There are many critical parts of the AR-15 platform; the fire control group, the bolt, the gas key, the gas tube/block, to list a few, all need to be well-built and reliable. Often overlooked or otherwise taken for granted is the AR-15 magazine – a box with a spring that literally feeds your rifle or carbine with ammo. Without a magazine, Stoner’s little machine becomes a clunky, single shot, auto-ejecting firearm. Call it good planning, cheap insurance or being well outfitted, but stocking up on quality magazines should be a priority. Let’s take a look at the mag lineup from DURAMAG magazines.
Note: DURAMAG is an advertiser at TFB. They sent over some of their magazines for evaluation. Regardless of their sponsorship, the opinions posted here are my own and are not influenced by DURAMAG or anyone else.
Now Is The Time: Load Up On AR-15 DURAMAG Magazines
We have been told for years that firearm magazines were designed to be disposable and that they have a relatively short lifespan. While technically true, due to external influences, mags have become a commodity, rarely losing value unless they no longer function properly. Heck, there are even rebuild kits for these disposable ammunition feeding devices – replacement springs, followers, floor plates can return reliability to a quality magazine.
Without naming names, several magazine manufacturers in today’s market seem to either focus on form over function (colors and styles of polymer mags) or have lost the art of proper quality control. The fact is, there is nothing more frustrating than diagnosing a malfunction only to realize that it’s the $9 magazine keeping your $1,000 rifle from operating properly.
Let’s go through some basic facts about DURAMAG magazines before we get into the rest of the details.
- DURAMAG is based in Bradenton, Florida
- Their magazines are made in America by C Products Defense
- They offer magazines for the AR-15 platform, rifles, carbines and pistols
- DURAMAG magazines are available in 6061-T6 aluminum and stainless steel body versions
- DURAMAG magazines are finished with hard coat anodizing (aluminum) and a T-360 coating* (stainless steel)
- A 30 Round DURAMAG stainless steel magazine weighs approximately 4.5 ounces
- A 30 Round DURAMAG aluminum magazine weighs approximately 4 ounces
- DURAMAG Catalog – DURAMAG Homepage
*DURAMAG T-360 coating: The C Products Defense proprietary coating T-360TM bonds at the molecular level and will never wear off. The T-360 coating process also decreases friction and increases lubricity inside and out. The result is that even when using the dirtiest ammunition, DURAMAGTM magazines will effectively resist dirt or dust accumulation, allowing flawless operation and reliability.
I doubt there’s much need for me to take you all back to AR-15 elementary school, but here are the features specific to DURAMAG magazines.
DURAMAG AR-15 Magazines:
- DURAMAG 5.56/.223/300BLK – Aluminum (about $12ea)
- DURAMAG Speed™ bodies are constructed of 6061-T6 aluminum and are type-III hard-coat anodized. Unlike other magazines that use inferior coatings to color their USGI style magazines, our wide range of colors are part of the anodizing process and thus, a part of the metal. These magazines and are safe for extended storage while loaded and will not flex or swell like polymer. With our Progressive die tooling, Post and Hole™ design, and fully robotic welding, you can truly depend on these magazines to be consistent every time you buy them, guaranteed.
- DURAMAG 5.56/.223/300BLK – Steel (about $13ea)
- Constructed from premium 410 Stainless Steel for maximum durability. This material, coupled with advanced interior and exterior geometries, ensure ultimate reliability and feeding. DURAMAG™ will not flex or swell like polymer and are safe for extended storage while loaded without any add ons. These magazines utilize our T-360™ coating to ensure not only incredibly smooth performance and ease of loading, but also product longevity through the harshest conditions. These are the ultimate magazine of choice for shooters that are running 300 Blackout especially round with long load length or even the heaviest of sub-sonic loads.
AR-15 Magazine Potential Failure Points:
I am not a scientific laboratory. As much as I wanted to do drop testing, drags through the dirt, prolonged exposure to the elements and more, none of that matters without protocols, standards and proper test design. As such, I’m going to use these magazines for a few months and report back to you on anything out of the ordinary.
