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Why are magazines loaded from the bottom so common?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by BSA1, Jul 3, 2016.

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  1. Orcon

    Orcon Member

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    Tube magazines wouldn't be practical in a modern rifle for a couple of reasons. Magazine capacity and and bullet selection. Not to say that they don't work well for short action carbine and pistol cartridges but think about the logistics of a tube fed 270 win.

    I wouldn't classify a lever gun as a lightweight option. I know for a fact that my Savage 99 has way more steel on it than my Stevens 200 and is considerably heavier than a bolt gun with a comparable barrel length. Nothing makes you feel more American than toting a nice blue and walnut through the woods, though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  2. Stormbilly

    Stormbilly Member

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    I wouldn't exactly say that lever actions are great for prone shooting though. It can be a real pain to work the lever while in prone. I actually find an ar easier to shoot prone than my lever actions. Not to mention the problems with bullet selection in tube magazines that was previously stated.
     
  3. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    1 meter long, the same length as an M16: (first model, top, the second model was a inch or so longer)

    FG42.jpg

    Low Maintenance Rifle (technology demonstrator):
    trw_lmr2.jpg

    MG-30
    solothurn_s2-100.jpg

    Bern Rifle
    bern2.jpg

    Let's not forget the Krag-Jorgensen
    Krag-bolt-back.jpg



    As to the Henry rifle, the major problem with thos is you have to monkey around with the muzzle of the weapon and drop the cartridges in from the front (and don't put one in backwards.) Nelson King's patented loading gate made the Henry design practical.

    It should also be noted that the French Lebel used a tubular magazine under the barrel.

    Personal weapons?

    Just about every automatic pistol that exists today is recoil operated, and many early semi-automatic shotguns. As to rifles, the Johnson M1941 rifle.

    For rifles, the recoiling barrel bring accuracy issues that are less important to machine guns, which there are many recoils operated designs, Maxim/Vickers, M1917, M1919, M2, MG-34. MG42, MG-3.

    In BIG guns, recoil operation is used extensively in semi-automatic operation, all Soviet/Russian naval guns, Bofors, Oto-Melera 3 inch the US 3 in/50 and 3 in/70.
     
  4. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

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    Should have said personal shoulder fired weapons.

    Obviously most pistols are various short recoil operated.

    BSW
     
  5. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    I once turned a Hakim upside down and made a side trunnoned
    pintle mount for a socket on the back of a jeep and feed it very cheap 8mm ammo thru 30 round MG42 mags. to hold it below eye level and sight by the dust signiture while someone drove in the high desert ect.
     
  6. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    I still cannot imagine what it was like to have that mag of 7.92mm dangling off the port side; nor of the ergonomics of a mag change.

    I'm guessing you have to just clamp down hard on the pistol grip while the off hand sorts out the mag change--but you'd have to break stance doing so, to my thinking.

    I figure someday, some on will stand the rounds up vertically, and run the mag out either out under the barrel, or on both sides of it; we've seen nearly every other way.
     
  7. entropy

    entropy Member

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    That's because it was plain from the context of the thread we are referring to high capacity detachable magazines. And I did mention the one high capacity under the barrel magazined gun I know of, the Bizon SMG. Anyone know of any others?
     
  8. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I am surprised that of top-loaders the Danish Madsen light machine gun was not mentioned. I remember full coverage in WHB Smith's "Small Arms of the World"--the recoil operated action was very compact. Used from 1902 onward into the 21st Century in at least 12 calibers by over 30 different countries (may still be in use by the Brazilian Military Police).
     
  9. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Do keep in mind that 99.9+ percent of the time all one does with a rifle in the military is carry it.

    Magazines sticking out at angles OTHER THAN the angle that the pistol grip or drop of stock is already pointing just makes the weapon more difficult to handle for that 99.9+ percent of the time.

    As for the top loaders or 1 o'clock loaders......do you really want to stick a visual obstruction between you and probable target areas?

    Already noted is the observation mentioned in "Shots Fired In Anger" about the Japanese LMG top loading magazine being a target indicator. Besides the book I have heard the same from a vet of the Phillipines in WWII.

    Everything has draw backs. Take the BREN...... every body likes to point out that with the top loading mag one can get closer to the ground. Really? What is the shortest setting on the bipod.....oh wait most are not adjustable! Just drop the gun over a log or some such? Where does it eject? Straight down and you need to have at an absolute minimum enough space for an empty .303 cartridge the long way between the bottom of the gun and anything.

    You think putting a magazine in a "standard" rifle with bottom feed magazine is hard under fire? Try the gymnastics of loading a top feeder with hands and elbows above your head.

