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A Brief History of Magazines for Firearms

A Brief History of Magazines for Firearms

What is a Magazine?

A magazine is best defined as a device that is used for storing and feeding ammunition to a firearm. Every magazine should serve one crucial purpose, feeding the ammunition stored in a cartridge to a chamber that positions the bullets in a manner that makes it straightforward for the gun to fire the bullet at the target. Magazines can be detachable or fixed to the firearm. Magazines are available in a vast variety of dimensions and capacities, including small tubular magazines for rifles to removable drums for machine guns. Finding the magazine that serves your purpose and fits your gun is the key to becoming an ideal user of your firearm.

Some of the most primitive firearms used powder and lead balls. A single chamber was never enough to fire more than a single shot in a very short period of time. This led to the invention of pepperbox guns, multi-barreled shotguns, and revolvers. Repeaters were considered extremely complex to build and implement in guns, leading people to settle for multiple barrels.

The First Tubular

The Volcanic Rifle ripped open the road to modern magazines. A spring-loaded tube was used to push the ammunition into the chamber. Its popularity suffered as a result of the unimpressive power of the bullets it fired.

The Volcanic Rifle was followed by the Henry Repeating Rifle, a breech-loading, lever-action rifle that was fed by a tubular magazine. It was designed and developed in 1860 by Benjamin Tyler Henry. The cartridges of this rifle were stored within the rifle itself, making it a breakthrough in the field of warfare and gun design. The New Haven Arms Company produced this gun and it was also used to a limited extent in the American Civil War.

In the late 1800s, legendary bolt-action rifles like the Mauser Model 1871 were used in large-scale warfare with tubular magazines.

The Integral Box

It was not long before the military understood the value of smaller bullets and higher velocities. Large-bore cartridges were rapidly morphing into smaller bores that fired bullets that were far lighter than their predecessors. Smokeless propellants were also employed for a wide variety of purposes. One of the earliest rifles to implement smokeless cartridges was the Lebel Model 1886. Soon, these rifles evolved into clip fed guns. The Model 1888 Commission Rifle and the 8mm Lebel Berthier Rifle adopted this new technology quite quickly.

Removable Box Magazines

By the time the Savage Model 99 marched into the market, detachable box magazines were very popular. Their versatility meant that those who fired these guns did not have to worry about carrying loose rounds anymore. Semi-Automatic pistols like the Borchardt C-93 were some of the first to successfully capture the fascination of gun enthusiasts and militaries alike. With the advent of World War 2, there was a surge in the demand for better technology. This led to the development of 20 to 40-round box magazines for powerful machine guns like the M1 Carbine. Detachable magazines soon spread around the world and became the most popular way to reload weapons.

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