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MILLS No. 170 HORIZONTAL POCKETED PISTOL BELT -  DESIGNED TO CARRY TWO MAGAZINES FOR THE MODEL 1911 COLT PISTOL WITH FOUR ADDITIONAL POCKETS FOR LOOSE ROUNDS - RIMMED EAGLE SNAP – AN EXCELLENT SPECIMEN OF A VERY RARE BELT ISSUED TO BOTH U.S. ARMY SOLDIERS AND UNITED STATES MARINES:  Considered by many collectors to be the rarest of Mills pocketed cartridge belts, this Mills No. 170 Horizontal Pistol Belt was specifically designed to carry the magazines and ammunition for the Model 1911 Automatic Colt Pistol in a very unique configuration.  Rather than carrying the magazines together on one side of the belt in a vertical configuration as with the Model 1916 Magazine pouch, this belt was configured to carry the magazines with one on each side of the belt which balanced the load, and with the magazines oriented in line with the belt for a more comfortable carry. 

The No. 170 Mills Horizontal Pistol Belt first appeared in the ca. 1914 Mills Woven Cartridge Belt Company catalog, advertising the belt as “regulation for officers of the U.S. Marine Corps”.  While it is believed by some that this catalog reference was more of an advertising ploy rather than a statement of fact of an existing contract or arrangement with the Marine Corps, an article published in the Military Collector and Historian, the magazine published by the Company of Military Historians, written by William Phillips and Carter Rila, included photographic evidence that this belt was indeed issued to the Marines - both officers and enlisted men.    

Placing this belt in a significant historical context, the photograph below shows this pattern of belt being worn by Private William Bihary, 2nd Division, 6th Marines, 73rd Machine Gun Company, and it is believed the image was taken in 1916 during his service in the Haitian or Santo Dominican revolutions.  

Additional photographic evidence of this belt being worn by marines is published in Equipping the Corps – 1892-1937, by Alec Tulkoff (strongly recommend this very well done reference) which illustrate that this belt apparently saw fairly wide usage in the Marine Corps. 

Designed to carry two loaded magazines for the Model 1911 Automatic Colt Pistol, the belt features a right and left carrier (or section) – each with one magazine pocket oriented horizontally, or parallel to the belt body, and two smaller pockets which each carried seven loose rounds of ammunition for reloading the magazines.  This arrangement provided a substantial supply of 42 rounds of ammunition, particularly important for an officer or soldier armed only with the pistol.  The right and left carriers were joined at the back of the belt with an adjustment strap.  Each carrier section is fitted with eyelets along the bottom edge for attaching a holster, first aid pouch and other related equipment.  It is interesting to note that while the eyelets on the right carrier are the standard round version, the eyelets on the left carrier are the same oval version found on the Model 1910 Cartridge Belts, which accommodated two carrying wires, allowing the accoutrements to be carried side by side and increasing the carrying potential of the belt.    

This belt is in very good to excellent condition, but it does show minor indications that it was issued and worn.  All of the rimless eagle snaps are intact with no tearing or wear around the snaps, all of the snaps function properly, and all of the grommets are intact with none having pulled through the webbing.  Both of the belt’s metal end pieces retain the original darkened finish and they bear the Mills Company logo and patent information.  Both carriers and the rear adjustment strap all bear a legible ink stamped Mills “Bullet” logo – much more legible when viewed in person than could be captured by the limits of digital photography.  There is only one point of slight wear at the lower corner of the right magazine pocket flap as can be seen in the photograph below.  All of the pockets and flaps retain their full form.  There are no other signs of wear, fading, tearing or other damage on this belt with all of the flaps and pockets in very nice condition.   

Introduced in the early years of the 20th Century, these pocketed pistol belts were carried in numerous conflicts around the world to include the Punitive Expedition into Mexico, actions in Central and South America and along the Pacific Rim, and World War One, resulting in a low survival rate which is evidenced by their rarity today – particularly in such nice condition as this specimen.  Rare pieces such as this belt normally move very quietly from one collection to another in private sales, never emerging to surface on collector’s market.  It is a true pleasure to be able to offer this belt for your consideration.  

This is an excellent specimen and it will be a choice addition to your collection. (0824) $2200








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