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Soviet AK mag pouch - the evolution of the most necessary piece of gear

Soviet firearms, especially famous Kalashnikov rifles, are among most common and hence popular weapons in the world. And like most other modern weapons, AK rifles use detachable magazines, which are stored in pouches. In this article we will have a quick rundown of all Soviet issued pouches for the AK, AKM and AK-74 rifles. If you have deep interest in the Soviet weapons, we have two books on that topic - Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War and Soviet Weapons of the Atomic Age.




AK mag pouch

The very first AK mag pouch is a lesser known, 5-cell AK pouch. At the time, AK rifles were considered to be closer to submachine guns and were treated the same way. While one or two soldiers could have been armed with the AK rifles, the rest would be using SKS or even Mosin carbines. So, in the late 1940s, when the first AK was adapted, it was supplied together with a huge 5-cell pouch.

Soviet AK mag pouch
Rare 5-cell pouch

This pouch is bulky and heavy, but it holds 150 rounds of ammunition and has two extra pouches - one for the oil flacon and one for the cleaning kit. This pouch has belt loops and a shoulder belt, so can be carried both ways. It is assumed, that the shoulder belt was added to ease up the carry of the pouch for ammo-bearers.

This magazine can rarely be seen on the documental photos. But make no mistake - the main reason for that anomaly is the lack of photos from that era. Magazine pouches of the similar fashion were also produced and used by other countries of the Warsaw Pact.


AKM mag pouch

The so called AKM 3-cell mag pouch was actually designed in late 1950s, when AKM was not yet adopted. There are two distinctive versions of this pouch. The early version has only one extra pocket on it - for the cleaning kit. Late version was completed with one more extra pocket - for the oil flacon.

Soviet AK mag pouch
Early 3-cell pouch

This pouch became a way more common piece of equipment - thanks to massive inflow of AKM rifles and its relative comfortability, when compared to the 5-cell pouch from the past.

Soviet AK mag pouch
Late 3-cell pouch

The three sell pouch, was, perhaps, the pinnacle of Soviet AK mag pouch design. At least for storage - everything was kept in one place.


AK-74 mag pouch

The final, most common and universally loved pouch is the 4-cell AK-74 magazine pouch. The introduction of new much lighter 5.45x39mm round allowed for more ammunition to be carried by a single rifleman. To accommodate this extra weight, new pouch was designed to hold 4 magazines and four stropper clips with 15 rounds each. This way, the Soviet pouch design made a whole rotation, returning back to the idea of carrying 150 round of ammunition at hand.

Soviet AK mag pouch
Regular 4-cell pouch

However, as most of you know, stripper clips were never used - instead all four cells in the pouch were filled with magazines. What is also puzzling is the Soviet love-hate relation with the extra pouches on the magazine. As you can see on the picture, there is an oil bottle pocket, but no space for cleaning kit on 4-cell magazine pouch. While there was a special space for the cleaning kit inside AKM and AK-74 butt stock, all folding versions of the rifle did not have it. So, it is quite unclear of why cleaning kit was not added to the pouch - especially knowing that there is a good unused space for it.

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