Bandoleer stuff

Unsurprisingly, I had a bunch of loose .223 ammo sitting aound that really needed to be organized better. A cardboard box full of 1000 loose rounds of ammo is no way to show up for the apocalypse.

When I go to the range, and I’m shooting .223 (or 5.56 [and, yeah, I know they’re different]) I usually pack them in a plastic 50-round ammo box. Other than keeping things neat and tidy, it also keeps me from turning too much money into noise.

But…for packing ammo away for that rainy day, I rather prefer to store .223 in bandoleers.


Classic four-pocket bandoleer set

If you’re not familiar with them, a proper bandoleer contains a cloth bandoleer, ammo on stripper clips, cardboard inserts for the bandoleer pockets, a stripper clip guide (‘spoon’), and a safety pin to hold the spoon to the bandoleer. This is pretty much how they’ve been packing the stuff since Vietnam.


New-style four-pocket set

The idea is not, as some geniuses would have you think, to carry this stuff around and then load magazines from stripper clips in the heat of battle. The idea is that it’s a convenient way to stage and transport a basic loadout of ammo. Original bandoleers were seven pockets holding 20 rounds each, for a total of 140 rounds. Of course, that was back when 20-round magazines were the norm. Nowadays there are bandoleers out there that are four pockets holding 30 rounds each. I’m a bit of a worst-case-scenario kinda guy, so I go with the seven-pocket bandoleer but put three clips in each pocket.

The bandoleers, spoons, and stripper clips are quite reusuable and its the rare survivalist that doesnt have some of them floating around in the garage or in his junk bin. But those damn cardboard inserts….they tend to get lost, destroyed, and they’re kind of a pain in the ass to source out. Now, I’ve got a shopping bag full of stripper clips, a cardboard box full of bandollers, and no 3-clip cardboard inserts. What to do, what to do…….

Naturally enough, a quick trip to Amazon showed that, yes, you could get the 3-clip cardboards there. Gotta love that instant gratification enabling that is Amazon. Ordered ’em up and a few days later -voila-:

20150607_201414So what do you do with them once they’re loaded up? Well, I dunno what you do with ’em, but I pack ’em away in some .30 cal. ammo cans until the day when I need them. Then I can grab a rifle, a couple mag pouches of magazines, throw one or two of these bandoleers over my shoulder, and head for the hills.

Is this superior to storing your ammo loose in an ammo can? I think so. For one thing, it makes an easy and quantifiable amount…one bandoleer is 210 rounds. (As opposed to a couple fistfuls of .223 which may or may not be enough to fill all your mags.) The stripper clips keep things nice and tidy, and load mags a heck of a lot faster than by onesies.

For range trips, I still use the plastic ammo boxes..but they don’t fit into BDU pockets very well, are noisy, and still require you to load your mags one cartridge at a time…all things that arent really a big deal at the range. I suppose some might question the utility and practicality of the bandoleers but I find them to be a convenient way of grabbing a ‘pre-measured’ amount of ammo, and also a convenient way to carry it.

10 thoughts on “Bandoleer stuff

  1. Bandoliers look cool and work pretty well. I put mine in the $6 Flambeau plastic cans that I get on sale from Atwoods farm supply. The metal ammo can supply has just about dried up in my neck of the woods unless you want to pay $15-20 each for new production. I’ve got about 20 of the old ones that I bought over the years for a couple of bucks each and I’m not about to mortgage the house to buy new ones. The plastic cans work fine. I do wish that somebody would find or even produce those old navy 20mm cans with the removable lids. I’d pay big money for a couple of those. I’ve got a bunch of 6 pocket nylon bandoliers that I bought from J&G sales a few years back and they work very well for my 8 round Garand clips. I plan to use the AR for social work and the Garand for long range fun if the stuff ever hits the fan.

  2. Neat ideas. thank you for the post. I think I’ll pick up a couple of bandoleers to have them hanging around.

    Would buying new 223/556 in ‘battle bags’ help with the organization? I’m not sure if there’s a premium priced into the ‘battle bag’ name though…

    • I actually prefer the battle packs of ammo. They’re man-portable, impervious to the elements, and usually a little lighter than the same amount of ammo packed in an ammo can.

    • Really the only downside to battle packs (other than size/weight) is they are the ammunition equivalent of a piƱata: once opened, you can’t really seal it back up.

      If you need the full contents in one go (like to fill bandoliers) then you’re good to go. If you only need one mag worth to do a function check or check your zero, well, you compromised the integrity of a lot of ammo just to get a few rounds.

      • True, but I think most people agree that opening a battle pack to do a function test on a magazine is like using your fire extinguisher to put out a cigarette. My thinking is that the time you open a battle pack is when you’re anticipating needing a lot of loaded magazines pretty soon…like in Katrina-ville or a similar scenario.

  3. I put one spoon into the end pocket of each seven pocket bandoleer (which I also load to 210 rounds). That way I could throw one to somebody and they’re setup and ready to go.

    I’d be careful about storing ammo in plastic cans unless they’re really really good. I read about a guy who lost many thousands of rounds of ammo when his creek did it’s once in a hundred year flood and flooded his ammo storage area. He lost every cartridge that he had in the Cabela’s plastic “ammo cans” but every round in a G.I. can was dry and good to go. If something might be really important to you, don’t scrimp on it’s safe storage. You can find reasonable prices on authentic ammo cans at some gun shows and on eBay (especially if you buy 12 at a tmie).


    • I’m curious as to why he “lost” the ammo. Military rounds – or even commercial ammunition – should be sealed well enough to survive some immersion. If the rounds were underwater for days they might be questionable but I’d never discard ammunition just because it got wet without trying it first. I store mine in plastic cans in my second floor office and if that’s underwater its time to gather the animals two by two.

  4. I still use the two clip per box method mainly because I’m using the cardboard box the 20 rds came in as the cardboard insert. Two stripper clips 180 from each other nestle nicely in the PMC or Winchester (or what have you) 20 rd box they came in. (assuming the box didn’t have some sort of large plastic insert the rounds were sitting in)

  5. For general storage I use MILSURP ammo cans, usually .50 cal ones. However bandoleers have their uses, like say if I was rolling out with a combat load of ammo and a ruck to go fight the Chinese/ Zombies/ NWO. In this case I would have 8-12 loaded mags on my person. I would also have a few, say 3-4, more mags in my ruck and a couple bandoleers to top that all off. Reminds me, I need to get a couple or maybe 4 bandoleers just in case.

  6. In your bottom picture of post you can see a white string stitched across the bottom of the bandoleer. It can be pulled out much like the string on a dog food bag making the bandoleer capable of carrying a loaded magazine in that same pocket. Most people are not aware of that design feature. Just FYI

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