Detachable mag on a bolt-action: good or bad? Which rifles have them?


October 4, 2004, 07:27 PM
Hi all.

I'm starting to gather data on bolt-action rifles and think that a detachable mag is a great feature for the speed of reloading that it offers.

1) Is a detachable mag a good or bad idea for a bolt-action rifle?

2) What quality bolt-action rifles have detachable mags?

3) Is a detachable mag better or worse than the internal mags that you load through the bolt that seem to be standard?


If you enjoyed reading about "Detachable mag on a bolt-action: good or bad? Which rifles have them?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
October 4, 2004, 07:41 PM
The only mag fed bolt guns I have are a Marlin .22 mag. So for what it's worth

I prefer the mag setup.
I can carry my rounds either in the gun or out. If I need to for any reason I can seperate the rounds from the gun much easier. And I can reload easier with a second or third mag in my pocket
They seem to be as accurate as any other .22 I have and much more than most

Can't answer your other two questions

October 4, 2004, 08:00 PM
Just added a 10 round HS Precision mag kit to my 700P recently. Nice little upgrade since the entire thing is teflon coated SS instead of the alloy factory unit. Feeds just as well as the factory unit and makes quick loading and unloading a snap. Required minor fitting to the stock, but nothing 20 minutes with some sandpaper couldn't do.

5 round mags are also available if you dont feel comfortable with a big magazine hanging below the rifle. ;)

October 4, 2004, 08:02 PM
I don't know much about commercial bolt-actions, so I won't really answer your question. "Good or bad" will probably depend on your intended usage anyway.

Based on my exposure to milsurps, though, I would say that clips (and I mean clips) can be at least as fast during a reload as detachable magazines. They are also cheaper and take up a lot less space.

I'm not saying detachable mags are bad, but if you've never handled a clip-fed bolt gun you may want to find one.

October 4, 2004, 08:27 PM
only detachable mag bolt i have is the sig shr970..

October 4, 2004, 08:57 PM
Find a used Sako TRG-S.

October 4, 2004, 09:04 PM
1) Is a detachable mag a good or bad idea for a bolt-action rifle?

2) What quality bolt-action rifles have detachable mags?

3) Is a detachable mag better or worse than the internal mags that you load through the bolt that seem to be standard?

1) Pretty much a mixed bag.

2) Lots of them. The Tikka T3, some Remington 700s (like mine :D ), etc.

3) About the same. To me, the advantage of a fixed mag is that it's tougher and one less thing to lose. The advantage of a detachable mag is that you can carry a bunch of them so if one breaks, you have spares. Additionally, you can reload a detachable mag rifle from the top through the bolt or by popping out the mag,.

October 4, 2004, 09:10 PM
What quality bolt-action rifles have detachable mags? Why, the Enfield Mk4No1, of course. :)

October 4, 2004, 09:46 PM
One downside to detachable mags is that you often give up one round of capacity to the fixed mags. E.g. in the CZ 550 American line of bolties the fixed mag version of their non-magnums holds 5 rounds, while the detachable mag holds 4. You'll probably find most other manufacturers do the same thing, with the exception of "tactical" rifles (they often will have 10+round mags available), but those usually aren't as well suited to hunting anyway. Most hunting rifles will have mags that are flush to the underside of the stock.

As someone already mentioned, reloading with stripper clips is pretty fast. But if you have a modern glassed hunting gun, you'll find those clips don't work very well. The scope kinda gets in the way.

If you're planning on using this rifle as a hunting weapon, I really don't think the advantages of a detachable mag make much difference. I mean, if you can't hit the deer with the first 5 shots what makes you think the faster reload will help?

If this is to be a paper puncher, the speed of reloading is also probably immaterial. You're not going to get very good groups from firing very rapidly, so short of some time limit in a competition, slowing down to reload might even be a benifit.

