Economics & Investing For Preppers

This is a special edition of a regularly-posted column, by JWR. (Now posted on Mondays and Fridays.) Today, in lieu of the normal column items, I’ll only be discussing investing in rifle and pistol magazines, here in the United States.

Tangibles Investing (Magazines):

Magazine Bans

There are now several “high capacity” magazine ban bills pending at the local, state, and Federal level. Although the proposed Federal ban (H.R. 1186) may be passed by the U.S. House, it probably won’t pass in the U.S. Senate. At the state level, New Jersey’s ban on magazine over 15-round capacity was amplified to now restrict any magazine over 10-round capacity. And Colorado now has a ban on any magazine over 15-round capacity. Currently pending is a ban on any magazine over 5 rounds, in Oregon.  And a similar law has been proposed in Washington. Both are sadly expected to be enacted. Last week, the Maine legislature adjourned, after defeating a bill that would have banned magazines holding more than 10 cartridges.

There are also some well-established bans that will probably be permanent–unless the Supreme Court eventually renders them null and void, as it should:

  • In California, the limit is 10 round–although that is now pending an appeals court challenge.
  • In Connecticut, the limit is 10 rounds.
  • Massachiusetts also has a 11+ round magazine ban, but just as in California, there is a Grandfather Clause.
  • Maryland has a 10-round limit.
  • The District of Columbia has a 10-round limit.
  • Hawaii, has a limit is 10 rounds for pistols, but no limit for rifles. But, since may guns such as the AR-15 are also made in pistol form, those magazines are also banned there.
  • New Jersey has a 10-round limit.
  • The City of Chicago has a 10-round limit.
  • New York, beginning on April 15, 2013, with passage of the “SAFE” Act, only magazines with a capacity of seven rounds could legally be sold. The ban allowed ten-round magazines purchased before that date, but made it illegal to load more than seven rounds of ammunition into a ten-round magazine, except “at an incorporated firing range or competition…”
  • Inside the city of Pittsburgh, the limit is 10 rounds.
Stock Up!

Given the onslaught of magazine ban legislation, I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers stock up on magazines this year, while prices are low, and while supplies are plentiful.  If a new Federal ban is enacted–either by congress or an import ban by executive order, then prices will again skyrocket.  If DJT’s chances of re-election to a second term in the White House start to dim, then there could be another rush to buy magazines, and a price spike.

Only Buy Quality

I suggest that you buy original factory-made or military contract magazines. Most aftermarket magazines should generally be avoided. Often, with “no name” aftermarket magazines, you will be buying grief.

Some aftermarket magazines brands such as Federal Ordnance, Triple K, and Pro-Mag reportedly had poor quality control at various times over the years, thus making all of their production suspect–since most of their magazines are not lot-marked or date-stamped. The only way to be sure is to not buy them.

However, there are some notable exceptions to my “don’t buy aftermarket” rule. These particular brands all seem to have the same reliability as original factory magazines. They include:

  • Beta Company (maker of the C-MAG drums)
  • Daniel Defense
  • Elite Tactical System (ETS)
  • KRISS-USA (Converts factory Glock magazines to greater capacity)
  • Lancer
  • MagPul (Makers of the very popular MagPul PMAGs. They also make drum magazines–pictured)
  • Mec-Gar (the main subcontractor for Beretta.)
  • Metalform (the main subcontractor for Colt.)
  • Wilson Combat
A Few Bad Apples

As I mentioned in my AR-15/M16 Magazine FAQ, all of the original G.I. contract 30-round M16 magazines work fine, with two exceptions: Cooper Industries magazines and the early-production Sanchez (DSI) magazines with the black followers. Do not buy any Sanchez-marked magazines unless they have the later style light green followers and are in sealed original GI contract wrappers or have date-stamped bodies marked “02” (2002) or later.

If you find that you have any magazines that are suspect or that display feeding problems, then I recommend that you give them a wrap of red electrical tape or a blast of red spray paint at the bottom, and relegate them to your “target practice only” bag or bin.

Reliable Military Contractors

Many of the U.S. military contract magazine makers have also done some commercial production with their military tooling.  A few of these companies branched out into all commercial production. Some of the best include:

  • Adventureline
  • ASC
  • C Products
  • Center Industries
  • Check Mate Industries (M14 / M1A and Beretta M9 magazines)
  • D&H
  • FN
  • Labelle Industries
  • Okay Industries (Colt’s main subcontractor for AR-15/M16 magazines)
  • Parsons Precision Products
  • Simmonds (Colt’s original subcontractor for 20-round M16 magazines)
Where to Buy

There are competitive magazine prices available from a variety of Internet vendors. Some that I know well and can recommend are SurvivalBlog advertisers or prize donors:

Full Disclosure: We earn commissions on sales, with several of these companies.

