Have you given any thought to the importance of the magazine you run in your assault rifle?
What type are you using? How well does it perform? Is it reliable?
When it comes to sport shooting, hunting, and self-defense, just about every part of the weapon plays a vital role – and choosing the right magazine is no exception.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the two most popular types – Lancer vs PMAGS, and see if we can find out which one comes out on top.
Let’s fire in.
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Lancer Mags vs PMAGS in Short
For anyone short on time or patience, here’s a brief summary of this article on Lancer magazines vs PMAGS:
As ever, it just comes down to personal preference.
There’s a camp of firearm enthusiasts who swear by the Lancer magazines, and there are those who will die on the PMAG hill.
The truth is – the differences are negligible. It’s a very close call.
Read on to discover the pros and cons of each, and see if you can make a decision when it comes to the magazine you would prefer to run.
Lancer Systems manufactures firearms, accessories, and equipment, operating since 2007 and based out of Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
Not to be confused with Lancer Tactical – one of the more popular budget-friendly airsoft brands operating in the combat sports community.
The Lancer magazine is considered by many to be higher quality than the PMAG, thanks to this inclusion, which supposedly also helps the spine of the magazine from cracking.
PMAGS are basically the name given to magazine products manufactured by Magpul Industries – a firearm accessories company headquartered in Austin, Texas, with manufacturing based in Wyoming.
Their name comes from their highly successful and popular debut product – the MAGPUL – which is a device used to quickly and efficiently pull a magazine from a chest rig, plate carrier, or battle belt.
PMAG is effectively their brand name for a range of high-quality polymer magazines that are considered an excellent alternative to steel mags.
There are many replicas, counterfeits, and copycats, but Magpul PMAGS are the original polymer firearms magazine.
The Main Differences
Apart from a few cosmetic/aesthetic observations, the only real discernible difference (singular) between these two polymer magazines is that the Lancer uses metal steel feed lips incorporated into the main plastic body.
Now, this is where the debate can get heated. Some shooters believe that steel is more likely to break and cause an issue with jamming, but others report no difference at all between steel and polymer feed lips.
Steel can subtly warp and deform – which is one of the main reasons why polymer magazines are considered superior (more on this topic, below).
However, there are equally those who firmly believe this seriously improves the feed, and the composite is much more reliable in the long run. You’re getting the best of both worlds with the two materials.
So, which camp is actually correct?
Good luck finding out the answer!
Budget is always a concern for shooting enthusiasts, particularly if you’re a high-volume range addict. The cost of pursuing our firearm addiction can soon add up.
Especially if your head is always being turned by a new piece of gear, hardware or equipment – like these awesome rangefinders for distance shooting, for example.
With that in mind, when it comes to Lancer magazines vs Magpul, it’s important to highlight what each will set you back from a financial point of view.
Let’s compare the two flagship products.
At the time of writing, a Lancer L5AWM 30 will cost you from around $16-$22.
A PMAG 30 AR/M4 Gen 3 comes in under $15.
As you can see, there’s not much in it, but the PMAG will work out cheaper in the long run.
The Torture Test
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. When comparing anything to do with firearms, we like to know how products stand up to some serious punishment.
After all, that’s what they’re going to get in the field – especially given challenging situations, weather conditions, and other factors that can affect their performance.
And for this, there’s nothing we can write that a video won’t do better. We turn to Country Boy Prepper for an extensive, side-by-side PMAG vs Lancer torture test.
Find out which magazine came out on top, but be advised – this is hard to watch!
Unless you’ve fired thousands (and I mean thousands) of rounds from each type of magazine, you’re never really going to know which is the best.
And for shooters who have actually done that (I’ll admit, I’m not yet one of them), opinion still remains firmly divided.
Check the firearms forums on the topic, and for every flag in the PMAG camp, there’s one in the Lancer corner, too.
Once again, it just comes down to personal preference. For my setup, I would choose the PMAG every time.
But what works for me, might not work for you.
So, which do you buy?
At the end of the day, all magazines are going to break and wear out eventually, so you might as well have a selection to choose from.
Just so long as you’re training hard and staying safe while doing so – both these types of magazines should serve you well.
Speaking of staying safe, check out this article on the dangers of squib loads – which all shooters should be familiar with.
