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"Ammunition Capacity " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2018 2:29 p.m. PST

"No doubt, you've seen the words "ammunition loads" in various combat journals on my blog. You may have asked yourself: how much is an ammunition load, exactly? For tanks, that's pretty easy, it's the amount of ammunition you can carry on board, but what about things like rifles and artillery? Thankfully, the 1st Tank Army has your back, having issued a useful memo on June 24th, 1943…"
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Katzbalger20 Jan 2018 4:15 p.m. PST

100 rounds for rifle, 300 for an SMG, and in the low twenties for pistols. Makes sense, but I don't think it is what Western armies would be issuing.

Still, some good info there!


Griefbringer21 Jan 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

Makes sense, but I don't think it is what Western armies would be issuing.

The ammo load for British infantry was not much more. Going by the memory, each British rifleman in the section had around 100 rounds for his SMLE, while the section leader had 160 rounds for his Sten. However for the section Bren gun around 1000 rounds were carried, most of them readily loaded into magazines, and the riflemen were expected to contribute by each carrying two magazines until the shooting was about to start – at which point the magazines would be taken to the gun group.

Starfury Rider23 Jan 2018 12:54 p.m. PST

Oddly I've been digging around the subject of ammunition allowance a bit lately, and the Red Army aren't quite as neat and tidy as that summary suggests.

In the Rifle Regt (up to 1942), the 300 rounds for an SMG for example, is shown as split into 'on man', 'on Battalion trains' and 'on Regimental trains'. On man was 210 rounds, on Bn Tns 45 rounds and on Regtl Tns 45 rounds (per SMG in the Bns) or 90 rounds (for Regtl troops with SMGs). LMGs is quite odd with just 100 rounds on man (so two drums in effect), split roughly evenly between ball and AP. Then there were 700 rounds per LMG over the Trains, 17,600 per Bn and 22,800 with Regt to get to 800 per LMG. The Trains also had a much lower ratio of ball to AP (about 10/1).

What I've seen for rifles doesn't come near to an even 100 rounds per weapon; approx. 2600 rifles of all types with 186,000 rounds for a Mar42 Rifle Regt and 1740 rifles with 143,400 for a Jul42 Rifle Regt. There was seemingly some distinction between men in Rifle Squads and those on crew served weapons or in service support roles, but I can't figure out the numbers.

I've also seen some later war figures for British units courtesy of Canadian equivalents. For a 1943-45 Inf Bn figures were;

150 rounds per rifle, with 50 on man and 100 reserve.

600 rounds per machine carbine (Thompson or Sten). Thompson shown as 250 on man and 350 reserve.

1500 rounds per LMG (1100 ball, 300 tracer and 100 incendiary). Total 1000 rounds per gun and 500 in reserve.

18 rounds per pistol. 6 on man and 12 reserve.

The split of on man and in reserve is taken from the 1941 WE, which shows remarkably little change. The 1944 figures show 25 rounds AP per Bren, separate from the 1500 rounds.

I've had no luck findings US figures of this type, and the German stuff is a little tricky too…


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 2:37 p.m. PST



ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2018 9:36 a.m. PST

A US rifleman's cartridge belt would hold 80 rounds for his M1 Garand. Bandoliers holding 48 rounds were sometimes carried.

Lion in the Stars25 Jan 2018 1:14 p.m. PST

The pouches for a Moisin-Nagant rifle only hold 10 rounds each (and 4 pouches per man for a total of 40 rounds!)…

Windy Miller26 Jan 2018 3:30 a.m. PST

George MacDonald Fraser mentions infantry ammunition scales in Quartered Safe out Here. Fighting in Burma in the summer of 1945 the riflemen carried 50 rounds per man in a bandolier, with two Bren mags and a couple of grenades each in their pouches.

A modern infantryman's load is considerably more due to the fact that everyone now carries an automatic weapon. In Afghanistan I carried six full mags (180 rounds) plus a bandolier of 150. LMG and GPMG gunners generally carried about 800 link – a belt of 50 on the gun and the rest split between pouches and daysack.

