AR Mags – Metal or Plastic?


AR Mags – Metal or Plastic?

This is a subject of contention that never occurred to me until recently. Another prepper friend of mine brought up the subject and we had quite a lively debate about it. Everybody has their own preferences about such things. I am more like the guy on the TV ad that just wants things to work. I am all about things working right, especially firearms magazines.

Without conducting a comprehensive review of the current marketplace, it seems most AR magazines are made of steel, aluminum, or various kinds of thermoplastics. We all know steel can rust, but otherwise they are tough but heavier in general. Aluminum mags carry lighter, but can dent easily. Serious dents can yield them unusable. Many AR users preferred metal mags years ago, but I think the tide has turned on that.

When plastic AR mags first came on the market, some of them were pretty rough in terms of fit and finish. As time went on the whole field of mold manufacturing has improved dramatically, and thermoplastic mags today (such as those by Magpul®) are highly respected on the battlefield as well in the hunting fields and woods around the world. They just work.

Over the past 20+ years I have used a wide variety of AR magazines and I have to say that my luck with all types has been very good. The first ARs I worked with all had aluminum 5.56/223 magazines supplied from the factory and not one ever failed. Of course, I was not in combat, nor was I using these rifles in dust storms, swamps, or other particularly tough environmental conditions. Under normal hunting use, care, and maintenance they have all worked well.

If anything tends to break down in a weapon’s magazine it seems to either be the follower part or the mag springs weaken over time and fail to provide enough pushup force to make the magazines feed correctly.

I have on only rare occasion taken the floor plate off an AR magazine. The rare exception has been when I added Ranger Plates to my Magpul mags. When I do that, I wipe the springs down with a lightly oiled cloth because it was convenient.

So, buy mags that work of any material. Today, I think they all tend to work pretty well.

Avatar Author ID 67 - 105374512

Award winning outdoor writer/photographer since 1978. Over 3000 articles and columns published nationally. Field & Stream Hero of Conservation in 2007. Fields of writing includes hunting most game in American, Canada, and Europe, fishing fresh and saltwater, destination travel, product reviews, industry consulting, and conservation issues. Currently VP at largest community college in Mississippi in economic development and workforce training with 40 years of experience in Higher Education. BS-MS in wildlife sciences from MO. University, and then a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Married with two children and Molly the Schnoodle.

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