Call: +44 (0) 1344 750735 / +44 (0) 7970 541757
E-mail: fsu@sky.com

 

film & TV  contact us payment events special offers ViewCart
 
BDU editorial
EQUIPMENT editorial
 

SHOOTING SPORTS/ May 2005

FOREST MONSTER

by Ian Davies

Ian Davies checks out the unlikely named Leshy camo suit from RusMilitary and finds it has a third dimension

Those of us who camo often tend to wear it more as clothing and less as a form of total concealment, which is what it should be about. Matching your pattern/colouration to the terrain is perhaps less important than you might think, given animals have limited or no colour perception. More important is how it breaks you up in relation to what you are in front of and also your shiny pink hands and face and regular human shape. When hunting I tend to wear a mesh facemask and gloves and occasionally will even put bits of foliage onto my clothing to give a more 3-D effect. Another approach is to have a garment that offers these options as standard. Such an item is the generic Ghillie suit,

which by means of a mesh inner allows you to attach various pieces of material to give the effect of true foliage. They are exceptionally effective, though somewhat specialised, and are really only for pure ambush shooting where concealment is paramount - perhaps when waiting up for a particularly cunning or shy fox. Off-the-Shelf Solution So if you can't be bothered to make your own Ghillie, or fork out the dosh for one (usually well over £100), then RusMilitary have an off the shelf solution. Called the Leshy - the name of a forest monster from Russian folklore - it's a military garment used by their snipers. It consists of a 2-piece mesh suit in a DPM/US Woodland-style (4 colour) Les pattern. Over this are sewn strips of pre-cut leaf pattern cloth in the same camo, which gives it a near 3-D effect. The Leshy features an integral hood with face veil, elasticated cuffs, ankles and waist, so it's easy to get on and off over clothing. Closure of the jacket is by a zip. There are no pockets, though there are two pass-through slots on the sides of the coat so you can access what's underneath. My initial impressions were of something a bit simplistic in comparison to a real Ghillie suit, but I was to discover that the Leshy works nearly as well. Firstly, its light mesh construction will allow air to circulate, which makes it comfortable to wear even when it's hot. The cut-leaf pattern will move in the wind, so reacts like real foliage, and it's deep enough to break up the outline very well indeed. It has a buff side too, which helps to break up the dark mass your quarry will see. The hood is generously cut to easily cover the head and the face veil, though solid to look at, allows good vision for the wearer. It can also be draped over the face/eye piece of the scope to give a bit more concealment. In tests I found the camo colouration a little dark for grassland, but the effect of the 3-D suit is very good indeed, as it does take away the biped look of the human form and replaces it with a non-specific shape. And as can be seen in the pictures, the effect is very good; especially when you see a bit of pink skin standing out like a sore thumb. As it is it certainly works and is less dedicated than a Ghillie suit, and you could easily augment its performance by attaching bits of hessian/jute, etc. To give more effect, or even local foliage...Not for everyone and perhaps not for wearing all the time, but when you have to lie up for that crafty fox, or need to be up close and personal, it's a worthwhile addition to your hunting wardrobe....
   

