This section gives you an idea of what a typical Rifleman would look like and what he might be wearing.  The basic ‘Look’ of a Rifleman is what you should aim to achieve when you start collecting.  The rifleman pictured below has a OD green t-shirt under his poplin jungle jacket which is loosely worn.  His webbing consists of M1956 suspenders and a vertical weave Davis belt.  M26 grenades hang either side of two M1956 ammo pouches and a M1956 canteen with cover sits on his hip.  Secured next to his left ammo pouch is a compass pouch with first aid dressing.  On the back of his suspenders he has a rolled up poncho, probably secured by paracord to the back pad. In addition to the ammo pouches, he carries two fully loaded seven pocket cotton M16 bandoleers with 20 round magazines inserted.

The next rifleman pictured below wears a 3rd pattern jungle jacket with sleeves rolled down and jungle trousers.  You can just make out his M1956 suspenders, ammo pouch, and vertical weave pistol belt.  His compass pouch is situated on his left shoulder on the upper web keeper of the padded part of the suspenders.  He has slung a seven pocket M16 bandoleer over his right shoulder and it hangs diagonally around his body under his left arm.  The strap on the same shoulder apears to be a claymore mine bag, probably carrying additional ammunition.  Notice neither of these two troopers have flak vest on.  Not everybody wore them! 

This third rifleman (Below) wears poplin jungle trousers and jacket with his sleeves partly rolled up.  He wears M1956 webbing consisting of suspenders, belt, ammo pouches and compass pouch.  Notice the M1956 ammo pouches are the shorter version designed to make the withdraw of magazines easier.  Under his suspenders he has a field towel used as padding for carrying heavy loads.  On his left hip you can just make out a M8A1 bayonet scabbard and a pair of yellow roping gloves.

In the final picture there is a team of five grunts consisting of three riflemen, a grenadier and a M60 gunner.  This picture demonstrates the general look of a rifleman.  All their fatigues are muddy and wet.  Their trousers (except for the troop on the far right) are tied down in bloused fashion and the pockets on their trousers are stuffed full and bellowed.  Jungle jackets are worn loosly and sleeves are rolled down.  The far right grunt has his rolled up, but appears to be wearing a sleeping shirt underneath.  Some of the grunts are wearing neckerchiefs around their necks, others have the field towel to soak up sweat.  All are wearing the basic M1956 webbing or some variation.  The grunt first left, has aquired a USMC flak jacket.  Notice also our far right trooper is carrying a shotgun and a revolver in a loose fitting shoulder holster.  Nobody is packing ammo belts for the m-60!

9 responses to “Rifleman

  1. Richard K. O'Mara


    I’m in need of a sling for an M16 Vietnam era. I’m doing a sculpture and it has to be realistic. Appreciate the help.

  2. Gentlemen:

    I’m in need of a Vietnam era M16 sling for a project. Please help me if you can.

  3. m151dave


    this is a good image of the sling. If you want to buy one to have as a reference, ebay has a lot of them under military collectables in the Vietnam catagory.

  4. adam


    Whats the word on gloves, some other websites (not half as good as yours!) specify light duty black leather, but I seem to increasing see the ww2 type airborne yellow roping gloves shown in one of the pictures above. However another quality website (vietnamgear.com) talks about a varity of gloves not including these….

    so whats your expert opinion?


    • m151dave

      Honestly? There was a wide variety of gloves in use. Some light weight and others heavy. Heavy leather gloves, like the yellow leather rappelling gloves were very popular for handling barbed wire and concertina wire. Black winter shells, without the inner wool gloves were used all the time. The engineers had cotton work gloves and those heavy fabric gloves with the stiff cuffs, plus several weights of leather for jobs ranging from pole climbing to working with explosives. To line troops the most common available were the black shells, used without the inserts.

  5. Clay Stevenes

    What are youre thoughts on Automatic Rifleman, like those using the m14e2, or M16a1 LSW? Would their gear be substantially different than a Rifleman’s? Perhaps more ammo pouches? And what word is there on the Vietnam Tomahawk? Too outlandish?

    • m151dave

      With standard troops, they would have just the two pouches on their belt, there is not enough room for a lot of extra gear on the web belt. They would have bandoleers of ammo and the limit would only be set by what they were willing to endure in weight. Short missions was only a fanny pack, not a lot of room in that. Longer missions would be lightweight ruck, more ammo with that for sure. Also the M16A1LSW was a rather exotic weapon, not standard issue to the everyday grunt, same goes for the tomahawk. It depends on what impression you are going for. The other thing to remember is that spec ops types did not follow the norm for field gear. They mixed and matched US and enemy gear, whatever it took to get the mission done.

  6. Animal Mother

    How common/was it even a thing for grunts to take sks chest rigs from fallen NVA or VC and use them to hold extra ammunition?

    • m151dave

      It wasn’t done. There might have been use in the special force units, Seals, Force Recon etc.. But regular troops did not.

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