Thursday, March 24, 2011

Praxis: Militia Logistics -- Pistol Belts, Stainless Steel Drink Bottles and Multi-Use Pouches.

All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) rig, circa 1973, with distinctive "Y" shoulder harness instead of the "H" style of the M1956.

Stopped by the thrift store this morning and scored a USGI ALICE LC-1 belt with metal buckle, size large, in excellent shape with near new plastic canteen, NBC cap, dated 1986, canteen cover OD, near new dated 1982 with side pouch for water purification tablets and a WWM-marked stainless steel cup with butterfly handle, new, dated 1989, all for $2.99.

Pistol belts have been around for a long, long time in the U.S. Military.

Doughboys in World War One had the M-1912 belt below.

The pistol belt was originally intended for soldiers who were not riflemen such as officers or crews of tanks or other equipment who were more often armed with pistols. The grommet holes in the belts allowed for holsters, first aid pouches and the like to be suspended from the belt. Riflemen had their own belts with pouches for .30-06 rifle ammunition clips, both for the World War One standard M1903 Springfield and M1917 Enfield and the World War Two standard, the M1 Garand.

The M1912 was superseded by the M1936 Pistol Belt.

The M-1936 was a slight modification of the M-1912 with a more secure buckle. This was the standard pistol belt of the World War Two and Korean War GI.

This basic belt went through modernization. With the advent of more magazine fed weapons in World War Two, such as the M-1 Carbine, the M-1 Thompson and M-3 "Grease Gun", etc., it was realized that pouches could be configured to fit on the existing M1936 belt. Thus, in World War II and Korea, every soldier armed with something other than the M-1 Garand or the BAR (which also had its own belt for magazines), used this "modularized" system.

After Korea, battlefield experience led to a better rifle with greater magazine capacity (the M-14), a new, lighter cartridge (the 7.62 NATO) and better load carrying equipment.

This was the M1956 system:

M1956 Canvas Pistol Belt.

The M1956 gear is canvas (which many prefer because it is quieter in the bush than nylon; and which equally many people don't like because canvas soaks up moisture and rots in hot, wet climates). The M1956 gear was the first to introduce what has become known as the "ALICE clip," a metal slide-lock retainer for attaching gear to the belt.

The M1956 gear also introduced the "butt back," which like the pistol belt has gone through many modifications over the years.

Early pattern M1956 "buttpack" showing ALICE attachment clips.

Because of the complaints about canvas gear in the climate of South Vietnam, the Army began to modify the M1956 canvas gear by making the design in rot-resistant nylon.

The M1967 "Davis Belt" kept the M1956 design with the exception of the material, nylon, and the "quick release Davis buckle." Unfortunately it had the tendency to come undone at the worst possible time.

The M1967 Individual Load Carrying Equipment was a modernized version of the M1956, designed specially for Vietnam. Even so, the M1967 gear did not entirely replace the M1956 equipment, and the canvas and nylon equipment were mixed together to form composite webbing, since both types were fully compatible with each other.

After Vietnam, the soldier's individual combat load was reconfigured again to the ALICE system, as you can see in the first photo at the top of the post. Throughout the years since, the belt has remained very similar, the biggest change being the search for the perfect buckle.

This early-pattern LC-2 is the type I picked up at the thrift store today.

Early Pattern LC-2 Belt with metal buckle.

Second Pattern LC-2 Belt with plastic buckle.

Late pattern LC-2 Belt with improved plastic buckle.

In the 1990s and on into the 21st Century the men and women of my unit, 1st Alabama Cavalry and other constitution militia formations, were most often accoutered with some combination of these largely interchangeable pieces of load bearing equipment. Often the ALICE clips were used only long enough for the trooper to determine the best arrangement of gear on their belt and then the clips would be substituted with nylon 550 cord, which is much quieter, never rusts and doesn't dig into your flesh when subjected to stress when worn.

