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Gear Review: Sposn SMERSH RPK

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The Sposn company is one of the Russian Federation's premier tactical gear manufacturers, and one of the most readily obtainable as well if you know where to look. The produce a number tactical nylon products: LBVs, plate carriers, pouches, uniforms, gloves, assault packs, etc. Arguably their most popular product, however, is their SMERSH.


Sposn tag



SMERSH overview:

The SMERSH is a simple load bearing design. It consists of a harness, adjustable belt, and a padded back belt which the inner adjustable belt loops through for lumbar support. It can mount a variety of pouches by design, which are mounted directly through the belt. This particular model features three pouches: two double RPK pouches and a single butt pack. Standard SMERSH design uses two double AK pouches, a butt pack, and a medical pouch.

The SMERSH is a popular design among Russian/Eastern Bloc airsofters because of its wide spread use amongst real Russian operators. Though the SMERSH is gradually being phased out by some of Russia's most elite special forces in favor of plate carriers and light weight MOLLE setups, the SMERSH has been the mainstay rig of special forces operators in the 21st century so far.


Spetsnaz operators in Checnya during Second Chechen War- note operators in Partizan and Gorka-E (green uniform) are wearing SMERSH





One of the most important aspects of any tactical nylon is the quality of the build. Materials used are important, but the stitching is equally important. Without proper stitching, even the finest 1000D nylon will fall apart in the field under heavy use.

Thankfully, the stitching on the SMERSH is a testament to the fine quality and attention to detail Sposn puts into their tactical gear. The large majority on the rig and pouches is double or triple stitching with no loose ends or frays.



By biggest complaint with the SMERSH is the quality of the buckles. While the primary buckle which the adjustable uses is hefty and durable, the smaller buckles located on the harness itself and the butt pack leave much to be desired. When I first received this vest, I knew within five minutes that the buckles could be a problem. They are flimsy to say the least, certainly not Fastex quality.


Large buckle



During my first skirmish wearing the SMERSH, I wore an Sposn MON50 landmine pouch, which uses the same buckles as the SMERSH. This is the result:




The pouches are simple design with nothing particularly fancy about them. Here's an overview of each particular pouch used on this SMERSH set up:


RPK Double Magazine Pouch:

This pouch is designed to hold the extended 45 round RPK 47/74 magazine. When using it with standard 30 round AK mags (shown below with 100 round MAG brand AK74 midcap) it is a little too tall, and mag pull assists should be utilized for quick access to spare magazines. The pouch covers come open very easily with the help of a nylon tab pull, making quick reloading simple, yet protecting the finicky airsoft magazines from dirt, mud, and debris. Inside the pouch is a plastic divider for the easy storage and removal of two magazines. This prevents magazines from being squished together in the pouch, making reloading from the pouch difficult. The double RPK pouch has two primary pockets with dividers, able to hold 4-45rd. RPK or 4-30rd AK magazines. AR magazines will likely fit as well. Furthermore, each pouch has room for two frag grenades on the opposite ends of the pouch. This can double as utility/accessory pouches as well. Each pouch also utilizes a metal grommet at the bottom to drain water for waterborne operations (or in airsoft, rainy days).


Note the tab pull and grenade pocket



With 100rd MAG midcap



Inside of Pocket:




The pouches are attached directly through the adjustable belt by means of velcro. Unfortunately, this design, while secure, lacks a modular approach, limiting the function and capabilities of the SMERSH. Additionally, it is not the most "scrawny" person friendly. I am 5'8" and around 150lbs and it is adjusted to the smallest setting; it only barely fits me in order for the belt to make room for the pouch. With MOLLE, this problem could be easily solved.


Butt pack:

The butt pack is simple yet surprisingly effective. It has plenty of room to manage all airsoft essentials in the field for an extended operation or milsim. It is MOLLE mounted to the lumbar back belt, and has a carry strap to be utilized as a stand alone field bag, if needed. On the inside it contains the storage compartment itself, as well as a cloth closure secured by a nylon cord pull (much like "baller bags", pull on the cord to tighten the closure, securing contents inside). It also features MOLLE under the main flap and on each side of the pack for mounting a variety of accessories.


Butt pack on bottom, note the usage of MOLLE




The harness itself is my favorite feature of the rig. It is very comfortable using durable, reinforced padding (much like that of a nice back pack) to keep the operator comfortable while being worn. Because this rig is meant to carry large amounts of weight so far from the shoulders, its important to have this nice feature to prevent unnecessary fatigue in the field. The strap also features a two-wide MOLLE system on the front of the harness for medical, ordnance, or radio pouches. On the reverse side it features a drag handle, which is triple stitch reinforced.



Note heavy duty padding and stitch pattern






General notes:

The rig itself, unloaded, is heavier than many chest rigs in the West (Smersh weighs in just under 5 lbs unloaded). However, one thing I prefer this to a chest rig is the weight distribution. With all the weight on the hips, the weight can be more evenly displaced as opposed to being all on the front with a chest rig. Additionally, many chest rigs (such as stock Tactical Tailor MAVs) are not equipped with should strap padding (and the others that do aren't nearly as reinforced as the Smersh's). The back belt for lumbar support prevents stress on the lower back for weight carried.

Price and availability of the SMERSH will be a big turn off for many airsofters in the US. With a price tag of $160-200, its already an expensive set-up. Couple that with $55 shipping from Russia and you've got yourself heavily invested for some tactical nylon. In my opinion, its been worth it. Highly recommended product.

What would I change? I would make two changes. The first change would be to the buckles- they need to be stronger! Second change would be to incorporate the usage of MOLLE webbing for attaching the pouches on the belt. This makes the design more modular and less difficult to remove/install.


OVERALL Ratings and Thoughts:

-Build Quality: 4.5/5: Biggest let down is the buckles, everything else is quite nice.

-Practicality: 4.5/5: Not a whole lot of options to mount on here as with many MOLLE systems and not as customizable, but the design itself carries all necessary airsoft essentials and carries them comfortably.


OVERALL: 4.5/5, highly recommended.

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