We have all been to certain stores or websites selling magazines for a reasonably low price. You walk by and pick one up and give it the "ol squeeze" test to see if it a solid build of if will it be crushed in your range bag. It passes the test and you place it in the cart and continue to shop thinking about all the reload and malfunction drills you will practice with your new magazine.
The day has come. It is a perfect 70-degree day and not a cloud in sight. You get to the range and your favorite bay is open. You check all your gear and make sure your firearms are unloaded and on safe. You take your PMAGs and start loading them and getting them ready to send Freedom Seeds down range. Once your PMAGs are loaded you look at your new Brand X magazine, take it out of the package and start loading it up. This is where your problems can start.
We all know PMAG makes good magazines and they are engineered to work in extreme environments. The Brand X magazine that you bought for $7.50 starts to show the lower quality work and why they are so cheap. To understand this, we need to understand the makeup of a quality magazine.
Any magazine is made up of the following:
All magazines have these parts, but the quality and workmanship are what set quality magazines apart from lesser quality magazines. While the housing of the Brand X magazines are solid, they are lacking on the reinforcement of the feeding lips. When the magazine is loaded to the maximum amount, the pressure of the spring pushes up on the rounds cause the feeding lips to flare out.
Why is this an issue?
With standard AR15 lowers, most magazine wells are not flared to feed a magazine into the AR15. With these style lowers, the magazine will not be able to be inserted smoothly. This causes reloads to be extended or a worse case, not even to be loaded.
Other issues with cheap magazines are the retention the feeding lips provide while the magazine is fully loaded. One issue I have personally experienced are the rounds zipping out of the magazine holder when I squeezed a little too hard as I was removing the magazine from the holder. I have also seen multiple malfunctions while instructing students at the range, including an incident where a student was performing a reload due to a malfunction. When the magazine slipped out of their hands while removing it from their magazine holder, they dropped the mag on the ground, the rounds also came zipping out of the magazine.
In summary, we all have purchased cheaper magazines and tried them out on the range. Some run OK and serve a purpose for a backup range magazine. In the end, it comes down to the one simple question. “Am I willing to bet my family’s safety or my life on this cheap magazine?” If the answer is NO, then do not buy it. Save your money and buy from a company that is proven.
Written by Ryan McPherson with LRRAT.