5 56 x 45 mm NATO

5.56 NATO rounds double stacked in a STANAG Magazine

A magazine is the storage unit and feeding method for ammunition and derives its name from the magazines of old where ammo was stored by armies. Magazines are either detachable, which are standard for most rifles, semi-automatic pistols, and semi-automatic shotguns, or nondetachable, which are standard for some bolt action rifles, as well as most shotguns.

It must be noted belt-fed weapons do not usually use magazines; the belt may be contained in an ammo box.

Gravity Fed MagazinesEdit

Usually refers to a top mounted, gravity fed magazine; also known as a hopper. These were used in manually operated weapons such as Gatling guns, Nordenfelt Guns, and Gardner machine guns (and Bira machine guns). Largely outdated today, hopper magazines are somewhat still in use with heavier applications such as anti-aircraft weaponry.

Fixed MagazinesEdit

Fixed magazines are internal magazines that cannot be removed. They are generally loaded with individual rounds or stripper clips.

Detachable MagazinesEdit

Detachable magazines come in various shapes, sizes, capacities and stacking styles. Capacities can range anywhere from 3-100+ rounds depending on the ammunition and magazine type. Types of magazines include Drum, Box, Casket and snail drum and the stacking styles in each of these can vary from single stack to quadruple stack (a recent innovation). They can be reloaded using stripper clips.


In box magazines, the cartridges are stored in parallel columns, or "stacks". The most common types are single column and double column. Casket magazines may have more than two.

Single columnEdit

Single column magazines are usually found on pistols.

Double columnEdit

Double column magazines have the rounds staggered in order to fit more rounds into the magazine and still keep the magazine relatively compact.


Single FeedEdit

Single feed is found on double column magazines, mostly found on pistol magazines. The magazine's lips are only narrow enough to fit one cartridge through, hence the name "single feed". They are usually awkward to reload and less reliable than double feed magazines.

Double FeedEdit

Double feed denotes a type of magazine whose feed lips are larger, to the point where almost two cartridges can fit through. The second cartridge pushes the first cartridge against one of the feeding lips. Any top cartridge can be fed into the bolt from the opening, irrespective of what lip the cartridge is pushed against. Double feed magazines are more reliable and easy to load than a single feed magazine.

Magazine TypesEdit


This type of magazine is typically found on conventional shotguns and older rifles. As the name suggests, the cartridges are stored front to back in a cylindrical (or otherwise-shaped) tube. They are usually unremovable, although detachable tubular magazines do exist, such as the one on the SRM 1216 shotgun.


Pistol magazines

Pistol magazine

Box magazines store cartridges in columns. They can be either detachable or fixed.

  • An internal box magazine (also known as an integral or fixed box magazine) is a magazine that is built into the firearm and cannot be removed easily, or at all. This type of magazine is usually found on bolt-action rifles. Rounds can be either loaded individually by hand, or fed by stripper clips, which make reloading faster. En-bloc clips can also be used on some magazines.
  • A detachable box magazine, unlike an integrated box magazine, can be detached and inserted easily into a firearm via its magazine well. When needed, the magazine can be detached from the firearm and replaced by another, making reloading much quicker and efficient. Detachable magazines can either be straight or curved, depending on the shape of the cartridge. Common materials for a detachable magazine include metal or plastic (or a combination of the two), the latter of which may be used as a transparent or translucent, to aid in ammunition counting of the user. Additionally, physical openings can be made to the magazine to serve as a "window" to count ammunition.

Casket Edit

A casket magazine is a widened box magazine. They have four columns, or rather, a pair of double columns that feed into the same opening. The Spectre M4 can take 50-round casket magazines. 100-round STANAG-compatible casket magazines are also in production by the company Surefire, and Izhmash has developed a 5.45×39mm casket magazine for the AK-12.

Horizontal Edit

A horizontal magazine sits horizontally on the firearm and the cartridges are stored perpendicular to the axis. An example of a weapon with a horizontal magazine is the FN P90 personal defense weapon.

Rotary Edit

A rotary magazine (also known as a spool magazine) consists of a star-shaped, rotating sprocket. They can be either fixed or detachable, with the cartridges sitting in-between the grooves of the sprocket. The sprocket indexes via a torsion spring. Rotary magazines are very compact length-wise, but are of course, wider, and do not hold as many rounds as a conventional box magazine. Examples of firearms that use rotary magazines are the M1941 Johnson rifle and the Steyr SSG 69, which use fixed and removable magazines, respectively.

Pan Edit

A pan magazine (often referred to as, but not to be confused with, a drum magazine) stores cartridges in columns, each stored inside a large "pan". The rounds rotate around the axle of the pan when feeding. The Lewis Gun, Degtyaryov machine gun and the American-180 use pan magazines.


100rd-ar-16-m16-drum-magazines-korean-beta-mag-clone 1

Beta-C Drum Magazine

A round shaped magazine intended to hold more rounds; earlier models were complicated, expensive and heavy. They are often seen on weapons in a squad automatic weapon role.

Helical Edit

Helical magazines are essentially elongated drum magazines. The cartridges, as one would expect, are stored in a spiral configuration. A rotating follower, known as a drive member, indexes the rounds for feeding. This design increases a magazine's capacity while retaining relative compactness of the firearm. This magazine is used on the Calico and PP-19 Bizon submachine gun.

See also Edit

References Edit