Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wacky Non-Functional Firearms

In today's post, we will look at an unusual object, something that is designed to look like a firearm, but actually isn't. We will look at something called a "scare pistol".

First, we will look at the origins of such a wacky invention. This class of "weapon" dates back to the 1880s. During this time period, the streets of Paris, France, were a dangerous place to be. Several criminals were roaming the streets and committing muggings and assaults, especially on women. Many women were urged to carry a small firearm with them, as a means of self-defense. However, some of these ladies did not wish to pull the trigger on another person. Seeing an opportunity, some French and Belgian manufacturers began to make "scare pistols" for these ladies.

A Scare Revolver from the 19th century. Public domain image.

The above looks like a commonly available Lefaucheux pinfire revolver model of that time period. This particular model is even made of brass and beautifully enameled and gold-plated. However, a closer look at the revolver reveals some interesting details. For one, the trigger cannot be pulled and is merely screwed on to the frame. The cylinder and hammer are non-functional as well. In fact, the only part of this so-called "revolver" that works or even moves, is the lanyard ring at the back of the handle!!

The idea behind manufacturing such a useless weapon was that even the sight of a firearm would be sufficient to scare off your average mugger (at least, that was the theory at that time). Therefore, for ladies who would hesitate to pull a trigger on another person, they could walk around with a non-functional, but realistic looking firearm.

The contents of a so-called "scare revolver" model. Public domain image.

In the above image, we have another so-called "scare pistol", Pulling back on the hammer causes this "revolver" to break at the cylinder. Inside is a mirror, a pair of functioning scissors, some needles, a thimble, two spools of thread and a crocheting hook. The front of the cylinder is a functioning pin-cushion and what looks like the shell extractor rod is actually a pencil. The butt of this "revolver" contains a small bottle to store perfume. This device is actually a scare revolver that also doubles as a functional sewing kit for carrying out minor repairs on clothes!


Monday, June 29, 2015

The Mad Minute

The next shooting sport we will look at is called the Mad Minute. It has its origins in a British Army exercise, which is described in a manual called "The Musketry Regulations, Part I, 1909).

The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate rapid fire shooting with good accuracy. The original exercise required the soldier to fire at an official "Second Class Figure" target, at a distance of 300 yards, using a Lee-Enfield service rifle and hit it at least 15 times within one minute.

A second class and first class target. Click on the image to enlarge.
Image taken from Musketry Regulations Part II. Public domain image.

The figure in the middle of the target is intended to resemble the silhouette of a man with a rifle peering out of a trench and measures about 12 inches x 12 inches. The next image shows a close up of the silhouette, including details of the actual colors used.

Details of the silhouette. Click on the image to enlarge. Public domain image.

As this was before World War I, notice that the silhouette resembles a man wearing a cloth cap.

A Lee-Enfield Mark I rifle. Click on the image to enlarge.

The soldier was allowed to load the rifle with one cartridge in the chamber and four in the magazine and get into the prone position. The target would then appear at a distance of 300 yards and the soldier would be expected to shoot with it. Reloading was allowed in groups of five cartridges from a pouch or bandoleer and the total time of the exercise was one minute. 

As long as the target was hit anywhere with a bullet, that counted as a hit. However, points were scored as follows: hitting the silhouette scored 4 points, hitting inside the inner ring scored 3 points, hitting inside the outer ring scored two points. Soldiers would be classified based on their accuracy, as marksmen, first-class shot, second-class shot and third-class shot. This exercise was one of a set of training exercises to grade soldiers. People who scored enough points to be classified as "marksmen" were given extra pay and a special crossed-rifles badge.

While the exercise only required 15 hits on target within a minute, many people would continue to fire even after 15 hits, to see how many times they could hit the target within that one minute. The smooth operation of the Lee-Enfield rifle's bolt action allowed soldiers to fire rapidly and accurately. Several people in the British Army could hit the target over 30 times within this time period! There are records of soldiers in the British Army scoring 36 or 38 hits within a minute at 300 yards.

By the time World War I started, the average British soldier was a better shot than his French or German counterpart. During the Battle of Mons, several German units reported that they were facing British troops armed with machine guns, when in reality, it was groups of riflemen firing rapidly using their bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifles.

These days, while this exercise is no longer part of military training, some people still organize "mad minute" competitions to see how many hits can be scored in a minute.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Three Gun Competitions

In our last couple of articles, we studied some sports where shooting formed a part, but those sports also involved other activities (running, skiing etc.) In today's post, we will study a sport where shooting forms a larger component. This sport is not an Olympic sport unlike the other two we studied before, but is popular in North America. We are talking about the three gun competition, otherwise spelled as 3-gun competition.

