Improvised Explosive Laden Magazines in Yemen

A recent news report in Arabic has highlighted the efforts of opposition forces in Yemen to emplace IEDs within Kalashnikov magazines, just above the floor plates of the magazines themselves. The magazines have several rounds loaded, around 4-8 to be precise. The tactic employed appears to necessitate the rounds being taken out of the magazine, either by hand or by actually firing them in a rifle. When the spring pressure has weakened enough, or the follower has reached a certain point, this connects an electrical circuit, completing the process of ignition and thereby blowing the main charge within the magazine itself, with the ends to seriously injure or kill the user of the magazine. Yemeni security forces took these magazines while searching a vehicle enroute to San’a, and made them safe. However, it would appear that the magazines were intended to be battlefield pick ups, or otherwise emplaced around security forces that would find them, either unload them manually or shoot the cartridges.

We earlier reported on efforts in Syria accomplishing the same task but much more overt with an IED behind the bolt, inside the receiver, designed to go off when the bolt was charged to the rear. This method of emplacing the IED in magazines looks to be much more effective than the Syrian one, and thus more dangerous for security forces across the MENA region. Not only have insurgent groups been working with rigged rifles, but so have Government forces such as Assad’s regime.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • Fast Forward

    But…….would they pass the Sig drop test?

  • datimes


  • hking

    Damn that’s crafty. Only trust stuff that comes from your supply system.

    • GaryOlson

      Boy, didn’t your mother tell you not to pickup strange magazines from the ground; and don’t even think about loading that in your rifle.!

  • iksnilol

    So the bomb goes off when the mag is emptied?

    • Mr._Exterminatus

      Or whenever enough rounds come out the mag to trigger detonation. May only take one or two, or it might take all the rounds in the mag.

    • PK

      That’s the basic idea, yeah. This is the first time I’ve seen an electrical version, but it’s hardly a new idea.

      Interestingly, it seems that this was able to be disarmed fairly simply. The mechanical type isn’t so easy to disarm.

      • iksnilol

        I was thinking about an opposite concept where loading the mag full detonates it. But that wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic since people would be blown up back at safe spots and not in the heat of battle.

        • Dougscamo

          Not a bad idea….and sitting around with your pals reloading the mags before or after action might take them with you….

          • Bill

            Knoshing on goat kebab loading magazines with the buds when all of a sudden there’s a bang and splatter…..

        • Bill

          I don’t want to up vote a good idea for terrorists, but yeah, this would have a lot more psychological impact than just blowing up one dude during a fight.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, same thing I thought, I was sceptical of posting it at all to be honest.

        • Rocketman

          But it MIGHT have the added benefit of detonating almost an entire case of ammo if the soldier decided to fill up his magazine if he were to load it just as soon as it was issued to him. Heh heh.

        • destruxxx

          Loading it full wouldn’t’ work… no room inside for anything else. Plus a lot of time the guys over there didn’t have enough rounds to fill a mag.

          • iksnilol

            Didn’t mean full-full. Just that loading it to set amount would complete a circuit.

  • 2wheels

    Looks more like a suicide vest than individual booby trapped magazines.

    • elvis


  • ReadyOrNot

    Whether this magazine gets picked up from a dead fighter’s chest rig or a purposely emplaced ‘battlefield pickup’ the intent is clear. Pretty clever weapon and why we should only trust the stuff in our own supply chain.

  • Dougscamo

    And we get the chills looking at a .300 Blackout in a 5.56 rifle kaboom….damn! Ultimate kaboom!

    • iksnilol

      This wouldn’t be an issue if we ditched magazines altogether and went with belt fed 40mm grenade launchers.

      • Dougscamo

        Been waiting for you to advocate the belt fed 40mm in the bear vs handgun post…

        • iksnilol

          Literally anything can be solved with a belt fed grenade launcher.

          We could ditch the pistols, the rifles, the riflepistols, the pistolrifles , hand grenades and grenade hands… THE SUPPLY CHAIN WOULD BE SO SIMPLIFIED.

          • Dougscamo


  • PK
  • Brett baker

    Bet they couldn’t do that with a Lancer they’re bombproof!😉

  • Major Tom

    So are we about to come full circle and reintroduce drip guns?

    • Arie Heath

      I’m sure it’s been done by at least one person over there. Not really the most complex idea.

  • RocketScientist

    Reminds me of the anecdotes (no idea how accurate) from Vietnam about booby-trapped ammo. Supposedly we’d build 7.62×39 ammo with small charges in the case, then sprinkle these randomly into a crate of ammo/loaded mags that would be left in a place likely to be picked up by the enemy. Simultaneously propaganda broadcasts and counter-intel was used to spread fake stories about supposed quality control issues at the ammunition plant. While the actual damage to personnel/equipment was likely fairly low, the idea was to have a broad psychological impact on the soldiers’ morale by making them question the reliability of their weapons/ammo and have some fear of their weapon blowing up in their hand.

