TAPCO Mini-14 magazines– Gen 1 vs Gen 2

TAPCO Gen 2 Mini-14 Full Mag

Whenever the discussion about Ruger Mini-14s comes up on our Cheaper Than Dirt Forums or Facebook page, the question of “Gen 1” vs. “Gen 2” magazines made by TAPCO accompanies it. There’s a lot of confusion about this issue right now, so we want to do our part to clear things up.

“Nutnfancy” is an online reviewer of guns, ammo, and gun gear. He posts informative videos on Youtube about what gun stuff works and what doesn’t after putting all the latest toys through his testing regimen. Yes, we are jealous of him too. A while back he posted up a review of some new Mini-14 magazines made by TAPCO, and he didn’t like them one bit. To their credit, TAPCO contacted him and asked for input on what changes he thought they should make. They made those changes, then sent him some of the improved magazines to review. He had much better luck with the second batch. He decreed throughout the land that the improved magazines were good to go. Nutnfancy dubbed the new impoved magazines “Gen 2” or “second generation” magazines, and called the older magazines “Gen 1” or “first generation” magazines.

There’s only one minor problem—TAPCO didn’t change their part number, packaging, or the UPC code on their Mini-14 magazines when they made Nutnfancy’s design changes. The packaging doesn’t say “Gen 2” anywhere and if you are buying these magazines online, there is no way to tell which ones you are going to get. TAPCO’s Web site lists a Gen 1 magazine under their Ruger Mini-14 Components category, but they don’t list a Gen 2 magazine nor show that it comes in any color but black. So what’s the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2, and how can you tell? According to Nutnfancy, Tapco changed the composition of their polymer in the Gen 2 magazines, resulting in a stiffer magazine with feed lips that won’t spread apart over time if the magazine is left loaded with rounds. This doesn’t help us identify the different magazines, but the other major change they made does. The Mini-14 mag is a “rock and lock” design requiring the shooter to put the front of the magazine into the mag well first, then rotate the magazine to the rear until it locks into place. A round pin built into the front of the rifle’s mag well holds the magazine in place, interfacing it with a hole in the front of the magazine. On the Gen 1 magazines this hole is molded into the polymer mag body. On the Gen 2 magazines Tapco reinforced this hole with a steel band wrapping around the magazine body, as shown in the pictures. The steel reinforcement keeps this critical area from wearing prematurely. This is how you can tell at a glance whether the magazine you are looking at is a TAPCO Gen 1 or Gen 2.

Here at Cheaper Than Dirt, all of our in-stock TAPCO Mini-14 magazines are already Gen 2 specification, so if you’re ordering from us you don’t have to worry about this. We have ’em in black as well as the flat dark earth type pictured here, for $12.97 each.  But if you happen to pick up some Gen 1 magazines at a gun show or something, know that TAPCO offers a lifetime warranty on their magazines, so if you have problems they will take care of you regardless of which ones you are using.  Now take that Ruger out there and put some rounds downrange!

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Comments (15)

  1. My series 186 model mini-14 has only used factory Ruger 30rd mags because of reliability. However, I recently purchased a few Tapco Gen2 series and they worked perfectly. After a session at the range there were no issues with feeding or extracting rounds. I only had the opportunity to use .223 PMC brass FMJ rounds.

    Being much lighter, the improved handling is noticeable. I love my Ruger mags, but I have high hopes that Tapco will be my choice going forward.

    Way to go Tapco!! Mini-14 users have waited so long for this day.

  2. Got an e-mail from Tapco on 02/08/2013 and they have the NEW magazines ready and are replacing them NOW!! They are really being pretty good about this. They will either send you a shipping label to return the “old” magazines OR you can destroy the ones you have and e-mail them a picture of the “dead” ones. Either way they are picking up the shipping either way you go. The person at Tapco that has been dealing with this for me is Stacy Riddle and you can e-mail her at

  3. The Gen II’s don’t work reliably in the current 581 series Mini either. Too fat, follower is bound by the mag well, every 2 or 3 rounds it doesn’t put the next round up high enough to be picked off.

  4. Contacted Tapco about exchanging three Gen.1 mags for the “new” Gen.2 ones. Basically was told “not a problem” and the new mags for exchange are supposed to be available soon. The Tapco 30 rd. mags are the ONLY aftermarket ones that I’ve found to work reliably in the Mini-14. Tried saving a few bucks on some other aftermarket ones and just basically got screwed (Thank you Pro-Mag!) Before I got to try a friends Tapco 30 I wound up buying 5 Factory Ruger 20 rd mags marked “for LEO only”. They work great, but they’re sure not cheap AND they’re hard to find. Bought them all from CTD when they had them in stock and the price was worth the peace of mind that when I slapped in a fresh mag IT WAS GOING TO WORK AND FEED EVERY ROUND. Still use the factory mags in my Mini-14 S/S Ranch Target and the Tapco 30s are for my “go bag” for my other Ruger S/S Mini-14 decked out with the Tapco Fusion stock system. Belive me IF I didn’t trust the Tapco mags they’d be in the “sock drawer” with all the other neat little things that just didn’t work as advertised. The Pro-mags were eventually used as targets just to get rid of them, wouldn’t have given them to my best enemy!!

  5. I have 2 Gen 2 Tapco Mini-14 mags from Impact. One won’t lock into place, the other will if I force it hard enough. Neither I trust in a situation. Even though they cost more stick with the Ruger mags.

  6. One more thing I forgot to mention, the Tapco Mini-14 magazines are the ONLY aftermarket magazines I’ve tried that function well. I’ve had the opportunity to try just about every other aftermarket magazine for the Mini-14. None even come close to functioning as well as the Tapco mags do. The only thing is they have to be “rocked” a bit to seat whereas the factory mags are just a straight up push to seat. Plus if you’re loading a full 30 rd. Tapco it works best with the bolt locked open then releasing the bolt to strip off the first round.

  7. Contacted Tapco about the Gen.2 mags. They will have more the new model out around January first. If you can find them elsewhere online the Gen.2 mags will have a steel “U” shaped reinforcing clip around the top front and side portions of the magazine. Seen some pics advertising Gen.1 mags but the pictures clearly show the reinforcing clip on the magazines so………IF you decide to order these advertised this way it will be worth the time to call the vendor and verify that these are indeed the newer Gen. 2 magazines. Here’s my main ???? WHY are the black magazines 3 to 4 bucks higher than the flat earth ones??? Nutfancy supposedly did another review(?) on the Gen. 2 mags and said they function well with brass cased ammo BUT not steel cased ammo, no problem here!! The ONLY thing I run steel cased ammo thru is a Romanian AK-47 because it was designed to use the steel cased stuff. The plain jane and the Ranch/Target will NEVER see a steel cased round.

  8. The “Gen 2” magazines were having some fitment problems in specific rifle configurations, so that’s why they’re hard to find right now. TAPCO stopped production until they have it resolved. They should hit the shelves again soon.

  9. Seeing the reviews on the website, I’m guessing people who bought the older Gen 1 mags are writing reviews for the Gen 2 (complaining about flimsy lips, etc.). There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference.

    I’m pretty excited about these new “Gen 2” mags. I hesitate, though, because my last order from CTD was quite a hassle…whoever packed it didn’t know how to use the “Address 2” line on the FedEx label, so my unit number was left off the package. Long address names FTL =(

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