SEA MMA Gear Guide

Black Eagle Raptor Pre-production Model Impressions

Introduction

The Raptor is a sweet looking limited edition pre-order gi by Black Eagle. Pre-orders are open now through the month of August, and the gi will be delivered sometime in November this year.

Having rolled a couple of times in the Raptor now, here's a more thorough run down of the gi. It won't be a full review since this is not the final version, but I will highlight some things for consideration.

Official Specs:

  • Strictly limited edition BJJ Gi
  • Pearl Weave Jacket
  • 12oz canvas cotton Trousers
  • Jackets have an inner rash guard lining which is fully sublimated printed
  • Jackets can be ordered with or without the back embroidery
  • Pre-shrunk - guaranteed never to shrink out of fit
  • Competition cut - suitable for both day to day training and competition.
  • Contrast stitching
  • Seams and lapel strengthened with Ripstop overlays
  • Mercerised - Increases the strength of the fibres and further protects from shrinkage
  • Additional loops on trousers for greater comfort fit
  • Jacket and trousers can be ordered in separate sizes to suit build.

Aesthetics

The Raptor is looks incredibly good, and no wonder as it's designed by Meerkatsu. It comes with constrast stitching and fully embroidered designs, with the stylised words 'Raptor' and a small eagle running across the shoulders, while the a large eagle is embroidered on the back in its full glory. The back embroidery is optional though, and can be selected during the pre-order options. Personally, I love the awesomeness of the eagle on the back, and even my instructor came up to have a look while I was sweating out some drills.

The pre-production model has the words 'Special Edition Kimono' on the front and back, but the final version should see that removed, at least across the front, while the words on the back will be translated to Portuguese. There's also a shiny purple taping on the inside bottom of the jacket to add some bling. The eagle is once again featured in sublimated print on the rashguard lining, encircled with Portuguese words that mean translate to A way to live, a desire to win.

Pants features the same contrast stitching, though the embroidery is limited to a small eagle on the bottom left pant leg. A little odd to see the eagle overlapping on the kneepad's contrast stitching, but I guess it's not that big a deal.

Colours-wise, the gi is offered in Black/Red, White/Black and White/Lilac (seen here). All three look pretty good actually, and I'm also quite attracted by the black one, as the colours really pop on the embroidery. The white/lilac version doesn't have such a good contrast for the eagle embroidery, though this will be improved on in the final version.

One thing that did surprise me was that the colour ran during the first wash! It came mostly from the lilac drawstring and the lilac cloth taping on the jacket's split seams, staining the areas there a light purple. This is something I expect Black Eagle will take note and fix, but just in case, you might want to soak your gi separately once you get it.

Form & Fit

The gi is supposed to fit similar to the Black Eagle Predator which I have previously reviewed, although there's now an A1LS option, which basically increases the sleeve length for the A1 size by about an inch. This was mostly to satisfy Meerkatsu's whims (if I may say so), but incidentally is a godsent for me since I'm basically his size. Here's the size chart taken from Black Eagle's site. Do note that it measures slightly differently from the size chart in my Predator review, so when in doubt, follow the new one or simply ask them.

I'm as usual an A1, and out of the bag, the gi fits perfectly. The added inch to the sleeves makes up for the slightly shorter Predator sleeves seen in the Predator review. The pants length is also spot on for me, though do note that I like slightly shorter pants. There's an option to mix and match gi jackets with pants, so you can opt for what works best. The jump from A1 to A2 pant length is a little drastic though, so I'm unlikely to mix and match if I had to choose again. There's also lady sizes for the gi.

However, I will not be including measurements and photos of me in the gi as the model I received was a gold weave, while the final production model is pearl. I experienced a fair bit of shrinkage, but the pearl weave production version is supposed to be pre-shrunk, so shrinkage will not be an issue. From my experience with the Predator, pre-shrunk here really means just that, with barely any shrinkage.

Functionality

Since the pre-production version I have is gold weave while the final will be pearl, there will be a difference in the feel that prevents me from commenting on a number of things. You can see Meerkatsu's review of the pearl weave pre-production version for a better idea on how that one rolls.

What I will comment on though, is the rashguard lining. So far, I've only seen rashguard linings on a few premium gis like the Gameness Elite, so this is a first time experience for me. If you do not usually wear a rashguard, the difference is major. It's like suddenly having a silk lining in your gi that makes it super comfortable and smooth to the skin. I immediately noticed the back and chest reinforcements that are not sewn under the rashguard as the difference in texture stands out starkly. It would be great if these could somehow be under the rashguard lining as well. Currently, the lining extends all the way down to the sleeve cuffs, although this might be changed to stop at the elbow. Personally, I like it all the way to the sleeve, since no one is supposed to grab the insides for my sleeves anyway.

Now, one thing to note though. A rashguard lining is not the same as a rashguard, and does not serve the same function. If my understanding is correct, rashguards wick away moisture and keep the body cool by hugging or compressing against the body. However, the rashguard lining is just a lining, loosely covering your body, so don't expect it to keep you as dry as a rashguard would. Also, because I'm so used to wearing rashguards under, I noticed that the wet rashguard lining and hence the gi will tend to stick on the body, instead of the gi just sliding over the rashguard normally. I'm still not sure which I prefer more - rashguard lining with no rashguard worn under, or no rashguard lining and just my good old rashguard under.

That said, if you don't wear a rashguard under at all, you'll definitely appreciate the upgrade. I have yet to wear a rashguard under with the gi, as I find it a little silly to have two layers of rash wear.

Gi pants is a heavy 12oz cotton canvas, not my favourite choice, but I can see many others who will appreciate it. A consideration from Black Eagle is also the fact that this is a one-off gi, so you won't be able to get a replacement easily if a lighter weight ripstop tore. Still, I'd prefer at least a 10oz. Belt loops are ample on this with a generous 6, but comes with a flat drawstring, another pet-peeve of mine.

Collar thickness is the same as the Predator.

Reinforcements are pretty much the standard fare, and will serve the gi will in giving it a good long mat life. No comments on actual durability due to differences in material for pre-production and final model.

Affordability

The gi retails at GBP 83.33 (SGD 164) without VAT on the official site, and costs a mere GBP 9.62 (SGD 19) to ship to this region.  That's a pretty good price for a limited edition gi that looks kick-ass, fits my Asian frame perfectly and hopefully yours, and boasts a rashguard lining! Worth considering if you want to add a bling gi to your closet. Do note that it will only ship out in November though, so it'll probably hit the shores here in December thereabouts.

Conclusion

If you dig the Raptor design, this is definitely a gi to get. Rock on in style on the mats and show off your desire to win, at least in the taste department!

Disclaimer

All comments in the review are my own personal opinion. Prices provided in brackets are merely for reference and are based on exchange rates at the time of writing.

If you like this review and found it helpful, please post a comment or let the company or retailer know too. Should you decide to purchase them online, you might want to consult the online buying guide for advice.