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Using Magazines for Protection


Some time ago, one of the firearm training instructors told us that he preferred chest rigs and their analogues. Soviet analogue was called Poyas-A (Belt-A). Such equipment can work as part of the Personnel Armor System because there is a chance that when bullets hit magazines with ammunition inside, they won’t penetrate them.


 Сhest rigs



 Poyas-A (Belt-A)


I remember guys who wore load-out vests called SMERSH from the SSO company were very disappointed.

РПС СМЕРШ от ССО на Украинском солдате ВСУ

Image 3. SMERSH load-out vest


We decided to check this theory by conducting an experiment. As the instructor did not specify which magazine he would use, we decided to make a test with steel stamped AKM magazines because we thought they were the strongest ones. So we loaded each magazine with 30 Mesko 7.62x39 rounds.

Of course, it would have been good to load the magazines with military ammo (with steel core) and shoot them using military ammo. But we didn’t have such a possibility so we loaded and shot them using civil hunting rounds (without steel core).

Also, to make the test as realistic as possible, we put magazines into the SMERSH load-out vest which was made of Cordura 1000 and had plastic inserts.



подсумок АК от ССО СМЕРШ

Image 4. AK SMERSH Pouch


магазин АКМ на 30 патронов

Image 5. Photo of the magazines



We arrived at the range and attached pouches to the wood base. We decided to use the AKM (Vulkan – civil edition of the rifle) and shoot from a distance of 30 meters.


The first shot hit the lower part of the magazines which tore off pieces from both of them. One of the magazines got stuck in a piece of wood. As a consequence, it wasn’t possible to take the magazines out of the pouch because the magazine spring pierced the second magazine and pouch.

Магазин АК пробитый пулей 7.62х39выстрел в магазин АК

Image 6. Photo of the magazine and the first shot.

The shot came through both the magazines and the pouch and also hit the wood.


The second shot hit the edge of the second magazine without hitting the first one. The bullet ricocheted and came out from the side of the pouch. You can see the details in the photo.

Image 7. Second shot and ricochet.


The third shot went through both magazines, causing the pouch to start smoking. We heard three pops similar to 22lr shots. Many cartridges were damaged and there were big holes in both magazines as you can see in the photo. There were a lot of small fragments stuck in the wood behind the pouches. There were signs of fire and unburned gunpowder on the wood.



The fourth shot came through the first magazine and one side of the second magazine and the bullet got stuck inside. You can see that many cartridges were damaged.




We decided to stop the experiment because magazines received a lot of damage.



1. Penetration

2. Ricochet

3. Penetration

4. No penetration



50% - penetration

25% - ricochet

25% - no penetration


What conclusions can we make? Yes, loaded magazines can change the direction of the bullet or even stop it. But they also can make more damage. After the first shot, for example, the spring penetrated the magazines and stuck out about 25-30 centimeters. In this case, it would be problematic to remove the vest in order to check the wound.

Also, it is difficult to predict the trajectory of the ricochet. The bullet can fly away but it can also hit the neck or chin.

Any object like a knife, bottle or “Yellow pages” directory can stop a bullet or change its trajectory. But it is better to use the Personnel Armor System rather than relying on luck. 

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