And go here to learn how to put together a tactical IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit), which we all need to carry when visiting the range.
5 Reasons Why Polymer Magazines Are Better
You might still be running all-metal magazines with your loadout – and that’s perfectly fine. They’re tried and tested, and perform well in the field.
But for your consideration, here are five reasons why you might think about making the switch to polymer magazines.
Steel magazines are known for their durability, but they can still dent, warp, scratch, and bend relatively easily – especially over time and use.
And while PMAGS can and do break, when they do so – you’ll know about it, and can replace the mag as required. Metal magazines can hide subtle imperfections that can go unnoticed until a crucial moment.
And those all-important feed lips are prone to warps and breakages, which will have a negative impact on the smooth chambering of your ammunition.
As such, polymer magazines are actually considered to be more durable overall, and can generally resist cosmetic damage for much longer than metal.
It’s not rocket science – plastic is lighter than metal – simple. For ensuring you keep your overall weight load down, it’s a no-brainer to choose poly mags over steel or even aluminum.
While not particularly important when you’re down the range (follow that link for some top shooting range tips), lighter magazines can make a big difference when on tour or in a combat situation.
A Marine’s kit is heavy enough as it is.
And you can follow this link for a great article on range-bag essentials, so you can take everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Poly mags have a huge advantage in their transparency. You can see exactly how many rounds are left in the magazine, as opposed to their opaque metal counterparts.
This can be very handy for keeping tabs on how many shots you have left before you need to switch out your magazine. Take the guesswork out of shooting, and it’s one less thing to worry about.
With metal magazines, you’re usually limited when it comes to color schemes. Blacks, grays, greens, and browns, are pretty much your lot.
But with polymer mags, you can enjoy a wider variety of custom colors to suit your badass loadout. Give your AR-15 the makeover it deserves!
PMAGS are issued to the US Armed Forces – and if that’s not a ringing endorsement, then I don’t know what is.
Aside from all the plus points listed above, PMAGS are incredibly reliable. They’ll stand up to some serious punishment in any kind of conditions, and they will keep on firing.
Sand is a good example – metal and sand just don’t work well together, and the chambering drag with metal already leaves a lot to be desired. PMAGS are so much more reliable in abrasive, sandy conditions.
They’re also much easier to clean, too!
And the ability to keep firing is exactly what you need military personnel to do. Even the slightest error can take a soldier out of the fight, and so every aspect of his or her kit needs to be the best it can be.
The last thing you want is a magazine that fails to feed at a vital moment – particularly if it’s life or death. As such, it seems that PMAGS are the go-to choice for the time being.
Let’s see what they come up with next.
But don’t be put off by this, as there’s an easy workaround. Soak your magazine pouches in hot water for a few minutes, and then insert your PMAGS.
After a while, the fabric should stretch and reform to provide a snug fit for your polymer mags.
Can you fly with gun magazines?
Providing they are securely stored in your checked-in luggage, then you should have no problem transporting Lancer or PMAG magazines via plane – or mags of any kind, for that matter.
Unless, of course, you’re talking about copies of Gun Digest – which is the only type of magazine you’re allowed in the cabin of an aircraft.
Take a look at this article on flying with firearms for more information.
Does the US Military use PMAGS?
Yes, they do. I believe Magpul’s flagship Gen M3 PMAG is the current magazine of choice by the US Armed Forces.
Check out any recent footage or photos of genuine US military personnel, and you’ll see them packing PMAGS in their firearms.
Are HEXMAGS any good?
Now, that’s a different article entirely. Hexmags are an alternative polymer mag system sold by Sentry Tactical, so-called because of their distinctive hexagon design on the side.
Developed in 2013/14, they’re considered the new kid on the block, and time will tell if they can give PMAGS and Lancer a run for their money.
Still, they’re an excellent option if you’re thinking of making the switch to polymer mags.
Once again, the winner of the debate between two, world-class firearms products comes down to personal preference.
It’s no exception for Lancer vs PMAG, and there isn’t a clear winner. Both have their advantages, both have their die-hard fans and followers.
If you want to try different types of magazines, you should also try out types of ammo. Take a look at our comparison of steel vs brass ammo.
Let us know in the comments which type you prefer and why – and see if you can persuade us over to one camp or the other.
Stay safe out there, and happy shooting!