COMBAT & SURVIVAL / March 2004

AFGHANISTAN c.1988

by Bob Morrison

... Afganistan in winter, particularly in the mountains can be colder than a very cold place, so it is no surprise that troops wore the fabled ushanka fur hat with the winter weight combats. This classic item of headgear, based on a traditional Russian design worn by mena nd women alike in the depths of winter, came in two basic qualities. Enlisted men had a cheaper version with simulated fur, but officers were issues with a fur-lined versio - who said all men were equal under communism ? Both hats were constructed from coarse grey felt with a quilted black cotton lining. The ushanka was usually worn, unless it was really cold, with the sides folded up and tied at the crown (the East German equivalent, though similar to the enlisted version, had a loop and button fastener). If the sides were dropped, the back came down with them to keep the neck warm, but in combat zones it was unusual to see this as hearing was severely limited.The front panel of the ushanka, through which one of many different star badges was pinned, could not be dropped as it was stitched in position. The standard side cap worn by enlisted men in barracks in Afganistan was the olive drab cotton pilotka side-cap that came to prominence in Russia's Great Patriotic War, or World War Two to the rest of us.When flat, its basic shape resembledan orange segment, but it opened out to give a relatively close-fitting crown with raised curved standing sides. A grey leather sweatband ran around the inside edge and the classic enamelled red star badge with hammer and sickle was pinned to the front. Both of the ushanka hats photographed here are brand new current Russian issue, but they are identical to those worn by the Soviets in Afganistan, and indeed have changed little since the Great Patriotic War of sixty years ago.The pilotka is from the unissued surplus stock, and from the stamp behind the sweatband it would appear to date from 1982. The pilotka was not considered to be very practical for wear in the field, so the furazhka combat cap was introduced. Soon re-christened the afganka, this became very popular with those troops who were not entitled to wear the bush hat issued to elite and airborne forces. Three versions of the afganka were actually produced, but the one shown here with fold-down earflaps seems to have been the most popular.The other two were a plain version with no side flaps, and a severe weatherversion with a detachable full-face visor which left only the eyes exposed. Our afganka, which is a genuine unissued surplus example, carries military stamps and is dated from 1986. It is made from the same olive drab material as the pack, but has a grey cotton lining and similar grey fake leather sweatband as the pilotka. A low visibility loive green cap badge is pinned at the front. Elite airborne and air assault troops serving in Afganistan would wear their distinctive light blue beret at every opportunity, but as the Afgan resistance started to hit back more efficiently, everybody took to wearing threir steel helmet or stalnoi shelem. All headgear, with the exception of the beret and helmet pictures, which came from the C & S archives, were supplied by Oleg Savochkin at Rusmilitary,to whom we extend out thanks.

The final item of Afganistan-era Soviet kit featured in this month is a pair of fur-lined boots as issued to Spetsnaz and some airborne troops. These are simple, but robust, eight hole leather combat boots with a stitched copy of the original WWII Commando sole in a course rubber compound. They fasten with a combination of five eyelets and three lace tunnels either side, plus there are two leather lace loops at the bottom of the tongue to keep it centrally positioned. The thin leather bellows extends well above the fifth eyelet to keep water out. The one thing that makes these boots so different from most other military equivalents is the deep fur lining throughout, including the insole.These boots were originally designed to prevent frostbite in the harsh Russian winter, and they soon found favour in Afganistan with anyone who could get their hands on a pair.The fur lining is actually processed sheepskin and not a cheap synthetic substitute, as this is one area where the Soviets realised that they could not cut corners. A soldier who cannot feel his toes is no use to any army, even the hardy Red Army. These boots were also supplied by Oleg, who has a small quantity of brand new unissued pairs available in stock in the most popular full sizes.

 

Spetsnaz Afganistan c.1988 by Bob Morrison

No one since Alexander the Great has conquered Afganistan. No conqueror could ever extract enough advantage from its occupation, either strategically or economically, to make it worth having to defeat the Afgans. David Isby, 1986: Russia's War in Afganistan

Until the United States, backed by Britain and many other nations, invaded Afganistan at the end of 2001 as part of the post-September 11th "War Against Terror" coalition, this statement held true. Some commentators would even argue that it still does, as on-going combat operations are still being quietly prosecuted against the Taliban and much of this

