At a Glance: The Best AR-15 Magazines
Comparison of The Best AR-15 Magazines
Our Top Pick
|Magpul GEN M2 MOE 30-Round Magazine||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Magpul PMAG 30 Gen M3||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Magpul – PMAG D-60 223/5.56||View Latest Price|
Magazines are the most straightforward firearm mechanism.
A firearm magazine is a box with a follower and spring for feeding bullets into the chamber. However, magazines became more sophisticated as AR-15 rifles graduated into the standard for law enforcement, military and civilian shooters.
Today, you’ll find multiple aftermarket magazines for the AR-15 rifle. They’re also available in various modifications and come with lots of accessories. Designed for reliability and durability, magazines range in brands and materials. They also balance ease of access and retention. Keep your magazine secure within the load-bearing kit while ensuring that your ammo is accessible.
Our Guide To The 8 Best AR-15 Magazines Available Today
AR-15 magazines have become customizable, with multiple options allowing shooters to add more bullets into their rifles. Ranging from reduced magazine lengths to fast reloads to quick ammo change over, magazines are beneficial.
Magpul GEN M2 MOE 30-Round Magazine
MAGPUL is a pioneer of a popular magazine, the very first, atop being among the best “gold standard” gun companies. It uses high-quality materials to manufacture magazines that don’t lick. The two types of magazines include polymer and metal magazines, crafted from aluminum or steel and polymer, respectively.
The Magpul GEN M2 MOE 30-Round Magazine is built for .223 and 5.56 AR-15 rifles. Exceptionally rugged, the magazine is competition and combat-ready. Even when fully loaded for prolonged durations, the magazine functions flawlessly.
The single body magazine is self-lubricating and corrosion-proof. The molded polymer magazine is fiber-reinforced for increased strength and durability. This ensures that the follower isn’t impaired during use.
With a constant internal curve, it allows for unobstructed round stack movement for smooth operation. It also features an anti-tilt follower for stack stabilization. This prevents bolt-over-head and nose-diving bottlenecks.
The stainless-steel spring is heat-treated and stress-relieved for maximum performance. The magazine is heat resistant and thus allows for prolonged full-auto fire. What’s more, you can use most solvents and bore cleaners to clean the magazine without causing any harm.
With the exterior ribbing, the magazine offers a grip surface. The catch notch prevents debris and dirt from building up on the magazine. The ledge on the floorplate is easy to grasp and helps remove your magazine from its storage pouch. The floor plate is removable for easy cleaning.
- Competition and combat-ready
- Rugged and functions flawlessly
- 30 round capacity
- Prevents bolt-over-head and nose-diving failures
- Self-lubricating and lacks joints or spot welds
- Stress relieved and heat-treated for optimal performance
- Allows for unobstructed smooth operation
- Only suitable for .223 and 5.56 rifles
Magpul PMAG 30 Gen M3
The MAGPUL AR-15 30RD PMAG Gen M3 Magazine is designed specifically for .223 and 5.56 rifles. The polymer magazine is based on a revolutionary technology for M4 and AR-15 rifles.
The 3rd generation PMAG supports increased reliability, strength, and versatility in comparison to earlier PMAG generations. The polymer formula used to construct the magazine delivers unique and greater resistance to impact and crushing.
The feed lip and catch parts of the magazine have been given additional reinforcement for even greater strength and resistance to impact. The stainless-steel spring has a long life for increased durability. You don’t need tools to disassemble the magazine for easy cleaning.
With the pop-off dust cover, you can minimize the amount of dust and debris that enter the magazine. It comes with a slimmer and stronger floor plate you can easily remove, unlike its predecessors.
Each side of the magazine features a pen dot matrix for consistent marking of ID responsible for resisting handling wear. The sides are solid and plain and compatible with M27 IAR, the HK 416 and MR556A1, FN SCAR MK 16/16/S, and British SA-80 firearms.
Just like the magazine in our list, it has a capacity of 30 rounds.
