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"How many rounds of ammo does / did an infantry man carry ?" Topic

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Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2003 7:39 p.m. PST

Reading the american civil war, and it appears that a soldier wouldnt carry more than 40 rounds normally, possibly 60 more in their pack.

Thats not an awful lot of bullets, though with lower rates of fire, it might not have been a problem.

Just for comparison.. how many rounds did a WW1, WW2 or a modern rifleman carry on average?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian28 Nov 2003 7:45 p.m. PST

Modern is @ 200. WW-II was @ 100

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2003 7:55 p.m. PST

I think for ww1 a american carried on his belt 60 to 80 rounds but he also usually carried a bandolier with about about 60 more. And I believe in ww2 it was about the same but I could be wrong. I also think alot has to do with the weapon systems that the soldier carried.

I know in ww2 they had what was called a "Unit of Fire" which was the standard ammo load for a rifle company, from rifle ammo to mortar rounds, but I don't know the actual breakdown.

A US Marine today will carry at least 7 30 round mags, a Saw gunner will carry three very heavy 200 round box mags and a 203 gunner will carry 7 30 round mags and 24 40mm 203 rounds. I am not of course going into what the Marines of the weapons platoon would crry.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2003 7:56 p.m. PST

Sorry the last word is "carry"

Squawk Inactive Member28 Nov 2003 8:03 p.m. PST

In Vietnam troops could have upwards of 800 rounds. Plus ammo for the M-60, grenades, grenades for the M-79, and personal weapons, oh and don't forget all the other shit they made you haul around.

Grunt1861 Inactive Member28 Nov 2003 8:36 p.m. PST

When I crawled of the bird in Riydh in 90 my ruck-sack weighed in at 125 pounds. I would say well over half of that wieght was from the various ammo and pyrotechnics we carried. I,m still suffering from back problems from that SOB!
"Light Infantry, Too light to fight, too heavy to run!"

pancerni Inactive Member28 Nov 2003 9:33 p.m. PST

At Cantigny the infantry of the American 28th Regiment carried the following in their assault...

225 rifle rounds
2 hand grenades
1 rifle grenade


mckrok28 Nov 2003 11:23 p.m. PST

Officially, the modern U.S. infantryman carries a basic combat load of 210 cartidges - 7x 30 round magazines, one in the weapon, six carried. Often, the magazines are loaded with 28 vice 30 rounds. Thirty rounds in the magazines causes unappreciated feed problems and loading all 30 rounds in the magazines places to much tension on the magazine spring causing it to wear out prematurely. Of course, one can always carry more rounds.

Most other modern armies using a 5.56mm round would carry about the same amount of ammo - 200 rounds. One of the major reasons so many armies adopted the 5.56 round was for its light(er) weight.

210 rounds is plenty of ammo. Bear in mind, not everyone in the rifle squad, platoon/section is firing their weapon for a variety of reasons (the two guys on security never had a reason to fire, the radioman was doing his job, the guys who don't fire, etc...) and ammo is redistributed to those firing. Ammo resupply is also generated by the wounded who don't need their rounds anymore.

glenbrooks Inactive Member29 Nov 2003 2:19 a.m. PST

Hi A British infantry man will have 1 HE and 1 WP hand grenade, 6 full mags and a bandolier of 150. He also may carry a 51 or 81mm mortar bomb if on a advance. Also a belt of between 50-100 rnds of 7.62 for the GMPG. And one in four will carry a LAW 94mm.And some troops will carry 2 RGGS.( rifle grenades). oh and 300mm of cold steel.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2003 5:30 a.m. PST

US troops liked to carry as much ammo as possible during WWII. It has been said that a US squad would start to feel itself low on ammo when it reached the level a standard British squad started out with ...

John Armatys29 Nov 2003 5:54 a.m. PST

In WW1 the British 1908 pattern webbing was designed to hold 100 rounds of .303. In WW2 the British infantryman would typically have had two magazines of Bren gun magazines (28 rounds each) in one pouch and a 50 round bandolier in the other. A second bandolier was sometimes slung somewhere around the person.

Griefbringer29 Nov 2003 6:37 a.m. PST

Some examples:

* Medieval time: around two dozen arrows per archer.

* Thirty years war: around 12-20 lead shots per musketeer, plus necessary powder and wadding.

