“Modern Dive Short” or “My Dick’s Showing”? Full Review of the Magpul MDS Short [Probably NSFW]

Here’s the article that no one asked for – the Magpul MDS review.

You might be asking yourself – “Why?” And there certainly are a lot of questions raised by this article: Why did Magpul start making shorts? And why are they so short? Why Is TFB covering them? We’ll answer those questions in this article, one way or another. (Answer to the last question: Because I wanted to and I’ve been here long enough that the editors begrudgingly permitted it. Plus, it’s summertime, c’mon. Have some fun.)

“What?” will help us get to the “why?”: What are the Magpul MDS? MDS stands for “modern dive short.” Note that Magpul refers to the MDS as “the MDS Short”. Expanded, that’s “the Modern Dive Short Short.” Although this is a redundancy (e.g., “ATM Machine”, “PIN Number”), “the Modern Dive Short Short” may be an accurate and proper title.

Why do mine look way shorter?

Magpul hoists the MDS as the “foundation piece” of their island-inspired AKA KOA summer line of “Serious Leisure” gear. Most of you have already given me your opinions on short shorts and/or Magpul’s dad-core dynamic-metro-perator apparel line, but while you’re wrapping your fists for the Disqus thread below, note first that a portion of the proceeds from each MDS sold will go to the USMC Reconnaissance Foundation, which provides assistance to wounded Reconnaissance Marines and their families.

Magpul summarizes the MDS as: [A] modernized version of the 1940’s twill island short believed to have influenced original designs of the iconic UDT shorts worn by military frogmen. (Emphasis added.)

I don’t know if the readership is familiar with the “iconic” Underwater Demolition Team short, which UDT short is apparently still issued to the SEALS, but the UDT makes even those ribald Soffe Silkies – also known as “Ranger Panties” – look like basketball shorts in comparison:

Wowza. The “iconic” UDT.

The top review for the UDT on Amazon.com says “If you wouldn’t wear a speedo, don’t bother with these.” So why is the skimpy UDT issued to and worn by the most capable warriors to ever walk the earth?

A GIS for “UDT Shorts” produces fantastic results.

A correspondent from navyseals.com (I’m not familiar with this site, so, caveat emptor) asked the same question of the Navy SEAL Museum’s curator, and reportedly received about as indirect a response as you might expect:

[T]he shorts were issued by the Navy to all UDT members, varying slightly in fabric texture and color according to the unique manufacturer. More interesting was the fact that UDT shorts were issued only to Frogmen. Servicemen from no other warfare community received the garment in their sea bags.

https://navyseals.com/nsw/nothing-says-frogman-like-a-pair-of-udt-shorts/

So, kind of a vague answer. After all, it is unlikely that the person(s) responsible for the UDT design memorialized their thought process in choosing the leg length.  When these were introduced a half-century ago or more, shorts were just shorter, and no explanation was necessary.  Times have indeed changed.

The Selous Scouts were battle-hardened proponents of the tactical short.

And I noticed that the navyseals.com article also refers to the UDT as “iconic.”

Note that these were/are issued to the SEALS. This is work wear.  Office (pool?) duty, primarily or exclusively.  I doubt they were ever intended to be socially integrated; worn under a brass-buttoned navy blazer on casual Friday, or to ride the bleachers at your daughter’s soccer game (I’ll send a box of gun swag to anyone who does this and provides proof, however).  I’ve never seen UDTs in the wild, and I’d honestly be shocked if even the roughest DEVGRU doorkicker had the courage to wear his UDTs off-base.

Before we switch gears back to the MDS, I found a quotable excerpt about the UDT in a discussion forum topic appropriately entitled “Are UDT Shorts Offensive?”

They ARE awfully short, however. Be careful with them, its [sic] easy to let your junk hang out with them if you are not careful in the civilian world. It might be sorta, kinda of a joke in BUD/S with a bunch of gung ho SEAL trainees around, but if you are at a civilian facility that has nothing to do with SEALs, and your junk is hanging, you could get in legal trouble. Wear underwear with those things, they are short shorts, basically.

