TYR Tactical MICO and the freshman TMIL Systems PRIME are unavoidable.

TYR Tactical will be on hand at Eurosatory 2016, Defense and Security International Exhibition in Paris from June 13-17, to display and demonstrate the MICO. According to Berry, the TMIL PRIME was not prepared in time to demo at Eurosatory.

TMIL Systems:

Israel Offices: 98 Yigal Alon, Tel Aviv, Israel.

France Offices: 72 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honore’, 75008, Paris. France.

Phone: +972.77.693.5027

Web: tmil-systems.com


TYR Tactical:

16661 N. 84th Ave. #110, Peoria, AZ 85382

Phone: 1-888-602-7667

International: 1-623-240-1400

Email: info@tyrtactical.com



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Ambassador Vader

    It kind of looks like another patent, but it’s cool non the less. Lets just hope they can get it to market before mossberg sues them.

  • c3404444

    So let me get this straight: TYR Tactical holds no patents on the design, which is actually patented by GSI International, who is apparently manufacturing it for TMIL? What is the problem here, exactly?

    If anyone is in the wrong, I’d say it is TYR for seemingly attempting to claim rights to a design owned by GSI and properly licensed by TMIL, then publicly slandering them based on that lie.

    • Pete M

      Your making a few assumptions.

      1) GSI only holds the patent on the feed chute not the backpack system.

      2) We don’t have confirmation from GSI that TMIL purchases or licenses their feed chute design.

      • c3404444

        Fair enough, but I still feel the same, though perhaps a bit less hyperbolic now.

        1) True, but note the article claims that TYR has NO patents on the design whatsoever, not just the feed chute. If so, then they still have no claim, regardless of other similarities.

        2) I suppose they might not, but if not then “TMIL uses feed chute manufactured at GSI international…” is an absolute whopper of a lie. I find it hard to believe that a would-be military supplier would lie so brazenly in public like that, and it’s fair practice to give them the benefit of the doubt until contrary evidence arises.

        All said and done, the TYR system still does look superior in construction and they WERE the first to market, so credit where credit is due.

        • Pete M

          I agree with your points and appreciate the input.

          In the end, I doubt there is any legal recourse for TYR. But I still thought it was newsworthy.

          I did decide to leave out some details about some parties because they couldn’t be confirmed by independent sources. I was careful to report the facts as they came to me and avoid speculation and slander.

          • c3404444

            Ha. I didn’t realize at first that you were actually the author of the article. My apologies if I came off as a little patronizing.

          • Pete M

            No apologies needed. Thanks for commenting.

  • SwissFreek

    Did you guys get bought out by Buzzfeed or something? What’s with the silly headlines in all caps all of a sudden? Why are you yelling?!

    • c3404444

      Most of the all caps words (TMIL, PRIME, TYR, MICO) are like that because that is how the official copywrite names are capitalized. The only word that didn’t actually need all caps was the leading “COPIED?” which is still a little agressive, imo.

      • SwissFreek

        Yes, in this particular case that’s true, but they’ve started doing it a lot the last few days.

    • Pete M

      Appreciate the feedback.

      • SwissFreek

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as a jerk. Love the site, I just have an allergic reaction to click-baity headlines (probably overly so). You guys are better than that.

        • Pete M

          No apologies needed. Trying something new and legitimately appreciate the feedback.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Its not in all caps, dude.
      READ IT AGAIN.

  • randomswede

    The “Predator” is of course completely different.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    The Russians are way ahead.

    • Brett

      It is a lousy image but it is from the show defiance on syfy. I have no idea what it is connected to.

  • Bert

    What, no mention of the Ironman pack or the dustup between the Army and Tyr over that?

    • Pete M

      I was going to include the Natick Labs story but decided decided keep it current and after NSN inclusion.

      But thanks for the reminder. I’ll update the story later today.

      • Bert

        fair enough. Have a good day, Pete.

  • PK

    The improvement to the chute, okay. I can buy that, it’s legitimately an improvement over the older fixed wire bracket style with flexible links only between them.

    But the whole idea? As you pointed out, wearable ammunition fed through a chute or belt to a firearm is an old idea. Older than you may know, in fact, as here’s one from 1918. Vollmer sure had a lot of ideas far ahead of his time.

    • Pete M

      Awesome pic. Thanks for that.

      • PK

        You’re quite welcome! Sadly, Heinrich Vollmer is somewhat unknown so I’m always happy to mention him when relevant. He came up with ideas far ahead of his time.

        The photo is from the book “The MP38, 40, 40/1 and 41 Submachine gun”, by G. de Vries & B.J. Martens. ISBN 90-805583-2-X, and it’s even still in print.