In the 19th and most of the 20th century, shooting competitions generally meant people were in fixed positions and shooting at targets with a single weapon. In these competitions, sometimes the targets are at a fixed known distance (e.g. pistol shooting, rifle shooting, biathlon, pentathlon etc.) and sometimes the targets move (e.g. trap shooting, skeet shooting etc.) However, the user stays in a fixed position and shoots at the targets. In some of these shooting events, e.g. pistol shooting or rifle shooting, time is not considered a huge factor (as long as the shooter stays below some fixed time limit). Reloading time also is not considered in these events and people generally have plenty of time to reload. Target types also stay the same throughout the competition (e.g.) pistol shooters always shoot at paper targets, trap shooters always shoot at clay targets etc. Another point about shooting competitions like this is that people generally become good at one type of firearm (e.g.) pistol, but aren't so good at using another firearm type (e.g.) rifle.

World famous shooter Jerry Miculek walking through a 3-gun course.

Three-gun competitions are a newer type of shooting competition that was started in 1980 by Soldier of Fortune magazine and gained popularity in America soon afterwards. Unlike the other competitions, the three gun competition is designed to simulate combat or self-defense scenarios. Shooters are expected to use three types of firearms in this type of competition:
  1. A handgun (pistol or revolver)
  2. A shotgun 
  3. A semi-automatic rifle.
Shooters proceed through an obstacle course and shoot at a variety of targets along the course, using different firearms at different stages through the course. The targets are all at varying distances from 1 meter to 500 meters or so, and are a variety of types (clay targets, paper targets, steel targets, empty cans, silhouettes, moving targets etc.). Shooters also engage these targets in a variety of positions (standing, kneeling, prone etc.) Shooters also carry firearms, holsters, spare magazines and ammunition with them and load and unload magazines as they proceed through the course. There are some rules such as the minimum calibers that can be used (handguns must use at least 9x19 mm. cartridges, rifles must use at least 5.45x39 mm. cartridges, shotguns must be larger than 20 gauge), types of sights, types of stocks, magazine capacity limit etc. but any firearm that meets the minimum requirements is allowed. Targets also have different zones that score more points if hit. In addition, if a heavier bullet is used, then more points are awarded for some targets, on the grounds that a competitor using a heavier recoil weapon isn't at a disadvantage against someone using a firearm with little recoil (in many competitions, .223 and 9 mm. are considered minor calibers and score less, whereas anything over .308 or .45 ACP are considered major calibers and score more for hits). In addition, unlike other shooting competitions, 3-gun competitions also feature targets that are supposed to be ignored by the shooter.

Competitors score points by hitting targets in specific areas and lose points by hitting the "no-shoot" targets (e.g. hostages, friendly targets etc.). Competitors also lose points for procedural penalties, such as shooting too close or too far from the target, knocking overhead material over while crawling through a tunnel, not performing a mandatory reload, using the wrong firearm type at a target etc. The time taken to complete the course is also factored into the final score. Therefore, the winner is decided by a combination of fast time and shooting accuracy. Competitors may be disqualified for safety violations, such as accidental discharges or unsafe firearm handling.

For firearms, competitors generally use a 9 mm. or larger pistol for the handgun stages, an autoloading or pump-action shotgun (commonly 12 gauge) and an AR style semi-automatic rifle. There are various divisions of 3-gun competitions: Limited, Tactical, Heavy Metal (He Man), Open and Outlaw. The difference between these divisions is generally the types of equipment used. For instance, in limited division competitions (which is for entry-level shooters), the rifle is allowed an unmagnified red dot, whereas in the tactical division competitions, a magnified optic is allowed. For the heavy metal division, the rifle must be larger than .308 or 7.62x51 mm., the shotgun must be at least 12 gauge and the handgun must be at least .45 ACP or larger, and all sights should be ordinary iron sights with no optics allowed. The different divisions allow poorer shooters with inferior equipment to participate in these events as well. The majority of shooters tend to participate in the tactical division of a 3-gun competition.

Here's a video from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, showing how the three-gun competitions work:


Courses for 3-gun competitions have to meet some basic minimum standards, but beyond that, they are pretty much left to the match organizers' imaginations. This is why every competition is different. In some places, competitors are generally given a few minutes to walk through a course to familiarize themselves and form a plan of how they are going to proceed through it. In other places, the courses may be run blind (i.e.) the shooters do not know what to expect beforehand. Some competitions feature multiple stages with different courses at every stage and people get bonus points for winning a stage or finishing near the top, therefore a person who did well on every stage, but did not win any one of them, can still end up winning the overall competition.

