STANAG magazine

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Two STANAG-compliant magazines: A 20-round Colt-manufactured magazine, and a 30-round Heckler & Koch "High Reliability" magazine.

A STANAG magazine[1][2] or NATO magazine is a type of detachable firearm magazine proposed by NATO in October 1980.[3] Shortly after NATO's acceptance of the 5.56×45mm NATO rifle cartridge, Draft Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4179 was proposed in order to allow the military services of member nations easily to share rifle ammunition and magazines during operations, at the individual soldier level, in the interest of easing logistical concerns. The magazine proposed for standardization was originally designed for the U.S. M16 rifle. Many NATO member nations, but not all, subsequently developed or purchased rifles with the ability to accept this type of magazine. However the standard was never ratified and remains a 'Draft STANAG'.[4]


The standard capacity of a STANAG-compatible magazine is 30 rounds of 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. There are also 20, 40 and 50-round box magazines, as well as 60 and 100 round casket magazines,[5][6] 90-round drum magazines, and 100-round saddle-drum magazines.[7] There has also been a 150-round saddle drum magazine produced.

Issues and improvements[edit]

Close-up of SA80 with plastic Magpul EMAG. Note: clear viewing window

The STANAG magazine, while relatively compact compared to other types of 5.56×45mm NATO box magazines, has often been criticized for a perceived lack of durability and a tendency to malfunction unless treated with a level of care that often cannot be afforded under combat conditions. Because STANAG 4179 is only a dimensional standard, production quality from manufacturer to manufacturer is not uniform. Magazines have been manufactured with lightweight aluminum or plastic bodies and other inexpensive materials in order to keep costs down, or to meet requirements that treat the magazine more as a disposable piece of equipment than one that is supposed to stand up to repeated combat use.

As a result, in March 2009, the U.S. military began to accept delivery of improved STANAG magazines.[8] To increase reliability, these magazines incorporate heavier, more corrosion resistant springs and new tan-colored anti-tilt followers.[9] In addition, many commercial magazine manufacturers now offer improved STANAG-compatible magazines. These magazines are made from high-grade stainless steel bodies, rust- and set-resistant chrome-silicon springs, and anti-tilt followers. There are also highly reliable polymer magazines, some with view windows, others are translucent.


Firearms compatible with STANAG magazines[edit]

AR-15/M16 type rifles[edit]

Non-AR-15/M16 type rifles[edit]

STANAG magazine convertible rifles[edit]

Magnolia States Armory offers an adapter that allows the use of STANAG magazines in 5.56mm Galil rifles as well as one that works in a variety of 5.56mm AK-47 type rifles such as the Saiga, WASR3 and Norinco rifles.


  1. ^ The M16, Gordon L. Rottman, © Osprey Publishing, 2011, Page 35-36
  2. ^ Future Weapons, Kevin Dockery, © Penguin, 2007, Page 125-126
  3. ^ Watters, Daniel: "The 5.56 X 45mm Timeline: A Chronology of Development", The Gun Zone, 2000-2007.
  4. ^ "NATO Infantry Weapons Standardization", NDIA Conference 2008
  5. ^ "Magpul Invents New Quad-Stack Magazine for ARs «  Daily Bulletin". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  6. ^ David Crane (3 December 2010). "DR Exclusive!: SureFire MAG5-60 and MAG5-100 High Capacity Magazine (HCM) "Quad-Stack" AR Rifle Magazines: 60-Round/Shot and 100-Round/Shot AR (AR-15/M16) 5.56mm NATO Box Magazines for Significantly-Increased Firepower during Infantry Combat and Tactical Engagements of All Sorts". (DR): An online tactical technology and military defense technology magazine with particular focus on the latest and greatest tactical firearms news (tactical gun news), tactical gear news and tactical shooting news. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Brownells shipping M16 magazines with anti-tilt follower to military - The Firearm Blog, June 13, 2009
  9. ^ New US Army M16 “Tan” Magazine - The Firearm Blog, December 16, 2009
  10. ^ "SAR 21 Product Brochure". ST Engineering. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  11. ^ "Steyr AUG NATO Conversion kit - AUG Accessories - Accessories". Retrieved 15 November 2014.