Stainless Steel Drink Bottles and Thermos Containers

I also picked up a selection of stainless steel drinking bottles and thermos-type insulated containers. For example, I got three of this style (as above, except in unpainted stainless) for $.39 each.

They hold 13 oz of liquid and are made of # 304 food grade stainless steel and are guaranteed to be "Lead safe, Phthalate, and BPA free. Conforms to or exceeds U.S. and European safety standards."

I also scored 6 of these 750ml containers with the logo of a local bank on them. The logo will succumb to acetone, I have no fear. The cost? $.59 each.

Also picked up three of these stainless Thermos containers:

The price was $.99 each. They hold a liter of liquid, hot or cold.

I like all these because they are stainless and they have wide mouths making cleaning easy.

Finally, on my recent stop at A-A Surplus in Leeds, I picked up one of these in Woodland. I like multi-purpose pouches.

The Specialty Defense Systems M-4 Double Magazine MOLLE CQB Pouch, Style 4050 holds two 30 round magazines for the M16/M4 series weapons, has a flap cover with adjustable Velcro closure to facilitate magazines fitted with Mag-Puls. Also features external elastic webbing to hold either a single or both mags securely in place. The example I picked up also has two elastic loops for 12 shotgun shells or anything else you want to thread through them. I am told that the pouch can hold a single M-14 magazine or even serve as a field-expedient pistol holster for many medium or large frame sidearms.

It can be attached directly via its MOLLE straps on the back to IBA, FLC, RACK or any other gear with PALS webbing. They can even be attached to any of the "old fashioned" pistol belts above. It is Magpul 5.56mm P-Mag compatible but not Magpul 5.56mm Mag Assist, Ranger Plate, L-Plate compatible.

The price? On a quantity deal VERY competitive. Call Darrell at A A Army Surplus Store, 8216 Parkway Drive, Leeds, AL 35094 (Phone: 205-699-4209)


Anonymous said...

Militia may need it for the mock anti-patriot exercises:
County, DHS Officials Stage Mock Terror
Excercise Featuring 'Anti-Immigration' Shooters

Maddawg308 said...

Awesome saves, Mike. I always love your posts after you find something cool at the thrift store!

WarriorClass said...

I've been looking for an All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment rig, with a "Y" shoulder harness only with MOLLE straps in front so that I could mount my knife on one side (left side, upside down for quick access) and pistol mags on the other, since I carry my rifle mags and other pouches on my belt, which seems more natural to me, and keeps the weight down low. I don't want a vest since it would be too hot for Texas.

I haven't been able to find this configuration as of yet, and don't know that it is even made.

Any suggestions?



Sean said...

It's hot for the vest in Texas, but that's what me and my people use, that, and Camel-backs. Lots simpler, and you don't have to go looking hard for stuff when you need it in a hurry. KISS. III.

WarriorClass said...

I have a backpack with a camel back in it, which I like. I might just sew loops on the shoulder straps if I have too. I'm too old to go with the vest.


Loren said...

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

III more than them said...

Thanks, Mike. That was a very nice post covering quite a few helpful point.

Anonymous said...

I had (still have?) belts with the first plastic buckle. Very secure, non better, but you need to have damned strong fingers to release it.
I like the second plastic buckle better. how well does it stay secure, and hold up in the field?

B Woodman

Allen said...

second pattern LC-2 is CRAP. we had them as duty belts when I was in san diego for bootcamp in 1990.

those buckles were supposed to flex but they more often BROKE. we couldn't get any other belts so we ended up just getting a supply of zip ties and you made sure it was loose enough that you didn't have to take them off to go to the only got 2 zip-ties a day!

a stash of heavy-duty zip ties is a good idea regardless..fixing buckles like this, attaching gear, makeshift handcuffs, I'm sure you can think of a bunch of other uses.

P2264 said...


Can you explain the best way to use the paracord instead of the rusty buckles? What knot is best?