* WWII British 10-man rifle section armament and ammunition (official):
-8 Lee-Enfield rifles, 50 rounds each
-1 Sten SMG, 160 rounds
-1 Bren LMG, 1000 rounds (spread through the squad, around 100 for each for six riflemen, the other 400 for the three-man LMG team)
-10 grenades

* Modern Finnish army 7-man infantry squad (official):
-6 Assault rifles (7.62 mm), for each 3 magazines of 30 rounds each and 90 rounds of loose ammo
-1 LMG (7.62 mm), with 6 belts of 100 rounds each (distributed 2 for the gunner, 4 for the assistant)
-a number of grenades (I don't remember exactly)

Especially with WWII and later settings, the actual amount of ammunition carried could be more than what was officially listed, especially when on patrol, on assault or operating behind the enemy lines.


Conrad Inactive Member29 Nov 2003 8:06 a.m. PST

Good question!
How much did German infantry carry in WW2? I presume a lot to keep up with the ammo-hungry MG34/42's they were armed with??

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2003 9:38 a.m. PST

I know each man carried at least one 50-round belt, though I'd assume the gunner and assistent would carry more.

Griefbringer29 Nov 2003 10:06 a.m. PST

From what I know, the amount of ammunition for a German MP-40 or Sturmgewehr was 6 full magazines (32 rounds for MP-40, 42 for Stg) carried in two magazine pouches. Perhaps a seventh magazine could be carried attached to the rifle.

The riflemen had 6 ammo pouches, each containing 10 rounds.

As for the squad MG, 1150 rounds of ammo (distributed through the squad) is mentioned at


Griefbringer30 Nov 2003 5:30 a.m. PST

Some more info I found out from a certain book, regarding WWII ammunition assignment.

* Polish, Belgian or French rifleman (1939-1940): 90 rounds (placed in clips of 5)
* Japanese rifleman: 60 rounds in clips, and another 60 in loose rounds (120 in total)
* US BAR gunner: 12 magazines of 20 rounds each, to a total of 240 rounds

I guess the reason why US riflemen carried so many rounds is that they used their semi-automatic rifles to produce their firepower, where as the other armies relied on their LMGs (which had much more firepower than than the poor BAR). Though late war Marines placed plenty of emphasis on the BARs - 3 of them in a squad of 13.


RockyRusso Inactive Member30 Nov 2003 11:29 a.m. PST

I cannot speak for anyone. I grew up in a family with a lot of career mil. The stated prejudice was "you cannot be carrying too much ammo or water!" This may be a US prejudice. Friend of mine in nam had the nickname "Water Wagon" as he alway had 8 canteens, and never less than 300rnds for the 16, plus a side arm of his personal 22mag revolver and 200 rnds.


Griefbringer30 Nov 2003 11:56 a.m. PST

Well, if you are expecting action you probably cannot be carrying too much ammo - though if you are farther from the frontline you might prefer a lighter load.

Not so sure about the water issue - I guess it depends on the environment and part of the year. If you are in a dry or hot area you might prefer to carry a lot of it. But in a cooler climate water is not needed so much, and might be easily obtainable from environment - not to mention water freezing in sub-zero temperatures and potentially damaging the container.

As for US forces in Vietnam, I would probably consider them as something of an exception rather than a rule when it comes to ammo loads. US forces there had a habit of spraying massive amounts of ammo at every possible direction (I think the estimate was for 20,000 rounds fired to produce one casualty) so naturally the troops had to carry massive amounts of rounds to sustain it. Probably better fire discipline would have led to reduced ammo consumption.

I am wondering how much ammunition a typical Vietcong guerilla would have hauled around - probably far less than the US troops.


sargonII30 Nov 2003 8:40 p.m. PST


Water in Sub zero areas is extremly important. The body continually pushes it out in urine, and if skiing, or moving you also sweat. Canteens are fairly hard and in weather below freezing keep a two quart canteen under your parker, and two two quarts upside down on your belt.

God Bless

GuyG1301 Dec 2003 7:31 a.m. PST

In WW1 the standard load for a British/ Commonwealth infantryman was 250 rds. 150 in the webbing pouches (P-08 web equipment) 10 pouches X 3 5 rd clips per pouch and 2 50 round cloth bandoleers.

Griefbringer01 Dec 2003 9:36 a.m. PST

sargonII: seems like I was not very specific - yes, water is important also on colder areas (I am from Finland myself, and did part of my military service on winter...).

However, on winter conditions water is also easier to obtain than on summertime - if you got the energy available you could melt it from snow (got to add in some salt), though knocking a whole in the ice and getting some water to boil recommendable. In winter time you preferably want to drink something warm, and the water needs to be boiled anyway to purify it from bacteria.

Got to remember the trick about keeping the bottles upside down - why I have never heard that round here? Thanks for that!


DoubleNot7 Inactive Member01 Dec 2003 10:19 p.m. PST

How much ammunition?

