Different armies worldwide have adopted a wide range of load-outs for their soldiers throughout history. A soldier’s loadout is a massive part of his effectiveness in battle, and there are many different roles that soldiers can perform in the field.
In modern times, it is standard for infantry in the U.S. Armed Forces to carry 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO. Ideally, a soldier will want to go into battle with as much ammo as possible, but there are accepted standards for the basic loadouts used in different branches of the military.
Keep reading to see details on how much ammunition a typical soldier carries and some related info on the loadouts used by different branches and teams in the U.S. Armed Forces.
How Many Rounds of 5.56 Does a Soldier Carry?
According to Special Ops, the number of rounds carried by a soldier will vary depending on the mission and some other factors. However, there’s a basic standard for how much ammo an infantry soldier typically carries.
The basic combat load for the primary weapon (M4 Carbine) is 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO rounds, spread out between seven magazines (six carried and one loaded in the weapon).
However, there are many front-line infantry soldiers who operate different weapons or vehicles and may not carry any ammunition at all. Conversely, some weapons, like machine guns, don’t use magazines to load their ammo. Accordingly, machine gunners won’t carry magazines on their person.
Soldiers that expect to engage in longer firefights may choose to carry more ammo. For example, during the Vietnam war, it wasn’t uncommon for soldiers to carry two bandoliers with seven magazines each. Some soldiers may also choose to ditch unnecessary specialized gear in favor of more ammunition, depending on the situation at hand.
Of course, these load-outs will be different for different armies in other countries. However, the standard of 210 rounds in seven magazines is relatively ubiquitous in western armies. Canadian soldiers, for example, also carry 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) in their basic combat load.
How Much Ammo Did Soldiers Carry in WW2?
World War Two was a brutal war that saw significant changes in the way battles were fought and won. According to battle order, the standard-issue rifle for U.S. infantry during World War Two was the M1 Garand. The M1 Garand is chambered in .30-06, a caliber introduced to the army in 1906.
Soldiers in WW2 carried 88 rounds spread between ten clips, with eight loaded into the weapon. M1 Garand en-bloc clips are designed to help feed rounds into the magazine but aren’t spring-loaded like the detachable magazines used in more modern weapons.
These en-bloc clips were carried in an M1923 cartridge belt. These belts could carry up to 80 rounds of M1 Garand ammunition or 100 rounds of M1903 ammunition. The M1903 was the bolt-action rifle used by infantry prior to the introduction of the M1 Garand. Some soldiers continued to be issued M1903 rifles depending on their roles in combat.
Soldiers could also carry additional ammunition in cloth bandoliers that could fit up to 6 M1 clips (48 rounds) or 12 M1903 clips (60 rounds). The total weight of all this ammunition would be somewhere in the range of 13.6 pounds with 176 rounds (a full cartridge belt and two full bandoliers).
Returning to the modern era, we come to the famous Navy SEALs. According to WW2, the Navy’s primary special forces typically use the M41A carbine rifle, or the HK416, which are both chambered for 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO rounds.
The basic combat load for Navy SEALs is 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO. It’s spread out between seven 30-round magazines (six carried and one loaded into the weapon).
These load-outs will vary depending on the mission, however, and most Navy SEALs like to carry around extra ammunition in case they end up in extended firefights. The basic combat load is the same as for the U.S. army infantry loadout, but their weapon selection is generally different.
The ammunition used by the Navy SEALS has changed over time, and their loadout includes a number of different weapons chambered for different types of cartridges.
The Navy SEALs generally use M855 rounds, which are 62-grain 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO rounds with anti-personnel tips. These rounds were developed to be less lethal against combat targets as per geneva convention rules.
The U.S. Armed Forces also plan to replace most M855 rounds with M855A1 rounds. These rounds are compatible with M4 Carbines, as well as the HK416, and have a brass jacketed steel core rather than the lead core used in standard M855 rounds. These changes give them greater range and penetration.
According to Infinitythetactics.com, Navy SEALs don’t generally get to choose their load-outs. However, there are some exceptions. Strategic planning for military operations benefits from uniformity, but practical context can sometimes allow deviation from the norm.
Navy SEALs cannot choose their own weapons. They get standard load-outs depending on the mission requirements. However, some missions recommend different weapons, which can sometimes be selected by preference for specific soldiers.
The Navy SEALs have been using the Sig Sauer P226 ever since the Armed Forces switched to the Beretta 92FS in the 1980s. The Navy encountered some problems in testing with the 92FS and so decided to go with the Sig Sauer P226 instead.
Allegedly, during testing of the Beretta 92FS, a slide mechanism on the pistol failed and went flying into a Navy SEAL’s face, resulting in minor injury. This flaw was eventually fixed by Beretta by the time the weapon was issued to other branches of the military, but the SEALs decided to go with the P226 anyway.
The P226 is a versatile 9mm pistol used by many different armies and law enforcement agencies throughout the world. However, according to National Interest, The Navy SEALs have recently begun to switch over to the Glock 19, a more affordable 9mm pistol with a striker trigger.
