Military Dopers - why tap the magazine on your helmet before loading the weapon?

I was just watching Rules Of Engagement and one of the Marines did this. I have seen it once in a while in other movies and wondered what purpose does it serve? Whenever it is shown, it is just occassional, the rest of the time the guy just whacks the magazine in.

You can also bang it on your knee, which is what I used to do. It basically ‘settles’ the rounds so they are lined up evenly, which helps prevent misfires. It is something you learn to do in boot camp, although it is not in any books.

From experience, the last thing you want is a misfire in combat!

Or mis-feeds.

I do it every time I load a magazine or carry a gun. Truth be told, I’m not sure why I started doing it or where I first picked up that habit. I always assumed it was to ensure the bullets were all firmly seated to the rear of the magazine and it helped prevent misfires - as mentioned above.

I dunno if it helps, but of the thousands of round I’ve fired over the years, I’ve never had a misfire - knock on wood.

I got tired of loading rounds one at a time, so I’ve switched to stripper clips. Yeah, I have to load the stripper clips, but I do that in advance of going to the range. When loading singly, sometimes I didn’t get the round all the way back. I suppose it’s possible that the nose of the bullet can hang up on the magazine and hinder feeding. So I’ve always smacked the magazine to get them to the back. I still do this, out of habit, when loading from stripper clips.

FWIW I’ve never had a mis-feed caused by the position of the round in the magazine, even when I haven’t smacked the mag. However, I’ve had one or two (used) magazines that didn’t always feed properly. Most of my shooting is with an AR-15 or one of two AR-15 clones I built myself. I’ve had a couple of mis-feeds with my AR-180, for which I have only a single 40-rd. magazine. (I need to modify some 20-rd. M-16 mags for it.)

Yeah - I pretty much figure I’m doing it more out of superstition and habit and not because of any significant advantage. Otherwise, the gunners would teach it at the range.

Must be an American thing.

I’ve never thought to do it myself - M-16 mags are fragile enough as it is, so I don’t really think you should go banging them around unnecessarily. Maybe it’s a holdover from the M-14?

Or from the early days in the 60s when the M-16 had “teething pains”.

Actually, it’s definitely misfeeds, not misfires. The M-16 family of weapons have a reputation for being a bit choosy when feeding a new round if the next round isn’t settled to the back of the magazine. Now that they all have forward assists I’m not sure if you really need to do this anymore, but it was taught to me in 1990.

I never had a problem with misFIRES, which suggests a problem either with the round itself, or the firing pin part of the bolt.

Youd have to whack it pretty hard to affect the position of the rounds inside a fully loaded mag. I’m with Alessan on this, it’s a silly thing to do, IMO. Only the first round has a chance of becoming unseated anyway, and you check it before loading. Far more issues stem from dirty and worn out magazine followers that become unleveled during feeing. This is the most frequend cause of mag failures in USGI 30 round mags, one can get after market self levelling followers to solve this problem.

Also, IME the forward assist is a useless addition that adds needless complexity to the weapon. It would certainly be useless in this case.

My Colt does not have forward-assist. If I don’t release the charging handle correctly (i.e., if I allow my fingers to follw it forward instead of releasing it and letting it snap smartly – hey, it happens sometimes) the bolt will not lock. I can use my thumb to push the bolt forward, using that little indentation on the side. (Personally, I like the way it looks w/o FA.)

There’s a couple of other scenarios. One is if you had to cock the weapon silently, in which case you MUST ride the charging handle and use the forward assist. The other is that when being used in very cold climates (like Canada, :slight_smile: ) It is good practice to periodically cycle one’s weapon on long hikes to prevent ice buildup in the action. Some people have made a habit of doing just a “half cycle” instead of a full one, but I would not recommend it.

You’re absolutely right, but I strongly lean towards the opinion that there is no reason to use the FA, if the shooter isn’t being an idiot(sorry, not calling you an idiot or anything, all these scenarios have happened to me too, but very rarely) with the weapon. If the bolt does in fact fail to lock due to foreign debris or a damaged round, pounding on the forward assist will just make it worse, and the potential harm outweighs the usefulness.

Yes, I used to do it with the 7.62 SLR when in the British army, as also with clips for the SMG.

We weren’t taught to do this, we just picked it up from the older soldiers. If I thought about it at all, I figured it was just to settle the rounds in, prevent jamming, etc.

M-16 mags are fragile? Maybe those plastic things the Canadians use (no offense guys, I just hate those things) but the standard steel 20 rd mags I use are well constructed and have withstood some serious abuse.
Of course, there are some cheap aftermarket things that’d fall apart if you look at them wrong (and those are probably what the military uses).

Yes, I tap my mags to align the rounds, especially in a match situation. Consistancy is key, so I also had this theory that it was a good thing.

The original idea behind the thermolds, so I’m told, is that they were suppose to come out of the box pre-loaded and after use, discarded. Of course, to expect anyone to do this during peacetime training with peacetime budgets was completely insane, most guys, before we switched to USGI mags, went and bought their own, instead of using the plastic ones that were abused to an extend further than their original design specs allowed for. The Danes (and IIRC the Dutch) still use the thermolds for their (Canadian produced) C7s, so I suppose if we ever went to war with Denmark over Hans Island, we’ll find out just how well the system actually works.

Perhaps the steel ones are, the new HK steel mags used on the L85A2 are indeed very sturdy. USGI magazines bodies are made of aluminum. I won’t call them “flimsy”, but the magazine is the weakest link in the weapons reliability chain, and a lot of military magazines are old and have seen a lot of abuse. The HK steel mags are also heavier than the aluminum ones and, after a lot of aggressive use, can score the aluminum magazine housing (steel being harder than aluminum) on the M-16 Family of Weapons. I doubt that this is an issue for most users. The magazine catch on the M-16 is still steel so the mag should still load and eject with no issues.

Compared to Galil magazines, you bet your ass they’re fragile.

On the way out, anyway. I’ve seen the new prototype mags. Cool. Trust me.

You may be able to tell that I’m not military, and so can afford decent mags. And, just as obviously, I’ve never used military leftovers.

Seriously, aluminum (or aluminium)? Tragic.

I’m not in the military, and I don’t have much experience with self-loading longarms (shakes fist at John Howard), but I can tell you (historic trivia alert!) that Australian troops in Vietnam were not allowed to discard empty magazines in the field- they had to retain them so they could be reloaded when they got back to base!

When I’m out hunting, I load my Lee-Enfield through 5-round charger clips.

The problem is that, since the .303 is a rimmed cartridge, you have to load the charger clips in a certain way (known as “one up, one down”) to make sure the gun feeds properly- and which is why it’s not a good idea to load Lee-Enfield magazines one round at a time if you can help it…

My AR-10 doesn’t have an FA. I’m not aware that anyone just discarded their magazines in the field.

I have heard of “shagging brass”, where one retrieves the spent cartridgs, to be reloaded later with new bullets and powder …