With any semiautomatic weapon system, the weakest link is the magazine. Even Russia's famously reliable AK-47 will choke with poorly built magazines.
This is doubly true for two classic American firearms: the M1911 and the AR-15. Thankfully for AR-15 owners, there are a myriad of inexpensive reliable magazines available today. With so many choices available, it's difficult to discern what magazines rock, and which sink like a stone.
Three qualities every worthwhile magazine must posses are durability, reliability and affordability. However, there is also an incalculable "cool-factor" that influences every shooter more than they'd like to admit.. Many available options master one or two of these guiding principles, but only a few have all. Here are seven magazines AR-15 owners can't live without.
3. Hexmag | 30-round HX30-AR-15
It's not difficult to see why these polygonal magazines are called Hexmags
. What is tough to see is why no other manufacturer offered a magazine this cool before. Built from high-impact polymer and featuring an interlocking hexagonal outer pattern, these lightweight futuristic magazines exploded in popularity after touring the YouTube gun-reviewer scene last year.
And for good reason, the HX30 Hexmag
is as durable and reliable as it is odd-looking. A closer look inside shows the magazine's bright-orange anti-tilt follower that provides positive cartridge feeding and allows shooters to instantly identify the condition of the magazine. Hexmag also offers their eponymous magazine in various other follower-colors ranging from Zombie Green to Nimbus Blue.
1. Lancer Systems | L5 AWM
isn't your typical firearms accessory-maker. A quick glance at their website shows their production isn't limited to gun components, but extends to fiber-optics and oil-drilling platform equipment. This latter portion demonstrates that they understand how to make tough equipment built for hard use. No more is this apparent than in their L5 AWM
Built from high-impact translucent polymer, the L5 AWM helps shooters see what really matters; what's on the inside. Unlike the majority of polymer AR-15 magazines, the L5 AWM follows Bulgaria's Circle 10 magazine's example, and reinforces its feed lips with hardened steel. The result: the most durable polymer magazine built. The only downside to bulking up these mags is price.
2. Magpul | PMAG
makes some of the best AR-15 kit on the planet. Their name is synonymous with quality and reliability. It's arguable that without their ingenious anti-tilt follower, the ascension of the AR-15 as America's rifle would never have reached the heights it achieved. Not content to simply improve the inner workings of the AR-15 magazine, in 2007 Magpul introduced their PMAG
, a fully-polymer AR-15 magazine.
So how does the progenitor of modern polymer magazines hold up against numerous usurpers? In a word, phenomenally. Magpul's PMAG still sets the standard for affordable, lightweight, durable reliable polymer magazines. In most places, new magpul PMAGs can be had for less than used USGI aluminum ones. Available with or without a windowed body, the PMAG has proven incredibly popular with military, law enforcement and civilian enthusiasts alike. Whenever a new shooter asks me what magazine to buy for their AR15, with few exceptions, I always respond, 'Magpul PMAGs '.
5. Troy | 30-round polymer BattleMag
Polymer magazines are nothing new, but they have seen an unparalleled rise in popularity in recent years. Capitalism being what it is, several gun-accessory companies jumped on the bandwagon to take a swing at the polymer AR-15 magazine market. Many struck out, but market veteran Troy Industries
, known for their nigh-indestructible railed handguards, managed to crank one over the stands with their BattleMag
While at first glance, nothing seems remarkable about the BattleMag, it's the fine details and its planeness that make it so great. The featureless side wall surfaces make extracting the magazine from pouches all but effortless. Intelligently, the front and rear straps of the magazine are aggressively fish-scaled for increased grip. This combined with the included base-plate combination bumper/extractor make for one slick little mag that's easy to grip and hard to let go - especially at its low price.
6. Brownells | 20-round Aluminum USGI Magazine
Call me nostalgic, but 20-round mags and triangular handguards make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Though that isn't why I'm recommending these ultra-affordable magazines
. Their straight-body design and truncated height increase both reliability and compactness over standard 30-round USGI mags.
Shooters interested in firing their rifles from the prone position will find 20-round mags perfectly suited for this purpose. They barely protrude more than two inches beneath the magazine well and fit perfectly into the palm of a support hand when firing from the standing position. Additionally, they are very useful for zeroing a rifle, as they don't impact the shooting when rested. Shooters living in ban states can easily find Vietnam-era pre-ban 20-round magazines and simply replace the follower and spring to produce a ban-compliant, reliable, standard-capacity magazine.
7. Beta Company | C-MAG
Few magazines are as impractical on paper as a BETA C Magazine
. Shooters will swear up and down that they'll never buy one because they're too expensive, heavy or gimmicky. That is, until they actually use one. Then a small spark ignites inside them, and that eventually grows into a burning desire to own the magazine that instantly turns any AR15 to 'eleven '.
Impracticality aside, having 100 rounds of .223 at your disposal is an indescribable feeling and this magazine would top several lists if it weren't for a few hiccups.
The Beta mag isn't perfect, but with proper maintenance, it runs very well with most rifles. The biggest concern most people have when using one is ammunition consumption. Especially since the magazine doesn't last as long if left fully loaded. Arguably the ultimate fun-mag, the Beta has one downside: price. This double-drummed magazine retails for $275.
4. Elite Tactical Systems Group | AR15 Magazine
lacks in product-naming originality, they more than compensate for with the quality of their products. Their polymer-bodied, translucent magazine
is tough as nails and takes a page from the G36's playbook and includes built-in mag-couplers.
Other desirable features include an anti-tilt follower, enlarged base-plate release button for easy cleaning and a reinforced body with overlapping polymer ribs. Available with or without its iconic semi-circle coupling device, these wallet-friendly polymer magazines were virtually unknown until last year.