This change reportedly happened sometime around 2015, although reports are non-official, and many sources still list the P226 as the standard-issue sidearm for the Navy SEALs.
What Pistol Do Green Berets Use?
The Green Berets are the U.S. Army Special Forces unit. Unlike the Navy SEALs, the Green Berets didn’t adopt the Sig Sauer P226 during the 1980s. That’s likely because Beretta fixed the problems with the 92FS before it was issued to the U.S. Army.
Green Berets use the Beretta 92FS pistol, a 9mm variant of the Beretta 92, which is used in a wide range of different armies and law enforcement agencies throughout the west.
Compared to other Beretta 92s, the F.S. has a larger hammer pin that fits underneath the slide. The purpose of this design is to stop the slide from detaching if it gets cracked. This change was a direct response to the failure of the slide encountered during military testing, as mentioned above.
What Pistol Do Army Rangers Use?
The 75th Ranger Regiment of the U.S. army is a highly mobile and versatile force designed to conduct complex special operations missions. These units are always combat-ready and conduct a wide range of operations, including airborne and air assault operations.
The Army Rangers use the Beretta M9 as their standard-issue sidearm. The 9mm (0.35in) M9 replaced the Colt 1911 (M1911) used by the U.S. Armed Forces up until 1985.
The M9 has short recoil with both single and double-action alternatives. The magazine holds 15 rounds of 9mm (0.35in) ammo, providing a good balance between portability and stopping power.
According to Operation Military Kids, the Glock 19 is sometimes used as an alternative to the Beretta M9. The Glock 19 has similar specs to the M9, including the 15-round magazine. However, the Glock 19 is chambered for .40 Smith & Wesson rather than 9mm.
Do Soldiers Always Carry Grenades?
According to this handbook on US infantry load-outs, there are many different types of grenades that may be issued to soldiers in the U.S. Armed Forces, depending on the mission at hand.
Generally, soldiers don’t carry grenades unless they expect to need them. Grenades are heavy and potentially dangerous, so it’s usually preferred to stock up on ammunition or other equipment rather than carry a stock of fragmentation grenades.
That being said, there are various situations in which different types of grenades can be useful, such as smoke grenades or flashbangs for raids and other operations. In addition, some weapons are fitted with grenade launchers as a secondary weapon, which can be useful if the soldier is expected to meet with a large enemy force at a relatively short distance.
How Many Grenades Does a Soldier Carry?
Soldiers that carry grenades typically carry one or two because they’re relatively heavy and dangerous to use in many situations. However, most front-line infantry don’t carry grenades at all.
That said, many different types of specialized grenades can be useful in some contexts.
For grenadiers, it’s a bit of a different story. In the past, these soldiers were explicitly tasked with carrying and employing grenades and so typically carried a range of different grenades in a vest that could carry up to 24. They included flechette grenades, incendiary grenades, and flares.
Modern grenadiers, however, generally only carry between two and six grenades. Their loadout typically isn’t all that different from front-line infantry, and the ‘grenadier’ designation is more of a title than an indication of their loadout or tactical application.
What Exactly Do Soldiers Always Carry With Them?
Being a soldier in combat is a stressful situation. A soldier needs many things at any given moment and can carry only a limited amount of gear. There are a large number of different roles that soldiers can fill, and they generally have different load-outs depending on how they expect to engage the enemy in combat.
U.S. soldiers always carry survival equipment designed to last them up to 72 hours in the wilderness in addition to clothing, weapons, ammunition, and tactical equipment such as radios.
These items give the soldier some support in case they get separated from their unit and need to be extracted or fight their way from behind enemy lines. The main survival equipment includes sunscreen, first aid equipment, various medications and rations, a fire kit, extra socks, sunglasses, and a flashlight.
How Much Weight Does a Soldier Typically Carry?
According to CNAS, soldiers from different branches and units throughout the U.S. Armed Forces generally carry different load-outs depending on the situation they expect to engage in. The weights of the equipment can vary widely between specific roles that a soldier can fulfill.
A soldier typically carries between 90 and 140 pounds (40.82 and 63.50 kg) of equipment. This range is reported by surveys of troops deployed in recent wars. It represents the combined weight of all the defensive equipment, weapons, ammunition, and other specialized equipment carried by troops.
There is a large amount of uniformity between different branches and units of the U.S. Armed Forces. Most infantry soldiers carry 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm (0.21×1.77in) NATO, spread between seven magazines. Some branches can choose their load-outs while others can’t.
The reason for this uniformity is that it makes military planning and tactical consideration much simpler. If every unit used different ammunition and weapons, it would make planning a tactical operation prohibitively difficult, which can give the enemy a significant advantage in combat. However, combat can sometimes dictate a need for different load-outs and tactics.
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Thanks for reading!
For more, check out How to Safely Store a Gun for Home Defense | Best Practices.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!