Combat photos from war zones around the world show fighters using AK-47s more than any other rifle. The “Top Shot” TV show recently claimed that about one-fifth of the world’s firearms are Automat Kalashnikovs, and that figure sounds plausible to me. Third-world AK users are often short on training but very experienced in real combat, and one thing they tend to do a lot is tape or clamp their magazines in pairs. All over the world, from Liberia to Nicaragua to the Khyber Pass, they fight with AK magazines “jungle clipped” together.
The reasons for doing this are obvious. Coupling two magazines gives the shooter a standard 30 rounds followed by an extremely quick reload for another 30 rounds. No fishing around in pouches or pockets, both magazines are already out there hanging on the rifle itself. The magazine catch of the Kalashnikov is stout enough to take the extra weight of another loaded magazine; doing this doesn’t abuse the gun. AK drums hold 75 rounds without a reload at all, but drums have disadvantages (besides the significant weight penalty) in real combat. The rounds inside rattle around as you walk, making a lot of noise and potentially giving away your position. The most popular design has to have its spring tension wound up using a crank at the rear of the drum. The shooter is supposed to fire about half of the drum, then turn the crank a few more times to add more spring pressure before firing the rest of the drum. In the heat of combat (or even an exciting 3-gun match stage) I don’t think I’d remember to do it. The drums’ durability and reliability are generally ok as long as spring pressure is sufficient and the drum is kept clean, but the truth is they are relatively rare in combat zones, and much more expensive for the casual shooter here in the USA. Thirty-round “stick” magazines are plentiful everywhere, they just plain work under all conditions, and well, I just have to use this pun: they are cheaper than dirt!
Not having any Pakistani-made bright green tape lying around, I decided to do things the American way and use a Pro-Mag clamp setup, which I’m convinced is seriously much better than tape because I can easily adjust the positioning of the magazines or take the whole jungle clip assembly apart for maintenance. That’s right, I actually clean and maintain my AK magazines, and I don’t want them rusting out because they’ve been taped together for years while I shot my AKs in the rain. The Pro-Mag package comes with four clamps and it only takes two of them to firmly couple a pair of magazines together, so I can couple four mags into two jungle clips for ten bucks. We also sell a blued metal clamp setup for the same price but it only clamps two mags together. The first thing I noticed about the Pro-Mag clamps is that they are contoured perfectly for my steel magazines—I haven’t tried, but I don’t think they would work with the Tapco mags that have plastic ridges everywhere. The screw that goes between the magazines to tension the couplers uses a coarse thread, which means less chance of stripping it out, but I was still careful not to over tighten it.
I first clamped both my magazines with the feed ends facing the same way and the floorplates facing the same way. The space between the magazines that the clamp setup provides (and tape would not) allowed one mag to go inside my AK’s magazine well, while the other mag sat along the left side of the receiver, without scratching it. With the magazine emptied, I could quickly remove it, move the jungle clip setup over to the right a bit, and insert my second magazine. Now a full mag was in my gun and the empty mag sat alongside the right of my receiver. Easy, right? But I quickly discovered THREE major problems with setting up my clamps this way! First, this beat-up old AK has a folding stock that folds to the right, and it can’t fold flush with the receiver when the empty right-hand magazine is in its way. Second, pulling the charging handle to chamber the first round of my fresh magazine resulted in my knuckles scraping across the top of the empty magazine’s sharp steel feed lips. Ouch! Reaching underneath the gun with my left hand to pull the charging handle was awkward, as the magazine still got in the way. But the real show stopper was problem three: the right side magazine pushed up on the safety lever when I inserted the left side mag, putting the gun on “safe.” I had to remove my jungle clip to put the safety lever all the way down into the “fire” position again.
After watching some Sonny Puzikas videos online, I reinstalled the clamps with the magazines’ feed areas now facing the opposite way. Viewed from the top, the magazine on the right has bullets facing up, and the magazine on the left has bullets facing down towards the ground. To change magazines, I first rotate the gun onto its side somewhat so the magazines are pointing to the left. I place my left hand on top of the spare magazine, use my thumb to work the mag catch, and pull the mags away from the gun. Then I flip my wrist counter-clockwise to point the fresh magazine’s feed area towards the mag well and insert it. Now the empty magazine is on the left, the fresh magazine is inserted, and my hand is underneath, in perfect position to grasp and pull the charging handle. Set down in writing it sounds complicated, but I can do it quickly and comfortably, with the stock folded if I want, and without bumping the safety lever. The only disadvantage of this setup is that going prone in a wet field would get the full mag’s first few rounds caked in mud—bad news even for an AK. I’ll avoid using this setup for slow fire in the prone. With a super fast and easy reload on tap followed by another 30 rounds, my two double-mag “jungle clips” will be reserved for the run-and-gun courses of fire I like to do on weekends! And, you know, the coming zombie apocalypse.