High Capacity Magazines

By David Lake

As Essential to Repeating Arms as the Trigger

No magazine will likely ever be the star addition to your gun collection. The magazine will never get an honorable mention in a war documentary. It’s just a small rectangular device we often take for granted as a necessary peripheral item that facilitates our shooting hobby. The detachable ammunition-feeding device should be more. It should be held in high regard—as something of great historical interest and significance. The development of the detachable magazine parallels the history and development of the small arm—as the modern repeating arm could not exist without its magazine.


In the interest of brevity, the internal box magazine common to bolt-action rifles, as well as the stripper clip, used to top off a fixed magazine and the aging single-stack magazine will only be discussed here in comparative reference. This is about the high capacity magazine: Man’s best attempts to provide the soldier and hobbyist with the most firepower he can hold in his two hands. To not wax political, there will be little mention here of any magazine that holds fewer than 11 rounds. As a general consideration, a high capacity magazine is one that is only limited in its size and capacity by the intent and functionality prescribed by that weapon’s designer, as any weapon must remain practical and convenient for the user of said weapon. Surely, the advent of the magazine as it is accepted today must be attributed to the military’s need for superior firepower. As warring forces sought to outdo one another, the infantry arm has always been at the forefront of the (literal) arms race. More power, more distance, higher fire rate and more ammo all equate to success and dominance over an opposing force. This endeavor continues with the military as well as modern law enforcement today. As it applies to the hobby shooter, we accept and uphold that it is our right as Americans to own and utilize our small arms for any and all lawful purposes. The practicality and utility of a high-capacity feeding device are not in question,...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N9 (November 2018)
and was posted online on September 21, 2018


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