AK Assault Vest
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- Last updated: 24/04/2017
A long time ago, on an airsoft field far, far away, I first used a cracking bit of kit known simply as the ‘South African Assault Vest’. The Pattern 83 webbing system was produced to fill a very specific need in the South African military; in the latter years of the ‘Bush Wars’, the SADF was hunting for a comfortable, lightweight, and simple to use load bearing system. As with much of the equipment at the time, private sector commercial outfitters helped the military design and produce an effective solution. The resulting ‘battle jacket’, heavily influenced by Rhodesian ‘Fireforce’ webbing, is still in use today by the SANDF.
The original iconic ‘Nutria Brown’ pouches on the vest were made of a waterproofed Cordura nylon; inside each there was also a heavy wear resistant coating. The ‘body’ of the vest was a padded nylon mesh, which allowed a good deal of breathability, while distributing weight evenly across the shoulders, back, and hips.
In total, there were five magazine pouches, each capable of holding two standard capacity mags (for a grand total of ten). Although originally intended for R4 (Galil) magazines, the pockets were large enough to accommodate most battle rifle magazines.
On the sides of the vest, there were two large pouches intended for canteens. In a pinch they could be used as dump pouches for empty magazines; smaller pockets arranged around the water pouches were intended to hold grenades but worked just as well for storing cleaning kits and other miscellaneous small gear. The large lower pouch in the front could fit even more magazines, or could be used to store bandages and other bulkier items. Finally, the backpack pouch featured a roomy upper and lower compartment, with additional straps to secure a bed roll.
Many companies have produced replicas of this classic vest design, and in truth you can find these online in many different camouflage patterns for under £40! This seems tremendous value, but the fact of the matter is that you get what you pay for, and the cheap imitations can be very shoddy in construction. It’s an excellent design though, and very worthy of consideration if you’re on a budget.
Bringing things up to date, Karrimor SF took the old, tried and tested vest design and came up with their Predator Combat Vest that is primarily for use in dynamic operations where speed and ease of access are most critical. It’s a highly adjustable system that can be used with or without high velocity plates and body armour protection. PLCE zippers and modular webbing are included on the insulated padded back pocket, to allow use of a side pocket or modular pouches.
I’ve been searching for a really functional load bearing system to round out my PenCott GreenZone loadout, and a good friend in one of the user groups I belong to kindly pointed out to me the AK Patrol Vest being offered by Morane Tactical; located in Liège, Belgium, Morane Tactical was founded in 2004 and quickly contracted with Belgian Defense. Morane Tactical are in charge of the Belgian customers, while Morane Consult are dedicated to official agencies or export. They work directly with the military operators, the police community and outdoor enthusiasts, and have built up a very solid reputation for providing high quality, fit for purpose gear. I’ve mentioned the Karrimor SF vest, as the AK Patrol Vest offers a very distinct nod to that design, although the pouch configuration is AK magazine-specific. As my GreenZone gear is for OPFOR roles, and the AK is my replica of choice, so this vest could have been designed just for me!
It’s full of features, including two large cargo pouches, four compass/accessory pouches, two AK magazine pouches, four smoke grenade pouches, and a medical pouch; all pouches have mesh drainage. There’s an insulated hydration pocket on the back, and PLCE side pockets or modular pouches can be also be easily attached to further increase versatility. The Vest is size adjustable for use with or without body armour, has a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, great internal padding, and is made with rot-proof thread reinforced with bartacks. All zips used are good quality YKK, so this thing really is bomber-tough throughout.
As I said when I started out, the old South African Vest was, in its day, a formidable load carrying system and in my mind, it’s superb that someone has updated this using the very best materials and construction techniques available. You can carry enough magazines and gear to happily and comfortably see you through the longest possible skirmish day, and combined with a patrol pack this is perfect for a 24 Hour MilSim. Of course the level of components and fabrics mean that this is not the cheap replica of the original that you will find online, and prices start at €109.00 for plain, block colours; camouflage options are available but expect to pay £159.00 for GreenZone, BadLands, Kryptek, or MultiCam.
Overall I’m extremely happy with AK Assault Vest, and I’m certain that it will give me many years of service in the future; I look on this as an investment that will be with me long after cheaper alternatives have fallen to pieces!
My thanks go to the excellent team at Morane Tactical who were perfect in relation to communication and offer superb levels of service; to check out more of what they offer please go to www.moranetactical. eu My thanks go to them for also providing images used in this review.
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