Western Rifle Shooters Association

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bracken: In Praise Of Duplexed AR Mags

Matthew Bracken, BUD/S Class 105 and author of Enemies Foreign And Domestic, Domestic Enemies - The Reconquista, and Foreign Enemies And Traitors, sends:

In Praise of Duplexed AR Mags
by Matt Bracken

Who wouldn’t want a sixty-round magazine for their trusty AR, one which fits in roughly the same space as a standard thirty-round mag?

Nobody I know.

Problem is, such a magazine doesn’t exist. But there is a way to link two thirty-round mags so that the switch from the thirtieth to the thirty-first cartridge is extremely fast. Much faster than any switch to a second magazine kept in a pouch on your body.

Twice as fast.

We were doing this in the SEAL Teams decades ago. Today companies make magazine duplexing gadgets that you can buy, but don’t bother with them. The old way is better, because the bottom of the home-made double mag is narrower and easier to grab and manipulate. This is because the two mags are in a narrow “V” shape. They are not parallel, as with the store-bought duplexing gadgets. You will understand why this matters when you do these speed changes in practice. The bottom of your duplexed mag is your handle during the switch.

So here’s how you make it.

Take two good thirty-round AR mags that you know work well. Then take an ordinary wood pencil, and cut off a two-inch piece, square at both ends. Place it cross-wise three inches up from the bottom of one magazine. Take green military “hundred-mile-an-hour” tape, duct tape, camo tape or green electricians’ tape, and bind the two mags tightly together, starting at their bottoms so they are touching.

Tape them all the way up to the pencil location. To make an even more solid mount, fill the gap below the pencil with silicone rubber before you tape them up. The pencil placement three inches up from the bottom is important. The slot between the two mags will just clear the magazine well of your rifle, and it will allow enough space for the open dust cover.

Now, what about taping two mags end-to-end, with bullets at top and bottom? Only in grade-z action movies. When you hit the ground, you will be pounding dirt into the open magazine at the bottom, and maybe even denting or deforming the critical feed lips. And besides, doing it the end-to-end way makes a double magazine much longer than it needs to be. This end-to-end method makes a little more sense with very curvy Kalashnikov magazines. Not every rifle’s construction permits the use of side-by-side duplexed mags. They are perfectly suited to ARs, however.

Like a charm.


Now you are at the range, and you have your duplexed AR mags ready to try. Load one so that the right-side mag is in the well, and the spare mag is fitting just along the left side of your rifle. This twice-as-heavy double mag will not fall out accidentally, or wear out the mag catch. It will drop free completely normally with the usual push of the mag release button. If you are doing a tactical reload before running dry, or if you do actually run out of cartridges, you will do everything the same as you did before, but faster.

Quite a lot faster.

Whether you are initiating an ambush or if you are on the receiving end, the first reload will very likely be the most critical of any engagement. If you can sustain rapid fire when the other guy's weapon runs dry, your odds of seeing tomorrow will go up and his will go down. If you can cut your first reload time in half, it might make all of the difference.

Even having the ability to bluff greater firepower on your side than you actually possess is a good thing. You can do this simply by touching off up to sixty incredibly fast shots when breaking contact—a one-man Australian peel. Based on your rate of fire the opposition may then figure you for three or four shooters, at least, and pause to think things over while you slip away.

This brings to my mind the old SEAL Team adage about the critical importance of dominating all sides of the following triangle, namely: “surprise, firepower, and violence of action.” (Law enforcement has tamed this down to “speed of action” or some such namby-pamby PC talk.) A duplexed mag in your rifle gives you more effective firepower, which is always a good thing -- especially at the critical beginning of a firefight or ambush. If you’re too slow on that first mag change, you might not need a second magazine.


Here’s a hypothetical example; your mileage may vary, but the principle will hold.

How many rounds can you fire in three seconds? Really light up that trigger.

That is how many rounds might be fired at you by one guy during the three seconds it may take you to fumble a mag out of its pouch and shove it up into the well. Why not cut that delay in half on your first reload?

You won’t always have your battle rattle handy, much less already on your body when trouble comes calling. Goblins do not call ahead. Will you holler “time out” under incoming fire while you suit up like Robocop?

You might not live long enough to be ready to fight, depending on the immediacy of the danger. No, when jumped, you will grab what is most handy and get in the fight, now! Maybe just the rifle itself. So keep sixty rounds really handy, in your rifle.

Another nifty advantage to the V-shaped double magazine is that it will fit snugly over your belt. No time to throw on your high-speed tactical harness, web gear, plate carriers and all the rest? Shove a double mag over your street-clothes belt, bullets down. You already have a double mag in your rifle, right? Now head out of your door with 120 rounds ready to go on a moment’s notice. Be ready to dominate. Always!

Should you duplex all of your AR mags?

No way. Duplexed mags don’t fit easily in many standard pouches. Only two duplexed mags will fit into a standard military three-mag pouch, a clear disadvantage. But your first sixty rounds can and should be hanging from your rifle, ready to go.

The big double magazine lives in your rifle when you go in harm’s way. It’s not a pouch queen. It doesn’t give a damn about pouches. (Dump bags it loves, if you have the time.)

One final point -- there is the inevitable complaint that the open mag will be jammed with debris.

It won't.

It's up next to the receiver, and under your clear vision. You can see the open mag is clear.

"Old Sarge" will say not to do this. "Old Sarge" also said electro-optical sights would never cut it.

So why doesn’t everybody do this?

This is just my hunch (since I’ve been out of the tactical ops arena for so long), but I think that the “Big Army” and other large military formations find “one size fits all” SOPs to be easier for everyone to follow up and down the chain of command. Same in police departments, and these restrictive SOPs permeate across the shooting world.

