At a Glance: The 8 Best AR-15 Magazine Releases for Your Money
Comparison of The 8 Best AR-15 Magazine Releases for Your Money
Our Top Pick
|Arms Unlimited AR-15 Ambidextrous Magazine Release
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Our Top Pick
|Troy Industries AR-15/M16 Ambidextrous Magazine Release
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Our Top Pick
|Odin Works AR-15 Extended Magazine Release
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There are virtually limitless options for customizing your AR-15 rifle. Customizations range from something as simple as a muzzle brake to as involved as converting your rifle to a piston-driven system. A straightforward modification that you can make to improve your gun’s function is an aftermarket magazine release.
More bang for your buck: The Top 8 magazine releases for your AR-15
Modifications to your mag release are a simple, oft-overlooked modification that can make your AR-15 more enjoyable to shoot and more comfortable to reload. I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” before. In light of that, why wouldn’t you want to improve the fluidity of your reloading with a simple modification? Any of these mag releases featured below can help you develop smoother, more efficient reloading movements.
Arms Unlimited AR-15 Ambidextrous Magazine Release
The Arms Unlimited Ambidextrous Magazine Release is a sturdy and straightforward aftermarket mag release. It is an all-steel part, meaning that it is more durable and less prone to breaking or malfunction. While we all would like our parts to be durable and malfunction free, particularly if you spend many hours at the range.
The most significant appeal to this release is ambidextrous, often referred to as “Ambi.” You may be asking yourself why you need an Ambi mag release if you aren’t a southpaw like me? Well, an Ambi release allows a right-handed shooter to quickly drop an empty magazine with their non-shooting hand. This prevents you from having to re-adjust the grip of your shooting hand after a reload.
This part is all too easy to install. You simply need to unscrew your stock magazine latch, drop this one in place, and you should be ready to go. It is compatible with your standard AR-15 platform, so this part is ready to go right out of the package.
It is important to note that the button and spring are not included. If you think that the spring has seen its better days, you may want to consider adding one of those to your order. They typically only run a couple of bucks and can help your new mag release run smoothly.
- Ambidextrous release
- All steel construction
- Easy installation
- Smooth movement
- No spring included
- No oversized button included
Troy Industries AR-15/M16 Ambidextrous Magazine Release
Next up on our list is the Troy Industries Ambi magazine release. Like our first pick, this is a durable, ambidextrous magazine release that will survive hours at the range. While very similar to the Arms Unlimited release described above, the Troy Industries release design has one distinct difference. The button on this release mimics the standard magazine release’s size and shape, which may make familiarization with this addition easier.
The Troy Industries magazine release offers quick and easy installation. It is essentially a “drop-in” part, meaning that you will not require any gunsmithing skills to add this aftermarket part to your rifle. It will work with your already equipped magazine release button. However, it is compatible with many oversized release buttons as well, giving you additional customization options.
This part is also compatible with some Ambi bolt releases, such as a BAD lever (an excellent addition for lefties that I run on my personal AR’s). This compatibility with other aftermarket parts is an essential consideration for those of you planning on making multiple, interconnected customizations.
The Troy Industries Ambidextrous Magazine Release does not include an oversized button or a replacement spring. You will not necessarily need the spring if yours is in good working order, but you should consider whether or not you want to purchase the oversized button when ordering your magazine release so that you can install both parts at once.
- High-quality construction
- Replicates shape of the standard release button
- Low-profile design, which prevents snagging on your clothing/sling
- Compatible with ambi bolt releases
- No oversized button included
- More expensive than some other options
Odin Works AR-15 Extended Magazine Release
This next choice is the Odin Works Inc. Extended Magazine Release. This mag release is constructed from billet aluminum and comes in three colors: black, red, and FDE (flat dark earth).
It is a durable, oversized magazine release. However, it is not an ambidextrous magazine release.
This Odin Works mag release is simple to install using two screws and an Allen wrench, both included. According to Odin Works’ specifications, the mag release is roughly four times the size of a standard mag release button, which is especially helpful during situations where your heart rate may be elevated (i.e. self-defense applications, competition shooting).
While this mag release is not an Ambi release, it offers benefits to both right and left-handed shooters. A right-handed shooter will find this mag release substantially easier to activate with their trigger finger when compared to a stock, mil-spec mag release button. My fellow southpaws will discover that the Odin Works extended mag release is easy to find and activate with the thumb on their non-shooting hand.
I tend to grip very close to the mag-well, especially when shooting from a kneeling or prone position. If you utilize a similar grip, the Odin Works extended mag release is a viable alternative to an Ambi mag release. You should consider your handedness and preferred hand positioning when selecting your mag release.
- Billet Aluminum
- Three color options
- Fast installation with the included tool
- 4X the size of the standard mag release button
- Not ambidextrous
- Screws must be checked regularly to ensure that they have not loosened
V Seven Weapon Systems- AR-15 Magazine Release Titanium
The V Seven Weapon Systems-AR-15 Titanium Magazine Release is perhaps the most durable and well-constructed choice on our list. This magazine is made of, you guessed it, titanium.
The titanium mag release is entirely corrosion resistant and comes with a lifetime warranty. Also, you can choose from two finish options and two design patterns on your magazine release. The V Seven titanium mag release comes in either a raw finish or a “black ion bond” finish.
You also have your choice of a horizontal line or diamond pattern on your magazine release button. This item includes the release, button, and a new spring. The installation of this mag release is quick and simple.
The magazine release may seem like a minor upgrade, but I assure you it is not. After completing a few magazine changes with a high-quality magazine release like the V Seven Titanium, you will never want to use a poor-quality release again. Poorly made magazine releases can be “sticky” and hard to engage, leading you to develop bad habits as a shooter.
The two minor drawbacks of this magazine release are that it is not an ambidextrous release and its standard-sized release button.
V Seven does offer an extended magazine release button that is compatible but must be purchased separately. While you can develop proficiency with a standard-sized magazine release, there are some great benefits to the oversized magazine release button.
- Titanium construction
- Lifetime warranty
- Includes replacement spring
- Choice of finishes and pattern
- Not ambidextrous
- Extended magazine release button sold separately
Odin Works Inc.-AR-15 Gen III Extended Magazine Release
Odin Works Inc. Gen III Extended Magazine Release is their latest iteration of their extended mag release and offers notable improvements.
As with the first and second generations, it is manufactured from billet aluminum. This version is also compatible with the AR-10 platform.
The Gen III comes in the following five color options: black, FDE, red, blue, and silver. It includes two screws and an Allen wrench for a quick and painless installation. Unlike the first generation of this magazine release, the Gen III has two unique cutouts on the design to allow for an even better contact when activating your mag release.
As before, it is roughly four times the size of a mil-spec mag release button. One of Odin Works’ best modifications to the Gen III is improving this magazine releases compatibility with other customizations, such as the fore mentioned Magpul BAD Lever.
According to Odin Works, this part is also compatible with KNS Pins. These pins are fitted with special retainers that prevent your trigger pins from “walking” or “creeping” when subjected to high volumes of fire.
Due to its compatibility with other modifications that can improve your shooting experience, the Odin Works Gen III Magazine Release deserves some serious consideration. A few simple to install, high-quality parts can completely change your shooting experience.
- Compatible with BAD Lever.
- Compatible with anti-walk pins
- Five color options
- Billet aluminum
- Easy install
- Shape and pattern improve ease of use
- Not ambidextrous
Strike Industries-Ambidextrous Magazine Release
Shifting our focus back to Ambi mag releases, the next entry on our list is the Strike Industries Ambidextrous magazine release. This mag release is made from aluminum and includes a replacement spring and button. The company offers four color options: black, FDE, red, and “titan” (orange).
The Strike Industries Ambi release is ergonomically designed and just looks and feels good. It offers a smooth activation on both the traditional button and the Ambi button side. The Ambi button on the magazine catch side includes a series of vertical cut-outs to improve the ease of use.
The Strike Industries mag release is installed similar to a traditional release and is compatible with any mil-spec AR-15 platform. Installation only takes a few minutes and will not require any special tools.
The Strike Industries mag release is consistent with many other aftermarket improvements, such as KNS pins.
Strike Industries also offers an extended magazine release option. This is a good option if you want to install an extended magazine release button and an ambidextrous release. However, these kits must be purchased separately. The second kit also includes a catch and spring, which will leave you with a few duplicate parts.
This Strike Industries magazine release button does run parallel to the magazine catch, making the button somewhat small and difficult to locate at first. As with all modifications to your firearm, you should utilize reloading and other non-firing drills to familiarize yourself with your new equipment. Developing good training habits is vital to effectively utilizing your equipment.
