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I had the (now apparently wrong) idea that the 30 round magazine was introduced after the Vietnam war. I have seen an October 1972 photo of an 87th Infantryman carrying a side fence M16, equipped with an apparent M203 launcher and a 30 round magazine. The other fellows in the patrol also have 30 round mags.
My question is: When were these first released for use?
 

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I don't know the actual date. I can only go by my experience. When I was in Vietnam the Army had recently introduced the XM16E1. There were no 30 round magazines anywhere within the Army system that I could see.

I did see a few 30 round magazines at Bien Hoa Air Base by Air Force personnel, but just a few.

I think it was about 1968 that the 30 round magazines got into the Army system.
 

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:D I never saw any 30 Round Magazines in Viet Nam 68-69! :!:
 
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Check out the book "The Black Rifle" by Collector Grade. The info's in there.
 

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We were issued 30 round magazines with the XM177E1 and XM177E2 submachine guns. To my knowledge they were unique to those weapons and a limited production item. This would make their production 1968 or earlier.

They were different constuction from later 30 rounders -- and they were unreliable! I had the follower stop "following" in one of mine one sunny afternoon when the flowers were in bloom and the birds were chirping. I got off maybe 5 to 10 rounds (on AUTO) before feeding stopped and the inside of my XM177E1 was full of loose cartidges. Luckily the rounds expended did their job but I needed a change of underwear.

I promptly traded all my 30 rounders to the REMFs for the "kool" factor, I wouldn't permit any in my unit.

I still have a distrust for 30 round magazines. Not a rational distrust of course since they're different now, but my go to mags are all USGI 20 rounders.

-- Chuck
 

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You must mean "26 rounders", which aren't as good as "18 rounders"!
 

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I first saw 30 round magazines in early 68. One of their problems was they would not fit in the existing pouches. They were in short supply; only one was issued to each man in a line company. I do not remember any particulars as to manufacture or markings.
We (an ordnance maintenance company) received XM177 kits with instructions that they were for the LRRP units, however, officers commandeered most of them. This was probably for the best, as we could not get any of the ones we assemble to function reliably on auto with 20 OR 30 rd. magazines. The colt rep. that gave us a class on assembling these kits to M16s told us that was still a problem. As I understand it, different recoil buffers were developed for the XM177 and that helped, but that was after my time of working on the XM177
 

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30 round magazines did not become standard issue until @ 1971. In 1970 Col. Bull Simons wanted 30 round magazines for the Son Tay raid in North Vietnam. He actually had to go through Colt to get them because they were not standard inventory in the army at the time. Although 30 round magazines had been in development and limited use prior to this, there were numerous flaws in the design that led to feeding and malfunction problems; these very early 30 round magazines are a rarity to find today and are referred to by collectors as "fully curved" magazines. I have seen the photo the OP describes from October, 1972, and have also seen numerous other photos dated 1971 and 1972 that show the 30 round magazine in use in the field.
 

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I lost all of my rifles & handguns in a mishap on Rio Grande when the barge hit a sandbar and sank.
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I first remember using them in 1971.


GI5
 

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I lost all of my rifles & handguns in a mishap on Rio Grande when the barge hit a sandbar and sank.
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Roger dat! I like going to the range. Just a few days ago i had a crew of young girls on quads track me down cause they wanted to shoot a pink ar i got on trade. The only thing better than a range trip is one w/ eye candy in tow. I just wish they'd brought some ammo.
 

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During the shorty program 65-66, the white-coats at Colts' were having trouble making a "reliable" 30 rounder. Supposedly because there were variances in magwell dimensions enough to cause failures and fit issues with full curves. When Colts' told the military it would take another round of testing and more cash.<< These were the "full curve" 30 rd mags. and the 1st attempt to make 30rders.
The Army put the program on the back burner and concentrated on current contracts. It was revisited and fielded with the straight articulated mag in late 68-69. These were the green follower mags that started showing up around 1969. Most of the earlier full curves were destroyed.
There is mention in a John Plasters book (IIRC) that the 1st 30 round mags (2nd pattern) to make it into Nam were actually purchased out of a Guns and Ammo magazine by SF types. These were the green follower with Colt part number stamped in white,and body also stamped with Colt part number.
 

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I thought the followers were originally black, not that funky green?
The 1st,full curves had steel followers similar to the ones found in the "waffle" mags. The next pattern 30 round mags used a very dark "emerald" green plastic follower (we have also seen some black plastic ones,not as common tho) that had the colt part number stamped in white on them.These mags are the same exact shape as the current 30 rd mags.. Straight at the top,then turning into a curve.
Added: Colt 30-round mags that had dark green, hard-plastic followers with Colt part number 62665A stamped in white on the follower and part number 62667 stamped into the mag body
 
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