Category Archives: Body Armour

DDPM Osprey Holster

After a few weeks looking at MTP osprey components, this week we return to the slightly earlier DDPM items with a look at the desert pistol holster, issued extensively during the operations in Afghanistan and used to carry the Browning Hi Power and Sig P226 issued to troops at the time. The holster is a simple open topped design, made in desert DPM infra-red resistant Cordua nylon:imageA top strap goes over the back of the pistol and secures the gun into the holster with a simple press stud:imageA plastic adjustment buckle is fitted to the rear of this strap to allow it to be tightened to hold different weapons effectively. The holster is designed to be used with the MOLLE straps and PALS loops of the Osprey system so two straps are fitted to the rear:imageThere is one long and one shorter strap to conform with the shape of the rear of the holster. Beneath these is a series of loops that allow the straps to be interwoven with the straps on the Osprey vest to allow a secure fit:imageA label is sewn to the rear as well and indicates that this holster was manufactured in 2011:imageInterestingly the design of holster is open at the bottom, leaving the muzzle of the pistol exposed:imageThis seems an odd choice for a piece of kit designed to be used in the desert where there is a high likelihood of dirt and dust getting into the muzzle of the gun. I suspect though that it was felt that gravity would remove most traces of debris that entered the barrel and it was better to allow it to fall away than leave it in the bottom of a holster where it would gather and could start abrading the weapon or turning into an abrasive paste with the oil coming off of the weapon.

These holsters were commonly worn either on a drop leg panel or strapped to the chest on the Osprey body armour cover.

Osprey Mk IV Belt

Tonight we turn to one of the more curious elements of the Osprey Mk IV set, the waist belt. This component is listed in the Osprey user’s guide and seems to have been issued with the rest of the pouches but I am struggling to find any information on if it was ever actually used, and how it was intended to be worn. My best guess is that it was designed to go over the vest to help tighten it, but I am struggling to find anything concrete so if you can help please comment below.

The belt is made from heavy duty MTP Cordua nylon and features a padded front section:imageThe belt splits into two parts:imageSecured together with Velcro at the front:imageAnd rear:imageThe back part of the belt is elasticated, with the strap split into two pieces. The inside of the front part of the belt has a distinctive ribbing to it and curves in slightly along its length:imageThis would aid the belt in gripping anything it was wrapped around, like the Cordua nylon of the Osprey vest of the fabric of a uniform.

A label is sewn to each of the Velcro tabs on the rear of the two belt halves:imageThere are a number of different sizes of belt produced for different sized soldiers, this is a small but medium and large examples are also available. As a later production piece, this belt has a proper NSN number, rather than just saying ‘N.I.V.’ (Not in Vocab).

Osprey Mk IV LMG Pouch

One of the larger pouches issued with the Osprey Mk IV is that for 100 rounds of LMG. This pouch is made of the standard MTP cordua nylon and is deep enough to hold 100 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition for the GPMG:imageThe belted ammunition sits inside and adds a considerable weight to the pouch:imageAll this weight requires the pouch to have substantial PALS straps on the rear, with multiple loops to ensure it attaches to the vest securely and doesn’t come away in combat:imageThe pouch is closed with a large box lid:imageSecured with a heavy duty tan plastic Fastex clip:imageAs ever a label is sewn to the rear with stores information:imageThe weight of ammunition was always a factor on operations. One ex-British Army soldier explains what men typically carried in Afghanistan:

I always carried 6 magazines of 28 rounds each of 5.56mm for my personal weapon plus perhaps that many rounds again either loose or in clips which could be speed loaded into the magazines. We also each carried not less than 200 rounds of 5.56mm belt ammunition for the Minimi light machine gun and/or 200 7.62mm belt rounds for the GPMG. I can’t remember exactly but it certainly was around 30 lbs of ammunition alone.

