Thursday, January 21, 2010

Praxis: Bandoleer Miscellany

DeValera's Anti-Treaty IRA men patrol the streets of Dublin with nothing more than rifles and bandoleers (and perhaps a pistol or two beneath the trenchcoats), just before the outbreak of the Irish Civil War.

It is no secret to the long-time readers of Sipsey Street that I'm a big believer in a couple of things:

1. Being prepared to "fight light" -- that is with simply a rifle, bandoleer and canteen.

2. Having all your ammo (or as much as you can afford) combat packed in bandoleers. I have written of this before. Here is a post which links several previous articles for the benefit of newbies.

Also, after the last Indy 1500 gun show I attended, I wrote about the bandoleer famine and ways to overcome it. Now, a year later, here is a miscellany of bandoleer stuff (both for stripper clips and loaded magazines) that I've recently encountered.

British .303 Enfield bandoleer.

First, a machinegun collector recently gave me a half-dozen British late-WWII Enfield bandoleers. Unlike the American throwaway bandoleers, they are maqde to last of heavy canvas with reinforcements on the bottom edges. The drawback of these useful piece of canvas is the brass wire hook. Cheap and simple to make, they are a bitch to refasten.

Detail of Brit Enfield bandoleer, showing wire closure.

So, how do you modify this stout, reusable bandoleer so that you can open AND close the pockets easily? Years ago, I bought a Dritz snap multi-tool.

Over the years, I have found it extremely useful in installing 5/8" snaps on a variety of military equipment, principally using it to replace the wooden toggle fasteners on Chinese SKS gunner's aprons (known to the unsophisticated as "bras").

Chinese chest rig for SKS, also known as a "Chink bra," converted from wood toggles to snaps.

The snaps are easy to install. Just punch a hole through the canvas (I use my Swiss Army knife's awl) and install per instructions.

You can find the 5/8" snaps at WalMart. A pack of eight comes with a small tool set to do the job by hand with a hammer rather than using the multi-tool. This is okay for a single bandoleer, I suppose, but I find it a pain compared to the multi-tool. You can find the snaps in a variety of colors as well as the multi-tools at sewing and craft stores. If you can't find the right color, just paint them a flat earth tone of your choice the day before you install them.

I handed four of the six I converted to a new militiaman whose only long arm is a Mossberg 500 combat shotgun. Each Enfield pocket will hold three rounds of 2.75" or 3" OO Buck brass base up. He had expressed frustration at the nylon open-loop bandoleer he had been using, with rounds falling out every time he moved from cover to cover, like Hansel and Gretel trailing breadcrumbs.

Since most combat shotgunners top off their mag tube as they go, having a secure means of carrying your rounds, risking only the three per open pocket, is a "goodness thing." Unfortunately, I do not have a digital camera, so I cannot photograph the completed bandoleer, but you get the idea.

Magazine bandoleers.

These USGI M16 magazine bandoleers can also hold M14 magazines.

The US Army procured these magazine bandoleers for GIs who are in a FOB and need to move around without completely gearing up. Going to the head? Grab your rifle and the bandoleer. At least you'll be able to shoot and move, with six extra mags.

While I was looking at some of these on a table at the Indy 1500 gunshow this past weekend, another gunnie was examining the mag bondoleers, and turning to me, asked, "Do you know if these will hold M14 mags?"

"Sure," I told him. "But you'll only get one mag per pouch instead of two, and you'll need to put 550 cord mag pulls on the M14s, because they sit lower in the pocket than the M16."

As we talked, he had the idea of sewing two of them back to back so he could carry six. I pointed out that if they were fully sewn together except at the top, they would form an additional pocket that could be secured by the addition of snaps. Haven't tried it yet, but I intend to when I get a chance.

The examples on the table at Indy were $10 each. I last bought some used ones in bulk for $4.00 each at Knob Creek.

BAR Assistant Gunner's magazine bandoleer, made for World War One.

When I was inspecting the gear of another new militiaman this week, I found him carrying his six M14 mags for his brand-new M1A in an R.H. Long WWI-era BAR A-Gunners pouch. He had found the shoulder strapped pouch at a yard sale last weekend while I was in Indianapolis. He paid exactly 1 dollar for it. It is dated 1918.

