Shooter's Glossary: Rotary Magazines

Loading... 532 view(s)
Shooter's Glossary: Rotary Magazines

Rotary magazines represent a distinct type of ammunition feeding device that uses a cylindrical, rotating mechanism to store and feed cartridges.

Rotary mags differ from traditional box magazines in their internal shape; as you may expect, a rotary mag uses a circular shape.

This circular shape allows the magazine protrude less, and in many cases, allows the rotary magazine to sit flush within a firearm instead of hanging out the bottom as we are used to seeing.

Most rotary magazines are found within hunting and traditional weapons, as weapons being designed today largely make use of the box mag design which has become the more favorable choice. 

Browning Rotary Magazine

Here's a detailed overview on Rotary Mags:

Basic Definition
A rotary magazine is a type of firearm magazine that uses a helical (spiral) or rotary chamber to hold and reliably feed ammunition into the firearm's chamber.

Design & Function
Unlike traditional box magazines where cartridges are stacked directly on top of each other, in a rotary magazine, cartridges are typically stored in a circular fashion.

As the firearm is operated, the magazine rotates, aligning the next cartridge with the firearm's chamber for feeding.

The rotary design ensures consistent, smooth feeding due to its mechanical simplicity and the even distribution of force as cartridges are chambered.

Notable Examples
One of the most well-known firearms to employ a rotary magazine is the Ruger 10/22, a popular .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle.

The Mannlicher Model 1905 and some early Savage rifles also utilized rotary magazines.


Rotary magazines can often provide a more compact design for a given capacity compared to some other magazine types.

The rotary mechanism tends to be less prone to feeding issues or jams, especially in environments where dirt or grit could impact the performance of traditional magazines.

Low Profile
Given their design, rotary magazines often do not protrude as much as box magazines, allowing the shooter to maintain a lower profile when shooting from prone or supported positions.


Rotary magazines might not offer as high a capacity as some extended box magazines.

While the rotary mechanism is reliable, it can be more complex and might be more challenging to disassemble and clean compared to simpler box magazine designs.

Ruger 10/22 Rotary Magazine

In the shooting sports and broader firearms world, rotary magazines are valued for their reliability and compactness, particularly in scenarios where smooth, consistent feeding and a low profile are essential.

Leave your comment
Your email address will not be published