Read all about it: Magazines

Do you actually know what components make up your AR magazine…your pistol magazine?  Tactically, what can you do to your magazines to aid in the ease of access and utility?  All things considered, what makes magazines go bad?  Today we decided to break down magazines for all of our wacky readers out there!!!  Hopefully we’re able to share some knowledge with you guys and debunk some of those crazy magazine myths!!!

First things first, lets officially define the term magazine as it relates to firearms…. A magazine is a method of ammunition storage and feeding within (or sometimes attached to) a semi-automatic or self repeating firearm.  These storage devices come in both the detachable (i.e. AR-15 mags, Glock mags) or integral (i.e. internal box magazines) variations.  Operationally, magazines are used to move the ammunition from within the magazine itself into a point to where they may be loaded into the money position and ready to fire!  All of this motion is caused by the specific action of the firearm.  

When looking at the components that make up firearm magazines there are 4 basic parts:  the magazine body, the follower, the spring, and the baseplate.  The magazine body is the formal structure used to store the ammunition.  The follower is an internal device at the top of the magazine spring that moves the cartridges to the top of the magazine to be loaded into the chamber of the firearm.  The baseplate covers the bottom of the magazine.  If any of these parts has problems it is advisable to simply toss the entire magazine into the trash and buy a new one.

***One thing we want to note here is that popular culture has adopted the word “clip” when referring to magazines and that is just plain old WRONG, WRONG, WRONG !! !! !!


One frequent question we get from our students and readers deals with what exactly makes magazines go bad.  Well…that could happen for a host of different reasons.  First and foremost constant use can make magazines go bad.  The springs that are used to load and unload magazines have specific stress points where they bend and after time and repeated use these stress points go bad, the springs go bad, and the magazine tends to stop working properly.  At this point it’s probably best to simply throw that one away and head to your local gun shop for more mags!  Other causes for magazines going bad include bad followers, poor construction/materials, and issues with the magazine baseplate. It’s always good practice to inspect, clean, and test your magazines periodically to ensure reliability.


More than likely, when you purchase your AR magazines from the store, they come with a standard base plate that looks similar to the magazine in the middle of the picture above.  Depending on the magazine manufacturer this may be made of polymer or steel.  Making magazines easier to access from waist or vest storage, the “Magpul” was invented.  There is a small loop that is used to simply slide a finger in and pull!  These also aid in protecting the bottom of the magazine when tactically reloading.  Taking tactical abilities to the next step, the Ranger Plates were introduced.  These not only allow for ease of access from storage and protection from tactical reloads, but they also give the shooter the opportunity to place the magazine directly on the deck and still safely and effectively fire the rifle.  All of these after-market additions to your magazines are very simple and easy to attach at home, usually with no major tools (simply read the instructions guys!!!).

Magazines, either internal or detachable, are integral to the operation of our firearm.  When cleaning up after a trip to the range, don’t forget to pay attention to the health of your magazines guys.

***  If you are unfamiliar with firearms and/or their accessories, and want to learn more, PSA strongly suggests that you find, enroll, and attend a comprehensive and reputable firearms safety course. Firearms safety is all of OUR responsibility.  

We want to thank you for taking out the time to stop by our lane at the shooting range!!  We hope that you enjoyed your stay and hope that you stop back by early and often to catch up on all PSA updates!  We truly hope that we were able to hit the target, and if you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to shoot them our way!!  We look forward to shooting the breeze with you soon again!!

And as always….remember to watch your six and stay low!!!

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