Thus, the MDS has its pedigree in the socially-and-perhaps-legally-unsuitable UDT. Magpul, habitual line-steppers that they are, are updating the UDT for “serious leisure” end users, exploring the (pasty-white) gray area from the ankle to the…you know.  Testing the waters of fashion and social propriety in order to determine the magic number when it comes to men’s shorts: The inseam.

What number represents a fair compromise of wearability, utility, fashionability, and acceptability, while still capturing the spirit of the original, “iconic” UDT? According to Magpul, that number is 5.5.  The 5” inseam is typically the maximum amount of man-thigh allowable without being a literal joke. Patagonia and Bonobos both offer 5” inseams as their shortest length, with 7” inseams being the next step down.

In my professional opinion, I think 5.5-6” is the Goldilocks “sky’s out, thighs out” sweet spot that usually gets skipped over in favor of 5”-7”-9” inseam offerings.

The TFBTV viewers among you know that I prefer regular, normal shorts. Old and new viewers alike enjoy an observational YouTube comment from time to time about the fact that I prefer regular, normal shorts over the cargo-pocket, carpenter-strapped, knee-length skorts that are the norm for the tactical set nowadays. Lately, I’ve been wearing more of my Blackhawk! Short Athletic Shorts as seen here, showing the tactical soundness of the waistband elastic:

(Full disclosure: The company that owns Blackhawk! is now a TFBTV sponsor, but only recently. Moreover, they do not make this short anymore. Unfortunately.)

I have a collection of Patagonia 5” Baggies, Blackhawk Warrior Wear Short Shorts, Soffe Silkies, and more regular, normalshorts. So your author couldn’t wait to get his hands on a size 30 for review, and he ordered them on Day One of the AKA KOA line’s release:

Aw Yiss new @magpul #MDS tactical short shorts have arrived, I will analyze and release my findings…

A post shared by James Reeves (@jjreevesii) on

So what do I think of them?

The Review:

In short, the MDS is a great product, but the fit is so slightly more “iconic UDT” than it is “serious leisure.”

The 99% cotton, 1% spandex stretch twill material and the notched outseam make it light, breathable, and flexible. It’s also got a gusset crotch, which, despite the sound of it, is not a birth defect. It’s a (funny-looking) diamond of fabric sewn into the crotch.

A gusset crotch. Not the author.

This offers you more mobility than you would get with the traditional X-crotch, and its inclusion shows that Magpul really thought about this short being used rather than simply worn.

Magpul says that the MDS is “great for PT, pool or an ocean swim.”  Without question, Magpul did a good job of making the MDS work as an active garment while using a traditionally heavy and stiff organic fabric (cotton) usually unsuitable for athletic gear. And I have indeed tested it out in the pool:

Unfortunately, cotton sucks – literally – for water-retention, in that it absorbs water like a sponge, gets very heavy, loses insulation capability, and takes a long time to dry. That said, that shouldn’t deter you from using this as a swimsuit if you like the way the MDS looks, but the MDS does not have a swim brief insert, so either supply your own underwear (more cotton, more water, more weight), or risk the consequences. I take the opportunity to re-emphasize that this is a very lightweight cotton with no front pockets.  It does, however, have a handy back pocket with a tiny scupper to drain water.

It also has a two button fly. Well, Magpul calls it “two-button”, but there are two buttons on the fly plus the waistband button for a total of three. I think this was the right call. Too much bulk in the fly area leads to an adult-diaper effect, but Magpul gives you some convenience and avoids this undesirable visual with the svelte fly on the MDS. The MDS also includes a “drawcord through front of waistband for security”. This might be belt-and-suspenders overkill, but it doesn’t really take away from the design and will help to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions if you decide to go into a headfirst cliff dive this summer. So I’ll say this is a plus.

All told, I think the MDS is kind of a bargain at $35 dollars. I must not be alone, because Magpul introduced the MDS a couple of weeks ago, and it’s already sold out of most sizes at the time of writing.

Why do I say “kind of” a bargain? Because you don’t really get what’s advertised. Magpul says:

The MDS Short, although nowhere near as short as its UDT relative, has a 5 1/2” inseam.

Unfortunately, not completely true.

