Bang the Drum Journal Slowly


M61A1 20 mm rotary cannon with drum magazine

Drum magazines have been round just about because the first magazine-fed weapons hit the battlefield. Right here’s a take a look at some them and the way they developed. 

A Historical past of the Drum Journal

The necessity for elevated journal capability

After the game-changing invention of the cartridge, and even earlier than the event of bolt-action rifles, firearms designers tried alternative ways to extend ammunition capability. The drum journal is a mid-19th-century invention that fulfilled that want. Typically, the credit score goes to 2 people for patenting the concept of a drum journal, even when neither of their designs truly made it off the drafting board. Charles Tyler reportedly patented one design in 1853, and Salloum Dahdah patented one other in 1862. Nevertheless, as famous neither have been put to sensible use.

Totally different Drum Beats

Now, the world doesn’t transfer to the beat of only one drum. Clearly, 19th-century firearms designers every moved to their very own beat. That is the place Lewis W. Broadwell is available in. He developed and patented the Broadwell drum, which elevated the ammunition capability for the Gatling Gun, however his design didn’t go well with the job at hand. In essence, it was only a gravity-feed system put in a circle. It was reportedly susceptible to jamming and whereas it did enhance the capability, altering the magazines was a slower course of than with the straight magazines. Furthermore, the Broadwell design, whereas referred to as a drum, was actually extra of a stacked pancake model journal (see under). In 1875 the 40-round gravity machine changed his drum and its particular feed hopper.

DP28 Pan Magazine

The Soviet DP-28 featured a “pan” journal not technically a “drum” journal (Photograph: Assortment of the Writer).

The Accles Drum Journal

James G. Accles created the primary true “drum journal.” His 1883 patented Accles drum for the Gatling Gun held 104 rounds. Lugs on the service drove the interior impellor which made it a optimistic feed gadget. It has been in comparison with a brass donut and was particularly dependable if saved clear.

Accles Drum Magazine for 1883 Gatling

Accles Drum Journal for 1883 Gatling. Picture credit score: Heritage Auctions.

The draw back to the Accles drum was that it was delicate to dust and repair abuse, which made it impractical for subject use. It was additionally sluggish to reload and sophisticated to service.

In 1886 Lucian Bruce developed and patented a tool that elevated the velocity of reloading the drums. He additionally created an adapter that made Gatling Weapons suitable with the Bruce feed system. Bruce famously created a brand new feed system that did away with the Accles drum. The Bruce gadget allowed for steady hearth, because the journal could possibly be topped off from extra stick magazines. It proved to be essentially the most profitable feed system for the Gatling Gun, however it wasn’t the top of the road for the drum magazines.

Drumming Up


The event of the belt-fed machine weapons of the late 19th century – notably the Maxim design – highlighted the benefits of fee of fireplace in small arms, however it was truly a semi-automatic rifle design that led to the primary profitable deployment of a drum journal.

The Farquhar-Hill was one of many first semi-automatic rifles; patented within the UK in 1908, adopted by america in 1909. Developed by British weapon designers Moubray G. Farquhar and Arthur H. Hill, it used a recoil operation with a rotary bolt locking system. Its designers have been nonetheless attempting to resolve a few of its points when WWI broke out in 1914, they usually examined the weapon with 65-round drum magazines. Some British aviators used it earlier than the adoption of specialty plane machine weapons and American troopers subject examined a minimum of one with its specifically designed 19-round drum journal.

Farquhar-Hill Patent

The Farquhar-Hill Patent.

Paradoxically, in 1918 the British navy discovered the Farquhar-Hill rifle was appropriate for navy use and ordered 100,000 models. Nevertheless, the “Rifle .303-inch, Sample 1918” – which was the official navy nomenclature for the rifle – by no means went into full manufacturing as a result of the battle ended and it was deemed pointless.

The “Snail” Drum Journal

In World Conflict I, the drum journal was adopted by Stoßtruppen (Stormtroopers) with the Artillery Luger pistol. The 32-round “snail journal” significantly elevated the ammunition capability of the semi-automatic pistol. Then it was used with the world’s first profitable submachine gun, the Bergmann MP18 (Maschinenpistole 18/I). Curiously, famous German arms designer Hugo Schmeisser had designed a traditional 20-round field journal however the German Testing Fee insisted the MP18 be tailored to make the most of the Luger “snail” drum.

MP18 with a "snail drum"

The MP18 (Maschinenpistole 18/I) was the world’s first profitable submachine gun. It featured a “snail” drum journal, initially developed for the Artillery Mannequin of the notorious Luger pistol. This instance of the MP18 is within the assortment of the Nationwide World Conflict I Museum. (Photograph: Peter Suciu, Nationwide WWI Museum)

Drum magazines: the Luger snail drum mag, from a video by Forgotten Weapons

The 32-round trommelmagazin-08 snail drum was developed in 1916 to offer elevated firepower to models armed with the LangePistole 08 artillery Luger. By way of Forgotten Weapons

Thompson Submachine Gun

The Thompson submachine gun was additionally in growth when the First World Conflict led to 1918. Its creator Basic John T. Thompson initially envisioned it as a semi-automatic rifle. It developed right into a “one-man, hand-held machine gun” that fired the .45 ACP cartridge. Initially dubbed the “trench broom,” then “Annihilator,” it was later formally renamed the Thompson Submachine Gun. It was designed to make use of each stick and drum magazines.

