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

British Soldier Wearing Osprey MK4 Armor Carrier

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.

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


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (31)

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. Hi all I purchased this rig and fit my ar steel plates 10×12 front and back with 6×8 in the sides had to pad the bottom with carved down pool noodle at the bottom and sides thanks 53gr for that idea worked great.

  3. I’m definitely a size medium, 6ft tall with a 42 inch chest. is it worth buying if it’s going to be loose on me? plz reply, I really want to pick this up if its going to be worth it to me

    1. I am 6′ 1″ with a 44 inch chest. I am in the same boat as Mark and wondering if the XL’s that are left as I have read would fit me. Thanks a bunch.

    2. I have this unit I am 5’10 205 with a 46 ” chest was worried it would not fit it is plenty big enough for big boys! I also was able to roll in the side panels and cinch the waist tight, and cover with the cummerbund.
      So far very pleased ,will get custom plates of a few types and report again!

  4. So has anyone been able to successfully instal the plates? If so, which plate did you buy and where from?



    1. You can actually make them fit SAPI plates. I went a bit further and made it fit steel level III plates.
      I bought a foam pool noodle at the dollar store (yes, for a dollar). I then sliced id up into sections about 10-11 inches long. I squared off the sides, left the bottom untouched and put a slid down the top clear through to the hollow interior. I then placed the bottom of my plate into this spacer and inserted it into the Osprey MkIV. The pool noodle pushes the plate up to a proper level.
      Full review on Tactical Gun Review.

    1. You are correct. The kevlar inserts are sold separately but can be found on the web. Be aware, the kevlar comes as two separate kits. The primary kit includes the main front and back panels. There is also an “inserts” kit which includes the kevlar panels custom cut for the shoulder brassards, collar pieces, etc. For a complete outfit you wold need to make three purchases. This carier here, the primary kevlar kit for front/back, and the inserts kevlar kit.

  5. Hi Brian,
    The Osprey plate carrier should fit you. However, you must remember that it is designed to properly fit with all the armor in the vest, so if you try it on without the armor, it might seem like it is too big.

  6. I just bought a different plate carrier from CTD that fits fine, but I have got to ask. Will it fit someone who is 5’10” with a 48 inch chest?

  7. So 10×12 SAPI plates will fit with no issues front and back? How about side plates; does it accept them and if so what size?? 6×6? 6×8? Thanks

  8. This is awesome! Great gear at a great price. I want one already. One question though…..what size plates are to be used in the MK4 body armor?

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