Mills web belt

Here is a web belt in extraordinary condition, a Mills 1913 model 170, I believe. If anyone knows better, I’d love to hear from him/her. I am somewhat perplexed by the intended purpose of the two long front pockets. A standard issue 1911 clip would fit in each, but was this the original purpose? After reviewing many listings of other belts, Mills and otherwise, I find no clear answer, but I don’t have access to documentation of these items.

In these photos, the belt appears tan, but really, it’s more O.D.

Thanks for any info you’d like to contribute about the belt. … y.jpg?dl=0 … y.jpg?dl=0 … y.jpg?dl=0

Hello and welcome to The IAA Forum!

This website might be of interest:

Interesting belt.
It is not listed in R. Stephen Dorsey’s U.S. Martial Web Belts and Bandoliers: 1903-1981.

There are a number of belts with eight pockets which were issued with .38 and .45 caliber revolvers in the pre-WW1 era, but none with six pockets.

Hope someone knows.

I’m grateful for info provided so far, even if the exact identity and purpose for the belt remains unclear. I am hoping that others will chime in. This belt came to me in a collection that included a Colt DA .45 that was military issue, AND a model 1911, likewise. I have tested the fit of a model 1911 clip in one of the two long pockets, and it works. I’m inclined to think the belt was intended for use with that firearm, else why have these two pockets larger than the four others?

Interesting in the development of what would become the standard US Military webbing. The Use of the Oblong eyelets at the bottom edge of the belt (for “Hangers” such as the Pistol Holster, Water Canteen, etc,) whilst still used on some other WW I-era Equipment, soon disappeared, replaced by the Normal Round ,washer-riveted type of eyelet…maybe field use saw the oblong eyelet “Pull out” due to pulling forces of equipment?

The Plethora of Markings ( on metal and on the webbing itself) would seem to denote a “Commercial” product, maybe for trials for the US Gov’t…The US Seal Buttons give it away as for the US> If the Two forward Pouches hold M1911 Magazines, what do the other four smaller Pouches hold?? Certainly not clips of M1906 .30 cal ammo; maybe small Packets of .45ACP/.45 Colt?

A photo of the belt extended, with dimensions of the Pouches may be of help.

Very good condition…a real Keeper (Museum quality).

Maybe JPS on Gunboards ( WW I Militaria and Arms aficionado) can be of assistance. His Uniform, Webbing and Arms collection is very extensive ( all combatants of WW I, up to 1918).

Doc AV

Doc AV

The stamped (in the metal) markings on the end tabs and the ink stamped patent dates and bullet logo are normal on all of Mills’ military contract items, so this does not rule out military purchase.

There were some Mills belts with odd size pockets intended for medical use, not as cartridge belts, but they are well known and distinctly different from this.

The eagle snaps were an early feature dropped circa 1914. Since the M1911 magazines fit, this may be an early trial version made for use with the M1911. Some states purchased military equipment similar to, but different from, regulation U.S. military patterns, and this may be an item intended for that market in the pre-WW1 era.

It may not be ammunition related at all, but something for signal corps, medical, or some other purpose, although it is so similar to cartridge belts that we all immediately think “cartridge belt!”

JBarber - your Mills Model 170 belt was part of the standard line of equipment available from the Mills Woven Cartridge Belt Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. I need do nothing else than quote a catalog from Mills (undated, unfortunately):


Weight: 13-1/2 oz.
Width: 2-1/4 Inches
6 Pockets 42 rounds, .45 cal. Pistol Cartridges
Army Belt Fastener
Color: Olive Drab or Khaki

This belt, regulation for officers of the U.S. Marine Corps, has a right and a left carrier, joined at the back by an adjustment strap. Each
carrier has a pocket in the front for carrying the Colt Pistol magazine, and two pockets fatrther back each carrying seven .45 caliber cartridges for reloading. Eyelets in the lower selvage receive the hanger of the Mills pistol holster, No. 305 or No. 306.

I’m sorry I didn’t answer this sooner. I have to kind of ration my Forum time these days, and pick and choose what I respond to. I no longer am involved with Mills gear, but at one time collected it along with the U.S. Martial Arms it pertained to, 1866 - 1953, basically.

Your guess about the fit of the .45 magazines was spot on!

Once again John Moss’s incredible archives (and especially the guy who digs through those archives!) comes up with the absolute correct answer to a question that left everyone else guessing and speculating.

Thank you!

Thanks, JM, for that thorough answer to the Post.

One question, the “Loose” Pockets for seven rounds of .45ACP ammo; it seems that there was still the usage of “loose carry” of Pistol ammo in the US at that late date…one would think ( Like many other countries) that dedicated Packets for Auto-Pistol ammo would have been used, and the Pouches in Webbing etc. made to suit…Ie, the Germans had a 16 round Packet (9mm)==Two P’08 mags, the British had 12 round (Revolver) packets(=2 Cylinders full), the Italians (later,) a 7-round 9mm cort0 Packet for the Beretta '34; and even in Rifle ammo, the same rules applied ( 15 rounds (3 clips) Mauser ammo, 10 rounds (2 Clips) Mannlicher ammo, etc.etc. and the Belt pouches could accommodate the ammo in cartons or simply clipped.

I would add, that by 1917, the US had a 24-round Packet of .45ACP for M1917 S&W revolvers, which fitted perfectly into a Special Pouch (oblong) on a hanger; But I have not seen any “7 round or 14 round” packets of .45ACP ( a 42 round pack is mentioned, and by WWII, the 50 round packet was standard (for Pistols AND SMGs…The SMG use was the driving force here for the 50 rd.Pack.)

