Magazines are one of the key components of any modern sporting rifle. Mags are one best and easiest ways to customize your gun. With dozens of options on the market, it can be nearly impossible to find the best ones.
Luckily, we've put in the time so that you don't have to.
Comparison of the Best M4 Magazines
Magpul PMAG 30 5.56x45mm Magazine (30 Round Capacity)
Lancer Systems - AR-15 L5awm Translucent Smoke Magazine 30-rd
Best for the Money
Magpul PMAG 30 M3 Maglevel, 5.56x45 Magazine Mag556-BLK
Surefire - AR-15 60rd Magazine 223/5.56
Magpul - AR-15 60rd PMAG D-60 223/5.56
Why Do I Need Spare Magazines For My M4?
There are many reasons that spare magazines can be essential for any shooting scenario. In many scenarios, such as tactical work or certain types of competition, extra mags are an absolute necessity. In the former case particularly, spare mags could be a matter of life and death.
In this case, you'll want as many high capacity mags as you can carry. Even if you are just spending a day at the range, you will want to make the most out of your shooting time. In this case, having more mags means fewer breaks from shooting to reload.
Besides, you will probably want to try out different loads or bullet types, and using differently labeled mags is a great way to organize them. Having spare mags is also a good idea if you plan to do different types of shooting. Small, handy mags for hunting mid-sized game, and big bananas for plinking or shooting varmints.
How to Choose M4 Magazines
It always bears repeating that the top priority with firearms components is reliability. The best way to ensure that you get the most reliable mag is to go with a reputable company and a proven model. Veteran-owned manufacturers with major military contracts are generally best.
Beyond that, you need to choose the material. Most mags are made either of steel, aluminum or polymer, in order from heaviest to lightest. Metal mags are more crack and shatter-proof than polymer ones, but polymer mags won't dent like metal mags.
If you choose a polymer mag, choose one with steel feed lips to prevent eventual wear. Polymer mags can be translucent, letting you check how many rounds are left. Easy mag disassembly is important to allow cleaning and maintenance.
Springs should be non-corrosive and followers should be anti-tilt and self-righting. Choose smaller mags for hunting anything but varmints and larger mags for most other applications.
Review of the Best M4 Magazines
With so many options, you can spend half a lifetime trying to pick the right mags. Luckily, we have condensed the best options into the concise list below.
Magpul PMAG 30 5.56x45mm Magazine (30 Round Capacity)
Magpul was established in 1999. The first thing they produced was an easy-to-use mag reloader. Since that humble beginning, the company dominates the market for M4 and AR-15 components.
Magpul's excellent polymer PMAGs have re-enforced that dominant position in the sphere of M4 mags. A 30-round Gen-2 PMAG is an awesome, dependable and cost-effective option. These units are made of a high-tech polymer that holds up against impacts and crushing force.
Inside, these mags have a constant curve design to ensure reliable feeding. The well-engineered follower found in PMAGs sets them a step ahead of the competition. The follower is designed to be self-lubricating and anti-tilt to maximize their reliability.
Under the follower, you will see a corrosion-resistant stainless steel spring. It is designed to be interchangeable with the springs in mil-spec mags. In terms of comfort and handling, the PMAG has a textured surface for a reliable grip and a flared-out floor plate for easy, convenient handling and reassuringly positive mag extraction.
The mag is simple to take apart as the procedure does not require any tools. These PMAGS have gone beyond proving their value through tons of special-ops and police use over the decades.
It is hard to argue against going with the Magpul Gen2 30-round PMAG. Carried into the stickiest situations with confidence by stern men, this iconic mag is a natural fit for your M4.
The top features of the Gen M2 PMAG are the anti-tilt, self-lubricating follower, the grippy surface, the flared floor plate and the easy take-down. The lower price than the Gen M3 PMAG is a big plus for many shooters.
Best For The Money:
Lancer Systems - AR-15 L5AWM 30-Rd
Lancer is a Pennsylvania company established in 2006. They specialize in designing exceptional materials and military equipment. Cutting-edge polymers are one of their major focuses. The company's pedigree is reflected in their AR mags.
The L5AWM can rival PMAGs in its intricate, top-shelf engineering. It is constructed of a molded translucent gray polymer. This allows you to quickly and easily check your number of remaining rounds. The round-counting markings are molded in.
The mag also has a non-reflective textured exterior that offers a pretty good grip. The internal geometry features smooth and reliable feeding via a constant curve. The feed lips are made of PTFE-coated hardened steel, and are the most durable we have seen. The baseplate is made of a textured polymer, giving you a great grip.
