How much ammo do soldiers carry?


Alan Fud
October 10, 2003, 07:53 PM
Saw a show last week how quickly you can empty a 30-round mag on a M16 shooting full-auto. That got me to thinking :rolleyes:

1) How much ammo (both rifle & pistol) do combat soldiers carry?

2) Has this changed over the years?

3) What about during WWII (both rifle & pistol) ?

4) What about the other wars? 'Nam? Korea? Etc.?

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October 10, 2003, 07:57 PM
Not sure how many for each of those examples, but from what I read in interviews, its never enough.:D

Quote from "Black Hawk Down":

"Dude, you don't need that. Take more AMMO!"

Mark Tyson
October 10, 2003, 08:59 PM
Depends. 180 rounds is a pretty standard combat load in the US. That's six magazines not counting the one in the weapon. Six mags fits into the 2 ammo pouches on your pistol belt or into the chest pouches on the load bearing vest. You can never carry enough ammo. Sometimes almost all you're humping is water and ammo. I could fit two extra ammo pouches on my pistol belt.

This varies for base of fire weapons(249, 240G, etc.)

Full auto fire is notoriously wasteful of ammo, though it can be mastered with enough practice. Semi auto is the way to go most of the time.

October 10, 2003, 09:06 PM
Light kit and mobile.
.762....eight 20 round mags n one in weapon.
M-16 (later)...ten 20 round mags n one in weapon.
Thompson...four 30 round sticks n one in weapon.

Heavy kit and workin out of fixed much ammo as could draw, beg, borrow or steal.


October 10, 2003, 09:15 PM
We are issued gear to carry 6 mags with 30 rnds/mag (180 rnds) plus one in the weapon for a total of 210 rounds.

Having said that, it is also true that a buttpack or thigh cargo pockets hold an awful lot, so an individual's combat round count can easily double (if they're smart).


Mark Tyson
October 10, 2003, 09:22 PM
Forgot to add: with those old ALICE packs you could clip extra ammo pouches to your ruck for a truly hellacious firefight. With that newfangled MOLLE that costs 1000+ USD I'll bet you can carry all kinds of goodies . . .

Johnny Guest
October 10, 2003, 09:27 PM
Early WW-II newsreels depicted infantry personnel armed with the M1903 rifle wearing only the standard ten-pocket cartridge belt - - This would have been 100 rounds. When the M1 was in common issue, the same web gear held only 80 rounds. By this time, you began seeing photos and newsreels showing infantry at the front with one or more six-pocket bandoliers - -48 rounds with M1 clips, or 60 in '03 strippers.

While the initial manuals for the 1911 pistol depicted cavalry with a three pocket mag pouch, these never reached full issue, and the web or leather two-pocket pouch was standard. Pistol armed personnel got a pistol, holster, web pouch wirh two extra mags, and a combination tool. It apparently wasn't difficult for front line officers and NCOs to procure spare pouches and mags. Manual said 21 rounds was standard load, but I don't know just how the ammo was issued. Boxes of 50 and 20 rounds were standard.


October 10, 2003, 09:40 PM
What I like to carry for an M-16 is 7mags. 1 in weapon, 6 in LBV. Plus at least one extra bandolier which is an extra 120 rnds.

For SAWs at a minimum you need at least 3 drums. One on the weapon with 2 more in SAW pouches. Plus the A gunner needs to have at least 2 more drums. It is also best if the rifleman of the team carries a drum.

BTW current issue M-16s do not shoot full auto. Also it is rare that we(USMC at least) fire bursts. Semi is much more acurate, easier to control and has a comparable rate of fire to burst because of the better recoil control.

October 10, 2003, 09:51 PM
SOP I have used for a while:

300 rds 5.56 (9 mags ball/tracer 3-1; 1 mag solid tracer)
45 rds 9mm (3 mags for M-9)
2 M67 Frag Grenades
1 HC White Smoke Grenade
If M203, then 12 rds HEDP, 2 white parachute flares

Add any (NOT ALL) below according to mission & total hump weight):
1 Incendiary Grenade
1 HC White Smoke (additional to above)
1-2 Red or Yellow Smoke
1 Claymore Mine
2-3 Diversionary Device
2-3 Breaching Charge
180 rds 5.56 (6 additional mags)
2 additional M67 Frags
6 additional 40mm HEDP

October 10, 2003, 10:06 PM
For SAWs at a minimum you need at least 3 drums. One on the weapon with 2 more in SAW pouches. Plus the A gunner needs to have at least 2 more drums. It is also best if the rifleman of the team carries a drum.

A-Gunner? Your SAW gunners get A-Gunners? I never get an A-Gunner... :uhoh:

October 10, 2003, 10:15 PM
A-Gunner? Your SAW gunners get A-Gunners? I never get an A-Gunner...

