High Cap Mags: What to Buy Before They’re Banned

High Cap Mags: What to Buy Before They’re Banned
A trio of Mec-Gar magazines. Under McCarthy’s legislation, the one on the left will be legal, the one on the right will not.
Tactical Gear - HIgh Cap Mag Ban
A trio of Mec-Gar magazines. Under McCarthy’s legislation, the one on the left will be legal, the one on the right will not.

High Cap Mag Ban

Reading through all of the vitriolic editorials published since the attempted assassination of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a pro-gun Democrat, one might get the impression that this incident was the handiwork of a pistol magazine, various gun rights organizations and conservative talk radio.

Naturally, gun prohibitionists quickly capitalized on the incident to push their agenda. However, the proposed ban on extended capacity ammunition magazines has not surprisingly resulted in a buyers’ rush.

Several companies manufacture after-market magazines, and when anti-gun New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced her ironically numbered HR 308, her timing could hardly have been worse.

The entire firearms industry was gathered in Las Vegas for the 50th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show at the Sands Convention Center.  The reaction from industry could easily be summed up in four words: “The hell you say?”

Under McCarthy’s proposed ban, existing magazines would not be transferable; that is, you could not buy, sell, swap or even give them away, and your heirs could not take possession. That would be a nuisance to folks who take the time and buy with a discerning eye, because many of today’s aftermarket products are built for the very long haul.

Magazine capacity would be limited to 10 rounds, same as during the Clinton-era ban. Proponents argue that this limit is now in effect in California, but opponents quickly rebut that it’s been a poor deterrent to gang violence.

While McCarthy’s legislation may not stand much chance of making it into law depending upon whom one listens to, it is turning into one heck of a free advertising effort for builders of big magazines. Understanding that a lot of panicked consumers may rush to stock up on large-capacity magazines, regardless of the bill’s chances, Gun Digest did some timely research to offer some tips on what to look for and what to avoid when purchasing after-market magazines. Veteran gun owners will recall that some of the hastily manufactured magazines that were churned out back in 1994 before the original ban took effect simply turned out to be junk.

Where to Find Quality High Capacity Mags

As Mike Kurvink, technical director for ProMag Industries, which produces some of the top synthetic magazines on the market, observed with perhaps only half of his tongue-in-cheek, “They should outlast the gun!”

ProMag manufactures magazines for about 200 different firearms, and one thing that Kurvink and his colleague, Mike Ballard, director for research and development, stressed is that good magazines will not deform. If one is shopping around for magazines, they cautioned against purchasing what they called generic, non-branded “gun show specials.” These are magazines that might be on sale for a “real bargain” and for good reason. They’re likely to be junk.

Spend a few additional dollars and buy magazines that bear the manufacturer’s brand.

To underscore that advice, a visit to the Washington Arms Collectors’ monthly gun show in Puyallup, WA one day after the SHOT Show concluded found a variety of both types of large-capacity magazines for sale. One vendor had various synthetic Tapco magazines for sale; no doubt a good purchase since Tapco magazines are backed by a lifetime warranty.

However, a couple of aisles away, one fellow was offering for sale an assortment of metal magazines that appeared to be military surplus. They had seen some use, the finish had worn here and there on all of them, and they were not marked; probably not a good idea to purchase any of these.

Polymer magazines have very strong and rigid lips that will not bend or dent.

David Kochol at Mec-Gar confirmed that used magazines, and occasionally some cheaper new ones, may have imperfections including dents or bent lips. At Mec-Gar, they run all magazines through a polishing process that involves tumbling the bodies in a ceramic powder, and before they leave the factory, they are gauged to make certain the bodies are smooth and flat on the sides. Lips and followers are examined to see that they function properly.

Springs are the heart of any magazine. At Mec-Gar, Kochol and colleague Monika DeMagistris noted that they use Type D spring wire, which resists memory; that is, they do not weaken if left depressed over long periods. Such springs can deliver a longer service life. They also recommend that shooters, and particularly law enforcement officers, rotate their magazines every 90 days. Next Page


  1. I brought 2 of the mec-gar for my micro springfield 45 and will never buy another one of their products. The magazine would not advance a round about every mag. shot. The third or fourth round would not advance. Brought a new springfield magazine and a chip mc-cormick magazine and had no more problems. They talk the talk but the product doesn’t.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.