Booby-Trapped Russian AK-47 Magazines are Showing up in Ukraine The use of booby-trapped military equipment is hardly a new idea, with a documented history of usage throughout wars in the 20th and 21st centuries. Considering the hot topic of late, the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Russians have been particularly busy in that area.  While the matter of booby traps, in general, will have to wait for a future deep dive, one particular item offers a window into Russian thinking on the aforementioned topic, that being the explosive sabotage of Kalashnikov magazines.

In a posting made on March 25, 2022, Twitter user @ZloyAtoshnik posted a photo of a Kalashnikov rifle magazine cutaway depicting what appears to be a spring-loaded detonator mechanism, a buff-colored putty-like material resembling a plasticized explosive, and a message roughly translated (according to Google) to read “Guys do not pick up from old corpses or on the road.” This photo has since been shared in numerous social media posts.



Intrigued, I did some research and discovered a 1998 graphic describing a similar technique used in the 1990s during the Balkans campaign, specifically during the time frame of Operation Joint Endeavor, which was the U.S. arm of NATO’s larger Implementation Force.  It was this organization that was charged with establishing specific aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords.  The graphic, prepared by a now-retired United Kingdom EOD officer named Bob Gravett who was working for a company called BACTEC International Ltd. clearing mines and explosive remnants of war after the Bosnian conflict, depicts a professionally produced (not improvised) “bakelite” AK-47 Kalashnikov magazine with a complex spring operated and ball bearing controlled pressure release mechanism designed so that when the user removed rounds of ammunition from the magazine, pressure was relieved on the mechanism until finally a striker (also under spring pressure) shot downwards into a detonator, which in turn initiated the explosion of some 35 grams of TNT according to Mr. Gravett.  The back story on the magazine reveals a potential Russian connection to the device.  During my May 5, 2022 interview with Mr. Gravett, he advised the magazine was recovered in either late 1995 or early 1996 by a Bosnian patrol in Banja Luka, who heard what they believed to be a Serbian patrol, opening fire in that general direction.  Mr. Gravett explained that after about 30 minutes, what he described as a Bosnian fighting patrol went out to investigate the incident, where they found Serb gear, blood-splattered webbing, and the aforementioned magazine.  Fortunately, they examined the magazine and noted it had a pull ring still in place, which was obviously not normal, and they then realized the magazine was a booby trap style IED. As to a potential Russian nexus, the close relationship between Russia and Serbia, both largely Slavic nations, has been long documented,


Old Tricks for Old Dogs of War