Taped magazines

No, not the kind of magazines you read. I'm referring to the magazines full of bullets. The next time you see a photo of rebels or militia fighters from the Caucuses, central Africa, or the Middle East, look closely at the ammunition magazines clipped into the underside of their assault rifles. Most likely you will see two clips taped together, top to bottom (see photo at left).

A recent Men's Journal article about kidnapped oil workers in Nigeria included a photo of a river delta rebel with no less than four ammo clips taped together (and a guy aiming an RPG at the hostage's head about two feet away from him--not a very good idea). Why go crazy by wrapping duct tape around your ammo clips? It probably has more to do with style than utility. Having multiple clips dangling from the stock makes it look like you're ready to rock and roll on full auto--so watch out! The problem, however, is that taping upside-down clips to the bottom of a gun invites damage to the clip's feed mechanism. Look closely at the photo and you'll notice the top edge of the clip is dented and scraped (the white part). Damage that joint too much and the clip might not fit securely into the magazine feed. Of course, many assault rifles, like the AK-47 featured in this photo, are designed to withstand terrible abuse and still fire reliably. But if you scrape away enough metal, no round peg is going to fit in a rectangular hole.

I realize assault rifle chic is an obscure topic to post about--but I've always wondered how people learn to do something this. Does the newbie rebel watch and learn from the veteran? Is there a manual somewhere which explains the best duct-taping methods, or even the best brands of tape, or the amount of overlap space to leave? What about the Nigerian rebel with the four-pack of taped clips--is that more like a ceremonial weapon, unusable in an actual battle? I've also rarely seen anyone write about this phenomena that nevertheless makes it into hundreds of photographs from war zones all across the world. The non-conflict, western equivalent, I suppose, would be some impractical and expensive item from a Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog, say the rope-less jump rope.