barrne country remains outside Coalition control. Three times since the 19th century, the British tried to conquer the Afgans by force without success, and as late as 1989 the massive Soviet beat withdrew to lick its wounds after ten years of political and military setbacks that many call the Russian Vietnam. In their initial 1979 foray into this mountainous country , the Soviets pushed their Airborne and Special forces to the fore and, despite a generation of ordinary conscripts having to serve their two years of National Service in this violent backwater, these specialised VDV and Spetsnaz troops were also tied down there for a decade. The combat uniform we feature this month is typical of the type used in winter by these specialists in the closing days of the conflict. When discussing price and availability of rarer items of modern camoflage uniform, we often advise collectors never to regard their purchases as an investment, as sooner or later someone is bound to find a warehouse or skip of long-forgotten surplus to devalue the collection. Over the last fifteen or so years, following the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the West has been flooded at times with large quantites of previously very rare Soviet uniforms, but good condition examples of winter clothing worn by Soviet troops in Afganistan have always been much harder to come by. Recently, however, our old friend Oleg from Rusmilitary has tracked down unissues stocks of heavyweight padded combat suits in a warehouse deep in the former Soviet Union. Stamped as being manufactured between 1984 and 1988, they were no doubt about to be issues just as the war in Afganistan ended, only to be forgotten as the Soviet Union began to fall apart. Based on a much earlier design, these khaki drab padded combat suits of the eighties were much favoured by Soviet VDV airborne units and Spetsnaz special forces deployed to Afganistan. In temperate regions, disruptiv epattern muliple colour camo patterns are neede to blend in with foliage, but in the arid and dusty wastes of Afganistan, plain khaki drab was probably a more effective camouflage. This style of heavily padded suit was, and still is, produced in Soviet/Russian woodland camo, but was rarely worn in anything other than plain khaki during the ten year Soviet invasion of its southern neighbour. These days synthetic materials have taken over to keep soldiers warm and dry in inhospitable climatic regions, but twenty years ago cotton, felt and, to a much lesser extent leather were the only materials used for the manufacture of most combat clothing. This Soviet suit represents the last of that generation.

Outer Jacket The jacket essentially comprises an outer and inner layer, both of which can be worn as separate items, but to provide maximum protection from the vold they were usually buttoned together. Unlike NATO armies, who had changed to the multiple layer principle of clothing, the Warsaw Pact was still relying on bulk to provide insulation against severe cold and so issues totally different uniforms for winter wear. The outer jacket is of heavyweight cotton shirt design, with a thick sewn-in felt lining. Designed to be worn outside of the trousers, it has two chest and two lower cargo pockets. All four are square-cornered, with rectangular flpas closed by a pair of small four-hole olive drab buttons. On each upper arm is a similar smaller pocket, but in this case, velcro is used to fasten the flap. THese six pockets are flat sewn down the leading edge, but have a bellows expansion pleat down the opposite side, and a triangular pleated fillet at the bottom edge. On the inner face of the right side there is a single rectangular pocket with a simple flap and single button fixing. Presumeably, as this pocket is made froma rubberised nylon fabric, it was designed to keep the paybook and other documentation dry if the jacket became soaked. An eighth poacket is concealed between the outer left front flap and the wind baffle. Lined with a black leather substitute material and kept closed by a small button and loop fastener, this pocket is designed to take a pistol and has an olive nylon lanyard sewn in. Manufactured to a reasonably high standard this heavyweight jacket is clearly designed for wear in colder climates, as even the sleeves and front closure wind baffle are felt-lined. A simple nylon drawcord allows the waist to be drawn in, and there is another drawcord concealed in the bottom hem. This latter adjuster appears outside for the hem for about 40 mm on the left side, to allow it to be drawn in to the suit, and it is then tied up out of the way with a cloth tape. It is said that this unifrm was also designed for parachuting, and the concealed fastenings are quoted as neing in evidence of this. Other than traditional shoulder straps, with single button fastenings, for rank slides and reinforced elbows, there appears to be little else of note ont his jacket. However, it the simple, shirt-style collar is lifted at the back, a hidden poacket is revealed. Inside this is sewn a simple brownish coloured cotton hood with a draw tape through its front edge. made of a much tighter weave than the rest of the jacket, this hood should give some degree of protection from wind and rain. Fromits simplistic design though, I suspect that water probably ran down the back seams of the hood into the pocket to soak the felt lining.

Jacket Liner The jacket liner section is essentially a padded jacket with a bluish grey fake fur collar and windcheater cuffs inside the sleeves. Manufactured from Khaki drab cotton, with thick felt between its innner and outer layers, it has no external poackets. Sometimes, erroneously described as quilted, it is not, and the felt filling is merely attached to the outer cotton layer by vertical stitching. The front is simply fastened by large four-hole buttons, and there is no weather battle. The fake fur collar is attached to two very thick and heavy cotton layers, and can be fastened across the throat when raised. When the liner is worn with the outer jacket, the collar of the outer is tucked in between the two layers of the inner liner collar and buttoned in place. The liner also buttons inside the outer jacket down both sides of the front opening, but the two are not connected at the hem. Two buttons on the outside of the liner sleeve connect to tape loops insde the hem of the outer jacket sleeves to prevent the liner riding up. There is a single internal pocket on the left, similar to the one on the right side of the outer jacket, manufactured from rubberised nylon.