During my recon days in USA we carried just as much as humanly possible! If we inserted from helos, about 10-20 thirty round magazines were normal. Mounted in vehicles we were stocked with way more weapons and ammunition than we needed for 2 or 3 soldiers.

I believe some actor in Tombstone said something like: "I don't want to die for the lack of not being able to shoot back".

Terry L02 Dec 2003 10:43 a.m. PST

GuyG13 is write about Commonwealth troops. I do WW1 Cdn forces reenacting and the maximum number of rounds you can fit on your 80 web is 150. The you can carry a bandolier with more rounds.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member02 Dec 2003 11:15 a.m. PST

Just to come back to the British in WW2 - photos commonly show one or even two cotton bandoliers worn by infantrymen in addition to the normal webbing which would effectively double the amount of rifle ammunition carried (or allow more Bren mags to be carried in the pouches). I have also read in personal accounts of grenades being ditched in order to carry more Bren mags. It was also common for the Bren No.2 (and often the No.1 and the L/Cpl in charge of the Bren sub-section) to wear the two extra pouches on the chest, which held another ten mags between them.

steveD Inactive Member03 Dec 2003 3:27 a.m. PST

In many instances in WW2 the pouches worn by British infantry would hold in one grenades (usually two or three) and in the other two bren mags.
Thus the cotton bandoliers were the only source of SAA for their personal weapon.

SMG carriers would use the universal pouches plus a haversack for the mags.

mckrok05 Dec 2003 10:31 p.m. PST

I recommend reading SLA Marshall's A Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation.

Nearly every military has a basic, or standard, load. Leaders will modify this standard based on the situation. More isn't necessarily better. The thousand rounds they are carrying won't be much help to them if they are too exhausted to fight after days of humping their 100 lbs rucks.

Ed1948 Inactive Member07 Dec 2003 8:34 p.m. PST

Marshall argues for just under 40 lbs for combat, including clothing, 48 rounds for the M-1 (writing in 1949 or '50)and 2 grenades (I just looked it up). Blanket and raincoat add another 7 lbs between them. "During initial combat in hot weather, it is better to take a chance without them then to put that much extra weight on men just as they are about to undergo fire for the first time."

100 lbs? I thought the efficient human load are something like 1/3 of body weight.

Hacksaw Inactive Member07 Dec 2003 10:09 p.m. PST

SLA Marshall only argues for 48 rounds because he figured the three guys in the Regiment who would actually fire at the enemy will pack extra ammo anyway. No need for the rest of them to get tired humping what they wont use....

Sorry, did I say that out loud? ;-)

Im going to have to read some of SLAMs works, because everything I hear quoted from them is on the outer reaches of reality. Are the rest of his writings so far removed from what soldiers do and/or need?

Ed1948 Inactive Member10 Dec 2003 8:47 p.m. PST

I'd recommend Men Against Fire (since it's where he makes the most controversial claims), The River and the Gauntlet and Pork Chop Hill (both Korea). He may have inflated how much research he did, but the stuff on specific actions is (IMHO) pretty good. (I hasten to add that I've never been in the Army, let alone combat.)

The real problem with his claims about fire ratios: even if only 15-25% of US troops used their weapons, we have nothing to compare this with. For we know, this was the best fire ratio in the world. (I'm not saying that it was, only that we can't really tell.)

Sorry, getting rather off topic.

rorymac14 Dec 2003 8:28 p.m. PST


Yeah, I was in the 101st right after the division got back from the Gulf and the infantry guys told me when they air assaulted north, their rucks were so heavy they had to sit down, slip their arms thru the straps and then have someone else pull them to their feet. Seems like I remember an NCO telling me the line doggies carried something like 20-30 thirty round mags, plus extra M-60 ammo, 60mm mortar rounds, extra water, extra grenades, AT4s, etc. etc. From what I remember the rucks WERE in excess of 100 lbs. I was an infantry lieutenant at the time and I'm sure the upper echelon officers meant well and maybe in some circumstances all that extra stuff would have been needed, but mobility to me was always very important. I remember humping throught the woods at Ft. Campbell in 100 degree heat and almost becoming a heat casualty because of all the junk I was carrying. And a lot of the guys had more than I did (like my RTO). I ran into experienced NCOs while I was in that carried the bare essentials when they could get away with it. Personally, I think in a hot environment, you need plenty of water and ammo, but just the very bare essentials of everything else.

