At some point during my first enlistment, I acquired a 20 round magazine. The standard Army rifle magazine is 30 rounds, and the 20 round magazine was no longer issued, as far as I knew.
It was shaped differently. Instead of the banana curve in the 30 round magazine, the 20 round magazine was angled and sharp. It was also just a little lighter, and when inserted into the M4, the rifle didn’t seem to tilt or wobble while leaning against something as much as when it did with a 30 round magazine.
Of course, it held 10 fewer rounds.
While the 20 round magazine was an interesting oddity to others, it became an object of disdain to senior Non-Commissioned officers who viewed it as a totem from another dimension. They didn’t like seeing it and they definitely didn’t want me to use it.
At first, I thought they were just jealous, which I admit today, seems very Gollum-esque.
Eventually, I learned their disdain came from the fact that the magazine just didn’t belong in the standard infantryman’s load anymore. It’s time had passed. These magazine were old and would likely fail at some point.
And most importantly, by using one as a leader, it sends the wrong signal that it’s okay to use whatever you want when it comes to equipment.
I put it away.
They still look cool though.