It’s been a while since I wanted to make a review on the 6b33 Personal Body Armor, but to be honest I lacked the time and several information I still wanted to gather and had to investigate. But, it was worth it, at least in my opinion
Have you ever wondered what this name maybe means? 6b33 or other items like the Russian Helmet 6b27 are often quite similiar in names. I’ll give you a little insight from where the name comes and why.
The Russian GRAU (ГРАУ) Index is a designation system for weapons, ammunition and equipment which have been and are used by Soviet and Russian land forces. GRAU stands for Main Missile and Artillery Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (Главное ракетно-артиллерийское управление МО РФ) and is the Ministry that started with the indexing in 1938.
The GRAU Index is categoried in 17 Main Groups:
- Optical and Radio measuring instruments, guidance systems
- Artillery and mortars
- Artillery ammunition
- Propellant charges for artillery ammunition
- Anti air
- Infantry weapons
- Infantry ammunition
The list goes on, but you get the point.
Now the sub categories for the Infantry weapons groups in even more details, however for us is now the subcategory “B” or to be precised “6b” (6Б) relevant, since this indicates “Personal Protective Equipment” – 6b33 stands then for Personal Protective Equipment No. 33 – Yes it is as simple as that. Don’t be dissapointed…
I have to start with an all known Body Armor – The 6b23, which was until a few years back the “standard issue Body Armor or all Russian Troops”, mostly only used with Kevlar as a Flak Vest against shrapnel, but with pockets for heavier Steelplates which has the property of the protection Level Type 4 (US). (detailed review coming soon)
The replacement or phase off happened during 2008/2009, but affected mostly VDV (Airborne) Troops, due to logistical “issues” with the Manufacturing time. During the INDRA 2010 Joint Military Excercise with Indian forces, the 6b33 have been primarily used by the attending 34th Mountain Brigade, especially because of the protections against debris and shrapnel.
You can watch several interesting excerpts of the INDRA 2010 exercise here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yzgznlgPss (6 Parts)
Above you can see the 6b33 with only the Kevlar inlays (not visible). It got one relevant updated that apparently a lot of Troops requested, which also is the Main difference between the older model 6b23, which is the ease of wear. You can simply put it on like a Jacket.
3 Main Parts make the 6b33 as you can see above. They are held together via straps, that can be adjusted and fastened. In the Inside are several foam filled rectangles, which helps to dampen the impact of potential hits and to help the ventilation underneath.
Another difference besides the ease of wear to the predecessor of 6b33 is the additional Steelplate that can be attached in Front of the Body Armor. This gives it also the Type 4 protection Level (US).
Protection against Rifles with Ball Ammunition until 50m distance
- AKM & AK-74 with FMJ (ТУС)
- M16 & SVD with Steelcore ( ЛПС)
In combination with a Ceramic Plate (wich I sadly do not have), the Protection against Rifles with Armor Penetrating Ammunition until 100m distance is as follows.
- AK-74 with Steelcore (ВК8 )
- SVD with FMJ (ТУС) and Incendiary (Б-32) Ammunition
2 Straps (left and right) secure the Steelplate over cross on the back and are secured on the Front of the Panel, where a Hook and D-Ring are located on both sides (left an right as well).Only after releasing the Straps, which are on tension, you can take the Steelplate out.
To mount the Steelplate on the “Vest” you have to align and clip 2 the Plate with the D-Rings on the “Vest”. One additional Note: The right D-Ring (as shown on the picture) is double fixed with an additional Loop, this means that you need to clip this D-Ring in first. The other way around does not work. This also helps stabilizing the Plate a lot. It does not tend to wobble from left to right, and due to its weight it doesn’t either up and down.
You may have wonder at this point why the 6b33 has a additional Steelplate in comparison to the older 6b23 – isn’t this some kind of downgrade? Well, theoretical yes…but since this Body Armor is meant for all Russian Troops, there is not a necessity for everyone to have a Steelplate. The Main aspect for this Armor is to protect its user from Shrapnel and Debris of incoming Mortar and/or Artillery hits. That and the fact that the Body Armor can be put on this easy (of course without the Steelplate) makes it great for personal behind the front-line, like in Anti Aircraft Vehicles, Vehicles in general ,Radio Operators, and so on. If a Unit is certain that it will go into a firefight and/or is directly on the Frontline, they will of course mount the Steelplate, since it becomes a necessity. This makes the 6b33 actually far more “user friendly” then its predecessor, the 6b23.
So what are my final thought about it?
Well, I can’t tell you really, since I am (gladly) not in need to wear it all day nor am I in (real) firefight situations regularly. However, it is superb made, the ease of wear is really there and it is very adjustable to (nearly) any body size and form. If you want to “reenact” a modern Russian Soldier (read VDV), this is in fact a must have. You’ve probably seen it already on several pictures and videos in use during the Crimean Crisis, between all those 6b23 in Zifra (digital Flora). I personally wanted it in the classic Flora pattern, before you ask.
Here are some Impressions and more pictures I could gather around for reference.
INDRA 2010 Join Military Exercise INDRA 2010 Joint Military Exercise
13.09.2015 – by Logisticz for Gruppa L