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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Military shot pouches

Jason's take on the brit LI pouch

pouch along same lines as lyman belt pouch

So wow two posts in a week...crazy! Ok actuly this is a cheater post. I Subcontracted this one to my brother from another mother Jason Melius. Jason and I have been talking/sharing info/ideas on period shot bags/pouches for a long time. After seeing his take on a brit shot bag in use at the Filming I asked him to do a write up on his take on the subject.
I know the main point of this blog is Backcountry/Fort Pitt related info but Shot pouches are shot pouches and every little piece of info on them can help. Plus its my blog so....Shut up. Plus with items like the lyman pouch and the undated belt pouch its cool to see that this was such a common practice.

British Light Infantry Shot Bags
When picturing British regulars at the time of the American Revolution, most people visualize mindless automatons marching very slowly, shoulder to shoulder. Students of the British military of the 18th century are beginning to understand this is very far from an accurate image. Mathew Spring, in his work, “With Zeal and Bayonets Only,” paints a picture in which the often outnumbered redcoat won the majority of battles, not with German style close order drill, but with speed, shock, bayonets and loose formations.
Along with these adaptations in tactics were adaptations in dress and equipment. By 1776, British soldiers were laying aside knee breeches in favor of gaitored trousers, for instance. The inspiration for these changes can be traced back farther. But the intent here is not a broad look at the adaptations of the British Military. The focus is on a single piece of equipment; the shot bag.
In 1771, the British Army command decided to reinstate the light infantry companies abandoned shortly after the close of the Seven Years War. An update to the 1768 Royal Clothing Warrant, the King’s uniform regulations, laid out the clothing and equipment standards of the light companies. While it is an outline, it laid the groundwork.

at New York City
In store 1 August 1780
1,750 Pouches
1,700 Shot Bags & Slings.
Received by 20 September 1781
2,000 Pouches,
2,240 Shot Bags & Slings
2,454 Pouch Slings
2,600 Cartouch Boxes & Belts,
3,700 Powder Horns
5,420 Tin Cartouch Boxes
Covers & Belts Pairs
Issued 20 Sept 1781
2,879 Pouches,
261 Shot Bags & Slings
21 Cartouch Boxes & Belts
261 Powder Horns
1,180 Tin Cartouch Boxes,
Covers & Belts Pairs
Source: Great Britain, Public Record Office,
Colonial Office, Class 5, Volume 103, folio 317A.
(note: pouch and pouch slings refer to the common cartridge pouch with leather body and drilled wood block for storage of ammunition worn by most British soldiers)

The shot bag appears in many forms and in many variations throughout the American Revolution. The British shot bag seems to have always been intended to be worn on a belt, or even on the powder horn strap. Tying together the above information with images by Phillip James De Loutherbourg, as well as a surviving bag of the Queen’s Rangers, a fairly accurate representation of a shot bag can be reproduced.

My interpretation of the bag is fairly simple. I chose to marry the QR bag’s body style and the bag worn on the powder horn strap of the light infantryman above. The body is slightly teardrop shaped based on the QR bag. It is constructed of 4 pieces of 3 oz vegetable tanned leather: body back and flap, body front, leather button and belt strap. There is no divider in the center, though it could be argued one could be present. The flap front has a simple tooled edge commonly seen on British leather work. The bag measures 4 ½ inches wide by 5 inches deep.

It is intended only to carry shot or ball. It is not a bag for carrying cleaning supplies, tools, whistles, cigarettes, car keys or anything else besides lead. Though trial, I have found that wearing the bag on the powder horn strap, as pictured in above images, is very convenient. The bag opening is very close to the horn spout, and the weight of the ball helps to keep the horn and bag from bouncing around when moving quickly. Interestingly, the whole rig tends to slide back and wear just as pictured in 1778 by de Loutherbourg.

Source: Great Britain, Public Record Office,
Colonial Office, Class 5, Volume 103, folio 317A
Bailey, De Witt. “Small Arms of the British Forces in America 1664-1815”, Mowbray Publishers, Woonsocket 2009.
Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library Center for Digital Initiatives:

Thanks a million Jason! SO tomorrow I'll have a post up on how to sew up a decorated matchcoat.


  1. Very informative, Jason. The on-horn ball bags rather look like a drover's sporran. Jim Dresslar used to own a rig with a plain horn that had a shot bag slung sewn on to the back-facing part of the horn strap and a wee bag like these sewn to the front strap; a small, light, efficient rig.

  2. Clarification on the post above: "shot bag" as in what is required for a shot gun, in this case with an Irish style shot dispenser.

  3. these short bags comes under the category military clothing and accessories.. and they are so beautiful..

  4. I truly appreciate this post. I’ve been looking everywhere for this!Rothco Bags

  5. Hey Bud!

    You have beautifully explained the use of shot bags.

    Militants make use of shot bags to carry their guns. Bags and backpacks are vital gear for military, law enforcement and public safety jobs.There are different bags that serve different purposes.Some bags that my uncle usually carry are duffel bags, backpacks, military bags, sling packs and portable organizers.

    They are known to trust for durability and usability. They are the cases and packs that help you do your job efficiently and with ease.Military Surplus stores provides a wide range of military equipments with extensive features.


  6. Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you.
    Belt pouch