Best AR-15 Magazines: These are The Top 5

As a Marine infantryman, I’ve carried the M16/M4 across the globe and fired thousands of rounds through them. This experience hasn’t just made me a better shooter; it’s shown me firsthand how often gear can fail, especially magazines.

Most malfunctions? They came down to issues with the mags—worn out from use, bent feed lips, damaged followers, or springs that just couldn’t cut it anymore. The fix was usually simple: swap out the faulty magazine. More often than not, that was all it took to get back in action.

When the pressure’s on, you need a magazine you can rely on. That’s why the feedback we’ve gotten from members of an Army Airborne Infantry unit, with over 11 years experience, is gold. They pointed us to these top two magazines: Magpul Gen 3 PMAGs and the tan D&H metal magazines from Geissele Automatics. Why these? The D&H mags don’t just stand up to the challenge; they’re built for it, with anti-tilt followers and a coating of tan-catalyzed polyurethane paint that withstands temperature changes and environmental challenges like a champ.

Best AR-15 Magazines: These are The Top 5
(Photo: Clandestine Media Group)

So, when it really counts, you’ll want to have either a Gen 3 PMAG or a D&H tan metal magazine locked and loaded. Everything else? Consider those your training wheels. For anyone serious about their gear, settling for less just isn’t an option.

Top Picks For The Best AR-15 Magazine

Magpul PMAG Gen 3
D&H 5.56 30rd AR15 Magazine, Coyote Tan
Lancer Advanced Warfighter Magazine
ETS  Gen 2 AR-15 Magazine
Duramag USGI Metal Mags

What Makes The Best AR 15 Magazines Reliable?

When it comes to AR-15 magazine reliability, good ole fashioned craftsmanship always wins out. AR-15 Magazines are very simple pieces of gear, composed of a magazine body, a spring, a floor plate and a follower.

One of the most important components of the AR 15 magazine is going to be the follower.

The follower is the portion of the magazine that the ammunition rests on and feeds from. The spring is putting constant tension on the follower and pushing rounds upwards.

The magazine spring is important for a variety of different reasons. Springs are pretty simple and in many ways identical. The difference is in the spring material.

Stainless steel is the material that the best AR 15 magazines use. It’s highly resistant to corrosion and its slick nature ensures smooth reliable operation.

Polymer Mags vs. Metal Mags

The magazine body needs to be tough, and durable. It’s likely going to be dropped, exposed to heat, gun oil, and more. Polymer is highly durable and has become the most popular material used to manufacture AR magazines.

Additionally, polymer AR-15 magazines are lighter and less expensive.

Lower quality polymer plastics will often split at the spine, and the feed lips will break off very easily. It’s hard to find out exactly what polymer material companies use to manufacture magazines, so you have to go by reputation.

How To Choose The Best AR 15 Magazine
(Photo courtesy of the author)

Both styles of magazines will generally be very reliable, last a long time, and serve you well on the range, in the field, and on duty.

Whether you choose polymer or metal, there are a few function tests you can perform to ensure the AR-15 magazine you’re using is within industry specs.

Visual Inspection

This sounds obvious, but take a look at each of your magazines and ensure they are in good structural shape.

Visually check for any cracks or dents to the body. Also check the feed lips to ensure they are not bent, chipped, or deformed in any way.

How To Choose The Best AR 15 Magazine
(Photo courtesy of the author)

Bump Test

Fully load your magazine and tap the bottom sharply against a hard surface.

You’re looking to see if a round ejects out of the magazine. If it does, then there is a good chance that the feed lips are out of spec.

Drop Test

This isn’t what it really sounds like. We’re not actually dropping the magazine. What we are checking for here is how well the magazine drops from the AR when you press the magazine release.

The magazine should drop freely without any assistance from you. Whether the magazine is empty or fully topped off, it should drop freely from the magazine well.

If they do not drop freely from the magazine well, then the body of the magazine may be out of spec.

Finally, ensure that your bolt locks to the rear on an empty magazine. The easiest way to do this is to perform a mag dump and see if the bolt locks back on an empty magazine.

AR15 mag dump

The Best AR 15 Magazines To Buy

Magpul PMAG Gen 3

It should come as no surprise the Magpul PMAG Gen 3 is at the top of our list.