- Ultra-dependable and super-durable
- Disassembles easily for cleaning
- Battle-hardened and refined due to combat experience
- Enhanced reliability, strength and versatility
- Has a greater resistance to impact and crushing
- Only compatible with a few firearms
Magpul – PMAG D-60 223/5.56
The MAGPUL AR-15 60RD PMAG D-60 is also specifically built for .223 and 5.56 rifles just like the two above.
The magazine is made from light materials for lightweight, durable and reliable use. The polymer magazine is compatible with M4 and AR-15 firearms. Unlike the previous PMAG generations, it has a higher capacity 60 rounds of .223 or 5.56 ammunition.
The PMAG D-60 has a higher capacity that allows for twice the round count of its predecessors, eliminating the need for frequent reloads. Built with a unique drum configuration, the magazine’s height becomes easy to manage for easier storage and prone firing.
With the paint pen dot matrix, marking becomes easy. Use the Mag Level system to immediately indicate your rifle’s magazine capacity.
What’s more, the magazine is compatible with various NATO firearms, including M16, M4, HK416, SCAR MK 16/16S, M27 IAR, and MR556, among others. To learn more about .223 and 5.56 ammo you can check out our guide here.
- Lightweight, durable and reliable
- Higher capacity of 60 rounds of ammo
- Supports easier prone firing and storage
- Eliminates the need for frequent reloads
- Capacity indication is instant
- Isn’t compatible with platforms other than NATO firearms
Brownells – AR-15 Magazine 5.56 mm
Brownells is a true industry pioneer established at the beginning of World War II. It’s a leading manufacturer and supplier of gun parts, equipment, tools for gun-smithing, and firearm accessories.
The company uses fiberglass polymer and a combination of chrome-silicon to manufacture its range of magazines. The United States military sources its magazines from this brand due to its excellent quality products. Clearly, the military only goes for the best combat gear that the industry has to offer.
The manufacturer follows the most recent magazine standards for all products it manufactures. It also attributes the consistent quality of its products to the same machines it utilizes during manufacture. This allows it to offer cost-effective yet premium quality gun products.
Brownells magazines are designed to offer firepower, accuracy and general quality for your AR-15. What’s more, they’re popular for reliability. According to the company, life is too short to depend on cheap, poor quality AR magazines.
The Brownells AR-15 Magazine is built to reliably feed your battle-ready AR-15, ensuring that you can make shots after shots. The 5.56mm magazine ensures that your rifle is reliably fed without any trouble.
The magazine’s reliability ensures that it delivers whenever you want it to work for you. It’s built to withstand battle beatings. The company has subjected the magazine to various tests to prove that it’s trustworthy and top quality.
The welded aluminum body ensures that your magazine is durable. The desert-tan and gray finish options suit the different tastes out there. Built with a capacity of 30 rounds, the magazine allows you to use your rifle for longer before you can reload it.
The anti-tilt follower helps improve performance. The magazine meets all ISO quality control standards, atop being constructed to military specifications. The hard-anodized finishing treatment and stainless-steel spring prevents corrosion.
- Welded aluminum body for added strength and durability
- Available in two finish options: desert-tan and gray
- Built to military specifications
- Meets all ISO quality control standards
- Resistant to corrosion
- Has a capacity of 30 rounds of ammo
- May dig into the user, causing discomfort
Lancer Systems Translucent Smoke Magazine 30-RD
The Lancer Systems AR-5 L5AWM Translucent Smoke Magazine is an advanced warfighter magazine (AWM). The AWM technology fills the gap between the designs of current polymer and metal magazines.
The polymer magazines are lightweight and resist rough handling. They also withstand extreme conditions during tactical operations, the impact of prolonged full-auto fire, and heat.
The feed lips come in wrap-around design, atop being attached permanently onto the magazine. Made from one precision-formed and hardened steel, the feed lips are strong and corrosion resistant. They’re also PTFE-coated.
The magazine’s feed lips also don’t deform during prolonged storage of a fully loaded firearm and allow for smooth movement of ammunition. The magazine can withstand extreme temperatures of +1800 F to -500 F. It also resists function impairment if dropped from a height of 5 foot when fully loaded onto concrete.
With the non-reflective exterior featuring improved texture and molded-in ridges, the magazine has better structural strength and offers a solid surface for improved grasping. It loads to a full capacity of 30 rounds of ammunition.
