Tapping a mag on your helmet

Informant Background:

This Informant is a staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps with numerous tours under his belt. He’s currently a MECEP in the USC Naval battalion. He’s married with a kid on the way.

Informant’s Story:

“You know that scene in “Apocalypse Now” where the dudes are going in the helicopters to attack that one village and the pilots play “Ride of the Valkyries”? well in that scene one of the dudes taps a mag against his helmet. That’s supposed to mean good luck. I don’t really know why. I’ve seen a couple guys do it down range [on deployment] but I never really did it.”


This is a common practice among riflemen in the military. This practice has been used in many different military movies such as “Apocalypses Now” or “Jarhead”. This action is said to be lucky primarily because the action “settles the rounds” evening them out so they don’t jam easily. In the military things can get very bad very quick, therefore anytime something goes right (such as a rifle firing without jamming) it is considered lucky. Most soldiers know that this action is just settling the rounds, but many like to think of it as being lucky, especially in an environment where survival is largely contingent on luck.