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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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