Trousers The outer trousers are manufactured from the same khaki drab heavyweight cotton as the outer jacket, but they only have a single thickness of material. Pockets are limited to two conventional front slash pockets, plus a cargo pocket with bellows pleats down both sides can be found on each front thigh. Cargo pocket flaps are rectangular and conceal two olive buttons similar to those on the jacket. The waistband is very deep, measuring as much as four inches or 100mm in places, but there are also four loops at the bottom of this to take a two inch (50mm) leather belt. The fly fastens with four smallish olive buttons, and there is also a simple flat metal hook and eye at the bottom edge of the waistband. There is a simple wind baffle with simple button fixing behind the fly. Simple tab and double button fasteners allow the waist to be drawn in slightly for fit. The two front belt loops are extended up to the top of the waistband, where a pair of D-rings for braces is attached at each side. These braces are Y-shaped, connecting to the waistband at the rear by way of two buttons arranged vertically. There is a six inch (150mm) length of thick elastic at the back, which is stitched into a piece of mock leather , from which two heavy cotton shaped straps pass over the shoulders to be threaded through the D-rings. The trouser leg hems ahve simple cloth draw tapes and the knees are reinforced with a rectangle of the same materials as the rest of the trousers. There is no reinforcing around crotch or seat areas. Six buttonholes near the top of the waistband are used to connect the liner but, unlike the sleeves, there is no way of attaching the liner at the bottom.

Trouser liner The trouser liner is basically quite similar to the jacket liner, being constructed from two soft cotton layers with a thick felt layer sandwiched in-between. The fly is of the simple four-buttoned type, and six buttons in the soft felt waistband connect to the outer trousers. THe hems have simple cloth tapes which are simply tied around the lower leg, over the standard issue white cloth which is used to protect the feet in place of socks. The inner felt padding terminates some eight inches (200mm) above the hem, presumably to stop it becoming waterlogged through capillary action. There are no pockets whatsoever in the trouser liners, nor are there any attachment points for belt or braces, but we have seen pictures of these being worn in camp on their own,with a belt pulled tight around the waist to hold them up. There is also documentary evidence of Afgan resistance fighters wearing them, plundered after attacks on Soviet convoys, under their traditional long shirt.

Cap & Belts In the pictures, Kat wears two belts which would have been authentic during the Soviet occupation of Afganistan, though it is unlikely that both would have been worn by the same person. Over the jacket she wears the brownofficer's belt, and her trousers are held up by the near black belt worn by enlisted men. Both belts are two inches (50mm) deep and cut from stout leather, but the quality of the furniture is a bit basic by Western standards. The enlisted man's belt has a stamped brass buckle plate, carrying the hammer and sickle emblem inside a five-pointed star to which a flat hook is crudely brazed to accept the flat hoop stitched into the other end of the belt. A brass wire double hoop with flattened brass tube, is wielded to the opposite edge of the buckle plate to both accept the left end of the belt and to allow adjustment. There is no embellishment to this belt whatsoever. The officer's belt has a moreconventional double prong buckle made of pressed brass, and is embellished with simple stitching which is purely decorative. Under communism , all men were supposed to be equal , but rank still held its priviledges. Outdoor headgear worn with this winter weight uniform would normally have been the grey fake fur cap with ear flaps, known as the ushanka, but in Afganistan the combat cap or furazhka, nicknamed the afganka, seems to have been preferred over the side cap or pilotka around camp. Our furazhka has a painted khaki drab low visibility metal cap badge rather than the more familiar enamelled red star with hammer and sickle. In summer, the Soviet bush hat, which was more similar in style to the American doughboy hat of World War One than the boonie style of bush had worn by NATO forces, would have been worn in the field when a helmet was not required. Next month, we will take a closer look at the ushanka, furazhka and pilotka, along with a rare Soviet airborne rucksack from the same era. The last item of uniform that Kat is wearing is the green-striped , long-sleeved T-shirt or telnyashka worn by certain branches of the VDV airborne forces. This garment is current Russian issue, but is identical in style and material to those worn in the eighties by Soviet troops in Afganistan. On her feet she wears fur-lined Spetsnaz boots, which we will look at in more detail next month.