- Bridges the gap between polymer and metal magazines
- Withstands extreme tactical operation conditions
- Lightweight and resists rough handling
- Promotes smooth ammo movement
- Improved reliability and durability
- Combat ready
- Easy to disassemble and clean
- PTFE-coated and corrosion resistant
- Reports of unavailable spare parts
Cross Industries AR-15 10/10 Coupling Magazines
Cross Industries manufactures innovative pistol magazines. The leading industry manufacturer boasts several years of precision manufacturing experience. It strives to redesign and re-engineer what has been overlooked in the industry.
The company has a team of the brightest minds, enabling it to offer an alternative to the common 10 round magazines that underperform. It prides in the highest durability and material standards and unprecedented capacity of magazines in the industry.
The Cross Industries AR-15 Cross Mag 10/10 Coupling Magazine is based on a distinct coupling mechanism. It supports end-to-end coupling of two different magazines in four distinct configurations within seconds.
The magazine supports quicker reloads to allow shooters to return more fire during combat. Manufactured in Canada, the magazine resists rough handling, extreme temperatures and competition use.
Available in a transparent body, the magazine allows you to see how many rounds of ammo you’ve got left, including type. This feature is handy when operating 300 Blackout. The floor plate couples two magazines end-to-end in a straight or curved, and forward reverse or forward configuration.
Changing configurations is easy and doesn’t require additional special tools or parts. If you prefer a low-profile magazine for prone shooting on a bench or want to go hunting outdoors, un-couple the magazines.
- Couples two magazines in 4 unique configurations
- Based on a unique coupling mechanism
- Works in seconds
- Un-coupling is easy
- Indicates the number of remaining rounds
- Resists rough handling, extreme temperatures and competition use
- Isn’t ideal for combat or military use
Surefire AR-15 60RD Magazine 223/5.56
The STANAG magazines are compliant with NATO’s STANAG 4179 proposal. The magazines are lightweight for easy carriage despite being fully loaded. They’re ideal for shooters with the need for prolonged firing without constant reloading.
The company manufactures special magazines that fit the standard for military use worldwide as long as the nation in question aligns with NATO. However, the proposal wasn’t approved, hence NATO warfare doesn’t require magazines of this kind.
The SureFire AR-15 60RD Magazine is compatible with .223 and 5.56 rifles. It requires fewer changes and delivers more firepower. Built with ultra-high capacity, the magazines require fewer changes during tactical operations or competitions, hence enable rifles to run for longer.
Compatible with all rifles that use M4, M16, and AR-15 magazines. They’re easy to grasp and handle using a single hand because their widths measure less than a couple of standard magazines.
The magazines have a 60-round capacity and fit most dual-mag bags designed for holding magazines with 30 round capacities. With weights centered beneath the guns, you can easily maintain a normal shooting stance and grip. The magazines load fully on a closed bolt.
They feature “nesting” followers made from nylon; they support the round stack for reliable feeding and require no lubrication. The springs have a cadmium coating to resist corrosion and reduce friction.
- Ultra high capacity magazines
- Requires fewer changes and delivers more firepower
- Allows rifles to run for longer
- Helps maintain normal shooting stance and grip
- Easy to grasp and handle using a single hand
- Satisfies NATO STANAG 4179 specifications
- Compatible with all rifles that use M4, M16 and AR-15 magazines
- Isn’t ideal for hobbyist use
Daniel Defense AR-15 DD Magazines 5.56
The Daniel Defense – AR-15 DD Magazine is compatible with 5.56 x 45mm ammo, 300 Blackout, and 223 Remington rifles. The new magazine is designed to deliver exacting specifications and quality as legendary Daniel Defense rifles. It’s lightweight and has a capacity of 32 rounds of ammunition.
Molded from a carbine-fiber-reinforced polymer, the magazine is strong and durable. The feed lips come in an enhanced design for better performance. The anti-tilt follower also comes in an improved design for smooth and reliable feeding.
With the butt plate, the magazine has impact absorbing properties and allows for durable use. Inserting the magazine into the rifle and removing it is easy due to textured surfaces and a non-snag design. The floor plate comes off to allow for disassembly of the magazine.