- Includes spring and button
- Four color options
- Compatible with several other popular modifications
- Extended release must be purchased separately
- Small ambidextrous button
V Seven Weapon Systems- AR-15 Ultra-Light Magazine Catch
The AR-15 Ultra-Light Magazine Catch, V Seven’s other magazine release option, is constructed out of aluminum. This magazine release is only offered in a black anodized finish and provides the option of a diamond or line pattern on the magazine release button. As with their titanium magazine release, V Seven offers a lifetime warranty on this part.
The Ultra-Light magazine release includes the catch, button, and spring. It fits the standard AR-15 specifications and can be installed quickly. The primary appeal of this part is the lifetime warranty and the lightweight design. While it may seem insignificant to replace one original part with a lightweight variant, replacing multiple parts with lightweight aftermarket parts can significantly reduce the weight of your rifle.
While this magazine release will perform better than stock magazine releases on most low to mid-tier rifles, it offers little else in the way of performance benefits. This part does not offer an ambidextrous option, nor does it offer an extended magazine release. When compared to its titanium counterpart, the titanium magazine release is the clear winner.
If you do not need an ambi or extended magazine release, the V Seven Ultra-Light magazine release is an extremely affordable option with a great warranty and good performance. Despite these perks, you may want to consider opting for their titanium option for a few dollars more. It looks and performs notably better.
- Lifetime warranty
- Includes spring, button, and catch
- Not ambidextrous
- No extended magazine release
- One finish option
- Minimal performance benefits
Nemo- AR-15 Ambidextrous Magazine Release
Last up on our list is the Nemo Ambidextrous Magazine Release. This machined steel magazine release is durable and practical. It, like all of our choices, involves a simple installation. The Nemo mag release does not require any tools to install. It does not include a replacement spring or button and only comes in one finish option, black.
The Nemo magazine release includes a laser engraved Nemo logo. It also has a texture pad consisting of vertical lines to assist in locating and depressing the button.
This magazine release offers a clean, smooth action and does not have any sticking point when activating it. It is compatible with most anti-walk pins and battery assist devices.
As mentioned before, replacing your standard magazine release with an ambidextrous magazine release offers significant benefits to both right and “wrong” handed shooters, like myself. It is important to consider your preferred shooting and reloading practices when determining which magazine release purchase that you want to make.
If you want to convert your rifles magazine release to an ambidextrous release and elect to add an extended magazine release button, the Nemo Ambi release is compatible with many extended-release options.
The only real downsides to this magazine release are that it only comes in one finish option and does not include a replacement spring. However, you can pick one up for virtually nothing if your magazine release spring needs to be replaced. If you are looking for a quality ambidextrous magazine release that will last a lifetime, the Nemo ambi release deserves your consideration.
- Durable, steel construction
- Smooth release
- Rugged appearance
- Compatible with various extended magazine release buttons
- Compatible with most anti-walk pins and battery assist devices
- No replacement spring included
- Only one finish option
- Pricier than some other options on our list
What is an AR-15 magazine release?
Now that we have given you our top 8 AR-15 magazine releases, you may be asking yourself what a magazine release is. An AR-15 magazine release is a mechanism that retains and allows you to eject your magazine. An AR-15 magazine release consists of a magazine catch, spring, and release button.
The button has a threaded hole, and the catch has a threaded bar that will be inserted through the lower receiver of your rifle. A spring is also present between the magazine catch and magazine release button. The catch is located on the left side of a standard AR-15 lower receiver, and the button is located on the right side.
An additional note for the southpaws out there: While it is possible to purchase an AR-15 oriented for a left-handed shooter, it is much more practical to install an extended or ambidextrous magazine release on a standard AR-15 lower. Locating additional parts for a “left-handed” lower receiver is generally more trouble than its worth.
Nomenclature of an AR-15 magazine release
- Magazine catch
- Magazine release button
- Magazine release spring
Why you should invest in a quality AR-15 magazine release
Now that we have covered what an AR-15 magazine release is and have presented you with 8 quality options, you may be asking yourself why you need an aftermarket release at all. The simple answer is that you want to develop a smooth, fluid reloading technique to quickly get your rifle back in operation.
Even though an aftermarket magazine release can feel like an afterthought, it shouldn’t be. Unless you purchased a competition quality rifle, any of our options listed here are almost certainly an upgrade over your current magazine release.
Ambidextrous magazine release
Whether you are a right or left-handed shooter, an ambi mag release gives you the option to release your magazine with your trigger finger or the thumb on your support hand.
These options allow you to efficiently reload from a variety of shooting positions.
Looking to learn more about triggers for your AR-15? Check out The Arms Guides review on The 8 Best Trigger Guards for Your AR-15 Rifle.
