Why No 30-Rnd. Mags on .308 rifles (and the few 30 rnd mags that are made are junk?)
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Thread: Why No 30-Rnd. Mags on .308 rifles (and the few 30 rnd mags that are made are junk?)

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    Gunco Member devitor's Avatar
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    Postak Why No 30-Rnd. Mags on .308 rifles (and the few 30 rnd mags that are made are junk?)

    I'm a rank newbie to the forum (just introduced myself in the intro thread), but have been studying these rifles for some years now.

    I saw the thread about 30-round mags for FALs and one of the problems with these mags is that their weight makes them sag in the well or slip on the mag catch and this causes the rounds to misfeed. I know DSA used to sell the curved 30-round FAL mags and now you can't find them anywhere.

    Moving to the M-14/M1A, just about every 30-round mag I've seen on video or read about is garbage -- same thing for the G3/HK91 mags.

    What's the deal with 30-round mags in .308? It seems like 20 is the limit -- unless you get a Galil .308 in which case, you get 25 (but Galils have no bolt hold-open).

    Why is 30 rounds in a .308 mag so problematic? Weight of the mag? Spring? Length? (from what I've seen in pics, the 30-round .308 mags tend to be a foot long) All of the above?

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    Citizen, Patriot, Ranger bellson's Avatar
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    Two reasons, like it or not for the 30 round mag issue.

    1. The rifles were not designed to handle them, they were designed to handle 20 round mags. That has as much to do with the part and pieces of the rifles as it does the ergonomics....Try to get down and dirty with a 30 rounder, and you will figure it out very quick. They just get in the way.

    2. You add 10-12% more weight to the rifle. Harder to carry for 20-35 miles, harder to shoulder and fire with accuracy, harder to deal with the logistics of supply.

    The FAL 30 rounders were select issue items. I am not aware of issue HK or CETME mags, and the M-14 was NEVER issued with anything but 10 and 20 round mags. As a matter of fact, the 25 round mags that were availible as Gov. Mil. Spec were rejected due to the ergonomics and the reliability.

    My best advise:

    If you want 30 round mags, buy an AR or an AK. If you want an LMG, buy one and lots of links. If you are fortunate enough to own a fine Battle Rifle in 7.62.51 NATO, stick with the issue mags. They go bang every time.
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    Gunsmith Fritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellson View Post
    Two reasons, like it or not for the 30 round mag issue.

    1. The rifles were not designed to handle them, they were designed to handle 20 round mags. That has as much to do with the part and pieces of the rifles as it does the ergonomics....Try to get down and dirty with a 30 rounder, and you will figure it out very quick. They just get in the way.

    2. You add 10-12% more weight to the rifle. Harder to carry for 20-35 miles, harder to shoulder and fire with accuracy, harder to deal with the logistics of supply.

    The FAL 30 rounders were select issue items. I am not aware of issue HK or CETME mags, and the M-14 was NEVER issued with anything but 10 and 20 round mags. As a matter of fact, the 25 round mags that were availible as Gov. Mil. Spec were rejected due to the ergonomics and the reliability.

    My best advise:

    If you want 30 round mags, buy an AR or an AK. If you want an LMG, buy one and lots of links. If you are fortunate enough to own a fine Battle Rifle in 7.62.51 NATO, stick with the issue mags. They go bang every time.
    This.

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    Gunco Member devitor's Avatar
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    Default 30-Rnd. Mags and Battle Rifles

    Bellson and Fritz,

    Thank you. I had a feeling length and weight were part of the issue -- just from looking at those FAL mags. I can't see shooting prone with one of those things dangling a foot down. Your body would be thrown out of whack.

    I know any battle rifle mag that holds more than 20 is after-market -- and they're awful. Not one person who used them had any good results. If you watch on YouTube (unfortunately his audio got zapped), you can see at 4:34 he slaps in a 30 on an M1A. Within 10 seconds the rifle is malfunctioning. By 5:02 the catch tab is broken off and the only way he can use it is to hold it in with his hand....