- Delivers legendary quality and exacting specifications
- Lightweight for easy carriage
- Reinforced for durability
- Effortless insertion and removal of the magazine
- Durable and resists impact
- Improved feed lip design elevates performance
- Allows for smooth, reliable feeding
- Has a capacity of 32 rounds of ammo
- Reports of the magazine being corrosive in extreme conditions
Guide to Buying the Right AR-15 Magazine
Shopping for the right AR-15 magazine? Various factors influence the choice of the best AR-15 mag for you. Buying magazines may seem easy because they’re only used to hold rounds of ammunition and feed them into your rifle. But this isn’t always the case.
A bad magazine can render even the best rifle awkward and poor in performance, hence the need to choose the right AR-15 magazine.
What Makes a Great AR-15 Magazine
Modern AR magazines come in decent shapes without cracks or dents for reliability. The body of the magazine, including the follower and feed lips, features no chips or bends.
When you sharply slap or hit the bottom of your magazine after filling it up with ammunition, check if the impact forces rounds to pop up and out. If the feed lips are out of specification, the rounds will pop out of the magazine.
The best AR15 magazine doesn’t drop easily from your AR. Fix it into your gun and hold the firearm up. Hit magazine release to determine if the magazine drops from your firearm, without help. Try this when your magazines are full and empty.
Reserve full magazines for a time when you’re facing a safe direction (to contain rifle rounds when doing this test) or reserve it for the range. Your magazine is out of specification if the bullets fall freely.
Additionally, your AR’s bolt locks back on an empty magazine. Shoot continuously until the magazine empties. However, you need to drop the bolt on an empty chamber. Next, insert an empty magazine and pull the charging handle.
If the magazine is in good shape, don’t fumble with the bolt catch. Use the test explained above to determine what you already own and find out if a different magazine brand will work for you.
AR-15 magazines vary in capacity from 10 rounds to 100 plus rounds of ammunition. Choose between standard capacity and high capacity magazines.
Standard capacity magazines are removable ammo feeding devices usually sold with firearms, or separately. A magazine with a standard capacity usually holds 30 rounds of ammunition. They’re often used with modern sporting rifles.
However, high or large-capacity magazines hold more rounds of ammunition than standard magazines. This is usually dependent on the type of firearm in use and the jurisdiction in question. Usually, they can hold anything from 60 rounds of ammo, higher up to 100 rounds of ammunition.
Different brands manufacture magazines of varying capacities. Some popular brands to consider for high capacity magazines include MAGPUL drum magazines for military and civilian use.
Some states ban or restrict the use of high capacity magazines. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1993 was created in some states and passed as law to limit the number of rounds magazines are allowed to hold legally. This is usually 10 rounds or less in the states with such a law.
Manufacturers and consumers usually end up paying high costs for such restrictions without evidence of reduced crime rates in the given states.
Opt for higher capacity magazines if there’s a need to fire your gun continuously for prolonged periods before you reload it. Otherwise, standard capacities are ideal for application areas without the need for prolonged firing.
Polymer vs. Metal Magazines
The body of magazines and the feed lips are usually made from metal or polymer. The most important part of a magazine is the feed lips; they define it. The Magpaul PMAG is a good example of a polymer magazine; they top 30-round and 40-round magazines.
Brownell’s 20 round magazine, on the other hand, is a good example of a metal magazine. Both magazines are durable, reliable and can be used both in the field and on the range.
Metal magazines and polymers differ in terms of the feed lips. The most critical yet the weakest component of a magazine is the feed lips. It’s responsible for providing a reliable round for the bolt to chamber movement.
Metal feed lips resist deformation but hitting them hard enough can cause deformation. However, it’s visually difficult to ascertain whether metal feed lips are deformed or not.
Usually, the deformity is minor and thus passes visual assessments. Even so, they cause unreliability despite being invisible. On the converse, the polymer is elastic and thus easily returns to its original shape or breaks in entirety.
