I’ve seen it, not a few times and not a hundred times but thousands of times, while in gun shops all over the country. A person will lay down a large sum of money for a high-end firearm of some type and then ask the clerk behind the gun shop counter, “Do you have any cheap magazines for this gun?” Are you kidding me? The same goes when it comes to buying a holster for that new 1911 that cost a guy two grand. He’ll buy a $20 generic nylon holster to go on his ultra-thin dress belt! I just don’t get it. I really don’t!
Many people mistakenly believe that any old magazines will work in their guns, so they opt to buy whatever is least expensive, stupidly thinking that all magazines are created equal. I still remember, just prior to the 1994 assault weapon and hi-cap magazine ban taking place, when there were a number of fly-by-night companies turning out magazines that held more than 10-rds as fast as they could. They were so ashamed of their own products that they didn’t even stamp their names on the magazines.
I fell victim several times to some of these no-name magazines. I purchased a couple dozen Ruger Mini-14, 30-rd magazines, via mail order. To be sure, they were not made by Ruger or any other company that I could identify. The magazines were crudely assembled, and they were not heat treated. If you dropped one of these magazines on the feed lips, the lips would bend. I also fell prey to another after-market magazine scam. Just prior to the 1994 assault weapon and hi-cap mag ban taking place, I found an outfit that had “genuine” GLOCK 19 15-rd magazines for only $5 each. I should have known better. I was assured by the person on the other end of the phone that these were genuine GLOCK magazines. When they, several dozen of them, arrived, they were simple plastic magazines that resembled GLOCK magazines. There was no metal lining, and to be sure they were junk. Not a one would function. I used them for a lot of years in some of my handgun classes to teach malfunction drills.
As a rule, it’s just hard to beat factory– Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM)– magazines. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and that is buying magazines from makers that supply factory mags to gun makers, like MecGar and Metal Form magazines, to name a couple. These two companies produce outstanding “after market” magazines, which I’ve had no problems with. Many of the mags for my 1911s are from MecGar and Metal Form. They make mags for many of the big name 1911 makers.
When it comes to AR-15 magazines, I can’t begin to tell you how many different makers there are of these particular types of magazines. Some AR-15 mags are better than others, as it is with all things. Some are advertised as being “mil-spec”, and that doesn’t exactly tickle my fancy. It just means that those mags are built to the bare military specifications required by the military. There are also aluminum, stainless steel, and polymer AR-15 magazines. I steer clear of some of the polymer AR mags, like ProMag, because I’ve found they aren’t reliable in my testing. To be sure, if a name isn’t found on the magazine, then you should steer clear of it, period!
Shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting a few years back, one particular mail-order company was absolutely taking advantage of people who were seeking 30-rd AR-15 magazines. They were advertising “genuine” Colt 30-rd AR-15 magazines for a mere $99.97 each! First of all, there was no way of knowing if these were genuine Colt. Just because the floor plates had the Colt name and logo on them doesn’t mean that the rest of the magazine was Colt. They were not in any original packaging. Floor plates are easy enough to change. Be advised! Also, be aware of factory rebuilt “genuine” mil-spec mags that you’ll find at gun shows, packaged in plastic, with some kind of NSN (National Stock Number) printed on a piece of paper inside the plastic bag with the mag. To my knowledge, the military does NOT rebuild magazines. They discard them when they start giving feeding problems.
When it comes to AR-15 magazines, I prefer, above all others, those polymer mags from MagPul. I’ve found them to be of the highest quality, and I’ve yet to have them fail on me. I like the dual feed design that allows rounds to feed smoothly into M4 feed ramped ARs. I also like that you can store MagPul 30-rd mags, fully loaded, with the storage cap on the mags, so there is no pressure on the feed lips. Plus, over the years, MagPul has made several improvements on their AR-15 mags, making each generation a little bit better than the previous one.
The nice folks at US Tactical Supply contacted me just before Christmas and asked me if I wanted to test the new MagPul D60 drum magazine that holds 60-rds of .223/5.56 ammo. Well, needless to say, I beat feet to Albany, OR to pick up a sample for this article. Of course, we had the wettest December on record in Western Oregon, so my range time was limited and I also vowed to take some time off to enjoy the holiday. So, it was a while before I actually got out and did much shooting and testing on this MagPul D60 drum magazine.
This new mag from MagPul is made primarily out of polymer, and it appears to be the same tough stuff that their regular polymer mags are made out of. Of course, we have the metal spring and a few other minor parts that are made out of metal. However, the body of the magazine is flat black polymer material. The magazine slides in and out of my ARs without any problems; it’s smooth, real smooth! Also, it locks in place, without having to force it, even when the magazine is completely full. Some AR-15 magazines have to be forcefully driven home when they are fully loaded and on a closed bolt. That’s not so with the D60 magazine.
There is a small, clear viewing window on the back of the magazine to give you an idea of how many rounds are in the mag. There is also a ratcheting loading lever that you have to use in order to load roads into the D60. Without using this lever, you’ll never get the magazine loaded. Even with the lever, the magazine is a bit hard to load. It’s not a magazine you can load in a hurry. This is the mag you load and keep in your AR, ready for action, and 60-rds on-tap should be enough to keep the bad guy’s heads down so you can find cover and then reload with some of your 30-rd mags. Once again, this mag takes some time to load-up, but it is well worth it.
I tested the MagPul D60 drum mag in four different ARs– one from Ruger (their outstanding AR-556), Bushmaster AR with polymer upper and lower, Windham Weaponry, and one from a local Oregon company called Rogue Defense. Due to the time it took to load-up the D60 mag, I only ran one magazine full– 60-rds– through each of the above ARs. However, I had a great assortment of ammo from Black Hills Ammunition to mix in the magazine. In .223, I had their 50-gr Hornady V-Max, 52-gr Match Hollow Point, 55-gr FMJ (new and reman ammo), 55-gr Soft Point, 60-gr Soft Point, and 68-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point. I also had their 5.56mm 69-gr OTM and their 77-gr OTM.
I mixed the above ammo in each magazine. I simply dumped the above ammo from their factory boxes into one big box, stirred the ammo up, and proceeded to load the magazine. I did this four times from this mix of various types and weights of ammo from Black Hills Ammunition. I figured this would be an excellent test for the D60 to run through.
I had zero malfunctions, with any of the ARs I was using and all the ammo, no matter what kind it was, fed smoothly. You will readily notice that this MagPul D60 drum really feeds ultra-smoothly in your AR. To be sure, your AR barrel will really heat up when you fire 60-rds through it as fast as you can pull the trigger.
Needless to say, it was tiring to load-up the D60 four different times; however, after a while, I got some kind of rhythm to my loading, and it went a bit faster as time went by. Still, this isn’t a magazine designed to be rapidly reloaded, nor was it meant to be. As I mentioned, this is the magazine you load-up and stick in your AR for an initial combat engagement, and 60-rds should be enough to keep the bad guys’ heads down, so you can seek cover to reload and reengage if need be. This is the magazine I keep in my bedroom AR– the first gun I’ll reach for when things go bad. It’s kinda hard to beat 60-rds of ammo on-tap for your initial engagement, eh?
Please check out the US Tactical Supply website and their new 2016 online catalog. They are great people to do business with– a small, family-owned company who provide outstanding customer service, and they go out of their way to carry as many USA-made products as possible, and the MagPul D60 is made in the USA, to be sure. With the current administration seeking to end all private gun ownership, now might be the perfect time to lay claim to one or two of these D60 drum magazines. Get ‘em while you still can!
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio