Revised Edition - November 17, 2008
Copyright 2008, by James Wesley, Rawles
In response to repeated requests from rec.guns readers, I'm posting a list of the various magazines available on the civilian market for M14 and M1A rifles. It lists the different varieties, identifying markings, and types of finish.
Here they are (I may miss a few...)
20 Round Capacity Magazines:
Original U.S.G.I. contract 20 round magazines
still in their original
gray-black Parkerized finish are currently worth $25 to $45, depending on condition.
Becuase of the recent election of Barack Obama to teh US presidency, there is currently a shortage of M14 magazines on the U.S. market, and prices are rising. (There are fears of a renewed ban on so-called "high capacity" magazines.)
Even the CMP (formerly called ther DCM) has raised their prices.
You can tell original U.S.G.I. magazines by
dark gray (almost black) phosphate finish,
and the presence of a maker's code mark. This mark is stamped of the rear of the magazine,
approximately 3/4-inch up from the baseplate. There are now some fake USGI magazines on teh market. (See below.)
What if I can't see a maker's mark?
The magazine may just be lightly stamped. One trick is to moisten with oil the area that should have a maker's mark--this improves contrast. Then slowly turn the magazine back and forth under direct light, examining it closely as you turn it. Nine times out of 10 you will be able to see a lightly struck maker's mark. Pleae DO NOT e-mail me and tell me that you have an "unmarked" USGI magazine until you have done this test. (I get roughly one e-mail a week on this topic. Virtually everyone that has subsequently done the "wetting and bright light" test has later reported that their magazines were indeed lightly stamped.)
Here is a list of the makers code marks that I've seen or heard of:
A made by ?
AM made by Springfield Armory
BRW made by Borg-Warner
by Borg-Warner's Automotive Spring Division.
(Others say it was Borg-Warner's Brake Division in Winchester, Virginia.)
BRW B2 (set in circular pattern) made by Borg-Warner
C.M.I. made by Check Mate Industries of Long Island, New York
Note: CMI is the current US military contract maker. This contract was reportedly initiated for the U.S. Navy for M14 deck rifles used during the Gulf War. According to Clint McKee of Fulton Armory, the quality of these magazines was not quite as good as from earlier contracts. They are still in production, to support US deplyments in Iraq and Afghanistanb, where M14s are being issued as "designated marksman" rifles. Contract overrun CMI M14 magazines are available from www.44mag.com and several other vendors. They also make 25 round version for the ivilian market.
Between 1996 and 2004 CMI made "intra-ban"
that are stamped RESTRICTED-LAW ENFORCEMENT/GOVERNMENT USE
These have been seen with dates as early as 1996.
One of my customers recently wrote me in 2003: "I have used military M14 magazines made by Checkmate Industries dated 1996, complete with the Government/Law enforcement use only stamp. I am in the Air National Guard and shoot on a marksmanship team, and ordered these mags new in about 2000 for the team. The NSN was coded for AF use, and I had no problem
getting them which usually means there is a good stock available. In fact, they were much easier to get than standard 30 round M16 magazines."
HR made by Harrington and Richardson
H-R made by Harrington and Richardson
HR-R made by Harrington and Richardson
(A stylized logo with large K and the "M" and T" tucked in around
made by Kileen Machine Tool Company
KMT overstamped with an A (Kileen Machine and Tool Company)
M made by ? Possibly mis-marked magazines made by Winchester (inverted M???)
M with a line under the bottom and also a
slash through the first hump of the M at
midpoint (so that it almost looks like an A and an upside down V connected) with a line underneath the entire M character. Made by Mathewson Tool Company. Some of these were packaged in Springfield Armory boxes.
OM made by Winchester (Back when it was part of Olin-Matheson.)
R (Underlined) made by ?
SA made by Springfield Armory (The original government arsenal, not to be confused with the commercial firm that now uses the name.) These magazines are very scarce and command premium prices.
SHO Made by Springfield Armory (The original government arsenal). This marking is "the rarest of the rare" and was used only on very early production (circa 1959) Springfield Armory produced M14 magazines.
TRW made by Thompson Ramo Woolridge (TRW)
made by Union Hardware Company (Stamped in an arc)
(Note: Some wrappers for UHC-stamped mags are from Brunswick-Olin.)
