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Updating your Magazines

Nearly three months into 2021 with an anti 2nd Amendment President and Vice President we find that ammo is scarce and gun sales are soaring to new levels. The byproduct of this which we all see is prices skyrocket and range time takes a corresponding decline. So it begs the question what are we as gun owners suppose to do in order to keep ourselves busy while we scour stores for that precious box of 5.56/.223 or 9mm ? This got me to thinking about how many old school aluminum 30 round magazines I had laying around and how many of them had the dreaded old school green followers. So I decided to use this downtime for some maintenance and upgrading on my magazines and gear.

Old School Green Followers

Anyone who served in the military pre 2000 or has older AR-15 magazines groans when they see the picture above. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the issues with the leading edge of the follower dropping and causing jams I would be a wealthy man indeed. Many years ago Magpul released their anti tilt follower to remedy this situation but to be honest I have never upgraded an AR-15 magazine. My “upgrade” was to just buy new mags and put the old ones in an ammo can in the garage. Over the years my pile of GI Aluminum magazines grew to a higher number than I anticipated so I thought why not try to upgrade this relics of the cold war era and see how things shook out. I figure for the price of $5.99 for a three pack of followers it was worth the gamble and honestly I had nothing else to do on my day off.

Under $6 a pack it was worth the gamble on the magazine upgrade
Photo:Rick Dembroski

Disassemble and Reassemble

Disassembling magazines or anything under pressure can be fun times especially when a wild spring flies at your face when you don’t expect it. Having taken apart other magazines I knew the process was pretty universal but to Magpuls credit they actually include very detailed instructions with each of their kits for the end user. This was a nice touch I thought by the company. No eyes or springs were lost during the break down phase of the upgrade.

Original follower on the left, Magpul on the right. Notice the spring pocket just before the leading edge
Photo:Rick Dembroski

A straightforward operation, insert punch, lift up slide the floor plate off control energy release and remove the offending follower and spring assembly. It was when I removed the original green follower and compared it to the upgrade follower that the difference between the two was obvious. The upgraded Magpul follower has several design features that support the spring and reduce the chances of the nose of the follower dropping.

A wider thicker profile on both sides of the follower allows weight and stress to be more uniformly supported across the surface. This coupled with the spring retention system and the equal length of the front and back was what really caught my eye during the change over. I was actually shocked at how easy it was to install the first 3 pack into our sample magazines.

A few minutes work and no more worry about sagging followers
Photo:Rick Dembroski

Fit, Finish and Testing

It’s hard to say much about the details of a magazine follower but the ones we picked up were typical of what we have come to expect from Magpul products. Great materials, no defects, void or casting tags on the polymer followers. They installed easily and are made so that you can’t put them in backwards which honestly is one less thing for people to worry about who may not be the most say with their firearms or their magazines.

Why Should You Upgrade or Care ?

This upgrade was much cheaper than buying even a single magazine and today many people it seems don’t want to hang on to their old GI magazines. That makes the chances pretty good that you might be able to snag older aluminum mags cheap pretty. This type of magazine maintenance and upgrade will extend the life of your magazines and allow you to save cash for other firearms projects or for ammo. Plus it lets you capitalize on people sight sightedness.

Also consider there are some states where people can’t get new standard 30 round magazines and the ones they have are grandfathered in. This means those poor folks behind enemy lines have to do everything they can to maintain the current stockpiles of aluminum mags so upgrades like this and possible new springs would defiantly interest those shooters. It’s unlikely any of the states with current capacity limitations are going to change.

Locks open just like it should
Photo:Rick Dembroski

Being Creative with Firearms in 2021

We all have seen the landscape before us in 2021 and in the next few years it’s not likely to change until the mid term elections. This is why many gun owners are trying to think outside of the box for traditional firearms gear, and projects. Upgrading older guns and gear as well as taking on projects like 80% receiver projects are gaining in popularity.

Many consumers are trying to find ways to stay involved with the shooting sports or firearms in general and try to do it without having to take out a 2nd mortgage. We don’t have all the answers but for me personally I am taking this time to shift my collection a bit, upgrade and modify a few of my firearms as well as perform much needed maintenance on them. I’ve found that many of the firearms I have I don’t shoot much so they should go to homes where they can be appreciated and shot more often. This brings about our question to our readers..What are you doing in this time of chaos in the firearms world? Are you buying magazines and ammo or finally making that purchase you have put off for years ?

Drop us a line and let us know what you are doing ? Here is a sneak peak of something I have been working on and recently finished, my Gucci Glock

Gen 4 Glock 19 with work from DP Custom Works, Landers Weapon Systems and Apex

About the Author /

Rick Dembroski spent 10 of the best years of his life as a USAF Civil Engineer, traveling the globe, drinking beer, and causing chaos. His superiors dubbed him "King of Useless Knowledge" a title that he still loves to this day. After his military career he chose to stay in the frozen north of Alaska and currently works as an Emergency Management Specialist combining his love of chaos with preparedness to ensure people know how to survive disasters.

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