Jungle Style Your Magazines

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Across the steamy jungles of the South Pacific, American soldiers and marines in the Second World War often used the tactic of taping multiple magazines together to speed up their reloading process. This tactic survives to this day. After all, if one mag was good, two must be great right?

The basic concept

In pictures of both soldiers and marines coming from hard fought islands against the Japanese and against the Germans in Europe, there exists multiple occasions of US military men with 'jungle' style magazines. It was the first war in which US soldiers fought in combat situations with small, compact rifles that had extended detachable box magazines. These included the Thompson M1921/1928 and M1 series submachine guns, the M1/M2 .30 Caliber Carbine, and the M3 Grease Gun. These early room-brooms could run through ammo at rates up to 400-rounds per minute. This meant that a 15, 25, or 30-round magazine could be shot empty in just seconds.

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(A US Army M3-equipped soldier in Europe in WWII with a triple 'jungle' style rig)

By taping a second, or even a third magazine to the first, while leaving enough room for the feedlips to be rapidly accessed, an infantryman could save a second or two in a magazine exchange. This was done by various means including copious amounts of military grade tape, combined sometimes with rubber bands, and even with old Army socks.

Did Americans invent it?

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(The German MP40i went next-level with the jungle style idea)

It is not adequately recorded who taped the first mags together for speed reloading. Newsreel footage exists of British Commando troops as early as 1941 running around with what appear to be Thompson submachine guns with two 25-round stick magazines taped together. In 1942, the Germans went so far as to create a version of their famously successful MP40 Schmeisser subgun with dual magazines mounted.

What is known is that hard-bitten Allied and even Axis soldiers often turned to this method of having as many spare rounds rapidly accessible as possible.

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A triple-fitted jungle-style M3 Grease gun in the 1962 war film Hell is For Heroes Hell in the hands of movie swagger master Steve McQueen

Use after WWII

While not usually instructed by any force in basic training, the jungle style modification has persisted over the past seventy years.

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(Just after the end of WWII we see Ethiopian soldiers equipped with US Marine Corps flak jackets, an M1 Garand rifle, and a M3 Carbine 'somewhere in Korea' during the UN conflict there in 1950-53. Can you spot the jungle style mod?)

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( A Yemeni paratrooper with a very-British uniform and Sterling L2A3 submachine gun. Yes, the jungle style mag was there too.)

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(A US Army soldier with ALICE style webbing somewhere in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict. His early model M16 with its three-prong flash hider includes three 20-round Colt magazines taped together with the first one inserted into the mag well)

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(A factional fighter in the war-torn West African state of Liberia with his Chinese Type 56 AKM and a pair of ingeniously arranged jungle style 30-round mags. We say this because with these mags, facing one forward can cause feedlip damage when firing from a prone position.)

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(Remember the above? Well, here we see an illustration of exactly what we were talking about. This fighter's second mag has lost its follower and the magazine spring is now spitting out into the street. This is one of the great drawbacks of the jungle style mod. On a side note, you have to give it up for the blue painters tape and tactical sneakers.)

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(A Polish soldier on exercises in 1997 with three unloaded AK mags, and operation jungle style duct tape mod well in hand)

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(A US soldier comically mugging for the camera with no less than 17 jungle style 30-round mags on his M4 somewhere in Iraq. Even though the loadout would weigh somewhere around 25-pounds, probably cause FTF's due to the extra weight on the mag in the well and likely stress the magazine release to failure, at least he has 510 rounds at the ready.)

Jungle Style today

'Old School' Jungle style 101

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(The modern method of jungle-style mags include rifles like this Swiss SiG that can couple its transparent magazines together in any combination desired)

Today, the concept of wrapping spare mags around a central is still alive and well. We are, of course, slightly more modern these days. Many aftermarket companies market 'magazine couplers' made of polymer or phenolic rubber that can marry a pair of standard mags together.
Many modern 5.56mm rifle designs come with magazines that can be attached together to form blocks of 2-3-4 or more 30-round mags together without the use of tape, couplers, or rubber bands. These include the SiG SG550/551 series, the German HKG36, and others.

Then again, there is always tape.

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December 30, 2013  •  05:08 PM
Personally my opinion is leave this to the wannabe terrorists and movie studios. While i can't speak for WW2 era, in Nam, we were strongly advised (read that "standing orders" NOT to bundle mag's in this nature). Occasionally some cherry would try it, only to get dressed down by a squad sargent or platoon leader.
Not only are the mags open to possible infiltration of debris that can and will hamper effecient ammo feeding, but they are more prone to damage if dropped or hit against something damaging the retention lips on the magazine preventing proper ammo feeding.
Besides, when the chips are down in an actual fire fight, you're scared s***less anyway, and you'll end up not being able to reload a new mag any faster or slower than taping multiple mags together anyway.
The guy's here that've seen actual combat i'm sure would confirm this.