Black Bull15 Dec 2003 2:15 p.m. PST

I hear that US light infantry call themselves 'too light to fight,too heavy to move':-))


mckrok16 Dec 2003 5:06 a.m. PST

More precisely - "Too light to fight, too heavy to run."

the rebel Inactive Member17 Dec 2003 7:24 a.m. PST

In the Nam,I would have carried 1000 if I could...but normal issue was 7 mags of 30.....In ww2,The marines were issued bandoliers with 8 magazines of 8.....many carried 2 or 3 bandoliers

Ardiff Inactive Member15 Mar 2004 4:06 p.m. PST

Hmm, according to some newspaper reports there were some British units in the Gulf that were only issued 5 rounds per person. Well, they didn't have much to carry. Not frontline troops, I hasten to add, but still, these guys were out on patrol in still dangerous sectors. Ah, inadequate government funding.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2004 5:59 p.m. PST

Well, they can throw the rifle, that should count as a 6th round :)

Goldwyrm Inactive Member15 Mar 2004 6:56 p.m. PST

I have a question related to this. If many WWII U.S. rifle squads tried to retain extra BARs in the squad could these be supplied the standard amount of ammo per weapon?

What I'm wondering is how the ammo is distributed down and whether it was common for a rifle company with double the number of TO&E BARs to get supplied double the amount of ammunition for them.

jupe195515 Mar 2004 7:17 p.m. PST

The US army will try to give you whatever you ask for, at least until supplies start to get short, then the official list gets refered to. Until then you can get pretty much anything. In WWII an infantry company found, repaired, and kept three Shermans.

Goldwyrm Inactive Member15 Mar 2004 7:59 p.m. PST

Thanks jupe1955. That makes sense with the Sherman reference which I now remember hearing about. I imagine practice varied from unit to unit depending on the logistics personnel.

My interest was for skirmish games. In a game allowing an option of multiple BARs but limiting ammo as a result. I'll probably scrap that idea since at least anecdotally, and likely in reality, it was not a problem for the U.S. squads.

andyoneill Inactive Member16 Mar 2004 2:17 a.m. PST

It's my understanding that a whole company of 2 BARs per squad wasn't common.
Some squads liked em, some hated em.
IIRC in theory there were 9 spare BARs in the starting OOB, so extra ammo would usually not be much of a problem.
You can't blaze away with BARs in the same way as an lmg anyhow. The barrel cannot be replaced so sustained fire isn't possible.
Vets who liked BARs mostly talk about stopping power.
I'm not convinced there's a huge difference between a 1 BAR and 2BAR squad in terms of squad effectiveness for wargames purposes.

They are not a crew served weapon. As such they will not get fired continuously no matter how many you dole out in a company.
Thw ww2 commander was more likely to have problems persuading people to lay down enough fire than run out of ammo.
Except in unusual circumstances I feel it's ahistorical to be running out of ammo.
It IS historical for them not to fire as much as modern trops and to less effect.


Griefbringer16 Mar 2004 7:19 a.m. PST

Well, I presume that as long as adequate ammo supply was available, a US rifle squad (or a rifle squad in almost any other army) would get as much ammo as it requested - it is not like a supply sergeant could manage to come down and count how many guns and rounds of ammo they had available.

Besides, with US army the normal riflemen carried almost as many rounds as a BAR gunner (210 versus 240) anyway.


SNOWMAN2 Inactive Member16 Mar 2004 10:22 a.m. PST

When I was younger overheard several Uncles talking about this, all were in WWII,3 Pacific and 4 N.Africa and France\Germany , all at last agreed they allways carried to much unless you were being shot at, than too damn little.

RockyRusso Inactive Member16 Mar 2004 11:14 a.m. PST


My dad and uncles fell into the "BAR is no big deal" catagory. Too heavy for a rifle and not the firepower of a true LMG. Both the BAR and the M1Garand fire the same round, 30-06, so I am not sure where the "stopping Power" would come from.
One uncle, 82nd, claimed that the Garand made it all irrelevent, just pulling the trigger as fast as possible would spray about as well without the extra supply train and weight.


Griefbringer17 Mar 2004 10:28 a.m. PST

Didn't the BAR have somewhat longer barrel than Garand? This would give the bullet higher velocity.


andyoneill Inactive Member18 Mar 2004 1:34 a.m. PST

I'd imagine hitting someone with a burst of bullets would pretty much stop em. Mind you, can't say just a single 30 cal bullet is going to be something to laugh off.

Stopping power is the phrase several have used in interviews.
I doubt very much they ever carried out any sort of scientific experiment to measure percentage knocked down and killed straight off by each weapon.
This could be as simple as the BAR is a heavier weapon so it gives the impression it'll do more damage.
Or it could be someone once told some story and it got passed round or whatever.
I don't know.
What few seem to talk about is the ability to lay down a suppressive spray of fire like a lmg would do.

