Concerning rifle magazines and ammunition issued to Cold War era British Forces.

#1
How much ammunition was the average squaddie issued through the Cold War to the modern era? I seem to remember reading that during the Falklands several Argentine machine gun positions were taken at bayonet point due to men having burned through their 120 rounds of 7.62x51mm NATO in six magazines.




American soldiers and Marines were issued a total of five magazines for the M14 (100 rounds of 7.62mm). Four in the webbing and one in the rifle.

M-1956.jpg


Later to be increased substantially with the adoption of the 5.56x45mm M16 rifle with eight 20 round mags in two ammo pouches. Potentially much more ammo would be carried in several seven pocket bandoliers that originally held boxed rounds held in stripper clips but would be carried into the field with 7 additional mags

M-1967.jpg

After Vietnam, the US adopted the 30 round magazine for the M16 and the standard load-out became six 30 round magazines with one additional mag in the rifle

ALICE.jpg

All the while, the British Pattern 56 pattern webbing carried 6 20 round mags of 7.62mm and soldiered on for 30+ years as the US went through 3 different patterns of webbing

58 pattern webbing.jpg



It appears to me that the "by the book" magazine issue would have been six, plus one additional in the SLR for a total of 140 rounds on hand. While that seems adequate for most of the operations that British forces were engaged in during the SLR's period of issue, I can't imagine that would have been enough for the Falklands. US forces carried over 20 mags of 20 rounds (usually downloaded to 18 during the Vietnam conflict but thereafter carried a steady average of 6 + 1 30 round mags of 5.56mm

As an aside, how many mags did British soldiers typically carry when issued the M16? Were they of the 30 or 20 round variety?

I'm kind of wondering how many 5.56mm mags would fit in a 58 pattern pouch...
 
#2
How much ammunition was the average squaddie issued through the Cold War to the modern era? I seem to remember reading that during the Falklands several Argentine machine gun positions were taken at bayonet point due to men having burned through their 120 rounds of 7.62x51mm NATO in six magazines.




American soldiers and Marines were issued a total of five magazines for the M14 (100 rounds of 7.62mm). Four in the webbing and one in the rifle.

View attachment 357844

Later to be increased substantially with the adoption of the 5.56x45mm M16 rifle with eight 20 round mags in two ammo pouches. Potentially much more ammo would be carried in several seven pocket bandoliers that originally held boxed rounds held in stripper clips but would be carried into the field with 7 additional mags

View attachment 357846
After Vietnam, the US adopted the 30 round magazine for the M16 and the standard load-out became six 30 round magazines with one additional mag in the rifle

View attachment 357847
All the while, the British Pattern 56 pattern webbing carried 6 20 round mags of 7.62mm and soldiered on for 30+ years as the US went through 3 different patterns of webbing

View attachment 357850


It appears to me that the "by the book" magazine issue would have been six, plus one additional in the SLR for a total of 140 rounds on hand. While that seems adequate for most of the operations that British forces were engaged in during the SLR's period of issue, I can't imagine that would have been enough for the Falklands. US forces carried over 20 mags of 20 rounds (usually downloaded to 18 during the Vietnam conflict but thereafter carried a steady average of 6 + 1 30 round mags of 5.56mm

As an aside, how many mags did British soldiers typically carry when issued the M16? Were they of the 30 or 20 round variety?

I'm kind of wondering how many 5.56mm mags would fit in a 58 pattern pouch...
It was 58 pattern and four magazines.
 
#3
It was 58 pattern and four magazines.
:eek: 80 rounds seems rather... stingy. Please tell me that the British army handed out more mags for active operations.
 
#4
In the time of 'that' rifle,it was four,twenty round mags with a fifth in reserve with the CQMS.Quite how that would have worked,I don't know.With SA80,four mags of thirty rounds, exception being LSW gunner,who would carry twelve(I think). ISTR that we carried eighty rounds in NI,including LSW.
 
#5
In the time of 'that' rifle,it was four,twenty round mags with a fifth in reserve with the CQMS.Quite how that would have worked,I don't know.With SA80,four mags of thirty rounds, exception being LSW gunner,who would carry twelve(I think). ISTR that we carried eighty rounds in NI,including LSW.
Were packaged rounds carried to refill emptied magazines?
 
