Thursday, March 24, 2011

Praxis: How did GIs attach equipment to their pistol belts prior to ALICE clips?

Loren asked in comments below on the Pistol Belt praxis:

How were things secured before the ALICE clips? You mentioned grommets, but I'm sure others are curious about how it all worked.

Sorry, I should have explained.

Note the picture of the World War II GI above and how the first aid pouch and the canteen hang from the belt? Each pouch is provided with a stout metal hook that, believe me, is a pain in the fingers to attach but once there will stay on. Here's a picture of the back of a WWII canteen cover:

Here is the back of an M1916 holster for the M1911 .45 pistol, showing the metal hook for attachment to the M1912, M1936, M1956 and LC-1 & 2 pistol belts. The slots below the hook are for using the holster with a leather belt.

You have to insert one end of the hook into a grommet, then twist and fold the belt to align the second grommet. You've got to work the belt a bit, loosening it up. Use needle-nose pliers if necessary.

Hope that helps.



Anonymous said...

I have a British WWII web set and when I got it in pieces, it took me about an hour to figure out how to put together. God Bless Alice Clips, and now MOLLE straps

Brock Townsend said...

The canteen sure looks like what I was issued in 1966.

Mile66 said...

My entrenching tool's pouch has that clip on the back, and I was always curious on how to attach it, now it makes sense. Thanks, Mike!

hkgonra said...

OK, I feel pretty old now, I am 37 and I don't know any of my buds that didn't grow up with army belts ,canteens and holsters with the old style clips. I mean seriously, didn't every kid play "war" with this stuff ?

Loren said...

Thanks! This looks like it could be done with stiff piano wire, which might be useful for those looking to improvise their own gear, or a connection for something they already have.

Carl said...

In the early 60's I saved every penny I could to buy surplus web belts, canteens, and other GI gear. All the REAL Boy Scouts carried such gear when we camped. When the family made a trip to the city I would sneak off to the surplus store. It was OK with my mom because they also had cowboy stuff there too. The old attachments worked great then and still do. Got my first 1911 at the age of 14 and carried it in the old leather holster on a web belt for years. Still have the whole rig.

Dedicated_Dad said...


Pistol belts - even current-issue - still have the grommets. If you're missing the metal "hooks", best bet is probably the good ol' "Zip-tie" - just make sure you've got the good ones and not some dollar-store garbage.

Personally, I LIKE the old "ALICE" gear. The "Belt-and-Suspenders" setup is infinitely better than the current "vest" nonsense -- how can one go prone with crap a foot thick on his chest?

Further, just "playing" at a 3-gun match, I took a dive and thought I'd broken my ribs by landing on a full mag-pouch. With the old B&S rigs, everything is just as accessible but far better for "infantry" fighting.

The "chest rigs" are really designed and best suited for fighting in/from a vehicle - which is why they're also so popular with wannabe-ninja-"Law-Enforcement" types.

If TSHTF, I expect to need (and thus rig):
(1) Rifle Mags (2 pouches)
(2) Pistol (currently testing drop-leg holster, undecided...)
(3) Pistol mags (2 spare mags on belt +1 spare on holster-rig)
(4) First-aid/blowout kit (1 pouch-on suspenders)
(5) Canteen (2qt, collapsible)
(6) Utility/dump-pouch/buttpack
(7) Radio pouch (on suspenders)

That's it -- and it all fits beautifully on a VN-era belt-and-'spenders rig.

Further, it all cost me less than $50 in as-new condition not counting the drop-leg holster rig.

In truth, I could have gone even cheaper if I'd bought online instead of at my overpriced semi-local surplus dealer - but I'd like to keep him in business so...

Also, the damn drop-leg holster doubled the total cost of my whole rig - a good illustration of how easy it is to get suckered on gear.

The pistol-belt-holster was perfectly serviceable, but forced me to move the mag-pouches forward a bit more than I liked. I'm undecided whether I'll keep it or just move the pouches...

Bottom line: keep it simple!

Now... All that said, my crippled-@$$ isn't ever going to be running around the bush playing "infantryman" no matter how much S should HTF -- this is an unpleasant, harsh reality.

Even so, I believe the gear, and the time spent learning to "fight" in it, is a worthwhile investment. Even defending my home from MZBs will be easier with proper equipment.




Ed said...

Didn't most Boy Scouts in the '60's have WWII surplus web gear, packs, canteens, canteen cups, mess gear, jump trousers, and brown Corcoran jump boots picked up inexpensively at the surplus stores? I know I did. The only piece of gear I had that was junk was a sleeping bag that had kapok (yeah, the life preserver stuffing) as the insulating fiber. Thank God for the introduction of inexpensive Dacron polyester fiber.

Colletorww2 said...

Hey there. I noticed you used one of my pictures there(The back of the canteen). I do not mind, but you could have asked.

Best Regards


Anonymous said...

How exactly do I attach the hook via the grommet? I am having an extreme amount of difficulty attaching my m1910 shovel cover to my m1928 haversack. Please help! When I secure one, I have to push the other one in. When that happens, the one I just secure pops out. This keeps happening.