    • Dougscamo

      “Tank Sergeant” by Ralph Zumbro relates how he would pull bullets from 7.62X39 rounds and replace the powder with C-4….

      • CommonSense23

        Yeah I really don’t see that working.

        • Dougscamo

          Hell, I don’t know if it would work or not….just a source by name that claimed to have done so….

          • CommonSense23

            Done a good bit of work with explosives. And blasting caps pack quite a punch, and have a lot more energy to work with than a primer.

        • demophilus

          Might, if it was the first of 5 rounds. Would certainly make the user mistrust the ammo. Especially if they already had reason to.

      • kalashnikev

        Primer would not ignite C4. You need a blasting cap or demo knotted det cord.

        • Dougscamo

          So I hear…but I never said it would…

      • Blank powder in a compression load works fine. Especially if you pull the powder from grenade launching blanks…

    • CommonSense23

      Google Eldest Son. There is a reason US troops were told specifically not to use battlefield pickups.

    • MarcoPolo

      This is real. Smithsonian Magazine did an article about it a few years ago. IIRC there would only be one “bad” round in a pallet of ammo so that if the enemy decided to test the rest of the ammo they wouldn’t find anything unusual. The goal was to not only seriously injure/kill one enemy soldier, but to also cause resentment between the VC and the Chinese (the bad rounds were hidden in caches of Chinese ammo).

      • DwnRange

        My old scoot mechanic was a LT in the SF that ran what he called “sneaky-petes” into Laos where the gooks had their training camps and actually used this method to salt their ammo with PETN loaded AK rounds so I’d say this is it definitely a true example of ops ran during Vietnam. They would also on other occasions observe the PT of the VietCong troops during the day then sneak down at night and place toe-poppers (small camo colored looking golf tees) along the running paths observed the previous day.

        The SFers were running ops for the CIA directly back in those days – generally just 2 US special force troopers and 8-12 Nung troops. His call sign was “Casper” and he was a hell of scoot mechanic and one bad assed soldier who died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange on one of their sneaky-petes as their ops were all done on the OT. (RIP Paul)

    • The operation was real, and quite effective… right up until it was leaked to the press by someone and ended up front page news.

      There were refinements, based around the interesting little fact that we had figured out how to feed false admin messages INTO the “routine” distro list for the VC channels.

      1. Start out with a message absolutely denouncing any rumors of bad ammunition as “capitalist propaganda and defeatism”… BEFORE salting any of the caches.

      2. Salt a few caches. Monitor HUMINT and SIGINT sources until you confirm at least a few incidents.

      3. Insert fake message downplaying incidents where brave soldiers have suffered regrettable freak accidents that have NOTHING to do with those defeatist rumors and capitalist spy slanders that our Fraternal Socialist Brothers are sending bad ammo. Ammunition is FINE, Comrade, and if you don’t believe it, you’re a tool of the imperialists!

      4. Salt MORE caches, with a wider distribution. Monitor for more frequent incidents.

      5. “Um, maybe there is a *minor* issue with a *handful* of ammunition lots, Comrades, Our Valiant Ordnance officers and Our fraternal Socialist Brothers are correcting the issue as we speak. Ammunition is *fine*, Comrade.”
      6. “ALCON: Ammunition issues referenced last month have been definitively fixed, but some ammunition may have fallen through the cracks and into the supply chain before being caught. But you will be *fine* Comrade… *all* of the bad lots were produced before [say, five years ago]”, when NO ONE is being issued ammunition younger than ten or twenty years.

  • TheNotoriousIUD
  • john huscio

    Operation الابن البكر

  • ActionPhysicalMan

    I only pick up stuffed rabbits laying in a battlefield.

  • Tom Currie

    Wow, they thought up a device that has been in use since AT LEAST WWII.

  • Dale Dimick

    The russians make 0 sec fuzes for F1 and RGD grenades for trip wire traps and to leave behind for someone to find and hopefully try to use.

    • ActionPhysicalMan

      Thanks, I didn’t know that. I feel a bit neglectful for not knowing it.

  • Evan Jay

    The Israelis have been doing this since the 1950s. Big psychological effect. Same goes for RPG-2s at the time, as well as hand grenades with an extremely short fuse 😉

  • destruxxx

    I got some heavily used surplus CETME magazines recently and one of them had wires glued inside so that when the mag was inserted into a rifle the receiver would complete the circuit. The wires were hidden in the channels made by the guide ribs under the upper side plates on the mag and went into the mag body through small holes that someone drilled just below the side plates, which they then covered with some grease and dirt to obscure what little of the wires was visible. I assume the wires were then connected to whatever IED was inside the mag body. The mag had half the spring cut out of it to make room but still allow a few rounds to be loaded and appear functional. I was a little startled when I first noticed the wires but it was easy to see inside through the gap in front of the follower to tell nothing was inside without having to do anything risky.