Shotgun News test AR-15 magazines

Shotgun News magazine has published an AR-15 magazine torture test. The author, David M. Fortier, summarized the article on …

85 8.5 foot drop test. The Tango Down, PMAG and TAPCO all split down the spine.

Many more tests than these were performed. For the full write-up check out the Shotgun News article.

My thoughts:

PMAGs are very good, but not as indestructible as some think.

Aluminum mags are not as bad as some think.

You should consider checking out Lancer’s mag…..they surprised me.

If MSARs mag dropped free they would be an interesting option.

Dropping mags onto cement is A LOT tougher on them then running them over with a SUV….

but all those videos from the various mag companies sure did work wonders for advertising didn’t they…..

Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link.

UPDATE: The drop test was 8.5 feet, not 85 feet.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Lance

    Thats why I only use Aluminum GI mags. I dont like plastic!

  • Bill Lester

    Let the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth begin at barfcom!

    On the downside, I think the value of my PMag horde just took a serious hit. I was figuring on selling for 3-4 times what I paid for them the next time the President sneezes in the direction of Fairfax Virginia! Maybe the G.I. aluminum ones can balance out some of the loss…

  • Malchira

    Just a minor correction, but per the thread, the drop distance was 8.5 feet, not 85 feet. I was curious because, while 85 feet might have been an interesting test, it didn’t seem to have much real-world applicability. 😉

    • Malchira, haha, well spotted. Yes, it would be interesting!

  • Cliff

    If I might suggest, that was an 8POINT5 foot drop test, not an 85 foot drop test!

  • Concerned_Soldier

    Why was there an 85ft drop test?

    How about 2 or 4ft drop test, that is about as high as I have ever dropped one from and my job requires me to carry them. I swear some of the standards people put on equipment amaze me. Don’t get me wrong, I want my equipment to work, but…

    I have served my entire adult life and never have I seen or heard of any of these things happening.




  • TCD

    Uh…. it was 8.5 feet… Pesky little dot 😉


  • d

    i doubt even a metal mag can survive an 85 foot drop.

  • d

    oh my bad, the thread shows 8.5 feet not 85 feet (missing the decimal). I was wondering why 85 feet heh

  • Carl

    Eh… “85 foot drop test”? Do people often drop their magazines from this height and expect them to still work?

    Dropping them several times from 5 feet seems like a more useful test to me.

  • I won’t likely ever be dropping a magazine from 85 feet so this would essentially be a non-issue for me.

  • Fred

    I think it was an 8.5 foot drop of the back of that truck… not an 85 footer.

    I’ll still be sticking with my Pmags. I don’t plan on dropping them 8+ feet onto concrete anytime soon, and they’re cheaper than GI mags, and just as, if not more reliable(assuming you don’t drop them lips first onto concrete from a high distance…)

  • Who the hell drops a magazine from 85 feet? And who cares if it breaks from that height? Your rifle will break from 85 feet. YOU will break from 85 feet. Ridiculous test.

  • Vak

    I am not a firearm expert but seriously, but :

    – in what possible fighting situation a magazine could be dropped from over 85 feets (roughly 28 meters, or a 9 stories building) ? You don’t drop magazines from airplanes to resupply the troops, or throw your magazines from your appartment into your car because carrying them to your car before driving to the range is too much of an hassle.

    – And even then, why would someone who dropped one of his magazine down a well try go through the trouble of picking it up and use it ?

    I mean, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s llike building your weapon to survive a nuclear blast 100 meters away (as you’ll be rather unlikely to use that weapon after having been blown to fine radioactive dust).

  • Haha, after looking up the article in question: it’s 8.5 feet, not 85 feet! Quite a typo.

  • jdun1911

    8.5 foot drop, not 85 foot drop. He did that height because soldier experience that kind of magazine drop on top of vehicles.

    Pmag are very good magazine I have over ten 30 round magazines and ten 20 round magazines. I also have over ten Lance 30 round magazine and ten 20 round magazines. As well as over 40 GI magazines and other brand magazines.

    I recommend Pmag to anybody. However the problem I have with Pmag isn’t with the magazine but with the fanboys and magpul marketing rep.

