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Old March 11, 2011, 09:49 AM   #1
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US GI steel AR mags

I have read some threads that surplus or US or GI AR15 steel mags are not any good or have major problems. Everyone says to just buy the P-mags.

What problems do the steel mags have?

Can it be fixed?

Are the P-mags that much better than the steel ones?

What are your experiences with the steel mags?
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Old March 11, 2011, 09:57 AM   #2
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Generally, the metal GI mags are just fine. They're even better with a good no-tilt follower (like the Magpul Gen III one).

Thing is, they're no cheaper than Pmags when you put those followers in. They're more vulnerable than the Magpul Pmag or the TangoDown ARC mag, since it's fairly easy to bend the metal feed lips. If they're the same price as the more modern and generally hardier polymer mags, why go GI?

I tend to stock up on all of them; every couple of months I buy 3-4 mags, just to have a good stock. Sometimes I get the TD ARC, sometimes Pmag, sometimes GI. Brownells has been running a good sale on their GI mags, and those are good kit (but like I said, even better with new followers).
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Old March 11, 2011, 09:58 AM   #3
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C products make some aftermarket stainless steel mags. I personally own about 12 of them and I have never had issues. Apparently C products makes so many mags that they don't always get the specs right and sometimes they won't fin inside the magwell of an AR. I have never had a problem with them and I bought mine before Pmags were very popular.
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Old March 11, 2011, 10:13 AM   #4
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The thirty round GI magazine is a curved mag design in a straight mag well. It's not optimal. Cartridge followers get updated every 10 years or so to improve it's feeding reliability, and work better than the previous ones.

The metal construction is stamped sheet, which is ductile. If dropped loaded, on the feed lips, the precise shape can be deformed, and failures start up. They can be reformed, simply bent back, if you know what the proper shape is, and have a way to make it so.

In the service, many bad magazines wind up in the bottom of a supply box for just in case, and eventually are disposed in DRMO sales or stolen. There is no guarantee of what you are really getting when they surface. And if they are bad, they don't get crushed, they get sold to strangers at a gun show.

New Pmags are the solution, you know what you get, they are issue, the Marines bought enough that should be all they have in A-stan for combat use. The Brits are buying millions. Pmags don't bend when dropped on the feed lips, have the best follower, don't stick from dust and grit internally, won't dent in the side if stepped on. Polymer mags are clearly superior in rough use, and preferred in combat. Steel or aluminum GI mags still do ok, are cheap, and still useful for shooting. They are slipping in general opinion, polymags are that much better.

But, nobody makes then for the 6.8SPC. It's going to take more than 100,000 to sell 6 or 7 each to all that forums members, and the makers won't bother at those quantities. Apparently production costs are higher than we think.
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Old March 11, 2011, 10:25 AM   #5
Bartholomew Roberts
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USGI mags are anodized aluminium. There are no steel USGI mags, although some units briefly used the H&K steel magazine before TACOM and other military agencies cancelled purchases of those mags due to durability issues.

The USGI mags are just fine; though since they aren't any cheaper than the PMAGs, I tend to prefer the PMAGs.

Steel magazines are either not USGI or they are the incredibly expensive HK mags which are heavier and have had issues to such a degree that the military stopped using them. A quick search on TFL should reveal some of the original messages on that (which are now several years old).
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Old March 11, 2011, 10:43 AM   #6
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The only time I buy USGI is when I can get them for less than $8 at a pawn shop, which is rare in itself.
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Old March 11, 2011, 11:36 AM   #7
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I've got GI mags I've had for twenty years, they still work just fine.

That said, if I were in the market for new mags, I'd probably go with PMags.
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Old March 11, 2011, 11:51 AM   #8
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While I have a bunch of steel AR mags, I recently purchased some Magpul PMags, and I am very impressed at their quality and reliability. I'll keep my steel mags, but any further purchases will be PMags.