As to your specific questions:

1. They are not "bad". Whether or not they are "good" depends on what you want from the rifle.

2. Lots. CZ, Tika, Remmy, Probably Winnie, and probably most others.

3. I think fixed mag has more advantages for your typical hunter, and group-shooter. Detachable mags have their place though.

My advise is this: First decide what you want the rifle to be best at (plains hunting, woods/brush hunting, varminting, long range target shooting, plinking, homeland defense against MZNBs *, ect). This will tell you how important a detachable mag will be. Then find the rifle you like best for that purpose, and then see if it can be had with a detachable mag. If not, either buy it and learn to love the fixed mag, or continue your search for a rifle that you really like that does have a detachable mag.

* Mutant Zombie Ninja Bears

October 4, 2004, 10:03 PM
The ammo has to be sized to fit the detachable magazine's length. And, at least with the Remington 700 DBM variants, that's considerably shorter than the non-detachable magazine variant. There normally shouldn't be a problem with that, it should be no different than an M14, BM-59, FAL, etc.

Here's the rub: Remington has chosen to make their barrel throats excessively long in the short-action .308 rifles like the VS, PSS, LTR, etc. What this means is that your ammo has to fit the length of the detachable magazine, if you don't want it to be a single-shot. That same ammo may then be too short in OAL to give optimal accuracy once chambered - the bullet has to jump quite a ways to engage the rifling in the barrel.

There are ways to fix this. Remington can stop cutting barrel throats so deep. Or the owner can have the barrel taken back a thread or two, and clean up the chamber to the tight side of the specs. Barring that, the owner can either go with less-than-optimal accuracy, or load ammo that has a longer OAL, and use the gun as a single-shot. :(

That's one of the reasons I didn't convert my own 700PSS to the detachable box magazine system. The one change I did was add the ArmsTech extra-capacity floorplate, which allows 7 rounds of .308, or 9 rounds of .223 to fit in the guns magazine, all at the magazine (and ammo) length of the original system.

rust collector
October 4, 2004, 10:04 PM
I have detachable mags on K-31s, a 788 and a T-3. I have had good luck with them, but they are treated much like the mags on enfields--they are left in position. I would like to have spares in my pocket (T-3 holds 3 rounds in 308) but am reluctant to part with $40 and up for simple box mags.

I agree with the others: probably not a big deal, but yet another handy idea that works in concert with other features to make a gun a bit better for my purposes.

Stripper clips work great when optics don't interfere, but alas--most of us old timers can't see or hear without help.

October 4, 2004, 10:13 PM
First gun i ever baught was a Savage bolt action .22. It has a ten round detachable mag in what i can only describe as a banana clip configuration. The reason i prefer detachables is that with some yo can squeeze an extra round in there. :D

October 4, 2004, 10:20 PM
The best detachable magazine system that I've used is the Sako Model 75. They are good magazines, same capacity as the fixed magazines, can be top loaded and sit solidly in the action.

I like detachable magazines for those occasions when leaving a loaded rifle out isn't practical. The rifle stays empty with a magazine in your pocket or nearby.

October 4, 2004, 10:40 PM
Remington 788 for one.

The main advantage I can see is loading / unloading more quickly, rather than carry extra loaded mags for hunting. I rarely shoot more than one or two rounds anyway.

Most states it is illegal to carry a loaded rifle in a vehicle, at least during hunting season.

It's handy to leave the mag loaded but separate from the rifle, and the bolt open on the gun. That way all you have to do is insert the mag and close the bolt ;).

Doug S
October 4, 2004, 10:52 PM
My CZ 527 Carbine has a detachable mag that holds 5 rounds. Don't really know anything about the merits of this type (other than whats already been said), but I do like it for ease of loading/unloading.

October 4, 2004, 11:08 PM
The one change I did was add the ArmsTech extra-capacity floorplate

I cannot find this anywhere, even with some googling. Can you post a photo of it, and where I might find one?