    Magpul has stated that their magazine is combat tested and the run over by a truck test doesn’t determine the reliability of the magazine. Well that’s right, it doesn’t but when your magazine came out you guys made a video showing how strong Pmag were by running your magazine over a SUV IIRC and running other brand of magazine. That’s how Pmag goes from being a no name magazine to a must have overnight. Now you guys are saying it doesn’t count when other are doing it and I called that’s BS.

    The other brand of magazine that you ran over few years back had combat experience and Pmag at that time didn’t. You guys are now saying that combat experience is better then getting run over by a SUV. Isn’t that kind of hypocrite?

    I remember the debate with SMGLEE about the Tango Down ARC magazine. They promoted as a modular magazine. What modular about it when both half are glued together. The ARC hairline cracked in the spine when it first came out and Tango Down says it was normal. Not sure it they fix the problem or not. Not only that the military version doesn’t fit in a standard mag pouch. Give me a break.

  • KP

    85 foot drop? What is that, the “oops I hurled my magazine off a building and it managed to land on its lips” test!? None of these tests seem worth while.

    USGI mags are cool. PMAGs are cool (like the new dust cover). yay.

  • Matt Groom

    Even though Colt is now demonstrating all their new models with P-mags, Chris Bartocci, author of the Black Rifle II, told me recently that the Lancer mags are also very good in the testing Colt has done.

    In my experience, I’ll stick with P-mags and the MSARs because they’ve both worked great. Haven’t used any Lancers yet. Lots of experience with the Aluminum ones hath shown that they can be great, or they can be worthless depending on an almost infinite number of variables.

  • Erik

    I like Pmags 🙂

  • Lance

    Ha ha I think some blog fans are steamed that Pmags and TD mags arnt as good as they thought.

  • jdun1911

    Here is another thread started by Gunwritr. It on the General Discussion so it gets more replies. Like all loco fanboys, Magpul fanboys can’t believe the Pmag isn’t perfect. They defend it no matter what.

    I’m a fanboy of the AR but I also realize that it isn’t perfect, nothing is. That’s why I keep giving Steve stories of AR failures, like KB! and barrel felling off. However IMO it is the best combat rifle out there.

    This is the video that made Pmag the go to mag overnight. Magpul reps are now discounting the truck running over the magazine test because other brands are doing what they did in that video.

    Pmag are very good magazine. If it between Lancer and Pmag, I recommend Pmag because of cost. If cost isn’t a factor Lancer is the way to go. My go to mag are Lancer. I like Lance because it has a harden heat treated metal feed lip and a rubber floor plate. It is also made by a company that has years in the plastic business. So they know their stuff.

    The thing that I don’t like about the current Lancer magazine is it take a little more effort to get it seated in a double mag pouch because of the ribs. Thus, tactical reloads take a little more longer.

    GI aluminum magazines are great. I have over 40 of them. I highly recommend replacing the standard follower with anti-tilt version, tho.

  • Anything can be tortured to death, it’s sad looking at those abused/tortured polymer mags.

    Good thing I’m only 5′.11″ and my guns at shoulder height, I will only run into this problem if I drop it off a cliff and I’m not going to climb down after it, not after seeing what happens at 8′ ft “eight feet”!

    So polymer is the way to go, I like them & haven’t ever had a problems “Knock on wood” light weight and just feels good. Now what to do with all my aluminum mags? I’ll Keep them too, their proven to work & cost too damn much not to use them.

    Be sure and click on my name above to see how well they perform.

  • Destroyer

    aluminum mags don’t fare much better. They dent and warp (especially those feed lips, which makes me cringe). ill take my changes with the PMAGs and Lancers.

  • Lance

    Say what you say. But I work with metal mags and ill stay with them.

  • JFever

    Wow pmags suck!

    After see this im sticking to my G.I mags

    Tango down, pmag and all the other polymer mag companys should look into having there mags steel lined like glock did. I drop my glock 17 mag all the time and it still hasnt cracked.

  • dab

    Why not round it off to 8″ or 9″ that way you avoid the risk of confusion. I don’t think this test has a practical relevance, though. Vertical drop at that height is not a likely combat scenario.

  • dab

    Why not round it off to 8′ or 9′ that way you avoid the risk of confusion. I don’t think this test has a practical relevance, though. Vertical drop at that height is not a likely combat scenario.

    [please delete previous post of inches instead of feet]