- I read the ammo pouch for the SAW (M249) gunner changed at some point - there seem to be differences between the 80s model and the one from 90s and onward. Any idea about this item? Same seems to go for the bandolier for the SAW. Was it open-topped in the 80s or had it some kind of lid/flap on top?
The pouch did change slightly over the years. In recent years the little pull tab on the flap was omitted and hard plastic was inserted into the body of the pouch to give it more form. The original (pictures of which Leigh posted), had the tab and no plastic reinforcement.
- Is it correct that the SAW gunner didn't had any sidearm back in the 80s? I've always thought machine-gunner would carry some kind of pistol (it was usually the case in the German army)
I was never issued a side arm as a SAW gunner. We were technically, automatic riflemen, which had a different role than a machine gunner.
- I have a leg-extender for the M12 bianchi holster, which allows the holster to be carried on the leg, with an additonal 2-mag pouch above the holster. Was this item ever issued? Was it rather for officers or special forces people? I remember seeing it on George Clooney when he played the soldier in "Three Kings", but never saw it used on genuine soldiers.
When I was finally issued the Bianchi holster it did not come with the extender. Single magazine ammunition pouches were standard issue…but again, this was in the 90’s…
Seems this earlier type of LC-2 pouch is indeed quite rare. Maybe I'll be able to obtain some one day. As far as I was able to find out, distribution of the pouches was rather poor and many units received not enough to equip each soldier fully, so some seem to carry only one of these pouches (there are some known pics of 7th ID in Panama).
In my old unit we were typically issued one of the SAW pouches and two 30 round mag ALICE pouches. Some guys would pick a second one up at the local military surplus stores. I still have the one I was originally issued in 1992 and I deployed to Iraq in 2003 with it on my LBE.
I also remember being told as a "last" method to use the M16 magazines. We used them in training and a few times at the live range, but I can't recall if we had issues with them or not.
We were told the same thing. By the time I was issued mine in 1992, the weapon was worn out. Eight years of service and multiple deployments including Desert Storm had taken a toll on them. Broken bipods, zip ties holding the heat guard on, worn sears (= runaway gun), etc. The running joke was, “What does a SAW sound like on the range? Butter, butter, jam.” I fired one once using an M16 mag and it jammed right up. Never did it again.
Do you ever recall having issues with the Bipod legs that folded under the hand guard? The first generation SAWs that we had in the 80's, we had a terrible time with the Bipod legs always dropping out of the locked position under the hand guards. During movement, the slightest snag would drop the legs and sometimes the feet would also extend. I remember several of the bipod legs being bent and damaged because of this flaw.
This happened quite often, at least the bipod legs self-deploying…not so much the feet though.
Another thing I noticed on your gear, Leigh and seen on some pics is the way to carry the flashlight. I've tried to insert it into the side of the M16 pouch, but getting it out sometimes is pretty tough, as the opening is the same size as the diameter of the flashlight. Was this a usual way to carry the flashlight? I thought it usually was attached to the suspender (on the weak side as not to harm using the weapon) - but the first-aid/compass pouches were worn on that location, so maybe this was the reason for putting the flashlight into the M16 pouch?
We wore ours secured to the suspender strap opposite from the shooting hand, using rubber bands or spare boot blousing bands. I, and most of the Marines I served with, wore our first-aid/compass pouch on the pistol belt between the ammo pouch and the belt clip. Actually, many of us wore two, one on each side of the pistol belt buckle. One carried the compass (dummy corded to the pistol belt) and the other carried a spare bandage and cravat.
Speaking of the compass pouch: Who did carry the compass usually? Everyone or just squad/troop-leaders? I thought I read somewhere that compass were given out just like weapons and bayonets.
In the Marines, fire-team leaders/squad leaders and up. They were considered serialized issue items due to the tritium in them. Like Rock said, many of us went out and bought our own and used them to sharpen our land nav skills and those of our junior Marines.
In the field I rolled the bloused trouser down *over* the top of the boot so that the bloused trouser rested over the boot and kept bugs out of your trousers and boots and kept your ankles from getting bitten. It was less attractive looking but functioned well.
I did this my entire career. When I was a junior Marine, I used to catch shinola from the company gunny’s and first sergeants for doing it but I liked the ‘low rider’ look to it and it, as Rock stated, was comfortable and functional in the field.
So how would I go about putting the ruck sack together ,what dose the weapon case look like, how do I assemble it all together, what uniform, and did you guys use bandoleers?
First off, go back to page 1 and start from there. That’ll give you the basics on putting together the ruck and packing it out. Rock is a former paratrooper and should be able to help with the specifics for rigging your gear for a jump. As for the weapons case, google, “M1950 Weapons Case.”
Sorry for my delinquency in chiming in gents. Looks like Leigh and Rock covered a lot of the questions so I answered what I could.