Legit Kit Interview

When I first started getting into gear the only place I really knew where to get good kit was on eBay. Every once and a while I’d find a seller that had a real Eagle 3-Day or an LBT Garmin pouch, not a crappy knockoff. Those were exciting days. Then I stumbled upon Legit Kit’s eBay store... I was just getting into Navy Special Warfare stuff at the time, and it was like this guy was monitoring my Google search history because his store had EVERYTHING. The really obscure stuff that I was looking for like TFSS pouches, Coyote OR pack covers, UDT horse collars, you name it, it was there. Sure there were forum boards and niche blogs where you could find this kind of stuff, but the sheer volume and frequency of his updates meant that I had something arriving at my doorstep a few times a month from his inventory. What made it even more enticing was his impeccable feedback percentage! 

The nice people at Beyond Clothing were nice enough to invite me to the Beyond SHOT after party at the Encore, and while I was there Milan from Perroz Designs introduced me to Legit Kit. Over a few drinks, I was pleased to find that he is a modest, and really down to earth guy. What’s better is that he’s also passionate, and knowledgeable about the merchandise he sells and the people he buys it from.

Enough from me though, you’re here for him! So find a comfy seat, and a tasty beverage. This interview is certainly long, but an undeniable gem. 

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OG: What drew you to NSW gear specifically over all the other branches?

LK: It was location. We’re just in that area; Hampton Roads, Little Creek, Dam Neck. As well in the area you’ve got the attached guys from EOD, to RIVRON. Mainly Navy, but when army guys train at Dam Neck they stop in Camp Pendleton which is right on the oceanfront. There’s so much military, it’s saturated. Living in the area, you know if a if certain things fly out of Oceana, it’s probably got certain people on it.

It’s weird, outside of Hampton Roads people are like, “Woah! A SEAL!”. And rightly so, these guys, they’re heroes. In Hampton Roads though, you hear people say, “Oh yeah, my husband is so and so.” or “I go to church with one”. It’s not the same mystique that’s perpetuated in the rest of the world.

OG: It’s just more everyday.

LK: Ya! It’s everyday because they are to your left and right. There’s a healthy respect for the military, and we respect the guys immensely. We make sure to take care of them when buying gear because it’s a very tight knit community. If you do wrong by one person, that spreads very quickly. Then that’s it, and that’s the end of it. So you do right by people, and they do right by you.

OG: So when you buy gear, how can you tell if it’s legit or if it’s a knockoff?

LK: At this point, I’ve been doing this so long, I know. I can tell LBT from Eagle, from Allied, by the stitching, Velcro, colour and hue. There are so many types of tan, but when you’ve done it enough you can just tell. There is still stuff that stumps me for sure, but being in the industry this long you just come to know it like the back of your hand.

OG: You must really surprise some guys if they come in with a 6094 in Multicam and get quoted one price, but then they come in later and get another price when they offer the same rig in AOR1.

LK: Honesty is the key there. We don’t exist without customers, so it’s really about managing expectations. In that way, it would be very easy for someone to come in and not know what they have necessarily. This is their rig, they set it up their way. They might have taken the buckles off or added different bungee retention. They know “operate”, they know that really well, but they aren’t into kit the way that some of the rest of us are. They won’t get the small nuances; tan vs black buckles on MLCS. That was never done as an intentional thing. They were built initially with black buckles, guys were spray-painting their buckles tan, buckles came out in tan, so they started making the buckles in tan. That made a “Gen 1” that is now hard to find, never intentionally. That doesn’t register for a lot of people. If you talk to other militaria guys like WW2 or Vietnam guys, they get it. There’s all the HBT and the different tans and greens. WW2 is even crazier in a lot of ways.

The old 6094 in AOR with tan webbing, is astronomically more valuable to a collector than digital webbing. The funny thing about it is that in some cases the early digital webbing would fade to tan. We’ve got one in the shop on a mannequin. It’s digital webbing, but it’s so faded it looks tan. Those were never intentional things. It’s just that better materials came out. So now there is this artificially inflated rarity because new pictures came out with subtle changes which makes the first gen a rare thing.

So it would be really easy for us to say, this guy doesn’t know what this is worth. We can pay dirt for this, but you can’t do that. I take great joy in surprising someone when they come into a transaction looking to sell something for $100 only to find that we’re willing to give them $400, because what they were offering has value over what they think it’s worth. That, by leaps and bounds, is the best form of advertising there is. That guy has a platoon, that guy has a squad, or he has buddies that have gear to get rid of.


OG: If the guys coming in aren’t really into gear, then where do you get your information?

LK: I started just like everyone else. I went on forums and Facebook groups. There are guys that know way more than I do in France and Japan and all over! If you’re looking at 80’s and 90’s stuff, there are guys overseas that know so much. A lot of the old stuff, there are reference books out there. You just have to spend the time to and sit and look. I don’t so much anymore because I’m busy, but I’d look at photos that had been released on various forums.