Over at, the general consensus is that PMags are far superior to to standard steel mags, and after reading user reviews, and my brief use of the PMags, I have to agree, PMags are the way to go.
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Old March 11, 2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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I have about 10 Pmags and maybe 20 GI surplus mags...The Army comes up here and trains in the mountains...when they get done, there are guys that go around where they were and pick up all the mags they left behind and sell them at the flea markets and local thrift stores for 5-10 bucks..They always ask 10 but will take 5 for the rough ones, 7 or 8 for the nice ones if you buy a few. Some are like new! I have only had one bad one. I stripped the innards out and tossed it. I get my ammo cans from the same source.
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Old March 11, 2011, 01:51 PM   #10
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I agree with most of what everyone here has said. 2 things that are simply my opinion.

1. USGI surplus mags work just as well. I like them better than plastic mags. I've dropped a lot of them in practice and on active duty. I've never had any major problems. Yes; crap can happen and it could land just right and bend something. Then again; dropped just right on a cold day, and a plastic mag, even a PMag, can break.

2. When people say that a USGI mag costs the same as a PMag, that is because they don't know how to shop and buy USGI mil surplus magazines. I've NEVER spent more than $7 on a USGI Mil Surplus magazine. And a quality magpul Gen III follower at the MOST only costs $1.50. So the most expensive USGI Magazine I've ever owned with a quality follower and running at 100% quality, only cost $8.50. That's the MOST EXPENSIVE I've ever paid. That is considerably less money than the average $14-$16 PMag. So no; they don't cost about the same. You just need to know where to look. Even online with a New Magpul Gen III follower already installed is only $10.

But there is nothing wrong with PMag magazines. They just aren't for me. I prefer USGI Military Surplus metal magazines with the magpul gen III follower. I like them better than ANY plastic magazine.
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Old March 11, 2011, 08:22 PM   #11
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When people say that a USGI mag costs the same as a PMag, that is because they don't know how to shop and buy USGI mil surplus magazines.
Depends on whether you want to spend time searching the internet for the absolute lowest prices or what. I generally order my mags from Brownells, where I get dealer pricing. Right now, Brownells 30 round GI mags with the green follower are $8.75 on dealer pricing (they're on sale). Magpul followers are $4.66 for a three pack. The Pmags are $12.97.

So yes, GI mags are a shade cheaper, but before the Brownells sale, the Pmags were actually a few cents cheaper. And no running around a gun show for the best price on unnamed mags.
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Old March 11, 2011, 10:42 PM   #12
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Sorry techno; but you're paying way too much for a USGI magazine. You say you don't have time to search. That's fine. But that's a personal decision. I don't buy magazines 1 or 2 at a time. When I see them at the right price, I buy quite a few. The last batch I bought was about 4 months ago. They were at a local gun show. USGI military surplus. The guy had 15 of them, and I bought all 15 at one time for $5 each. ($75 total). Online; my buddy bought 20 of them from for $6.95 each. There are other places as well. And your price for Gen III followers is about right. $1.50 each. It costs me $6.50 - $8.50 total for a quality USGI surplus magazine with a high end follower.

Again; nothing wrong with a PMag. I'm simply saying that a USGI mil surp magazine is not the same price as a PMag. Not even close. It's only the same price if you want it to be. I'd be more than happy to sell you USGI mags with Magpul gen III followers in them for $12. If you're willing to pay that much. Just pointing out that they are about HALF the price of a PMag.
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Old March 11, 2011, 11:48 PM   #13
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The PMag is the way to go. In addition to the points mentioned previously, they seem to seat better in the mag well than the GI mags do. I have several 20- and 30-round aluminum GI mags, but when I need new mags, it's the PMag.
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Old March 12, 2011, 12:13 AM   #14
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I have read some threads that surplus or US or GI AR15 steel mags are not any good or have major problems. Everyone says to just buy the P-mags.
The only USGI steel AR mags I'm familiar with are the junk HK scammed various parts of DoD with. They've been pulled from service once it became apparent that they had issues.

I definitely wouldn't use HK mags for any application where your life mattered. German engineering ain't what it used to be.
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