Durability of 30-round AR-15 aluminium mags

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Jan 20, 2004
Houston TX
Hi all,

I acquired a Bushmaster AR-15 A2 20" (the one for $719.95 at AIM) the other day through a local FFL transfer. Great rifle! It came with one law-enforcement 30-round aluminium magazine. I'm thinking of getting a few more 30-round magazines and was wondering what your experiences with these aluminium mags have been. They're extremely lightweight, but how durable are they and how well do they feed? AIM lists them on their website for $14.95. If the quality is not up to par, which AR-15 mags do you recommend?

Thanks for any info.
Stick with GI, HK or Sterling English mags and feeding problems will be a non issue.

As for durability the aluminum mags are not exactly known for how durable they are. Now as a casual shooter if you take care of them you will be fine but if you are going drop them and work them hard make sure you have a bunch.

I have never used the HK but have the Sterling mags. Both are steel and the sterling magazines seem much more abuse resistent.

Do not go for just any steel magazines. USA made a bunch of steel magazines and to say they suck is bit of an under-statement.

Stick with the HK steel mags, I believe they are designated as HK416 or something to that effect or British Sterling manufactured magazines. They typically have a uniform gray finish and will usually have a little sticker that says England on them.

actually the aluminum ones are the ones issued to the troops. depending on the manufacturer, they are the most reliable mags. unfortunately, they are not the most durable mags because they are made of aluminum, but they are the best thinkgs out there.

the steel ones are hit or miss, i have 2 that work very well, but 5 that don't work well at all. there have also been reports of lots of problems w/ the new HK plastice ones.

try to find new USGI labelle 30rnd mags w/ the green followers. if you want them super reliable then also get the new magpul followers and silicon springs, but that's a bit overkill.

there are tons of deals on good mags now that the ban sunsetted. i would not pay more than $20 for one. check the equipment exchange on ar15.com. there are always good deals on that site.

this is not only my opinion, but i got it straight from pat roger's mouth. he's the guru of M16/AR15/M4. for more background info go here: http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=17

hope this helps
As was mentioned before, the mags used by the US military are aluminum. I have never had an issue of any kind with a USGI magazine. I can't imagine what you might be doing to them in order to damage them. I have done tons of speed reloads, dropping them on whatever I was standing from the desert floor to concrete and it was a non issue.
The steel magazines commonly sold with the "England" sticker on them are NOT HK magazines. They are the magazines from the SA80 that the HK magazines REPLACED. That is why they became available a couple years ago(and were considered Pre-Ban). I have two dozen of the "England" magazines and they work fine except they will not hold open the bolt on the last round. I use those magazines for practice magazines because IF they should become damaged, I wouldn't care as much as if a USGI mag was damaged, however this is no longer an issue with the sunset of the ban.
Real HK magazines came out after the ban and were not available to the public until the sunset. REAL HK magazines are available here: http://www.fourfourmagstore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PRE-HKM16&variation=&aitem=11&mitem=25
You will note that they cost $50/each. These are obviously NOT the "England" magazines. I have ordered a few and will see how it works out. If they are everything they are cracked up to be, I will get a dozen more. However, I don't know when I will get them. I don't think my credit card has been charged for them yet.
Thanks for the comments, folks. I picked up a steel mag made in Singapore at the store today. Anyone have any experience with them? I've seen at least one bad comment about them in ar15.com. Since the aluminium GI mags seem to have a good rep, I ordered two of them from AIM at $14.95 each.
Mulliga said it; most of my mags are the aluminum/teflon slippery ones that Bushmaster marketed that were made by...uhm... I forget. LaBelle? One of the USGI OEMs. The rest are Colt, Adventureline and Center Industries. The only steel mags I've ever seen are the *questionable* USA mags.
Thanks Cslinger. I think I'll go with the steel ones. Fourfourmag has the USGI 30-rounders for $16.

FYI USGI magazines are ALL aluminum. Aluminum IS the military specification for the magazines (its supposed to be a lightweight rifle afterall). There are several really good steel magazines out there such as HK and the English magazines that are as good or better than USGI.

The aluminum mags are considered (at least in theory) by the military to be semi-disposable and dont necessarily hold up all THAT well. With that said a lot of people have been getting a lot of service out of some pretty old and hard used magazines.
I might add that using steel mags in an aluminum receiver there is the possiblilty of the steel damaging the softer aluminum, best advice is to stick with the authentic USGI aluminum mags.

Eagle Firearms has the LaBelle new in wrapper, 5 for $100 shipped.

Eagle Firearms new LaBelle USGI mags
The durability issue with the USGI aluminium magazines is mostly cracked feed lips. I had 8 different magazines either issued that way or developed the problem after a few trips to the range. On the back of the feed lip where it is rounded the side will split where it is welded to the back, once this happens the feed lips can spread just enough to allow the rounds to come flying out all at once. It's actually kind of humorous to see someone do this after loading for a long string of fire.
Sorry SunBear but that forum and any other that has a passworded LEO only section can rot in hell as far as I am concerned. I am still not fond of having roundtable invisible unless logged in as it precludes casual visitors to the site from seeing another side of the highroad. That is a far cry from having the secret police style LEO only forum however as all members here are equal.

And now back to the topic at hand....
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