Against my starting lineup of shorts; Patagonia Baggies, Blackhawk! Warrior Wear Short Shorts, and Bonobos “B’s Knees” khakis, all of the shorts have a 4.5” inseam, except for the exact, as advertised, 5” inseam on the Bonobos.

The precise 5″ inseam on the Bonobos B’s Knees shorts.

Patagonia 5″ Baggies. Although these have a shorter-than-five-inch inseam, their longer outseam makes them, well, baggier than the others.

The author’s favorite gym shorts – the Warrior Wear ripstop Short Athletic Short.

Magpul sits on a throne of lies, as at least my pair was a full inch shorter than advertised.

Magpul MDS’s ~4.5″ inseam (it is advertised as 5.5″).

And gosh darn, it shows. Here’s the very short Bonobos (lighter khaki) versus the MDS:

But the inseam isn’t the only important number: the outseam matters, too. In gun terms, the outseam is the OAL of the short. It’s the length of the short from top to bottom, more or less. By way of illustration, this tragic mess is what a short looks like with a much longer outseam and a very short inseam:

So while inseam matters, this photo shows you what happens when you have 4 pairs of shorts with virtually the same inseam, but different outseams:

L to R: Magpul MDS; Bonobos B’s Knees, 5″; Blackhawk! Warrior Wear Short Shorts, 5″; Patagonia 5″ Baggies. Each pair is resting on top of  the pair(s) beneath it which gives the appearance that the shorts are unevenly stacked, but the waistlines are indeed aligned evenly in this photo.

The Patagonia has a shorter inseam and longer outseam than the Bonobos, but it looks much longer (and gives more room in the crotch).  Here’s your author hiking the Narrows of Zion with his trusty Patagonia 5″ Baggies:

#TBT to hiking #TheNarrows at #zionnationalpark.

A post shared by James Reeves (@jjreevesii) on

So, the catch with the MDS is not only does it have a shorter inseam than advertised, but its outseam is pretty skimpy, too – in fact, it has the shortest length of all of the shorts I own (minus the Silkies, of course).

In conclusion, the Magpul short should be an excellent and reasonably priced product, on paper at least. It packs huge features into a tiny short and is truly versatile and technically capable. It does faithfully doff its cap to the “iconic” UDT, and I applaud Magpul for its using SpecOps haute couture as a source of inspiration – very creative. However, while the MDS is long on value and features, it’s short on…length.  I couldn’t help but feel a little misled by the promised 5.5” (but actually 4.5”) inseam and the apparent proper length on Magpul’s ad, sporting a male model effusing that laid back “just got done with a ten mile swim so I’m gonna go let my MDS Shorts dry with a Pacifico at that little tiki bar on Coronado while the sun sets and no one is going to think I’m a creeper for showing too much thigh” vibe:

This is an outstanding short that would have been almost perfect – possibly perfect – if it was to spec, but, as built, Magpul seems to be just barely on the north side of the line of social propriety. Maybe a half inch from ideal. It’s a shame, because these are really, really nice – and inexpensive – shorts, and I would have loved to see the MDS introduced as a repeat run item in different colors if they can stretch those legs just a smidge.

While this is a purely subjective assessment, when the shortest short offered by notorious prep outlet, Bonobos, is longer than your khaki twill offering, you may be leaving “serious leisure” and entering “semi-humorous leisure”. I’ll probably still wear them pretty often, but maybe not in most social settings. While I won’t ever judge you for wearing these shorts, as soon as you slip them on, the cool Kauai evening breeze kissing your upper thighs will let you know that you are going to draw a scrutinizing glance at the luau.


P.S. – Thanks for reading this apparel article from a gun blog. Especially if you are a long-short guy, but you read it anyways. And if this article upsets you, hey…let’s at least be allies until the male romper is destroyed? – James

 





James Reeves

• NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
• Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior
• “Co-Director” [air quotes] of TFBTV
• Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
• Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
• Lawyer
► Instagram: jjreevesii
► Twitter: @jjreeves
► Vimeo: JJReeves
► 500px: JJReeves
► YouTube.com/c/JamesReeves


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  • Burt Gummer

    This has been requested for quite a while by a certain Bosnian-Norwegian…

    • .45

      Speaking of which, is the defibrillator ready to go?

