*M-16/AR-15 Magazines, a buyerís guide*
If you own one of these fine rifles hopefully you had enough mags before the Assault weapons ban. But if you were like me and did not you have to buy a number you feel will last you for a long time. Why? because the assault weapons ban is not likely to be lifted in the near future. If you are reading along and have no idea what the assault weapons ban means or what it has to do with magazines I suppose I should explain.
In 1994 a particularly annoying piece of feel good do noting legislation was passed by congress called the assault weapons ban. It banned certain types of semi-automatic rifles with "evil" features and further production of magazines over 10 rds in capacity. Any rifle or magazine with the "evil" features made after September 1994 is illegal for civilians to own. Any rifle or magazine made before 9/94 is perfectly legal to own and sell.
This means that there is a fixed supply of magazines for these rifles. I have bought mine, but at in some cases ridiculous prices. I have made a list of mags that are good and mags that are bad. I got a lot of this info from www.ar15.com, great site if you shoot this weapon, and from personal experience.
20 round Magazines:
All USGI issue magazines (USGI means magazines issued by the US government) are good. They should have a gray finish that rubs off with use and exposes silver or gold anodizing. This is perfectly OK. They are all made out of aluminum. They have either black plastic followers or dull metal followers. The metal ones are slightly better. They were made by Universal (who made the colt mags), Adventureline and Colt. All are about the same quality. They are going for $15 (a really good price) to $30.
All aftermarket magazines- most are crap. USA Magazines has the worst reputation. There are a few Thermold 20rd mags out there, and they are quite good. I would use them only for range use but that is just me. The steel AR-18/180 mags are very good but USGI are generally cheaper. Others have had good luck with some mags, like Triple K, but most of this is just luck. Many of these mags do not function correctly.
30 round magazines:
USGI 30 rd aluminum magazines are by far the best out there. They will have either black plastic or puke green followers. The ones with green followers are best. The green follower was developed in the early 1990s to stop a "bolt over base" stoppages with Sanches (DSI) magazines. I would recommend not buying Sanches with out green followers, but you can buy green followers from Brownells. Most magazines with black followers work great. All of my mags have black followers and I do not have any feed trouble. Most GI mags you would find at a gun show will be used. The may not have the gray finish that new ones have and be striped down to the gold or silver anodizing, these mags are fine, they work fine generally as long as they donít have bent or cracked feed lips or dents in the body. Millions and Millions of GI mags were made by several contractors; the names to look for are Adventureline, Parsons Precision Products, Colt, Okay Industries, Sanchez (DSI) LaBelle Industries, Center Industries, and Cooper Industries. I may have missed a few. A good idea is to stay away from the Cooper Industries Mags. They were rejected by the Army for bad mags. Some of their mags are good and some are bad, I just avoid them all.
Aftermarket- There are a lot of aftermarket 30rd mags. Some are good, some are crap. The good ones are the plastic Thermolds and Israeli Orlite mags. Some people donít like these mags. I donít have any, but have tried some in my rifle and have found that they work just fine. Ramline makes a Mini-14/AR-15 mag. I have not tired it, but have not heard anything good about it. Most other mags are crap, especially the steel ones. The only good steel ones are the ones made by sterling for the AR-18/180 and AR-15. Most of the Pro-mag, USA stuff is crap, donít waste your money
Other mags- I have not heard much about the drum mags or the 40rd mags. I have heard that the 40rd steel ones made by sterling are the only ones worth messing with. The only drum magazine I have herd about is the Beta-C 100rd drum. I heard that It works well, but have never tried it, and you could buy another gun for what they are charging for them.
Your experience with these mags might vary, but I have had nothing but good results from good condition aluminum USGI mags.Good luck
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