My units SAW gunners don't get A-gunners either (USMC Combat Engineers, essentially grunts with C4).

With that newfangled MOLLE that costs 1000+ USD I'll bet you can carry all kinds of goodies . . .

Yeah, you can also expect that newfangled MOLLE's plastic frame to crack the first time its chucked off of a 5-ton...


October 10, 2003, 10:19 PM
Hey, I'm a combat engineer too!

I don't know that anybody's SAW gunners get assistant gunners. It's almost always issued as an individual weapon, isn't it?

Mark Tyson
October 10, 2003, 10:35 PM
When they had the 60 we used assistant gunners to carry ammo/tripod, but never used them with the SAW.

October 10, 2003, 10:48 PM
Hey, I'm a combat engineer too!

You can keep it--I'm a Field Radio Operator. I might be a bullet magnet, but it beats being a mine detector ;) Best mine detector in the world is leather boots: work in all weather, don't run out of batteries and every PFC's got a pair...

My thought is that anything small and light enough to be fired on the move (well) probably doesn't need an a-gunner. The spare barrel and cleaning gear in the a-bag don't weigh enough to justify another mule, and if you ever fire long enough from a static position with a SAW to rate a barrel change, you probably don't have time to do it, much less need help with it.

Back OT Alan, I think your answer is:
Issued: 7 mags
Practical: The 7 issued plus as many more as make you comfortable. You're the one humping the weight after all...


October 10, 2003, 11:27 PM
Outdated I know, but in 75, had to carry M16 with 208 rounds and a S&W .38 combat masterpiece with 54 rounds.

Required anytime left maintenance bldg to storage area.

Deadly force was definitely authorized.

October 10, 2003, 11:54 PM
Sam, I thought the Thompson pouch for the 30 rounders held 3 while the 20 round mag pouch held 5?

October 11, 2003, 12:38 AM
My Dad in Vietnam carried:

300 rounds for the M16 (10 - 30 round mags)
1 Law
2 belts of M60 ammo
at least 4 grenades
usually 1 claymore
He said this was the heavy load for seek and destroy and long patrols.

His light load was the M16 and the 300 rounds and grenades, which was for the short daily patrols near firebases.

He also said he was the flame thrower guy for a couple months. Didn't like it...

I'll have to ask him what his M14 load was, when he first shipped over, that was his issued rifle (USMC '66)

Captain Scarlet
October 11, 2003, 12:44 AM
I heard that the special units in Vietnam like the LRRPs and Mike Force guys
carried all the ammo they could carry, sometimes 500 rds or more! they
carried more ammo than the typical infantryman.

October 11, 2003, 12:48 AM
Great question. In the olden days, my CF Combat uniform had 20 rd FN 7.62mm mag pouches in every pocket. While wearing a shirt(6) and jacket(6), a troopie could carry 12 mags. That's 240 rounds in his pockets. Plus bandoliers of either stripper clips or more mags. Fit those infantry guys. So they are.
Mind you, every army is different. Most troopies don't carry any pistol. Up here, again, in the olden days, a rad op, most officers and anyone too busy to carry a rifle carried a Sterling SMG. Senior NCOS and other NCOS whose job required it got a pistol. At least the armour types did. Walking to a fight is daft.

October 11, 2003, 01:32 AM
Blues Bear...
We had light nylon pouches that held two 30R sticks each.
One pouch each side.


October 11, 2003, 02:16 AM

Cool Sam... I want some!

Alice clips?

slightly off topic... but...
I have seen UZI grip frames that take M3 Grease Gun magazines but what I'd like to find is one that would take Thompson mags.

October 11, 2003, 02:17 AM
I know that this is off topic but I thought that I should reply.
Team Leader(M203)
Automatic Rifleman(M249)
Assistant-Automatic Rifleman(M16)

The SAWgunner carries his own weapon and A-bag with the spare Barrel. But the A-bag is usually cinched onto his back and hard to reach so it is best to have help with barrel changes. But what the A-gunner is really essential for is as an ammo mule as the SAW spits out a lot of lead, it being the main weapon that an infantry platoon has for base of fire.

October 11, 2003, 05:35 AM
Being an Arty scout/NGF spotter and being sent to an OP alone or sent in with a STA team, most scouts that I knew humped a lot of ammo. My personal load was 6 mags in the LBV, 6 more in two ammo pouches, and 6 more in the butt pack for 540 rounds max but always loaded down to 28 rounds a mag for a total of 504 rounds, plus 6 frags, VHF and HF radios, radar transponder, 6 spare batteries, personal kit, antenna kit, laser range finder, maps charts plotting material, gallon of water, and food. Flack, brain bucket, and gas mask were left at home:)

Couldn't go back for more ammo, have to hump all I could.

