Ever since the paratroops were developed, it was recognized that they would have to carry more ammunition, food, and basic supplies than regular Infantry. However the web gear that was being issued to regular soldiers proved highly inadequate. For instance, the standard M1923 cartridge belt could only hold ten en-blocks for the M1, for a total of 80 rounds To increase the amount of ammunition that could be carried, a new web gear set-up was needed.
The Army Air Corps proved to have a ready-made solution to this problem. The Air Corps had already developed a pouch to hold 4 en-blocks. The Paratroop Riggers section (those who were in charge of repairing parachutes) simply copied this pouch.
For Sicily and Italy, the 505th Regiment used pouches that were OD #3 in color, and made of heavy canvas, possibly canvas that was made for vehicle covers. They incorporated a Lift-the-Dot fastener. OD #7 examples have been seen as well.
For Normandy, the Rigger Pouch was still the normal piece of equipment, however particular to the 505 PIR in Normandy, the Lift-the-Dot closure was replaced with ties made from either parachute suspension line (aka "para cord" or "550 cord" as it is known today), or from cotton strips used in the suspension lines for cargo parachutes. One wonders why the change was made from and easy-to-use fastener, to one that was more complicated to use......
Ordering from Herb Zamar was pretty straight-forward and accomplished through e-mail. It took about 2 weeks for him to build the pouches, and another week for them to ship. 10 pouches were ordered (myself and another unit member pooled our order to save on shipping, which was only $5 total). I ordered OD #3 pouches with white para-cord ties.
Price: $10 per pouch
First impressions were very positive. The canvas is of good heavy quality, stitching is blemish-free and straight, and the para-chord appears to be of good quality. Of note is that the pouch in the pictures has had the paracord ends melted so they do not fray; they do not come this way.
As seen in the photographs, 5 en-blocks of blanks fit perfectly (these particular blanks are 308, but are full-profile. Standard 30-06 blanks are the same length as these.) If live 30-06 rounds sere placed in the pouch, only 4 en-blocks will fit. Five M1 Carbine magazines also fit just fine. There is no excessive shifting of the rounds and magazines in the pouch, so there is less chance of the en-blocks or magazines falling out of the pouch when properly closed.
-price is the CHEAPEST of any reproduction rigger pouch on the market
-canvas is heavy and will not wear out
-Herb is a fantastic person to work with and makes sure you get exactly what you want
-construction time, but as Herb does this work one at a time and by himself, it is more than acceptable. Just don't expect a rush-order to be completed (and don't be "that guy" and do that to Herb.....)
-the tie-style closure is a pain in the ass...... but the only way that can be fixed is to ask the person who came up with that style! In addition, it looks like the pouches were meant to replenish ammo that was carried in the jumpsuit pockets. So, once ammo carried in the pockets ran out, you would untie a pouch, transfer all the ammo over to a pocket, and keep fighting.
If you want correct rigger pouches, Herb Zamar is pretty much the only way to go. He offers customization, and his prices are actually the cheapest on the market. He is fantastic to work with and is more than happy to do what it takes to ensure you get what you want. My next order from him will be a reinforcing job on an M1942 uniform.
If you would like to contact Herb Zamar, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Samples of his work can be viewed on his Photobucket account at http://s200.photobucket.com/user/hzamar/library/?sort=3&page=1. Herb does pretty much any type of rigger modification, including bags, pouches, holsters, and jumpsuit reinforcing.
Rigger pouch, OD #3, tie-style, from Herb Zamar
G Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division (Reenacted)