  • James Earl Jones

    Read the whole thing. Was glad to see an actual written article rather than just a video (May God help those that watch the video), but found myself mortified at the content. I couldn’t break away from it. The only thing I remember is a glowing set of vermilion eyes in the darkness. Suddenly, something reached out of the abyss and grabbed ahold of my 7-9″ inseam and began dragging me into its dark maw… My fingertips bled and my fingernails ripped as I fought for my life. The last thought that entered my head before the utter blackness consumed me was, “That 5″ crotch hugger pair of shorts would have been a better tactical choice.”

  • SunsOut

    I suppose they couldn’t wait until next 4/1
    This does seem like click bait for a certain lolinski.

    Seriously though; less leg = better swim, unless you go full coverage.

  • USMC03Vet

    This review for shorts is more detailed than most gun reievews.

    • Jared Vynn

      And more technical.

    • PK

      There’s a lot of truth in your statement! Sad state of affairs.

    • .45

      Yeah… I don’t even. Just wow. I’m impressed at the amount of effort James went to for a glorified joke article.

      • Bierstadt54

        My reaction exactly.

    • Tom Currie

      That is because TFB staff was more likely to have knowledge of the subject for these than for most of their gun reviews.

  • Gordon Pasha

    Great article. Finally some covers the red headed stepchild of tactical apparel.

  • Slim934

    Those shorts are very upsetting.

  • DIR911911 .

    oh you ladies and your fashion

    • Jared Vynn

      I hope you meant laddies buddy.

      • FearlessFarris

        Pretty sure he did not.

  • nanoc

    I expect James to do a review about the extra tight extra small kids shirts he wears also?

  • BillyOblivion

    Cotton?

    For a dive short?

    In 2017?

    Magpul, WTF?

  • FearlessFarris

    The Magpul MDS: At last a worthy competitor to Bonobos’ WMP (white male privilege) short.

  • Jammy

    HA! Great review,as fun as the “tax apron” above…Alas, I am sad that I cannot partake of these couture paragons; there is a reason they made ‘cargo’ shorts………,………

    What? No, it’s because my Celtic origins cause blindness when I expose upperleg areas( and the instance lobster color that they turn)

  • Thomas Gomez

    Awesome!

  • Pete – TFB Writer

    So much win here.

  • anon

    So will we see more fully featured clothing reviews?

    • Unlikely. I guess if another gun/guncessory company takes another crack at thigh length shorts, I’ll write it up, though.

      • Edeco

        David Archy tank tops; the long cut is good for IWB.

        OwO

      • Ed

        James,
        if only they had belt loops. How am i going to cary a gun with no belt loops.

  • James Young

    Finally!

  • Jtx

    Tactical tampons next?

    • Jared Vynn

      It stops the bleeding, be it from bullets or other causes.

    • Lead Kisses

      How tactical are we talking?

  • Cal S.

    As an avid teenage reader of “The Hardy Boys”, I recognized the UDT almost instantly from their diving and most of their boating excursions. Back in the day, that must have been the way to go.

  • Anonymoose

    Needs moar M60…or moar FAL.

    Also boxer-briefs or regular briefs.

  • Hoplopfheil

    I need more of a 12 to 13″ inseam. Those shorts are damn hard to find.

  • wetcorps

    Iskni is gonna be all over it.

    Cool review though.

  • Major Tom

    I feel like I just dragged something out of my Dad’s closet from when he was in high school….in 1976.

    • Matt Taylor

      Difference is back then they were cool… today they’re just creepy.

  • Dr. Obvious

    we have the shorts, now bring back Rhodesia

    • Burt Gummer

      This guy gets it.

    • The Osprey

      The closest thing I’ve found to Rhodie shorts are Cabela’s camo hiking shorts stock # 901057. I can’t stand those clown-car, hood-rat down to the shins abominations that pass for shorts in America these days. I call them “dork shorts”. Because people look like dorks wearing them. The Aussies, Rhodesians and South Africans know how to make proper shorts.