Plus there’s old reference books at libraries. Go to a bookstore, in the military section, and they’ll have books on Navy SEALs in the 90’s. You pull that open and look at every single piece. It’s very easy to just open it up and say, this is a bunch of old junk they’re wearing. But if you take the time, you’ll say wait… that’s the specific sheath from Duane Dieter that came with the model such and such knife. It’s not marked or labeled, but if you haven’t spent the time to research and analyze, you don’t know. It’s about putting in that extra effort up front to build that basic knowledge base. From there it’s just been the stuff I’ve seen over time.

OG: I imagine it’s hard to tell what kind of person makes up your clientele since the majority of your sales are on eBay, but my guess is that most of the people that buy your things are collectors, and not so much people that are buying your gear for work.

LK: The majority of what we do is a collector market. These guys are doing a 1:1 based on a picture they saw and sometimes we sell to TV shows and movies that are looking for accurate representations. It’s stuff that even they can’t get their hands on, so it’s an interesting dynamic of how that works sometimes.

OG: When you’re watching a movie and you see kit that they’ve gotten wrong, does that ruin it for you?

LK: [laughs] It pulls me out every time. In Lone Survivor there were guys wearing Ops-Core helmets and it’s like “What is going on!?”. The PJ’s have VAS Shrouds, and it’s like, those weren’t released yet! What are you doin’? In a lot of ways that’s what I was saying earlier, the shooters are really good at their jobs, but don’t pay attention to gear. That’s not their forté. They will set this stuff up, and it might not look pretty, it might not sound like it works to you, but for that guy, that’s his shit. As long as it works for them. That guy then becomes a movie consultant, and says “Ya this is the stuff we wore”, and it’s technically wrong. You’d never tell him that though. I’m never going to walk up to a guy and say, hey man you never wore that. They just aren’t as clued into the nuances or maybe the timeline of when they started or stopped using specific things. In Lone Survivor they were wearing Liquids. That’s not right. Liquids didn’t exist, but it was a product placement thing. I think I heard there were Beretta’s in there as well. I hate to pick on Lone Survivor though, I love that film. It’s just the first one that comes to mind. But ya, I can’t watch movies.

I heard in the new Chris Kyle movie American Sniper, the Rangers are in ACU Massif combat shirts with Ranger tabs and airborne scrolls. That’s not at all correct [laughs]. You have to imagine, maybe they had a Navy military advisor that was like “I think Army guys were wearing something like this…”, but it wasn’t anywhere near what they were actually wearing.

Something that we’ve actually considered in the future is moving into offering consulting for film work. We research day in and day out. I have a terabyte hard drive nearly full of reference images. Plus, we have a lot of that kit. I have RAID mod tops for days, I have the old 3-hole Norotos shrouds, MLCS pouches. All the kit, the RRVs, MAR CIRASs. It’s more expensive for a prop company to pay someone to build them that. I’ve got the real stuff. It’d just be easier to come to us. So maybe one day we’ll go down that path.

OG: All that older stuff, the CIRAS, the RRV. That’s my jam.

LK: Ya! It’s the old school stuff these days that gets me amped up because it’s a lot harder to find. The newer stuff and new patterns are easier because they’re still being made. If you get the older ABA or the silver label LBT, that’s the stuff that keys me off because you just don’t see it anymore.

I get a rush whenever someone comes in with something cool. If a piece of gear could tell a story. That’s what I think is some of the coolest stuff. You get guys that have been all over the world. They may have served on the different teams, like an EOD guy. An EOD guy is NSW, so he gets to go out and get attached to Army Rangers, he could be with Dam Neck guys, he could with Air Force PJs, he can go a million different ways. That piece of kit has been all over the world and seen more than 99.5% people will ever see. That’s a real thing. That thing wasn’t made in China to “mil-spec” standards to look like the real thing. That’s a real thing you know? That is really cool to me.

OG: I’m really glad that I like that older stuff because collecting it, there is an end to the shopping list you know?

LK: [laughs] Ya! It doesn’t just keep getting lighter and faster and better, that’s cool!

With my firearm collection, it’s not the lightest, the most high speed, or the brightest parts. It’s like the old P114 big fat Nitrolon Surefire light for my Sig. It’s the old Sig, non-railed with the adapter because that was the 90’s hotness. It’s not necessarily the latest and greatest thing.

OG: One of the things that my buddies rib me for is the AR I put together. Colt lower with a SOPMOD Stock, 10.5” LMT upper, old Knight’s rail, Surefire 951, and it’s like a brick. You can shoot with a lot better, you can shoot more efficiently, but that’s what I wanted to build.
LK: Ya if you wanted to shoot 3 gun, there’s something for that, but coming at it from a collector’s standpoint, that’s really cool!

OG: This year I had the opportunity to buy the QD flashhider…

LK: The one with the notch.

