Magazines

A Buyers Guide to the Best AR 15 Magazines

Stacked 30-round ar-15 mags with ammo

There are more companies manufacturing magazines, than rounds that fit in a drum mag. It seems every company and its neighbor are making mags these days. For new shooters, it may sound like a good idea to stock up on the cheapest mags you can find.

However, not all mags are created equal. Luckily, there are many quality options available in tons of different calibers, capacities, and colors. Since the AR-15 accepts such a wide variety of magazine types, and it is one of the most popular rifles in history, I’ll be focusing on magazine offerings for the Modern Sporting Rifle.

Multiple loaded magazines of .223 ammunition
Whether you have one or 100+ magazines, reliability, weight, and construction all matter when selecting a magazine. Do your homework and choose wisely.

Polymer or Steel/Metal?

Some would select one or the other, but I would recommend both polymer and metal AR-15 magazines. To add to the possibilities, you might want to consider throwing some hybrid mags into the mix! Hybrid mags have a polymer body with metal parts such as the feed lips. Lancer magazines are a great example of this, which I’ll touch on later.

Now, to the address original question of polymer or steel, they both have pros and cons. Your polymer mags are going to be lighter and may have additional features such as window cutouts However, they may also be less durable. Conversely, magazines constructed from steel, metal, or aluminum will tend to be more durable, but they will be heavier.

Recommended Magazines 

Let me preface this by saying, this is by no means a complete list of every quality magazine in the market. These are going to be ones that have proven industry track records, special features, or ones that I’ve tested and found to be reliable. I’m sure the comment section will go crazy with any that I forgot.

Magpul

Everyone seems to have at least one PMAG. PMAGs are probably one of, if not the most, popular polymer AR-15 magazines today. Magpul’s line includes capacities from 10 to 60 rounds, various colors, and models with a window.

Magpul’s newer Gen M3 models are available as the latest and greatest, the M2 model can still be found easily and for a few bucks less. I have more of these than I can keep track of and still don’t hesitate to grab more when I find a deal.

Magpul Gen M3 magazine for the AR-15 rifle
The Gen M3 windowed magazine is the newest variation of the classic PMAG.

Duramag

Arguably the most popular steel magazine on the market, the Duramag has proven itself over the last decade or so. Duramags are extremely, well… ‘durable’ and feature anti-fatigue springs with advanced LipLock technology. Duramag also offers aluminum versions that are lighter weight but still extremely durable. Duramags are available in a variety of colors and capacities from 5 to 30 rounds. If you want a magazine that will last you through the apocalypse, this could be it.

Duramag 30-round stainless steel AR-15 magazine
Duramag’s offerings include aluminum and stainless steel models in red, gold, FDE, and more!

Strike Industries

Strike Industries has managed to take the standard 30-round magazine and give the consumer two more rounds thanks to a proprietary polymer design. Strike Industries has kept the design clean and slick, while integrating anti-slip finger grooves. To my knowledge, you can only find them in black and in 10- and 32-round capacities. I look forward to seeing some more offerings from Strike Industries in the future.

Strike Industries AR-15 magazine
The Strike AR magazine has a unique design that allows for two extra rounds, over the standard 30-round mag.

UTG/Leapers

Leapers offers some of the most affordable polymer AR mags on the market, without sacrificing quality. Leapers has 10- to 30-round options and windowed versions. Leapers’ magazines come with a flared floor plate, great grip texturing, and a high-visibility blue follower. I have run these extensively with no issues and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.

Leapers/UTG 30-round AR-15 magazine with a viewing window
The Leapers AR-15 magazine incorporates a window for easy round counting and nice grip pattern.

Amend2

Available in 10-, 20-, and 30-round models, these polymer mags are lightweight, durable, and simple. In this case, simple is not a bad thing. I’ve probably ran Amend2 mags second most out of all my polymer mags, and they have taken a beating but keep on going. Amend2 AR-15 magazines have a nice textured grip, come in a couple different color variations, and are priced well.

Amend2 30-round AR-15 magazines
Amend2 adds a pop of color on the bottom of the magazine, while keeping the rest of the body one solid color.

ProMag

ProMag has everything from 10-round mags to 65-round drums. All of ProMags polymer AR-15 magazines use a proprietary DuPont Zytel polymer and have a solid reputation among shooters. Admittedly, I haven’t had a ton of experience with these, but the few times I have shot them, they’ve performed flawlessly.

Promag 65-round drum magazine for the AR-15
ProMag offers a drum mag that holds 65 rounds of fun.

Mission First Tactical

MFT magazines utilize a long glass fiber polymer that is said to be extremely durable. MFT made sure to include many of the favorite features in the industry such as dot matrixes, self-lubricating followers, and tool-less floor plate disassembly to name a few. Mission Frist Tactical’s AR-15 magazines may have fewer capacity options than others, but plenty of color choices and various graphics set its offerings apart. I have yet to have any issues with these mags.