These crush-resistant mags are designed with modified dimensions so they’ll fit not only AR-15’s but the FN SCAR MK16 and HK416.

The PMAG Gen 3 is anti-tilt and includes an insertion stop on the spine to stop the mag from over-inserting.

Additionally, the stainless steel spring is known for having a long service life and the follower is self-lubricating.

Magpul PMAG GEN M3

at AT3 Tactical
Prices accurate at time of writing

D&H 5.56 30rd AR15 Magazine, Coyote Tan

The D&H Tan Metal Magazines from Geissele Automatics have earned their reputation as one of the top two magazine options for AR-15 owners.

Manufactured by D&H, a tier 1 supplier for the M4 carbine, these magazines are built to exacting military standards, ensuring unmatched ruggedness and reliability. They are trusted by armed forces worldwide, a testament to their quality and dependability in demanding conditions. The magazine is constructed from heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum, guaranteeing durability and a long service life.

With a capacity of 30 rounds and designed to accommodate both 5.56×45 and .223 Remington calibers, these magazines are versatile and suitable for various shooting applications. The corrosion-resistant 17-7 PH spring and a Magpul Anti-Tilt Follower ensure smooth feeding and reliability, round after round.

The magazine is finished in a coyote tan catalyzed polyurethane paint for durability.

Made in the USA, the D&H Tan Metal Magazine is more than just a component; it’s an upgrade that reflects your dedication to excellence.

D&H Tan Metal Magazines – 30-Round

at Geissele Automatics
Prices accurate at time of writing

Lancer Magazine

Lancer also did something else different with the Advanced Warfighter Magazine.

Instead of the magazine construction being 100% polymer like the Magpul PMAG, the Advanced Warfighter Magazine has steel feed lips attached to its polymer body.

These Lancer magazines are considered to be much more durable than magazines with aluminum feed lips.

They’ll cost you about the same as a Magpul PMAG, are pretty easy to find, and are just as reliable, if not more, than other magazines on this list.

Lancer Advanced Warfighter Magazine

at AT3 Tactical
Prices accurate at time of writing


Hexmags made the cut for a few reasons. First, they are some of the most affordable AR 15 magazines you can buy.

Second, Hexmags gain their name from the unique hexagonal texturing on their magazines. This increases your ability to grip the magazine with or without gloves.

The magazines are incredibly durable, lightweight, and designed to have a long service life. They use anti-tilt followers, stainless steel springs, and excellent body design.

Hexmag Series 2 AR-15 .223/5.56 30-Round Polymer Magazine

at AT3 Tactical
Prices accurate at time of writing

USGI Style Metal Magazines | Duramag

Over the past 10 years, Duramag has built a well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality, trustworthy magazines. The Duramag stainless steel magazine is no exception with its heavy-duty body, bright orange follower, and tough EVERFLEX spring.

Duramag put some serious time and money into research and development to come up with their LIPLOCK technology and Advanced Geometry Followers. It’s that dedication and design that makes it possible for them to promise 100% reliability.

Duramag magazines won’t crack or swell like some polymer magazines are prone to doing. The company’s T-360 coating is used on these magazines in tandem with improved internal geometry to promote consistent feeding.

Duramag AR-15 .223/5.56mm Stainless Steel 30-Round Magazine

at AT3 Tactical
Prices accurate at time of writing

High Capacity AR-15 Magazines

Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine

The PMAG D-60 stands as an example of innovation in ammunition storage and delivery. Manufactured with meticulous precision, this drum magazine is made for those who seek durability, reliability, and higher capacity. It is constructed to accommodate 60 rounds of 5.56×45 NATO/.223 ammunition. This enhanced storage effectively doubles the usual capacity of standard 30-round magazines, thus, giving the shooter the luxury of focusing on the target without the interruption of frequent reloading.

Magpul PMAG D-60® AR/M4 GEN M3®

at Magpul
Prices accurate at time of writing

What sets the PMAG D-60 apart is its unique drum design. Unlike other high-capacity magazines, its compact configuration doesn’t compromise the shooter’s ability to fire in the prone position. Furthermore, its design ensures that the magazine doesn’t become too cumbersome, making it more comfortable for the shooter and facilitating easier storage.

