With the summer break, it is time to get back into the writing game. I’ll be starting the series with magazine preparation. If you run a detachable magazine-fed rifle, it benefits one to do a little work on magazines that see duty use. This is especially true if you run an FAL or M14S, since they do not have the benefit of polymer magazines (and especially not Magpul’s super-sweet Pmags). Some simple modifications can give one an advantage in magazines used for social purposes. Until a manufacturer really innovates and provides we few .308 guys a twenty-first century magazine, we will have to make do with military surplus (not cheap knockoffs). One can improve the grip by applying spray-on bedliner paint, a camouflage paint scheme over that, and a simple 550 cord magazine pull.
I start with proven magazines. Although they are consumable items, there is no reason to work on magazines that don’t function reliably. Run them through a class or good training session and vet them before investing the hard work. Some folks like Appleseed events for this. My problem with using an Appleseed to prove a magazine is that the participants seldom fill them beyond ten rounds. Ensure the magazines will hold all the rounds you intend to put in them (acknowledging that some choose to download their magazines two rounds for reliability). I had some magazines that I have been training with for a few years, and found them completely reliable. Since they are steel-bodied surplus magazines, I will likely replace the springs (and maybe the followers) numerous times before the bodies fail.
I start by removing the magazine floor plate, spring, and follower. Inspect everything again fully, and clean and degrease the magazine inside and out with rubbing alcohol or another mild solvent. I wear nitrile gloves the whole time, to keep paint off my hands, and finger oils off the magazine. Set the floor plate, spring, and follower aside. Then insert the empty magazine into the rifle and trace a line where it meets the magazine well with a black felt-tipped marker. I don’t want any paint rubbing off in there later, and possibly causing a malfunction or failure to feed because the magazine would not seat fully, so I only paint to just above where the magazine meets the well (I realize it is unlikely, but I take every precaution to keep Mr. Murphy away). Then I mask off the magazine, just above that line. I then prime the magazine. I’ve painted without priming before, and find the paint lasts longer if I prime first.
(Figure one, the primed magazine)
After the primer dries, I apply two thin coats of Rust-Oleum Truck Bed Coating. This spray paint goes on a matte black and leaves a slightly rough texture. This is a key to the process. Even Parkerized metal can feel slick. I want to have every advantage, and roughing up the metal with a durable finish certainly helps magazine changes while wearing gloves.
(Figure two, the magazine after application of bedliner paint)
After the bedliner paint dries, I apply a basic camouflage scheme. This is where you have to think about your terrain and vegetation. The object here is not to create perfect camouflage, but to break up the magazine’s monochrome color scheme and to eliminate shine. For this, I use Krylon camouflage paint in tan, brown, olive green, and black. I start with a tan base, and use a little brown and black to break it up. I hold twigs and grass over the magazine to leave impressions of shapes in the paint.
(Figure three, applying the camouflage)
I also use a paint stencil to give each magazine a unique identifier. If a magazine malfunctions in training, one needs a way to separate it from the others, to repair it or to cull it from the other duty or training magazines. An internet denizen known by the handle Tire Iron suggested using letter stencils. I’ve since adopted the idea, and am demonstrating it here. After painting the magazine, I apply a letter to each using a cardboard stencil. One advantage to letters is the possibility of 26 unique magazines (although I have more than this, I do not conceive painting and lettering all of them, just the ones in current use).
(Figure five, the magazine with stenciled letter)
With the magazine painted and given a unique letter, it’s time to add a poor man’s mag pull. A piece of 550 cord here aids in two ways. First, it gives cold and wet fingers something to grab on to when a magazine is recalcitrant. It also gives one something by which to hang the magazine. There is not much free space on my LBE, certainly no room for a dump pouch. I’d rather not lose magazines, or even put them on the ground unnecessarily when training. One CWO with the 19th SFG gave me a wonderful idea. I have a wire-gate carabiner on my LBE, about level with my armpit. When reloading with retention, I place the empty magazine’s loop in the carabiner and let it hang. Later I can reload it, or move it to a more suitable location (in my pack, car, or magazine bandoleer).
Start with a length of 550 cord. The length is subjective. I like enough to slip two fingers inside the loop, with a little slack. Start with about seven or eight inches of cord, and adjust from there. Cut the length and remove the inner strands. Tie an overhand knot in one end and trim and burn the knot end. Slip the knot under the magazine spring. Now you can play with the length until you are comfortable with it. Tie a second overhand knot in the other end. Trim and burn the other end as the first. Slip it too just under the magazine spring. Then reinstall the base plate. It will be a little snug, but manageable, snapping firmly in place.
(Figure six, the 550 cord in place)
(Figure seven, an empty magazine hanging from a wire-gate carabiner)
There are many ways to prepare magazines. This method protects the magazine, improves grip, and allows greater ease and convenience in changing magazines.
(Figure eight, just a few magazines prepped and loaded)