    Try doing some thing other than standing on the square range banging away on a Sunday afternoon with a STEN sometime. Do some sort of movement course against the clock. If you keep your firing hand on the stock or pistol grip (Mark V) and are dashing about with that long side mounted magazine you will be amazed at how much time gets eaten up by avoiding your non firing arm, web gear and what have you.

    You like the Owen and Austen? Try dropping into the prone with one under fire in the woods, jungle, rocky crevase. A magazine shoved end first into your face or neck or chest is no fun at all.

    People have some odd notions about what it takes to load a magazine into a rifle. Brian Haig in one of his books talks about how everyone knows how terribly long it takes to load a magazine in to an M-16A1. I have to wonder what he was actually doing (other than invading Boy Scout Camps) when he was actually an Infantry Platoon leader. I happen to know that most folks in the platoon he supposedly lead could have loaded and dumped the mag in less time than he mentions.

    Like any other skill the secrets to mag changes are 1. Knowing How and 2. Practice and 3. More practice.

    I notice that the FG42, TRW LMR and Swiss AK57 are no longer in use anywhere.......

    -kBob
     
  10. TRX

    TRX Member

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    Unless the magazine can somehow be switched to the other side, it just makes things even *more* awkward for a left-handed shooter.
     
  11. BSA1

    BSA1 member

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    Magazine capacity for hunting use and self-defense is fine but big handicap for use by the military.

    Winchester addressed use of large cartridges such as the .270 with their 1895 Model. It has a box magazine that is loaded from the top. It functioned well enough to find acceptance by some foreign countries in the early 1900’s and W.W.1. Of course many Generals still believed that more rapid firing guns would just result in ammunition being wasted.

    I overlooked that. Good point about working the lever while prone. Both the bolt and semi-automatic are superior in this regard.

    Bullet selection has improved with the use of plastic tips on bullets such as Hornady’s. I don’t know what this style of bullet merits are as a military round.
     
  12. amlevin

    amlevin Member

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    I'd say that after 100+ years of development, magazine placement has been pretty well figured out. For combat weapons, simple works best.
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Side-mounted magazine housings complicate crating for shipping or storage, compared to vertical magazine housings. An exception was the Sten Mark II: the magazine housing (sans magazine) could be rotated from side to down for transport or storage.

    ADDED: The WWI Pedersen Device, a semi-automatic bolt mechanism for the Springfield rifle, used a top-mounted magazine that fed from an angle from the right. Pre-WWII Springfield Armory entered a Garand design in the .30 carbine competitions that also fed from the right top at a 45 degree angle and ejected to the left bottom.

    Everything has been tried, and apparently only vertical bottom feed has stood the test of time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Maybe already mentioned and I missed it, but with a bottom fed magazine, gravity helps in ejecting the magazine and preparing the rifle for a new charged one. Maybe not a big help in prone but at least you get to keep your head and arms down.

    Other disadvantages aside, the M1 Garand ejects the empty en bloc clip making one less thing for the rifleman to do on reloading.
     
  15. Trent

    Trent Member

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    Not by my account, they aren't!

    I had an original Calico and sold it back in 1999 during the AWB. Thing was plagued with magazine issues. The helical feed drum inner sprocket ridges were prone to chipping and breaking, and spare parts were not available at the time.

    No, that design was novel, but horrid.

    The PS90's is not really complicated at all. Sure it has to turn ammunition 90 degrees to be able to feed, but it does this by mechanical advantage; not moving components. In my personal experience it's phenomenally more reliable than the Calico was.

    The calico was a horrible design, for the prone-to-breakage issues I identified above; but the PS90's magazine is not really all THAT complicated. It's a box mag which forces rounds to turn by simple mechanical advantage. Unlike the Calico there's no gearing, no multiple feed chutes to break, and no moving components.

    The fact is, there's no more moving components in a PS90 magazine than there is a standard box magazine.

    I'm fairly confident a motivated person could 3D print a PS90 magazine in their own house. There's nothing especially difficult to the "manufacturing" of it. The only additional parts it has over and above a standard box magazine is two inert follower rounds, which are only there to push the final round loaded through the opening in the mag. (The Beta-C magazine for AR-15 does the same basic thing, with inert follower rounds)
     
  16. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    Ooh, here's another one; butt magazines!

    Evans Rifle:
    00462_r.jpg
    Some thirty four rounds on tap in a Calico-style helical magazine. Granted, this is a lever repeater along the lines of the Spencer, but the principle could be applied to an auto loader (as could simple tube magazines, but less efficiently for modern rifle rounds). All the design needed was a clutch to disengage the rotor so it could be easily spun to load, unload, and eliminate 'gaps' in the magazine stack (unless you load a round after every shot, you get a dead space inside the magazine helix you'll have to cycle through later)

    I recently acquired one of these Evans rifles; very well made, and extremely comfortable & ergonomic, especially compared to the rolling blocks & Peabody's of the day. A modern version in 9mm that folds in half would be an excellent camp gun, and a simple recoil action to operate the lever automatically would make for a formidable autoloader.

