Boobytrapped Mag in Bosnia

Bakelite AK magazine exemplars in Afghanistan
| October 15, 2016
Categories: Learnin'

In the most generic action movies, a dying soldier pulls the pin on a grenade and holds the spoon closed with his body — the idea being when the enemy finds him the resulting explosion becomes a final “fuck you.” There are other kinds of booby traps as well, though, including rifle mags. Ever heard of the Bakelite Magazine?

*snicker* Booby.

Booby Traps: Bakelite magazine: a bosnian ak mag

An overview of a boobytrapped Bosnian AK mag (specifically a Bakelite magazine) used as much to attack morale and cause uncertainty as to inflict casualties.

Booby Traps: This Mag is More Than Meets the Eye

Full Metal Jacket featured a boobytrapped stuffed rabbit (Crazy Earl was going to eat it–we saw that one coming from a mile away). An ammo can full of maps and other items of intelligence value blows up in Platoon.

But it’s not just the movies; every war produces its own dirty tricks department. What immediately comes to mind in real-life sophisticated sabotage is Project Eldest Son where American snake eaters sneaked explosive rounds into enemy ammunition supplies.

booby traps

That wasn’t the first time that tactic was employed, and we highly doubt it was the last time that booby traps have been used. Recently we came across something in a similar vein but with a different take: A boobytrapped mag from way back in Bosnia. The Bakelite magazine wasn’t some garage-produced item, this one has several clever features.

bakelite magazine

Basically, it looks and feels like a full magazine. And indeed it does function like a normal magazine too — at least for a few rounds. Then 35 grams of TNT blows up in your face. We’ve taken the time to highlight exactly how this mechanism operates and re-written the text so you aren’t squinting like mad at your screen.

General View of the Internal Components of the Bakelite Magazine

a. – Steel Case (35g TNT).

b. – Pressure Release Switch.

c. – Safety Pin.

d. – Locking Detent.

e. – Screws to place charge.

f. – Arming/Safety Pin.

g. – Modified Magazine Spring

Bosnian AK47 rifles recovered during Operation Joint Endeavor.

Booby traps: AK47 rifles recovered in Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor.


This boobytrapped AK-47 magazine was found lying on the ground beside some trenches in Bosnia. It had apparently been lost or discarded during a hasty withdrawal under fire! -WRONG!  The Bakelite, Soviet-made AK-47 magazine, was in fact a purpose-made anti-personnel boobytrap.

The magazine was a standard Soviet issue mag with all the usual external parts and markings. Inside was a completely modified arrangement, built around the internal workings of the magazine. A steel casing, containing 35 grams of TNT, now occupied the majority of the space. This was connected to a Spring Operated, Ball Control Pressure release operated, Mechanical Switch. The pressure to compress the switch was supplied by a cut down and modified magazine spring.

The safety pin releases the detent that allows the switch to open into the ‘armed’ position. Once ‘armed’ the switch cannot be disarmed. As rounds are fired or removed, the switch opens up until the ball bearings are released. The removal of the ball bearings releases the striker. The striker functions the detonator and initiates the main charge. 


Internal Components:

1. – Magazine Body.

2. – Explosive Charge.

3. – Pressure Release Switch.

4. – Percussion Detonator.

5. -Arming Detent.

6. – Five 7.62mm Rounds.

7. – Ball Bearings.


Booby Traps

Sequence of Events

1. As a round is removed, the outer sleeve moves rearward.

2. Another round is removed. The sleeve moves to the rear.

3. More rearward movement. The spring is pushing on the bar that passes through the striker.

4. One more round and the outer sleeve will release the ball bearings. This will free the striker.

5. The last round is removed, the outer sleeve clears the ball bearings. The ball bearings release the striker. The spring opens up rapidly and drives the striker into the detonator.

bakelite magazine - AK booby traps

A ‘dummy’ round has been positioned to create the impression of a ‘Full’ magazine when seen through the viewing hole on the back of the AK-47 Bakelite magazine.

An X-Ray would easily show this to be a booby trap. Most of us don’t have the luxury of an X-Ray in the field, therefore remote RSP’s are essential. A dip stick to slide in between the rounds would give a valid indication of a booby-trap. This one was found with its Safety Pin in – fortunately. 

Booby Traps: the Bakelite Magazine is an interesting device indeed.

Unknown Russian soldiers in Afghanistan with Bakelite magazines.

Unknown Russian soldiers in Afghanistan with Bakelite magazines (PC unknown: via Reddit).

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Read more of our AK related articles in Vodka Blasters.

AK action gif



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