A day at the range is a fantastic day. Maybe a couple of thousand rounds later you've got some quality trigger time, and you're tired. For me, at least, one of the most annoying parts is reloading magazines. It takes the time that I could be shooting. When it comes to my ARs, I use high capacity magazines as much as I can. Now using these magazines doesn't mean you'll never have to stop to reload unless you have a lot of them, but it does mean you don't have to stop as often. After some research and hands-on, I have narrowed it down to my favorite four.
Magpul products are the top dog in the magazine world for a reason. They are inexpensive and reliable. If you are looking for a great way to get started in the high capacity world without spending much more, then I'd recommend the PMAG 40. It retails for $19.95, which is about $5 more than the standard 30 round mag and comes with everything you'd expect from a Magpul PMAG. The extra 10 round isn't much, but at $5 more you can get a few, which makes those extra rounds add up quickly. Made of high-grade, durable polymer and the Magpul 4 way anti-tilt follower you can expect reliable feed every time.
Years ago, the concept of a drum mag for ARs became popular. There were some problems. I ran into feed and spring tension issue, and I've heard the same from others. It was always one of those things that if you got a good one, it ran great. If you got a bad one, it had issues. Magpul came out with their D60 and all that changed. Made of lightweight next-gen polymer and meant to be loaded for long periods. One of the dislikes I had with the old style of drum mag was its weight. The mags were built with heavy-duty parts for reliability, but you felt that weight when you carried the mag. Magpul's technology means you get the reliability you want but also with the lighter weight. It has a ratcheting loading lever to take tension off the spring, making it easier to load. It also has a non-glare window in the back to show your load capacity. The size and design are made to be compatible with prone shooting making it more manageable at the range (the other dislike I've had with drum mags). With a retail price of $129.95, it's an investment that allows you to carry 60 rounds at the range, ready to shoot when you are.
Surefire has a name in the firearms business for quality manufacturing for years. Their lights are some of the best out there. A few years ago, they got into the magazine market by releasing high capacity magazines that were unlike any other. Their main difference in design is shape and size. Standard high capacity mags are either a longer version of the usual 30 round design or a rotating drum design that resembles a snail in shape. The issue with these designs is that they cause handling problems. The elongated design means sitting prone or at a bench causes the mag to get in the way of a proper sitting shoulder mount. The snail design is heavy and can throw off your balance. Surefire's mag design takes the length of the standard 30 round mag and expands it just past the mag well to a width of 1.68" (less than two standard 30 round mags together). Made of rugged mil-spec hard-anodized aluminum, they are solid and keep with the reliability that Surefire is known for. Cadmium coated springs prevent breakage, binding, and remove spring fatigue. They are also built with nesting polymer followers that ensures smooth feeding and anti-tilt. With these components and unique design, these mags feed reliably with no lubrication needed and will take a severe beating. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of the 60 round mags, from a friend, that had been pre-loaded with some 55-grain FMJs. These had been left loaded for about a year, and I can tell you that they functioned flawlessly and have been used several times after without issue. This kind of quality comes with a price tag. The 60 round mag retails for $149.00 and the 100-round mag for $189.00. While this price is a bit high, the fact that Surefire's website shows both mags sold out and has been a big seller for a long time speaks volumes as to how good these are and how much they are worth. If you want a high capacity mag that works and allows you to run and gun flawlessly, I highly recommend checking these out.
No matter if you're a range junkie, like me, or compete in an "Open" class at a competition, an excellent high-capacity magazine is godsent. It only works, however, if it's reliable and these have proven to me to be reliable. If you've never tried any of these four, then check them out. They are solid investments with good reviews and good manufacturers to back them up. By extending your time between reloads, you extend your fun. Right now, there's a question in the world, "Why do you need a magazine that holds so many rounds?" Those of us that shoot regularly know the need for high-capacity magazines and these are some great options to look at.
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Prices accurate at time of writing