Why Drum Magazines are a Bad Idea

Why Drum Magazines are a Bad Idea

Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum, and today I want to address
an issue that comes up in comments a lot, something I get asked about a lot,
and that is box magazines versus drums. Really the question is: why not drums?
Why aren’t there more drums? I often see this when discussing the BAR,
“Hey, look the BAR had a 20 round magazine. It was intended as an automatic rifle sort of
pushed into the light machine gun role, wouldn’t it have been better with a bigger magazine, especially
a drum, like, why didn’t the BAR have a 50 round drum on it?” And this also applies to, in some cases
rifles, and also submachine guns. I think the problem is there are a couple of downsides
to drums that people don’t generally think about. don’t take into consideration. So the first
one is drums are more complicated to make and more complicated to make reliable
than basic simple box magazines. When you are having to push cartridges
in circles that’s a lot more difficult dealing with two axes instead of just
“push cartridges straight through box”. So that’s one element. You also have, and maybe I think this is actually even
more significant, drums are a pain in the butt to carry. It’s one thing to have a drum magazine in a gun, but
if you are then trying to carry a load of ammunition on your person, stick magazines, box magazines,
are far more convenient to actually carry than drums. Think about an AK drum, or a Thompson drum, or
a Suomi drum or a Lewis gun or a DP pan magazine. These things are, you know, they range from
yea big to, you know, DP pans are huge things. How do you hold those on a belt? They take up a
lot more belt infrastructure than stick magazines. And anyone who has, say, taken a drum fed
submachine gun into a combat style match, like an IPSC style match where you need a lot
of ammo and you need reloads, will recognise this. You know, I can fit a whole bunch of say, 32 round, 33 round, block
stick mags in the exact same space where I could fit one drum. And you’ll get more ammunition in the same
space with stick mags than you will with drums. And I think we see … these two issues
(and those are the two main ones, it’s harder to make drums reliable because they are more
complicated, and it’s a lot more awkward to carry drums), and what we see is that this idea of drum
magazines being good keeps coming back, like it’s a persistent, compelling idea,
and a lot of people have tried it. However, if you look at the people, the countries, the military
forces specifically because that’s what I want to focus on here, if you look at the militaries that adopted drums,
look at what they adopted after they adopted a drum. And you’ll find that it is virtually never another drum. So, we have a bunch of examples here.
The Thompson gun. When the US military first adopted Thompsons they had
both 20 round stick magazines and 50 round drums. Now there were also 100 round drums for the Thompson.
Those things are ludicrously heavy and ludicrously large to carry in any way, even in the gun. And I don’t
think the military ever used 100 round drums. They are really rare, very few
people bought those things. But they did use 50 round drums. Once the war got going they realised these drums were awkward,
they switched to 20 and then added 30 round stick magazines and when the Thompson was simplified during World
War Two, the new M1 version of the Thompson couldn’t even take drum magazines.
It didn’t have the cuts in the receiver to actually use the drum magazines
for the Thompson that already existed. The US military just was not interested in those things. Let’s see. We have the Lewis gun. The Lewis of course there was no follow-up gun to the Lewis that used its
pan magazine, instead the Bren gun used a box magazine. Same thing with the Soviet DP, the Degtyaryov, they went from a pan magazine … that
gun was replaced by the RPD which used belts. Now it did have a round drum-like thing, however this was
just a hollow box that held a 50 round belt of ammunition. And there’s no complexity involved in that. … You can carry those things, you don’t have to,
you can carry belted ammunition and put it into that. So the RPD did not have a drum
despite the fact that it looks like it does. The Suomi is an excellent example,
the Finnish Suomi submachine gun, which was the inspiration for the Soviet PPDs and
Papashas, all of which used this 71 round drum. Now the Finns also during World War Two designed and
manufactured a 50 round quad stacked box magazine, which is sort of in between a drum and a box. It has the compactness and the easy portability
and storage of a box magazine but it’s going from four stacks of ammunition, like
narrowing up to ultimately a single feed at the top. So it was a very complicated magazine, and it
wasn’t reliable enough for them to keep using. Ultimately, in the 1950s after the war, when they went back
and started manufacturing magazines for the Suomi again they went to a simple double feed
double stack 36 round box magazine. The Soviets did the same thing. Now they did
keep a drum from the PPD into the Papasha 41. The PPD didn’t really see all that much service,
or any service, before they got to the PPSh. When they replaced the Papasha with a newer,
simpler, better gun, the PPS-43, the Sudayev, they went to a 35 round double stack
double feed box magazine that was easy to carry, and very reliable and easy to make.
Cheap to make compared to drums. You know, you can get like two 35 round box
magazines compared to a single 70 round drum, the two box magazines are going to be smaller, they are
going to be cheaper, and they are probably going to be lighter for both of them put together
[rather] than the single drum. So the only downside you have is that you actually have to change
magazines once during that same expenditure of ammunition. The benefits far outweigh that disadvantage. Let’s see there are another couple … Oh, the other one that I am thinking of is
the RPK, the light support version of the AK. When it was first developed it was
developed with a 75 round drum magazine. When that got replaced, first off, some countries saw
the writing on the wall and didn’t even build the drum. Yugoslavia went to a 40 round box
magazine instead, as did other countries. Romania made 40 round box magazines,
as did a bunch of other people. When the Soviet Union developed
the RPK-74 in the new 5.45 cartridge, they experimentally tried a drum magazine,
and then ditched it and went with a 45 round traditional double feed double
stack box magazine instead. The drums are just too complicated, too
expensive and too bulky to carry to be justified. Again, … we’ve got two different calibres here, but
90 rounds worth of 5.45 ammo in two box magazines are going to be easier to carry and
lighter than 75 rounds of 7.62 in a drum. So, I guess … So there are a couple other questions
where this comes up. I alluded to the BAR. This is why they never developed a drum for the
BAR is it wasn’t going to be a practical replacement for a cheap, effective and
reliable 20 round box magazine. This question also came up a lot with the
German MP40/I where they had this complicated, weird mechanism to allow you to have
two MP40 box mags in the gun at all times. And a lot of people asked, “Why didn’t they just design a
drum?” The answer is, well all the things we just talked about. Drums are complicated, expensive and clumsy to carry. And so that’s why the Germans
went to a double box magazine instead. And of course that they, not surprisingly,
found to be heavy and awkward putting that much ammo way out at
the front of an already front heavy gun. So, hopefully that has brought a little
bit of enlightenment to this question. Hopefully it answers it for a few people, and thanks for watching.