Had a Brit Royal Marine once tell me while watching at me loading up that they didn't treat their pack mules in such a manner.

October 11, 2003, 09:12 AM
How much ammo do soldiers carry?

As much as they can.........this is not a smart answer, but a statement of fact.:)

October 11, 2003, 09:56 AM
I was in the 4th Infantry Div (3/8th INF) in Nam in 68. We were in the Central Highlands and stayed out for long periods of time. We had the 20 round magazine in which we loaded 18 rounds. I had one in the rifle, a bandalier of 7 mags around me, a claynore bag holding about 20 loaded mags and 400 loose rounds in my ruck. Each man carried 200 rounds for the M60. Also, was a claymore, flares,hand grenandes,about 3 days c rations and I carried 5 1 qt canteens. There was a bed role and my personal gear was a writing tablet, a few envelopes, a small camera and a New Testament.If an 81 mortar crew was with the company, we carried two 81 rounds. Byron

October 11, 2003, 12:42 PM
This thread makin my well used high mile body ache just from readin and rememberin.

B Bear...snap straps.


October 11, 2003, 04:36 PM
Heres a different perspective. As a machinegunner this is probably an average load: gunner has 400 to maybe 800 rounds (800 only if moving a short distance) usually somewhere in between, ammoman has another 400 to 800 (usually about one can more than the gunner which is 200 rnds) team leader has probably another 400 or so. on top of that there is personal weapons. we usually go pretty light with those 6 mags 5.56 and 2 9mm, loads are different for every op however.

And I have to disagree with Teufelhunden, grunts and engineers are very different ;) Not to say bad, not at all, just different.
Have you guys really had molle packs break? we have been pretty rough with ours and I don't think I've ever seen one break!

October 12, 2003, 01:49 AM
i feel a need to pipe in as a combat engineer too. Our combat load is pretty standard at 210 rounds in 7 magazines, but im fairly confident, that my squad tends to carry a little more when we can get away wit hit. (Oh, and by the way, as a saw gunner for my first three years in, never had a a gunner and was carrying 800 rounds in drums and 200 rounds in the 100 round pouches).

October 12, 2003, 09:28 AM
One of the guys I worked with over the summer is a former Ranger. He said he usually carried 17 mags, with 30 rounds in each.

October 12, 2003, 09:43 AM
Up until I got out last fall, my LBV was configured to hold up to a total of 24 x 30 round mags, plus one in my weapon. I had the 6 on the chest, plus 4 x 3 mag pouches on my belt, and another 2 mag pouches attached to my buttpack. Of course, more often than not, these pouches were occupied by map marker pens, camo sticks, 550 cord, spare batteries, and other assorted junk needed by a FO.

Chindo, welcome to THR. What group are you with?


October 12, 2003, 04:48 PM
That depends entirely on how one situates the ammo in his HMMWV. I imagine quite alot.;) Personally, I dont want it in cans, I want it pre-magazined.

October 12, 2003, 05:06 PM
OEF: 10th (Mostly), 19th, 5th, 11th, USASFC. Formerly at TFL, registered THR first day...don't post much. I've read some of your posts over the months. I was w/ 5th Jump TOC at Bagram when you were east of the Whale. Were you at Chapman/Khost later in the summer (Jun-Jul)?

October 12, 2003, 05:34 PM
OEF_VET: I hear you! I don't know what I'm going to do if I get deployed, and I start actually having to carry ammo and grenades in my LBV pouches instead of my camo paint, my notebook and pens, a little snacks to munch on sometimes, and the million other things you decide you could use at some point when you're out in the field.

(Being a SAW gunner, I don't have anything to put in the M16 mag pouches anyway, so I'd keep my glasses case and other things in them. I bought aftermarket belt pouches from FMCO to hold the SAW drums, and they're of much higher quality than the ones that come in the barrel bag.)

October 12, 2003, 07:29 PM

I spent my entire two months at Kandahar as the BDE Fire Support NCO (Rear) for the Rakkasans. Never got to see so much as Kandahar city, much less Bagram or Khost. I got there the end of January and left latter half of March. My LT and I went over to be the BDE Information Ops OIC and NCOIC, but ended up filling in for the BDE FSE while they went up to the Shah-i-Kowt. They sent us home after Anaconda was over.

October 12, 2003, 07:56 PM
OEF: A belated welcome back from the 12th Century. I think I was confusing posts (without reviewing) from Blackhawk6. In any event, I was with some Rakkasans at Khost (I forgot which Bn...will have to check out a picture of some unit logo art work they left behind). You and your guys did real good over there... Hope all is well with you my brother. JDAMs for all my fundamentalist AK toting friends!

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