Price and Availability Rusmilitary currently hasve stocks of all the items shown here, including the deactivated SVD Dragunov sniper rifle, (see page 44). The jacket and trousers come as a pair for £99 and the afganka cap costs £10. The winter weight telynashka T-shirt costs £11.95, the enlisted man's belt is £9.95 and the officer's belt is £11.95. Oleg also stocks a tange of Soviet and Russian badges and insignia. If you are looking to buy a complete and unissued Warsaw Pact era unifrom for your collection, this could make an unusual starter. For more details, contact Rusmilitary on 01344 750735 or check out www.rusmilitary.com

 

COMBAT & SURVIVAL / May 2003

Modern Era Militaria by Bob Morrison

Collecting original Second World War uniforms and equipment can be an expensive business, and even reproduction clothing is not cheap. For example, German Para tunics made for and worn in the film Band of Brothers have been offered for sale at £200 each, with matching trousers setting the buyer back another £150. Copies of M1943 US Para jump suits made for the same film and bearing the names of the wearers, have been advertised for between £400 and £600. Deactivated weapons of the period, particularly those modified by proof houses prior to the introduction of the post-Dunblane knee-jerk legislation that turns them into little more than static lumps of wood and metal, can now cost more than even these jump suits.

On the other hand, collecting former Warsaw Pact or modern-day Russian uniforms, and the deactivated weapons to go with them, can be a little bit more affordable. A brand new Soviet KLMK sniper suit, as worn in Afganistan in the eighties, cost just £75 from the UK importers, and they throw a genuine waist belt too, for good measure. The Kamuflirovannyi Letnyi Maskirovochnyi Kombinezon, or Camouflage Summer Deceptive Overrall in English, is a one-piece reversible garment in green and sand. Turned inside out for night use, its secondary pattern confuses the eye when viewed through night vision devices. To go with it, how about a folding stock AK-74M assault rifle, built as a non-firing replica to European CIP regulations in the same Izhmash factory as the real thing ?

Another historic item of Soviet kit, used in Afganistan in the early years of the occupation and also favoured by Spetsnaz, is the VDV airborne issue Summer Uniform of greyish green cootton. Consisting of shirt and trousers, with mesh panels at armpits and groin for ventilation, it was a smart and practical general purpose suit for warm climate operations. Still issued to some Russian troops today, a factory condition set costs just £56. We have teamed both the Summer Uniform and KLMK sniper suit up with the sky blue betet worn by Soviet airborne troops, but it should be noted that the cap badges are more modern Russian Federation examples

COMBAT & SURVIVAL / December 2002

Modern Russian Camouflage by Bob Morrison

For many years prior to the collapse of the Communism in Eastern Europe at the turn of the nineties, the kit and camouflage clothing of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw pact allies was the domain of a small but enthusiastic , and mainly well-heeled, sector of the militaria collecting fraternity. To give just one example, the East German NVA helmet, commanded prices in excess of £100 at militaria fairs in the West before the Berlin wall fell and the Iron Curtain was drawn open. Today, these helmets can be picked up in the UK for £12 or less, and and most of ex-Soviet kit has also been much more realistically priced.

