*Easy Modification to Magazine Pouch*
The variety of rifle magazine pouches now available to military and civilian alike is bewildering. Blackhawk, Best-Made-Designs, Tactical Tailor…it seems like every maker of tactical web gear feels the need to re-invent the humble ammo pouch. Of course everyone thinks his product is simply the best magazine pouch there ever was; it renders its predecessors and competitors hopelessly obsolete, adapts to every conceivable web (and weapon) system developed since the French & Indian War, and will outlast your grandkids’ military careers.
This is to say nothing of the several load-bearing vests, modular vests, chest rigs, thigh rigs, etc. now coming on the market today. Some are pretty snazzy, if expensive. Some are made for a specific use--a sort of open-topped chest rig, very popular here, is made specifically for soldiers firing from vehicles, but is not ideal for dismounted activity. Some (like the one at this web site http://www.tacticalshop.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1282 ) are simply absurd.
Okay, but then why do so many of us still use the G.I. issue ammo pouches? Well, first, because they’re what we had when we were in the military, and we’re used to them. They’re also pretty cheap—I got mine for $2.00 each back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and soldiers still wore steel pot helmets. They’re pretty rugged—especially for $2.00! They’re not something we’re going to have a conscience over when they get worn or dirty. And you can get them anywhere; every single surplus store in the Western Hemisphere carries them.
But there’s just this one little thing, see. One teensy complaint I have about an otherwise perfectly serviceable and soldierly magazine pouch. Magazines fit pretty snug in the pouch, and the top goes over nice and tight. Trouble is, it’s a pain in the butt to get a magazine out of the thing. The top doesn’t want to open all the way; you get it partway open, and your body or your flak vest prevent it from opening all the way up. You have to wrestle with a magazine to pull it free of the top—see Photo No. 1.
I never did like this about them, but of course I used them anyway. Then one day, before I mobilized, I hit upon the BIG IDEA. Why not have them altered so as to open more fully? I could get my magazines out quicker and easier.
But how to do it? HOW?
Fortunately, my good friend Jane knows a thing or two about sewing. She looked at the pouches for a minute—after I explained to her what they were—and observed, “Phil, there’s a gusset here. This will be easy.” After she explained to ME what a gusset was, the solution laid itself out neatly before us.
Here’s what we did. If you look at Photo No. 2, you’ll see a seam going down the front of the top flap of a typical M16 ammunition pouch. They all have it, every last one of them. It turns out that there’s a little fold of material on the inside. It looks a little bit like a Chinese take-out container. Look closely at the picture and you’ll see the little triangle part. There’s a seam there, too, holding the gusset against the side of the flap.
If you were to cut those two seams open, you would find that, folded in on themselves are two triangular sections. Jane suggested simply sewing two triangular pieces of Velcro to each side of the top. That would hold it closed, and when you open it, the triangular pieces would separate, leaving the top essentially a flat flap.
Like I said, Jane knows a thing or two about sewing.
I had some misgivings about using Velcro on anything tactical. The only time Velcro is quiet is when it doesn’t work anymore. It isn’t very tactical when it does work (sneak, sneak, almost there…RRRRIIIPPP!). But then I remembered that my basic load-out is seven magazines—six in the pouches and one in the rifle. By the time I need a magazine from the pouch, I’ve had 30 opportunities to make a hell of a racket. There’s little point in trying to be quiet after the shooting starts.
In mobilization training (haven’t fired my rifle in anger here yet, thank God!), I found that it stayed closed even during very strenuous movement, like low-crawling, and made re-loading a snap. If you bought the Velcro patches, it would surely cost under $5.00. Since Jane had the stuff lying around, all it cost me was two-thirds of a bottle of Merlot the next time I visited her and her husband for dinner—the other third was for me!
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