There are some plusses and minuses to being in the gun business for so long. Take the SOS (Same Old Shit) factor. On the one hand its puzzling as you get to see people say and do the SOS over and over again as if they are doing something different. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? In any case, they put a happy sticker on the same old dog turd and call it something else, and in this day and age proclaim it loudly on social media, then sell it on the Internet. We all know THAT makes it valid, right? Sadly, it works. On the other hand, it is entertaining to see people rehash arguments that occurred when they were in grade school, or diapers. Some of these arguments just don’t die and one popped up after testing a couple FN SCARS. The tried, true, and hackneyed “but it does not take SR25 magazines”. Well, along with the SOS there is the NS (No Shit) argument like these. Maybe the safer bet is to quote Jeff Foxworthy and call it “here’s your sign”.
Maybe to many’s surprise, the AR10 used a propriatary magazine when developed, modified M1A magazines, you used to get a kit to modify your existing magazines, or you could hold an M1A magazine in place in a pinch. It was a PITA and only marginally successful either way. Maybe that’s why Armalite changed them? Fact is, it did not work worth a crap. I also remember all the bitching and moaning about it from those running the M1A, FAL, or the G3, the most popular 308 semis of the day. The FAL and G3 were the MOST prolific .308 battle rifles on the planet, probably still are. I was one of those bitching since I had gaggles of all three magazines around, and yep, they were cheap and easy to find. You could buy FAL magazines for $5.00 a pop (or less) instead of $35.00. You could get FAL and G3 magazines by the dozen, and quite frankly, they worked.
Another interesting fact, when Knights (yes it was Knights Manufacturing not DPMS) came out with the SR25 magazine IT WAS PROPRIATARY!! Yep, more and repeated bitching and moaning, and it became markedly louder when the military bought his gun, not the AR10, and that lousy, stinking, and expensive magazine ($100.00 or more) became what is to some the “standard” today. And why, well mostly it worked, that is when the AR10 or SR25 actually worked. You see, most .308 AR’s early on were crap without regard to a 10K price tag. Some were accurate, not nearly as accurate as claimed, but accurate none the less. Unfortunately most were the perfect platform for practicing stoppage drills, and the SR25 magazine worked better, not perfect, just better. Interestingly, neither the FAL or G3 had those reliability issues, others for sure, but they had been tested in war throughout the world for years, still are in some cases. Were they “same hole” accurate, nope, but they worked under every adverse condition you could throw at them and when your life depends on it THATS what matters. A same hole rifle that does not work just gets you killed no matter how many “experts” tell you otherwise.
Propriatary is inconvenient, not necessarily bad!
So, maybe, just maybe thats why FN decided to use their own magazine, Mostly because they were hyper focussed on reliability and function, not someone’s ability to buy magazines by the pallet. Lest we not also forget, the FN SCAR is made by the same company that produced the FAL, still one of the most prolific battle rifles out there and infinitely more reliable than most AR10 rifles. HK did the same thing with their HK417 and the latest military acquisition, the SASS. Yep, another rifle using a proprietary magazine chosen over one in inventory that already has pallets of magazines for it. So why did HK do that, well, because they want their rifle to work first and foremost, and in this case it is same hole accurate, at least when I tested it. Firearms design based on function, not familiarity or availability, what a concept. You start from the ground up and make a rifle that works, not just throw together parts and pieces lying around then renaming the same old dog turd. Lest we leave out the bolt gun guys, guess what, the AICS magazine started out as a propriatary magazine, based on another proprietary magazine, the AW. The Accuracy International AW magazine was and is excellent. For that matter so is the Sako TRG magazine, one of the best ever made. Granted, few box magazines for bolt guns existed at the time, my first was a modified M1A magazine, but the AICS magazine worked, at least early versions. Most still do these days, but some of the cheaper copies don’t, one of the reasons Tikka uses their own, a 10 round box magazine half the size of a similar AICS, made of metal, that works. While Internet warriors (mostly from the US) bitch and moan the rest of the planet praises how well they work, hmmmmm there seems to be a pattern emerging. Form, function, and reliability over Internet and couch commando popularity, yet another interesting concept.
Don’t get me wrong, being able to use the same magazine is convenient, especially for someone like me who is testing two or three rifles a week. I get it, its nice, but it should not drive the bus. Function should be the driving factor, does it work, if its designed for combat and not video game or marketing fiction that MUST be the operative factor. I know its another one of those old sayings, but form “follows” function, especially if it is not a range toy. These are rifles not handbags. So, the next time you are weeping in your cheerios about having to use a “different” magazine ask yourself first, does it work? If that is secondary, well then keep on trucking cause it really does not matter. If you are using it to protect your family or yourself then function should be primary. In a fight you get to use whats on you, whats in reach, or what you can carry, not whats on the pallet in your bunker or basement. Its one of those “inconvenient truths” , but for most thats the magazine in the rifle and one more, maybe two within reach. It may not be tacticool, but it is real, and real is what matters, or at least should, another interesting concept……