OG: Ya! I was like, I really want this, but it’s $100. And in Canada we’re not allowed to have suppressors so it really would serve no purpose other than me knowing I’ve got it.

LK: I’ve been trying to work on some weapon stuff and it’s the same thing. It’s like man, I could get a stand in for fifty bucks or I could get the real thing for a hundred and fifty bucks. In your mind you know it’s not perfect so you spend that extra little bit. So I get that completely.

OG: What are some of your online sources that you’ve gone to in the past to find those reference pictures?

LK: The big one, that isn’t so much gear related would be www.militaryphotos.net is excellent reference. Oh man it’s been so long… Arnie’s Airsoft, there’s a gear whore forum, what’s the one in Sweden?

OG: Gearsoc.

LK: Ya, Gearsoc is a good one! A lot of that stuff has actually gone to Facebook now too. There is a wealth of information out there.

It’s not so cut and dry when it comes to reference photos. Some guys will say they use this and only this. That’s not true at all. These guys are very smart on how they want their stuff set up. So you can never say, they never use something. Somebody somewhere probably used that thing. Now I understand the realism and that you want to make it as accurate as possible. You want a “legit kit”. But there are guys running Walmart phone pouches as like… whatever. They use what works, they use what they have in front of them. A reference image is just that. It’s used for reference. It’s not a rule, it’s not a be all end all.

[Pause]

Unfortunately, in their line of work, guys pass away. That’s one of the worst parts of it. A photo is released and people fixate on it. I think it’s important to remember, I think a lot of gear guys lose sight of the fact that, there was a person wearing all that stuff. A guy with a family, a wife. He was a husband, he was a son, whatever it may be. That in mind, we always mark out kill numbers. We always mark out any sort of initials and identifying info. I do not sell any sort of team patches, call sign patches, or anything like that. It’s one thing to honor those who have served, and say this is what the guys were wearing, but when you get personal and you drill it down to team patches, or memorial patches, or whatever it is, I don’t think that’s kosher. That’s just me.

Mark Owen touched on that on one of his photos on Instagram. He had bought a T-shirt with a trident on it when he wanted to become a SEAL, but then a team guy was like “that’s not cool, you gotta earn that.” It’s one thing to go with the look, but when you get specific like that, that’s where I draw the line. You can get DEVGRU patches from China, and that’s really weird to me. I don’t like that. That’s just my personal opinion.

OG: Two last things. First, where did you get the illustration you use on your eBay page.

LK: It’s from a buddy of mine. A Navy buddy. He does military doodles all the time, and does t-shirts and challenge coins for his command. I’ve known him for a long while and was like hey, wanna draw me something cool? That’s where we’re at. It was never an official thing, it’s just an eBay page. It’s not like we’re a big corporation. So we went with that and have never done anything with it further, but we’d like to eventually.

OG: Lastly, what are some of your favorite pieces of gear in your collection?

LK: Hmmm… The IBH. The fact that there is so much info on that, and they were so limited in supply. You can read that they went through Air Force testing and didn’t pass. It’s really weird to have the back story on something. A sub-note to that, helmets are my favorite thing. I collect helmets, because that is where you see personality in a piece. Where he put his Velcro, where the paint is, where it isn’t, or the NOD mount or the light setup, that is the coolest piece of kit for me. It’s not just Navy, I’ve got some Army stuff, I’ve got a little bit of everything, but helmets for me are definitely the coolest part.

And then I’d say, the older LBT and BLACKHAWK! stuff, LBT for me is really cool because they’re from the same area, Virginia Beach. So you can read about how the founder didn’t really set out to become what it is now. The story I heard was that nobody made some specific holster left handed, so he said to himself, well I can do that. He started making gear in his garage. Being in the area, he met some people, shook some hands and then evolved to a company that just got purchased by ADS. Pretty crazy.

Same thing with BLACKHAWK! They used to print it on their old catalogs. Their founder was walking through a minefield in Iraq and his backpack broke. He figured he could do it better, and went from sewing in his garage to a company that is now owned by ATK whose booth is the biggest here, if not the second biggest. That stuff for me, to have that history, to have started in Virgina Beach in the 80’s... and now, wow. They do some awesome stuff.

5 comments:

  1. an eBay Seller so exceedingly COOL that I have his store locked into my eBay updates... Easily THE first and most reputable seller that I started buying NSW kit from(years ago).
    Thank you BiG E!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. an eBay seller so exceedingly COOL he was banned from naval bases for pestering SF personnel and buying many stolen military items.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mr. Anonymous poster,
      With regards to your accusation, unless you have some sort of reference to share with us about him being banned, what you've said is just a rumour. Moreover, this rumour can potentially affect Legit Kit's business. If you have a problem, this certainly isn't the venue.

      Redgards,
      Mike

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, you've got bad intel. None of what you said is true. Nice try.

      Delete
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