        • Pete M

          Boom. Weekend reading. Thank you.

  • gunsandrockets

    fight! fight! 😉

    More seriously, interested to see where this story concludes.

  • imachinegunstuff

    As a former machine gunner neither of these packs look very handy. They look cool, but the reduction in mobility would a pain. The packs would make trip pod use complicated, and sometimes to move through small middle eastern homes and doors I’d have to manipulate the gun in some weird ways, none look possible with the pack itself. Plus If I have to hand the gun over to jump across a canal, or climb over a wall I have to disconnect from the pack and have some weird thing dangling around? Let’s not even talk about vehicle movements.

    • Pete M

      Thanks. I appreciate your input.

    • Brett

      In my modest opinion,this is not a solution for the everyday saw gunner. I would assume it to be more of a misson specific piece of kit for those with the needs it can fill, like SF or FAST. Another possiblity is for the rapid deployment and movement of a MG in a semi-fixed position. The gun may stay, but anyone can bring 500 or more rounds to that post or move it with some speed.

  • randomswede

    In Jin-Roh, and I suspect it the same here, the Panzer Cops have dispensers for what looks like 50 or 100 round belts rather than a continuous belt.

    It’s amusing that they had a barrel change in there that’s premature, sort of reverse from Hollywood during the same era that “never” showed mag changes.
    It’s storytelling wise the same choice but the Japanese felt the barrel change was cool and interesting and the Hollywood directors felt magazine changes took away from the cool and interesting action.

    • Mazryonh

      I have no idea just how much ammunition is supposed to be on each belt that is getting pulled out in that video, but 100 rounds sounds about right, since at 1200 rounds per minute you’re only getting around 5 seconds of firing time.

      You can see a few strange things in that clip aside from the barrel getting changed out too soon (and not showing any signs of overheating when it was changed), such as the strange sticky-looking red liquid dripping from the new barrel at 6 minutes 11 seconds in the video clip, unless that’s some kind of lubricant I’m not familiar with.

      In any case, feed chutes can be bent out of shape, crushed tight so that they can’t feed ammunition anymore, damaged in other ways, get a misshapen round or belt link or debris stuck inside that prevents more ammunition from being fed until the jam is removed, or get caught on objects in the user’s environment. Of course, you can reinforce a feed chute and double-check ammo belts to reduce the likelihood of those problems, but then the chute’s weight also likely has to be increased and you still have to be careful not to let it get caught on something.

      The system used by the Panzer Cops doesn’t have those liabilities. If an ammunition belt is damaged, or broken, or gets caught on something,
      or has a misshapen round or belt link, you simply discard the problematic belt and pull out a new one. If someone’s helping you, the undamaged sections of the discarded but unfired belts can even be linked to form new, undamaged ones.

      • randomswede

        The red sticky liquid would be blood, fake blood since it’s a movie. The guard stance he takes in the stairs must have been less than perfect.

        When deploying an MG42, MG34 or similar as a one-man weapon, dispensing belts of a nominal size from a perfect container like that is probably the best solution I’ve seen.

        As soon as it’s a crew served weapon someone should be there with an ammo can to get some proper sustained fire down range.

        • Mazryonh

          Real human blood is usually too watery to flow like the fake blood does in that clip, so I wasn’t convinced at first. At least the small ballistic shield on the Protect Gear’s left forearm serves both as eye protection and a belt rest (though there doesn’t appear to be anything on the shield that looks like it could be used to actually hold a belt while it feeds into the MG42).

          The only real problem of the Panzer Cops’ backpack system I can think of, is that the film makes no mention of whether or not the backpack lets users unload ammo from both sides in case it’s too cramped to take ammo from one side or the other.

          As for what you said about “crew-served,” apparently the solution chosen by the USMC is just to use an automatic rifle (the M27 IAR) that takes the same magazines and ammunition as everyone else’s rifles in the squad.

          • randomswede

            The Panzer Cops don’t do much in the way of acrobatics, especially when they use the MGs, but unless there’s a large but weak spring holding the belts in place so they don’t go wonky and hook into each other or cause other similar issues I suspect that would be a huge issue with an ammo pack of that sort.
            I suppose they could have a serpentine arrangement and a one way latch of some kind to do the same thing, trading for other problems.

            I’m interested in seeing how the M27 works out in the real world, I’m not sure how many M240’s the USMC deploys if it’s one per squad or one per platoon but my (poorly educated) guess is that they’ll miss the volume of fire that a belt fed LMG with quick change barrels can deliver.
            But maybe this is a sneaky plan to replace all M16’s and M4’s with M27’s to make up for the M249’s, I think that could work.

