A magazine pouch, when you think about it is a relatively straightforward thing, and designs seem to be equally straightforward and “plain.” So what are the features that set a magazine pouch apart? What might make it unique, or above average?
Build quality is a given. The execution of the pouch should be stellar. Second is versatility, the ability of a magazine pouch to be adaptable to the wants and needs of the end user. Things like being able to accommodate different types of magazines, able to be set up for right or left-hand use, able to be carried IWB or OWB, and adjustable for cant. Just so happens that the Tulster Echo magazine pouch can do all those things.
The build quality on the Echo is of course top notch. The edges are all uniform and well-polished, everything is superbly done, but that isn’t what makes it worthwhile. The Echo also brings with it a well-rounded set of features to add to the high build quality.
The magazine pouch comes standard with a plastic clip made to Tulster’s own specifications, or it can be ordered with soft loops if it will be used only in an IWB mode. My example just has the clip, as my intended use is OWB and the clip is the most practical in that application. When matched with an appropriately sized belt, the clip does attach to the belt very securely. I have not had any concerns of the pouch coming unclipped when carried OWB.
For IWB carry, the soft loops are definitely the better option. I briefly tried to carry the Echo IWB with the clip, but the body of the magazine pouch is too short, and the setup is very top heavy and has a tendency to roll over the belt. When it rolls, it has the potential to come unclipped, and I did not feel as though the clip was secure enough for that application. I happened to have a couple of spare soft loops, and they help address some of that issue because they do not come off the belt, but the magazine pouch would still have a tendency to roll over the top of the belt. This is not all that unusual with IWB magazine carriers, and difficult to address when building a dual purpose magazine pouch because optimizing the pouch for one mode of carry compromises its suitability for the other. Shorter magazines would likely work a bit better in an IWB application as well. Even though the Echo is adaptable to IWB, I think it is a better suited for OWB use.
The Echo allows for left or right side carry and is adjustable for cant forward and back allowing for about as much adaptability as possible in a magazine pouch. As well as all of those features are executed, the real heart of the Echo is the magazine retention device (MRD) that allows the magazine pouch to fit multiple types of magazines within the same basic frame size (9mm/.40 S&W/.357 Sig double stack, 45 ACP/10mm double stack, etc.) Many magazine pouches control retention by compressing the sides of the magazine pouch body onto the body of the magazine. This creates some limitation in what types of magazines will fit in a specific pouch because that material will only flex so far and there can be considerable variation from one magazine to the next. The Echo with the MRD controls retention by compressing from the front and back of the magazine using a set screw and a polymer “finger” on the MRD itself, and not the Kydex of the magazine pouch. Using the MRD and its set screw to adjust the pressure on the back spine of the magazine body allows for a wide range of magazines to be securely carried in the pouch because retention is applied front to back, as opposed to from the sides.
The front of the pouch is also shaped to allow for clearance on magazines that have the magazine catch notch on the front of the magazine body, like those for the FN 509. After a little adjustment of the set screw on the MRD, it was a near flawless fit on all of the magazines I tried, included FN 509 magazines.
This versatility to use the Echo with nearly any double stack 9mm/.40/.357 Sig magazine, carry on the left or right side of the body and adjust the cant to suit personal preferences makes this one of the most adaptable magazine pouches that I am aware of. For an IWB magazine pouch, maybe try to find one specifically built for that application. For an outside the waistband magazine pouch though, it would be hard to go wrong with the Echo. It works with multiple types of magazines, has a high level of adjustability, concealed well enough for an OWB mag pouch, and doesn’t break the bank.