Therefore, feed lips that look good work fine while those with visible breaks or dents may be broken. The latter requires the magazine to be discarded. However, unlike metal magazines, polymers lack a classic feel and look. And, this can make a difference.
Which of the two is better?
Metal magazines are cheaper, and this means you can get more stock. Polymers, on the other hand, offer better visual properties for inspection. Moreover, metal magazines are lighter in weight than polymers (usually 1 ounce per magazine).
Built with windows, polymer magazines allow for easy indication of the number of rounds left. They resist corrosion and dents. Metal magazines are classics, the only option for retro designs. They’re slightly thinner and can fit in a chest rig better.
Magazines accept rounds, which go in and compress the spring. They push rounds up and out when you fire your gun. The follower is a little plastic or metal tub that sits on the spring.
When inserting rounds into your gun’s magazine, the follower compresses the spring and helps push the rounds up consistently. As rounds are fired, the tension eases.
Follower designs feature an extended rear leg and bullet protrusion for enhanced stacking and orientation of the rounds.
Choose an anti-tilt or self-leveling follower design responsible for reducing jamming. It minimizes jamming whereas a wider spring coil develops even distribution of the pushing force.
How Many Mags Do You Need?
Every gun or rifle needs a magazine. Stuffing magazines at the range can be a drag and also due to likely changes in political winds. The consumable resource can’t last forever.
You can make them usable for longer based on basic guidelines. Magazines with visible dents and breaks may not function properly. Avoid beating up your magazines unnecessarily to ensure that they last longer.
Practicing dynamic shooting, taking classes or shooting your AR in matches can result in multiple drops. Avoid intentional stomping on your magazines, dropping them for fun, or drop-kicking them across the range. This is truer about the feed lips.
Dropping your magazines too often will render them non-functional. However, don’t throw your magazines instantly if they fail the tests, despite being satisfying. Make sure that you remove them from the rotation for critical uses such as home defense or matches.
When plinking or practicing at the range, you’re bound to fail occasionally but this isn’t a major issue. Keep the magazines to let them last longer.
How to Load an AR-15 Magazine
Loading your AR-15 rifle magazine with ammunition and pushing it well into your AR may seem easy. Some shooters, especially in competitive matches, usually shove a full 30-round magazine into their rifles and rack the handle for charging, hoping for the best.
There are two ways to load an AR15 magazine, by hand or with a speed loader. Loading magazines by hand is also strenuous on the fingers and hands, especially when loading several magazines back to back. High-quality magazine speed loaders can also reduce hand strain and finger soreness from multiple loading.
Loading By Hand
Loading a magazine into an AR15 itself is a relatively easy and uncomplicated process. Getting the actual bullets into the magazine can be a painfully long and slow process.
To properly load an AR15 magazine by hand, first begin with a round. Depress the top of the follower with your thumb and the magazine. Then slide the round into the magazine, making sure the round is fully seated. Repeat until the magazine is full.
Magazine Speed Loader
A magazine speed loader is used to make the task easier and faster, reducing manual loading efforts. It helps to speed up and simplify the loading and unloading process.
When loading by hand it can be easy to miss-load a round, creating a higher potential for jamming when firing. Speed loaders reduce the chance of this.
Mag loaders can also influence the overall weight of the weapon, making it heavier or lighter.
There are many different types of Magazine Speed Loaders. My favorite is Maglula Striplula magazine speed loader. I found the ability to load and unload magazines to be super useful. The operation time is really fast too. Moreover, it did a great job of preserving my thumbs. It’s durable and reliable yet also lightweight.
You can read more about the Best AR-15 Speed Loaders in our review here.
We’ve featured three Magpul magazines in our list because it’s a top brand that’s popular for its range of premium magazines. Our clear winner of the roundup is the Magpul – PMAG D-60 built for .223 and 5.56 rifles.
Unlike other magazines in the list, the product has a high capacity of 60 rounds of ammunition. This allows you to fire your rifle for longer without the need for frequent reloads. What’s more, it’s lightweight, durable and reliable for consistent smooth performance.
The MAGPUL magazine supports easier prone firing and storage and makes capacity indication instant. Although SureFire magazine in the list also has a high capacity, it’s not commonly used due to its advanced features.