Dereck Turner

100 thoughts on “Why Drum Magazines are a Bad Idea

  1. appleseedfanatic says:

    I would carry drum in gun first then when your out switch to 100, 50, 40, 30rd mags for reloads cause your carry more on body

  2. Juti Mäyränen says:

    During WW2 Finns also had (though unlikely never used during WW2) the new KP m/44 which had box magazines rather than drum magazines

  3. Alex says:

    Taking a wild guess its partly the same reason revolver speed loader aint carried either

  4. Roger Childs says:

    As a previous long term SAW Gunner for Uncle Sam I know the pain , and yes we carried " drums " but inside 200 rounds of belted ammo

  5. Mad Malkavian says:

    Clearly you're not using a big enough drum. If that drum doesn't double as a sheild then you're not carrying enough ammo.

  6. Games Cooky says:

    My question is:
    "How did the Mafia crime families carry their drum magazines?"
    Cause i don't think they had weapon belts. And they wore suits and sometimes just cheap clothing.

  7. Sean Crees says:

    But a drum gives you +100 tacticool points when used.

  8. Cody Olson says:

    For carrying them couldn't you just weld a clip hole on the mag and clip it to your belt or where ever. You could carry 2-3 drum mags and as many box mags as you can fit in your chest plate. Should be enough ammo for awhile.

  9. Aaron Buckmaster says:

    They got rid of the drums on a Thompson for no bother reason than cost of soldiers straying more ammo. There is no difference in application and required space between drums and boxes with rolled up belts. I wonder if he talked to anyone who used an M60 or a SAW. When you need to lay down some massive firepower, a drum or boxed belt is what you want. Did he just say that there is a weight difference? Well, he’s never humped a full pack, but I understand that he discusses history and academic decisions. There is a difference between a line weapon and a crew serv or squad weapon. If I could have got my hands on one tor two 50 round drum mags, I would have carried them. Some will disagree but there are many out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. Cheers.

  10. Tony Lam says:

    The SAW gunner has another guy carry his. Assistant gunner. ✅

  11. longplainfirstnation says:


  12. Jyral Nadreth says:

    There is the 20mm x 70mm Oerlikon that used a 60 round drum but they are used in a different setting i:e on a ship in an anti aircraft role which needs large ammo feeds ^^

  13. Hateful Bastard says:

    And the noise…depending on what you're doing, carrying metal maracas might be a really bad idea.

  14. dcap4545 says:

    Drums are bad, m’kay. You shouldn’t use drums, m’kay.

  15. Swifty says:

    Drums are bad mmmkay?

