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.
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.
Let me preface this by saying, this is by no means a complete list of every quality magazine on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February of 2022. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.