Extended magazine release
An extended magazine release will allow you to reload more efficiently because the larger button is easier to locate and depress in high-stress situations.
As a right-handed shooter, it is also beneficial to have a smaller frame and have difficulty reaching the magazine release button without moving your shooting hand forward on the weapon system. An extended magazine release button will allow you to maintain better hand positioning during reloads.
Lightweight standard magazine release
Even if you have mastered your reloading movements and you do not need an Ambi mag release, you could benefit from a high-quality magazine release. These magazine releases are of high quality and are less prone to breaking or failing. They can also be used to add accents to your rifle if you want a more unique appearance.
Benefits of a high-quality magazine release
- Improve reloading mechanics
- Release magazine with offhand
- Provide aesthetic improvements
How to choose the best AR-15 magazine release
There are several factors to consider when purchasing an AR-15 magazine release. You should take into account your handedness and your shooting habits.If you think that you will be making additional upgrades in the future, you should ensure that the magazine release is compatible with those parts that you are considering.The material and finishes available, as well as the overall cost, should also be considered.
The material that the magazine release parts are manufactured from influence durability and performance. The magazine releases featured on our list are manufactured from one of three materials.
Upgrading your AR-15 magazine release is an excellent investment. Striking a balance between performance, features, and value is essential to ensure that you get the most out of your purchase. If you are considering purchasing both an ambi mag release and an extended magazine release button, this is especially important.
The magazine releases on our list offer a variety of features and benefits. There are several options available if you are seeking an extended magazine release button or an ambidextrous magazine release.
There are also a couple of options if you like the standard magazine release layout and just want to install higher quality components. You should consider which features are most important to you.
Two other considerations are the number of finish options and whether or not the product is compatible with other upgrades.
I often mention compatibility because you may not want to add additional aftermarket parts now, but you may in the future. If you find a magazine release that meets all your needs and is compatible with other parts, it is important to consider. Purchasing a slightly more expensive magazine release now may prevent you from having to buy another in the future.
Ease of installation
All of these options are easy to install and do not require any gunsmithing tools. Some of them do not require any tools at all. The magazine releases that require additional hardware include those items and the tool needed to complete your installation. Whatever your experience level, these magazine releases can be easily installed and improve your shooting experience.
How to install an AR-15 magazine release
Installing an AR-15 magazine release is extremely simple. The first step is and should always be to clear your firearm. Ensure that the magazine is ejected and lock your bolt to the rear. Then you should physically and visually confirm that the weapon is empty.
After you have completed this step, you should send the bolt forward and press the pivot and takedown pins. You will then be able to separate your upper and lower receivers.
You do not have to separate the receivers, but I find it easier to complete the replacement if you do not have a workbench and AR-15 vise.
Installing Ambi or Replacement Magazine Release
Once you have separated the receivers, depress and hold the magazine release button as far as you can. The AR-15 is designed to be broken down using the tip of a live AR-15 round.
You can use a round to help you press the takedown pin and magazine release button if needed. While holding the button, grasp the magazine catch on the opposite side and rotate it counterclockwise until it is detached from the button.
To install your new magazine release, simply insert the new catch. Make sure that the threaded portion of the catch has the spring on it. Then, turn the magazine catch clockwise while holding the button on the opposite side. Continue pressing the button until the magazine catch is completely threaded into the button.
Installing Odin Works extended magazine release
If you purchase one of the magazine releases that screw onto the existing magazine release button, such as the Odin Works extended magazine release, install is even simpler. Again, ensure that you remove the magazine and clear your weapon. Then, you simply attach the magazine release using the two screws and Allen wrench that are included.
Third time’s the charm
|Arms Unlimited Ambi release
|Troy Industries Ambi release
|Odin Works Extended mag release
|V Seven titanium mag release
|Odin Works Gen III Ext. mag release
|Strike Industries Ambi magazine release
|V Seven Ultralight Mag release
|Nemo Ambi mag release
The team at Odin Works Inc. knocked it out of the park with their Gen III extended magazine release. This magazine release is durable and easy to install. It also comes in five color options. Where it really sets itself apart is its compatibility with other components and its ergonomic design.
The large surface area is invaluable during high-stress situations and it allows for the use of some other upgrades that are performance game-changers. I’ve been running a battery assist device on my rifle for years and will be for as long as I shoot.
It is also compatible with most ambi magazine releases, including the ones featured here, which offer you the best of both worlds. If you are looking for the best mix of performance, durability, and value, look no further than the Odin Works Gen III extended magazine release.