Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Now that you have the AR-15 rifle of your dreams and you’ve spent enough on accessories to get a second rifle it’s time to think about the most important piece of gear for every rifle, its the AR-15 magazine.
All rifles come with one or several factory OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) magazines that work reliably with that rifle and you have the option to purchase more if you choose.
Depending on what you plan to do with your rifle, a magazine cannot fail to feed and the best time to find this out is while you’re not being shot at. For some of you this is experience and for others it trial and error, but magazine selection is an important process.
How do ‘knowitall' gun writers know so much about things like this, well that’s easy, we made all these mistakes before you did, so our goal is to help you avoid them in the first place. So here are a few suggestions to help you choose a reliable magazine for your rifle.
First things first, find a brand or two that you may want and get one of each. You do not want to spend a $120.00 to find out that they won’t feed, some places won’t take them back. Then ask these simple questions, will they accept your magazine loader, will they easily insert in and drop free from your magazine well loaded and empty, will they hold thirty rounds and then chamber rounds easily and are they simple to take apart and clean?
Now load the AR-15 mags to full capacity and run them through your rifle, did they malfunction in any way or did they perform as expected? If it’s the later, then buy six or more and try them all out over time making sure they all work 100% reliably.
Seems like a lot of work but whether you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse or real war, it is a good feeling knowing they will work when called upon.
If you plan on modifying your magazines in any way, do your homework first and make sure the kit works with your brand of magazine and then put it thru its paces. Mechanical items usually work better after a break in period, but it’s still a machine and prone to failure. Inspect them often and make repairs or replace where needed and keep them as clean as conditions allow. One area to watch is the feed lips, on aluminum magazines they are prone to bend or break off and with polymer types they can distort out of shape if heated or break if very cold. Carry a few spares, they are not overly bulk and don’t weight much empty and when you need them you’ll be glad you have them close.
My pick of AR-15 magazines I use myself:
5. Brownells AR-15 30Rd Magazine CS 223/5.56 (Most common AR15 magazine)
They are constructed of aluminum and are supplied with a fiberglass-filled plastic anti-tilt follower with self-lubricating composition. These followers are a step up from the old aluminum followers which were not the most reliable at the time. Now don’t get me wrong, for a cheaper magazine they will take some abuse and keep feeding rounds. I used this type in the military and they performed when I thought they shouldn’t. Depending on the type of use, if they get bent or dented the follower may jam rendering them inoperable. But for general use at the range, competition or hunting they are budget friendly and easily replaceable.
4. FNH USA – SCAR 16S 30RD 223/5.56 MAGAZINES
If aluminum magazines bring back bad memories and you demand something a bit more robust, the steel FNH USA – SCAR 16S 30RD 223/5.56 MAGAZINES will scratch that itch.
FNH (Fabrique Nationale Herstal) makes some of the finest firearms in the world and it would figure their magazines would reflect that heritage. These steel magazines were developed for the FNH SCAR 16S and come with their low friction polymer follower for reliable feeding. You can expect these to be a bit heavier than their aluminum counterparts but will also last longer with harder use. They function equally well in your AR-15 and come in black and flat earth finishes and are higher priced than standard aluminum magazines, but you already knew that right?
3. MAGPUL – AR-15/M16 PMAG 30-ROUND GEN M3 Magazines
Everything’s going polymer these days and rifle magazines are no exception. The MAGPUL – AR-15/M16 PMAG 30-ROUND GEN M3 MAGAZINES are used by our military and carry their own NSN, this is a testament to their reliability in combat.
The Gen M3 are the latest in a line of magazines that work and work well, I haven’t had any failures in a single Magpul magazine I own. They have improved upon the older models to make these more compatible with other rifles and strengthened the mag catch and feed lip areas and the polymer body is designed to flex to resist breaking and crushing. Included is a new four way anti-tilt follower that performs better under high grit and dust conditions, and they still include the dust cover for storage of loaded magazines.
The thinner floor plate removes without tools and there is a dot matrix area for use with a sharpie to mark your magazines, and the price per mag won’t beat you up.
2. SUREFIRE – AR-15/M16 60RD 223/5.56 Magazine
Our fathers and grandfathers fought wars with rifles that only held five rounds, hard to believe in today’s world dominated by 30 round magazines. Today 30 rounds is the norm but not the rule and Surefire has broken with tradition to give us 60 rounds in one magazines.
The SUREFIRE – AR-15/M16 60RD 223/5.56 MAGAZINE give you double the normal rounds in one magazine weighting in at 2 pounds and is less than the width of two normal magazines stacked together.
They meet NATO STANAG 4179 specifications and function in all rifles that accept AR-15/M16/M4 magazines. The Nesting nylon followers are lube free and fully support the rounds for reliable feeding. The springs have a cadmium coating to reduce friction and resists corrosion. They will fit in most carriers that hold two magazines and they sell a single magazine pouch that is M.O.L.E. compatible, but keep in mind these magazines are pricey and not for the budget minded.
1. X PRODUCTS – AR-15/M16 50RD 223/5.56X15 DRUM Magazine
Higher capacity magazines are all the rage and anything that hold over 30 rounds is highly desired. X PRODUCTS – AR-15/M16 50RD 223/5.56X15 DRUM MAGAZINE is fairly new to the market but it meets the needs of the modern AR shooter, military and law enforcement. The steel and aluminum constructed X-Product drum holds 50 rounds of 5.56×45/.223 FMJ ammunition and 300 AAC Blackout. It is rated for full auto fire (1100 RPM) with rifles with a high cyclic rate and loading/un-loading is easy using the finger notched hand wheel with no tools.
All the critical components are Cerakote coated to reduce friction and make the need for lubrication unnecessary. It will function with many types of AR rifles, with some exceptions and is shorter than a standard 30 round magazine which aids in shooting in the prone position.
There is also a single and double carrying pouch available that are M.O.L.E. compatible and something I feel is very important is, (for the high price paid) it’s made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty.
Once you find the right combination of performance, durability and capacity. It is time to bit e the bullet and stock up. When SHTF you will thank me, because we all know reloading under fire is a bitch.
And Now For Something Totaly Un-Related
About Norman Gray:
Norman Gray has been involved in the shooting sports for well over 30 years. He has served in both active duty and reserve component of the United States Army as an Infantryman and was honorably discharged at the end of his service. Moving to Arizona, he began assisting his long time friend and mentor Bob Shell, an accomplished writer and author in his own right. Norman is freelance contributor with Handguns Magazine, Canadian Firearms Journal and Manzano Valley Outdoors. He is also a member of (POMA) The Professional Outdoor Media Association, the (NSSF) National Shooting Sports Foundation and a Life Member of the (NRA) National Rifle Association. Visit: http://www.unleaded-ink.blogspot.com/
AmmoLand Editor Comments: This article was updated to reflect changes in product improvements / availability on 07/06/2017.