South African M83 Chest Rig/Vest

Just scored myself one of the old poo brown SA vests off ebay for £40 as a couple of the lads I used to work with swore by them (and I quite like the design). Looking to get it modded by Troopers and was wondering if anyone had any experience with getting theirs 'modernized'.

The big back compartment is coming off to be replaced with molle. Not too sure about the side pouches though and some of the mag ones will have to be adjusted. Any suggestions?
If it is a genuine SA rig then the construction is bulletproof. If it is a copy then it will fall apart in double quick time.
Yeah it's genuine, very good condition for how old it is but it's a real one. Just want a few more options for how it's set up (and to take the pouch off the back so I can wear a bergan with it).

Deleted 20555

Not sure why you need a molle back but hey ho - I'd change all the velcro as it is probably getting tired by now and a brown velcro looks a lot better than the original black.

Just saw your post - you can't wear a bergen with it even with the back off - the pouches are too big around the waist - and it's specifally designed to be used when you don't need a bergen - like out for the day or two of walkies or during an assault - the set does have it's own bergen and chest rigging also called the Patt83 - popular with men with special hats a while back.

South African M83 Vest used by USSF

Deleted 20555

The built in backpack - which can be opened for a singular long pack or with an internal partition does have a small velcro closure on the top (aerials) but you can easily pop a camelback bladder in there and feed th tube out over the shoulder - I think it has a built in strap on the shoulder as well but it's been a while.
Nice bit of kit, I'll probably end up sticking with the issue bergan for now though. Is it really unworkable to wear the SA vest and the UK issue bergan together? I'd try mine out but I don't have it with me at the moment.

Deleted 20555

You'd have to try - but the problem is that it hangs low and there are big **** off pouches - for the 2 lt waterbottles originally but also good as dump pouches or for 7.62 link - which would interfere with your hip belt so all the weight would be on your shoulders.

I did see Dragon or someone do a new copy of the patt 83 with molle straps on the back instead of the fixed back pouch.

My bergen was so big I could just drop a daysack into the back whole and then take it out when needed and wear it with the chest webbing which you could also use with the bergen.

The bergen is pretty indestructible - steel frame - I still use one that saw active service and is about 25 years old. Heavy though.


Book Reviewer
I modded mine 20 odd years ago and wore it with the plce bergan with no more issues than you would usually have, the ammo pouches are low enough to avoid the straps but you have to jump to do the hip belt up under the big side pouches.

Being recce orientated at the time mine was based more on living off the land with a bit of fighting so I took the back off and chopped it up to make more pouches to mod the front and made a butt pack for the rear. converted one of the front ammo pouches to hide a knife while taking binos.

its still in the loft I think, being brown and pre issue assault vest/battle bra timeline - I could swap ammo for food and hit the hills with it without scaring the civvies too much :)

it's was designed for conscripts so dont expect too much out of it, the OG stuff that followed was a bit better. I remember reading the aussies were issuing it and had 2l water bottles for the side pouches which can be found online. you can with some imagination and a needle and thread carry as much in a chest rig if you wanted to.


Book Reviewer
well it sounds better than running like fcuk while going hungry :)

I had one of the little chest rigs too which also worked pretty well, good for wearing under a jacket, in a vehicle or a range day. couple of bottle pouches on the waist belt and not bad for patrolling which was what they were made for after all.
I still use mine and have had it modified at Troopers in Colchester. It works great with a bergan, I have never used the bergan waist belt, even had it removed from the bergan as it got in the way, so I dont know if it can be used with it.
Plastic male/female buckles on all pouches, on hip water bottle pouch left side I have bayonet loops at the rear and right side I have a kangaroo puch for hexi. Also on water pouches 2x clips each side with adjustment.
Large back pack type pouch removed and two clips sown on to cilp on an issue camel bak.
Sholder adjustment spraps have all been sown down so they dont slip off the sholder but with enough left free to adjust is wearing CBA/Osprey or now.
Front right lower twin ammo pouch I have removed the devider and use is as a medi kit dump pouch.
I got 2 x 2ltr water bottles off Convict Mark on here, one in the kit, one in the bergan.
Left side has a hidden map pocket, its pants and causes the left water pouch to droop as it isnt fixed to the padding so I had that re sown on so the map pocket is not usable.
Molle straps on back and sides after where the pouches end so I can if I want attach mission specific pouches (HMNVGS pouch etc)
I had runners sewn on to thread the side adjustment straps through as sometimes the side panels can droop.
I cant remember anything else....

I would put some photos up but it is in my locker and I am at home. PM me your email addy and I will take some next week and email them to you if you want.
GrumbleGrunt, sounds like ILRRPS stuff.


Book Reviewer
89 with a lot of singing norwegians. never understood why we pulled out as the courses were good unless it was the balkans issue. mind you the patrols course started the year after that just before sphinx so I guess we went organic.

Similar threads

Latest Threads