Several years ago, if you wanted a chest rig for an AK, you had to modify an AR rig; today that is not the case, manufacturers got the memo and are making chest rigs for 7.62×39 in every configuration imaginable. It is the authors opinion that a Rifleman’s Belt or a Chest Rig/Plate Carrier combined with a dump pouch are the best option for the Civilian Operator. There are several good makes and models out there, but let me say this up front: THINK MINIMALIST! Less is definitely more here. There is also the option of combining a plate carrier with elements of a chest rig. In a majority of these, they give you rifle and/or pistol mag pockets up front, some MOLLE webbing on side panels and rear and the ability to interface with a hydration unit. We will discuss some of these, but you have to weigh the pros and cons, weight being the primary one.
The Civilian Operator needs to be light and mobile, (shoot and scoot philosophy) so don’t hang everything but the kitchen sink off of it. Remember: a Chest rig’s primary job is to feed your weapons, period. Over populated chest rigs limit mobility and fatigue you faster. Your spare food, meds, tools, etc. can go in a butt pack or whatever you choose. Having said that, I have also always carry a multi-tool, flashlight, cell phone (and/or radio) and blowout kit (immediate trauma pack) within immediate reach on mine. Depending on what you already carry on your belt, these items may can be carried there. Try to balance your load, never become “top heavy” or load so much weight around your waist you cannot maneuver. I always tell people to wear it for 12 hours and then tell me how it feels Humping 6 mags of 7.62 x39 or .308 is a heavy biatch! So think ahead of what your mission is and pack out accordingly. If you are working in a family or team dynamic, spread the load out evenly. Always remember that by slinging a bandoleer, you can easily double your ammo for those scenarios that require it, just give that extra thought to WEIGHT before you do, as it can be an ass kicker a mile or two into your hike.
Ok, so here are some examples of rigs currently out there, my reasoning for choosing these is either I have used them personally or know somebody who has and got honest assessments, all from real world operators. Do your own homework, but take these into consideration.
Shihan Multi-Cam AK Chest Rig
The Shihan (Gen 1) features (4) Rifle Mag pouches with bungee loop cords and (4) Velcro Pistol Mag Pouches on the outside of the rifle pouches. There are MOLLE panels on each side, which take a Blowout Kit, Multi Tool and Light Pouch. There is a web pocket on the inside seam which will hold small items and documents. The Suspenders are X Style with D loops with a buckle waist belt. Entire construction is 5ooD Cordura with bar stitching throughout. This is my current SHTF and Training rig. I have used this rig for 5+ years and it has held up strong.
I also use the following gear in conjunction with this rig:
· Camelbak Ambush
· Spec Ops Drop Leg Holster
· Blackhawk Crucible Fixed Blade
· Caleb single AK pouch on my belt
US Palm AK Attack Rack V2
The V2 AK Attack Rack features (4) dedicated US PALM AK47 Magazine Pouches on the front with MOLLE attachment points on the side areas (3 x 3). There are (2) adjustable flap magazine/utility tool/mini smoke pouches as well. The large zippered main pouch can accommodate extra magazines or other larger pieces of gear. Side-top seams split for a holster, radio pouch, or knife carry. The bottom of the carrier allows access to the custom level IIIA soft armor panel (sold separately, MSRP of $199). MOLLE attachments for a groin protector or dump pouch are located on the rear of carrier. Additional accessories available. Colors include: Black, Multicam, OD, Ranger Green, Khaki & Coyote.
TAG Phalanx Type 4 Fury