Thompson Submachine Gun Drum Magazine Prototypes

A bunch of prototype drum magazines for the Thompson Submachine Gun. These have been on show on the Michigan Vintage Arms Collectors Present and are in a personal assortment. (Photograph: Peter Suciu)

Following the battle, the U.S. navy had little interest in the Thompson so it bought on the civilian market as an alternative. Nevertheless, the passage of the Nationwide Firearms Act of 1934 made proudly owning such a firearm far tougher. Though automated weapons weren’t technically made unlawful, civilian possession was restricted. The Act required a “switch” that included a $200 tax stamp. Curiously, that is still the worth to switch an NFA gadget (together with a machine gun or suppressor) at this time.

The US navy adopted the Thompson In 1938. The M1928A1 model could possibly be used with both field or drum magazines. Nevertheless, after America’s entry into the Second World Conflict, they decided that the journal was too heavy. Subsequent Thompson M/M1A1 variations solely accepted the 30-round or 20-round field journal however not the drum journal.

Thompson Submachine Gun Drum Magazine Display

One of many two Thompson SMGs used within the notorious St. Valentine’s Day Bloodbath! This was on show on the Michigan Vintage Arms Collectors Present. (Photograph: Peter Suciu)

Beating the Drum in Europe

Throughout the Atlantic different gun designers thought of the benefits of drum magazines. Notably, they allowed a single soldier to hold a weapon with two to a few instances the quantity of ammunition as a stick journal. Extra importantly, they may go away the magazines loaded for prolonged durations of time with out placing an excessive amount of pressure on the spring. The truth is, troopers solely wanted to wind the spring in a drum journal when the weapon was prepared to fireplace.

The Finnish navy adopted the Suomi KP/-31 submachine gun, and it featured a 71-round drum journal.

Finnish Suomi KP/31 Drum Magazine

The Finnish Suomi KP/-31was a dependable and rugged gun, and certain impressed the Soviet-designed PPSh-41. It used the 71-round journal (Photograph: Assortment of the Writer)

That weapon little doubt impressed the Soviet-designed PPSh-41 submachine gun, which turned essentially the most generally used SMG of the Second World Conflict. It additionally featured its distinctive drum journal – and has triggered confusion within the west on how one can correctly maintain the gun. Video video games and flicks recommend off-hand placement on the bottom of the journal. Nevertheless, Soviet manuals truly instructed troopers to put the off-hand simply behind the journal.

Soviet PPSH-41 Submachine Gun WWII 71-round drum magazine

The Soviet PPSh-41: essentially the most extensively used SMG of the Second World Conflict. It featured a 71-round drum journal. (Photograph: Assortment of the Writer)

The Soviets famous the identical issues that the People had encountered with the Thompson. The ammunition capability elevated the load of the weapon. Drum magazines are additionally extra susceptible to jamming as a result of complicated spring mechanisms, and drums can rattle when loaded.

The “Saddle Drum”

Designers additionally created different drum magazines apart from the Thompson-style drum. The truth is, the Beta C-Magazine was developed previous to World Conflict II and it’s at present in use with fashionable assault rifles. Often known as the “saddle drum,” it options twin drums that sit on all sides of the feed mechanism. The German navy developed the primary of those as a 75-round journal for the MG-13 and MG-15 machine weapons. The ammunition feeds by spring power, with rounds alternating from all sides of the double drum to maintain the gun balanced.

Saddle Drum Magazine MG 15

MG-15 Saddle Drum Journal. Photograph credit score: Worldwide Army Antiques

Jim Sullivan designed the Trendy Beta C-Magazine and patented it in 1987. It holds 100 rounds and whereas firing, spring-driven rotors advance the cartridges in each drums to keep up stability.

Schematic of a fully loaded Beta-C magazine.

Schematic of a totally loaded Beta-C journal. Picture credit score: Wikipedia Commons.


They enhance the ammunition capability of a firearm, however at the price of added weight which decreases accuracy. Double-drums are additionally infamous for jamming, are troublesome to hide, and are very time consuming to reload. That is typically why typically the navy has opted to go along with sticks somewhat than drums on the subject of magazines.

The Pan Journal

A substitute for the drum is the pan journal, which harkens again to Broadwell’s rotary journal for the Gatling Gun. Whereas erroneously referred to as a “drum,” the pan journal is completely different as a result of the cartridges are saved perpendicular to the axis of the rotation, somewhat than parallel. Sometimes, these magazines are mounted on the highest of the firearm.

Whereas pan magazines proved a dead-end in firearms evolution, the drum journal lives on in our fashionable double drums. At the moment, gun-hating politicians typically goal “excessive capability” magazines as an issue. Nevertheless, typically, these drums nonetheless provide little sensible worth.

Lewis Gun with a Pan magazine

The Lewis Gun additionally featured a “pan” journal. This instance is on show on the Nationwide World Conflict I Museum in Kansas Metropolis. The British Military used it in the course of the First World Conflict. Be aware how the journal loaded. (Photograph: Peter Suciu, Nationwide WWI Museum)

50-Spherical KCI AR Drum

In the event you’re fascinated with attempting out a drum journal for your self, check out the KCI AR-15 .223/5.56mm 50-Spherical Drum Journal that’s out there via GunMagWarehouse. Travis Pike wrote a evaluation about it; learn that proper right here on Magazine Life!


Different Drum Magazines at GMWH:



Magpul PMAG D-60 AR-15 60-Spherical Polymer Drum Journal

ProMag AR-15 65-Spherical Drum Journal


7.62 x 51

Magpul PMAG D-50 AR-10 Spherical Drum Journal

KCI SKS 75-Spherical Drum



KCI Glock 9mm 50-Spherical Drum Journal

ProMag Glock 17/19 50-Spherical Drum journal


12 Gauge

ProMag MKA 1919 2 3/4″ 20-Spherical Drum Journal

SGM Tactical Vepr 25-Spherical Clear Drum Journal


Bang all the drums

Drum Magazines at GunMag Warehouse


Latest posts