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AR Build Diary: Magazines

By Gabby

Don't even try to look for a 30 round polymer magazine today. Even if you find some in stock, you will probably end up paying double the MSRP. Be sure to go to the manufacturer's website to see what the price should be for such an item. For example, the infamous "PMag" by Magpul, can be found for up-words of $30 to $50 around the Internet at the moment. However, depending on the the generation (there are three currently on the market) this product shouldn't cost more than $20.

Why is everyone so excited about polymer magazines anyway? Isn't steel tougher? Firstly, the original "steel" style AR magazines aren't even steel, they are aluminum. Second, no. The metal magazines are susceptible to more bumps and bruises than their plastic counter parts. The "lips" of the magazine, the two pieces that bend inward where rounds are inserted, are most susceptible to bending. If these lips are bent, feeding problems are likely to follow.

Also, metal magazines don't have nice round count indicators as many polymer magazines.
Round counters are handy since it's likely that one may be focused on shooting, rather than counting rounds. There are a few different types of round counters and indicators out there that I find interesting. There are the basic windows in polymer magazines, or you could try the semi-transparent magazines, through which you can see when the magazine is full. Another option is the red yellow green system that tells you the number of rounds loaded into your 30 round magazine through the use of a colored indicator that can be checked while shooting as well. All of these are great in the light of day, but there is one other option I find interesting that uses the sense of touch rather than sight. A magazine is available that has an indicator button that pops out, when the magazine is loaded. This is a nice idea, for a very tactical operator.

No matter what magazines you prefer, be sure to remember which fit your lower reciever. Just as not every magazine is created equal, not every magazine will fit every AR mag-well and feed properly. I'd check with the manufacturer directly or search message boards for a consensus of compatibility.
I was once taught that if you want to make your ammo last during a range visit, only load five to ten rounds at a time. I've found this advice pretty helpful, since my pistol magazines hold 16 rounds and, back when 9mm rounds were plentiful, I was known to run through two or three boxes, without flinching.
I know everybody wants those high-cap mags right now (depending on what your state allows)*, but I see no shame in owning a few smaller magazines

*sorry New York

That being said, Wilson Combat had the Lancer 20-Round Magazine depicted above, for a reasonable price, so I bought one last week. Yes, only ONE. As you can probably tell, I'm not into buying ten at $50 a pop, or hoarding gun parts. And I really wouldn't stock up on a product that I haven't tested first. I also don't believe that such activities will be necessary much longer (but that's another post). Stay tuned for a review of the Lancer Magazine.
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