Viewer Firearm Question: What is a Banana Clip?
ATAC TV™ Firearm Reply and Answer:
Banana clip is an old slang term for a magazine that is curved. ATAC TV's Tom Clarke and Jim Fuller with ATAC TV™ Firearms Channel discuss the origin and reasons this term came about. It all started with high capacity magazines designed for newer weapons systems to increase the firepower of the individual soldier. The most distinctive Banana clip is from the AK weapons platform.
One of the most common curved magazines was designed for the AK-47 / AK-74 series of firearms and is one of the most prolific small arms ever produced. Some say that more than 130 million have been produced since this platform was first released. This rifle with the curved magazine has been in the public eye since the rifles were fielded in the late forties. Like a banana, the magazine hangs out of the rifle in a very sharp curve forward, hence, the “Banana Clip”.
Curved magazines are this shape for a reason. To design and build a high capacity magazine must be based on the cartridge. Most Combloc weapon systems employ a taper case to aid in extraction from the chamber. As an example, lets use the 7.62X39 cartridge for reference. This “taper” must be accommodated when designing a reliable magazine for a firearm system. If you lay out a row of cartridges, notice that 5 or 10 of the cartridges create a “curve” when touching each other. Small capacity magazines have the curve but are not long enough to show the pronounced curve of what a lot of people call a “Banana clip”. Once you increase the number of cartridges contained in a magazine to 20, 30 or even 40, a very pronounced curve is produced because of the tapered casing of this individual cartridge.
Many other cartridges from various countries and designers are a straight wall casing with little taper, such as the AR /M-16 platform in .223 / 5.56X45. This cartridge has very little taper and when contained in a large capacity magazine, does not produce as much of a radical forward curve as the AK-47 style. It still curves forward, just not as pronounced. Reliable feeding from the magazine is the primary reason for the shape of the magazine, which allows the cartridges to feed up to the feed lips in a progressive order as the firearm is firing and cycling its action.
Before we finish this discussion, lets get something straight. A “clip” is a retainer for cartridges, used in some rifles such as the M1 Garand. Most firearms use a “magazine” to feed ammunition into the action of the gun. A magazine is simply a device to store and dispense additional cartridges for a weapon platform. Magazines consist of a number of components that make up the cartridge-feeding device. Parts of the magazine include the magazines body with feed lips, follower, spring, and base plate. Watch the video linked below as Tom and Jim give you more details on the origin of the slang “Banana Clip” and more information about magazines.
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