      • roguetechie

        As a SKINNY WHITE DUDE™ I wear my tactical Capri’s and full combat ammunition load cargo shorts with pride damnit…

        But if you want to hang out with your thang out, just watch out for classic cars with original vinyl seats!

        It’s no joke sitting down in one of those and suddenly having a testicle flash seared like a text book over easy egg!

        Sunny side up my ass! You’re about to spend the rest of the summer driving around with a frozen 24 ounce Gatorade bottle sticking out of your open fly like a deranged sex offender!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I like this shorts length.
    I mean why wear shorts that are basically pants?

    I call them my “Magnum PI’s”.

  • SPQR9

    Size 30? Go to hell.

  • Don Ward

    WITNESS ME!!!

    I read the entire James Reeves article on tactical short shorts AND looked at the pictures!!!

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/y4cafPOBubc/maxresdefault.jpg

    • ProLiberty82

      Just sit back and witness the fitness bro.

    • …and it probably made you want to huff a bunch of spray paint and crash your car…

    • noob

      In the Australian outback, “stubbies” shorts are common on everyone from carpenters to cattlemen.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9d085cb8a79b638f3c6e86b8fd44b209d358db2867a502fb5c83e18aac929167.jpg

      • Tassiebush

        When I read this article this morning I was just thinking they’re just normal shorts like stubbies. Admittedly I haven’t seen them round much for about a decade although you still see them. Certainly wore them myself in the 80 and 90s as a kid/teenager. Might have to buy some for nostalgia and blind some bystanders and embarrass the wife and kids. My father in law had an older friend who went commando in them and apparently wasn’t really worried if the old feller or hacky sack was in view.

  • Brett
  • Matt Taylor

    Can’t wait until these catch on with all the 300lb+ mall ninjas and tacticool warriors. “So, bruh, the other day I got those Magpul MDS. Makes me feel like a TRUE operator.” *wheezes*

    • James Earl Jones

      As a member of the 300lb community I can assure you that most of us will not be partaking in this line of clothing. I can say nothing of the mall ninja sect though.

      • Matt Taylor

        Please understand, my friend, that I specifically meant the “300lb+ Mall Ninja and Tacticool Warriors” community. No slight intended towards anyone not of said community. ;P

        As it stands, while not a member of any above mentioned community, I will not be partaking in said MDS wear. I don’t think I could wear these as sis… Magpul MDS is thwarted by Matt’s MDS

        • Matt Taylor

          I love how my comment is edited for a word that mixes the words shorts and long together.. yet the title of the article is My Dick’s Showing… Lol. Get it together TFB.

          • LOL, sorry, the print editors are a little more strict than the video editors. I didn’t touch it (no pun)

          • Matt Taylor

            Oh.. I think you most definitely touched it sir. I blame you.

  • The_Champ

    That was great!
    On a side note, you failed to address the vexing grammatical issue of short vs shorts, similar to the problem of pant vs pants, as studied by the great Mike Nelson of MST3K.

    It primarily revolves around the confusion caused by the term pants. For example, you ask someone to hand you your “pants”, and they might rightfully collect and deliver every single set of leg garments you own. In the end Mr. Nelson determined that it was best to refer to a singular garment as “two unit of pant(a ‘pant’ being a single leg covering’), and a common binding area”. Therefore in your review it would reduce confusion to say “two unit of modern dive short, and a common binding area”.

    Otherwise a spot on review 😉

  • Iggy

    This week on the Firearm Blog: James covers the MDS, but will the MDS cover James?

    • Johnsmyname

      Well played

  • SP mclaughlin

    TFB-
    The Fratshorts Blog

  • Anomanom

    No, no, no, and no. Grown adults should not wear short pants except on the water or the boat, and definitely not tactical nut-huggers.

    OTOH, I understand Navy SEALS a bit better. Once you wear those shorts and see your buddies in them, you’re forever numb to both fear and the horror of war.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    The real crime is the Lenovo Thinkpad on your desk.