Overall, the magazine is low-profile, meaning it can be used with standard mag pouches. The follower is engineered to be anti-tilt. If you're worried about polymer, don’t be, the whole mag is tested for use in temperatures from -50F to +180F and for drops onto a hard surface from five feet up. Design, tooling, manufacturing and assembly are all done in the USA. These mags are backed up by a lifetime guarantee.
This is one of the top-quality 30-round magazines with every feature you could want, especially the translucent polymer material and the strong feed lips.
The third generation of the PMAG includes most of the perks of the previous generation but comes with a handful of new innovations. Magpul has made use of a wealth of special forces and police feedback in the new design. They have improved the PMAG's robustness, dependability and versatility.
First, the third generation PMAG comes with reinforced material in the areas around the feed lips and the mag catch. Magpul has re-engineered the follower to provide a multidirectional anti-tilt feature and more reliable feeding, even when mucked up with dirt and grit. The easily removable floor plate is both thinner and stronger.
This makes carrying two mags side-by-side far more convenient. These mags are offered with or without a clear polymer window which has numbered hash mark and a high-viz colored indicator on the spring. This set up makes it easy to see how many rounds remain in the mag.
An innovative notch to the rear of the magazine serves to offer better spacing from the bolt catch. The textured surface of this generation of PMAG has been redesigned. It is more grippy and easier to use. There is also a dot matrix panel and the lower part of the mag for labeling with a paint pen.
As with previous generations, take-down and cleaning are easy to accomplish without the use of any tools. These magazines are innovatively engineered to even operate with firearms other than modern-sporting-rifles, such as the HK M27, SA-80 or FN SCAR. Plus, they can be used with three (or two and a half) calibers, the 5.56 NATO, .223 or 300 AAC Blackout rounds.
It is very difficult to argue against buying a PMAG. The top features of the third generation PMAG are the great design, dependability, versatility and the optional window for checking remaining rounds.
If you can handle a mag with a bit of additional heft, why settle for a 30-round unit when you cut out a reload by packing a 60-rounder? Surefire has been making top-quality tactical gear in California since 1979. This double-stack mag provides you with double the firepower of a standard 30-round mil-spec mag.
It is compatible with the STANAG 4179 specification and all rifles and carbines that adhere to it. This mag's mil-spec aluminum walls are hard-anodized. It is a lower-profile option than any two 30-round mags taped or clipped together, although the length is similar.
If you are looking for a mag pouch for this magazine, any option with a dual-mag pocket should work well. This mag is engineered with overall mechanical simplicity in mind to increase its dependability. The resilient cadmium-coated coil springs are corrosion-resistant, require no lubrication and are non-binding.
Take-down is ease to do without using any tools. One special feature is the ability to effortlessly seat this mag on a closed bolt when it is fully loaded. According to Surefire, it is safe to store the mag fully loaded for long periods. Nevertheless, no one would recommend doing this. I would treat this supposed feature more as insurance case you absent-mindedly leave it loaded.
This is a top-quality mag that has a low-profile despite its ample 60-round capacity. If you want that much firepower and are not bothered by the extra heft, this is a great option. The best features are the high capacity, the quality springs and the easy take-down.
So, you want to be 'that guy' at the range? If you live in a jurisdiction where this beast is legal, why not? Magpul's 60-round drum mag is sure to attract plenty of attention. It will also tone your arm muscles if you decide to use it for practical purposes, but who knows, the heavy firepower could save your life.
It could also make for a very fun prairie dog hunt. This is the largest-capacity PMAG to date. The drum design keeps the mag to a low profile, allowing easy handling and shooting from prone. The mag has a foolproof loading lever, a paint pen dot matrix for labeling and a rear capacity indicator window.
The lever is ratcheted to take the load off of the spring for easy manual loading. This mag is compatible with most STANAG 4179 platforms, including all AR-15-style rifles and even a few others. The mag will seat fully loaded on a closed bolt but will hold the bolt open upon firing the last round. It is compatible with most loading devices that other PMAGs work with. Like all PMAGs, made in the USA.
If you need a high-capacity mag from a top manufacturer, you can't beat this option. The top features of this mag are the ease of loading and the load-checking window.
It can be fun to experiment with different styles of magazine to see which works best for you. We recommend trying a few before settling on a favorite. Choosing the right mag can make a huge difference in your shooting effectiveness and comfort. No matter which mags from our list you choose, have fun and shoot safe.