Practical Tactical – AR Mags: Metal or Plastic?

This is becoming a fairly common discussion or argument you will hear at the range or gun shows.

Hey, do you shoot metal or plastic mags in your AR?  Ok, why do you shoot the one you shoot?  Well, it can be as simple as I shoot what came with the gun, or much more tactical than that.

There are many pros and cons to each IMO and let’s talk about some of them.

Drop Test- You will see and hear a lot about drop testing magazines.  I conducted my own drop tests from around 6 foot up.  When I dropped the metal mags, I would typically get dents and bent feed lips.  These bends would sometimes lead to the point that the mag was completely useless. Other times they would not dent at all and fire flawlessly.

When I dropped the poly mags, I would not get any dents or cracks in the mags themselves.  However, some would get cracks in the feed lips or I would have slight follower failures. NOTE- these magazines were fully loaded with 28 training rounds.  Now, take this for what it is, I dropped these from my hands and they may have fallen slightly different and may have changed the results had they fallen differently.

Heat- Metal mags will get hot to the touch.  While poly mags will not get near as hot as their metal cousins.  Nor will a poly mag transfer heat as much during fire.

Cost- $14-$20 each.  That is for metal or poly.  Just about every big name in the business falls in this price range.  So, there is not a huge price difference between the 2.

Weight- Any of the Poly or metal mags when fully loaded will typically weigh a pound.  It may slightly vary and ounce or 2, but very little, certainly not enough to warrant one or the other.

We also need to keep in mind that when the original 20 round AR magazines were put in use, they were intended to be disposable.  They weren’t meant to be reloaded and reused.

I used to shoot Mag Pul and the factory metal mags that came with the AR’s.  But, I have slid away from them for the Lancer 5’s.

I shoot primarily Lancer 5 mags through my AR’s.  I have had great results out of them and they are the same price as the other leading brands.

If you had to pick one magazine to protect your family, which one would you pick?  Keep that in mind.

Most of us will not be on the front lines in Afghanistan fighting ISIS.  So don’t kid yourself as to treating your weapon like you are.  These men are at a completely different level than most of us and their lives are on the line every day.

I said that to keep things in perspective.  I clean my mags and weapons just about every time I shoot them.  Because tonight maybe the night when I need them to protect my life.

If you do have a faulty AR magazine, crush it or destroy it.  Don’t be “THAT GUY” who keeps a faulty magazine or sells it on ebay or at a gun show and risks someone else’s life to make a few dollars.

That sounds crazy…RIGHT!?!?!  BUT, I have seen people do it, and throw it back in their tac vest and think somehow it will magically fix itself before the next time you go to the range.

The US Army and Marines have recently put out an edict against the use of polymer magazines.  Why is that?  Well, IMO opinion money.  I work for the Federal Government and have been on tactical teams for over a decade.  I have seen some incredibly stupid spending to replace tactical items, just because.  We are talking millions of dollars in contracts, not that the government is overly concerned in which is the best.  IMO.

Take it all with a grain of salt and test yours to see which you want by your side at night.

Fortuna Paratus Remunerat- Fortune Favors the Prepared

Story by Shane Smith

TF&G Staff:
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