Here's a couple of videos by Mr. Nick Leghorn showing a competition with multiple stages.





Happy viewing

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Modern Pentathlon

In our last post, we studied the Biathlon, a winter sport that has shooting as one of the events. In today's post, we will study a summer sport, where shooting also plays a part. The sport we will study today is the Modern Pentathlon.

The Modern Pentathlon has its origins in the modern Olympic games. You see, in the ancient Olympic games, there used to be a sport called the Pentathlon, where athletes competed in running, long jump,  wrestling, throwing the javelin and throwing the discus. These five events were based on skills that were useful in battles of that era, therefore the athletes participating in this sport were considered very elite soldiers as well.

When the modern Olympic games started in 1896, the founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, wanted a similar event in the modern Olympic games. However, since warfare tactics had changed since the ancient Olympic games, his idea was  to create the modern Pentathlon, based on skills that were useful to a soldier of the late 19th century, specifically cavalry soldiers. He imagined a situation where a cavalry officer was trapped behind enemy lines and had to escape back to his own lines. To do so, a cavalry man must be able to run over a cross country course, swim, ride an unfamiliar horse through an obstacle course, fight with a sword and shoot with a pistol. The first modern pentathlon event was held in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden.

Interestingly, for many years, the Olympic games were only open to amateur athletes. Why? Some people claim that this was because Baron de Coubertin thought that ancient Greek athletes were amateurs and wished to copy the same principle in the modern Olympics. This is not true, because it was a well known fact that the winners of ancient Olympic events were paid huge sums of money and were set up for life. The uncomfortable truth was that Baron Pierre de Coubertin was an aristocrat and a bit of a snob. At a time when most people worked hard for a living, it was generally the wealthy upper classes that could afford to devote training time to sports, as "amateurs". Working class people found it hard to compete in the highest levels of sport, because of the need to go to work all week. However, as sports became more popular and attendances to sporting events increased, some competitions began to award monetary prizes, which made it attractive for working class athletes to skip work and concentrate on sports full time. This led to the first professional sports people of that era (e.g. professional baseball players and professional soccer players played for factory teams, professional runners competed against horses etc.). Baron de Coubertin didn't like the idea of a lower class professional athlete beating the pants off an upper class "amateur" aristocrat. Therefore, he made the restriction that the Olympic games were only open to amateurs. Over the years, many countries made a mockery of this restriction (for instance, most sportsmen from the Soviet Union, East Germany, China etc. were amateurs only in name, because they were full time athletes with the state supporting them, while they were officially enlisted in the military and were therefore considered as "amateurs") and in the late 1970s, the Olympic games slowly started to allow professional athletes in some events (e.g. the "Dream team" in Basketball for the 1992 Olympics).

In the 1912 Olympic games, when the first modern pentathlon event was held, the amateur athlete rule was very much enforced. Only officers were allowed to compete in the event, not ordinary cavalry troopers. This was the case until the 1952 Olympic games, because ordinary cavalry troopers were considered as professional athletes, as they rode horses for a living! On the other hand, most cavalry officers of that era were from upper class backgrounds, and so they were considered "amateurs".

The athlete who participated in the modern pentathlon event in the 1912 games for the US, was a young Army cavalry officer named George S. Patton.

Olympic athlete and Army General,  George S. Patton. Click on the image to enlarge. Public domain image.

In case you think that name sounds familiar, yes, this same officer later rose to fame as one of the most famous generals in America!

Patton did pretty well in the Olympic games, finishing fifth in the overall events (the top four finishers were all Swedish. Sweden was the host country of the 1912 Olympics). Interestingly, the event he did the worst in was one of his stronger skills: shooting. He finished 21st in this event. However, there is some controversy associated with his performance in the shooting event. As it turns out, competitors were allowed to bring their own firearms and many of them chose .22 caliber pistols. Patton, on the other hand, brought a revolver chambered in .38 caliber. This was because the standard US military revolver of that era was the M1892 revolver chambered in .38 Long Colt (the .45 caliber Colt M1911 pistol had just been adopted the previous year and was not delivered in large numbers to the US military yet). Patton claimed that the first few shots from his .38 caliber bullets produced large holes on the paper and some of the later shots passed through these large holes and the judges decided that he'd missed the target completely and subtracted points from his score. If his claim is true, it was agreed that he would have received an Olympic medal. Nevertheless, the judges ruling was upheld and Patton accepted their decision as a sign of good sportsmanship. In modern times, the background behind the target moves, so that the judges can specifically track multiple shots through the same hole. Patton was also selected to represent the US in the 1916 Olympic games, but they were cancelled due to World War I.

