Introduction After the beginning of the intervention in Afghanistan, the Soviet military realized that most individual equipment was outdated and become unsuitable for modern warfare. The first generation of newer individual gear, known as Afghanka, are copies from other Warsaw Pact designs, including more pockets, a more suitable pattern and several improvements in quality. Took several years to made new uniforms equivalent to the NATO counterparts, with patterns suitable for different environments, tactical vests, new fabrics and all the features required to a modern army.
After the fall of Soviet Union and the outcome of the current Russian non communist regimen, new companies start to compete for the equipment of the new Russian Armed Forces as well as to export high quality, low priced gear. Among those companies, Splav become well known if the West due to several exports agreements that made products available in many countries.
Among these products, the wide range of winter equipment and gear are favoured and include many different models, suitable for low temperature environment typical in Russia.
M4 Jacket Among the winter range, the M4 jacket present some interesting features and options and an affordable price, being standard issue with Russian FSB and MVD forces. Currently these are available to forces fighting in the Caucasus and in counter terror operations as the siege of the theater in Moscow. The choice of some special forces draws my attention and decides to get one and give this model a try.
I’ve got a lighter Delta mode, some years ago, and it’s still among my favourites performing adequally in the soft Portuguese winter. The longer and ticker M4 add some more options as the fake fur liner, sometimes know as fish fur among the Russian military personal, the padded hood and the possibility of complementing the jacket with similar padded pants.
Another option is the very popular fur collar, available in fake or natural fur. As a statement, I chose the fake fur, leaving alive one happy animal.
Splav products cover a wide sizing range, with almost any variation available to suit most people. Apart from size, they have height/chest combinations to ensure a good fit.
So, I got the jacket, the fake fur liner, the collar and the padded hood, all in City pattern, described as Gorod-1 in the Splav catalogue.
The official website gives the list of features, including the available options and fabric specifications:
Has attachments and can be supplied with:
Oxford 21 and Tourist “Oxford-210”
Special profiled threads give this fabric a better look. Completely waterproof due to polyurethane coating, which is longer-lasting then acrylic resins. This coating has outstanding antifreeze qualities, which allow the material to preserve elasticity in low temperature.
This is one of the most hard-wearing and durable fabrics used in manufacturing of outer wear. It has an acrylic resin film layer, which has good elasticity (small puncture holes tend to “seal up”). 100% waterproof.
Comfort It’s comfortable and flexible and can be worn for long time without any problems if is cold enough. These jackets with liner will keep the wearer warm with very low temperatures, however aren’t suitable for moderate cold when the liner is being used. Personally always liked fur collars and this fake fur is both soft and warm, being evident that isn’t natural. Russians are real experts suing fake fur and is no less comfortable than natural fur. The same apply to the fake fur liner, which is similar to the colar, and Splav can provide a much more expensive real fur or thinsulate liner.
Cuffs are also different from the Delta version with the button replaced by a softer and elastic linner to seal the warmer air inside. Two adjustment strings are provided to keep the jacket near the body, being one near the waist level and the second to close the lower part of the jacket.
Performance Being lightweight and flexible, the M4 is still a little bulky and the extra liner made movement more difficult. Obviously isn’t the most suitable setup for the Southern Europe and with the extra thickness of the tactical vest and optional padded pants I would be glad to be in Siberia. Still breath-ability it’s good and the equipment doesn’t seem to overheat as much as I expected. Russian Armed Forces recommend it to bellow zero and up to near minus twenty degrees where this equipment should be replaced by the much warmer and even bulkier Down Jacket made from natural goose down.
Its also 100% waterproof as stated by Splav and, easy to clean and fast to dry. The pockets are enough to accommodate most needed items and can be complemented by one of Splav’s tactical vests made in the same pattern and fabric. My usual tactical vest it’s the OMON model, which provides room to AK mags, radio, raincoat, flashlight and cross draw holster to carry a Makarov. Unfortunately I never liked the Makarov and still rely on the older and reliable TT-33, which requires an additional holster.
Insignia Units operating in the Caucasus don’t sew anything in they uniforms, however for those in more peaceful areas, regulations include at least the following insignias and patches:
Left sleeve Branch (Nacionality, Armed Forces, MVD or FSB)
Right sleeve Unit insignia
Left breast Blood type
Right breast Unit type (OMON, MVD, Spetsnaz, etc.)
The cost for the jacket was near USD 60.00, the options, fake fur collar and liner and hood cost near USD 40.00, and the shipment some USD 25.00. To buy the overall package I spent near USD 125.00 or approximately 100 Euros, which is much cheaper than a similar quality item brought locally. Just to help potential buyers, a lighter Delta jacket with fake fur collar and padded hood cost me near USD 60.00 directly from Russia, where prices are much lower than in Europe or in the US.
Splav Company homepage – Russia: http://www.splav.ru/index_e.htm
Federal Security Service Russia: http://www.fsb.ru/
Red Soldier USA: http://www.redsoldier.com
Russian Combat Gear Shipment from Russia: http://www.russiancombatgear.com
FSU Conection – Russian Militarymepage UK: http://www.rusmilitary.com