Why I Don't Use PMAGs

Alex C.
by Alex C.

The Magpul PMAG is a great, well designed magazine that many people like and use in various rifles around the world, but over the years I have discovered that they are not the best option for me personally. It isn’t that they are bad (in fact they feed and run very well in certain firearms) but in my years of shooting I have simply found that other products may better suit a myriad of shooters.

Transcript …

– Hey, everyone. It’s Alex C. with TFBTV.

I get asked a lot why, in almost all of my reviews or videos, I use good old-fashioned U.S. GI steel magazines in lieu of Magpul PMAGs, a popular alternative that most shooters these days are familiar with.

Well, there are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, I will readily acknowledge that PMAGs are a great magazine.

They are reliable, well-constructed, and produced by a company that has a great reputation.

That said, there is a reason that there are generations of these magazines.

New firearms are designed around common Colt-pattern mags, and Magpul has to keep accommodating new designs with generational changes, or new offerings altogether, like they did with the EMAG.

Problems I have run into in the past include, firstly, that they won’t drop free in a lot of firearms.

I like the idea that I can accomplish a speedy reload by pressing a button and kicking a magazine out.

This is not the case with PMAGs in many platforms.

Seen here is a few examples of when a PMAG has to be manually removed: a problem that isn’t present most of the time with plain old aluminum magazines.

Next up is damage to the SCAR.

Using PMAGs can actually do irreparable damage to an FN SCAR rifle.

The mags cause the bolt catch to rise ever so slightly and drag on the bolt lugs, which results in significant damage over time.

I realized you can fix this by filing or dremeling off some material on the rear of the mag body, or by using whatever generation of magazine they implemented to fix this, or you could just arrive at my next point and save four or five dollars more by purchasing a GI mag.

New production Colt-pattern U.S. GI mags are four to five dollars cheaper than generation three PMAGs.

I personally don’t see why I would spend an extra five bucks for magazines that won’t drop free in all my guns, may or may not be compatible with new and upcoming guns, and my next point: won’t fit in all my guns.

PMAGs are pretty notorious for not wanting to work in various platforms, including guns like the HK-416 and M27-IAR.

Note here that this PMAG will not insert into this civilian version of the HK-416, due to the odd body geometry.

Also, PMAGs had trouble fitting in firearms like the British SA-80/L-85, and will not fit in the FN FS-2000 without the user modifying the weapon by removing a component that serves to seal the weapon from dirt and debris.

To my knowledge, no PMAGs will work in the FS-2000 to this day without modification.

Lastly, not only are PMAGs more expensive than the alternative, but also heavier.

While the weight difference may not seem like much to a civilian shooter who packs up his shiny, clean competition rifle into his Pelican case and totes it to and from the range in the family truckster, you hear about things like guys cutting toothbrushes in half to save weight in the military.

Like you hear military folk say, “Ounces equal pounds.” And in the case of the PMAG, a full loadout saves the user a bit of weight.

Not a back-breaking amount, mind you, but not insignificant.

So, for people who only have AR-15s and only shoot AR-15s, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and just assume that PMAGs are the greatest, and the end-all, be-all answer for all shooters, while overlooking the needs of other people.

I liken this to a person who lives in an urban area with an office job, assuming that nobody needs anything more than a Toyota Camry, while overlooking the fact that some people need things such as towing capacity, off-road capability, or more seats for a larger family.

We are all guilty of doing this, in one way or another.

But with firearms, there really is seldom a “one size fits all” option for, well, anything.

Magazines are no different.

Because of the cost difference, weight, compatibility issues, and not dropping free in many platforms, I’ll stick with what I know works.

Of course, this is just my opinion, based on my personal experiences, and your mileage may vary.

Again, though, I would like to recognize that PMAGs are a quality product and Magpul is very receptive to user feedback.

This is Alex C. With TFB TV.

Special thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping us out with the cost of ammo, and a special thank you to you all for watching.

We hope to see you next time.

Alex C.
Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

More by Alex C.

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2 of 211 comments
  • Uniontown One Uniontown One on Jul 26, 2016

    Alex, you missed the whole point..you can't use Rit dye to change the magazine's color, with standard mags!¡

  • Core Core on Jul 26, 2016

    When you say good ol fashioned steel mags you mean usgi aluminum mags?