These days, the modern pentathlon event has changed a bit. The shooting part was changed to use a small caliber air pistol and in 2009, they combined the shooting and running events, so athletes now have to run three 1000 meter laps, each prefaced by taking shots with a pistol until they successfully hit five targets. Once five targets have been hit, the athlete can resume running the next lap and so on. In 2011, the pistols were changed to use lasers instead of actual bullets, with an electronic device to provide a small delay between pulling the trigger and firing the laser, to simulate a pellet leaving the muzzle (the use of laser pistols instead of real pistols has created some controversy). Since 2013, the athletes shoot until they hit five targets and then run an 800 meter lap and repeat this four times. Unlike biathlons (which we studied in the previous post), athletes do not carry their pistols with them while they are running. Missed shots are not penalized and the only requirement is that the athlete should make five successful hits to the target before running again. The winner is the one that first crosses the finishing line.

The modern pentathlon is still considered part of the Olympic games (at least until 2020) and there are annual world championship events held as well.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Biathlon

A long while ago, we had studied a shooting sport called "silhouette shooting". A couple of years ago, we studied "clay pigeons", just before the London Olympics. As a theme, we will study sports where shooting plays a part, in the next few posts. Today,we will study the Biathlon, a sport that is played in cold weather and is part of the Winter Olympics.

The sport of biathlon is a mixture of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It has its origins in military exercises in Scandinavian countries, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Each competitor has to ski through a cross-country course, while carrying a rifle and a small amount of ammunition. At different stages of the course, the competitor has to stop at a shooting range and shoot five shots at targets, at a range of 50 meters (160 feet). There may be two or four shooting ranges throughout the course and half of these are shot at in the prone position and the other half in the standing position. The size of the targets depends on the position used to shoot them: prone position has targets of diameter 4.5 cm. (1.8 inches) and the standing position has targets of 11.5 cm. (4.5 inches). Depending on how many targets are left standing after five shots, extra penalties are given to each competitor. The penalty is in the form of extra time (1 minute per missed target) added to the competitor's time, or extra distance (150 meters (490 feet) per missed target) that the competitor must ski through. The winner is the one with the shortest time through the course.

In competitions between 1958 to 1965, high-powered military cartridges such as .30-06 Springfield and 7.62x51 mm. NATO were used, along with military rifles. After 1965, some competitors began to use smaller calibers and lighter rifles, and by 1978, the .22 LR cartridge was adopted as the standard. Separate contests in Norway still use large-caliber military rifles though.

These days, modern biathlon rifles are precision instruments, which are crafted to very high standards.

A modern Biathlon rifle. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy of Eberlestock.

The rifle must weigh at least 3.5 kg. (7.7 lbs.) without ammunition and magazines. It must use .22 LR cartridges and magazines should contain 5 cartridges. Some events allow carrying 3 extra cartridges in the stock, which must be loaded manually, should the competitor miss some shots. The rifle must use bolt action or straight-pull bolt action and no automatic or semi-automatic rifles are allowed. The sights are manual peep sights and no telescopic sights are allowed. The rifle may have a flip up cap at the muzzle, which can be flipped to prevent snow and rain entering the barrel, while the competitor is skiing. The sling of the rifle may be attached to a cuff on the competitor's arm before shooting, to provide extra stability. The stock is lightweight and very adjustable to each competitor's requirements.

Each competitor carries the rifle, ammunition and magazines through the entire course. The rifles are only loaded at each shooting range and unloaded before leaving. In competitions before 1978, the target distances were much longer. Before 1966, each range would have a different distance to the target: 100 meters (330 feet), 150 meters (490 feet), 200 meters (660 feet) and 250 meters (820 feet). In 1966, the distance was reduced to 150 meters (490 feet) for all the ranges in the course. In 1978, the distance was further reduced to 50 meters (160 feet) for all ranges, which is the standard currently. Some competitions in Norway still use larger-caliber military rifles and longer distances to target, as per the original sport rules (with some competitions consisting of shooting various targets at unknown distances.)

