Best AR-15 Magazine in 2020 (Top 6 Picks)
While it may not appear all that important to a novice, the right magazine is as impactful as any other part you will end up buying for your AR-15 rifle. It may just be a box and a spring, but a faulty mag is one of the most common causes of gun malfunctions.
In this guide, we'll show you the best AR-15 magazine options and explain what makes these AR-15 magazines so great.
Best AR-15 Magazines
Here are our choices for the best AR-15 magazines:
MagPul PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M3 (Standard)
Long considered to be the best AR-15 magazine on the market, the GEN M3 is the latest iteration in MagPul’s polymer PMAG series. Magpul is well known for making affordable, yet reliable aftermarket magazines for a variety of rifles, carbines, and they even make some of the best Glock magazines.
The PMAG GEN M3 is designed to exceed military performance standards for strength and durability. It’s built with a USGI-spec stainless steel spring and a four-way anti-tilt follower. The magazine’s body is surrounded by a grid pattern, and there is aggressive texturing on the front, rear, and near the floorplate.
- Operates with additional rifles, such as HK 416/MR556A1/M27 IAR, British SA-80, FN SCAR MK 16/16S, Tavor X95 Bullpup Rifle, and More
- Simple no-tool-required disassembly for easy cleaning
- Available in black or tan
- Includes a pop-off impact/dust cover
- Over-travel insertion on the spine
- 10- and 20-round magazines also available
MagPul PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M3 (Windowed)
Magpul also offers the GEN 3 PMAG in a windowed option, with windows running along both sides of it. This allows you to be able to see how many rounds are left in your magazine without releasing it from your rifle.
There is a painted indicator on the spring that, combined with the window's marking matrix, allows you to estimate your round count from 1 to 30.
In my personal experience I've found it fairly easy to quickly gauge my round count, but it's not as intuitive as fully clear/translucent options like the Lancer L5AWM that we'll be covering next.
Windowed versions of the PMAG GEN M3 are only available in 30 round magazines, so you're out of luck if you wanted one in another capacity.
Again, keep in mind that with most options on our list including the windowed PMAG, you can save on the cost per magazine when you buy multi-packs.
Lancer Systems L5AWM Translucent Magazine
Lancer Systems is another one of the most trusted manufacturers on the market, specializing in completely clear translucent magazines. In recent times, many people have begun switching to Lancers from PMAGs, and we ourselves think Lancer currently makes the best AR-15 magazines.
The L5AWM Translucent Magazines are made with military-strength polymer and use a steel spring system. The sides of the magazine have an aggressive texturing, and there are numbered indicators on the body for easy ammo count reference. The L5AWM mag holds 30 rounds (with optional 5-, 10-, and 20-round variants) and is available for $18.99.
PMAG D-60 AR/M4 Drum Mag
Getting back to the Magpul catalog, let’s take a look at the PMAG D-60 drum magazine. As the name suggests, this drum mag holds 60 rounds, and like the rest of the PMAG series is constructed with military-strength reinforced polymer.
The PMAG D-60 gives the user the ability to effectively fire double the rounds of a traditional magazine without the need to reload. And despite the added capacity, the PMAG D-60 keeps a low profile (7.4”x4.1”, 20.5 ounces empty). The drum is designed in such a way where shooters can comfortably shoot from the prone position without the magazine interfering. There’s also a anti-glare rear window for shooter’s to easily identify the magazine’s remaining capacity. Loading is made easy due to the magazine's loading latch lever, which takes tension off the spring.
The added complexity of drum magazines when compared to a traditional mag can sometimes increase the likelihood of malfunction. But that’s why we recommend the PMAG D-60. It’s arguably the most reliable drum magazine on the market and is both easy to use and easy to takedown/reassemble. When it comes to drum mags, the PMAG D-60 is the no-brainer best buy.
- Wide compatibility with most 'STANAG 4179' platforms such as the AR15, M4, M16, SCAR MK16/16S, HK416, MR556, M27 IAR, IWI Tavor, and others.
