Lightweight Modular “Basic Load” Options

Lightweight Gear Post2

This kit is oriented towards a 5.56 semiautomatic type rifle, but I also have the ability to change one item (the bandoleer) and make it 7.62 Nato semi auto appropriate.

A lot of the feedback and questions I get concerning posts about my gear selection and the heavy weight associated with it, is oriented towards the “What if I only need the basics?” They’re looking for something that is still considered a “Basic Load” (generally, the basic load for most military semi-auto/auto rifles is 6 extra mags, not counting the mag in the rifle). I was asked to post my selection for this type of kit with an explanation about how I came to select it, and as you’ll notice, it doesn’t necessarily follow the military line of thought.


This rig is geared more towards a long term “Bugout” scenario and has some martial applications.

Holster post1

This is a straight up military rig that I used for the first 10 years in the military.


This is set up to be used for a retreat/home defense, and is oriented more towards an urban setting. .

The above mentioned gear post and pic is aimed at outfitting for a “Bugout” type event where you might not have much in the way of support (maybe some caches along the route to supplement the food you’re carrying), and what you have on you is it. This post deals with my selection for a light kit that gives you the bare bones requirements, and is still somewhat modular, so it can be tailored for different situations. This kit gives you the ability to carry ammo, survival gear, water, food, blow-out kit, full size knife, and a sidearm.

Lightweight Gear Post5

Three extra mags for your rifle, a pistol with two extra mags, and a small fixed blade knife will probably fix most immediate issues.

The reason I call this kit “modular” is because you can adapt it to fit what you are doing. If you don’t need a large fixed blade knife, canteen, and the gear associated with the battle bag, you can just go with the bandoleer and tanker holster w/ knife, and it will cover most immediate threats. It can also be easily concealed under a jacket as well, if need be.

This kit consists of 4 items. First is a “Battle bag” (this one happens to be from Blackhawk). I used this battle bag on my last deployment, and it comes in handy for carrying a number of things that you need on hand (like NOD’s), but have no place for in your LBE/V (if you’re wearing one).

Lightweight Gear Post3



This version of the battle bag can hold six AR mags (I only carry 3, due to weight), or 3 M14 mags. You can carry two extra pistol mags on the left outside pocket,  and a first aid dressing on the right outside pocket.  The top flap is a map carrier, and I used it extensively for strip maps while in Iraq.


Internally, there is room for a blow out kit, extra rations, water filter, and NOD’s if you have them (I carried my PVS-7 and PVS-14 in this bag while deployed). There are dividers to keep everything organized, and velcro panels for attachments in one of the sections.


I wear the battle bag on my weak side behind the tanker holster, since it seems to ride better there along the right side of my lower back. This version of the battle bag also has it’s own belt that can be taken out and used to secure it to your waist if you need to, so it won’t shift around as much during movement.

Next up is the tanker holster. I spoke of this type of holster in this post, and for this type of setup, I think it works better than a belt holster (due to where the bandoleer sits), but your mileage may vary.

Lightweight Gear Post4

The tie down strap for the tanker holster is secured to the bandoleer waist strap, not the belt.


This tanker rig will take either my M9 or M21, and it holds two extra mags and a small fixed blade knife.

The tanker rig is not designed for super fast deployment of your pistol. If you think you are going to be doing quick draws and using your handgun a lot, you really don’t understand how the whole “infantry type” combat thing works. Very few Infantrymen (and that included SF ) use their handgun (if they’re even carrying one, most don’t) when they are carrying a long gun. Anyone who says different is probably full of shit, and played Modern Warfare 3 way too much. For field use, your holster should primarily be a way to comfortably carry, secure and protect your weapon. A handgun is a self defense first aid kit used primarily in situations where it is more convenient, or there is a need due to a hands free activity.

Next up is the equipment belt. You can carry more items on you equipment belt, but for this setup, I keep it very simple. A fixed blade knife and a 1 quart GI canteen with cup and slide over heat tab stove/stand. With these items I have a place to carry water that I collect with my filter (carry chemical purification tabs bottle in pocket on canteen pouch), I have a way to heat up rations (or heat purify water that is suspect), and I have a full size knife (never runs out of ammo) for tasks that only a full size knife can do.


I still have a couple of the old metal buckle LC-1 belts, and they are as durable as a belt and buckle can get. The knife is a Randall 1-7, and has been my “Go to” fixed blade choice for a number of years (and yes, I carried that expensive knife in Iraq, because that’s what it’s for). I’m also a big fan of Cold Steel and CRKT.

Last, but not least, is the mag bandoleer. I have a couple of these that I got from John Ammons at UW Gear. The quality is outstanding (separate review soon), and they fill a crucial niche in a number of my gear systems (with the heavy gear loadout, I hang the bandoleer on my ruck). I wear this on my strong side, since reaching across to access my mags for my rifle is easier in this instance, than having them on my weak side. John’s retention tab on the mag flap is durable, quiet, and secure.

Lightweight Gear Post1

Guess I should have taken the pics with a different colored coat, huh?


Left side bandoleer is for 5.56 AR’s, and the one on the left is for M14/M1A mags.

What are the advantages to this kit? First, there is enough here to carry the fight for a bit more than your typical three mag chest rig, and you still have an area to carry necessary gear. Second, except for the knife and canteen, nothing is below the belt line (and none of it is in front of your legs), which makes certain types of movement easier. If necessary, I can carry 9 AR mags and four pistol mags (I’d rather not, this is supposed to be lightweight, right?).