Any comments on these “idiosyncrasies” of US Pouch designs?

Doc AV

Actually, in WWII, the 20 round packets were, for issue in the U.S. Forces, much more common than the 50 round ones, I believe. The 46 round and 50 round boxes seem to have been most for the UK, and probably why the impression in Australia is that the 50 round was more common. I would have to really check my collection, but I have the impression off the top of my head (very dangerous, I admit, since that portion of my anatomy is quite empty) that I even have Post WWII 20-round boxes. In the mid-1950s, we were still being issued .45 ammo (the few times I ever saw live ammo actually being issued out) in the WWII 20-rounders.

The 24 round packages for the Revolvers Model of 1917 are fairly common here. Certainly not as common as the 20-rounders for the M1911 types though. The 24-round boxes, always in clips for the revolver it seems, came in two styles - simply an extended length version of the 20-round boxes, and then a rectangular one.

As to the carrying of loose rounds for the auto pistol, the basic issue for the pistol was three magazines, one in the gun and other two in whatever style of carrier was issued at the time and in any particular service, so the 42 round belt capacity (loaded mag in pistol, two loaded mags in the two pouches, and four pockets of 7-rounds each) makes perfect sense. Frankly, if you are sure you are going to have just a pistol, the horizontal mag pouchs must have been more comfortable, especially when bending over, that the vertical double magazine pouch. Regardless, all I can do is report what the manufacturer says the use of the pouches was. So, regardless of any “ifs and why” that was the intented loading of this particular load-carrying belt.

The M1917 revolvers had a special pouch with three pockets, each divided into two sections. One 3 round “half moon clip” fit in each pocket section, so that lifting the flap allowed access to two clips (six rounds) to reload. Total of 18 rounds in the triple pouch, or three reloads.

Not sure what pouch was made for the 24 round box (either the long narrow one, or the more rectangular version), but it may be that coincidentally a pouch intended for another purpose just happens to fit.

Well, I’m extremely impressed and thankful for this comprehensive info., and the informative answers. Clearly I came to the right place! I don’t have, or know anyone who has, reference material that would identify this belt. And, unfortunately, I no longer have access to the one person who might have shed light on the story of this individual belt—my father-in-law, who died many years ago. I’m sure he mentioned how he came to have it, but I don’t remember now.

Thanks especially to John Moss for nailing this down, but also to the helpful nature of all who responded. This is a good forum.

As noted, the condition of this belt is unusually good–no staining, fraying, tearing, or other signs of use. If this was regulation issue for Marine Corps officers, I’d normally assume that there are quite a few others in existence, and that perhaps it’s mostly condition that makes it unusual. For that reason, I’d be interested to hear if anyone has one, or has seen others of this model. As noted earlier, there are no listings for these on eBay, and scant mention of them anywhere else.

At the risk of straying further from ammo subjects, would a USMC belt have what appears to be Army eagle buttons on it??

Regarding Army buttons on the belt in question, I don’t believe that the Eagle is necessarily, in this case, an Army insignia. It is a
a uniquely American version of the eagle, much like the US Presedential seal. Remember, this is a cataloged item from a commercial company. The Mills canvas .45 auto holster I had had an “Eagle button” fastener for the lid, and that is the holster they claim in the catalog is used with this belt. It is also the Mills Company’s own claim that it was Marine Corp Issue. They would have known who they sold this equipment to.

Rereading this (leading to this edit), another thing struck me. While the Mills catalog says the belt in question was adopted by the USMC, it does not say that it was exclusive to that service. In light of the Marine Corps M1911 Pistol magazine pouch shown later on this thread, with EGA Marine-specific buttons, it is possible that belts supplied to them had such buttons, but that the same equipment offered to other services, such as the Army, or various State National Guard or Militia troops, had other style of buttons. Just a thought.

Since the Mills catalog is a piece of primary-source documentation, I think we have to accept what they said, and not try to “outguess” the people who made the equipment. I know that in any commercial catalogs, there is a certain amount of hype, but trying to separate it from the truth, when any hype that might be there is in the primary-source documentation, strikes me as futil in the absence of documentation to the contrary. Further, at the time, the USMC was, I believe, a fairly small service, their primary mission being as shipboard troops. being trained and use to the rigors of life aboard ship, they were occasionally used for foreign incursions, as at Tripoli, but I don’t think it was until the American involvement in combat in WWI that the Marines were used as standard infantry, and it is before the time of the huge “landing craft” landings of the island fighting of WWII.

Sorry that I am a little bit late to the party.

Concerning the side issue of USMC specific web equipments the Marines did, in fact, have their own during the pre-WW1 era. In my collection I have a Mills rifle cartridge belt which I believe is a Model of 1910 (packed away at the moment) which bears Eagle Globe and Anchor Marine Corps snaps similar to the rimmed and rimless Eagle snaps seen on Army equipments. Its companion piece is a Model of 1910 canteen with a cover with EGA snaps.

The photo below shows a Mills 1916-dated web double magazine pouch with EGA snaps. (Photo credit to Hellwood as the pouch is not mine.)


For those with an interest in the Mills belts and similar web and woven equipments I recommend that you take a look at the US Militaria Forum. There are many Mills collectors there and there are some very good reference sections with old threads on these topics. … -gear-ref/

For Marine Corps specific stuff an additional and excellent resource is Alec Tulkoff’s book entitled “Equipping The Corps, Volume 1”. Amazon has it.

Charlie Flick