M1956 Web Gear

M1956 Pistol Belt

A pistol belt is what all other web gear hooks to. You attach your suspenders, ammo pouches, first aid or compass pouch, canteen and fanny pack (to name just a few items) to it. There are two types available Pistol (pictured above) and Davis.  Davis belts had a flat metal tab the locked into a slot on the other end of the belt.  They were reputed to come undone when you laid on you stomach.

M1956 Universal Ammo Pouch

The standard ammo pouch for the M16 magazine. There are carriers either side for attachment of grenades.  The M1956 ammo pouch was introduced in 1957. It was originally designed to carry magazines for the M14 rifle and not M16.  It does carry both types of magazines.  Troops were known to put a bandage from their first aid pouch in the bottom of this pouch so that the M16 magazines would fit to the top of the pouch.  There are several variations of this pouch.  The earliest pouch is made of canvas and has a metal front plate to protect the ammunition from fragments and a grommet through the securing tab. This was replaced in 1962 with a pouch of the same size but without the metal plate and tab grommet. This gives a a crumpled appearance when empty (Pictured above).  A smaller size of pouch still made of canvas appeared in late 1967 to early 1968. These were designed for easier access to the shorter M16 20 round magazine. Both types fit the same number of magazines but in the smaller pouch magazines are easier to reach. There is another of the smaller size pouches but made of nylon. This is part of the M1967 webbing. The forth type is the early ALICE pouches specifically designed for 20 and 30 round M16 magazines, but these are not Vietnam War period.

1st Pattern M1956 Buttpack

Also called the Fanny pack.  This pattern has wings of canvas that fold inwards. It has a plastic window pocket to put your name. It has two carry straps on the bottom and ALICE clips on the rear to attach to the pistol belt. The suspenders attach to the top of the bag on the back through riveted holes on stitched tabs.  A nice pack and easy to acquire.

Differences between the M1956 & M1961 butt pack as follows :
1. length – M1956 is 4-1/2′ while M1961 is 5-1/2″
2. height – M1956 is 7-3/4″ while M1961 is 8-1/2″
3. width – M1956 is 8″ while M1961 is 9″
4. Flap – M1956 has a simple narrow flap while M1961 has an improved flap that both sides fold down a little bit.
5. M1956 has 2 side extensions that folded over the content while M1961 has waterproof throat around the opening.

2nd Pattern M1961 Buttpack

An improved version of the earlier one in a moderately larger size. The interior contains a plastic lining.  The rest of the features are identical to the M1956.  M1956 buttpacks are the more scarce of the two.

M1956 Buttpack Adaptor

This isn’t necessary for your gear, but it is a useful item.  What it does is convert your butt pack into a backpack by strapping it higher up on your shoulders, by attaching to your M1956 suspender.  There is no reason why you could not have two butt packs on your webbing, one on the pistol belt and one on an adapter. All in all, a nice little accessory.

M1956 Suspenders

The suspenders attach to the front of your pistol belt and to your butt pack or the back of pistol belt. They are there to keep your belt up, and distribute the weight more evenly.  They come in three sizes: regular and long and X-long. Regular fits most, but if you’re a tall person, over 6 feet, then get the long size though, they can be harder to find.

M1956 Compass Pouch

A small pouch designed to carry either a lensatic compass or a Field Dressing, the field dressing being the most common content.
It can fit on a number of places on the web gear. You need only one of these for your basic kit but you can have as many as you like. Very handy for all sorts of personal items.  Take care not to overdo it.

M1956 1 Quart Canteen

One quart canteen, made of olive drab polyethylene plastic.  This replaced the M1910 aluminium/stainless steel canteen.  Buy only Vietnam dated ones, there are a lot of them around.  You need at least two of these as a minimum for your collection.  You will find the dates of molded into the underside.

A felt lined cotton duck water canteen cover.  Earlier dated examples (Pre 1967) have a canvas trim around the edge flaps, later ones are nylon.  There is also a later fully nylon type (M1967) with a little pouch for purifying tablets. The felt lining helps keep the water cool.