In SEAL Teams, we didn’t suffer from this malady. We did whatever worked. And not even all SEALs liked this duplexed magazine trick.

But you might. So give it a try -- it costs virtually nothing!

And on your next range outing with your AR, do some speed trials. Compare changing between duplexed mags to changing to a spare mag kept on your body in a pouch. If you find it useful, use this trick, and pass it on to your buddies. Otherwise, forget you read this piece, untape your duplexed magazines, and no harm done.

But for me -- make mine sixty, attached to my rifle and ready to go!

Matt's latest novel, Castigo Cay, will be released (hopefully) in 2010; you can read an excerpt here.


Blogger Brock Townsend said...

This method makes a little more sense with very curvy Kalashnikov magazines.
Even with these, I find little time difference in simply dropping the 30 rounder and inserting another that is by your side, versus switching the the two taped ones side to side, reversing and inserting.

September 18, 2010 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Justin said...

I will have to try this method versus the commercial duplexing devices.

The advantage here is that the rounds are RIGHT THERE, by your magwell, not in a pouch.

I agree that not all rounds should be set up this way, but one or two would be a good idea, especially in a home defense or grab and go scenario.

This method would also work well to allow the duplexing of liberated magazines (was that S.T.A.R.R.P.?) in the absence of commercial duplexing devices.

Another good post, thanks for the info.


September 18, 2010 at 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Plastic Ammo Box said...

Good post you gather lot of information on your post i really enjoyed to read your post thanks for your hole research work and share with us.

September 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous avordvet said...

Hey Matt must be losing the "edge" a little in his advanced age ;-), this is something I learned from SEAL members... BUT, make sure you run the first section of tape around the pencil piece first to keep it from dropping out while banging the Mags around or when the tape "heat stretches".

Hey Brock one of the main purposes is that you are not rolling around on the ground getting another mag from one of your pouches, it is already there for continuing the first engagement... its part of the K.I.S.S. regimen.

Plus you have to remember where this thought train is coming from, SEALS are usually in compact units that use an extremely high rate of fire during the first few moments of contact to either break an ambush and/or initiate a stepped disengagement.

September 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Pat H. said...

In this case, I think Bracken's proved his case for the duplexing of two mags.

The only down side that I can think of is the additional weight hanging on the rifle. If you're carrying the rifle in your vehicle as a patrol rifle, in a quick release rack, then that's not an issue.

However, having a rifle that weighs an extra pound slung over your shoulder might be another thing entirely. As Bracken says, "some may like it, others not so much."

September 18, 2010 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Chris Vaughn said...

A simple, cheap and real tactical advantage- built not bought.

Can never get enough Matt Bracken, looking forward to the new book!

September 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Defender said...

I briefly shot competitive pistol. Those guys will try anything to save 1/100th of a second. Sometimes that determines the winner.
I saved over a pound by replacing the steel ALICE clips on my load-bearing harness with heavy-duty plastic ties.
I have a pair of mags joined with a metal clamp in my AR for grab-and-go. The clamp weighs more then both magazines combined.
I think this is a simple and cheap solution for the high-speed low-drag crowd and the ground-pounder.

September 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous EJR914 said...

I've got a lot of mags, may as well configure two pairs of these. I don't think it will hurt anything. I've got a few mags to spare, especially in a grab and go type scenario. 120 rounds right there... easy. Makes some sense to me.

If its good enough for the SEALS its good enough for me.

Those guys know what works, what doesn't.

If it works for you, do it... if not... foget-a-bout-it.

September 18, 2010 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please be aware of a potential problem with this home-made arrangement. From John Farnam:

"Double-magazine holders work, but add a lot of weight and bulk to your rifle, and the top round of the exposed magazine sometimes shakes forward during firing, making subsequent reloading difficult. Safariland's version addresses this problem with a quick-release cap that fits over the top round in the exposed magazine, holding it securely in place."



September 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Reg T said...

Thanks for posting this, CA. Matt is a great author and a nice guy, and I really appreciate his sharing this technique with us.
As a former swabby without any tactical rifle training, I need all the help I can get, and this sounds very useful.

September 18, 2010 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

If you have a Sig Sauer 556, you can get the magazines that are designed to be clipped together, and have that integrated into their design. The magazines will fit into any AR, but they are specifically designed for you to clip them together and use them with your SIg 556.

September 18, 2010 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Brock Townsend said...

Hey Brock one of the main purposes is that you are not rolling around on the ground getting another mag from one of your pouches
Hey, Don, I'm got a novel idea, maybe I shouldn't write at two in the morning when I'm in my cups!:)

September 18, 2010 at 11:49 PM  
Anonymous GardenSERF said...

Using half of the black plastic cartridge insert that comes inside of a box of commercial 308 (and cutting it down to size) will work better than a pencil. That's a more weather-resistant and stable fix for people who can't afford a 100 rd betamag.

BTW, maybe I'll have to post the Holy Grail of AR15/M16 accuracy improvement on my blog tomorrow...

September 19, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article

September 19, 2010 at 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not certain I see the point of this unless you have a full-auto weapon. All of my mags for my AR are the original 20 rounders. ('Course if I have the time.option, I'll go with the M1A bullpup...)

A friend of mine told me that when he was running a unit in Iraq, he put all his troops back on 20 rounders because the 30 rounders acted like a pivot point when firing from the prone position. 'Course he was working with a civil affairs unit, not a Seal unit, heh, heh.

September 19, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous GardenSERF said...

Concerned American,

Please find the latest post on something simple that can be done to help both AR15s and AK47s:


You're welcome to post a link off the main page. Thanks.

September 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

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