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Old July 23, 2012, 08:09 AM   #1
Apple a Day
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Review:polymer Mini-14 mags(TAPCO & Thermold)

Those of us who own a Ruger Mini-14 know that factory magazines work really well but they also cost a bunch. So, we may be tempted to wander afield to find less costly magazines that still function. I decided to pick up a few brands and post reviews as I get to them.

TAPCO:
You can see from the pics that the TAPCO is longer than the Thermold polymer magazine although they both hold 30 rounds. I bought three TAPCO magazines, took them home, tried to fit them into the magazine well and noticed that they didn't fit very easily. In fact they were too long front-to-back to fit in my 580-series Mini. If I did muscle one in the follower got pinched and got stuck. This happened with all three of the original magazines.

I pondered this for a while and then noticed that the magazines have a metal reinforcement at the front of the top where the peg inside the magazine well fits into the magazine, holding it place. On a whim I popped the metal reinforcement tab out and, sure enough, the magazine worked just fine. <see pic> So, I emailed TAPCO to see if I was actually supposed to do that. Apparently not, said they, send us the magazines and we'll replace them.

I have to give kudos to TAPCO customer service. They emailed me a shipping label right away. As soon as they revieved the magazines they sent me replacements. The whole time they were very polite, responsive, and quick.

Unfortunately, the new magazines had the same problem. The TAPCO rep. said he'd gotten some other complaints from 580-series Mini owners and they're looking into a fix.

Today I took the magazines, sans metal tab, to the range and the three new ones worked just fine. One required a little bump to load the first round but otherwise they fed and fired without a hitch and all locked the slide back when empty.


Thermold magazines:
The thermold magazines were black when I bought them. Yes, I did spray paint them.
I had some trouble with the Thermold magazines as well.
First, you can't insert an emtpy magazine with the bolt closed. No biggee.
Second, the feed lips were high enough that when I tried to drop the bolt it dragged on the feed lips and wouldn't close. I took a Dremmel, took a smidge of material off the top, and smoothed all of the edges on the magazine. That helped
Third, the feed lips extended quite a ways forward, much farther than the factory metal magazines. The rounds tried to feed forwards but ended up going crosswise and getting stuck. Out came the Dremmel and after some grinding back, testing, and grinding back they are now reliable. Brass-cased ammo began to feed reliably before the cheap polymer-cased Wolf stuff but now both work well.
Below is a picture of the Tapco 30-, Thermold 30-, and a factory 20-round magazine for comparison
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_2083 (600x383).jpg (140.2 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2087 (600x461).jpg (161.7 KB, 22 views)
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Old July 23, 2012, 08:12 AM   #2
Apple a Day
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review ATI Mini-14 stock

Oops, double tap.
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Old July 25, 2012, 08:03 PM   #3
MikeG
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The Tapco magazines with the metal tab are the second generation of the design. Originally the Tapcos had no tab, and they got complaints that the hole for the locator pin wore quickly, the mags didn't align properly and feed problems developed.

I have both types of Tapco and a couple of Thermolds that I haven't tried out yet. But all of them fit okay in a 182 series Mini-14. go figure.
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Old August 8, 2012, 08:24 PM   #4
BryanP
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Wow this sounds familiar. I just received two Tapco 30 rounders in the mail and my experience is pretty close to yours. I have a 580 series Mini and what you describe is exactly what I'm experiencing. At least they were cheap. Guess I'll pony up for a some factory mags.
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Old August 8, 2012, 10:00 PM   #5
johnwilliamson062
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neither ever worked in my 580 series gun. Have some PMI mags that work well.
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Old August 8, 2012, 10:21 PM   #6
zxcvbob
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I recently bought a couple of gen-2 Tapcos with the little steel clip. I haven't taken them to the range yet, but I have played with them some in my 581. They are harder to insert than steel mags, seem to be just a little too big. Not sure if it's front to back or side to side, but seems front to back. But once inserted, the follower doesn't bind.

Also while checking the follower, I managed to have the bolt fly forward and smash my index finger tip and punched a neat little firing-pin hole in the side. Kind of like "Garand Thumb". That's not the mags fault though, that was my stupidity. I sure hope I don't do that again...

Anyway, the Tapco mags seem usable but I don't know for sure yet. I won't be buying any more unless they loosen up with a little use. I did order a bunch of steel mags from CDNN last weekend. I bought one of their 20-round JB1420 mags a few months ago and it has worked flawlessly, so I ordered 2 more just like it and three JB1430's. $13 and $15, respectively.
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