Mission First Tactical 30-round AR-15 magazine with window
Mission First Tactical keeps a clean look with an added window for external round viewing.

Lancer

The only hybrid magazine on our list, the Lancer mag blends the best of the polymer and steel world. The body is polymer for weight reduction, while the feed lip assembly is steel for reliability. Lancer has really listened to the market, and it shows. Lancer magazines have translucent options, several colors, and capacities ranging from 5 to 30 rounds. Often found at only a couple dollars more than some others on this list, the reliability Lancer’s magazines offer is well worth the small increase.

Lancer 30-round magazine for AR-15 rifle
The Lancer L5 is the one hybrid magazine on the list that features both polymer and steel.

Hexmag

Looking at it, you’ll immediately see why it is named the Hexmag. These polymer mags feature what Hexmag terms “Hexture,” which is essentially the hexagon pattern Hexmag created to provide a natural gripping surface. Hexmag also uses a tool-less design to easily remove the baseplates. Available in a variety of colors and capacities from 10 to 30 rounds, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique-looking magazine.

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Hexmag 30-round AR-15 magazine
Hexmags feature a unique design with — you guessed it — a hex pattern on the magazine.

Final Thoughts: AR-15 Magazines

In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with any of the above AR-15 magazines. I tend to lean towards polymer magazines for the lower weight and window features, but I have plenty of both. So long as the magazine is of good quality, I would say go for the best deal at the time. You can always buy more of one kind or another down the road!

What are your favorite AR-15 magazines? Do you have several favorites or a preference for one brand or type over another? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • MIssion First Tactical 30-round .223/5.56 AR-16 magazine
  • Magpul PMAG 60-round drum magazine for AR-15 rifles
  • Magpul Gen M3 magazine for the AR-15 rifle
  • ProMag 40-round magazine for the AR-15
  • Promag 65-round drum magazine for the AR-15
  • Amend2 30-round AR-15 magazines
  • Duramag 30-round stainless steel AR-15 magazine
  • Hexmag 30-round AR-15 magazine
  • Lancer 30-round magazine for AR-15 rifle
  • Leapers/UTG 30-round AR-15 magazine with a viewing window
  • Mission First Tactical 30-round AR-15 magazine with window
  • Strike Industries AR-15 magazine

About the Author:

Ryan Domke

Ryan Domke is a freelance writer, photographer and social media consultant with a passion for guns and tactical gear. He works with some of the largest manufacturers in the firearms industry, allowing him the opportunity to continuously learn from and knowledge share with the 2A community. When he’s not spending time with his family, you’ll likely find him at the range or starting a new DIY project. If you’d like to check out some of his other content, you can find him on Instagram at (@TheGuyGearReview).
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. How reliable are the 60rd mags from SureFire & Magpul?
    * SureFire AR-15 High Capacity Magazine .223 Rem/5.56 NATO 60 Rounds Mil Spec Hard Anodized Aluminum Matte Finish MAG-60S
    * Magpul PMAG D-60 AR-15 Drum Magazine, 5.56/.223, 60 Rounds

    The SureFire is as thick as 2 regular 30rd magazines so it’s easier to fit inside of the gear bag vs. the Magpul drum.

  2. I have a lot of different ones, but prefer Amend2 and Hexmag……don’t have any metal ones except for my AK’s . Just bought some 34rd Amend2 (Glock) sticks for my new AR9….haven’t received yet, but I bet they are good….the reviews are awesome and only 17.99 each. Enjoyed your story, thanks.

  3. Most of my current use AR mags are Gen 2 magpul. Though i have, well… let’s just say, quite a few, SHK steel mags NIB. The SHK are South Korean for those who arent aware. They are steel, and heavy at 8.3 oz iirc. But, they function well and are tough as all get out. I stock up when they are $4.99 each.
    I have a few lancers that i use for my .458 SOCOM AR. They seems to work the best, though standard steel or alum mags will work too. Magpuls won’t because of the internal spine that runs down the front.

  4. Promag? Really? Possibly one of the most notoriously unreliable magazine company I’ve tried. Not just ar15 mags but all varieties. I’d take Korean mags over promag. Now I will say I agree with the rest especially the utg mags. I found them on sale for 9 bucks and wish I bought more. And where is c-mags on your list?

  5. I think the huge drums look cool, but
    – They are usually more expensive than ten 30 round magazines.
    – They introduce a single point of failure.

  6. Magpul PMags are my AR Mag of choice. I’ve never had an issue. I also like Tapco Mags for my AK. I’m sure there are others that fit the bill.

  7. Daniel Defense also makes a 32 round polymer magazine, but the cost is about than twice the price of a Magpul 30 round pmag and about the same as the 40 round version.

  8. I only own PMAGs, but will try the MFTs after this article. There are always plenty of MFTs on the racks, but I notice that they don’t really sell that well – and just assumed they weren’t all that good. Also, I’ve never had any issues with ProMag. Never heard of the others in this article. Thanks – Mark

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