Soldiers are only human and the rumour mill was the source of a lot of ww2 vets knowledge.
Their opinions can turn out to be based on a load of old tosh someone told em 60 years back.
But if that opinion made them prefer a BAR or think a rifle grenade was a very dodgy weapon to use that then coloured what they did.

colonelkurtz Inactive Member18 Mar 2004 8:42 a.m. PST

if its a modern brit - then none , just polystyrene fillers for his ammo pouches - to look good for the TV .

and this is a fact - when - afghanistan 2002 .

Pvt Jester Inactive Member21 Jun 2004 1:30 p.m. PST

Black powder rifles get fouled very quickly; Johnny Reb and Billy Yank were lucky to get off much more than half their ammo before having to clean the barrel. The standard load was 40 rounds in the cartridge box: 2 packs of 10 in the lower half of the tin liner and 20 loose round (2 packs opened) in the top.
The GI in Normandy carried a full belt, 10 x 8 round clips, plus 2 bandoleers and 2 fragmentation grenades. Unlike his allies and opponenets, he didn't usually have to carry LMG ammo and motar bombs because these weapons were organized in a seperate platoon; each gun or martar had 2 men armed with carbines dedicated to hauling ammo and providing local defense for the weapon.
The BAR was designed to give suppressive firepower at squad level in WWI; although obsolete by the 1940's it saw widespread use by Infantry and Marine Corps units (far more than the SMG's so beloved of Hollywood and miniature soldier sculptors)

Ratbone Inactive Member21 Jun 2004 7:24 p.m. PST

Don't forget the big advantage of the BAR, which was carried into modern squad-level machineguns. This is the fact that it can be fired from the hip accurately and effectively. And they even had a belt rig designed back in WWI to hold it steady on the hip while firing, that was still in use during WWII.

This enables better firepower on the assault, not having to stop and set up a prone or kneeling position. This was one of the reasons the Marines went with one per fire team late in the war, so that each squad had 3 BARs.

steveD Inactive Member22 Jun 2004 5:07 a.m. PST

I have seen a training film of US troops advancing with the BAR in this hip rig (a metal holder for the butt on the right side of the belt).

They were firing by drill on on step (I forget if it was left or right foot) but it's idea was to keep the enemy's head down whilst walking acroos no mans land.

Nice idea doubt if it worked in reality.

andyoneill Inactive Member22 Jun 2004 7:59 a.m. PST

Patton liked the idea of marching fire.
It worked only when there was a massive superiority in attackers over defenders, the defenders had little to no artillery or any other support available and the attackers had loads of support available.

It's not a tactic which anyone else adopted.

The obvious conclusion ( to my mind ) being that the tactic falls short of optimal.
If you have a massive superiority of force, then it seems to me any tactic involves advancing is likely to work even if it's a relatively poor tactic otherwise...
Give the BAR men baseball bats instead and you'd still have massive superiority.

When more equal forces were encountered, marching fire is described as leading to disaster.

All vets I interviewed and interviews I've seen with vets who said they liked the BAR describe the stopping power and accuracy of the weapon as it's main plus points.
I've never heard the ability to shoot from the hip mentioned as a plus.
I'm extremely dubious this was a significant plus of the weapon.

BAR fans might want to consider that the US army actually came within a fraction of an inch of adopting a copy of the mg42 as their squad weapon, mid war.
But for a mistake on someone's drawing board the copy would have replaced the BAR.
As it was a significant part was made the wrong size and the copy failed sustained fire tests as a result.

It seems likely that one mg42-copy would have been adopted as the usmc squad support weapon instead of 3 BAR.
The mg42 could also be fired from the hip in the advance, in fact this was advocated in training manuals.

The bren gun could also be fired from the hip.
Given it's 30 round mag capacity it'd probably have been a better weapon for marching fire tactics.

Brian9822 Jun 2004 11:00 a.m. PST

The BAR must have been a pretty good weapon. Introduced during WWI, it was still used by Marines in Korea. My father was a BAR gunner in Korea in 1952 (1st Marines, 2nd Battalion, Fox Company). I don't think "marching fire" tactics were used much anymore. My father said most if not all of his patrols were conducted at night, either search and destroy, or some sort of ambush set-up.

Anyway, one thing I remember that he mentioned that I always thought was pretty funny. He said the BAR came with some sort of bipod mount. Basically, in order to stay alive, the first thing you did was throw the bipod away. If you were on patrol and the enemy saw a guy with a bipod weapon, he was always the first target they picked. Also, tracers work both ways.

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