Friday, October 26, 2012

Magpul P-Mag AR Magazines


The AR universe has more choices than stars in a clear night sky, or so it seems, but every owner of the platform has to make at least one choice from that list..... and they have no choice in that. One can walk into any Cabela's and buy the latest and greatest whiz-bang AR-15 setup with factory installed optical sighting, a rail farm complete with folding backup sights, even a compass in the stock... and never do another thing to change the package.

Except.... it has to be fed, and that means magazines. The fanciest M-4orgery available only comes with one magazine in the case, and nobody wants such a weapon with only one magazine.

In the arena of AR magazines, most owners go for 20 or 30 round models. There are oddities such as 10 round blocked magazines for people who live places other than the United States. There are also 40 round models, and even the Beta dual drum magazine which holds 100 rounds.

In the field of 20 and 30 round magazines, there are over a dozen manufacturers to be considered, and many of them build a fine product indeed. For years, my own choice has been BFI and C-products, although the spare magazine box holds other makes as well.

Well, now I've gone over to another maker, and I'm more than happy to report on my experience so far. The ready bag now holds a double handful of Magpul P-Mags. These are Polymer, rather than aluminum or steel like the traditional old fashioned AR magazines.

Building their magazines from Polymer, it appears that Magpul tossed the ancient military AR design to the wind and started over. The P-mag has a solid plastic body with built in feed lips and a removable base plate for easy cleaning. Internally, the magazine differs from the traditional design in many ways. One of the most visually evident is a ridge running down the front of the magazine which separates the two stacks of 5.56mm ammunition. The same ridge guides the follower which travels smoothly in the body.

One problem associated with all polymer magazines is deformation of the feed lips. The area at the top of the magazine is put under pressure by the cartridges being pushed upwards under spring pressure. Over a day, a week, or even months... this is not an issue when high quality modern plastics are used. Over a period of years, the lips can give way under pressure, the magazine doesn't feed well, and is no longer reliable. This is not solely a 'plastic' problem, and even metal magazines show a lot of the same symptoms.

Magpul solves the issue by supplying a snap on magazine dust cover that also serves to take the pressure off the feed lips. With the cover on, the magazine is reasonably safe from dirt and dust intrusion. With the pressure off the lips, the magazine can remain loaded for years, which some AR owners seem bound and determined to do against all good judgement.

The 30 round P-mag's are designed to have the dust cover snap back on over the baseplate while the magazine is in use. The 20 round magazine doesn't have that provision. If one is in a hurry, the dust cover can be popped off under nothing but thumb pressure, and the magazine slid home into the rifle.

The P-mag costs just a little more than a standard high quality metal AR magazine such as C-products or Brownells. For the extra coin, the shooter gets a lightweight magazine that's incredibly strong and stable, and can be left loaded for extended periods with no drawbacks at all. In the Fat Man's experience, every Magpul P-mag I've owned so far has been drop free from every rifle I've tried them in, and utterly trouble free. They require no lubrication, very little care, and work 100% of the time. That's my experience, so far.... and it's one of the few magazine lines I can say that about.


Old NFO said...

I was an 'early adopter' of P-Mags, I still have and shoot the original mags I bought years ago (more than I can say for the metal variants).

K said...

I agree...I love my Magpuls.

Huey said...

been using them for a few years and totally concur with your evaluation. all of my primary mags are Pmags...if you check out gun shows and the like sometimes you can score, I got 10 of them for about $11 a piece last time I went looking...

Roger said...

Well done sir;
Your experiences match mine, C products & Brownells make a fine metal mag & Magpul makes an extraordinary polymer mag.
The dust cover that relieves pressure on the feed lips is a fine idea.
All of my 3 ARs (308, 5,56 & .223) feed flawlessly from these mags.
The Magpuls appear to be nearly indestructible.

Ryan said...

PMAGs are pretty much my standard at work and for my personal rifles. The only bad things I have heard are that they can fail at subzero (like arctic) temperatures. I've used them at/ around 0 Fahrenheit without issues.

If I go to Alaska I'll swap them out with the new improved USGI mags for the winter but otherwise will stick with them.