Unique Camouflage Designs MK IV Ghillie Suit
By Thomas Blahnik
© Sniper's Paradise 2000
Andy LeBlanc from UCD Industries has been building ghillie suits for many years now. What began as a curious hobby has turned into a thriving business. The Sniper's Paradise staff has had an open and constructive dialog with UCD from the start. We have been very pleased with each new generation of ghillie and the new additions it they bring with them. The latest design, the MK IV, is the best to date.
We received another box from UCD back around the beginning of March, right after we returned from the Autauga Arms competition. Opening the box revealed the MK IV. We passed it around the office so that everybody could get a good look. It didn't take long to notice the many features packed into this design. There are way too many to mention in this article without just listing them, so we will only focus on a few and the overall construction.
When we build our own personal ghillie suits, netting is sewn and glued onto a base material and the burlap then tied into the netting. Andy has taken this one step further and given strength to the burlap. The MK IV burlap strips are shredded except for about a ½ inch base. Sort of like a party decoration you might hand from a wall or ceiling. Both ends of the ghillie strip base is then sewn onto the ghillie. This helps create a loop for natural vegetation. Also, when we tie our single strings into our suits it makes each and every string it's own stress point and they end up coming out all the time. With the shaggy base method that Andy employs on the MK IV, it definitely creates a more rugged environment. The individual strings with the ½ inch base have less of a chance of getting pulled out, helping to keep the full appearance without developing large holes in the camouflage pattern. Anyone that regularly performs maintenance on a ghillie will be able to appreciate this feature.
When crawling, one of the largest problems is with the sleeves and pants pulling up. This results is exposed skin, unnecessary abrasions from the lack of protection, in addition to a lack of camouflage in the area. A common method for fixing this is with 550 cord. Sew in a loop that kooks the hands or under the boots keeping the sleeve or pant leg secure. On the MK IV, two nylon strips are sewn into the material for more strength. The individual strips are then fastened together with good old-fashioned Velcro. This gives the wearer more flexibility in how tight or loose they want the fit. It also allows the users a faster entry and exit from the suit. This is definitely a feature not seen in most, if any other commercial suits (at least until they read this).
Getting into and out of a ghillie is always a slow process. Most of the time boots have to be taken off so because the pants won't fit over them. In this new design, the pants are completely split along the inside seam. The seam that runs from the inside of each ankle and up under the crotch area. This seam is reinforced for more strength and then more Velcro is added. The split design now makes it completely unnecessary to remove your boots when jumping into the ghillie. This open design also allows you to open any or all of the seam while laying in a hide position, allowing a cool breeze into to the suit to help wisk away the sweat, that by then is starting accumulate in large puddles. In colder climates this split design might not be exactly what you want, but for us that operate mostly in hot, dry environments, this is a welcome feature. If you don't need or want the split, just tell them when you order. You can also opt for a YKK zipper if you don't think the Velcro will stand up to your abuses.
On the ghillie top, a hood has been built and sewn in. This helps you camouflage your head, but allows you to remove the cover without worrying about leaving it behind or having to stuff it into an already full drag bag. The hood is simple in design, rugged in construction, and very useful to have. This hood is just another of the many features that makes this ghillie suit one of the best commercial versions around. Additionally, as with any good ghillie suit, the knees and elbows are padded. Providing a little more protection on the most abused body parts when crawling.
The overall integrity of the suit is very well designed. The seams are all reinforced and double stitched for strength. The burlap colors can be ordered to your specifications or for a particular area. Just about any other feature that you may want can be special ordered with a simple phone call or email showing that each and every ghillie is custom built for you, not massed produced overseas. Turn around time is usually around a couple of weeks, so there is no long wait associated with the custom build, unlike many of the rifle makers that make you wait 18 months. Lastly, dealing with Andy LeBlanc, the owner, or any of his staff is always pleasant. They are there for you, the customer, they will listen to what you want and help design the best possible suit for your needs. Yet, the best part of these ghillie suits is the price. A custom ghillie from UCD will only cost around $425, which includes most features not found on other top of the line ghillies. When you start to add up the cost of materials and time for building a ghillie (usually 40-60 hours), UCD is lucky to get by with minimum wage. I still don't know how they do it and remain profitable.
UCD Industries is no longer in business for unknown reasons.