Recently though, for one reason or another, and possibly because sufficient profit margin is not there, the market is no longer being deluged with second-hand Soviet or later Russian Federation kit, and prices are beginning to creep back up as a result. Another area where prices have risen again is WWII era Russian clothing, though in this case the reason could be down to some very good books having been written on the subject, allowing collectors to readily identify items. Recent major film productions such as Stalingrad and Enemy at the Gates, have also kindled interest in this period among both collectors and battlefield re-enactors. In addition, the comparatively open border policy between East and West these days has seen a great deal of WWII era Russian collectibles becoming available to stimulate further interest in this area of the hobby. For collectors of post-WWII Soviet and modern Russian Federation uniforms, however, the opposite is the case, with few authentic film or TV productions yet having been made about the Former Superpower. There is also still a distinct lack of authoritative, with the exception of Dennis Desmond's work, English language reference books on what was until recently a taboo subject in the country of origin. If, though, more reference sources on these modern uniforms did exist, no doubt the one point that they would highlight is that not everything offered in the West as Russian Special Forces kit is actually genuine. Since the demise of Communism, and the subsequent meteoric rise in crime, many metropolitan guard and paramilitary policing units have been formed and a great many private security companies have also been established. Many of these have either adopted uniforms in the style of the mainstream military, or created their own military-style uniforms. Quite often these are offered to unsuspected collectors as examples of rare Special Forces kit. Further compounding this confusion, a major dealer in the US has allegedly created his own range of pseudo-Soviet / Russian SF kit, manufactured in the Soviet Union and in some instances from original fabric. So, as always, Buyer Beware !

One area where the collector can safely dabble, however, is in factory-fresh uniforms from named factories in the Russian Federation. These are usually made to the same standards as issue clothing and from the same fabric, but carry the manufacturer's name tags. The factories sell them directly to career soldiers through specialist shops and by mail order inside Russia, but they also available through independent traders in Europe and North America. Our old friend Oleg Savochkin, the former Soviet NCO who imports Russian motorbikes and deactivated AK weaponry into Britain, carries quite a comprehensive range of modern Russian camouflage kit by SPLAV Ltd. which is the major supplier to the Russian Ministry of Defense. As these are brand new items, they naturally are priced higher than used or surplus garments, but are considerably cheaper than what one would expect to pay for comparable authentic factory-direct Western European uniforms. In addition to collectors, hunters, anglers and those engaged in other outdoor pursuits where Day-Glo and primary colours are inappropriate, may find them of interest.MVD PFO 'TIGER' This camouflage pattern seems to be worn only by the elite OSN (Otriad Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya) of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs), a highly specialist unit that is sometimes referred to as 'The Knights'. This colour combination has been seen worn in the Southern Republics and has also been spotted on combat operations in Chechnya. In many respects it is very similar to the Portuguese camo used in Angola, though the stripes are more predominantly horizontal and the ends of the printed shapes are more rounded. An urban coloured version in black and two shades of grey is also used. The uniform shown here consists of a shirt, with two chest pockets, one pocket on the upper left sleeve and one internal nylon document pocket; high waisted trousers, with two slant pockets, two front thigh cargo pockets, a knife pocket on the right side and a single hip pocket; and a field cap. The chest pockets have horizontal zips under weather flaps and the sleeve pocket fastens with a Velcro equivalent, but all other fastenings are of the press stud type. There is a three-quarter length black plastic zip behind the shirt front flap, which also has a stud closureMVD KKO 'WOODLAND' The camo pattern is also used by the OSN, but several other specialist and elite units of the MVD, particularly those involved in counter-terrorism roles, also wear it. Overall, it is quite similar to current US camo, both in pattern and colouration. An urban version, in bluish greys and black over a light stone base, is also produced. This version has been covered in greater details in our August 2001 issue

The uniform shown here consists of padded jacket, shirt, trousers and field cap. Each garment, other than the cap, is tailored to a slightly different design and the cloth used is slightly heavier. The shirt has six pockets, rather than three, with the four on the front having concealed button fastenings plus a bellows section down their outer edge instead of pleats on the front. It closes with six small concealed buttons, and has a simple internal drawcord at both waist and hem. The trousers have two slant pockets, two thigh cargo pockets and a hip pocket, with the latter three having concealed buttons. There is no knife pocket, the waistband is conventional, the fly buttons and the hems are plain, with a simple tape and button arrangement to hold them around the foot. The jacket, which is manufactured from a tighter weave windproof material, is heavily padded and has internal loops to take an imitation fur liner. A hood and imitation fur collar can also be attached. It has six pockets, in the same positions as those on the shirt and the flaps are closed by a Velcro equivalent, and the sleeve pockets are let into the outer layer rather than being patch type. The front closes with a heavy duty zip and Velco-like pads, there are windcheater cuffs and drawcords gather in both the waist and hem