Each man in a foot patrol would have carried that much, the gunners carried more link ammo because their main weapon was the GPMG or Minimi. It depended on the job. If we were part of a force going on a full offensive op then it’s likely we would have carried much more but as we were mainly in a defensive roll due to our main task we depended heavily on close air support . We were taught to be disciplined with the ammo and to make every shot count. No spray and pray. If we had to, one guy could start breaking down some of the 5.56 belt ammo and load it into empty magazines. So in reality each guy had at least 300 rounds. That’s a lot of bullets in the real world.

The gunners carried 600+ rounds for their machine guns so between us we could bring a lot of firepower to the fight for a prolonged period. I promise not one round was fired unless an enemy fire position had been spotted which was usually easy due to the very low standards of the local Taliban fighters. Most of their lead flew right over our heads and contacts didn’t last long because we spotted and then smashed them or they ran out of ammo very quickly and then ran away.

In vehicles we would have brought with us several thousands of rounds of 5.56 and 7.62 ammo in boxes and rounds for the .50 cal if we had one. In addition there might have been boxes of rounds on belts for an automatic grenade launcher and plenty of bombs for the mortar if we were equipped with those weapons.

We had the occasional contact with Taliban forces made up of foreign fighters. These guys were more motivated and smarter soldiers (less likely to be high!) than the locals and much better trained so contacts with them lasted much longer, 4 hours or so, and could be very tricky, fast moving battles. With close air support from fast jets, attack helicopters and drones on our side the Taliban never got the upper hand but in the period of time between the start of the contact and when the first attack helicopter arrived on the scene, the foreign fighters could be very bold and would try their best to get close to our defensive positions. A lot of ammunition was needed at times like this. When the AH’s arrived which could take anything from 10 minutes to an hour, their cannons would turn the most persistent Taliban into high protein fertiliser.

Along with Electronic Counter Measures we carried on our backs, spare batteries for the ECM, water, ammo, weapons and body armour which alone would easily be half your load, plus whatever other stuff you were told to carry for some military reason, it was all very heavy. I don’t think that civilians realise how heavy all this equipment is and how tough it is to work with it all on. Soldiers, especially those in ‘teeth arms’ regiments deployed to Afghanistan, would regularly be patrolling and fighting out on the ground on foot in 100F degree heat carrying 60+ lbs of equipment and ammunition. We would occasionally have to move in non-tactical but still dangerous situations carrying over 100 lbs of stuff. This might explain why my knees, hips and back are so painful and stiff now.Operation Zangal Haf

Osprey Mk IV Half Collars and Fillers

We have previously looked at the collars used to increase protection on the Mk II Osprey system here. Tonight we are looking at an example of the half collar used with the Osprey Mk IV and happily in this case the collar has its original filler as well…I am very glad I am not going to have to cut up Yoga mats for this one! Like the earlier design, this collar is made in two sections, but this time in MTP pattern camouflage:imageThe two halves separate to allow the filler to be placed inside each half, the shape of the collar prevents it from being fitted from just one end as the middle section would be wider than the two ends. Each half collar has a piece of ballistic filler inside, which in turn is protected by a black nylon cover to protect the contents:imageEach piece of filler has a white label giving NSN numbers, sizing and when the filler was manufactured:imageThe date of manufacture and lot numbers are important in allowing any faulty or substandard batches of filler to be identified at a later date and removed form service if necessary. The rest of the collar follows the design of the earlier pattern having a loop and popper fastening on the base of the collar to allow it to be attached to the vest:imageThe instruction manual illustrates how this is done:CaptureAnd here it is on my vest set, which is slowly filling out with more components:imageA standard label is sewn to the outside of each collar half, dating these pieces to 2012:image

