There are an absolute ton of AR 15 magazines on the market, enough to match the mass amount of AR 15 manufacturers. AR 15 magazines can hardly even be called AR 15 magazines. So many different platforms use the magazine it is essentially the standard 5.56 magazine. There is the Tavor, the AUG, the SCAR, the Zastava M90NP, the Mossberg MVP, and more. With this in mind, we wanted to grab few of the most popular magazines on the market and do our own AR 15 magazine test to check their reliability, their function, and durability.
Overview of AR 15 Magazines for testing
We used a dozen magazines for this test, including polymer, metal, and hybrids. This isn’t an exhaustive list of AR 15 magazines, and we may do another series of these tests. The magazines included in this test are the following,
- Lancer L5
- Magpul Gen 3
- D&H GI Mag
- FN Scar magazine
- Daniel Defense DD 32
- ETS AR 15 magazine
- Troy Battle Mag
- Amend 2 magazines
- CAA Windowed Magazine
- Mission First Tactical mag
For this AR 15 magazine test we needed to use consistent and reliable ammunition. I also wanted something relatively affordable. I went with Armscor 223 in 62 grain. I’ve found Armscor in the past to be very reliable and consistent, and it’s brass cased and affordable. I needed quality ammo that could also take on some more extreme conditions a little later on in these tests.
Stand Out Features
These magazines have their own standout features that should be mentioned or share characteristics that put them in one group over another.
These AR 15 magazines are simple and made entirely from polymer without any standout features. These include the
- Magpul Pmag, the original high quality polymer magazine.
- The Amend 2 magazine, an affordable and stylish magazines.
- Thermold magazines that are crazy cheap, and readily available
- Mission First tactical magazines are a newer design and quite affordable as well
The Gi style metal magazines in this test include the,
- D&H Gi magazine, cheap, reliable and a classic aluminum design
- Scar 16 magazine is a heavy duty magazine made for the Scar, but function in any standard AR 15.
Magazines with unique features to consider.
- Lance L5s are hybrid metal and polymer magazines. They have a polymer body with metal feed lips.
- CAA Magazines feature a prominent window that allows the user to count from 30 to 8 rounds.
- Hexmag features a very unique hexagonal pattern for an increased and customizable grip.
- Troy Battle mags are cheap, and you can easily replace the bottom plate with an extended floor plate.
- ETS magazines feature an interlocking system to tether magazines together for faster reloads.
- The Daniel Defense DD 32 magazines hold 32 rounds in the space of 30 rounds and come stock with an extended floor plate.
For round one of testing, I brought out 12 magazines and 400 rounds for initial testing. Each mag would see only 30 rounds. Hey, ammo is expensive and this isn’t a long term crazy durability test. If you did the math you’ll see I had 40 rounds for mulligans. These were used in reloading drills. So 3 rounds per mag with 4 spares just hanging out. Half of it conveniently fit in my mag box.
The guns for the drill is a SCAR 16s and a standard AR. My method involved swapping guns every magazine to keep the guns cool. My thinking was simply that swapping guns would reduce any gun induced issues.
If the magazine failed with one weapon it would be fed through the alternative weapon.
Our AR 15 magazines will go through several tests. As of this writing I’ve already completed two rounds of testing. Testing will include a simple reliability test, a drop free test, a drop test, a test in sand, then water, and then water and sand again.
We are also going to put our AR 15 magazines through a few stress tests from what I’ve observed in combat. They will be beaten a bit, tossed a little, and some realistic weight will be applied to them.
This test is in no way scientific. I have one sample for each magazine for this test. I’ll admit that now. However, I’m not made of money and if companies want to toss magazines at me to test I’ll accept. However, everyone of these magazines was a personal purchase.
Loads and Feeds Reliably
So round one is pretty simple. Does it feed reliably? Will it feed 30 rounds without an issue? If it can’t get past this test it probably won’t make it past the rest of the tests. I got a lot of target practice in, and took a break every three mags to drink some water and change targets out. Didn’t want to just blow ammo so I got some good practice in with the SCAR and AR.
So 10 out of 12 mags fed perfectly fine. The Thermold and Mission First tactical both experienced failures. First off the Thermold magazine would not lock into place with the bolt forward in either rifle. Once the bolt was locked to the rear it would lock into place.
Feeding was another issue, especially in the Scar. Twice in the AR 15 the bolt didn’t load a round into the chamber. With this Scar this happened 5 times. Also I had one round nose dive in the Scar.
The Mission First Tactical also had issues locking into the Scar with the bolt open. No issues in the AR 15 though. The Scar also experienced one nose dive. It ran perfectly in the AR 15. The subtle differences between the Scar and AR 15 may have been causing issues. I loaded 30 of the 40 spare rounds into the MFT mag and ran it dry as fast as I could through the AR without issue.
Drop free tests are pretty damn simple. Put empty magazine in gun, press magazine release button. If the magazine drops freely then it passes the test. Polymer magazines typically do not drop free, and metal magazines will almost always drop free reliably.
The testing was pretty interesting. The FN mag, the D&H, the Lancer L5, and the Daniel Defense all dropped free with both weapons. I repeated this test over and over and the mags always dropped free. The Daniel Defense magazine surprised me. I expected the Lancers and metal mags to drop free. I was pleasantly surprised the Daniel Defense mag dropped free.
More to come
My next few rounds of testing will be a little rougher on the magazines. At this point the Thermold may be tossed from testing. It simply doesn’t feed reliably and may slow testing down and frustrate me. Then again it may be fun to break. So stay tuned. If you have any suggestions for testing let me know in the comments.