 

TOP MARX by Pete Moore

RusMiLITARY's Russian camo clothing; With the interest in camo clothing growing all the time, we thought we'd look at something a bit different this month in the form of RusMilitary Russian-made clothing. Pete Moore joins the Fashion Police to investigate

Over the past few years what I would generically term as Russin equipment in the form of rifles, shotguns, airguns and optics has started to make large inroads into the UK shooting scene. And in that time I have tested a fair bit of it and come to the conclusion that, though a little workmanlike, it's well built, reliable and cheap. And items like Sabre Defences Saiga M3 EXP 1 AK-47 rifle, York Guns Baikal airpistols and shotguns and Soviet Bazaar's scopes and night vision devices are perhaps good examples of what you can expect

There's little doubt that since the breakup of the Soviet Bloc, some of the individual countries of which the massive regime comprised have realised that there's a market for some of the equipment they make in the West. A copycat culture has sprung up, and individual manufacturers are now even making kit with a bias very much towards us and our perceived needs. So, having checked out the hardware, I thought it was time to take to the rural catwalk and have a look at the clothing. A call to Oleg Savochkin of FSU Connections Ltd later, and a box of kit was on its way. Upon opening it up, I was both surprised and impressed to see what was on offer. Though a little militaristic, the gear looked serviceable, well made and it encompassed some interesting and useful features.

Camo or OD Oleg sent me some information on the clothing and it would appear that there are a number of camo pattern and single colours on offer. One example came in a very passable copy of the American US woodland with a colour bias towards British DPM, using as it did a more chocolaty brown and slightly drabber greens. Unsurprisingly enough, it's called Russian Woodland. And though I favor the civilian Realtree/Advantage designs, I'd be the first to admit that the non-specific/disruptive US Woodland and DPM patterns work very well in our terrain. The other gear we had was in dark olive drab (OD). The items supplied consisted of a heavy duty water/showerproof three-piece suit. Coming in the afore mentioned OD, this came with a winter cap. The camouflage items included a medium-weight parka/coat, a Gillywig suit - the Leshy not dissimilar to the Gun-Gear Hide-U-Wear clothing - and a very nice shooting/utility vest. So let's look a bit closer at what's on offer.

Camo Parka M3 The camo parka/coat is made of cotton/polyester mix and is shower proof, to a degree. It is fully lines and quilted with fixing points for a button-in fur pile liner. And for the cold weather this makes it even more efficient, though the all-up weight is noticeable. Storage is provided by four box-type pockets closed with Velcro flaps, with smaller ones on each arm. The build goes for a single central heavy-duty zip with a wide, full length storm flap closed by Velcro pads. Draw cords are included at both waist and hem and at the top is a button-on large fur pile collar. At the back is a large hood which is also lined and insulated and this attaches by press studs and features a draw cord around the edge, as well as a neck closure. The sleeves are purposely overlong and have interior knitted cuffs to further stop the ingress of cold. Generally the build is good with solid and even stitching throughout and the whole garment is very presentable and tough. In use it was warm and the button-in pile collar and liner, though designed to the dictates of eastern European weather, would certainly suit the Scottish highlands in the middle of winter. I did think that the pockets were a bit on the small side and the ones on the arms a little superfluous. a pair of handwarmer pockets on the side would have been of benefit too. However, I feel that the M3 will be well received in the shooting community, and even perhaps amongst the more outlandish mods out there. Extras include the hood, collar and liner

