Apparently I’m like the 4938′th blogger to review the Black Eagle Raptor.
Well, that just means there are 4937 other lucky grapplers out there who get to wear one of these to training every day. Black Eagle really outdid themselves with the Raptor.
Lest I sound like a gawking fanboy, you should know I found a few problems with this model that I’ll be exposing in my review; and one flaw in particular would really make think twice about buying it unless they fix it for the production model.
If you want the short version, here’s the video. For you die-hards, continue on after the video for specifics in measurements, weight, and to find out whether or not I got made fun of for wearing a gi with purple flowing letters on it.
(click to view in slideshow)
The following specs are for the actual production model. Mine was a gold weave, but in Part 1 Steve from Black Eagle said that all colors will be in pearl weave. This will probably affect the weight, but not by much.
|Jacket||500 gsm pearl weave (production model)
500 gsm gold weave (reviewed sample)
|Jacket Inner||Light-weight rash guard lining, sublimation printed|
|Trousers||12 oz cotton|
|Collar Outer||Ripstop Cotton with foam inner|
|Collar Thickness (rim)||8mm|
|Collar Thickness (inner)||8mm|
|Dry Weight||4lbs 13oz|
|Wet Weight*||7lbs 7oz - Net gain of 2lbs 10oz|
|*Weight directly out of a spin cycle. The idea is to gauge how much the weight may fluctuate due to sweat absorption during rolling.|
Cut And Fit
Given that this gi is cut from the same mold as the Black Eagle Predator MKII, you can expect an athletic, barely IBJJF legal competition cut that allows for plenty of mobility. Black Eagle will allow mix and match sizes with the Raptor, which is good news for tall lanky types like myself. My A4 pants fit perfectly length-wise out of the bag, but were a little baggy on my frame. The A3 jacket fit very well.
I look forward to the day that Black Eagle creates a cut for tall slim people, particularly in the trouser sizes. They make great kimonos, but they seem to cater to the stockier types. The problem is, not everyone grows horizontally at the same rate they do vertically.
The jacket is very soft (although a pearl weave may be less so), and the trousers were surprisingly soft for being cotton canvas.
The collar falls about middle-of-the-road thickness-wise (7.98 mm) and has the pliability typical of foam-core lapels; that is to say, they’re a little squishier and easier to grab than vulcanized rubber of cloth core collars. Not a concern for me, as you know if you’ve ready any of my other reviews.
Surprisingly, all I got were compliments for wearing a gi with purple and lilac coloring. Apparently times have changed since I was in kindergarten when boys who wore purple got made fun of. Everyone really liked the artwork and the coloring of the white and purple, including me. It’s not as noisy as some “bling” gis, but it still sits solidly in that category.
You can further order the Raptor without the heavy back embroidery if you would rather sport your own club logo.
Two complaints about the style, though: first, the eagle needs to have a different highlight color besides lilac. Lilac against a darker lilac does not show up well. The result is (only on the purple gi) essentially a purple eagle silhouette rather than a striking embroidery. This applies only to the actual eagle graphic; the Raptor text shows up well.
My second complaint is that the purple dye from the drawstring and the vent taping kept bleeding onto my gi during washing. It comes out without much trouble if you deal with it promptly, but at first it looks like you’ve ruined your white gi by simply washing it.
Before we talk about the elephant in the room, here are the gi measurements:
|After Several Washes|
|Vent||6.75||6.75||6.75||6.75 and 5.75 - I just noticed that the right and left vents are actually different sizes...wierd.|
Now about that elephant.
As you can see, the sizing of the Raptor fluctuated significantly. I wasn’t too thrilled when I pulled the trousers out of the laundry and found that they were on their way to becoming shorts. In light of Black Eagle’s guarantee of making gis that don’t shrink, I consider this a major flaw, even in a prototype. I’m going to invite Steve from Black Eagle to leave a comment about this because I personally want to know if other testers noticed this and if they’ve resolved the issue for production.
Pulling and tugging on the gold weave top stretched it back out a little, but it never retained it’s original length. The pants just kept getting shorter.
Construction and Durability
The quick and dirty version is that the Raptor is very well reinforced in the body, with moderate reinforcement on the sleeves and trouser hem (each of which have two rows of stitching). I’m a fan of more reinforcement in that area simply for the peace of mind. But even after the weight-hanging stress test (see pics below) both sleeves and trousers came away with not so much as a popped thread in the hem, which I guess goes to show that two rows can do the trick. If we were testing to breakage, I’m sure more reinforcements would have come in handy.
I found one small stitching flaw right out of the bag. Usually I find two or three at least, no matter what the brand, so finding only one was a pleasant surprise.
Specific stress tests included:
- Hung 50lbs in weight from key areas overnight
- Used the jacket as a tow rope to pull my car up and down the street
- Did daily workouts using the lapel and sleeves as grips
- Asked training partners to purposely be harsh on the gi during training
As far as stress testing goes, the Raptor came out with flying colors. As the video shows, I pulled, prodded and pummeled the Raptor, and not once did I make it tap out. The canvas trousers are just plain tougher than ripstop (although not as light). The jacket did not pop any seams like the Submission Light did, except for a couple threads on some of the decorative taping on the vent (see picture below). Other than that small sign, it was spotless. This is a very well-built gi, and you can feel that solidity just by handling it.
Consequently, there really aren’t any good results to show in pictures, except the one showing the vent taping.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Reviewing a prototype is difficult, mainly because it’s hard to recommend or condemn an unfinished product. So let me put it this way: I’m disappointed that my trousers have shrunk out of fit. But if they can fix the shrinkage issue, I’ll buy myself a new pair of trousers so I can continue wearing the Raptor. It’s the most comfortable gi I’ve worn; in fact, it’s downright unpleasant to put another gi on your bare skin after sporting the Raptor.
Assuming they address all the feedback they get from reviewers, Black Eagle will have a very popular product in the Raptor and it’s descendants. It’s smooth, sexy and it’s built to last. Bravo, Black Eagle…I hope!