#8
In Iraq and Afghanistan we carried a minimum of seven 30 round mags usually downloaded to 28 rounds
 
#9
:eek: 80 rounds seems rather... stingy. Please tell me that the British army handed out more mags for active operations.
It may seem like it, but German infantry during WW2 carried 90 for their Kar98k, which fired a similar sized round. Likewise the British with their .303s. It was all to do with the optimum weight for the soldier to carry and fight.

Extra ammo could be carried in bandoliers and pouches, for ‘bombing up’ if required. Also prior to the L85, we had no automatic capability on the weapon, so it was single shots all the way.
 
#10
In the time of 'that' rifle,it was four,twenty round mags with a fifth in reserve with the CQMS.Quite how that would have worked,I don't know.With SA80,four mags of thirty rounds, exception being LSW gunner,who would carry twelve(I think). ISTR that we carried eighty rounds in NI,including LSW.

I have seen soldiers with 3 or 4 times canvas/cotton bandoliers or 50 rds., along with their 5 magazines of 20 x 7.62, for the FI Ops
 
#11
Not in Norn Iron mate,general war fighting would have seen bandoliers issued( in theory).
In NI four mags of 20 rounds seems reasonable for counter insurgency but for anything more spicy it seems criminally negligent to send men into battle with 80 rounds...
 
#12
How many mags did men receive if they were issued an M16?
 
#13
Were packaged rounds carried to refill emptied magazines?

Bandoleer and boxed ammo would be freely available for ops.

Whereas "four mags and a bayonet" was the universal peacetime holding for units (SLR and SMG), it also likely that large quantities of additional magazines would be released for war deployment.

On the BAOR "war outload" exercises I participated in, the amount of kit issued was enormous to the point of being too much to carry - SAA, NBC kit, rations, fuel cans, unit support weapon ammunition (Charlie G rounds, L4 mags, GPMG link, pyro).

(Biggest laugh I had was trying to fit a 1m x 1m cardboard carton containing 200-odd map sheets into my 1/2 FRR LR, on top of 8x ten-man packs and 30x CG rounds...)
 
#14
When one remembers the prospective war situation if the balloon had gone up on the inner German border. Or what those poor bastards in West Berlin would've been in for.

It's sobering to think British soldiers would've gone against the Warsaw Pact with 100 rifle rounds at the ready.
 
#15
When one remembers the prospective war situation if the balloon had gone up on the inner German border. Or what those poor bastards in West Berlin would've been in for.

It's sobering to think British soldiers would've gone against the Warsaw Pact with 100 rifle rounds at the ready.

Not that it'd have made much difference to the outcome, but I expect that those riflemen would have had 200+ rounds to hand, plus at least another 200 nearby with pln or coy runners. That number was the usual issue for expected combat actions in WW1, WW2 and Korea.

Its worth noting (or remembering, for those old enough!) that the 20-round SLR magazines were extremely quick to reload from carton ammo - due in part to the soft magazine spring and easy ergonomics of the round.

The charger bridge on the British trials version of the FAL was removed as it was found that, under typical section fighting scenarios (eg 2 men in a trench), hand reloading of loose magazines could keep pace with the battle rhythm.
 
#17
In regard to 58 webbing, the right pouch was traditionally kept free for grenades, if infantry, leaving the left pouch for rifle/lmg magazines with one magazine fitted on the weapon.
In NI I recall having used kidney pouches to carry baton rounds, CS grenades, or whatever else was dished out for particular occasions.
Usual webbing then was belt, one ammo pouch, water bottle, respirator, and flak jacket.
 
#18
Telic 3 we carried 4 magazines of 28 rounds that were counted round for round every week and a ball ache. Later Telics they eventually realised it was mental and most guys started carrying 10-12 magazines. That was for us anyway, seemed to be every man for himself.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#19
The answer is 42. A mixed load of (largely) HESH and Shell and maybe a few SMK depending on the mission.

Oops sorry that's 76mm (Scorpion) not 7.62.
 
#20
When one remembers the prospective war situation if the balloon had gone up on the inner German border. Or what those poor bastards in West Berlin would've been in for.

It's sobering to think British soldiers would've gone against the Warsaw Pact with 100 rifle rounds at the ready.
With our war scale (1980) in the back of the 432s we had more than enough along with bandoliers - remember the 7.62 had a punch that the M16 didn't.
As to NI we had an interesting mix in our 4 mags of AP, tracer and ball, that was for a border tour.
 

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