W Originally mis-identified as Winchester. Actually made by made by Westinghouse. (This was debated.)
W (With overscore line and slash through the second "V") made by Winchester
WRA made by Winchester
If you've seen any other code marks on M14
and/or the names/locations of any of
the factories, please let me know, even if you don't know who the maker was. Many thanks!
After piecing the list above together from various sources, I found the following extract from government contracting documents on the M14 Collector's Forum. (Its amazing what you can find on the Internet):
1. CMI=CHECKMATE INDUSTRIES, INC. 777 MOUNT
WYANDANCH NY 11798
FORMERLY IN FARMINGDALE NY CAGE CODE 1M291.
2. BRW/ BRW S-1 = BORG WARNER CORP ROCKFORD IL 61100. CAGE CODE 7F259.
3. UHC= UNION HARDWARE(BRUNSWICK CORP UNION
DIV 535 MIGEON AVE
TORRINGTON CT 06790-4643 FORMERLY BRUNSWICK MACGREGOR DIV OF UNION HARDWARE. CAGE CODE 61763.
4. OM= OLIN MATHISON CORP ADDRESS OSOLETE/ NOW
WINCHESTER OLIN GROUP
MILITARY EAST ACTON IL CAGE 6L127/9M899/9N694.
5. WRA/W= OLIN CORP WINCHESTER REPEATER ARMS
427 N SHAMROCK ST.
EAST ACTON IL 80236. CAGE CODE 66118.
6. KMT= KILEEN MACHINE TOOL CO. INC. 33 HERMAN
ST. WORCESTER, MA 01610.
CAGE CODE 92983.
The Advent of Fake "USGI" M14 Magazines:
Starting Around 1997, couterfeit USGI M14 magazines began to hit the US market. These are apparently made in Asia. These can be detected by their weld patterns and other irregularities. An excellent set of fake-identification flowcharts were developed by the folks at RIFLE-COMPANY.com. They are linked at: http://rifle-company.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=3799. I recommend that M1A owners print out a copy of these charts, and carry them with them when they visit gun shows.
Special note of clarification on Phosphate
"Parkerizing" is like "Xerox" or "Frigidaire"--it is a trade name. The process of phosphating metal is commonly called "Parkerizing" because the Parker family designed and owns the patent (now Parker-Am-Chem). Zinc phosphate is a type of phosphate that is usually gray.
Manganese Phosphate is usually black. Both processes (as well as iron phosphate and others)
can be purchased under the "Parkerizing" name or under or the brands like Keykote from
Allied Kelite. The military specification for M14 magazines has always been grey-black parkerizing.
As the supply of M14 magazines on the civilian market dried up durig the 1994 to 2004 ban, many dealers turned to re-phosphating any worn-looking magazines to keep
up their inventories. The quality of this work varies, but in general, if they start with
the original U.S.G.I. article, the end result is a good functional magazine. (But once
re-finished they of course have little or no collector's value.) In recent years
Springfield Armory has refinished thousands of G.I. magazines.
Some of them look a bit nasty, since the magazines show pitting beneath the re-phosphating.
Notes on U.S.G.I. Magazine Wrappers:
I have seen original U.S.G.I. contract 20 round magazines packed in a variety of wrappers.
Most common is a 4-pack. But I've also seen them individually wrapped and even in a long
box of two (end to end, lengthwise.) Earlier magazines were packed in a cream colored
synthetic material that resembles canvas on the outside, but when torn open you can see
a vapor barrier of a silvery-metallic material. The later contract magazines are wrapper in
a heavy brownish paper, with the same a vapor barrier of a silvery-metallic material inside.
Just a few were coated in Cosmoline before packaging. (The vast majority were packed "dry".)
A typical U.S. G.I. wrapper for an original end-to-end "two pack" reads:
MAGAZINE ASSY FOR RIFLE MAGAZINE ASSY
7.62MM M14 2/71 2-EA
MIL-B-131E CLASS 1 AND 2 A-
RAP INDUSTRIES, INC.
FR2160 JULY 1970
BTW, I often have readers e-mail me to say that their magazines were made by "RAP Industries" or "Daubert Chemical" They were NOT M14 magazine makers! They were merely the makers of the MIL SPEC vapor barrier paper ("VCI paper") used for the wrappers!
