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Old October 9, 2012, 09:22 AM   #1
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Magazines: AR-15 Reliability

In my experience, magazines are one of the major (perhaps the major) contributing causes to AR-15 type rifle malfunctions.

The magazine may be dirty or warped which makes it harder for the follower to push the rounds up into the upper receiver. The lips get bent which changes the angle at which the round leaves the magazine (sometimes keeping it from leaving) or there is too much friction and the bolt is unable to push the round forward.

To deal with this, I periodically clean them and make sure a fire a few rounds of every magazine I have. If a magazine gives me problems that I can't resolve, I destroy it.

What's your opinion and experience on magazines and reliability? How do you handle it?
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Old October 9, 2012, 10:04 AM   #2
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I just bought a used AR15 with four magazines that actually work. But, I like to have new mags and just purchased the Brownell magazines. I haven't been to the range with them, but all indications from watching the LEARN MORE magazine test video, they should work.
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Old October 9, 2012, 11:13 AM   #3
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P-mags are your friend. Gotta give em a try if you have not already.
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Old October 9, 2012, 11:18 AM   #4
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Magazines are a major component of reliability in any semiautomatic firearm. Not just the AR-15, but all of them. However, because of the design of the AR-15 magazine well, this particular platform can be especially picky.

In my opinion, life is too short and precious to potentially waste any of it dealing with el cheapo mags of uncertain reliability. There's plenty of magazines out there with proven track record from good makers. The USGI style from quality makers (I favor Brownells, but D&H and some others also make great ones) will work and drop free from any rifle. If you like you can replace the follower with an anti-tilt such as the Magpul Gen III follower for that extra smidge of reliability. There's no shortage of polymer mags now on the market too, and many of them are from makers with great reputations- Magpul, Troy, TangoDown, etc. They'll work and work well.

If a magazine is going to give me problems, I toss it. Magazines, especially for the AR-15, are a consumable resource. If one acts up, throw it out. New ones can be had for about $12-13 without trying all that hard. I keep an eye on them and if the feed lips get cracked or bent, that mag is gone. I also stockpile the things... buy 3-5 every few months just to toss in a box in the closet. If we ever do get into another magazine limit or ban I want to have enough to handle my needs for the rest of my natural life. They're cheap, just get a few more here and there and don't spend any time worrying about bad ones.
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Old October 9, 2012, 12:42 PM   #5
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I stick with USGI (NHMTG/Okay, D&H, Brownells) and PMags. The 20-round straight mags are probably the most trouble-free and reliable of the aluminum variety. For the curved 30-rd GI mags I replace the black or green follower with the Magpul anti-tilt follower. Brownell's was selling a version of theirs with the Magpul follower installed. I have not had one problem with any of these over many years unless they get damaged. I have one Colt 20-rd mag, steel follower, that is ancient and still works great.

If a mag does get damaged then it either gets put into the "range only" bag for practice on failures, or disassembled and the body is tossed and save the spring, floor plate, and follower if still good.

I do consider mags as consumables so I have plenty of them and only keep active the ones proven reliable at the range.
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Old October 9, 2012, 01:22 PM   #7
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All I have is 30rd pmags and have 0 complaints. I did buy a 20rd thermold so I could shoot my AR in a rest for sighting in my eotech and shooting groups and such. It was very inexpensive and worked flawlessly, so I cant say anything bad about them. Pmags are the way to go in my opinion.
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Old October 9, 2012, 03:28 PM   #8
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All I have is 30rd pmags and have 0 complaints. I did buy a 20rd thermold so I could shoot my AR in a rest for sighting in my eotech and shooting groups and such. It was very inexpensive and worked flawlessly, so I cant say anything bad about them. Pmags are the way to go in my opinion.
Couldn't agree more.

I've had great luck and no failures with my PMags, can't say the same about my Colt and Brownell GI mags though.
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Old October 10, 2012, 12:10 AM   #9
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Magazines should be considered as a disposable part of the firearm platform. If I have a mag that has been beat up and is starting to give me trouble (such as a doublefeed malfunction), it is thrown away. No point in trying to straighten feed lips out and all that nonsense.
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Old October 10, 2012, 04:44 AM   #10
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Pmags work nicely. I haven't had one fail on me yet (minus a user induced failure to seat with 30rnds under a closed bolt...but that's a pretty well-known issue in most AR-15 mags).
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Old October 10, 2012, 11:46 AM   #11
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Just get Pmags and be done with it.

They are cheap and they work. You can also get them in pretty colors.
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Old October 10, 2012, 07:29 PM   #12
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Yep. Another vote for Pmags. I own a dozen or so. Never a problem. I also own one Troy Battle Mag. It hangs with the Pmags. Functions flawlessly too. But the price of the Pmags is better than the troy soo....
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Old October 11, 2012, 02:31 AM   #13
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Pmags are good, just be careful where you buy them, I have been buying them for $12.95 locally. I have seen them as high as 22+ each, with no window, too much $$ IMO.

I also use the standard GI mags, I keep 6 30 round mags stored full at all times, 3 with XM855 and 3 with 62 grain BTHP. I have stored GI magazines full for 3 years before, and still use them without problems.
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Last edited by iraiam; October 11, 2012 at 09:11 AM.
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Old October 11, 2012, 07:17 AM   #14
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AR mags are cheap, either metal or plastic. I consider them disposable and trash any that exhibit a problem. Magazines do require maintenance, especially if you do action shooting and your mags get dropped to the ground. I have a few 20rd Colt mags from the mid 70's that are still going strong, new followers and springs have kept them like new.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:23 PM   #15
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All I buy are 20 and 30 rd Pmags in 223 and 20 rd Pmags in 308. I have never had a failure or complaint with the Pmags and I'm not about to change!!
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Old October 11, 2012, 08:15 PM   #16
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On my just finished AR build. I bought one 30rd Magpul pmag and one 20rd Promag. I haven't shot it yet but so far the pmag seems fine. Drops free, holds back the bolt, and doesn't wiggle.

The promag I just bought at Academy tonight is going back. I don't know if I got a defective one but it fits tight, doesn't drop, and worse the bolt binds when I try charging it. Last promag I will ever buy.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:57 PM   #17
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I just dropped a fully loaded P-Mag on a concrete driveway from about chest height(I am 6'7" tall) this afternoon. Having one of those butter-fingers days; anyways blew some leaves and dirt off and the mag is STILL 100% good to go! Went on to fire 30 for 30 with it after.

Did I say P-mag's already? If that had been a metal magazine I am pretty sure I would have just ruined it or at least dented it a little. P-mags are where it's at. Cheap but EXTREMELY GOOD not two things that typically go together.
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Old October 13, 2012, 05:32 AM   #18
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Another for the Pmags.

I have 10 and I put the ranger plates on ALL of them. Absolutely perfect for me. I like the feel and dexterity of the Pmags with the ranger plate. And they drain water pretty well. I've dropped them, thrown them, and abused them without ever failing on me. Also the dust covers you get with Pmags are a kinda nice feature if you like to bushwhack with your AR.
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ar-15 , magazines , reliability

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