Suggestions on Magazine Purchase and Use

Pointers for Buying and Using Firearm Magazines

This is intended as a guide to the use and purchase of magazines. Some pointers may not apply to everyone. But is a general purpose guide. Your comments are welcome.

Buy New Factory Magazines whenever possible. Recently we were talking with a hunter whose rifle didn’t chamber a round from an inexpensive (cheap) aftermarket magazine.  He told us, ” I was hunting and it almost cost me a big buck.” Now, he only buys factory magazines. Let’s take that a step further, it could have been a real-life self defense scenario and it could have been very expensive \ dangerous. There are a couple of exceptions to this guideline. Some manufacturers don’t deliver the best quality magazines with their firearms.

You might save a few dollars buying used but if the magazine needs a spring replacement now, or soon, the chances are your paying over the odds for a magazine. You’ve got to spend time tracking down a spring or a follower. Recently we were talking with a person who purchased a used magazine for $19 from the gun show, it turned out we had the same new magazine available for $22 at the same gun show. We think that is just bad strategy, false logic and false economy.

Be aware that manufacturers sometimes change specifications some times without any notice. An unannounced new follower or a new generation of magazines for instance can change the characteristics of the magazine that it will not chamber certain kinds of ammunition. We encourage you to always test following purchase and before going in to harms way.

Always Test your new magazines with the ammunition you shoot.  If you change ammunition you should test again, that doesn’t mean going to the ‘match’ to test it out. It should be done before the match. Our best match performances were achieved by shooting on the day before a match, checking for function and zero. You would be amazed how many people  just don’t do this. Recently a manufacturer changed the follower in one of their production 9mm magazines. Ammunition that had previously worked in the pistol with different magazines –   (jacketed hollow points) – would no longer chamber. A call to the magazine manufacturer’s customer support resulted in replacement older style followers that then worked.

Categorize your magazines  – Training – Defense – Competition, etc. If you’re going to the range to practice take your practice magazines – these may be older magazines, maybe  they  are designated just for practice, perhaps the springs are worn and could \ should be replaced. They may be good for dropping on the ground etc. Maybe this is the place to use those third party magazines you have. Try not to mix your defensive magazines into the practice mix unless you are testing them.

It really helps to Identify Magazines – you can use stickers to number them on the base plate. We sometimes use a Sharpie marker in different colors; red, blue, try silver or gold on those Black polymer magazines. Having an identifier on the magazine helps you when one or more has a problem, you can mark them as defensive magazines and or practice mags.

New Magazines difficult to load – this seems to be particularly true for those new ten round magazines which are available in states with restricted capacities, but can also affect new higher or standard capacity magazines. Load the magazine almost to its full capacity and leave them loaded for several days to compress the spring, then after a couple of days unload the magazine and reload it – now you should be able to load it easier and achieve full capacity easier. Also entertain a Maglula loader (formerly called Butler Creek Lula Loader) or a comparable  loading device.

How many magazines do I need my gun came with two? We generally recommend a minimum of four or five for taking a  pistol firearm class, to maximize shooting time and minimize needed breaks to reload a magazines so that way we can continue the drills. Magazines seem to disappear  (at least for us,) they get damaged, springs wear out. Serious shooters generally have lots of magazines for their guns.

Entertain purchasing  at least one Weighted Practice Magazine – these specialty magazines, resemble the weight of a  fully loaded magazine. They are inert, cannot be loaded with ammunition and used for training and drills. Practice loading and unloading the pistol, magazine changes clearing malfunctions etc. They are not expensive generally around $20 or so. Available for a few pistols, Glock, 1911, Sig.


To be continued

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