Rifles are zeroed before the competition starts, but since it takes place outdoors, the wind and temperature may alter where the rifles shoot, and each competitor needs to adjust the sights accordingly. To make things even more complicated, since there are multiple shooting ranges through the course, a competitor might arrive at one range and find severe wind blowing, but travel to the next range and find no wind blowing there, all in the same course. Each shooting range has flags that flap in the wind, so a competitor can look at these and estimate how hard the wind is blowing and its direction and compensate accordingly.

As each missed shot counts as a penalty and adds more time to the competitor's total, it is vital to hit as many targets as possible at each shooting range. This is difficult to do after skiing through a long distance, as each competitor's heart is racing and lungs are pumping due to the exertion of skiing and the cold weather. The racing heart and aching muscles could cause the rifle to shake while aiming at the targets. Therefore, one of the strategies that many competitors use is to slow down as they are entering into each shooting range. This allows them to focus on controlling their breathing and relaxing their muscles a little, before they enter the range. A world-class competitor can enter a range, shoot all 5 targets and then leave in as little as 19-20 seconds or so.

There are still contests held in Norway, that use older standards (such as using military caliber cartridges, different distances to various targets, longer distances, carrying a military pack, skiing through trees etc.) These are true to the original purpose of the biathlon, which was to provide military training to people, for the purposes of national defense in times of war.

Here's a little video that explains the sport of biathlon for beginners. It appears that the person explaining stuff here is not entirely familiar with firearm terminologies, as she refers to clips instead of magazines and bullets instead of cartridges, but the video does explain the basics pretty well.


Happy viewing!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Snubnose Revolvers a.k.a. Belly Guns

In today's post, we will look at a class of weapon called snubnose revolvers, also sometimes called "belly guns" or "snubbies".

A snubnose revolver is a handgun that is designed for self-defense at short distances. In general, the term is used to refer to any revolver with a barrel that is 3 inches long or shorter. They were designed to fulfill the requirement of a small repeating handgun that could be concealed easily and drawn out quickly. The term "belly gun" might have come about because many people carried these weapons concealed in the trouser waist band, close to the belly. Other think that they're called belly guns because of the method of use: placing the barrel into the belly of the opponent and pulling the trigger.

One of the early revolvers of the snubnose type was the Colt Shopkeeper Special model, which was based off the Colt M1877 Lightning model. This was a double action revolver designed for .38 Long Colt cartridge and the Shopkeeper Special model had a smaller barrel and no ejector rod, to keep the size compact.

A Colt Shopkeeper Special revolver. Click on the image to enlarge. Public domain image.

In those days, Colt revolvers were side-loaders. In 1894, Smith & Wesson invented a revolver where the cylinder is mounted on a crane which can swing outward for unloading or loading the revolver, with an attached push rod and star ejector to easily extract the cases. This design, along with the double action mechanism is what we see today in many modern revolvers.

In 1927, Colt introduced their Colt Detective Special revolver model. It was based on their Colt Police Positive Special model, which was a six-shot revolver designed to fire the .38 Special cartridge. The Colt Detective Special used the same frame and six-round cylinder as the Positive Special model, but had a small 2 inch barrel (or in some models, the barrel was 3 inches long).

A Colt Detective Special, courtesy of http://www.adamsguns.com/. Click on the image to enlarge.

The new weapon immediately found popularity among police detectives who were tasked with missions that required them to dress like civilians. Soon after this, Colt discovered that there were a number of people that wanted a small concealed weapon. Therefore, they started making other models as well. For instance, the Colt Banker's model was based on the earlier Colt Police Positive revolver. The Colt Police Positive was designed for smaller cartridges (.32 Colt and .38 S&W) than the Colt Police Positive Special (which took .38 Special) and the Colt Banker's model was designed for the smaller cartridge, with the reasoning that weaker bankers wouldn't be able to handle the recoil of a .38 special cartridge.

The nice thing about such small revolvers is that they are easy to carry around in a pocket or a purse and have repeating capability. Another reason that many people preferred these to the larger models was because of the speed that these could be pulled out. Anyone who has used a full sized revolver from a holster knows that the gun is relatively heavy and the long barrel has to be pulled clear of the holster before shooting. The snubnose equivalent is much easier to pull out from the same holster.

After cheap semi-automatic pistols started becoming widely available in the early 1980s, the popularity of these revolvers declined in the US, mainly because pistols hold much more ammunition that revolvers do. Then, in 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban passed for 10 years, which limited the availability of pistol magazines holding more than 10 rounds and suddenly, the popularity of these snubnose revolvers increased again, until the ban expired in 2004.