Another advantage is that with a swap of the bandoleer, I can use the same kit for my M1A (Socom or Match) and Glock M21. So I can pick what I want or need to carry, and not be limited by my gear to one type of weapon mag.  By the way, the idea for this kit came from some things I’ve seen (F&I war reenacting, it is similar to the kit I have for that) and read about that the long hunter/riflemen of the F&I and Revolutionary era carried. They usually carried a rifle, rifle bag and horn (bandoleer in this case), “Possibles” bag (battle bag), a belt knife, canteen, and some carried a sidearm. Hope this helps with figuring out your gear selection and implementation.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE



22 thoughts on “Lightweight Modular “Basic Load” Options

  1. Some great ideas. One of the projects I have been working on is an universal chest rig that I can run either 5.56 or 7.62 depending on the situation. I look forward to more reviews.

  2. Nice review,see meself working on a more lightweight/urban rig.In your photo what is holding the pistol mags secure/hard for me to tell.Same ? for pistol; in photo,is that Kydex and is it secure when doing some serious moving?

    My 5.11’s came in,and,as feared the multi pockets will tempt me to load em up on job site,a few days of that nonsense should cure me of that and get me to a just what I really need load.Will give me thoughts on em for working at least when tried for awhile and after some hiking with em.

    While talking gear,I said awhile back my kingdom for a pair of good/all around boots,well,lost me kingdom.I bought a pair of Redwing (616’s)/9″upper with a Vibram sole with knobbies that remind me of me dirt bike tires,gaureented for life including laces except soles.I have used em for 6 months construction which for me includes digging holes to fine finish and all in between including a lot of ladder/stair climbing,very supportive and best yet,comfortable.They are lightly insulated but here in New England winters with a good sock plenty warm.I have hiked well over 20 mile shots on flat and hilly terrain at a go with great results and also just wear em daily,good looking boot( I catch a lot of flack as always wiping em down/keeping cleaned and cared for,still have a new look).I will though tough as hell replace sole at 1/2way(still new it seems) point as love the traction but will first get another pair as will not live without em,that is how much I like em.I am wearing another boot say cowboy or something will still always be in vehicle,they with car bag will get me home or anywhere else in a challenging time.Sorry for long winded review but these boots cover all bases for me well and rare I like a product so much,perhaps not perfect for every situation but can’t afford to worry about that,with a coupon got just at 200 mark.We all need a great boot,I recommend em but get what does what these do for me in whatever works for you.To coin a phrase,these are my “Daily carry boots”.

  3. Pingback: A Different Look At Gear Influenced By The Experience Of The French And Indian War | Cohort One Five

  4. Good info. I like the way you approach it, too. “This is what I’ve used, that worked for me. What works for you might be different.” That’s so much more useful than “This is what I use, and anyone who doesn’t do it my way is a poseur!”

    RE handguns in the Infantry. I (11B) had a 1911A1 assigned to me, but the only time I ever drew it from the arms room was for range qualification or if they made me draw it for an inspection. Otherwise, it was just something else to have to keep track of in the field. Like the man said in “Quigley Down Under” – “I said I never had much use for one. Didn’t say I couldn’t use one.”

  5. Pingback: MDT: Lightweight Modular Options For A Basic Load | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  6. That smock is kicking.

    I went low ball after looking for an original U.K. item and got sticker shock.

    Swiss M70 jacket. Pretty heavy (5 lbs plus) and has enough colors to gain attention in the urbans. But pockets – man, has a lot carry capacity. About $25 bucks plus shipping. Often comes with a small daypack that clips on the back. Thinking of getting another and cutting off sleeves for summer carry option. Seriously, its a backpack jacket.

  7. Great stuff here. We applaud you for sharing all this straight dope. Thought I was the only graybeard who still runs the LC1 belts; brass buckles don’t shatter on impact hitting the deck or in extreme cold.

    Biggest thing I got here, Sir, was your obvious PT, diet, and sleep habits.

    Your frame for these bits ‘n pieces looks like the Rock of Gibraltar. Absolutely no issues with you humpin’ these for hours and days.

    PT rules, just like gravity. You are on top never coming down. Glad you’re on our Team!

    • Yeah, the older plastic buckle is better than the newer fastex type, but they are still plastic. I only like the green plastic for use with the extender, and use that on my kit that is harder to adjust the belt length, due to attached equipment (the knife canteen rig is easy to adjust for bulky clothing). As far as PT goes. I appreciate the sentiment about my PT, but I actually need more time, because there is not enough time in my typical week in total to do the PT tasks I would like to do. I have to pick and choose from week to week what I will do in the time I have allotted. My regular hour long workout is a no brainer twice a week (I only have four days with time for PT due to my normal work/business schedule), so then I have to choose what the other two days get, and that’s either a hard elliptical workout, running, or ruck march. Of course the older I get, the easier it is to hurt something (“Why did I just wake up with an injury, I didn’t do anything!?), and I’ve found I have to let it heal, and can’t workout through the healing process anymore. We do what we can, but we don’t have to like it right? Thanks for your response. BTW, it’s not a “rock”, more like a piece of pine, but who wants to be hit by a piece of pine, right?

  8. Do you have any suggestions on a bag that can hold my shot gun? I don’t feel comfortable carrying around a hand gun yet… I want to create saftey rather than eliminate it, if you know what I mean? I know it’s a lot more weight, but I think it’s really important to be comfortable with all of my equipment.

      • That’s probably a fair a statement. Yeah, I have seen backpacks that have a specific strap for a shot gun. I have a 12 gauge, short barrel Remington 870. I just wandering if you have seen though, and if you would recommend any of them.

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