The amazing thing is that here is a more-than-ninety-year-old piece of gear made for World War One Doughboys to help roll back the Kaiser, put into service once more in the 21st Century.


jeepster said...

The m16/m4 magazine bandoleers will hold 2 m14 mags. per pocket, tight but they will fit.. I've done it..

USMC VET said...

Michigan Tactical LLC offers a "Battleer" that is extremely well made and reasonably priced. They are made of 1000 denier Cordura and offer both .308 and .556 versions. Each has a separate zipper compartment for spoons and other loose items. Very Nice.

With the recent increase in your blogging, can one assume Absolved is finished?


Some Guy said...

I have a Czech carrier for five vz.58 magazines (holds AK mags fine) that has a shoulder strap and a belt loop. I have a carabiner clip on the belt loop - idea being that I can secure it quickly to my belt. This concept has really caught on and there are a lot of people making bags of this kind with more modern acoutrements and drop pouches.

Loren said...

It shouldn't take much skill to make a bando, just a good sewing machine(or LOTS of patience for hand stitching), and a pattern. Either break down a bando, as you mentioned, or design your own, using your mags/clips to shape the pockets before marking and sewing.

Would it be appropriate to ask for something on hauling other related combat supplies, flares, possibly grenades, stuff like that?

Anonymous said...

This just brought to my mind one of my summer projects of the previous year. Using a sheet of rubberized canvas from an art supply store, I created an 1873 Frontier style cartridge belt, with enough loops to hold 50 .45-70 cartridges, with enough room to add a sheath for a kukri, Mongolian dagger or other large-bladed fighting knives. I nicknamed this belt the "Resistance Fighter's Belt", modeled after the simple rigs worn by Anti-Japanese Partisans in northeast China. But "Sharpshooter's Belt" would also be appropriate, since the big Rolling Block is primarily a long range rifle.

Anonymous said...

Like the Enfield bandoleer, perhaps you could sew a line across the bottom of the USGI M16 magazine bandoleers to hold the M14 mags up higher, and skip putting pull tabs on the mags.

Any suggestions on strippers for the Cetme/PTR-91/HK? Or is that what the aluminum mags are for?

Loren, I really like your line graph flag showing the decline of the State. Have you considered offering patches?

Anonymous said...

AS an aside, the Mich Tac bando for the M-14 mags will also hold AK mags and their AR mag bando will hold two Garand clips in each pocket.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anon....

"Any suggestions on strippers for the Cetme/PTR-91/HK? Or is that what the aluminum mags are for?"

HK-91 mag loader, designed to quickly load 1 rounds of a standard 7.62 stripper into your mag.
(Works wonderfully) $20

Open top, double MOLLE pouch
(side by side) $15

Kraut Flecktarn, G3, double pouch (front to back) Alice hangers, $5

That stripper loader is the cat's flippin meow. It takes up some room, but stuffs the mag cleanly. Just view it as an additional mag in your carry rig, and you'll adjust your thinking fine. Packing 7.62, you're already walking with a reduced ammo count anyway.

Michael Gilson said...

I picked up a very sturdy used laptop bag at the thrift store for 3.99. 4 ALICE M16 magazine pouches fit neatly into it with no bulging or strain on the bag's seams. In fact there is still room for other gear in other pockets of the bag. People carry lap tops everywhere around here. I even lucked out on the color, it's forest green with tan nylon straps and brown leather.

Dedicated_Dad said...

Actually, the "Chink Bra" you have pictured is an AK "bra" - not for SKS.

The pictured/AK unit - look close - has 3 bigger pockets in the center for 3 AK mags, and 6 pockets (3 per side) that each (IIRC)hold 3 stripper-clips.

This gives you 90 rounds in mags, and (again, IIRC) two (2) full reloads on strippers.

I posted what follows in the wrong thread - so I thought I should put it where it belongs...

Dedicated_Dad said...

The Chi-com (SKS) Bandoleers are a FANTASTIC piece of kit. 10 pockets, 2 strippers each, 200 rounds.