OD Suit M4 The M4 jacket is built in a similar manner to the camo parka. However this is made from a waterproof material, which, unfortunately, is noisy when it rubs together. Major differences are the inclusion of press studs as opposed to Velcro to close the storm flap and pockets, but the zips, knitted cuffs, hood, draw cords and insulation are near identical. It also came with a button-in fur pile liner which, as I discovered upped the warmth factor considerably and is certainly not needed for walking around in. The trousers are of the same design with an insulated/lined inner. They feature a high, 2-button waist and wide belt loops. Storage is provided by two front pockets and two map-types on the side of the legs. On the right is a single bellows type, but on the left this has been divided into two, thus only allowing the storage of long items. All are closed by an individual flap/press stud arrangement. The lower section of the legs are zip-closed thus allowing an easy on/off facility over boots. An elasticated strap is incorporated into the bottom doubtless to stop them riding up in use. To finish off this ensemble is an insulated peak cap. Made from the same materiel, it features fold-down flap to protect the ears and side/back of the head. The whole suit is extremely warm and offers a good degree of waterproofing, though as I said before it is quite noisy when on the move. I feel it's probably too hot to use for stalking in all but the worst weather, but would be ideal for static use like high seats or ambush work. Like the M3 hood, the collar and liner are extra

LESHY Suit The unusual name of the Leshy suit comes from Russian folklore and was originally derived from a forest monster... obviously the one with a very nasty skin complaint. The design is intended to give the ultimate camo effect before you start going to the lengths of shoving actual twigs, grass and leaves into your hat and elsewhere. The concept of the garment that not only blends in, but also disrupts the human shape by appearing more like the terrain goes back to the early snipers of World War I. The Russian version consists of a light weight camo mesh jacket and trousers with cut shapes of camo cloth stitched to it. And it does break up and blend the human shape into foliage well. The design is simplistic with the over trousers showing elasticated legs and cuffs, but no pockets etc. The jacket has a zip at the front and an integral hood with face veil and a draw cord to keep it secure. At the side are two slits that will allow you to get your hands into your access pockets. The design is as affective as Hide-U-Wear or Chameleon suits, but this concept is certainly a little specialised and more the premise of the ultra-serious hunter who wants the ultimate in concealment

Hunter-2 vest Shooting vests in the true sense of the word are very much an American concept, but personally I love them. The idea of having a garment that can carry all your kit - ammo, phone, rangefinder, medical kit etc. is definitely an attractive and ergonomic one. And the FSU Hunter-2 certainly lives up to that idea. Made of lined polycotton, it features a single, 3/4-length zip closure at the front with open sides and adjustable straps. This example is more biased towards shotgunners and has 6x5 round ammo pouches. There are three per a side, with one over too high on the chest. These are closed by a flap/press stud and tab and have elasticated shell loops and could easily accept spare rifle ammunition too. Below/inside there are two large cargo pockets and at the hem ate two more with extra pockets inside. The yoke features a short, stand-up collar and there are ambidextrous shoulder pads with nylon anti-slide lugs sewn in.. These will stop your gun butt sliding off. At the top rear is a wide pocket which holds a roll-out back pack. It has straps that locate into double buckles at the base. Made of camo mesh like the Gillywig suit, it has a zip top and is probably good for carrying waterproofs etc. On the rear hips are twin left and right box-type pockets which could be good for storing a water bottle or something similar. Even with the pack rolled up, this large pocket offers a bit of storage space by itself. This pack has secondary purpose as it can be used as a mosquito net - hence the mesh construction. That may seem like a daft idea, but it was designed for hunters in Siberia and in the summer the mossies are massive out in the swamps. For the UK it could double as a head cover. Not everyone's cup of tea, especially in camo, but something I would certainly take into the field for pigeons/rabbit and definitely for Action shotgun shooting too. Indeed, having secured one for my good self, this is something I will be doing.

Impressions Build quality is good as are the materials used, and the camo pattern should present no problems for our woods. The coat and OD suit are very much colder weather items, and with the liners they would be able to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. The Leshy suit is good as the competition and as I said before, really for the dedicated hunter who wants the ultimate in concealment. I especially like the Hunter-2 shooting/utility vest as I feel it has a lot to offer, though it may not be for everyone, due to its nature. Overall the impressions the gear created were definitely favorable and the prices were good too. Check out their website for further details

...

© Copyright RusMILITARY 1999-2015

Tel: 01344-750735 E-mail: fsu@sky.com