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Soviet Army final personal protection - 6b5 body armor vest

Updated: Apr 5

While this blog mainly consists of articles related to the Soviet-Afghan War, we are hoping that this will change and the blog will expand in terms of the topics it covers. The 6b5 is barely making it into the list of Soviet equipment used in Afghanistan. There is very little evidence to support it being on the list. However, this body armor vest was designed in the Soviet Union and it was produced in such huge numbers, that it has participated in almost every conflict on post-Soviet territories, as well as on peacekeeping missions ever since the collapse of the USSR.

6b5 body armor vest
6b5 body armor vest

The design and development of 6b5

The 6b5 bullet-proof vest was put into service in 1986, and developed in broad cooperation between various enterprises and institutes under the general supervision of the Research Institute of Steel. It was produced in nine modifications, which differed in filling with armored elements and, accordingly, in security: anti-fragmentation, anti-bullet, and differentiated protection.

At the same time, the covers of all modifications were the same, which greatly simplified production, because to create a more secure or, on the contrary, lighter version, it was enough to change the configuration of the armor elements, and the rest of the components were no different.

This 6b5 body armor vest came out to be a much better version when compared to any other Soviet-era vests. The fabric and the construction are way more robust, it does not feel like you can accidentally damage it.

The construction of a 6b5 bullet-proof vest

The body armor consists of two sections: chest and dorsal. They are connected on the shoulders with Velcro (Velcro) and straps. They also allow adjusting in size. On 6B5, an anti-fragmentation collar first appeared. It consists of two parts - one on the chest, and the second on the dorsal section.

6b5 body armor vest

There are four rollers in the shoulder area, they are also fixed on different sections. The upper ones are designed to prevent the slipping of equipment (rifle sling). The lower ones are for resting the buttstock when shooting.

There are four magazine pouches at the bottom of the chest section. At the same time, both magazines for AK for 30 rounds and magazines of increased capacity for the RPK can be placed there.

6b5 body armor vest
Shoulder rollers

At the back, there is a large pocket for an army cape. With proper skill, you can get it out without taking your body armor off. When resting, a raincoat in your pocket plays the role of a pillow, which is quite convenient.

Below there are four pockets for hand grenades. The place was chosen poorly since it is quite difficult to quickly get a grenade even from the outermost pockets, let alone those that are closer to the center.

6b5 body armor vest
Grenade pouches and cummerbunds

Above the grenade pouches are belt loops for the waist belt that came with the bulletproof vest. Nowadays, such a belt is very difficult to find, since they were disassembled for wearing in trousers and other purposes.

The back section has two lumbar girths for fixing the body armor on the body. They are looped around the waist and inserted into a slot in the chest section, connected and docked to the Velcro on the circuit board.

6b5 body armor vest
The internal part of the vest

When properly filled, the 6B5 chest section can withstand a bullet with a steel core from an AKM assault rifle (7.62 mm) from 10 meters, a similar bullet from an AK-74 (5.45 mm) from 35 meters, as well as a light bullet with a steel core (LPS), fired from SVD from 150 meters. As for the PM (9 mm) and TT (7.62 mm) pistols, the chest section protects against them at a distance of five meters.

The use of 6b5 in the Armed Forces

It is claimed that the 6b5 body armor vest was adopted by the Soviet Army in the second half of the 1980s. Essentially it was a simplified and improved version of both 6b3 and 6b4. So it does not exactly match - if 6b5 was better and adapted ruffle at the same time as 6b3 and 6b4, why wasn't it produced in the late 80s?

Anyhow, the 6b5 was the most popular body armor vest of the post-Soviet forces in the 1990s and 2000s. It was used by all major post-Soviet countries for regular service and for the equipment of soldiers and officers who actually went to conflict zones.

6b5 body armor vest
Reenactment of Ukrainian UN Forces in Kosovo

What is interesting for collections is that, unlike any other Soviet-era vests, 6b5 was officially produced in almost every popular Soviet and post-Soviet camouflage pattern. They come in regular Soviet olive green, soviet TTsKo, Border Guards camouflage, VSR-93, and Ukrainian Dubok. And I am probably missing something here!

All in all, it is another great piece of Soviet-era equipment. Ironically, you don't need one for pure Soviet impressions, but it is essential for every conflict in the 90s and quite a few of the later ones. But you have to get the correct color to match it!

6b5 body armor vest
UNPROFOR impression

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