The Best AR 15 Magazines | A Close Look at AR15 Mags

The Best AR 15 Magazines | A Close Look at AR15 Mags

What are AR 15 Magazines?

A magazine is a storage device for bullets, either internally fixed (within the gun) or externally attached (on the outside of the gun). It helps hold a defined number of bullets and pushes them in a sequential order into a position where they can be readily loaded into a firearm's barrel chamber. The detachable magazine is sometimes colloquially referred to as a "clip", although this is technically inaccurate since a clip is actually an accessory device used to help load ammunition into a magazine.

AR15 Magazines Comparison and Features

The search for the best AR 15 magazine has been underway for decades. The biggest problem is that the term best has many definitions. The primary way to differentiate between the different "bests" is to separate them by features.

I think the only way to truly choose the best AR15 magazine is to decide by the evaluations of the benefits and conditions. But because these are far more difficult to measure, we will use features and you can apply them to your potential uses and needed benefits.

The Features of an AR 15 Mag

Construction, capacity, cost, and compatibility are some of the features that we take a look at. The evaluations we want to infer are ones that focus on reliability over time, in harsh environments, and durability, as well as subjective matters, including aesthetic and feel. The features can usually be found on the manufacturer's website, so we will not waste your time listing all the features for each magazine but will list out the possible one’s for you to decide on the most important ones for your needs.


Construction is the first thing we should discuss. The AR 15 mags are made from a number of different materials including steel, aluminum, and polymer. The magazine's internal structure include is made up of the following items. A spring, follower, and floor plate. The spring is long and will fit the shape of the magazine. There is a follower sits on top of the spring. The bullets rest on the follower. The follower is pushed upwards by the spring to reach the magazine's mouth. Feeding rounds into a gun's chamber requires a follower. They are designed to guide the rounds into the correct place. The bottom of the box comes several ways. Some mags are enclosed, and others have a floor plate. It is easier to clean a magazine that has a removable floor plate.


Capacity is the next feature on the list. Capacity is the number of rounds or bullets that an AR-15 magazine holds. High-capacity magazines are one of the hottest topics being argued on the internet. A high-capacity magazine for AR platform rifles is any mag that holds more than 10 rounds. The most common is the 30-round magazine. It was standard issue for military use and continues to be the standard number of rounds.


Cost is more than just the ticket price. The price is how much money it takes to purchase the product, such as the mag, upfront. The cost is the price plus or minus the features, durability, functioning, and reliability of the product. While you are able to spend less out of pocket initially, it does not mean the product cost less. Because you may end up spending more in the long run.


Compatibility is the likelihood the AR-15 Mag will be suitable in multiple situations or circumstances. Is the magazine compatible in extreme cold, humid, gritty, or some other harsh condition? Aluminum, steel, and polymer all have different areas of suitability. So, depending on your list of criteria, one type of AR 15 Mag may be more suitable than another.

Polymer vs. Metal Magazines

Steel AR 15 Magazine

So, let's take a look at the two major construction types of AR15 Mags, metal, and polymer. When it comes to polymer vs metal AR15 magazines, the polymer magazines generally do better than metal ones. But it’s the feed lips that are really the critical part and really define the magazine.

A quick and dirty version of this discussion is that both styles of AR15 magazines will, generally, be very reliable, last a long time, and serve you well on the range and in the field. That said, polymer magazines do have one major advantage over their metal counterparts...the feed lips. When a magazine breaks or becomes unreliable, it is normally because something happened to the feed lips. They are the weakest part of the magazine and the most critical part when it comes to reliably offer a round for the bolt to chamber.

Which Magazine Type is Best?

The best type is the one you already have. That is unless you are in the market to buy a new or replacement AR magazine. In that case it will depend on your needs and wants. If you are unclear on any specific needs, it is a good option to buy a polymer AR 15 magazine over a metal AR 15 magazine. The reason is simple. They are better in most circumstances. It is a stretch to say that polymer magazines are best in all circumstances and conditions, but as a rule of thumb they are certainly better.

How to use an AR 15 magazine?

The idea that anyone might not know how to use an AR magazine and is looking it up online is scary. Unless you are trying to find out something specific, in which case read on. The following sections take a look at the most asked questions by new AR 15 owners about how to properly use their AR magazines.

How to Clean an AR-15 Magazine

Generally speaking, you should be able to simply wipe off your magazine to keep it clean. If however you have accidentally gotten something inside your magazine that does not belong there, you need to ask yourself a few questions before attempting to dislodge it or clean it.

The first question is this, is there any noticeable damage to the magazine already? If there is any damage, toss it out.

The second is; are you going to damage the mag by removing or dislodging the foreign object? If you believe you will most likely damage it by cleaning it, replace it.

The last question is this...will cleaning the magazine leave you feeling 100% confident in it's ability to operate without failure? If you are not 100% confident in any part of your rifle, dispose of the questionable piece and get something you can count on, lives depend on it.

How to Change an AR15 Magazine

If you are swapping out AR 15 magazines the process is quite simple. You press the mag release, and the empty magazine slides out of the mag well. A mag release is exactly what it sounds like, it releases the magazine from your rifle, allowing you to swap it for a full magazine. Some people prefer a lever over a button and not all rifles have a release that is easy to use or ambidextrous. So, make sure you identify yours before use.

The key to changing out magazines is to use deliberate and intentional movements. You should not be tentative when swapping your AR mag. First, be sure not to let the empty magazine fall to the ground, it is liable to be damaged. Next the new or fresh mag needs to be properly seated into the mag well with the proper amount of force to engage the locking mechanism.

How to Load an AR 15 Magazine

Loading an empty AR 15 magazine is not as difficult as it seems. There are a few things to remember, however. First be sure you are loading the mag with the appropriate ammunition. It should go without saying, but just double check the ammo before you load the magazine.

There are specialized loaders, but we suggest you learn to load one round at a time by hand, so you never get stuck in the field not knowing how to reload your mag. For reference check out YouTube search for a walk-through video.

How to Choose a Good AR 15 Magazine?

There are a few things to remember if you are in the market for a good AR 15 Magazine. The first thing most people consider is the cost. You want to buy nice or buy twice. Get a highly rated AR 15 magazine from a reputable source. We suggest buying a PMAG to be sure you are getting top quality that is suitable for almost any circumstance at a reasonable cost. Find what you are looking for by shopping with friends at Black Rifle Depot and get the best deal on PMAG Polymer Magazines from Magpul here: AR15 MAG DEALS

How to Find the Best AR15 Magazine?

Finding the best AR 15 magazine is easy once you know what to look for. By now you should have a good idea about the conditions you need covered, and the features you want in a great AR 15 mag. But in case you need another explanation, I'll let you know you can hardly do better than a polymer magazine. Considering the military relies on Magpul PMAG M3 and you can safely use the same equipment with confidence. Shop for PMAG's here.

What to Consider When Buying AR15 Magazine?

The focus of the rifle is probably the important thing to consider. If you are building or using a varmint rifle that you need to be able to grab and fire quickly, you may need a slim or streamlined mag that only holds a few rounds so it does not catch on anything when you reach for it.

If you are buying a new mag for your bench rifle that you want to use at the range on a bipod, the weight may not be an issue, so you may decide, if legal, to get a drum to hold 50 or 100 rounds. If you want an all-around rifle for multiple uses, you may go with a 10 or 30 round magazine depending on your wants and the rules where you live and use your weapon.

In any case the focus of the rifle and the regulations in your state need to be the primary considerations when buying an AR 15 magazine. Thanks.

Dec 20th 2021 Black Rifle Depot

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