For the last few years, Magpul has dominated the AR-15 magazine market. Their polymer magazines not only are battle proven, but they look so damn cool in your gun! And for the weekend warrior, that’s all that matters. But there were some faults with the old generation of PMAGs, and Magpul wasn’t happy with that state of affairs. So they went back to the drawing board, and what emerged was their Gen M3 magazines.
Some of you might be asking yourself, “what issues? I thought the old PMAGs were perfect!” And if all you own is an American AR-15, you’re right. The magazines were pretty darn good. They fit in your gun perfectly, ran like a champ, and looked great. But if you were using anything other than an AR-15, life got a little complicated.
The HK-416, for example, doesn’t like the standard PMAGs. Nor did many other countries’ guns who were built to NATO specs for the magazines. For them, a special PMAG was required which looked very similar to the regular ones but with different dimensions. As you can imagine, when you’re rooting around for a magazine and they’ve all been jumbled together it can be annoying to try and find the one that works in your gun.
Another issue arose when soldiers were trying to fit the magazines into their magazine pouches. The larger baseplate on the PMAGs meant that the magazines didn’t stack smoothly into the pouches and needed to be staggered, much like the ammunition in a Mosin Nagant.
Magpul fixed all these issues and more with their latest incarnation.
The biggest difference with the new PMAG isn’t how it looks — its how it feels. Magpul went with a different material for the M3, making the magazine body feel a little rougher in texture than the old magazines and strengthening the body and lips of the magazine. In magazines a rough texture is appreciated, since it gives the operator more grip on the mag when playing with it.
Not being happy with simply claiming that these magazines were tougher, Magpul decided to perform a series of tests on their mags and prove on video that they out perform the standard metal magazines. They dropped it on the lips, they dropped a rifle on it, ran over it with a large truck, produced explosions near it, froze it and THEN dropped it, dropped it when loaded into a gun, and even shot it, and it still functioned every time. Perfectly.
Compared to them, my minor testing (so far) was paltry. But knowing that they had done the heavy lifting I felt the only thing left to do was get it dirty and see what happened. So a dirt bath later for both the magazine and the gun and with silencer attached, it still functioned.
What are the differences with this new magazine, other than the material? The biggest change you’ll notice is that there’s an overtravel stop on the back of the magazine. That’s designed to keep shooters from jamming the magazine too far into their gun, as it will hit the magazine well and stop the mag from going any further.
Unfortunately, the overtravel stop is causing some issues with AR-15 rifles that have funky magazine wells. Like the Seekins Precision SP 223. According to Magpul this is only an issue in less than 1% of AR-15 rifles, but if you’re in that 1% and want the new shiny magazines its going to be a pain in the ass filing that overtravel stop off your magazines. Magpul is apparently working with the manufacturers involved to get them to conform to the Mil Spec a little closer, but for those already with those firearms the damage is done. Good news for the other 99%: if your lower looks “normal” and doesn’t have a dragon’s head for the magazine well or something, you’re good.
Another new feature is the ribbing on the front and rear of the magazine. BTW, you have no idea how badly I’m trying to avoid a condom joke here. The ribbing is designed to give shooters a better grip on the magazine as it is inserted… As you handle… So that when its slippery… Know what? I give up. Moving on.
As I alluded to before, the baseplate has also been re-designed. Its smaller, but still not as flat as the standard USGI magazines.
What’s the verdict, then? My opinion is that they’re nifty, and if I wanted to buy new PMAGs in the future these would be a nice addition to the existing sizeable collection. But for competition shooting, I still like the Lancer L5 magazines a bit better due to the metal feed lips and ring around the top of the mag and the thinner base. Then again, that’s just me.
Specifications: Magpul Mod M3 PMAGs
Ratings (out of five)
Feel & Function * * * * *
They’re nice and grippy, and they work in my rifles. All of them.
Overall Rating * * * *
Are they so awesome that you should go out and replace your entire existing stock of PMAGs? No. But if you’re looking for some new magazines anyway, these aren’t a bad choice.