At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that we had already covered tonight’s object when we looked at the SLR magazine here last year. What we actually have tonight is a far scarcer X2E1 magazine that was used with the trials X8E1 and X8E2 rifles:The British ordered 4000 trials rifles from FN FAL to see what they thought of them, they were used alongside the standard No4 rifles and were subjected to field trials in Kenya against the MauMau rebels. The magazines are similar, but quite distinct to those used in the later SLR, being much closer to the original FN FAL design as you would expect. As only 4,000 rifles were produced, calculating based on five magazines per rifle, we can estimate that only around 20,000 magazines were produced so this is much rarer than a standard SLR magazine.
We can tell this is a trials magazine rather than a foreign FN FAL magazine due to the X2E1 stamp on the magazine:The most obvious visual difference between this magazine and a standard SLR magazine is that the front magazine retaining lug is much smaller and shallower:The magazine is also narrower and has a different base plate (X8E1 on the left, SLR on the right):The magazine feed lips have a different profile:And the rear of the magazine is slightly different:The magazine breaks down into four parts:
The original pamphlet on the trials’ rifle gives information about when and how to strip the magazine:For those interested, the full pamphlet can be read here. Clearly the new rifle was a success as the British adopted it, with modifications as the L1A1 self loading rifle, with various newsreels issued at the time highlighting how superior the X8E1 was over a Lee Enfield, these stills come from a Pathé News feature and show the prototype rifle nicely:After the introduction of the production rifle, the trials guns were withdrawn and many sectioned to become teaching aids for the new rifle, the different magazine well meant they could not accept an SLR magazine. The X2E1 magazines could be used in the SLR though so I suspect they went into a common pool and were an oddity that was slowly used up over the succeeding years. Certainly they are not common now and I was very lucky to find this example, completely by chance, in Huddersfield Market a few weeks ago.