TFB Review: 5.11 Sabre 2.0 Jacket after SEVEN Years

    It is hard to write gear reviews. If you only used an item for a few weeks, you hardly have a valuable experience to share. But when you own something for many years, like this 5.11 Sabre 2.0 jacket I am going to talk about, that kind of long term use creates a real emotional attachment to the item and it is hard to be objective. But I will do my best.

    I got this jacket in 2013 when a local Russian 5.11 distributor decided that they need a brand ambassador. They did not really know what a brand ambassador is supposed to do, but hey, I got a jacket out of it, so I think it was a brilliant business decision on their side.

    I remember thinking “God, that is expensive”, after looking at a price tag when I got it first, but now, after seven years, I think that paying the price of a couple of steak dinners for this jacket is completely justified. Since 2013 I wore Sabre 2.0 in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the vilest place of them all – Las Vegas during the SHOT Show.

    Author, looking for a place where he can get a degree without taking a student loan

    Author, looking for a university where he can get a degree without taking a student loan

    Thankfully, 5.11 did not discontinue this jacket yet, unlike some other products I love (farewell, Gen.1 Kodiak pants, and Taclite 6 Coyote boots, you will be missed). So, here is my opinion on the pros and cons of this jacket.

    PROS:

    Concealed carry capabilities

    PSD training course

    PSD training course

    It is easy to carry a weapon when the weather is perfect. Some people say it is challenging to carry a weapon during a hot summer, and have a hard time not laughing in their faces. Try carrying your pistol during winter, when your beltline is covered with multiple layers of clothing.

    Many people change the way they carry during the winter. I remember how shocked I was when one day I met my friend on the range during the winter. That friend is, in my opinion, the best Russian special forces firearms instructor, one of the founders of modern firearms training in Russia. We started talking about winter concealed carry and he pulled out his tricked out Glock 19 from his jacket’s internal pocket like some kind of a Fudd.

    I am not saying he is wrong, but I prefer to have my pistol at the same place all the time. In a stressful situation, when you have to draw your gun, it is easy to forget about your new carry position and reach for the belt, just like you did a thousand times on the range and during dry practice.

    When you train for years to draw from a belt holster, it is hard to change your ways

    When you train for years to draw from a belt holster, it is hard to change your ways

    One solution is to wear your jacket unzipped, but if you live in a place with a real winter, it just won’t fly. With Sabre 2.0, you have the option of using what 5.11 calls a “Quixip” system.

    If you carry a weapon, keep the buckle at the bottom of the jacket unbuttoned and when you need to draw the gun, just clear the cover garment like you normally do. The side of the jacket is going to unzip giving you full access to all the gear on your belt. This system is integrated into both sides of the jacket, so you can also access your magazines on the other side of the body in the same manner.

    5.11 Quixip System for accelerated sidearm access

    5.11 Quixip System for accelerated sidearm access

    I am not saying this system is the best thing since sliced bread, but it certainly allowed me to stay warm without compromising weapon access when I worked as an instructor or traveled around bad places.

    Well, it is a softshell

    PSD training course

    PSD training course

    If you are not familiar with the term “softshell”, in most basic terms, it is a fabric that offers you a compromise between breathability and water resistance. It is not waterproof like some hard shells (Gore-Tex, eVent), but is pretty much windproof and will still keep you dry after heavy rain.

    Since I am not climbing Mount Everest or skydiving in the Artic, I always prefer softshell over hardshell, they are simply more versatile and comfortable than a classic rain jacket.

    Pockets

    All pockets have waterproof zippers. And this is how they look after 7 years.

    All pockets have waterproof zippers. And this is how they look after 7 years.

    I really don’t think you can have too many pockets if they are well designed. Sabre 2.0 has two chest pockets with waterproof zippers, two insulated side pockets, two shoulder pockets and one back pocket which many people say is useless, but I always keep my beanie hat there.

    There are also two internal pockets. As a result, every time my wife puts this jacket into a washer and has to take everything out of the pockets it turns into a real scavenger hunt for her.

    ID panels

    Russian special forces competition. The guy on the left had an interesting callsign "the Cliff".

    Russian special forces competition. The guy on the left had an interesting callsign “the Cliff”.

    Sabre 2.0 has a whole bunch of ID panels – two in the chest, one on the back and two on the shoulders. While many would say that value of ID panels for a civilian is debatable, I think that it is better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.

    Also, you need to fasten IR markers somewhere during the boogaloo to identify your friends. Just saying.

    Pit zips 

    Saber 2.0 zipper system

    Sabre 2.0 zipper system

    On Sabre 2.0 the zipper system goes all the way from the bottom of the jacket to the armpit. I don’t know about other people, but I really love pit zips. It allows me to keep myself cool when I am stuck in a building or in public transportation and I always can let some stink out to enforce social distancing.

    CONS:

    Internal lining

    Wear on the internal lining of the jacket

    Wear on the internal lining of the jacket

    Unfortunately, living in Russia, I don’t carry a handgun all the time (I wish I could), but even with occasional carry, the lining on the right side of the jacket shows some wear and tear. I mostly carried in a Kydex OWB holster, inside the waistband holster probably wouldn’t cause so much wear.

    It is not completely waterproof

    PSD training course

    PSD training course

    For the first two or three years, my Sabre 2.0 jacket was completely waterproof. 8-9 hours on the range, under pouring rain wasn’t a problem, I remember a match when in two days I changed my boots three times but never had to worry about a jacket.

    But after a while, the jacket stopped being completely waterproof. I can probably make it more water-resistant with some kind of special tech wash, but honestly, I am just too lazy to do that.

    Conclusion

    Nevada desert in winter, another great memory that comes to mind when I put on this jacket

    Nevada desert in winter, another great memory that comes to mind when I put on this jacket

    I am sure there are a lot of great softshell jackets out there, and some would argue they are better than Sabre 2.0. But this one does everything I need it to do, and it’s been with me in so many countries that I lost count.

    Somehow it still looks great after so many years and I am not looking for a replacement. We will see how it holds up in the future, maybe it will last until I will be sitting on my porch going into old man rants about how “they don’t make them like that anymore”.



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    Vladimir Onokoy

    Vladimir Onokoy is a small arms subject matter expert and firearms instructor. Over the years he worked in 15 different countries as a security contractor, armorer, firearms industry sales representative, product manager, and consultant.

    His articles were published in the Recoil magazine, Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defence Journal, and Silah Report, he also created several video series such as “Gun myths”, “Kalashnikov: around the world”, “Larry Vickers in Russia” and “Kalashnikov: evolution” that are available on YouTube.
    ► Email: machaksilver at gmail dot com.
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