Walking Sailor26 Jan 2018 7:15 a.m. PST

Expanding on ScottWashburn:
The American cartridge belt had 8 pouches; each held 2 of 5 round stripper clips (total 100 rounds) for riflemen armed with the M-1903 Springfield or M-1917 Enfield bolt action rifles, or 8 of 8 round block clips (total 64 rounds) for the M-1 Garand. The reduced ammo load for the faster firing Garand's higher ammo consumption was made up for by 6 pocket bandoleers issued with preloaded 8 round clips (total 48 rounds, 112,150… rounds all up). Each rifleman was also expected to carry 2 of 20 round magazines for the BAR.
German & Russian infantry both wore a belt with 6 pouches, three on either side of the buckle, each pouch held 2 of 5 round stripper clips (total 60 rounds). Again German infantry carried 1 belt or drum for the LMG.
British Pattern 37 is more flexible (read: harder to follow). The standard kit was 2 large chest pouches. In the infantry one was normally reserved for 2 of 30 round magazines for the Bren. Rifle ammunition was issued in bandoleers of 5 pockets each holding 2 of 5 round stripper clips (total 50 rounds). For some reason these were not slung but were stuffed into the other chest pouch. Otherwise a chest pouch could hold 4 of any type of hand grenade, or 2 of 2" mortar bombs, or even the water bottle. Prior to the assault British soldiers could further don a set of 2 utility pouches. Attached by a yoke they would be worn around the neck the pouches in front stabilized by a long strap tied around the waist. The pouches were somewhat larger, 3 Bren magazines, 3 of 2" mortar bombs, etc.
More ammo would be close by but, this is what would be immediately available to the individual rifleman and after being expended one should expect a lull in the action.
This information is only for one rifleman, not even a rifle squad. As such it is not even one "Unit of Fire"

Starfury Rider: for Unit of Fire start here: link
for British Infantry here: link
and here: link

Windy Miller26 Jan 2018 10:13 a.m. PST

Interesting find, thank you! Looking at the ammunition breakdown for a British rifle platoon it looks like each rifleman carried a rifle and 50 rounds (in bandolier), then in his pouches he would have two Bren mags each of 28 rounds, two grenades, and another bandolier of 50 rounds for the Bren.

Bren ammunition:
25 mags of 28 = 700 rounds
Plus another 50 per rifleman = 300
Total = 1000 rounds

Rifle ammunition:
50 rounds per man including the section 2ic and Bren No 2
= 400 rounds in total.

Starfury Rider26 Jan 2018 10:42 a.m. PST

Thanks for the links; I have the 1944 Infantry Training manual so know the suggested standard Platoon loading but I'd not seen the 1948 info, interesting to see they'd gone back to the eight strong Section in the post-war.

The US look to have had what was termed either a prescribed load or a basic load, which was set at theatre level, and is what I'd think of as the start level for ammunition. Unit of Fire was the expected usage per weapon per day by type, and used for calculating expenditure and resupply. The only example for a prescribed load I've found to date is for Service of Supply troops, so not too helpful for Inf Regts.

The Germans and the Red Army had a set level of ammunition to be held by units and supply trains for weapons by type, which looks to have undergone quite some revision during the war. A reply to a query re Red Army rifle loads gave a link to a few pages to a contemporary manual/directive for ammunition to be carried for various weapon types. It seems to bear two dates (December 1943 and December 1944) and for rifles shows 100 rounds per man in a combat role or 40 rounds as a reduced load. The 100 rounds looks to be split into 60 carried, 5 unit emergency reserve, 15 with Bn Train and 10 with Regtl Train for ball, plus 5 AP on man and 5 emergency reserve. There then might be another 45 ball and 5 AP on Div Trains, but I'm not sure.


Before this there were four different 'ammunition sets' for rifles, one of which was for semi-automatics and the others for bolt action rifles.


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