          • Mazryonh

            That’s the nice thing about fictional weapons in movies. The designers don’t have to go to all the trouble needed to ensure safe and reliable operation by real users in the field.

            It turns out that the ballistic shield is only used as a belt rest in Jin-Roh. I suppose when you’re animating things you don’t have to deal with real-life physics for the animated characters either (unlike actors in live-action filming), since the shield doesn’t show any kind of slot or rails or similar devices to hold the ammunition belt in place while it feeds into the MG42.

            If indeed the M27 is supposed to be widely distributed, the USMC will likely mandate that every squad member carry a quad-stack casket magazine so they can hand it off to the M27 gunner or even use it in their own rifles if need be so as to distribute the automatic rifle ammo throughout the squad. The M27 still doesn’t compare to LMGs or GPMGs with quick change barrels though.

          • randomswede

            Jin-Roh is also the last/latest of the movies (that I’m aware of) it could be that no one had thought it up until then.
            The scene early in the movie where they have 5 or so Panzer Cops lined up is excellent cinematically (IMHO) and the laid out belts are certainly a part of that.

          • Mazryonh

            My guess is that the use of the ballistic shield as a belt rest (as unrealistic as it looks) was to give the animators a bit of a rest since that way they wouldn’t have to animate a longer belt swinging freely. That kind of trick has been used before, even with regards to what should be Japanese forces using German firearms.

            There’s another famous 2D animated movie from Japan where the majority of firearms users are equipped with the H&K G11, likely because the animators didn’t want to animate and keep track of hundreds of spent shell casings.

  • HH

    If anyone would like to see a couple of Predator Packs on M60s… Drop by line spot #6 at the OFASTs machine gun shoot in late June. My buddy and I will be shooting ours. The problem is the packs hold 400 rnds + another 100 in the 4.5′ feed chute so 500 rounds. No way in hell im running 500 rnds at a time thru my transferable M60.

    Our packs are composed of:
    1. 4-5′ of expensive chute ($150+ per foot) from Crane Technology

    2. A specialty Ammo can from an APC bought from DeGroat. $500 or so
    3. A few specialty plates and connectors to attach box to chute and chute to plate to gun.
    4. PRK old school radio backpack

    The whole setup is quite expensive and parts very hard to come by. But at less than 1/2 the price of the $4,000 MICO pack it’s a deal. Plus civilians can’t readily even buy the packs from the manufacturer which sells them to military/govt only.

    • Pete M

      Awesome. Thanks.

  • Padmmegh Ambrela

    It surely looks cool but I want to know how the hell it will be used or being used by the soldiers on the field, as it is given DOD supply number.The problem is an individual can,t pass his gun while jumping across a ditch or climbing a wall. MMGs, LMGs or GPMGs, which ever an individual uses they are difficult to maneuver in tight quarters of build up areas, jungles or vehicles, when your choice is 7.62 NATO or its Russian counterpart it becomes even more difficult because they are big ass guns. Handling is a problem because you cannot let the chute go under your shoulder as it may cause feed problem, one have to always keep it over the shoulder. And in a fast paced skirmish where a soldier have to maneuver a lot it is highly likely that it might happen and its also heavy which means you are slow and an easy target. Unless every soldier is Captain America or wearing a powered armor I can’t see its usefulness. How about linkless feed developed by HK for HK 73 (HK 23 E variant) can such system be develop for other machine guns it makes more sense than MICO or PRIME to me?????? PLEASE reply!!!!!!!!!!

    variant of the HK23, referred to as the HK73. It features what has
    been described as a linkless feed system that holds a box similar in
    shape to a linked belt box, but as you can see in this photo, clearly
    different. It is said to hold 150 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, and is
    loaded with stripper clips.

    Detailed photo of the HK73 linkless feed magazine. 150 round capacity

  • jay

    Love to see this type of backpack with belt set up for a suppressed mini or micro uzi, with a arm stabilizer. And laser of course. The pack could hold about 4k rounds. Then you could have your other hand/arm free for your katana. ;-}

    • Mazryonh

      You should take a look at the power armour suits from the film Edge of Tomorrow then. Those have integrated firearms attached to the right arm of the suit but they still feed ammunition from magazines rather than belt feed from a backpack.

      • jay

        Yeah, I did go back and rewatch it. Pretty good flick. You are right, about the magazine fed rifles, even though they were attached to the armor. Didn’t make much sense. They had the power armor, which could have handled the added weight of the ammo, as it did the rifles.

        • Mazryonh

          It was designed that way for the film so that once the powered armour ran out of battery power, the trooper using the armour could still take off the rifle and use it. It might have been different in the original book the movie was based on.