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Two STANAG-compliant magazines: A 20-round Colt-manufactured magazine, and a 30-round Heckler & Koch "High Reliability" magazine.
T91 30 round STANAG-compliant magazine with ammo capacity indicator.

A STANAG magazine is a type of detachable firearm magazine proposed by NATO in October 1980.[1] Shortly after NATO's acceptance of the 5.56x45mm NATO rifle cartridge, Draft Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4179 was proposed in order to allow the military services of member nations easily to share rifle ammunition and magazines during operations, at the individual soldier level, in the interest of easing logistical concerns. The magazine chosen for this standard was originally designed for the U.S. M16 rifle. Many NATO member nations, but not all, subsequently developed or purchased rifles with the ability to accept this type of magazine. However the standard was never ratified and remains a 'Draft STANAG'[2]

STANAG-compatible magazines can be made to almost any capacity, though those used for military service usually hold 20 or 30 rounds of 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. 40-round box magazines as well as 90-round drum magazines and 100-round Beta C-Mag drum magazines designed to comply with STANAG 4179 have also been manufactured.

The STANAG-compatible box magazine, while relatively compact compared to other types of 5.56x45mm NATO box magazines, has often been criticized for a perceived lack of durability and a tendency to malfunction if not treated with a level of care that often cannot be afforded under combat conditions. Because STANAG 4179 is only a dimensional standard, production quality from manufacturer to manufacturer is not uniform. Magazines have been manufactured with lightweight aluminum or plastic bodies and other inexpensive materials in order to keep costs down, or to meet requirements that treat the magazine more as a disposable piece of equipment than one that is supposed to stand up to repeated combat use.

These problems have been addressed by several manufacturers, most notably Heckler & Koch, who designed a new 30-round STANAG-compatible box magazine during their contract to rebuild and improve the SA80 rifle for the United Kingdom. As a result, several manufacturers now offer improved STANAG-compatible magazines as well as high-grade stainless steel bodies, rust- and set-resistant chrome-silicon springs, and anti-tilt followers as upgrade components for existing STANAG magazines.

Firearms compatible with STANAG magazines

Some firearms, while not originally manufactured to feed from STANAG magazines, can be converted to use them. An example is the Austrian Steyr AUG assault rifle, for which an alternate stock assembly is available to allow the use of STANAG magazines. [1] Also the German Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle features a "modular magazine well" system. This allows the original magazine well, engineered to feed from the proprietary translucent plastic magazine, to be replaced with one that accepts STANAG magazines.[citation needed] This system has been conceived for, and is in use with, G36-series rifles and carbines issued to several SWAT-like units in the United States of America.[citation needed] The civilian counterpart of the G36, the Heckler & Koch SL8 selfloading rifle, also includes a modular magazine well. The version sold in Europe will readily switch to STANAG feeding, while the version sold in the United States, having been imported during the period of effectiveness of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, require significant modification of the upper receiver, in addition to the replacement of the magazine well and bolt carrier, before the rifle can accept the STANAG magazine.[4][5]

Notes & references

  1. ^ Watters, Daniel: "The 5.56 X 45mm Timeline: A Chronology of Development", The Gun Zone, 2000-2007.
  2. ^ "NATO Infantry Weapons Standardization", NDIA Conference 2008
  3. ^ "SAR 21 Product Brochure". ST Engineering. http://www.stengg.com/upload/805FZ25kCHnhWIBPg9K.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  4. ^ Alpinetek's Review of Special Weapons Magwell Conversion
  5. ^ Heckler & Koch SL8 "G36 Clone" Conversion
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