Today I am testing out a new .30-06 Chauchat magazine converted from a Johnson M1941 machine gun magazine. The workmanship on this new mag is excellent, and much more extensive than I had initially realized would be necessary. This had the side effect of also making is a very expensive magazine to have made properly.
Unfortunately, the cost of that project has become unjustifiable. I initially wanted to have 5 or 6 of these, to allow me to have about 100 rounds loaded into magazines for competition use. Instead, I will be using a French 8mm Chauchat for anything requiring more than 10-20 rounds of ammunition, and leave this gun for more historical uses. While 8mm Lebel ammunition is expensive as well, I have a substantial number of good military magazines for it, as well as a much more accessible market of spare parts should anything break.
I know a bunch of people will ask about 3D printing magazines. The reason that is not practical is because all of the clearances in the gun were designed around a magazine made of thin metal. In order for a 3D printed plastic to be strong enough to withstand the force of a stack of ammunition under sufficient pressure to feed reliably, the plastic would need to be substantially thicker than the original steel design. And there is not physical space inside the gun for that – the clearances between the bolt head, magazine feed lips, cartridge pusher, and barrel extension don’t allow it.