    My question is "why?" and I think you've answered at least part of it. Yeah, the ergonomics and logistics don't work too well, but you could almost forgive that if the magazines actually worked.

    From a mechanical/reliability standpoint -- what is it that makes the 30s so unreliable? Seems to me like the extra weight just does not let it sit in the well right and you need a bigger more powerful spring to push the rounds up, which causes mis-feeds -- at least that's my theory on it.

    From what I see if I do buy one of these rifles, I'll be taking both your advice and not using anything but standard 20s (or the 25 in the case of the Galil .308, which is a the standard for that particular rifle).
    Last edited by devitor; 03-05-2009 at 06:37 AM. Reason: I botched the YouTube embed, so I made it a URL.

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    Gunco Member TheRedHorseman's Avatar
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    The Bren .308 magazines that are wrongly considered to be FAL 30 rounders are reliable because they were engineered to be a 30 round magazine.

    The reason so many aftermarket mags are unreliable is due to them either welding together a couple of 20s, or just lengthening the design of a 20 rounder. 30 round .308 mags can be made, they can be reliable, but few have been made.

    The biggest reason that they never were issued has already been stated: it's too stinking big.
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    Citizen, Patriot, Ranger bellson's Avatar
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    Hi Devitor,

    Begin Story:

    What I have found with aftermarket mags in general, and I believe this applies to mags such as the 30 round M1A mags, is that the steel used is not properly tempered after the mag bodies are formed, and before they have the finish applied.

    A good example of this:

    I bought 16 30rd stainless steel mags for my wife's stainless mini-14. Got a great deal on them. Load 10 rounds, works fine. Load 20 rounds, works fine. Anything over 23 rounds and you got a string of issues. On the advise of JRS (a member here) I got out my handy dandy dial micrometer and started taking measurements as I loaded the mags slowly. Sure enough, by the time I got to 23 rounds, the entire mag body was both swelled and distorted. The result was that the geometry of the double stack of bullets changed enough to cause issues with 60% of the rounds in the mag!

    The fix?
    1. Rubber mallet to resize (very gentle persuasion) the mag bodies to match a Ruger Factory 20 rounder.
    2. Took all of the mag bodies to a shop down in Los Angeles and had them temper the mag bodies to increase stiffness springyness (?) and rigidity.
    3. Worked on the plastic followers, and eventually changed them out for some better units.

    Net result:
    1. The magazines cost me twice what they should have.
    2. My wife will not touch that Mini-14 for fear of a failure.
    3. All of the magazines now function flawlessly.

    What a pain in the ass!!!!!!

    The same kinds of things apply to Promags, USA mags, etc. They do not temper the bodies, and the bodies are somewhat soft and not springy and rigid enough.

    End of Story.

    Quote Originally Posted by devitor View Post
    Bellson and Fritz,

    Thank you. I had a feeling length and weight were part of the issue -- just from looking at those FAL mags. I can't see shooting prone with one of those things dangling a foot down. Your body would be thrown out of whack.

    I know any battle rifle mag that holds more than 20 is after-market -- and they're awful. Not one person who used them had any good results. If you watch on YouTube (unfortunately his audio got zapped), you can see at 4:34 he slaps in a 30 on an M1A. Within 10 seconds the rifle is malfunctioning. By 5:02 the catch tab is broken off and the only way he can use it is to hold it in with his hand....

    YouTube - wintershoot

    My question is "why?" and I think you've answered at least part of it. Yeah, the ergonomics and logistics don't work too well, but you could almost forgive that if the magazines actually worked.

    From a mechanical/reliability standpoint -- what is it that makes the 30s so unreliable? Seems to me like the extra weight just does not let it sit in the well right and you need a bigger more powerful spring to push the rounds up, which causes mis-feeds -- at least that's my theory on it.

    From what I see if I do buy one of these rifles, I'll be taking both your advice and not using anything but standard 20s (or the 25 in the case of the Galil .308, which is a the standard for that particular rifle).
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    Bellson

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    Gunco Member devitor's Avatar
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    All:

    Thank you...further to the discussion, I'm surprised that no one has come up with a snail or double-snail drum for these rifles like they have for the AR15/M16/M4 and for the AKs. 90 rounds in the former and 75 -- I've even seen 100 in the latter. AK drums never fail. I know the old AR drums were junk, but the new ones actually work.