October 4, 2004, 11:17 PM

And here's a pic or two of the ArmsTech extended floorplate, as installed on my 700PSS:

October 4, 2004, 11:23 PM

So basically, If your rifle is accurate with factory loaded ammo (or at least ammo with the same OAL) than there should not be an issue, correct?

My rig shoots about .5 MOA with Federal GMM and I don't handload so I'm not too worried. Don't think much more accuracy could be achieved with the factory tube. Just wanted to see if I was understanding you. :)

FWIW.....there is a bit of space in front of the cartridge when loaded in a mag. Not quite sure how much is desirable as I'm not a reloader.

October 4, 2004, 11:42 PM
But an excessively long throat in conjunction with a short cartridge OAL can be detrimental to accuracy. There are ways around it, to include things like the Berger LTB (Length Tolerant Bullet) family. If you're getting 0.5 MOA from Federal Gold Medal Match ammo in your rifle, that's pretty darned good. But if you buy a Stoney Point Bullet Comparator tool, and actually miked how far your bullet has to jump before it engages the rifling in your barrel, you'd be in for a bit of a surprise. If you can adjust either the ammo's OAL, or the barrel's throat length, your 0.5 MOA Remington could very well shrink groups further. It's an old benchrest technique that goes way back.

But that fix in itself is a problem, because it defeats the purpose of the detachable box magazine. So you're at a compromise, keeping the ammo short enough to work and function reliably in the detachable box mag, while trying to give it enough OAL to optimize accuracy. Regardless, a 0.5 MOA gun is nothing to sneeze at, especially with out-of-the-box ammo.

October 4, 2004, 11:47 PM
Well, the enfield No 4 was mentioned. FWIW, that particular rifle was also designed to be loaded with the mag inserted via stripper clip. I'm not sure if the brits originally intended it to be loaded by the mag itself. Anyone with some more info would be useful though :)

October 5, 2004, 12:09 AM
Thanks for the quick lesson Gewehr98......appreciated.

October 5, 2004, 10:10 AM
Don't think anyone mentioned the renowned Steyr Mannlicher with the detachable mag? Top class, in my book.

Harold Mayo
October 5, 2004, 11:32 AM
My own experience:

With only the Remington factory detachable magazines and with the HS Precision detachable magazine assembly...

Unlike many, I never had a problem with the Remington model but did not really like it over the regular integral magazine.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had the HS Precision unit installed on my modified PSS. I liked it OK but was not overly thrilled with it. A little difficult to manipulate at times and had an unsecured o-ring around it to keep it from rattling. I was not thrilled with that part. Fed VERY well but I got rid of it and will not have one again unless there is a change.

I haven't had BAD experiences with detachable magazines but I don't see any real benefit to them, either. With a bolt rifle, my own personal needs and uses see me firing a round or two and that's it. I don't need a lot of rounds in a bolt gun. If ever I need an accurate .308 with a lot of rounds, I'll but an AR-10(T) or equivalent and have 20 rounds in a detachable magazine.

Just my own $0.02, though.

October 5, 2004, 12:14 PM
I have both and have not really liked or dis-liked either system. My Remingtons are all non-detatchable magazine and my Blaser has a detachable 5 shot magazine. Will say I have never had a feeding problem with the Remingtons, but have with the Blaser. The spring has a tab that slides under the feed ramp / follower and it was pushed too far forward. So one side of the ramp sat higher than the other. Once I popped the spring back into it's correct position I have never had a feeding problem again. Took me a while to find the problem. Once I took the magazine apart to clean, thinking that was the problem I saw the problem. At $100 a piece I wasn't real happy to think I had a bad one.

October 6, 2004, 01:45 AM
Accuracy International .308 has a detachable mag, that should count for something. (one of the best rifles in the world.)

October 6, 2004, 02:47 AM
Most bolt guns I've seen with feeding problems have a detachable mag. After noticing this I've shied away from this set up since I'm not concerned with fast loading.If you only want fast unloading look at a hinged floorplate model.

