A high-capacity magazine (or large-capacity magazine) is a firearm magazine capable of holding more than the standard number of rounds provided by the designer, or legally, a particular number of cartridges dependent on jurisdiction and kind of firearm.
For legal purposes, in some jurisdictions, magazines holding more than 5 rounds are considered "high-capacity." This can be problematic as the manufacturer's standard magazine capacity for most modern semi-automatic pistols is between 15 and 18 rounds and all AR-15 style rifles come standard with magazines holding between 20 and 30 rounds. Firearms enthusiasts commonly call these magazines standard capacity magazines.
Typically, standard capacity magazines with more than five rounds use staggered, box magazines for reliable loading. Magazines that hold more than standard capacity magazines often use longer magazines and some use a drum mechanism. The problem is that these larger than standard magazines often are unreliable and lack the mechanical design and R&D testing resources of a firearm manufacturer. With the larger number of cartridges, there is a higher chance that they will become misaligned before or during firing. As a result, these products may be prone to jamming, rendering the firearm useless until time-consuming corrective action is taken to clear the jam.
The first pistol that incorporated a high capacity magazine was the Browning Hi-Power. One of the designed requirements of the French Army was that it hold at least 10 rounds. The Browning design held 13 rounds. The Hi-Power was never adopted by the French Army. The first customer was the Belgian military.
A 15-round double-stack Glock 19 magazine, which holds 15 rounds.
In the United States, since the 1980s, magazine capacity has been a subject of debate regarding civilian firearms. Many assault weapon bans since then have included or been accompanied by large-capacity or high-capacity magazine bans. Magazine capacity is also debated among military users, who have to balance the greater firepower of high-capacity magazines with their greater weight, size and reliability.
As of 2017, eight US states had laws banning high-capacity magazines, limiting the number of rounds to 10 or 15.
California passed Proposition 63 in 2016, banning the possession of high-capacity magazines holding over ten rounds. On appeal, the federal courts stayed the new law as the state failed to show how this law didn't violate the Second Amendment or the property rights of owners of previously legal goods. On March 29, 2019, Judge Roger Benitez ruled Proposition 63 unconstitutional, citing lawful defensive use of firearms across the state of California, specifically in the hands of women.
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