    TCB
     
  17. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Sort of a rear-loading Kel_tec SUB2000, eh? ;)


    True. I always thought the TRW LMR would have made a good American "Volkssturmgewehr", though.
     
  18. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Tube magazines have a very limited capacity and are slow or complex to load. Never mind that they do poorly (BOOM) with pointy tipped ammo.
     
  19. BSA1

    BSA1 member

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    Limited magazine capacity for military use - yes.

    Non-military use I don't see it as a disadvantage.

    Slow or complex to reload - no. Most centerfire tube magazines are a simple push feed through the loading gate on the side of the receiver. Plus they are very easy and quick to top off the magazine.

    Hornady has addressed use of pointed bullets by using plastic tips. They seem to a successful design. Of course the military uses to use FMJ.
     
  20. ontheroad

    ontheroad Member

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    This. Being able to hit the mag release with one hand and bring the fresh mag in with the other while the empty mag drops on its own is a huge timesaver as opposed to manually stripping out the empty mag and then fetching up a full replacement.

    Also consider that any dirt or debris in a bottom-mounted mag platform will tend to stay in the mag or fall free rather than work its way into the action as can happen with side- or top-mounted mags and magwells.
     
  21. Tactical Lever

    Tactical Lever Member

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    Actually, he's the OP and mentioned sporting arms in the first post. He did not specify high capacity, and referenced the Garand for one type of top loader.
     
  22. Tactical Lever

    Tactical Lever Member

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    I agree, and am with you on tube mags! No handicap at all for most shooting. I fit eleven with one in the chamber of my Big Boy, and my Guide Gun holds 5 the same way, and would probably be less in a gun with a floor plate. If I had a full length, I think it's good for 2 more. The full length Cowboys hold 10 like that.

    Nice and easy to top up without taking the gun out of action with the side loaders.

    Those gummy tips are mostly marketing hype in the .44, .45, and 45-70. I don't see any advantage with them and would rather have a heavier FN cast anyway.
     
  23. amlevin

    amlevin Member

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    It's those other disadvantages that make the M-1 Garand a flawed design.

    When the last round is fired and the enbloc "clip" is ejected, it can be a rather deadly problem if it hits frozen ground. Ask someone who served and fought in Korea.

    Something like "Bang, Bang , etc, followed by "sproing". Then the guys on the other side knew you were empty. Not good.

    The M-1 design was improved in the M-14 with bottom load magazine and captured piston rather than using the operating rod as a piston. It too had it's problems but certainly an improvement over the M-1 and it's enbloc clips.
     
  24. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    The Lebel used spitzer bullets, and held 3 more rounds than a Mauser....

    Also, there was a patent for a tubular magazine that used a helical rib inside the tube to force the bullets to lay at an angle, keeping the points off the primers.

    As to slow and complex... a vast majority of shotguns still use under barrel tube magazines, they are neither complex or slow to reload. (Granted, not as fast as a stripper clip reload, but hardly slow...)
     
  25. azrocks

    azrocks Member

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    An M4/AR presents no problems shooting prone with 20 round magazines. In fact, a seated 20-round mag is shorter than the pistol grip. A .30 weapon might require a hair more length for the same number of rounds, but in general most 20-round .308s I've shot were no problem in the prone position.

    I suppose top/side-loaded magazines might be somewhat more resistant to this potential issue, but if a magazine isn't seated properly (which would be the only reason it would fall out), you're going to have issues the first time you go to chamber a round or pull the trigger. So effectively, it's not much of a win. Either way you no longer have an effective weapon.

    Other designs incorporating fixed magazines into their design obviously won't have a problem here, but then you have to load each round individually. Obviously this is a no-go from a military/police perspective.

    It takes 2 hands to load either (unless you don't have two and have to improvise). Performing a quick and (apparently) effortless mag change with a pistol is no different that with a rifle... it all boils down to practice. A well-designed mag-fed rifle (like an AR) has a mag-release that's operated by your index finger, which in contrast to most handguns does not require you to shift your grip to actuate. As a lefty I operate it with my offhand thumb as I bring the new mag up to the weapon. It takes no more effort to learn & practice than with a handgun.

    Stripper clips? No thank you. Box magazines trump strippers in just about every way imaginable.

    It doesn't buy you anything in the prone position, it interferes with the weapons balance, & you can see just as much of the mag well on a bottom-fed rifle if you cant it ~90 degrees (which is what you'll do during a proper mag change).
     
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