Thursday, January 8, 2009

Praxis: Load Bearing Equipment

WRSA has this from Spartacus on Load Bearing Equipment. It is an excellent discussion of the ALICE gear available at just about every Army surplus store in the country. If your AO is in rural areas where you will have to sustain yourself, such rigs are vital.

However, I'm on record as advocating the less-is-more theory that the armed citizen should fight as light as possible. Especially in urban or suburban settings where food, water and shelter are available, the only thing a militiaman absolutely needs is a rifle and bandoleer(s).

One solution to this is the Chinese SKS and AK gunner's apron (aka "chest pouch" or "bra").

Note that the straps cross behind the neck. This set-up can hold 200 rounds of 7.62x39 on stripper clips or 200 rounds of 5.56 NATO in 20-round magazines. If you are familiar with the regular Chinese rig you will note that this one has been modified according to instructions at the Maryland AR-15 Shooters site here.

SKS gunner's aprons have the advantage of being cheap. (I bought one at the last Birmingham gun show for $5 and it is already modified and in the icing bucket ready for storage, cache or issue.) Here is a front and back view of the Chinese AK gunner's apron:

It too can be modified to western sizes according the linked instructions above. This carries three AK47 or AK74 magazines.

Here is a modern Russian iteration of the same concept, which can be ordered here.

This holds 8 AK47 or AK74 magazines and has so many extra pockets that it violates the light-is-right principle.

Now THIS is my favorite way to carry Kalashnikov magazines:

This Chinese pouch with integral shoulder strap has five pockets for 30 rounders. The last one I found at a local surplus store cost me $6.00.

Now these are Yugoslavian SKS leather belt pouches. Each holds 3 strippers of 7.62x39.

These pouches (and the forty round leather Russian pouches) can be simply strung on a leather or canvas belt and worn Mexican bandit style across the chest. I have a grab-and-go belt made up of 5 Russian pouches (which hold the strippers horizontally rather than vertically like the Yugos) on an old USGI canvas strap yielding 200 ready rounds.

Then there is the old multi-purpose cloth M16 bandoleer. Here's two examples from the Vietnam War. These are 7-pocket, 20 rounds (or one 20-round mgazine) per pocket.

And here's the modern 4-pocket bandoleer. This holds thirty rounds per pocket, or, if you remove the string, one loaded thirty round magazine per pocket.

The four pocket bandoleer can also accomodate 4 fully loaded 20 round 7.62 NATO magazines, M14, FAL or H&K. If you pay more than a dollar for an M16 bandoleer, you've been screwed.

If you carry a bolt action rifle such as a Moisin Nagant or Lee Enfield, locate at least three or four cloth bandoleers for your stripper clipped ammo. These are generally very cheap.

If you absolutely must have a canteen, then get the USGI 2-quart collapsible that fits on a shoulder strap. Wear it on one hip, ALICE-clipped into your belt and the bandoleer on the other. Even without ALICE clips, both can be kept from flopping by buckling a simple leather belt over them, trapping the straps beneath it like a Civil War infantryman did with his cartridge box and canteen.


Anonymous said...

We're on the same sheet of music -- stay tuned for my next article on the SneakyBag rifle fighting bag ;) It's right in line with your concept re minimum-essentials of ammo and rifle. I'll have it up in a day or so.

Johnny said...

And you've got train with it. Do fire and manoeuvre drills and you'll soon start worrying about how you can reduce your load. The level of physical fitness required is very high. Additionally, if you are fighting in built up areas you may well be trying to climb in and out of windows, gaps in walls/fences etc., and you will find that you may have to shed equipment to be able to get around in confined spaces.

Less is often more. I was becoming very bemused with the kit loadouts being reported for Iraq. It now appears that soldiers are beginning to take active steps to reduce them. Also, troops fighting as mechanized infantry can pick and choose what they take out of the vehicle, you may have to think a lot more carefully about what you're carrying around in the first place.

There is an element of truth in the old "the quick and the dead" truism.

Anonymous said...

Nice mag pouches, my favorite one was the Vietnam era one. It looked very rugged and business like.

Speaking of mag pouches and bandoliers, I bought some sheets of rubberized canvas from my nearest art store and made some pouches myself. Not just the waist type, I was also inspired by the thigh strap pistol holster and made a thigh strap mag pouch that could hold 4 sidearm mags, two on front and back of the thighs.

Rubberized canvas is very cheap, and rugged too. I paid only 8 dollars for the size of a typical bedroom floor, and you can make anything out if it. Mag pouches, bandoliers, ponchos, raingear, and of course, protective rifle pouches. For waist bandoliers, I just added a flap on the back to thread a belt through, and then a regular pants belt worked fine to hold them all together.

John Richardson said...

Here is another alternative: a MOLLE bandoleer that holds 6 mags.

The Old Grouch surplus is one of those great, old-time Army-Navy surplus stores. You just don't find them like this anymore. His son has now put them online.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I roll a little bit heavier than that. If you're operating in the country in the South, even on warm days in winter, you need water on you. And if you have to break contact and get somewhere else, you want some more equipment than that without having to move directly to, dig up, and expend a resupply cache.

ChuckAtPodunkOutpost said...

This seemed like a useful addition to this thread...