Ammunition Storage Components (ASC) offers a number of different metal-body magazines for the AR platform. At its most basic, the 5.56mm product line offers magazines with both aluminum and stainless steel bodies. Each has capacity, color and follower options to meet the officer’s specific needs. I’ve used both the aluminum and stainless steel 30-round magazines and found them to be well made and reliable with a wide range of AR-platform rifles and pistols.
Perhaps best known as an incredible resource for gunsmiths, Brownells also manufactures a line of aluminum AR-15 magazines. Offered with the Magpul Enhanced Self-Leveling Follower, these magazines offer incredible performance at a reasonable price. I’ve owned and used about a dozen of these magazines for the past five years and have gotten great service from them. I cannot recall a single incident in which these magazines caused or contributed to a malfunction. They can also be had with the Magpul Ranger Plate as an option.
Command Arms Accessories (CAA) offers a pair of polymer magazines that are designed to help an officer keep track of available rounds. The Countdown magazine has a visual indicator on its spine that gives the precise number of loaded rounds. The numbers are color coded for a quick reference on when a mag change may be in order. The Clear Action magazine uses a witness window on the side of the magazine for a quick visual estimation of the loaded rounds. It also has a button that pops out on the bottom when fully loaded for a tactile confirmation of the round count.
A sure grip sets the magazines from Hexmag apart from much of its competition. The HX30-AR is a lightweight 30-round magazine that has a hexagonal pattern molded into the polymer body. Alone, the pattern provides a good grip on the magazine. With the company’s special Grip Tape, the magazines are unlikely to slip from your grip even in the worst weather conditions. In addition to the various body colors, Hexmag also offers a Color Identification System on the follower and floorplate to help organize loaded magazines when stored. I’ve got a number of these magazines in my personal collection, and I’ve found them to be very reliable.
Lancer makes a variety of hybrid magazines for the 5.56mm NATO AR-15 in the L5AWM series. For these magazines, Lancer uses a polymer body with a steel feed lip assembly to offer increased durability while keeping the overall weight down. The steel component is finished in matte black, while the body is offered in translucent clear, translucent smoke, black, olive drab, flat dark earth and foliage green. The standard capacity is 30 rounds, but 20-, 10- and five-round magazines are also available.
Without a doubt, Magpul’s Gen M2/MOE and Gen M3 PMAGs are very popular. These polymer magazines are durable and equally reliable while still being competitively priced. The company offers a range of PMAGs from 10-round magazines up to its latest 60-round model. Its most popular magazine, the Gen 3PMAG 30, can be had in a number of colors and with or without a clear witness window to estimate the number of remaining rounds. The PMAG uses one of the most reliable followers available today.
Introduced in early 2015, Mission First Tactical’s MFT Mags are polymer magazines with small refinements that make a big difference. The self-lubricating, four-way anti-tilt follower is run by a stainless steel spring for reliable action and long-term durability. The floorplate is flared to enhance manual extraction and to provide additional impact resistance if dropped. MFT Mags have stipple texturing and low-profile ribs for a good grip in all weather conditions.
The new Rollermag is a 30-round magazine that uses guided rollers on the follower to ensure friction-free feeding. The follower movement is very smooth, and the design prevents any tilting. ProMag uses durable chrome-silicon springs for long-term ammunition storage. The impact-resistant polymer body is textured for a positive grip. The Rollermag is made in the U.S.A. and comes with a lifetime warranty.
SureFire products have served the LE community for decades, and its magazines offer continued service in an era where responding to terrorism is a reality. The company offers high-capacity mags that hold 60 and 100 rounds, respectively. The 60-round mag is an excellent alternative to a pair of coupled 30-round mags. It eliminates the downtime associated with changing mags, all while being smaller than two mags clipped together. Anodized aluminum is used for the mag bodies while cadmium-coated springs and nested followers provide smooth feeding.
TangoDown threw out conventional thinking when the company developed the ARC magazine. With a new approach centered on performance, TangoDown’s ARC eliminated the traditional floorplate to enhance strength and durability. The exterior of the polymer body was reshaped to ensure positive magazine extraction, while the interior dimensions ensure proper ammunition feeding. The impact-resistant body is uniquely textured to provide a solid grip and can be hand in traditional black or Flat Dark Earth colors.
The Intrafuse Gen II magazine uses the same durable polymer body as the first-generation magazine and incorporates a number of reliability enhancements to make these the best AR magazines TAPCO has ever made. The mags use a redesigned follower with a reshaped, premium stainless steel spring to provide improved feeding and ease of loading. According to TAPCO, the spring redesign has eliminated spine cracks when the magazine is stored fully loaded. Additionally, the company states that the redesign ensures the mags will drop free when ejected.
TROY Industries manufactures a high-quality polymer magazine called the BattleMag. Available in both 10- and 30-round capacities, the BattleMag has reinforced lips to prevent the polymer from spreading when storing it loaded. TROY designed the floorplate with the pull tab to be flush with the magazine body so that it does not catch on other magazines or gear when it is pulled from a mag pouch. With each magazine, TROY includes an extended floorplate lock that absorbs the recoil of impact when the mag is dropped. The magazines are available in black, Flat Dark Earth, coyote tan and OD green.
Sometimes overlooked, the lowly magazine can truly make or break a gun in the field. Bad magazines can introduce reliability problems, forcing you to clear malfunctions rather than put rounds on target. For AR-platform rifles, this is as true as it is for any other weapon system. Fortunately, there is a plethora of magazines on the market that combine reliability with a broad spectrum of enhancements. Modern AR magazines are made from a variety of materials, are available in a range of finishes, and can be had with all kinds of internals.
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One of the most basic distinctions among AR magazines is the body material. Stainless steel, aluminum and polymer are all available, and each has its own benefits and limitations. Likewise, the follower and spring vary from magazine to magazine. While nearly all AR magazines use a follower that claims to be “tilt resistant,” not all are equally good. Some companies offer reliability enhancement kits that allow you to upgrade the floorplate, follower and spring in your existing magazines.
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Magazine finishes rarely impact the reliability of the magazine, but an improperly applied finish can cause the magazine to hang in the well instead of dropping free. Also, certain colors or patterns may be more appropriate for your uses. A street cop, for example, is probably not going to use a non-standard gray or black color for uniform reasons. Likewise, a tactical unit may opt for a green or
brown magazine to offer better concealment for their typical operating environments.
There are a great many choices in AR magazines, and this is a list to get you started in your search for the best mags to meet your needs.
- Ammunition Storage Components: ammosc.com; 860-225-3548
- Brownells: brownells.com: 800-741-0015
- Command Arms Accessories: commandarms.com; 866-611-9576
- HexMag: hexmag.com; 970-460-2000
- Lancer Systems: lancer-systems.com; 610-973-2600
- Magpul Industries: magpul.com; 877-462-4785
- Mission First Tactical: missionfirsttactical.com; 267-704-0001
- ProMag Industries: promagindustries.com; 800-438-2547
- SureFire: surefire.com; 800-828-8809
- TangoDown: tangodown.com; 909-392-4757
- TAPCO: tapco.com; 800-554-1445
- Troy Industries: troyind.com; 866-788-6412
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