First Pattern SA80 Magazine

One of the weaknesses of the L85A1 rifle (amongst many) was the poor quality of the magazines issued with the rifle. Previously I have covered the second pattern magazines produced by H&K during their rebuilds of the SA80, and the modern polymer magazines, but today we turn to the original magazines:

Technically this was not in fact the first SA80 magazine, as early issues were of American made Colt produced M16 magazines, however by the mid 1980s magazines were being produced in the UK by Radway Green. The magazines held a nominal 30 rounds, but were usually filled with 28 to allow them to operate more smoothly. These magazines are made of a relatively light gauge of steel, stamped and welded together. A small hole is punched near the top to allow the magazine catch in the rifle to engage:

The follower inside the magazine is distinctive in having a half cartridge stamped into it:

The base of the magazine has a button that must be depressed to slide out the floor plate. The letters RG for Radway Green are moulded into the plastic here:

With the floor plate removed the magazine can be disassembled into its constituent parts:

Amongst the many criticisms of these magazines, two major problems were that the springs lost pressure over time and so found it harder to feed rounds and the magazine follower was poorly designed with just one guide prong so could twist and jam:

It is interesting to compare the three generations of the SA80 magazine. The early pattern have now been completely disposed of, but the H&K and polymer magazines are both still in service:

It would be erroneous to lay all the problems with the SA80 at the magazine- there were far more issues than just the one that led to the failure of the A1 version of the rifle- however a poorly designed magazine is a major handicap to any rifle design and the early magazines suffered from both a poor design (the angles of feed for cartridges was poor so led to jamming) and they had a truly poor build quality that did the rifle no favours.


  1. As I recall, the RG mags weren’t disposed of. As far as I know, many were rebuilt into the “blank magazines” we had for training in the late 2000s & early 2010s (which is when I left).

  2. 1005-99-126-9781 (HK) High-Reliability Steel Magazine HK Part Numbers 209472 (Anti-friction)
    20 Nov 2000 L24A1 (bought for L119A1 to replace Thermolds) (also part of SA80 A2 upgrade)

    1005-99-667-5926 EMAG™ 30 rd MagLevel™, Magazine MAG241-BLK 11 Mar 2010
    1005-99-967-3569 aluminum 30 rd mag RG (Radway Green) L21A1
    1005-12-359-4185 L25A1 5.56mm Magazine (H&K magazine for blank ammunition) (part of
    SA80 A2 upgrade)

    the ones you missed
    1005-00-056-2237 Magazine, Cartridge 20 rd Colt, Original Armalite Mags 1963
    1005-00-921-5004 Magazine, Cartridge 30 rd (Black Follower), used with SAS M16s
    1005-00-921-5004 Magazine, Cartridge M16 30 rd (improved Green Follower), early SA80s
    1005-99-967-3943 Steel 30 rd mag Imperial Defense, L# unknown to me
    1005-12-362-0486 L26A1 5.56mm Magazine (20-round magazine for the L22A2 carbine) (HK)
    High-Reliability Steel Magazine (part of SA80 A2 upgrade)

    1005-99-772-1010 Magazine Assembly, 0.22 IN. Cal Conversion Kit
    1005-01-576-5164 Magazine, Cartridge 5.56 mm (E MAG 30 W Polymer window, ridged body – C7
    C8 Diemaco use only – not for use on SA80)

    1005-01-473-1403 Magazine, Cartridge SR-25 7.62 20 rd KAC (for L129 rifle)
    1005-??? Magazine, Cartridge polymer HK417 7.62 20 rd (for L2A1 rifle)
    1005-??? Magazine, Cartridge MagPul 30 rd P-Mag (for UKSF M6A2 Ultra Compact Individual
    Weapon (UCIW))

    the bits that came from Canada with the Pathfinders C7 Rifles *1996 & new L119A1s *1999
    1005-21-897-2944 8476600 Magazine, Cartridge 30 rd polymer (Thermold)
    1005-21-898-7808 8476605-1 Filler Magazine B4 (Charger Guide) (Thermold)
    1305-21-900-5068 8476606 Stripper Clips 5.56 (Thermold)
    almost all L119 original bits were as used by Canadian soldiers with CDN NSNs : Bayonets,
    Optics, BUIS, BFA, Cleaning Kits, & Slings etc *

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