The Long and Short of Bolt Action Rifle Magazines

I often hear from consulting clients and other SurvivalBlog readers with bolt action rifles who are looking for a magazine with more than the standard 3 or 4 round capacity. (“Just in case”, they say.) Thankfully, there are now several aftermarket extended detachable magazine systems available. Here are some examples:

Remington M700

Most Model 700 Remington rifle owners are probably already familiar with the Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS) detachable magazine bottom metal and magazines, available from Brownells and several other vendors. (Note: The steel magazines are fairly expensive, but the great news is that MagPul now makes both long action and short action polymer PMAGs in the AICS pattern that are quite affordable. You can order those through GunMag Warehouse for less than $40 each.) The AICS system installation is reversible and requires no gunsmithing.

If you own a M700 chambered in .223 Remington, Pacific Tool and Gauge makes nifty trigger housing groups that accept standard alloy AR-15 magazines. (Note: The bottom of the receiver must be slightly milled out, to provide clearance for the magazines. Hence this particular conversion is non-reversible.)

Winchester Model 70

AICS magazine conversions are also available for Model 70 Winchesters, both short and long action. The M5 Stealth DM (Detachable Magazine) System for M70 is available from Brownells or Stocky’s.

Savage Bolt Action

Savage bolt action rifle owners should check out Darkeagle Custom. They make very nice 10-round magazines for several Savage variants that already have center feed detachable magazines. Be advised that these will only fit certain detachable box magazine (“DBM”) Savage rifles, so double check before you order. By the way, they also make extended magazine release buttons and oversize bolt knobs.

Mosin Nagant

Pro-Mag–a company with mixed reviews on their quality control–makes a 10-round magazine for Mosin-Nagant rifles available for less than $19, but… caveat emptor.

Mauser M1898 (And Some Clones)

For many years, International Military Antiques (IMA) made a quasi-replica of the German WWI semi-detachable M1898 Mauser “Trench magazine” with 25-round capacity. These won’t pass muster with the exacting eye of button-counting historical re-enactors, but at least they function quite well. A much more authentic Trench magazine replica is available from Keep Shooting (a loyal SurvivalBlog advertiser).

I’ve also heard of a conversion available for Israeli K98s chambered in 7.62mm NATO that use HKG3 or CETME magazines, but in a recent web search I wasn’t able to track them down.

A few replica Springfield Model 1903 trench magazines were also produced back in the 1970s, but finding one those on the secondary market might turn into a Grail Quest.

Other Bolt Actions

Absent a big gunsmithing budget, the owners of other brands of bolt action rifles are probably out of luck, beyond the factory offerings. Tikka, for example, makes quite expensive spare “extended” magazines that only add a couple cartridges. Ditto for some Weatherby rifles. But given enough time and money, most skilled gunsmiths can probably fabricate you an extended magazine, although it probably won’t be quickly detachable, unless you are starting out with a rifle that already has DBM bottom metal. Long action Mauser-pattern rifles can sometimes be converted to accept military surplus MG13 magazines, which are surprisingly inexpensive and plentiful. (The same magazine has been adapted for Hakim and Ljungman rifles.) With some “cutting and pasting”, BAR magazines have also been converted for use in some bolt actions.

At one time I owned a Winchester Model 70 chambered in .308 Winchester that had been converted to accept standard M14 magazines. But the company that did that conversion–Moe’s Competitor’s Supplies (MCS)–no longer does this work.

Conclusion

If you want to give your bolt action greater capacity, then first do plenty of research on the Internet and proceed with caution. My general advice is to make fully reversible conversions, especially if your rifle has any collector’s value, such as pre-’64 Winchesters. Don’t grind or whittle off one of those, or your grandchildren might never forgive you. The same advice applies to camouflage paint jobs. Now that we live in the era of removable Gun Skins camouflage wraps, you have no excuse. You should probably keep any rifle that has any collector’s value original.)

In a perfect world, the makers of all bolt action rifles would have long ago standardized with just a couple of types of detachable magazines–preferably inexpensive military surplus magazines. But, of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. So get creative, and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish. – JWR

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