Last year we looked at a number of different MOLLE pouches in Desert DPM fabric, used by the British Army in Afghanistan. In 2010 the British Army adopted the Mk4 Osprey body armour which was made in the new MTP camouflage, accompanying the body armour was a series of pouches, again produced in MTP. These were very similar in function to the earlier DDPM MOLLE pouches but featured the new camouflage and slight design changes. Tonight we are looking at the first element of this set I have picked up, a single SA80 magazine ammunition pouch:Note the use of a long Velcro flap to the pouch, rather than the quick release buckle used on the earlier designs:This pouch would hold just a single magazine, hence the slim profile. The base of the pouch has a single metal grommet for drainage of any water that might enter:The rear of the pouch has the familiar straps to engage with the cloth loops on the body armour, the same lift the spot fasteners and stiffened straps are used as the earlier designs:The rear also has a label indicating the pouch’s function:Note the lack of an NSN number- instead of a stores code it just says ‘N.I.V.’ which means ‘Not in Vocabulary’. This was because these pouches were rushed into production and shipped straight on to front-line troops as part of an ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’ so the early production runs were not allocated an NSN number; later examples are coded.
We return to the MOLLE system again tonight, with a detailed look at the personal medical pouch. This pouch is made of lighter weight nylon than the ammunition pouches we have looked at before, but has the same IRR desert DPM finish to the outside:The lighter weight material is unsurprising as the pouch is designed to hold much lighter contents than a regular ammunition pouch. In service it was expected to carry two field dressings and a pair of morphine injectors, loops being provided inside the pouch for the latter:A special panel is attached to the lid of the pouch for the soldier to write his name, number and blood type on:The lid is secured with a black plastic Fastex fastener:As is the case on all these pouches, an eyelet is fitted in the base to allow water to drain out:And on the rear are a pair of MOLLE straps:These differ from other pouches in having plastic ‘T’ clips inside them that can be accessed by unvelcroing the straps:This allows the pouch to be worn on a PLCE belt, often worn in theatre as a trouser belt. This allows all troops to carry their medical kit with them, even if they are out of armour and not wearing a MOLLE vest. This particular pouch was manufactured in 2006:It appears that the standard practice was to wear the medical pouch on the right hand side of any belt of vest. By having everyone wear them in the same place it was easy for a casualty’s oppo to find his first field dressing and apply it quickly. Clearly this rule was not heeded by the owner of this set of Osprey body armour, where the pouch is mounted centrally:
Last month we discussed the four round MOLLE pouch for the 40mm under slung grenade launcher here. As well as this four round pouch, a simpler and much smaller pouch was produced that holds just a single round:As ever this pouch is made of desert DPM infra red resistant cordua nylon , with the top flap being secured with a large plastic Fastex buckle:The Fastex buckle is preferred for these pouches as it is easily opened and closed with one hand, preferable for military equipment where the other hand is presumably keeping hold of a weapon. For added security this buckle is supplemented with a press stud:Turning to the rear we can see that, unusually, this pouch has just a single MOLLE strap, the small size precluding the usual two:Underneath this strap is the manufacturer’s label indicating pouch type, date of manufacture and a NATO stores code:The grenade launcher was issued at a rate of six per platoon; whilst numbers of rounds carried obviously varied, it seems that eight rounds was typical for the user, with further rounds distributed around other members of the section. This little pouch would seems to have been designed for this as due to its small size it can be slotted onto a MOLLE vest in odd spaces to add another round of ammunition here or there.
Continuing our occasional series on the pouches of the MOLLE system, tonight we are taking a look at the individual grenade pouch:The design of this pouch is very similar to the rest of the pouches in the system, with the pouch itself made from desert DPM, infra-red resistant cordua nylon, the top flap secured by a large black fastex buckle:As with all these pouches, there is a grommet in the base of the pouch to allow water to drain out:
The pouch has a single tape loop inside, across the rear wall:This allows the handle of the grenade to be tucked in safely. Unfortunately I don’t have a modern issue grenade in my collection, but this 1970s drill grenade illustrates how the grenade sits inside the pouch:The rear of the pouch has the now familiar twin straps and press fasteners allowing the pouch to be secured to a MOLLE vest:The label underneath indicates the pouch was made in 2007, and gives its official designation and NATO stores code:This pouch would most commonly be used with the L109A1 anti-personnel grenade, a British version of the Swiss HG 85 grenade:The L109 is deep bronze green in colour with golden yellow stencilling, and a rough exterior comparable to light sandpaper, and a yellow band around the top bushing, and weighs 465gm. Markings give the designation “GREN HAND HE L109A1”, a manufacturers marking “SM” meaning “Swiss Munitions”, and a lot number. (Markings on the safety lever give the designation and lot number of the fuze.)