    I don't know why an AR/AK can handle the extra weight of 90 - 100 rounds but a .308 battle rifle can't handle the weight of 30??? The only conclusion I can come up with here is that the problem lies in the magazine latch system. The AK has two huge tabs; the AR looks strong too, though cheap mags tend to settle low in the catch leading to nice misfeeds.

    We agree on the length issue of a 30 round .308 box. It's just too cumbersome. The deforming of the Mini-14 mag means that the mags were garbage. But there are many good standard 30, even 40 round Mini-14 mags that actually work well. Certainly, it appears that every last 30-round battle rifle mag falls in roughly the same category as the dud Mini-14 mags you had to mod.

    As an aside, one thing I can't figure out is why the AK/Valmet/Galil never had a bolt-hold open, while just about everything else does. I know some Galil mags have a large follower that acts as a primitive bolt hold-open to at least let you know you've run out, but once you pull the mag, the bolt drops and you have to do a full re-cock. No biggie if the rifle is a range queen, but if you are staking your life on this, the lack of a bolt hold-open is a big deal, as is having to take your right hand off the stock and rotate the rifle to cycle the action -- but I could be wrong on both counts?

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    Gunco Good ole boy kernelkrink's Avatar
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    Another factor that ups the reliabilty of the BREN mags (in the BREN) is the fact that they feed down from the top, gravity is both helping feeding and keeping it in the magwell.

    Several manufacturers have made .308 drums, HK has a plastic one for the G3 and Beta has one as well. At least one guy also converts German "Doppeltrommel" mags to fit various service rifles.

    http://www.betaco.com/products.asp?rid=18

    50 round .308 drum magazine for H&K G3, PTR 91, SW91 and FAL | The Firearm Blog

    HK 72rnd. Magazine For 91 Series : for Heckler & Koch at GunBroker.com

    In the FAL, the inch pattern rifles have that huge machined lug on the front, wear and falling out shouldn't be an issue with those mags. The metric pattern, OTOH, with the small stamped tab might be a problem.

    Last shot BHO is probably a holdover from the days when many automatics had internal mags that had to be reloaded through the open action, such as the Broomhandle Mauser and the Garand. Some militaries like the feature, some dont. You build your rifles to what the purchaser wants, I'm sure if Russia had wanted a BHO on last shot feature it would have been included.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kernelkrink View Post
    Last shot BHO is probably a holdover from the days when many automatics had internal mags that had to be reloaded through the open action, such as the Broomhandle Mauser and the Garand. Some militaries like the feature, some dont. You build your rifles to what the purchaser wants, I'm sure if Russia had wanted a BHO on last shot feature it would have been included.
    With an AR it definitely speeds up reloading, and you can tell it's back because the recoil spring doesn't make noise after shooting [nice feature, but if in combat would you be able to hear it?]. Though when it's unreliable [like with the FAL, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't], so if you rely on the hold open and it doesn't work you have to think about it for a second and use the charging handle... I don't know why the russians wouldn't want to have bolt hold open on the AK.

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    Gunco Member devitor's Avatar
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    Oh my Gawd! Those drums are sick! And I say that in a good way. I checked out both pages -- the 50-rounder and the 100-round twin snail. I can see them for law enforcement and for us civvies on the range, but I don't see them for soldiers. Some of those drums are $300 - $500. I know Chuck Taylor advocated an empty magazine pouch, but in combat, I suspect a lot of guys just dump their empty mags on the ground and get replacements. You wouldn't do this with a drum that costs hundreds of dollars. But, they definitely solve the length issue and the reliability issue by how they're engineered.

    To the bolt-hold-open issue -- which of the following rifles -- in your opinion -- has the most reliable one: FAL, M14/1A and M1 Garand, AR-10, Rock River Arms LAR-8, G3/HK91/CETME ? We already know the AK-types don't have one, so I've eliminated the Valmet and the Galil from this list. Thanks much.

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