M1956 E-Tool Cover

Cover utilizes ALICE slide clips to fit wherever you want to put it.  It has an attachment to fix your bayonet with M8A1 Scabbard.

M1956 Sleeping Carrier

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A complicated set of straps, also called “spaghetti straps”. Use it to strap your sleeping bag or poncho with liner rolled inside, on to your M1956 suspenders.

24 responses to “M1956 Web Gear


    I am a vehicle collector and Vietnam War uniform and gear collector… I own 2 M151A2 Mutts and display them with the other members of our military vehicle organization. I display vietnam era equipment and weapons with my vehicles…I need to know a good vendor where i can purchase a complete set of M1956 Web Gear…can you help?? I am a retired paratrooper so the gear I display is normally LRRP oriented…any help would be appreciated.

  2. At http://www.mooremilitaria.com here in Texas you can acquire full sets of web gear.

  3. JR

    “The earliest pouch is made of canvas and has a metal front plate to protect the ammunition”

    Mine has yellow plastic insert.

    I’ve seen buttpack adapters sold as “sleeping bag carriers” because people didn’t know what they had.

    Nice site.

  4. some sleeping bags are waterproof and weatherproof too, they are nice for camping outside the house ;”,

  5. Clayton

    Hey, how do I know which size M56 pistol belt and suspenders to get?

    • m151dave

      They come in small, medium, large and large long. The size is stamped inside on the shoulder pad. That is about all there is to it.

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  7. Jim

    Curios to know where I can find a floatable bed roll sheet that ties on I
    Underneath the but pack ?
    Thank you ! Jim

    • m151dave

      Are you talking about the inflatable air matress?

      • Jim

        U was thinking it was a air matress or poncho ? Both of which are hard to find in canada. I’ve got almost everything missing one canteen. Jim

      • m151dave

        You would seldom see an air mattress out in the field on a patrol, it was just too much trouble. Ponchos on the other hand were very handy to keep around.

  8. Jim

    Curious to know what is the item that is carried beneath the butt pack ? Is it a ground sheet ? If so name and model number if anyone knows it. Jim

  9. Jim

    Great Thank you ! For the info. Jim

  10. Ray

    A few notes on the M1956 web gear. It was developed for the M1 Garand and M1 carbine, NOT the M14. It didn’t see general issue until 1960. The regular US armed forces kept WW2 small arms in general issue to all “front line” infantry units until 1961- 1963. The bulk of the USMC kept the Garand(and it’s WW2 belt)until replaced by the M-16 in 1968-69 . The M 1961 gear and M14 only went out to the fleet Marine Force. Some Regular Army units maintained the Garand until it was replaced by the M14 or M-16 in 1966. The National guard and reserves kept the “Garand” until the mid to late 1970’s. Some Guard and reserve units didn’t get the “56” gear until near the end of the Vietnam war( 1969-1973). Most of the “history” of the cold war as understood by “living historians” is based on war movies and myth. NOT HISTORIC FACT.

  11. Jason Perry

    Could somebody please post the internal dimension of the M1956 Universal Ammunition case….HxxLxW? Thanks.

    • Justin W.

      Well the external dimensions are around 6 7/8″ tall by 4 3/8″ wide by 2 1/4″ deep, so for internal dimensions I’d place a (very) rough guess at 6 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ x 2 1/8″. I’m no expert, though, so don’t quote me on that.

  12. What was the original intention of the eyelets on the side of the ’56 and ’61 pack cover flaps?

    • m151dave

      Don, The eyelets were there to attach older service items that had the M1910 type bent hook wire bales. This type of gear was used in WW2 and Korea, but was very common in Vietnam

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  14. Mark

    Anyone can ID this specific Canvas Gun Belt with this type of buckle ?
    this drive me crazy as i try to ID this one since more than 10 years :


    If you have answer please contact me ASAP at : Mhhoyt1963@gmail.com
    write LASTPATROL Canvas Belt Identification Confirmation in the title !

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