Whether they are made of aluminum or steel, AR-15 magazines are made with two pieces of stamped metal welded along the front and back edges. Although rare, failures, weaknesses and manufacturing defects can take place at the welds. About 10 years ago I had a batch of magazines that were all missing the top weld on the back strap. Fully loaded the mags would start to spread open just enough to cause feeding issues. DURAMAG uses a post and hole robotic weld for nice, secure joints.
In the image below, markers (1) & (2) are pointing to the welds I referenced above – the DURAMAG welds are clean and precise. Another potential failure point for magazines are the feed lips (3). In a double stack, double feed magazine like those designed for the AR-15, the last points of contact before the round is stripped out and into the chamber are the feed lips. A good magazine will have smooth, symmetrical, rounded lips that allow the cartridge to sit cleanly at the top of the stack. Some polymer magazines can deform when loaded after prolonged storage can affect proper functioning.
Speaking of prolonged storage, let’s address a misconception. Springs, like those found in magazines, can lose their tension capabilities for a couple of reasons. Very high heat (fire) and repetitive use. Storing magazines loaded with rounds will not affect the spring’s elastic limits. So, whether you are building a Bug Out Bag or are preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse, go ahead load up those mags.
Bullet Length And Profile
I’m a fiend for suppressors and all things quiet which means that I tend to favor heavier bullets for subsonic velocities. In the cartridge world, heavier often means longer, meaning that a very heavy bullet is going to push the limits of standard loading recommendations. It’s important that all bullet lengths and profiles feed reliably in my magazines. I tried the following rounds and experienced no feeding or function issues:
DURAMAG AR-10 Magazines
- DURAMAG 308/7.62/6.5 CREEDMOOR SR25 Pattern – Steel (about $20ea)
- Hard-hitting calibers demand serious magazines. DURAMAG SS ® SR25 pattern mags are made from a single piece of laser-welded 410 Stainless Steel and protected with T-360®- applied coating. This is a magazine that can truly withstand the test of time, and hard use. C Products Defense took great care to design this magazine to be the best option for precision shooters but also for heavy full-auto use. Precision shooters will enjoy an incredible amount of load length for their long-range shooting while knowing that their magazine will also feed as fast as needed, every time. The DURAMAG SS ® magazine is the choice for Military units across the world.
Steel Versus Aluminum AR-15 Magazines
Chances are that when you think of steel magazines your mind automatically goes to the AK family of rifles. And in all honesty, out of the hundreds of AR-15 magazines I own, only a handful are steel. Previously concerned with weight and rust, I opted for standard aluminum mags. But with only an additional half an ounce, a quality coating and a dollar extra, I’m having a hard time seeing a reason to continue stocking up on just aluminum magazines. The steel DURAMAG mags are definitely more rigid than their aluminum counterparts, but it will all depend on your use case if that is important enough to make a switch. Remember, magazines are designed to be disposable. When they experience enough use, just throw them away and move on.
AR-15 Magazine Colors
Since 300BLK has exploded into the AR-15 market (see what I did there) a variety of techniques have surfaced on how to keep those larger rounds separated from your 5.56mm mags. If you don’t already know, many 300BLK rounds will chamber and can fire in a 5.56 chamber with disastrous results. Elastic rubber bands, marking areas, and floor plates have all been marketed to help shooters keep the two rounds apart. In my house, except for picture day and special occasions, black and gray AR-15 magazines are reserved for .223/5.56 and FDE or other colors are reserved for 300BLK. The system isn’t perfect, but it does work for me. DURAMAG’s unique colors actually serve a purpose, I just wish they had some of their green mags in stock for some great Christmas pictures.
I’m not going to get all doomsday prepper on you and hold lectures about making hay while the sun shines. However, if you own an AR-15 and would like to keep shooting it for years to come, it is inexpensive insurance to buy quality magazines while prices are reasonable. The mags from DURAMAG are well built, are available in stainless steel or aluminum and are priced right. There may be a time when reasonably priced, quality magazines are not easy to find.
Buy DURAMAG magazines here: