I know I write frequently about AR-15 gear, or S&W M&Ps or Glocks and extoll their plastic virtues, but I promise you, deep down inside, my father instilled in me a deep love and respect for the craftsmanship that comes with blued steel and walnut firearms. He taught me that metal parts were the toughest, only way to go, that plastic guns are junk, and have no place in the rough-and-tumble world that may face us someday. I remember when Gaston Glock brought forth his radical new plastic pistol in the mid ’80’s, and my father harumphing and guffawing about the lack of aesthetics and how it couldn’t possibly work. And, me being the impressionable youngster I was, picked that feeling up and retained it. Plastic? BAH!
So, when the Magpul PMAG came out a few years ago and everyone started going bonkers over it, I naturally went, “yeah, flash in the pan…who wants a PLASTIC magazine feeding their battle rifle?” So I kind of ignored the trend and stocked up on my comfortable, metal GI aluminum mags. No problem.
But, a couple months ago, I got a gift certificate to a local tactical goods store, and I got some items I’d wanted, but still had a few bucks left on the certificate. I saw the bags and bags of brand new PMAGs on the shelf on sale, and went, “hey, why not?”. I grabbed one. I brought it to my father to show him this new icky plastic thing I’d bought. We looked it over and talked about how people had said they were strong, worked really well, and the one thing we DID like is that the magazine looked like it would stand up well to storage, being impervious to corrosion. So we decided to beat the ever-loving bejeezus out of it to see how it would hold up. Game on.
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First, before torture test, let me give you some details on the PMAG. The PMAG was introduced my Magpul several years ago, as a tough, battle-ready magazine to feed the AR-15 platform. The Gen2 PMAG was for the AR-15 and M249, the EMAG was for European export, to feed the various European battle rifles such as the SCAR, and the new Gen3 PMAG is designed to be used in all of those platforms. It utilizes a proprietary polymer casing, with a self-leveling follower (Lord knows I hate those tippy GI mag followers! Gah!) and a self-lubricating system, so it rarely needs to be torn apart. Magpul Industries is also a great company, thumbing their collective noses to tougher gun and magazine laws. They are so committed to the American people and their gun rights that when their home state of Colorado tightened the gun law belt and eradicated high-capacity magazines, Magpul GAVE OUT for FREE thousands of PMAGs to Colorado residents, then picked up and are now in the process of moving to another state. I love it!
So, in order to see what these plastic beasts could handle, my father and I dug up some skanky 5.56mm rounds and loaded the magazine to capacity. I snapped the provided cover back on to the top of the magazine, and tossed the loaded mag into the steel bed of my Tacoma, where I had an old, ancient cast iron Delta chop saw riding, as well as other gear. I then drove the 20 miles to my house. By my house, I pulled over to check on the mag. Not even a scratch, and the cover stayed on. So, naturally, I decided to drive over it.
This is what I got after driving over it about 20 times at varying speeds: a couple scratches. That’s it. The damn cover didn’t even pop off, and all 30 rounds stayed safely nestled inside.
So, I obviously was being mocked by a plastic magazine. I figured I’d try harder. So I filled it with water (most of it leaked out) and tossed it back in the bed of the pickup for some spirited off-roading. Oh yeah, I put it UNDER the 50-pound chop saw too, directly against the steel bed of the pickup. Then my son Andy and I gave ‘er hell down some 4-wheeler roads and bouncy, rock-strewn local mountain “trails”. Again, didn’t even SCRATCH the damn thing.
I got back to the paved road, and set the magazine in the road. I had Andy keep an eye on the mag, and backed up a ways, and plowed over the PMAG at 50 mph. Nothing. Cover still on. Okay. I’m getting a little mad (and quietly maybe even a little impressed.). I had Andy direct me so my drive tire was on the PMAG (which was sitting on the asphalt) and I revved the lil’ V6 on my Tacoma up to about 5000 rpm and sidestepped the clutch. Results!
I saw Andy’s eyes bug out, and he took off down the road. A long ways. Like over a hundred yards long ways. He bent over, picked the poor PMAG up off the ground, and ran back to the truck. He stopped about 20 yards away and picked something up off the asphalt. My little truck’s drive tire shot the magazine about 30 feet in the air, and it landed on the cover, breaking it. Finally, some destruction!!! The magazine then skidded about 400 FEET down a tarred road, melting the hell out of one side, and turning it to polymer slag.
I will say that even after all this, the magazine retained all 30 rounds. (!) I figured it was done for, but I trimmed off enough of the slag to fit in the mag well of my AR-15, and the damn thing locked up. More than that…we took it to the sand pit to shoot it. Damn thing worked great. Ripped off 10 rounds without a hiccup. Obviously we weren’t being hard enough on it. So, I drilled some holes in the bottom of the mag, and inserted a coat hanger into it, and rigged it up behind my truck.
Then, with the help of my trusty lab assistant, Delmont the dog, we took the PMAG for a little spin. Down a dirt washboard road. For three miles, at about 35-40 MPH.
Upon the termination of the little backwoods Maine joyride, I got out to inspect the PMAG. It had lost a few rounds, and it looked pretty beat.
But I realized it probably wasn’t beat enough, so we took it to the sandpit with a couple extra tools. Namely a 12-gauge Remington and #5 birdshot. After the dirt road dragging, things were a little gritty (no shit) and the new rounds went in a little tough, but in they did go. And the mag locked in the gun beautifully.
And it worked. 30 rounds went sailing downrange without a burp. Okay, fair enough. I see how this is gonna be. I pulled the empty PMAG, and placed it on the sandbank, and paced off 10 yards. I then had Andy shoot the damn thing with the 12-gauge. Twice to be sure…I wanted this poor PMAG to be out of its misery. I went up to inspect it, and saw that only a few pellets had actually even penetrated the body of the magazine, and could see all kinds of lead splashes and skids all over the mag where the pellets had BOUNCED OFF the body of the magazine. Holy shit. Well, with that kind of a slap in the face, I backed off and promptly administered a 62-grain coup de grace into the magazine with my AR-15. Take that, sucka! I loaded the mag up – it took all 30 rounds with no problem – and locked it in my AR. Went in smoothly, no issues. And all 30 rounds fed from the PMAG with no problems.
Here’s what the PMAG looks like now. And it still works. Ladies and gentlemen, I am impressed. So much so that I am going to buy them as I can afford them (they are dirt cheap for what they promise) and eventually phase out my GI mags altogether. It’s now safe to say that I now have a healthy respect for plastic gear, and so should you. This is good stuff to have if you have an AR-15. Period. Anyone wanna buy some 30-round GI mags cheap? :)
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