Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammunition is stored. It is taken from the Arabic word "makahazin" meaning "warehouse".
'Magazine' was also often used for a place where ammunition for weapons that can be carried by a single combatant is stored. This small-arms ammunition storage is kept under careful control due to the potential for theft and misuse. The weapons themselves are kept in a separate armory for safety and improved security.
Magazine is also a term used for a place where large quantities of ammunition are stored for later distribution, or an ammunition dump. This usage is less common.
In the early history of tube artillery drawn by horses (and later by mechanized vehicles), ammunition was carried in separate unarmored wagons or vehicles. These soft-skinned vehicles were extremely vulnerable to enemy fire and to fratricidal explosions caused by a weapons malfunction.
Therefore, as part of setting up an artillery battery, a designated place would be used to shelter the ready ammunition. In the case of batteries of towed artillery the temporary magazine will be placed, if possible, in a pit, or natural declivity, or surrounded by sandbags or earthworks. Circumstances might require the establishment of multiple field magazines so that one lucky hit or accident would not disable the entire battery.
The ammunition storage area aboard a warship is referred to as a magazine or the "ship's magazine" by sailors.
Historically, when artillery was powered by gunpowder, a vessel's magazine would be kept below water level. The gunner and his mates would wear felt slippers, or go barefoot, to prevent sparks. The door to the magazine would be a felt curtain, kept wet. Light would be provided through a window, from an adjacent room. A naked flame was never allowed inside the magazine.
More modern warships use semi-automated or automated ammunition hoists. The path through which the cannons' ammunition passed typically has blast-resistant airlocks and other safety devices, including provisions to flood the compartment with seawater in an emergency.
The separation of shell and charge gave the storage of the former the name "shell room" and the latter "powder room".
With the advent of missile-equipped ships, the term 'magazine' has also been applied to the storage area for missiles on the ship, usually in VLS cells.
Nearly every detail of nuclear weapons storage is highly classified, although many of the same principles of an ammunition dump would apply. The one consistent factor is the greatly increased security compared to that afforded to the storage of other weapons.