Category Archives: MOLLE

Osprey Pistol Magazine Pouch

Among the many pouches produced for the Osprey IV system was a small pouch to carry spare 9mm magazines for the service pistol. By this stage traditional holsters had been largely replaced by hard shell plastic designs so a soft holster was not part of the Mk IV complement of equipment, however extra magazines would be required to be carried so a set of dedicated pouches was clearly desirable. The pouch is made of an MTP printed fabric with a top flap that has a more open weave than many of the other pouches in the Osprey IV set:imageThis change of fabric was presumably to give extra strength on a thin top flap that would otherwise be in danger of breaking if the more standard fabric had been used. The large top flap covers the base of the magazine and is secured with a large Velcro fastening to make it harder for the pouch to be accidently opened:imageThe magazine itself slides inside to make a secure fit, but one that allows it to be easily withdrawn:imageThe magazine used here is for a Browning Hi-Power, in service more modern magazines would have been carried, but this is the only double stack pistol magazine I have access to and illustrates the concept just fine.

A single MOLLE strap is fitted to the rear to allow the pouch to be secured to the vest:imageThe weight of even a full pistol magazine is negligible so one strap would be more than adequate. Under the strap is the standard Osprey label, printed on fabric and sewn to the rear of the pouch:imageThese pouches were not only used for carrying pistol magazines, but also occasionally saw service on operations to carry morphine syringes in a safe and secure pouch that allowed easy access in case of emergency. Although not what the designers had originally envisaged this sort of adaptation is typical of how soldiers use equipment when deployed on active service and this seems a very sensible secondary use for the pouch.


MTP Osprey Mk IV Smoke Grenade Pouch

The standard set of pouches issued with a set of Osprey Mk IV body armour included two for smoke grenades, We have taken a look at smoke grenades on the blog before, in this post. If you have seen our previous posts on Osprey pouches, it will come as no surprise that this pouch is very similar to previous examples, but sized appropriately to carry a single smoke grenade:imageThe lid is secured with both a tan plastic Fastex clip:imageAnd a piece of Velcro to ensure the grenade does not come out accidently:imageAs with all these pouches, a pair of heavy duty straps are fitted to the rear to allow it to be attached using the MOLLE system:imageAnd a small label is sewn to the bottom rear of the pouch with stores numbers on:imageThis is just a quick post this week as there is very little to say about this pouch that hasn’t been covered in other posts, however it has been included for completeness and to help make this series a useful reference to those researching the Osprey Mk IV.

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 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

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.