- Seats fully loaded on a closed bolt.
- Designed to be left loaded for long term storage without any loss of function or degradation.
- All components are corrosion resistant.
- Disassembly only requires a single flat-bladed screwdriver.
- Paint pen dot matrix panel on back of body to allow for identification marking.
- Includes a slip-on dust cover for safe storage and transport
The Surefire MAG5-60 is a 60-round magazine built with Mil-Spec hard-anodized aluminum. It uses a stainless steel spring system with codium coating for added corrosion resistance, and the follower is made from high-grade polymer.
- Tool-free disassembly
- Compatible with all weapons that accept standard STANAG 4179-compliant magazines
$134.10 at Brownells
Prices accurate at time of publishing
Sentry Hexmag is a lesser-known brand, but their 30-round mag checks all the boxes for a great magazine. It’s constructed using Sentry’s very own PolyHex2 Advanced Composite Polymer, and the body’s exterior features a very cool honeycomb-patterned texture design.
The Hexmag is very affordably priced at $11.99 and comes in 4 different colors for the magazine and 8 different colors for the follower/latch plate. It’s recommended that you use the various color options for easy caliber identification if you carry multiple differently chambered magazines.
All in all, this a great alternative to the big name brand magazines on the market, and I’d definitely encourage you to try a Hexmag.
- Stainless steel spring
- Tool-free disassembly
- Self-lubricating anti-tilt follower
- Multi-rifle compatibility, including AR-15, SCAR 16, IWI Tavor, CZ Bren, Beretta ARX 100
$18.99 at GunMag Warehouse
Prices accurate at time of publishing
Elite Tactical Systems (ETS) 30-Round AR-15 Magazine with Tritium Follower
The ETS 30-round AR-15 magazine is one of my personal favorites on the market. It’s made with a high-grade polymer that is impact, chemical, UV, and extreme temperature resistant. The body is translucent, and the followers come in different color options like the Hexmag for easy caliber identification. The no-tilt follower is made with tritium inserts and performs the same as a polymer follower but also glows in the dark. Without the tritium follower, the mag costs $16.99, and with the tritium follower and coupler, it can cost as much as $34.99.
- The polymer is textured and has an aggressive rib design for easy handling
- Comes with a clip-on dust cover
- Tool-free, easy disassembly
- Lifetime warranty
AR-15 Magazine Buyers Guide
A magazine is broken down into four main parts: the body, the spring, the floor plate, and the follower. The most important part of a good magazine is the follower. This is the part of the magazine that supports the ammunition above the spring and ensures each cartridge is properly fed into the chamber. Good followers are built with an anti-tilt design, and the geometry of the follower in conjunction with the curvature of the body should smoothly feed the ammunition without getting stuck.
The next factor to consider is the spring. You ideally want a spring made from stainless steel. This will give you the greatest durability over time and is best suited to withstand environmental damage.
This brings us to the exterior shell of the magazine, namely the floor plate, body, and feed lips. We want the body of our magazine to be tough and durable, particularly if we plan on bringing our rifle into rugged environments. But even if you are just a casual range-goer, you want your magazine to hold up if it is dropped or accidentally left in the car on a hot day. High-grade polymer is what we’re after in this case, ideally built by a brand name you can trust. Aluminum-bodied builds are also a viable option.
If you account for all these factors, you are equipped with everything you need to know in order to buy a great magazine (or ten).
The last thing to note is that buying magazines in bulk often gives you a significantly better price per mag compared to buying one at a time. Keep this in mind, as the prices shown below may be higher than if you buy a bulk package.
And that wraps it up! It can be a challenge figuring out the best magazines given the selection these days is massive. We tried to give a wide variety of different styles from brands we trust in this guide. You can rely on any of the above-mentioned products.
With that being said, we think the best AR-15 magazine right now is the Lancer L5AWM.
Have you decided on some magazines? Check out the best AR-15 ammo so that you can load them up!
Product Name: Lancer L5AWM
Check out our full AR-15 parts list for all of our favorite AR-15 components.
We've also made lists of: