You’ve probably seen magazines in all types and sizes. I wondered what actually goes into a magazine, so I did some research. What are gun magazines actually made of?
Magazine bodies are either made of polymer or steel. Inside the magazine, there’s a polymer baseplate, follower, and a metal spring.
Of course, there’s always more to this than two sentences can explain. Down below, I’ll go over the other components of a magazine, and which types are best.
Why Mags Are Made of Polymer
As I mentioned earlier, many magazines these days are made of polymer. This was largely pioneered by companies like Magpul with their PMAG series, which paved the way for reliable, cheap, and light magazines, especially for the AR platform.
Right off the bat, polymers are much lighter than most metals like steel, which many magazines used to be made of. You can still buy steel magazines for most rifles, even the AR. To this day, steel mags remain very popular for the AK platform.
Polymer is also more resistant to bending and denting. Let’s face it; our mags take some abuse. Drops, falls, being stepped on, thrown, they’ve all happened before.
Polymer is great at resisting damage from things like this, and less likely to break, bend, dent, or sustain visible damages.
Polymer vs Steel Magazines
Steel mags are still great, and they’re a huge part of the history of AR’s and almost every other gun. However, they do have many drawbacks compared to polymer.
Other than everything I listed above, magazines made of steel can corrode over time, whereas polymer can’t.
Now I’ll get into the benefits of steel. Steel mags have metal feed lips, which are much less likely to bend and wear out compared to polymer mags. Polymer can also degrade over time, compared to steel, which if stored and maintained properly, can last virtually forever.
At the end of the day, it’s a personal preference. Neither is “better” than the other, and they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. There’s also no reason why you can’t buy some of both, which I recommend everyone do.
Can You Still Get Steel Mags for AR’s?
Yes, you can still get steel AR mags, and they remain a popular choice within the industry. However, the popularity of polymer and plastic magazines is rising.
The US military in recent years has started using PMAG’s for troops, which usually translates to high popularity within the civilian market as well.
Steel mags are still a great choice, and they have their place along next to polymer magazines.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that many magazines today are made of polymer, with some being made of steel as well.
The parts inside magazines are usually made of a combination of the two, with some of the parts being plastic, and some being metal (like the springs).
At the end of the day, which one you choose for yourself is up to you, because neither one is necessarily better than the other.