Functionality is beautifully coupled with user-friendly features. The magazine boasts an intuitive loading lever which simplifies the reloading process. For those who like to personalize or categorize their magazines, the paint pen dot matrix comes in handy for effortless marking. Moreover, with its transparent rear window, users can swiftly gauge the number of remaining rounds, ensuring that they’re always battle-ready.

Surefire AR-15 60-Round Magazine

Introducing the Surefire 60-round extended magazine, a game-changer for AR-15 owners who demand superior firepower and reliability. Designed for AR-15 rifles chambered in .223 Rem/5.56x45mm, this high-capacity magazine elevates your shooting experience.

Surefire AR-15 .223 / 5.56 60-Round Magazine

at GunMag Warehouse
Prices accurate at time of writing

Constructed from high-quality anodized aluminum, this magazine promises longevity and resilience. The inclusion of cadmium-coated springs ensures consistent feeding, while the special nesting followers offer smooth operation and enhanced durability. These combined features ensure that this extended magazine is not just an accessory, but a valuable upgrade for your AR-15 rifle.

With a legacy backed by the US military’s trust for decades, the AR-15 rifle stands out as a symbol of reliability and power. When paired with Surefire’s extended magazine, the results are astounding: an unprecedented blend of firepower and unwavering reliability.

Widening its usability, these magazines are compatible with any STANAG 4179-designated rifle. They seamlessly fit in standard MOLLE pouches, ensuring convenience in carrying. Remarkably, these magazines are designed to be stored and loaded for prolonged durations without compromising their performance.

Invest in a few Surefire 60-round magazines for your AR-15 and witness unparalleled firepower at your fingertips.

AR-15 Magazine Accessories

When you’ve invested in a top-of-the-line AR-15, enhancing its functionality with the right accessories is the next logical step. Among the plethora of add-ons available in the market, two that stand out particularly for magazines are the AR-15 magazine coupler and the Magpul PMAG Ranger Plate.

The AR-15 magazine coupler is a simple yet effective accessory, primarily designed to facilitate quicker reloads. Holding two magazines side by side, it ensures that the shooter has a fresh magazine at the ready after the first one is emptied. This not only saves precious seconds in a high-intensity situation but also reduces the need to reach for a new magazine from a pouch or pocket. They are made of durable materials, ensuring longevity even with rough use.

Lancer Systems AR-15/M16 L5 Magazine Coupler

at Brownells
Prices accurate at time of writing

On the other hand, the Magpul PMAG Ranger Plate is an accessory tailor-made for the Magpul PMAG magazines. The Ranger Plate replaces the standard floorplate and provides an integral loop, which serves multiple purposes. It allows for faster extraction and handling from pouches, ensures better control while handling the magazine, and offers improved drop protection. A slight tug on the loop ensures you have a firm grip on your magazine, making operations smooth and fumble-free.

PMAG® Ranger Plate™ – AR/M4 GEN M3®, 3 Pack

at Magpul
Prices accurate at time of writing

Both these accessories, while small, can significantly upgrade your AR-15’s magazine utility, ensuring better performance when it counts.

Wrapping It Up

Magazines seem like they should be a simple purchase.

After all, they don’t need to do anything more than hold ammunition and feed it to the gun.

An out-of-spec magazine will make even the best AR-15 nothing more than a metal club. Stick with magazines like those mentioned above, and you’ll have a much better day at the range, out in the field, or more importantly, on duty.

Table of Contents

  • Top Picks For The Best AR-15 Magazine
  • What Makes The Best AR 15 Magazines Reliable?
  • Polymer Mags vs. Metal Mags
  • Visual Inspection
  • Bump Test
  • Drop Test
  • The Best AR 15 Magazines To Buy
  • Magpul PMAG Gen 3
  • D&H 5.56 30rd AR15 Magazine, Coyote Tan
  • Lancer Magazine
  • Hexmag
  • USGI Style Metal Magazines | Duramag
  • High Capacity AR-15 Magazines
  • Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine
  • Surefire AR-15 60-Round Magazine
  • AR-15 Magazine Accessories
  • Wrapping It Up

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