  16. Heyward Shepherd says:

    The one hundred rd. Thompson drum was to be used only by prominent gangsters driving around in their Duesenberg roadsters, to settle territorial misunderstandings.

  17. Greg Gallacci says:

    Drop a stick-mag in a puddle, shake out the water, you be good.
    Drop a drum in a pond, you will have to take it apart to get all the water out.

  18. Andrew Davis says:

    Drums are far superior to box magazines if you're a criminal engaging in a drive by shooting. Prohibition era gangsters in Chicago had far different needs than 1st marine division in Iwo Jima.

  19. STINGY WaFFl3S says:

    Yeah I know if you’ll put pictures of the guns the video would be more entertaining

  20. stuffofstuff3 says:

    What about the m4 beta mags they seem to do a decent job at it

  21. Heath Anderson says:

    A still camera ? Bruh c’mon … 🙄

  22. The Thickness says:

    Banana mag master race

  23. Mateusz Pruski says:

    chylę czoło dla tłumacza
    nice video

  24. TimeSlash1 says:

    Hey Ian is it possible for you to do a break down of why they don’t work? Like a going through the problems ran into during development for drum mags.

  25. FullMetalBaldo says:

    What about the U 100 lmg from Singapore?

  26. Eric Smoove says:

    And snare drums are just too noisy.

  27. darthspeaks says:

    • Expensive to produce.
    • Bulky, noisy & heavy to carry.
    • Relatively unreliable to use.

  28. Vince G says:

    Thank you gun Jesus.

  29. Herr Robert says:

    How prone are drum mags to jamming?

  30. Zeitseele says:

    How about tube mag like Bizon or wave mag?

  31. Alex Mac says:

    Belt fed

  32. Cliff Thomas says:

    I have once in my life gotten a full load out of a drum without any issues at all. Once.

  33. ColecoKid says:

    Anyone seen those cylinder contraptions N. Korea is using? I bet that's fun to lug around filled with 7.62 rounds when you haven't eaten in two days.

  34. Michael price says:

    Drums are bad, mkay

  35. That Guy says:

    Walmart quit selling 223 and bass pro is more expensive
    Drums get expensive to fill
    This is why drums are bad
    Also windings the spring

  36. Tj haze says:

    Personally I favor brass or woodwind magazines over percussion mags.

  37. Jynexe says:

    Id like to see people experiment with the MP40/1 style double mag system with bullpup rifles since the main drawback was awkward front heaviness. If the mag is behind the grip, it wont be front heavy now, will it

  38. Alejandro Martínez says:

    Why didnt the bar had a 30 round mag?

  39. MK Balefire says:

    Also: easier and faster to swap box mags. Plus if a drum jams say 1/3 of the way through, your out a more ammo than if 1 of 2 or 3 box mag jams and needs a immediate swap in a fight.

  40. gerry etheridge says:

    Reliable drums are only good in two roles. Fixed position or ship/ vehicle mounted. All else use magazines. Lesson over.

  41. Trey Bryant says:

    Ian, why do you say drum magazines are bad? They’re good! You’ll have more rounds to spit out at the enemy!

  42. TheLoneSoldier says:

    Drums are only good for the range

  43. C U N T N U G G E T says:


  44. Glitched Blox says:

    because its a bad idea

  45. Johnny Steen says:

    I guess you really wouldn't be a fan of a drum fed bolt action, then.


    They might not work, but Really good looking

  47. Caleb hodges says:

    It’s also harder to use a drum mag as a rest when you shoot at opposed time a box magazine, drums get in the way

  48. local enterprise broadcasting says:

    Drums are heavy, cumbersome to carry, horrible to reload in any timely manor and increase your chances of a weapons malfunction. Learn to reload regular mags quickly and stay moving if you want the Rambo effect

  49. Captain Rex says:

    Yeah. 50 round drums jam every f***ing time. Especially when it touches something. Totally unreliable as hell. I'd go for box anytime.

  50. pink doe says:

    Aren’t that good of an instrument anyways

  51. Ethereal Forest says:

    Just make a magazine so long it works like a bipod from a standing position

  52. Mil- Spec says:

    Drums suck. He is 100% correct.
    Any drum users apologize to Ian immediately!!!

  53. Mil- Spec says:

    Ian is like—-“Listen here, you little drum pushing mfr’s!!!”

  54. Donald duck guner says:

    The only rhingbI like about drums that they are different from the box or stick

  55. PNW Jackofalltrades says:

    No. Drums are good

  56. Pedro Trejo says:

    Great video 🍽

  57. SACREDFlRE says:

    This is interesting.

    Consider adding pictures in your editing process for the guns and equipment you're talking about. Subscribed.

  58. lightbluehaze says:

    Weight size bad handling poor quality pff who cares it looks bad ass asf

  59. Adam Kendall says:

    But what about 30 magazine clips? They just don't get the appreciation they deserve.

  60. Tohtori Vanukas says:

    You dont carry a suomi drum. The suomi drum carries itself.

  61. Crab of Chaos says:

    Охуеть, спасибо папаша за этот пистолет-пулемёт чёрного цвета 20 века!

  62. crazyaye says:

    I got a betlfed muzzle loader

  63. -- says:

    the sad thing is that i cant find a single box magazine as a reference (just airsoft), im just assuming its a cheap box with a belt for heavy machineguns

  64. vlv fallenking says:

    but what about the pp bizon kind of drum mags

  65. Phil Chadwick says:

    Good for replicators though, or SG-1 lied to me!

  66. Tony Mirarchi says:

    Genius in simplicity.

  67. Dominic Hernandez says:

    Just get a long ass stick mag

  68. Oran Macpherson Raffell says:

    The next step in the magazine evolutionary tree is the cymbal magazine.

  69. Mastah Blastah says:

    They look cool

  70. puffin tuff says:

    Yeah Ian, but none of what you just said matters in Call of Duty so….

  71. MaximusBasileus says:

    Everybody knows that drum magazines are very American, the more bullets the better

  72. Un5t0pPa8l:3 LU says:

    Oh man, I was literally just loading up my AK drum. Sorry I disappointed you Ian

  73. My childhood is over says:

    Drum magazines are bad
    Me insert FPS game hold my beer

  74. KJ says:

    How about the American 180 .22 LR 180 Drum, 274 Drum…?

  75. Lawesome says:

    Why is Ian Anton's calmer, wiser older brother?

  76. Spartan War118 says:

    normal people: Mags, drum mags, box mags

  77. Channel: Negative says:

    I feel like drums should be a one and done whem carrying them, hold one onto your gun but when its empty discard and and only carry stick mags on you

  78. Handsome Jack says:

    I cant imagine how heavy a BAR loaded with 50 .30-06 bullets would be.

  79. Handsome Jack says:

    Drum mags are terrible because the Germans havent thinkered enough with them.

  80. Nib-Na5ty says:

    Drums are bad…. mmkay?

  81. Camsterdam says:

    Remember that most "people" only have video game experience, not real life exp… At the same time, you can pack several drums in a ruck… Ever seen an ammo can? Talk about awkward… I understand your comments but, I disagree… Drums are awesome. Ever gone prone under fire with a large mag? Yeah, I didn't think so.

  82. Shannon Nicolle channel says:

    I do not like guns…but, I DO like to listen to Ian talk about them 💖💖

  83. _orchid says:

    I would have just liked the BAR to have a 22, 25, or 30 round box mag. It would make competing with MG34’s and such much easier!

  84. The Dishonored Coward says:

    The song the drum plays is a sad one.

  85. robert goodman says:

    What about pan magazines then? As pan magazines use a gravity fed spool the rifle itself pulls the link through the pan with gravity.

    Besides the reload exposure by loading a top pan, how come we dont see more pan fed magazines

  86. Jalan Bean says:

    Good research for my zombie killing gun for my animation.

  87. Mike Murphy says:

    Drum + dirt = no pew pew

  88. Zamix says:

    haha i thought this was an escape from tarkov guide video

  89. KidMangaX says:

    What FW should be saying: "Drum magazines are a bad idea because the internals are overcomplicated, making them harder to maintain, and they're subsequently more expensive as a result. They're also heavier, harder to stack, and therefore a poor choice for militaries."
    What FW actually says: "Everyone else thinks they're bad, and here's a bunch of other stuff that may or may not matter."

  90. Anonymous Person says:

    There should be a more updated version on PPSh-41 and BAR. Or BELT FED BAR!

  91. Marko420 says:


  92. Heidi Aguirre says:

    Cylinder mags

  93. bamfbabybamf says:

    Just use infinite ammo glitch don't have to worry about none of this.

  94. RHGG Official says:

    Your right. From now on all lmg shall have 2 round magazine

  95. Bill Lyell says:

    I love my drum at the range, it's great. Would I carry it? Of course not but I bought it for the range and nostalgia. I didnt buy it for practicality or combat.

  96. kstanni87 says:

    And none of those weaknesses stopped the mafioso's from carrying drums with along with their chicago typewriter submachine guns

  97. Olter says:


  98. Christopher Godawski says:

    For a moment I thought you were talking about drums….Badum Tisssss !

  99. Crispy Chicken says:

    Drums are cool .

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