The Box O’ Truth #9 – Magazines vs. Rifle Rounds

If you ship it, we shoot it!

My friend C-4 sent me a note, “Hey O_P, I see guys with AK-47 mags carried in pouches on their chests. I wonder if that would really stop a bullet. I’ve got some old mags. You want to try them to see?”

What could I say? Sure!

This is a typical pic of a guy in the Sandbox wearing a chest pouch full of AK mags. This also happened in Viet Nam with the VC carrying mags in this manner.

They probably couldn’t get quality body armor and felt that the mags might at least help stop a bullet.

9-1

Here’s today’s question: Will loaded rifle magazines provide any protection to the wearer from rifle fire?

We mounted a cross member on a backer board and tied the mag in place.

Turned out we didn’t really need the paracord. The mag was loaded with Wolf 7.62 X 39 ammo.

We backed up at least 50 yards, as we weren’t sure exactly what would happen and didn’t want to be too close in case of bounce-back.

This is the set-up.

This is the set-up.

Here’s Tman shooting his AR15 with a scope to help with careful shot placement.

He’s shooting XM-193 Ball.

9-3

We were surprised that at the hit, there was an obvious fire in the mag for about 3 seconds.

You can see the scorch marks on the board.

The 5.56 had gone through the mag like a dose of salt.

A few of the rounds inside had cooked off.

9-4

Let’s stop for a minute and discuss “cook off”.

If a round of ammunition is not surrounded by a firearm chamber, but is set off, the powder begins to burn. But since it is not contained within a chamber, it quickly pushes the primer out or pushes the bullet out of the case. The powder then just “burns” and does not “explode”. In all cases today, we saw many “cooked off” rounds, but no bullets left the magazine.

In some cases the primers were pushed out, and in one instance, we could plainly hear the primer “Pop”.

This is the damage behind the mag.

This is the damage behind the mag.

Here's Tman holding the mag to show the back side damage.

Here’s Tman holding the mag to show the back side damage.

Here I am getting ready to shoot it with a 7.62 X 39 AK.

Here I am getting ready to shoot it with a 7.62 X 39 AK.

I hit near the bottom of the mag and blew it off.

Nasty hole behind the mag.

Sure didn’t slow down the round.

9-8

Notice how the back of the mag has split from the rounds inside cooking off.

9-9

I tried another shot nearer the top, and it made this exit.

I tried another shot nearer the top, and it made this exit.

Notice how a primer has popped out of this round.

9-11

There are some examples of what we found inside the mags.

9-12

Next, to give equal time, we shot a Mini-14 mag loaded with 5.56 rounds.

I shot it with the AK.

9-13

I caught this pic to the next mag, immediately after the shot, as it lay on the ground.

You can see smoke from the rounds cooking off.

9-14

Tman shot it with a 5.56 and this is the damage to the exit on the mag and the backer board.

9-15

 

These are some of the damaged and cooked off ammo.

These are some of the damaged and cooked off ammo.

This is what it looked like down in the mag, where the rounds had cooked off.

This is what it looked like down in the mag, where the rounds had cooked off.

Lastly, we shot a Sig P220 mag with the AR.

The round center punched a round of .45 ACP, but went through without causing any cook offs.

The bullet didn’t slow down.

On the way to the range, Tman had said, “This probably isn’t going to be that interesting.”

I said, “Maybe so, but I promised C-4 I’d do the tests.”

We were both surprised at how interesting it turned out and how much we learned.

9-18

Lessons learned:
  1. AK magazine pouches filled with loaded magazines do not provide any significant protection from rifle fire.
  2. The hit rounds may cook off, but this would not result in any major injuries. Not that it would matter much, as the wearer would already have a large hole through him.
  3. Both the 5.56 and the 7.62 X 39 punch right through these magazines.
  4. Shooting stuff is fun!

Thanks to Tman for the help. And a special thanks to C-4 for shipping me the mags. I think we learned a few things.