In October 2015, Pattern 83 was fully discontinued by the South African Defense Force. Since then, supplies of PAT 83 equipment have decreased exponentially due to heavy domestic and foreign demand (and a couple Mad Max movies).
For a long time, it was quite possible to find the iconic battle jacket by the hundreds. We’re afraid that day is long gone. Today it is typically 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.
Most Saffie businesses 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 a cache in this condition, and doubly so at this pricing.
As a result of this import, we are pleased to offer the crown jewel of the pattern 83 system in excellent condition. The battle jackets in this import have been hand-inspected for damage and laundered to remove the dirt and dust from years of storage. The result is as close to a new jacket as is possible, especially given the 30-some-years since the Border War.
History and Overview
The Pattern 83 webbing system was produced to fill a very specific need in the South African military. In the later years of the Border War, the SADF was hurting for a comfortable, lightweight, and simple-to-use load bearing system. As with much of the equipment of the time, private sector commercial outfitters helped the military design and produce an effective solution. The resulting “battle jacket” (heavily influenced by Rhodesian Fireforce webbing) is still in use today by the South African Defense Force and has been featured as the go-to load bearing gear of various movie baddies (see Blood Diamond, District 9, and most recently Mad Max).
The iconic “Nutria brown” pouches on the vest are made of a waterproofed Cordura nylon. You’ll find a heavy wear-resistant coating inside the pouches. The “body” of the vest is a padded breathable nylon mesh which distributes weight evenly across your shoulders, back, and hips. In total, there are five magazine pouches, each capable of holding two standard capacity mags (for a grand total of ten). Although originally intended for R4 (Galil) magazines, we’ve found the pockets are plenty roomy and will even accommodate some battle rifle users.
On the sides of the vest there are two large pouches intended for canteens. In a pinch, they can be used as dump pouches for empty magazines, but we’d recommend using them for their original purpose (dehydration is no joke). Smaller pockets arranged around the water pouches are intended to hold grenades but work just as well for storing cleaning kits and other miscellaneous small gear. The large lower pouch in the front can fit even more magazines or be used to store bandages and other bulkier items. The backpack pouch features a roomy upper and lower compartment, with additional straps to secure a bed roll.
- Waterproof, durable Cordura nylon with nylon mesh webbing
- Nutria brown color, designed to get dirty and build a natural camouflage
- Padding along shoulders, back and hips
- Webbing can be adjusted and secured with buckles to fit all sizes
- Five double magazine pouches hold up to ten 30rd magazines
- One large front pouch
- Two large canteen side pouches
- Two small side grenade pouches
- Large “backpack” pouch with two compartments
Collector's: Like new condition, no observable blemishes or damage
Great+:Minor use and abrasion on the fabric, minor cosmetic blemishes. Hand-checked for damage and washed to remove particles of dirt and debris
Great:Minor use and abrasion on the fabric, cosmetic damage
Good: Mild use and abrasion on the fabric, minor dust and dirt (e.g. grass stains, water stains, dirt/dust pushed into webbing), cosmetic damage
Serviceable: Dust and dirt, some stains, torn or missing components, no structural damage or damage that would impede use