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Thread: Vietnam Canteen pouches as ammo pouches

  1. #1

    Default Vietnam Canteen pouches as ammo pouches

    Hi all,

    I was wondering if anyone knew how many 20 rd mags a Vietnam-era US m1956 canteen carrier can hold?

    I've variously read numbers ranging from 5-7.......I'm thinking 5 isn't right, b/c the M1956 Universal pouch could hold 5 if you trim the edge and lay one across the top above the other 4, and it's always written that special forces (rangers, LRRPs, etc.) used canteen pouches due to their GREATER capacity.

    Also, I've seen the occasional pic of LRRPs/Rangers using the second version of the 2 qt carrier as an ammo pouch (at least there's no spout sticking out of the corner), and was curious about how many 20 rd mags that could hold as well.

    If anyone could point me to a reference, online or book, that specifies this, I'd appreciate it (lcompanyrangers website says 5 in the 1 qt canteen pouch, I found another site that had a quote froma book that said 7, and in the Time-Life "Vietnam Experience" series, in the book titled Contagion of War, it said 6). Thanks for reading!

  2. #2
    Moderator James's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003


    I can't answer your question about canteen pouches, but I'm guessing that 6 or 7 is correct. BAR belts from WWII were also popular. I think guys could carry a dozen magazines in those.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    You can fit at Least 18 20 round Mags in a BAR belt. In 1984 Our Autorifleman still had OD BAR belts for that reason.

    The Canteens as Ammo Pouches, IIRC were mostly for Frags/WP/smoke & 30 rd Mags, as no 30 rd Pouches made it into theater during the war.

    Tommorow, i'll dig one out of my stash and fill it with 20 rounders and let you know how many I can get in it.

  4. #4
    Member Waterman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    The Seven Seas


    I remember hearing about guys using the canteen pouches to carry belted ammo (both 5.56 as well as 7.62) while in Vietnam.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    The Garlic Fields of Transylvania, Romania.


    Strangely enough, I heard a rumor they even used to carry. . . . . . .

    Water bottles in them as well!!!!!

  6. #6
    Member bikewrench's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Te Wahipounamu


    In 1983 we had ONLY 30 round mags in the Marine Corps. I did find a couple eventually that we used for live ammo so that we could tell the difference easily. I have some recollection that there were more for rifle range use but they were not common.
    I think that the disparity in # of mags may be if you used socks to cushion them or not. A good idea.

  7. #7


    The BAR belt would hold 24 20rd M16 mags. That's a number I've seen in several different books.

    I have Greco's and Plaster's picture books on SOG in Vietnam...plenty of canteen pouches obviously filled with 20 rd mags (the ones with grenades tend to get misshapen based on what's inside, whereas those filled with mags tend to get a squarish appearance), but no info on how many they held.

    Still waiting in anticipation of answer. Thanks so far guys...

  8. #8


    you can fit 7 (seven) 20rnd mags into an M56 canteen cover , 5 in a row , then 1 in front of them and finaly 1 on top of them for a total of 7 .

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