Gear Review: Hexmag HX30-AR AR-15 Magazine

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Hexmag’s first product on the shooting market is, appropriately, their hexagon-patterned 30 round AR-15 magazine. According to Hexmag literature, the HX30-AR offers an alternative 30 round high impact resistant fiber reinforced polymer magazine design with an anti-tilt follower, USGI spec magazine spring, tool-less disassembly, and the HexID magazine identification system. I received several magazines for testing and evaluation, and my first impressions were good. For an initial offering, the HX30-AR looks great, with a satin-esque finish that I find attractive. The magazines feel sturdy, and well made, with no blemishes on any of the examples I received. The HexID colored followers and spring guides look attractive, and offer a good option for those interested in magazine differentiation, such as law enforcement or civilian users.

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The HX30-AR possesses a very attractive satin finish, which complements well its unique hexagonal reinforcement pattern.

The inevitable comparison to be made is against Magpul’s PMag line of magazines. In terms of their design, I would certainly not call the HX30-AR a copy of the PMag, as from a dimensional perspective it shares more in common with aluminum USGI magazines than Magpul’s offering – the one significant similarity with the PMag being the constant curvature of the inside of the mag body. However, there’s no denying that the HX30-AR is a new challenger to the PMag in the field of polymer magazines, or that they are very similar offerings.

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The tower design of the HX30-AR is significantly different from that of the PMag Gen M2, possessing thicker feed lips, more substantial bullet guide ribs, different feed geometry, and a different anti-tilt follower design.

Like most polymer magazines of the current generation, the HX30-AR has extra relief on the front of the mag body, presumably allowing compatibility with the HK 416, L85, and other species of rifles with slightly different magwell dimensions than the AR-15. However, as I do not have access to an HK 416 or L85, I was unable to test whether it actually does seat and feed in those rifles.

The most unique feature of the magazine is its HexID system, consisting of colored spring guides and followers which can be purchased from Hexmag to allow magazine identification. Besides adding greater variety, this allows the user, such as a police department, to segregate different types of ammunition via the color of the spring guide or follower. I could see this being very useful when lethal and training ammunition is used in one department, or for a civilian user who just wants to be able to tell at a glance whether the magazine they grabbed has inexpensive Bear ammunition, or expensive Black Hills ammunition in it.

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A lineup of all the HexID colors. Left to right, Panther Pink, Lava Red, Hexmag Orange, Hazard Yellow, Zombie Green, Nimbus Blue, and Blackout. As can be seen, by the time this picture was taken, the Zombie Green magazine had already been destroyed in testing.

To test the HX30-AR, I turned to the classic “run over it with a deuce and a half” test. However, since I don’t have a deuce and a half, I opted for my Honda moving at about 30 miles per hour, instead. Running against the HX30-AR was one of my Magpul PMag Gen M2s. Initially, my intent was to run over the magazines with the car, and then see how they functioned in a shooting test, but as you will see, things got… Interesting.

The first test – running over the magazines unloaded at about 30 miles an hour – went as I expected. Both the Zombie Green HX30-AR and the PMag survived with only minor scuffs and scrapes.

 

 

The next test, which is one I don’t see performed often, was to load both magazines with 20 rounds of Bear ammunition, and then run over at the same 30 mph speed. Unfortunately, there was a technical glitch, and so there is no footage of the HX30-AR undergoing this test, but I nevertheless got good pictures of the aftermath.

 

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The HX30-AR cracked along the spine severely during the loaded runover test, rendering it unusable…

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…And the PMag Gen M2 didn’t fair any better, either.

The results were dramatic. Both the PMag and the Hexmag failed the test, spilling rounds all over the road, and being cracked along their seams so severely that neither would seat. The HX30-AR experienced cracks both front and back, while the Gen M2 PMag experienced severe cracking only along the back. It seems likely to me that this difference wasn’t due to any structural or design disparity, but because the PMag was hit differently by the car. Regardless, neither magazine would hold rounds through even light shaking, or seat in the magwell of my Colt 6920. They were toast.

For the shooting portion of the review, I switched to the Nimbus Blue magazine, and continued. While a most thorough review would put several hundred rounds through a single magazine, budget limitations restricted my shooting portion to a mere 138 rounds, all of which were fired through the Nimbus Blue magazine, and most fired as quickly as the shooter could pull the trigger. I had no problems with the Nimbus Blue magazine.

In sum, my impression of the HX30-AR magazine was a very positive one. While I wouldn’t suggest PMag owners selling off their stock and buying a pile of new HX30-ARs, I think I might choose the HX30-AR over the Gen M2 Pmag if I were looking to buy new magazines. The HX30-AR is several dollars cheaper, has a neat identification system, looks good, and doesn’t seem to work any less well than the PMag. In the opinion of this blogger, while it may not bring anything flashy or “revolutionary” to the table, it is a welcome addition to the AR-15 polymer magazine market.

Final Thoughts: Don’t run over your polymer magazines when they’re loaded, if you want to still be able to use them afterward. I think it’s likely that the follower plays a significant part in supporting the tower of the magazine during crushing stress, and that rounds don’t do nearly as good a job, leading to failures when the magazines are loaded. It seems probable to me that all polymer AR-15 magazines are susceptible to this failure.

HX30-AR magazines can currently be purchased online from Apex Gun Parts, Wise Tactical, and Dark Sky Solutions.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • JaxD

    Are the spring guide colors visible when loaded? If not, you can only id empties.

    • SDague

      there is a color matched hex shape on the base plate. When you replace the follower, you replace the matching color ID in base plate. No photo is showing this but if you look on the home page http://www.hexmag.com/products.html it is clearly seen.

      • theCRASE.com

        That does add a little bit of an identifier but a window on the sides front or rear along with the bottom would be easier to utilize especially if on the go.

      • Unfortunately, all of my pictures of the hexagonal shape on the spring guide came out very blurry, and deadlines being what they are, none made it into the article.

      • Patrick Henry,The2nd

        Ah that linked helped a bunch. Thanks, I might try these.

    • JaxD

      Thanks all.

    • The spring guide colors are always visible.

  • sianmink

    “HexID system, consisting of colored spring guides and followers”

    The follower is invisible when the mag is loaded, and the spring guide is just a little dot on the bottom of the mag. I just don’t see a lot of utility there. I’d personally want to rely on something a little more visible on the sides and/or back of the magazine body.

    • I found the HexID system fairly useful, even if a colored baseplate would allow for more ready identification. To me, their big advantage is being cheaper than PMags. That, and I really like the way they look.

      • iksnilol

        Good reasons.

        If you want to stick to your current mags you can always wrap some tape around it (different colors for different loads).

    • Patrick Henry,The2nd

      That’s my thought too. If the color was more visible when loaded, I’d be all over it. Otherwise, I’m sticking with USGI mags.

    • Sam Schifo

      I wish that someone would start selling colored base plates for USGI and PMags. Otherwise I’ll stick with tape.

  • iksnilol

    Better to use electricians tape around the mag for identification (there are different colors of tape).

    Regarding the mag; the hex design is so cool! Does anybody do hex pattern camo?

    • Paladin

      Kryptek camos have a fairly predominant hex pattern

  • MrApple

    I like the hex pattern on the sides of the mags. And I like the bright cheery colors of the followers. But aren’t the followers only going to be seen when the magazine is empty? These seem like a nice idea but nothing that Magpul can’t duplicate. That being said if I saw the Hexmags at my local gun store or gun show I would pick up a couple and try them out.