October 6, 2004, 05:13 AM
Have 2 tikka 595's (whitetails) mags are great.
Means that I can have the mag out and the bolt back and drive in the car without breaking too many laws.

Works even better when we are doing culling work for farmers and have alot of targets in the spotlight.
Also means that I can have one up the spout and a full mag behind it (6 in 223) with another 5 in my pocket ready to go.


October 6, 2004, 08:33 AM
My Savage 111C has a detachable magazine (30-06) which works nicely.


October 6, 2004, 03:21 PM
The Schmidt-Rubin 1911 and K-31s have detachable mags, although they're designed to be loaded from chargers.

My Browning A-bolt has a detachable mag, and I've had some issues with it. It doesnt like to feed with 3 rounds remaining in the mag. It'll work with 1, 2, or 4, but not 3. Don't know why.

October 6, 2004, 04:58 PM

my tikka has 6 round detatchable mags in 223.

Great rifle btw.


October 7, 2004, 12:06 AM
Though far from being a statistically significant sample, almost everyone who has replied here with experience with rifles with detachable mags has had problems with them.

Although they are probably in the minority (no offense of course, guys, just simple statistics), the chances seem greater that I would have a problem with a detachable mag than with a rifle without one.

That and I have been thinking and can't really come up with a situation (save for the most incredible and fanciful SHTF scenarios) where I'd need to shoot THAT many rounds through a bolt gun THAT quickly.

I guess I'll stick with the standard mag. :)


October 7, 2004, 08:21 AM
I never had problems with the Steyr Mannlicher, but they were designed for the detachable mag. The older ones have a snail configuration. My Scout has a conventional double stack config.

in all fairness, most of the ones like Rem 700s mentioned are aftermarket conversions. I somehow get the impression of teenage boys with Honda Civics, ground effects body parts, and loud exhaust systems when I see some conversions. :D

But you got to pay for the Steyr, usu. about 2X a Rem 700 so the quality costs.

October 7, 2004, 08:48 AM
The Lee-enfield is probably the most-used bolt with a detachable mag, and it was designed to load through stripper clips (through the action).

Most modern hunting rifles with DM's do reasonably well, but a fixed mag is generally more practical. I know people who've had detachable mags suddenly detach on them midhunt..... unlike military rifles, civilian hunting rifles don't always have the best placement of mag releases. The Savage works well and you have to WANT to detach it for it to come free. I've heard the Tikka's is good too.

October 7, 2004, 09:23 AM
It always seemed to me that most rifles with box mags had shorter and steeper feedramps than those with integral magazines, and therefore were much more ammo- and follower-sensitive as a result.

It's probably not so much that there's a hard ligature there as much as it may be a view into differing design goals - rifles without box magazines aren't being designed with uber-short receiver lengths in mind, while rifles with box magazines may be more commonly designed to also be as light/short as possible.

Doug S
October 7, 2004, 12:57 PM
It's probably not so much that there's a hard ligature there as much as it may be a view into differing design goals - rifles without box magazines aren't being designed with uber-short receiver lengths in mind, while rifles with box magazines may be more commonly designed to also be as light/short as possible.

I think you're on to something there. I know that is how my CZ 527 Carbine was designed. Also, I've not had any feeding problems with it, although I've not shot it much (about 40 rounds).

October 8, 2004, 07:13 AM
The British Government actually went with the stripper clip design so they wouldn't have to pay as much in royalties to the magazine designer. Only one magazine per soldier as opposed to 4 or 5, plus clips were less bulky and generally faster to reload.

October 8, 2004, 07:51 AM
Although my expirience isn't with a bolt gun (Remmy 7600 in .308), there is one advantage that hasn't been presented yet. I could carry a mag with deer ammo and another with elk ammo.

I have since sold it and got a 700 in 300 WM, but I have considered switching mine over for this same reason. I am not sure about other states, but here our seasons overlap a bit.

If you enjoyed reading about "Detachable mag on a bolt-action: good or bad? Which rifles have them?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!