I've also had queries about other M14 wrapper markings, such as:
MIL-B-131C CLASS 2
Plastic Film Co.
7 1959 LOT NO. D49
One gebt wrote, for example, wanting to know if "...M14 magazines made by Plastic Film Co. are reilable?" (Again, Plastic Film Company made the wrappers, NOT the magazines.)
Taiwanese M14 magazines:
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a small number of high quality magazines were imported
from Taiwan. Production resumed around 2006. These can be identified by their bright blued finish. They were made on U.S.
government supplied tooling at the Taiwanese national arsenal, to U.S. military specifications,
except for final finish. (They are blued rather than phosphate coated.) Most fit and function
quite well. However, a few have deformed followers, which cause the bolt to no always lock
open after the last cartridge is fired. The only sure fix for this is to replace the follower.
These are not to be confused with the profusion of after-market blued-steel magazines you
see at gun shows.
Chinese (mainland Communist China) M14
Virtually all of the 20 round M14 magazines that you see coated in grease and/or waxed
paper are from communist China. They are generally phosphated a very light gray color
and practically pumped full of grease. They have no maker's mark. Beware of advertisements
for "Original G.I. M14 magazines, new in grease." Odds are they are NOT original, nor they are
G.I. (These ads remind me of the "Federal Reserve" (It is a private bankig cartel, not a
Federal agency, nor are there any reserves.) The folks at Fulton Armory tell me that the
Chinese-made M14 magazines are indeed reliable. However, I refuse to deal in them because
China has a large network of "labor reform" (laogaidui) camps and prisons. They hold over
ten million political prisoners, including many of those that were arrested following the
Tiananmen Square massacre. Please don't buy any goods marked: "Made in China"
Note: Original U.S.G.I. contract 20 round magazines were NEVER packed in grease before
they left the factory. If you see lots of grease and/or a light gray M14 magazine with no
maker's mark, the odds are 99% that it is from communist China. Some poor slave making 20 cents a day made that magazine!
M14 Magazine Conversions:
Israeli (Galil-conversion) M14
Early production Galil .308 rifles came equipped
with converted U.S. military contract M14 magazines. These had the original locking lug
in the rear milled off, and new locking lugs welded on front and rear . The typical
Kalashnikov/Valmet/Galil magazine locking lug system.) These magazines are worth
$100+ each IF you can find them. They will ONLY fit Galil/Hadar/ARM.308 rifles.
AR-10 magazine conversions. The (new)
company produces a semi-auto
.308 rifle dubbed the AR-10. It looks similar to the original AR-10s of the late 1950s and
early 1960s. However, it uses quite a few AR-15 parts. The makers of this rifle decided
to use converted M14 magazines. Once they have been converted, they will only fit
Smaller Capacity Magazines:
5 round capacity (flush fit): Most
were made from cut-down and re-finished U.S.
military contract magazines. (Many of these were Israeli Defense Force surplus magazines
that for some reason had a torch hole cut in the side. I suppose that this was there idea of
"de-milling"). These are designed primarily for hunting in States that have limits on magazine
capacity for hunting. Since there is nothing to hold onto once they are in the rifle (They lay
flush with the magazine well) they are a pain to get out of most M1As, particularly if your
rifle has a tight magazine well. Thus, they are better suited to hunting that competitive
5 round capacity (extended): Most
were made from cut-down and re-finished U.S.
military contract magazines. These are designed primarily for match shooting. They have
a magazine body that is long enough to otherwise accept 10 cartridges, but they are blocked
to accept only 5 cartridges. They extra length makes them easier to get in an out of your rifle.
(Since there is something to hold on to.)
10 round capacity: Most were made from
and re-finished U.S. military contract
magazines. This is the handiest length for match or informal target shooting. (They allow
a very low prone position, and don't get in the way 20 rounders do, when bench shooting.)
Presumably some maker are now-making new manufacture 10 round capacity magazines,
since they can still be made for civilian sale, even after passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill
of 1994. Most of the 10 rounders that are currently being made are not cut-down 20s.
Depending on the maker, most of these new "scratch built" 10s are not nearly as reliable
as the pre-ban production.