Intended for use mainly when fighting in built-up areas, trench clearing, and wood clearing, it is effective against unprotected personnel up to 10 m (33 ft) away, and protected personnel up to 5 m (16 ft). Once the safety pin is pulled, the grenade is live but so long as the fly-off lever is kept depressed while the grenade is held (and the grenade can be held indefinitely with the pin out) it can be safely returned to storage so long as the fly-off safety lever is still in the closed position and the safety pin reinserted.
However if thrown – or the lever allowed to rise – the protective plastic cover falls away and the striker, under pressure of the striker spring begins to rotate on its axis. This causes the safety lever to be thrown clear, the striker continues to rotate until it hits the percussion cap, which fires and ignites the delay pellet.
The heat of the burning delay pellet melts solder holding a retaining ring, allowing the detonator to move under the influence of a spring from the safe to armed position. The delay pellet continues to burn and after between 3 and 4 seconds burns out and produces a flash that forces aside a flap valve allowing ignition. When the flash reaches the detonator this initiates a booster charge which in turn initiates the main explosive filling.
Tonight we continue our exploration of the MOLLE system of equipment used by the British Army in the War on Terror and turn to the 40mm Underslung Grenade launcher (UGL) pouch:This pouch has pockets for four rounds of ammunition for the British Army L17A1 and L123A2 grenade launchers. These UGLs are mounted under the SA80 rifle and are based on the Heckler and Koch AG36 launcher, a single shot breach loading grenade launcher that fires a 40mm grenade out to 350 metres. A variety of rounds can be fired in addition to standard explosive shells, such as inert training rounds, baton rounds, CS rounds, white phosphorous smoke rounds and pepper spray rounds. The following description comes from the British Army’s own website:
The SA80 Underslung Grenade Launcher (UGL) system consists of a Heckler & Koch AG-36 40mm grenade launcher and EO Tech holographic sight wedded to an ISTEC range drum. The UGL allows fire teams to deliver effective fragmenting munitions out to 350 metres. Advantages of the system are low recoil, ease of use, reduced ammunition weight and ability to have a chambered grenade at the ready whilst continuing to fire the SA80. The website explains in detail about the ammunition used and how the weapon is deployed:
The system is currently fielded with Practice and High Explosive ammunition natures. There are six UGLs per platoon resulting in greatly increased flexibility and weight of fire.
Longer term enhancements to the system may eventually include a fire control system, extended range ammunition and buckshot rounds for close-quarter battle.
The pouch for carrying the ammunition has four small pockets, with a loop of webbing so that when they are opened the round rises up to be easily removed. The pouches are secured with ‘lift the spot fastener’:These are reinforced with velcro:Turning to the rear we can see two straps that allow the pouch to be attached to a vest using the PALS ladder system:These poppers are not always easy to fasten, the reason being that they are designed to fasten in only one way so they don’t accidently come undone in use, as illustrated by this diagram:The back of the pouch has a label indicating its use, date of manufacture and NSN stores code:These pouches are now obsolete with the adoption of better designs in multi-cam camouflage patterns, and as with much of this equipment can be bought very cheaply.
Following on from the PLCE Utility pouch we looked at a couple of weeks back, tonight we turn to the next iteration of British Webbing, the MOLLE system utility pouch:We looked at the MOLLE waistcoat here, and this pouch is one of those designed to attach to this using the ladder system of loops and straps. What is immediately obvious is that despite being made form desert DPM fabric, the actual design of the utility pouch is remarkably similar to the PLCE version, both are simple large boxy pouches, secured by a single quick release fastener, in this case however the design has been improved by requiring the user to press in two prongs on the catch before releasing:This modification was in response to feedback from soldiers who found the old design opened too easily when it wasn’t wanted in the field. The base of the pouch has a single metal eyelet for draining out any water that might get into the pouch:The lid of the pouch is a deep box lid, that comes down overt the sides to help protect the contents:Opening the lid we can see a further change where the insides are protected by a light fabric bag, with a draw string top:This is presumably based on operational experience and reduces the ingress of sand that could damage the contents of the pouch. The most fundamental differences between this pouch and its predecessors come when you turn it over, here we can see the loops, straps and poppers that allow it to be attached to the ladder type loops of the MOLLE system. These poppers are very stiff, but considering the weight of items that might be carried in the pouch this is to be expected and if I were using the system I would rather it was a struggle to attach than it popped off in the field:This particular pouch is dated 2007, and appears to have been unissued:Much of this kit was produced for the war in Afghanistan and following the end of that conflict large quantities are coming onto the secondary market at rock bottom prices- this pouch was £1. As has been mentioned before this is an excellent opportunity for the young collector who can build up a fantastic collection with his pocket money.