The pattern 83 system was discontinued by the SADF in 2015. Today it is typically only available used and in single quantities — even in Africa.
Recently we uncovered a significant number of pattern 83 items while developing a separate project in South Africa. This was the result of a series of in-person visits throughout South Africa, facilitated by our local contacts there.
Many businesses in South Africa have little-to-no web presence, so things like this require phone books and commutes halfway across the country. In short, we were incredibly lucky to find rigs in this condition and to be able to offer you this pricing.
As a result of this import, we are very pleased to offer absolutely unissued Pat 83 chest rigs. In fact, they are so factory-new that the production chalk marks used to guide the cutting and sewing process are visible. Most are still in their 80s and 90s factory packaging.
About the Rig
The Pattern 83 webbing system was produced in response to a need for comfortable, lightweight, and simple-to-use webbing for South African soldiers during the latter part of the Border War. The civilian camping and outdoors industries were contracted to produce the Pat 83 concept, and the resulting system was far ahead of its time.
Officially discontinued in 2015, the pattern 83 webbing system is now largely phased out of service. However, with 30-some-years in active use, the Pattern 83 remains an iconic part of South African Culture.
Pattern 83 has been featured as the go-to load bearing gear of various movie baddies and mercenaries (Notably Blood Diamond, District 9, and Mad Max). It has even appeared in Metal Gear Solid: V and other video game titles.
This chest rig takes inspiration from the famous "chicom" Chinese chest rig that was supplied in huge quantities to the rebel "terrorist" forces the South African military faced.
It is made from waterproof, durable Cordura nylon in the "Nutria brown" color of most SADF equipment. The nylon material is coated on the inside to increase durability while keeping weight to a minimum. The shoulder straps are padded and fully adjustable in length by slide buckles. This chest rig features three connected magazine pouches (two magazines each) meant for the R4 (Galil) rifle, but it can easily fit AK, AR, and some battle rifle magazines as well.
The unconnected, large right pocket is meant for a smoke grenade, but you can easily store a few bandages or a soda there. On the left, there is a narrow pouch intended for a pen, flare, or small knife. There are two smaller pouches on the right stacked on top of each other for grenades or small items such as cleaning kits. The other side of the chest rig's single panel features a spacious document pocket for storing important papers. The previous owners often wrote their names or doodled on this side of the chest rig, sometimes in the flap for the document pouch.
The chest rig is fastened at your back by a Fastex type buckle located on the adjustable lower straps. Like the chicom rig from which it was derived, there is nothing on your back besides straps, so you can comfortably use it with a rucksack. As South Africa is in a more arid biome, there are no drainage holes in any of the pouches, but these and other modifications can be easily made.
- Waterproof, durable Cordura nylon
- Nutria brown, designed to get dirty and build a natural camouflage
- Two padded adjustable shoulder straps
- Adjustable back strap buckles rig to your torso
- Three connected magazine pouches hold up to six mags
- Large right pocket fits water bottles, smoke grenades, and loose tools or bandages
- Two small left pockets fit grenades, cleaning kits, or more tools
- Admin pouch on backside holds maps, notebooks, pens, and pencils
There are two types of mag pouches found in the Pat 83 chest rig. The rigs we have on order will be luck of the draw with a majority being of the AK/AR 30rd variety.
These have straps on the inside of the mag pouches. The strap is long and connected close to the top of the pouch opening. These straps surround the outside of the mag inside of the pouch the way the letter "U" would fit around the letter "I." If you are storing mags that are less than 30rds, or a mag is stuck/difficult, you can just yank the end of the strap and it quickly removes the mag from the pouch. See photos for examples.
We call this universal because you can store any kind of basic magazine.
AK/AR 30rd Only
These rigs are the exact same except they do not have the mag pull straps. They are only recommended for 30rd mags or similarly sized magazines. The style of 30rd mag can differ, however the warehouse has only tested AR and AK mags. They are designed to hold 35rd Galil magazines.
Any other mags less than 30rds require pulltabs or child fingers.
Featured here we have the original SADF field manual containing adjustment, handling and maintenance information on all P83 equipment. This can be viewed here. Chest Rig usage information can be found on pages A3, A9-A11, and A27-A33.