On After-Market Magazines (all capacities):
Thermold (Canadian) 20 round M14 magazines.
plastic. The Thermold M14 magazine
is presumably made with the same plastic formulation as the Canadian Defense Force M16
magazine. These usually sell for $18 to $30 each at gun shows. I've been told that Thermolds
are the ONLY after-market M14 magazines that feed reasonably well. Some have minor
dimensional irregularities. I've had two different users write me to say that with some lots
of these magazines you must file 1/16'' off the front catch, otherwise they will not stay in
Other after-market (civilian) manufacture,
of dull blued steel construction. Most of these are
A few unscrupulous gun show dealers take these out of their wrappers
try to pass them off on M1A newbie owners as "G.I." I had one
tell me that "All these early government contract M14 magazines were
blued." Bzzzzzt! Wrong answer.
Apparently this guy forgot one of the Ten Commandments. Something about bearing false witness... The U.S. Government did NOT make blued M14 magazines! Period.
Most of the aftermarket M14 are total junk! Don't even bother buying any of these. (USA brand, et cetera.) You will be VERY disappointed with their fit and function. The steel ones are
30 round magazines. Most of dull blued
construction. All of these are after-market,
and almost universally heralded as out-of-tolerance JUNK. The U.S. government never produced any 30 round magazines. (Aside perhaps for a few prototypes.)
25 round magazines. These are made by CMI, to essentially GI specifications, but just for the civilian market. (A few have been seen in the OIF and OEF theaters of operation, but are all believed to have been purchased privately,) They reportedly work well, but finding pouches to fit them is problematic.
On Magazine Carrying Pouches:
The earliest issue pouch for the M14 was the
drab ("O.D."). canvas "Universal"
magazine pouch. It fits two 20s. It has grenade straps on the sides. The dangling strap
is designed to hook up to the suspenders.
The same style pouch has been made for
market sales in black nylon, and with
and/or without the grenade straps.
The Marine Corps issue a dark O.D. canvas singlemagazine pouch.
A later (and scarce) pouch was an O.D. double
20 round nylon magazine pouch. It featured
an internal divider between the magazines. This keeps the magazines from rattling together
or scratching each other up. They were intentionally made oversize to accomodate various
.308 20 round magzines (HK, FAL, Valmet, et cetera) and are even big enough to accomodate
BAR (.30-06) magazines.) This roomly fit makes it easy to get M14 magazines in and out.
I highly recommend this pouch. The prime contractor for these was A-1 Sewing Products of
St. Louis, Missouri. These have no grenade straps, a large black plastic buckle in the front
(like the M16 pouch), and a large riveted drainage hole in the bottom. The contractor also
made a small quantity of these for the civilian market without the "US" marking. They also
made some in black nylon, also for the civilian market. I have heard that Cheaper than Dirt
currently sells the O.D. model in their catalog, mis-identified as 20 rd. pouches for the M16.
The catalog number is ARR-020 and the baggie they are shipped in is correctly labeled as
M14 Ammo pouch.
Blackhawk makes several styles of a single and
double 20 round Cordura nylon pouches.
These are reportedly of the highest quality.
On magazine pricing: Due to the freeze on new production for civilian ownership in the U.S. between 9/1994 and 9/2004, the price of M14 magazines crept up to the $45 to $75 range for U.S.G.I. 20 rounders. This situation got better (under $25 each, in 2007 and 2008) but recently got worse, since the 1994 Crime Bill will probably be renewed, posssibly with even more draconian legislation. Stock up! M14 magazines will likely be back to $75 each by mid-2009.
Thanks to: R. Blake Stevens, Bill Dayton, J. Gooldy, Greg Hallford, Geoff Hardin, Conley Janssen, T. Mark Graham, Elliot Kwock, Bill Ricca, and "The Packratt" for their input. Special thanks to Clint McKee of Fulton Armory and teh folks at RIFLE-COMPANY.com.
I hope that you find this info useful. Your corrections or additions are greatly appreciated.
James Wesley, Rawles <><
I'm the author of numerous firearms FAQS on topics including:
AR-15 magazines, M1 Carbine magazines, M14/M1A magazines, M1911 magazines,
FN/FALs and L1A1s, Mauser rifles, pre-1899 cartridge guns, and European Ammo Box
Markings Translations. These FAQs are available at www.SurvivalBlog.com/faqs.html
I'm also the author of a pro-gun survivalist
and screenplay. For info,