Orange vs Black Mag Followers: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever looked closely at a magazine, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes, the followers may be different colors. This is normal, but is there really a difference?

The main difference between orange and black mag followers is the color itself. Orange magazine followers allow you to easily see when the magazine is empty, reducing your overall reloading time, as well as being able to tell the difference between running out of ammo and a malfunction.

Other than that, there is only a small amount of other differences, and most of them are negligible. However, there are a few other things that you might want to know, which I’ll go over next.

Why Orange Mag Followers Are Better

I’ll start by being honest: there’s not a huge difference, and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter.

After saying that, I’ll also say that orange followers are probably better than black ones. The inside of your gun is black, the magazine itself is also black, and it’s also dark inside of your gun’s chamber.

This means that when you go to check the chamber if everything including the mag follower is black, it’ll be pretty difficult to see what’s going on in there. Again, this doesn’t create any real problems in most cases.

Having an orange follower instead of a black one will help you to check the chamber and tell if you need to reload more quickly. This probably doesn’t make a huge difference for most people, but if you’re going for speed in a competition or a real-life situation, a second can make all the difference.

Another thing that orange followers can do is help you see when you’re close to empty. If you look down the magazine on the edge of the cartridge, it’ll be easier to see an orange follower than a black one and see if you’re almost out of ammo.

Despite this, many magazines, especially handgun mags, give you a window on the back or side to tell you how many rounds you have left.

So again, having an orange follower won’t make a huge difference, but can help you save a few seconds here and there.

What Do the Numbers Mean on My Mag Followers?

Sometimes, magazine followers have numbers stamped on them. What do these numbers mean?

Numbers on mag followers can denote the caliber, variation number, or date of manufacture. Even though there’s almost universal compatibility between magazine followers, manufacturers implement design changes over time and these numbers can reflect those changes.

Mag followers, just like every other part, change over time. However, manufacturers usually don’t change their parts so drastically that they can’t be used in the same guns that they were able to before.

After all, why would they do that? It would only make owners of that gun unable to buy new magazines.

So, while the parts do change sometimes, the changes almost never impact your ability to use the mags in your gun, as long as the magazine is actually made for your model.

Other Potential Mag Follower Differences

Magazine manufacturers sometimes use color to denote new versions of either magazines or the gun themselves. For example, when a company updates their gun to need different magazines, they may change the magazine follower from black to blue to show this.

Like I mentioned before, this is a pretty rare occurrence, but when it does happen, the companies that make the mags usually also make a change like this so that everyone is aware, and can choose the right magazine.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there’s not a huge difference between magazine follower colors.

Yes, orange followers may be easier to see than black ones, but a change like this makes only a small difference. After all, if you check your mag to see if it’s loaded, if it is, you’d see the color of the brass.

The orange color is just there to make a bright mark that yes, the mag is empty.

Some companies use mag follower colors to denote different variations between versions of their mags or guns themselves, which helps you pick the right mags.

Again, these changes are small, and probably won’t ever really affect you.

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