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Box Magazine

Home > Propellants, Firearms, and Ammunition Development > Evolution of Firearms > Repeating Firearms > Box Magazine

Tubular magazines hold a large number of cartridges tip-to-base under the barrel. Traditionally, they could not handle ammunition loaded with sharply pointed bullets. Recoil from one cartridge firing could jar the ammunition in the magazine; a pointed bullet with a metal tip could act as a firing pin. With enough recoil, a cartridge could discharge in the magazine. In 2006, over 150 years after the introduction of fixed cartridges, pointed, soft polymer tips were introduced for tubular magazines and appear to have solved this problem.

The box magazine was a simple solution:

Exploded view of tubular box magazine

Click for larger image
  • Cartridges are stacked vertically and may be staggered side-to-side to save room.
  • A classic box magazine is positioned so that its rear surface is a fraction of an inch forward of the bolt face when the action is fully open.
  • Cartridges get constant upward pressure from a spring in the bottom of the magazine.
  • When the action is closed, the bolt body holds the cartridges in the magazine.
  • When the bolt is fully open and retracted, the magazine spring pushes the top cartridge against raised lips around the top of the magazine. These lips are positioned so that the top cartridge is slightly raised allowing the bolt face to engage and push it forward, out of the magazine and into the chamber.

A key advantage to the box magazine is that ammunition in stripper clips can be quickly loaded into the magazine. Typically, five cartridges can be loaded with a single motion.

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