Throwback Thursday: Buyer’s 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 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.

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


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.

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.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February of 2022. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

  • 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 (21)

  1. I’m with Alex, Pro Mag is Crap.
    I bought 2 of ProMags extended 1911 mags and they are definitely CRAP. If more that 2 rounds feed it’s a miracle! Never bought another of their mags since and unless I find someone else who has some and can let me try one of their mags, and it actually works, I never will buy another one.

  2. My favorite is Promag RM40 with Anti-tilt roller followers they have flawlessly performed for 5.56x45mm, 223 Remington, 458 Socom, and 50 Beowulf. They hold 40 rds of 5.56x45mm and 223 Remington and 14 to 15 rounds depending on newness of spring of 458 SOCOM and 50 Beowulf all rounds have cycled flawlessly

  3. Own zero PMAGs or any polymags. I’ve use C-Products Defence. They’re black stainless steel versions of the aluminum USGI. Yes, they’re a little heavier than than my brother’s PMAGs but in ten years I’ve never split or otherwise damaged mine letting them drop during a mag change, unlike my brother’s PMAGs that have. I’ve never had any type of feed malfunction, the hi-viz orange followers do their jobs along with the anti-fatigue springs. And they’re not expensive.

  4. Thank you for your opinion and insight on AR magazines. I’ve always stayed with pro mag but from a durability standpoint I’ve considered metal magazines as part of my stock pile. I do agree that everybody should stay away from cheap magazines and from companies that are not well known.

  5. I have several MFT magazines that have dumped almost the whole 30 rounds when it slipped out of my hand. They are the older ones and the newer versions have not any problems. Will Mission first take back those magazines?
    Nobody seems to know.

  6. I have several MFT magazines that have dumped almost the whole 30 rounds when it slipped out of my hand. They are the older ones and the newer versions have not any problems. Will Mission first take back those magazines?
    Nobody seems to know.

  7. Being stuck in NJ, I am limited to ten round magazines, due to NJ hating AR style rifles.
    I have several AR Stoner metal magazines, several Hexmags, and the rest are pmags. Magpul makes a great ten round magazine, IMHO.

  8. I’m in total agreement with the review and with the feedback comments. PROMAG makes junk magazines. I’ve had only a couple of occasions that I bought them (for various firearms/calibers) and THEY WERE COMPLETE FAILURES. I research everything and I could not believe their magazines are total junk.

  9. I have several caliber ARs 5.56 NATO, .223 Wylde (not really a caliber, but a chamber design), 6.5 Grendel.300 Blackout, 7.62 NATO, .450 Bushmaster, and lastly the giant .500 Beowulf. My mag selections are Magpul gen 2 and 3, Lancer L5 and L7 and Anderson. I have had zero failures since I began shooting ARs eight or ten years ago. As the author suggested, I stay away from cheep ones and stock up when I find a sale. Train often and shoot straight. Support the Second Amendment!

  10. Just an FYI for anyone experiencing Fail To Feed issues with any AR magazine (or a perceived crappy magazine). I was having FTF issues, and as we are trained, we jerk the mag out and rack n tap. One time I got lucky, and before jerking the mag out, looking through the port, what I saw was the step between the brass neck and the bullet had caught on the front lip of the magazine resulting in a jam/FTF. I realized what was happening was as the bolt coming forward with such speed, when coming in contact with the round, the round would have a tendency to “dive” down, and so contact the front lip of the mag, sometimes with enough contact to stop the forward motion, resulting in a jam. The SOLUTION was actually quite simple. Disassembling the magazines (I did them ALL), cleaning, oil the spring, AND THEN taking the top round of the magazine spring and bending it pretty much straight up, under the follower to basically put more force under the nose, or bullet end, of the follower, to counter act the “nose dive” effect. I have NEVER had another FTF issue in thousands of rounds since with any AR magazine. If I get a new AR magazine, this is the first thing I do to them before putting into use. Cheep fix for such good results.

  11. I have several Magpul Pmag magazines in various capacities. I feel these mags suit my needs completely. Because they are made pf plastic/polymer they will never rust. The only maintenance I do to them is to disassemble the magazine, clean out the inside and put a light coating of oil on the spring. The spring is the only part of the magazine that could rust, so the light coating of oil will help prevent rust. All firearms have two enemies: rust and politicians.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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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