The Scout Belt

The Scout Belt Sheriff Jim Wilson
The Scout Belt is an interesting piece of equipment that has its origins in the American Southwest. The first bottleneck rifle cartridges, the .30/30 & .30/40 Krag, were introduced about 1895, along with the production of the Winchester Models 1894 & 1895 rifles. Both cartridges and rifles became the instant sweetheart of the Texas Rangers, Arizona Rangers, Mounted Customs Inspectors, and border lawmen in general.

About this same time, some enterprising soul came up with the idea of designing one cartridge belt that would hold rifle and pistol cartridges. I suspect that the first Scout Belts were manufactured by S.D. Myres, however everyone made them, and the one pictured is by El Paso Saddlery. It is 3 inches wide and holds 34 .30/30 cartridges and 12 .45 Colt cartridges. I’ve never weighed the darn thing when it is full of cartridges and Colt, but I suspect it would discourage a fellow from doing much walking. Besides, that’s what horses were made for.

Texas Rangers used the Scout Belt well into the 1900’s. They didn’t have badges until about 1935, but, wearing a Scout Belt and packing a ’95 Winchester and a Colts revolver, they probably didn’t get asked for identification very often. “Command Presence” is what I think Jeff Cooper called it.

When I was packing a badge down along the Pecos, I carried this Scout Belt, a Winchester, and a Colt’s revolver, in the trunk of my car. There were occasionally times when a fellow had to get horseback to do his job and there was still no better outfit for getting that job done. Of course, that was before the days of black plastic everything, tactical gear, and militarized law enforcement. Hell, we didn’t even know what tactical was. Some knew a fair bit about fighting, though.

Every time I get this old Scout Belt out, I am reminded that there was a time when a peace officer was a family counselor, the dog catcher, the SWAT Team, a legal adviser, and whatever the hell else needed to be done. I can’t help but think it was more fun back then.

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68 Responses to The Scout Belt

  1. William Bell says:

    I agree with you Sheriff, things were a bit less complicated back in the day. I was the “night cop” in a small southern town for almost two years and whatever you came down the pike you handled as there might be a State Trooper somewhere in the 3-county district or a maybe a deputy sheriff out and about; other than that you were your own back-up.

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  3. John Odum says:

    As a young LA State Trooper in 1973, I carried. S&W Model 19 in a Jordan holster. I was issued a nickel plated Winchester 94 in 30-30 and a Ithaca 37 riot gun. The only thing black I owned was my leather Sam Brown belt. I carried twelve rounds of 357 ammo in two drop pouches. I later converted to open loop carry since it was quicker. I too hate the pseudo military look of today’s police. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

    • J.R Odum says: too, except my 94 wasn’t nickle and I chose a Winchester 1897 “Trench Gun” for my scatter-gun..Desk Sgt. said, “You don’t want that old thing.” Yes I did and hated to turn in both for new weapons about a year later.

  4. Scott Tschirhart says:

    Back when you and I were lawmen, it was simpler and a lot more fun. I pray for the newer men and women who wear the badge. But I also keep my old .30-30 in a saddle scabbard in the trunk…just in case. Blessings my friend.

  5. Hub Whitt says:

    As Tom Horn said, something to the effect that ” a belt full of 45-90’s weighs 11 pounds when you put them on the first day, but by the end of a month, it feels like 150 lbs”

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