DDPM Three Magazine MOLLE Pouch

We have looked at the MTP pouches for the Osprey Mk IV quite extensively over the last few weeks, so this week we are taking a break and looking at an example of the DDPM pouches that were used with the earlier osprey Mk II and Mk III armour. It must be said that these pouches were designed to be worn on the Tactical load Carrying Vest we saw here, and this would then be worn over the Osprey. In reality troops quickly ditched the vest and attached pouches directly to the Osprey vests to reduce weight and bulk in the heat of operations. This pouch then is for carrying three SA80 magazines:imageThe pouch is particularly deep when compared to the later designs, as can be seen from the side:imageNote also that PALS straps are also sewn along the side of the pouch to allow smaller pouches to be fastened here (quite why you would choose to do this is beyond me, but the option is there). The back of the pouch has a pair of straps and the PALS loops to allow the pouch to be attached to the vest or osprey system:imageA label is sewn to the rear with store’s details:imageA standard metal eyelet is fitted into the base for drainage:imageThe pouch as quite a complicated fastener for the top flap, firstly it is held by a strip of Velcro:imageThe lid is then secured with a ‘Spanish’ fastener:imageThis consists of a plastic staple:imageA loop then goes over this:imageAnd the plastic fastener is pushed through this. This clip is very secure, but difficult to open in a hurry so troops often slipped the pull tap through the staple instead so that it was easier to pull it open:imageThis was not as secure, but did allow quicker access to the magazines in a combat situation. This design was clearly not ideal as the later patterns of Osprey ammunition pouches only carried a maximum of two magazines rather than the three of this design, presumably because troops found the pouches too deep to wear comfortably and ditched the Spanish clips for simpler Velcro fastenings.

Osprey Mk IV Ops Panel

This week’s Osprey component is a large panel that clips onto the front of the vest to give the wearer more PALS loops to attach pouches to, known as an ops panel. It is a large rectangular panel in MTP with a full set of loops sewn across the whole of the front:imageThe back of the panel has the hook part of Velcro across the whole of it:imageThis allows it to attach securely to the front of the MK IV Osprey vest, additional support is provided by a pair of loops at the top, each with a press stud on:imageAnd separate T-Bar connectors on the side, each with a Fastex type plastic buckle:imageFour are used for the set, two on each side of the panel. The combination of these T-Bars, the press studs and the Velcro ensure the panel is held very securely to the front of the vest:imageThis secure fastening is essential if the wearer decides to fit pouches with heavy items such as ammunition in them to the front of his vest. The manual gives detailed instructions on the correct sequence to assemble the ops panel:CaptureThe usual stores details and NSN number are on a small label sewn to the back of the panel:imageThis panel is fitted to give extra carrying capacity to the vest, and can be removed and replaced with a pair of cummerbunds if more armour is needed on the wearer’s flanks. Standard operating procedure seems to have varied from unit to unit with some commanders banning pouches form the front of body armour in case an IED turned their contents into more shrapnel over the vital organs. Other commanders did not see this as a problem and were happy for troops to wear pouches on the ops panel, trusting that the Osprey pouches were robust enough and the armour behind them effective enough that this would not be a problem.

Osprey Mk 4 Anti Personnel Grenade Pouch

This week’s Osprey component is the pouch for an anti-personnel grenade:imageTwo of these pouches were issued with the Osprey Mk 4 set and being quite small pouches are often slotted around other larger ammunition pouches as the wearer prefers. In most respects this pouch is very similar to other MOLLE pouches in the Osprey set and they are made of the usual MTP pattern infra-red resistant Cordua nylon. On the rear are long MOLLE straps for fitting into the PALS loops on thee vest:imageTwo uni-direction press studs are fitted to the base of these straps and with the straps pulled back you can also see the loops on the rear of the pouch:imageThe idea is to interweave the vertical straps between the horizontal loops on the vest and pouch to create a very secure fixing. This is a little fiddly to do, but works very effectively and once set up they are not going anywhere! Note also the stores label sewn to the rear of the pouch in the photograph above.

The base of the pouch has the usual drainage hole:imageIf the rear and base of the pouch is conventional, the fastenings are a little more involved. The top flap secures with Velcro on the underside of the flap:imageAnd a large Fastex type plastic buckle on the front:imageThis design is more secure than that used on the older DDPM version of the pouch and suggests that from operational experience it was decided to beef up the fastenings on the newer design. Presumably there had been instances of people forgetting to fasten the buckle and grenades falling out, the Velcro adds an extra security so that if a man forgets to push the buckle home the Velcro will still prevent the top flap from opening.