The Lowdown on Ammo Bags: Top Types of Ammunition Pouches
Too much of a good thing can never be bad, especially when it’s put to good use. Take the case with ammunition. You’ll always need spare ammo no matter which weapon you carry, the number of rounds it takes, or how good your marksmanship is. As a rule, you’ll need at least double the number of rounds for your weapon in any given situation.
Though gun laws are heavily regulated in Australia, highly functional tactical and military gear is readily available for law enforcement personnel and all members of the Australian Defence Force. For ammunition carry, weapons operators will be looking at serviceable ammo pouches, wallets and bags for standard-issue handguns and rifles.
Options for Service Personnel
Military ammunition pouches vary in the number of rounds and magazines they can carry. The typical divide here is between single and double pouches. Single pouches are a good option if you prefer the compact size that fits easily on any PALS and MOLLE compatible gear, including belts, armour carriers and chest rigs. They won’t inhibit movement, nor take up too much space for any added gear you may need. Double pouches carry up to two magazines and are the recommended option when extra ammo is what you’ll need.
Another point of contention is between open or closed pouches. The distinction here is faster draw versus increased ammunition security. Open pouches provide quicker access to ammo, but if you’re after more security then a closed pouch might suit you more. Better retention or how well the ammunition pouch holds a magazine or separate rounds rivals draw speed or access to the ammunition as the two most important criteria when selecting. Other factors are insertion speed, or how quickly a magazine or rounds fit in the pouch; versatility and adjustability, or whether the pouch can accommodate magazines or rounds of different types and calibres; and build and materials adding to specific properties.
Types of Ammunition Pouches
Categories here are plenty. Ammunition pouches will differ in design, taking on different forms, the number of rounds they can carry and the type of calibre, as well as the materials used in their construction. The application also differentiates pouches between those used by the military and those by law enforcement personnel.
Pouches come in different forms, depending on how rounds and ammunition magazines are carried. For horizontally mounted pouches, with round stacked vertically, PALS compatible belt clips are the most common option. These can be from 1 to 10 separate columns, and house smaller calibre rounds in single or dual arrangements, most often 9mm.
Vest-mounted clips are similar, but are geared towards larger rounds in automatic and semi-automatic military issue rifles used by the ADF, like the .50 (12.7mm) rounds in the Barrett M82 sniper and are visibly larger. Ammo wallets are another option, and are good for carrying single magazines or up to 12 rounds at a time. Their slim profile and smaller footprint allow more choice in carrying and mounting. Lastly, when you need the most ammo, consider carrying all the extra rounds you need in an ammo shoulder bag. This is worn like a satchel and useful for larger rounds and rounds of varying calibre.
Materials in Ammunition Pouches
Pouches need to endure tough combat conditions. Materials include traditional cloth pouches, those made from thermoplastics, hybrid pouches with cloth and thermoplastic, and leather. Except for leather, all materials listed are found in both military and pouches used by law enforcement officials.
Cloth Ammo Pouches
Cloth is easy to work with, relatively cheap and sourced in tough-wearing nylon Cordura. Enclosures are often Velcro, bungee or snap flaps for quick draw speed. Retention is not the best there is, and neither insertion, and flaps often get in the way. Nevertheless, cloth pouches are some of the more accessible, easily fit MOLLE systems and can be found in most military stores. Advanced versions of cloth pouches known as fast mags have a quick draw and inserting speed due to more efficient use of straps and are adjustable for carrying other ammo and equipment, like radios or grenades with additional stitched slots.
Thermoplastic and Hybrid Pouches
These are made of flexible thermoplastics. Kydex is a rigid yet malleable thermoplastic -tough, waterproof, abrasion and chemical resistant. It also holds its form better than cloth, so has better retention and is often moulded to suit the shape and size of specific ammunition magazines. There’s no need for straps or flaps, and this also improves draw and insertion speeds. They are low profile and are often better ergonomically. Not all is good though, and there’s limited flexibility in terms of ammunition types that a Kydex pouch can carry and that they require more MOLLE space than cloth. Take into account that you won’t be able to attach other pouches on top.
Hybrid pouches are designed to offer the best balance between retention and flexibility, so use a combination of cloth and thermoplastic in all the right places, especially the inserts and tensioners. As such, they’re still a costly choice.
Prices are relatively affordable across a range of different pouches, so not often not the make-or-break factor. When choosing the right ammo pouch, or for that matter, basic military clothing like pants, needs to come first. Materials can affect ammo draw and retention, but you still need the right pouch for the ammunition that goes with your weapon (or weapons) and one that will carry the needed number of rounds.