The Real Deal: A True British Operator’s Modular Osprey MK4 Body Armor Carrier

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Reviews

Thankfully arriving pre-assembled for “complete fighting order,” the Osprey MK4 body armor vest set is a smoking deal. It includes nine MOLLE pouches, which alone is worth the price of the entire rig. Inside the package is the vest, seven magazine pouches, two grenade pouches, a two-piece OPS panel including T-bar fittings, waistbands, pair of cummerbunds, shoulder guards, brassards, four-piece collar system, blanking panels, and ancillaries—17 pieces of varying sizes of MOLLE straps with Velcro, snaps and plastic buckles.

Picture shows a British soldier wearing an Osprey MK4 armor carrier.

Photo courtesy Sgt. Rupert Frer RLC @crown copyright 2011

Though it does not include the plates or armor, this particular set specifically fits Osprey’s fourth generation body armor. The award-winning Osprey is the United Kingdom’s current standard issue armor. The MK4 vest, worn by British soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, includes areas to fit plates in the front, back, side, neck and shoulders of the vest.

This true, unadulterated plate carrier is extremely modular, going from “light fighting order” to “complete fighting order” quickly. You can even strip the set down to just a vest without shoulder or neck protection. The packaging includes instructions on how to adapt the set for different missions. The instruction booklet details how to insert your plates or soft armor.

When unpackaging, I immediately noticed how ruggedly built the unit it is. It is heavy! It appears new and in unissued condition, made of tough Cordura nylon. Upon closer inspection, the double stitching has some slight inconsistencies and a few places where the string unraveled at the ends of the stitch, but nothing worrisome. This vest is not falling apart any time soon.

Covered in MOLLE webbing, both the front, back and two-piece cummerbunds allow you to attach more pouches. There is no need to add a load-bearing vest over the plate carrier, as this MK4 body armor vest specifically fills two roles—that of plate carrier and load bearing vest in one.

You might quickly notice that the vest does not quite look like MultiCam. That is because it is not. It is British Multi-Terrain Pattern camo (MTP), very close to our MultiCam.

There are adjustable Velcro, snaps and MOLLE straps everywhere to fit a wide variety of sizes. I am  glad the vest came attached with the shoulder pieces, neck protection and cummerbunds once I started fitting it on different guys in the office. The current lot of vests we sell are NATO size height 180 and chest 116, which translates to an extra-large, 44″ size chest. The vest fits true to size. The vest could not be adjusted down enough to snuggly and securely fit a 6′ tall man with a 40″ chest and wears size medium. It fit fine, if not a little loose, on a 6′ 4″ man who wears a large.

On the front of the vest there are four rows of MOLLE webbing at the top and a large Velcro panel at the bottom to attach the full wrap-around two-piece cummerbund—also with four rows of MOLLE webbing. The cummerbunds attach in the front via two plastic buckles. Inside each cummerbund are four more rows of MOLLE webbing. Sewn into the top of the webbing are four MOLLE straps with snaps at the bottom to secure the cummerbund to the vest.

At the top of the vest are two rubberized shoulder panels with a single plastic D-ring on each side, sewn at the bottom. The D-rings allow you to clip on your rifle sling.

The back of the vest has 10 rows of MOLLE webbing and will accommodate a camelback hydration backpack. At the top of the back are two very tough to separate Velcro web handles. In fact, all the Velcro every where on the vest is very durable.

The two-piece, completely removable shoulder protectors adjust via snaps, MOLLE webbing and Velcro. One covers your upper arm and has an adjustable Velcro  strap to tighten the piece around your arm.

Inside the vest, on the bottom of both sides, is a Velcro panel, secured down with a row of four snaps. This allows you to add a battle belt. Permanently attached on the inside of the vest is an internal adjustable cummerbund, adding more support and stabilization while wearing the vest. Also inside is a soft, padded ridged material that aids in comfort and breathability.

There is a lot going on with this vest and all the veterans and active military in the office told me it is the type of equipment that once put together, you leave it that way. However, the instructions are simple and after a few minutes of fumbling, I quickly have the vest on my first model adjusted accordingly and secured. I put the vest on two other different sized men. One, currently serving in the military exclaimed, “I could live in this!”

Inside the packaging you will find a separate package that holds the 17-piece ancillary set, OPS panel and T-bar fittings. In yet another package, there are the nine different pouches. Four of those pouches hold two AR-15 magazines, while three only hold one magazine. Two grenade pouches are also included.

Incredibly well-built, the Osprey MK4 body armor vest is easily a $300 unit. However, our price is just under $100.

These are not made-in-China vests for those who play airsoft. Contracted by the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support, the MK4 Osprey vest is for real combat use. Operators of all kinds will recognize the usefulness and quality of the Osprey MK4 body armor vest set.

Because of the closeness of our own MOLLE system to the British, you may use any PALS or MOLLE-compatible gear you already own to attach to this vest. You will not be disappointed in this set up.

Get the Osprey MK4 body armor carrier here.

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Have you used the Osprey MK4 Armor Carrier? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.


Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by CTD Suzanne

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Comments (30)

  • James


    Having used an ACTUAL Mk4 Osprey, the one shown is definitely not the one issued by the British Army.


  • ken


    This is not definitely not the osprey mk 4, I’m sat here next to my issued vest and they’re completely different. The colour is just not right, and the left shoulderpad has molle on it for gl or radio pouch. Also the shape just looks wrong. Not saying it won’t work just as well, it’s just not the mk 4.


    • Lindsay


      I agree Ken, plus there is no webbing island on lefthand shoulder which I used for the hydration tube and tie cuffs. On my vest I had to tape up the recovery straps because they were velcro flat to the vest ? This was a stupid design. The NSN labels look strange also? Who knows, maybe this is a redesign.


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