  • Sua Sponte

    Thankfully they weren’t Ranger panties…

  • Mark Everett

    I disagree with the SEALs site saying that the UDT shorts were ONLY issued to SEALs. Even though I was a spook (Cryptologic Tech) in the Navy, I did about 130 hours of helicopter flights in the Middle East. Since I was operating a system that we cobbled together, it was unofficial and unbudgeted. My department wouldn’t or couldn’t pay for flight gear so the helicopter detachment on the ship, not wanting my injury or death on their conscious in the case of an incident, ordered a basic flight kit consisting of flight suit, boots and two pair of UDT shorts to wear under the flight suit. My helmet and SVB-2 were a pilot’s spares.
    Years after leaving the Navy, I no longer had the flight suit or boots, but I had the two pair of shorts, which I wore at the pool. Until I met the woman who became my wife. After determining that you can easily see up them if the wearer is careless, she asked me to throw them away and when I was slow to do so, did it for me.

  • mazkact

    Ike has not weighed in yet, maybe needs a little private time 😉

  • mazkact

    Thomas Magnum approves.

  • Glorfindel

    Haha! I read most of this aloud to my wife – we were both in stitches!

  • Dr RosenRosen USMC 83-06

    In 95 I was a FAC with Fox Co, 2nd Bn 1st Marines (The boat raid company) we all wore LBHPs (Little Brown Hot Pants) as we called them in my beloved Corps.. As soon as the ARG rolled into the Western Pacific, and the AC on the USS New Orleans crapped out, LBHP’s, green T’s and jungle boots were the uniform of the day… I bought a pair of the Magpul shorts as soon as I saw them.. I still have 2 pairs of the originals w/the brass D ring short belt… Magnum PI made them famous.. My wife hates them.. that’s why I love them… If you aren’t “hanging brain” you aren’t living…

  • Squirreltakular

    So they need an undergarment? Will I rip some sort of hole in the space-time continuum if I wear these over silkies?

  • Rogertc1

    I have legally concealed carry for 40 years. I carry OTB holster that a T shirt covers. It my gun peeks out I do not care as I can legally carry. Otherwise I carry my KelTec P32.

  • Karl Vanhooten

    I enjoyed the article more than I’d like to admit. But as a man cursed with a 28 inch pant inseam, finding decent shorts that don’t look like culottes is tough in the 2000’s. It was a lot easier in the ’80s. Thanks for the info.

  • jonp

    Race Bannon on Johnny Quest wore these so they must be good

  • Adam Scepaniak

    The thoroughness of this article is impressive James 👌

  • Combat Diver

    I miss my UDTs. Had them issued for over 15 yrs as a Army Combat Diver.

    [img]http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/medium/Diver_down_Gulf_of_Aquba.jpg[/img]

  • William Prince

    I wore shorts similar in length back in the 1980s. Check out basketball shorts back in the 1980s. Jordan was a significant figure in this change as I recall.

  • Colonel K

    Shorts and sneakers or low top boots without socks were a common sight in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) when I went there in the 80s. Being a native Floridian, my bush experience had taught me to always wear long pants and socks to avoid injury from thorns, poison ivy and the like. And that’s what I did and still do (so much for “when in Rome”). I never could take men seriously who were wearing combat shorts or Speedos – except for Tom Selleck when he played Magnum, PI.

  • BeoBear

    Interesting story, props to James for the uh…um…hmm…yeah, seriousness of the article and article of clothing. I’ve seen a lot guys wear shorts similar to this in day to day life such as watching kids sporting events from the bleachers. I don’t know if any of them were Navy SEALs though. Had I known about James’ offer of a box of gun swag I would have taken pictures. It would have been awful creepy but I could really use a box of gun swag, I’m seriously gun swag poor lol.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m not a guy or I have a dirty mind at the moment, or both, but I couldn’t stop laughing at “It packs huge features into a tiny short” and wondering exactly what James was thinking when he wrote it LOL. Anywho, I’m looking forward to your next article “Tactical Skorts: The Shy Mans Gateway Garment To The Tactical Kilt”. They are great for tennis too!!

  • Golfschatzi Poodle

    That “gusset crotch” on the MDS looks more like the lady parts on a woman of a, *ahem* Oriental persuasion were thought to own back before we knew better.