There are some advantages to snubnose revolvers:

  1. Ability to conceal: These revolvers can easily be stored in a pocket or a purse. The curved grip is much easier to conceal than the straight grip of a semi-auto pistol and it doesn't look like a gun when placed inside a pocket.
  2. Easy to pull out: Due to its smaller weight and size, it is easier to pull one of these out of a holster than the equivalent full sized revolver model.
  3. Simplicity of use: It is much easier to teach someone to use a revolver than to use a semi-automatic pistol. Limp wristing is not a problem with revolvers, so even someone with a weak grip can use one. Revolvers are also less likely to malfunction than semi-automatics. If a revolver doesn't fire due to a bad cartridge, the procedure to clear it is to simply pull the trigger again. 
  4. Heavy Double Action trigger: We saw a few posts ago that double-action triggers are harder to pull when placed in double-action mode. Therefore, it is not likely to go off, if it gets snagged in clothing, which provides extra safety.
  5. Better at close quarters: Not only is it faster to pull a snubnose revolver out, the shorter barrel means that an attacker can't grab on to it and try to wrestle it away. Also, unlike a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver can't be easily knocked out of battery.
  6. Can fire different types of ammunition.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages as well:
  1. Capacity: Most modern snubnose revolvers have a 5-round capacity, whereas even a pocket sized semi-automatic pistol carries 6+1 rounds. Of course, there are those that argue that 5 rounds is more than enough in most cases.
  2. Higher recoil: Because of the smaller size and weight, the felt recoil force is much more on a snubnose revolver.
  3. Sights: Due to shorter barrels, the distance between the front and rear sights is smaller and therefore the sight radius is short. The longer the sight radius, the more accurately a weapon can be aimed. 
  4. More time taken to reload a revolver.
Due to their shorter barrel lengths, snubnose revolvers are perceived to have less accuracy than weapons with longer barrels. This is not entirely true, as they can be used pretty effectively to about 20 meters (22 yards) by most people and some people can even hit torso-sized targets up to 50 meters (55 yards) away.

These days, Colt no longer manufactures snubnose models (such as Detective, Cobra or Python), but Smith & Wesson still makes snubnose models (e.g. Bodyguard, Model 19 etc.), as does Ruger (SP101 and LCR).


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Carrying Magazines "Jungle Style"

In today's post, we will study a method of configuring weapon magazines, which is popularly called "Jungle Style". We will see what this is all about.

Polish Soldier armed with an AKMS rifle. Click on the image to enlarge. Public domain image.

In the above image, we see a Polish soldier carrying an AKMS assault rifle. Notice that at the bottom of the rifle, there appears to be multiple magazines, which are held together by using some green tape. This is what carrying magazines "jungle style" is all about.

The reason for the name is that the practice of taping multiple magazines together originated with US forces in the Pacific campaign and fighting in the jungles. US soldiers who were armed with the M3 Grease gun and the Thompson Submachine gun (a.k.a Tommy gun) in the jungles of Asia, needed a way to quickly change magazines, especially since early Thompson submachine guns only came with 20-round magazines.

Some genius figured out that if multiple magazines were attached together with some sticky tape or rubber bands or clamps, the result is much easier and faster to change, as the new magazine is already attached to the old one. Since this technique was extensively used when fighting in thick jungles, this idea of taping magazines together began to be called "jungle-style" and the name stuck.

In the beginning, many soldiers improvised by tying two or more magazines together with rope, duct tape, rubber bands etc. So many American soldiers attached magazines together for their M1 carbines that the US military took notice and introduced the "T3-A1 Magazine Holder", which was a metal clamp that could hold two 30-round M1 magazines together, without any tape.

Later on, some companies (e.g. SIG, Heckler & Koch etc.) began to manufacture magazines with built in studs, so that multiple magazines could be stacked without using rubber bands or tape.

A SIG 550 magazine. Click on the image to enlarge.
Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license by Rama

In the above image, we see a box magazine designed for the SIG 550 rifle. Note that the magazine has two protruding studs on the outside of the magazine. The other size of the magazine has two U-shaped slots to accept the studs. This design allows multiple magazines to be stacked side-by-side, without using any tape, twine, rubber bands or clamps.



Carrying magazines "jungle style" certainly helps speed up the reloading process, as the loaded magazines are attached to each other and can be easily swapped out.

On the other hand, they have a few disadvantages as well. For one, they alter the balance of a weapon. There is also an increased risk of weapon stoppages because while one magazine is inserted into the weapon, the other magazine lips are open and exposed to dirt and dust.