But of course there are many other Internet companies selling magazines with which we have no affiliation, so be sure to shop around and compare prices. These include: MidwayUSA, Ammunition Depot, Sportsman’s Guide, and CheaperThanDirt.

I also like to mention one other company that has been trapped behind enemy lines in Mission Viejo, California all these years: They specialize in military surplus imported from Israel and Europe.


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  1. What about X-Tech Tactical? They are making a heavy duty US made 30 round waffle pattern steel reinforced composite AK-47 mag (MAG47 MIL) to compete with the pricey Bulgy Circle 10’s. Not as much steel in the X-Tech’s but all of the upper area is full of steel. I bought a couple of their standard mags (before they released the MIL) and they seem pretty stout. Thanks bigD.

  2. As you mentioned, Check Mate Industries makes excellent M14 magazines. I bought two unknowns from Cheaper Than **** and they wouldn’t work in any of my M14s or any of my friend’s rifles, either. Total junk. Took a hammer to them. For M1 Carbine owners, South Korea makes very good 30 and 15 round magazines. The GI copies are not obtainable, worn out, or hugely overpriced. Avoid the South Korean Glock knock-offs….the standard sizes will work, but the floor plates are fragile (break off when they kit hard sand) and the springs are weaker than OEM. The extended examples DO NOT WORK.
    Had good luck with Lancer AR mags, but poor results with PMAG in STAG AR rifles. Other friends swear by PMAG. YMMV.
    Investing now in far more magazines you think you need is sound advice! During the Clinton years, I purchased a Glock Model 22 from a LEO. I was given six standard capacity mags, but they were LEO Only. Pre-ban standard capacity G22 mags were $188.00 (US) on line. So I used Clinton mags until the ban lifted, then bought a grocery sack full of Glock standard mags for $13.95 each. Same with 20 round M14 mags during the Clinton saga. $150.00 each if you could find them. I had many offers from others wanting to buy some of mine, but I kept them all, as I only had around 40. I bought them in 1990, original GI, TRW contract, in oiled wrapper for….$3.95 each. Those days are as gone as $.17 cent gasoline.

    1. FWIW, I think the unbranded mags were the weak link in the chain with your purchase from CTD. I’ve purchased lots of MagPul items from them and had absolutely zero problems (including their 40 rnd banana mags).

  3. It seems that Magpul magazines get all of the press now. On the JWR’s list above, however, is D & H.

    D & H Industries, via corporate acquisitions, is a successor to LaBelle, a magazine manufacturer for the US Government until 1993. Currently, D & H is, according to its web site, a major supplier to the Israeli Defense Forces. In my humble view, if the IDF uses them, it speaks volumes for their reliability.

    My brother ordered several D & H magazines from Palmetto State Armory. They appeared to be top notch. My buddy who is a gunsmith has tested ten of them and they performed perfectly, resulting in high praise from him.

    D & H magazines are frequently on sale at Palmetto State Armory for an amazingly low $7.95 (and I seem to remember that this may include free shipping if 10 or more magazines are purchased). As JWR often says, “Buy ’em cheap, and stack ’em deep.”

  4. OKay Industries designed the 30 round M-16 magazine and is the manufacturer of modern Colt marked mags. Their CAGE code is 33710, and you will see it on the body of magazines with both Colt and OKay markings. Also, depending on the production run, magazines may be marked Colt on the body but have an OKay floorplate.

  5. I will b traveling soon from “behind the iron curtian” to north carolina for a week. Can anyone tell me if mags and perhaps a lower or 2 are easy to come by without a backround check down there in the real world? Thanks for any info you toss my way!

    1. You can buy mags all day long at any decent gun store in NC without any ID or other requirements. I would recommend cash if you don’t want “Joe’s Guns” on something obvious on your credit card statement.

      What city are you going to? The Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raliegh the weekend of August 3-4 would be a good place to stock up on all sorts of stuff, but all gun sales go through instant check unless you have a NC concealed carry permit, which preempts the need.

  6. My understanding is that the atrocious laws proposed in Oregon died when the legislative session ended, but perhaps I am wrong. If anyone knows different I’d appreciate an update. Voting with my feet ASAP.

  7. I can assure you – NO ONE CARES… about Three Dollar Bill & Corky’s mag ban in Pittsburgh. I’m blessed to live two blocks OUTSIDE the city limits, & I know you couldn’t pay ME to care less about it.

  8. DD, Check out the gun shows coming up in NC.
    There may be a few private sales there. Most private sales are few and far between at gun shows despite what the MSM thinks. Bring cash, and expect to pay full retail. I have personally found mags to be cheaper online than at a gun show, but I live in a free state, so don’t have to worry (yet) about ordering online. But, if you live in a bad state, bring cash. You can’t ‘keep & bear arms’ without mags, so I believe any law that stops you is unconstitutional.

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