3 for $18 @ Maine Military Supply ( )

If you're the type to keep some extra rifles just in case you might need to equip a neighbor, there's no better option than these.

2 bandoleers fit a 50-cal ammo can with just enough room for a dessi-pak and some cleaning supplies.

Hand your new recruit 1 rifle and 1 can, he's got everything he needs to put 400 rounds downrange and clean his rifle when he's done.

Or you can keep them for yourself with the same results.

It just doesn't get any better than this.

January 21, 2010 12:37 PM
Blogger Dedicated_Dad said...

Oh - I forgot to mention...

The smart way to update these is with plastic buckles and "snap" connectors on the straps. I read now that Mike likes metal snaps to replace the wood buttons - personally I like the wood buttons just fine but don't like having to tie the straps.

I'm experimenting with using the plastic buckles added in such a way that I can wear 2 of these either one above the other or front & back. A 400-round combat load should be ample IMHO.

I bought a "Type D" SKS - factory converted to use AK mags - but after lots of messing around still find I can reload faster with strippers. I use a 20-round mag, this allows me to reload at 10 if I like, thus never ending up with an empty rifle.

One last thing - there's a new "bullpup" kit that's supposed to start shipping soon - judging by the videos it would appear this is an impressive update, and really updates the rifle and speeds reloads from strippers by a great margin.

I have no more knowledge of this than you will have after perusing the site, but the vids are impressive. The $119 "pre-order" price is also very good IMHO...

If you're inclined to care about such things, removing the handguard and replacing the gas piston makes your SKS fully 922r compliant IMO -- however IANAL/YMMV/CYA/etc.


Anonymous said...

The "Battleer" as mentioned above is a very sturdy piece of kit. My vintage "disposable" cloth bandos are like tissue paper in comparison.


Happy D said...

Thank you Qi Ji Guang you just gave me a whole slew of ideas.

Loren, I like the flag as well. It is a classic.

Now remember lots and lots of ammo and reloading supplies need to be hidden away as well.
Buried a foot or two below the frost line is best.
You may not be able to get to the ammo store and for other reasons I will not go into here.

Anonymous said...

The M16 bandolier will also carry
4 SKS strippers per section. 120 rounds ready to go.
I have found them at local gunshows for $5-$6 each.
Three full bandoliers will fit in a .50cal can

Loren said...

"Loren, I really like your line graph flag showing the decline of the State. Have you considered offering patches?"

It's actually a flag. Striped mountains on a starry background--I suppose it might need some work if people think it's a graph.

It's part of a storyline I'm working on, which is a near future sci-fi. With a bit of luck, and success of some innovative technologies, the recession isn't too bad where states and cities allow "underground" activities, which keep things going. Some political issues still stand though, and a breakup of the country happens.

The flag is for the Rocky Mountain Confederacy, one of the larger sections that pulls through. It goes up into CAnada a bit, over to the Pacific, and down onto the plains a bit. I'm still working on stuff, but that's the gist of it. It's a much more optimistic idea than what I think will really be happening eventually.

Ryan said...

We are issued 1 of those bandoleers and they hold 3 mags. For FOB usage most folks carry one on the butt stock.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was an anarchist extension of the Bonnie Blue flag (meaning: we took our star out of your Union). In the "Loren line graph flag", I imagined the amount of Statism goes up and down (is that first peak WWII and the second peak today?) until it goes down all the way to zero, leaving every individual human sovereign.

Loren said...

I suppose a redesign might be in order.

The idea was mountains, though I did take the idea of the number of stars--there should be a star for each state/province that joined the new confederacy. Rather than 13 stripes for the origins, the stripes fill in the mountains the make up the bulk of the new polity.

RMC or the Rockies is generally used, since a confederacy was also reestablished in the southeast, and they have historical precedent.

More could be discussed, but e-mail would probably work better for that.

Anonymous said...

Hello everybody It's Jon from Michigan Tactical Supply. I found this blog by searching from my website. Good info and good ideas. I love going to gun shows and finding older bando's. I just wanted to say thanks for the kind words about my products and I am working on a .223 30 rd version again. I know its been very delayed. I will keep checking here for ideas from other bandoleer users.