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
ProMag’s Mike Kurvink, left, and Mike Ballard.

ProMag uses chrome silicone springs, which resist corrosion and also do not develop a memory.

Good followers are made from various materials, including steel, polymer and reinforced polymer. Years ago, when polymer was first used as a follower material, there were some disappointments, because, at least in some magazines and under harder use, the catch surfaces that are supposed to raise the slide stop would wear out prematurely. Remedies included polymer-coated steel or metal inserts at that specific point to prevent surface wear. Kochol recalled that in the original Beretta Model 92 magazines, the followers were cast material.

Nowadays, steel still reigns for Model 1911 magazines, though we are seeing some with polymer followers. In other pistols, polymer followers are more common, especially those with polymer frames.
When looking for after-market larger capacity magazines, pay attention to those with the same kind of followers as the original equipment. Also, because they have longer bodies, look them over carefully to find any depressions along the sides that could signal trouble during use. Magazines with small dents may bind during loading and/or during shooting, which is not a good thing, especially in competition or a gun battle.

If a magazine is made from polymer, examine it for scratches or cracks in the body. A deep scratch might turn into a crack at the worst possible moment.

If buying metal aftermarket magazines, Mec-Gar’s Kochol also tipped us to something else to watch for. Check along the back of the magazine to see whether it has a noticeable welded seam. (I have personally used such magazines designed for the Government Model, and discovered that while they may work in one of my 1911 pistols, they will not insert or eject smoothly from a custom gun I own. The extended magazines I use have smooth backsides.)

Kochol said Mec-Gar uses tig welding, and the surface is then polished smooth. We examined several Mec-Gar magazines during two interviews and saw this to be true. One could not detect a seam along the back, and rubbing a finger over the surface still did not reveal a seam line.

What else? Oh, yes, the floor plate. Anyone hoping to keep a large-volume magazine running smoothly will want to clean it. A removable floor plate is a big advantage because it allows the full disassembly of the magazine without much fiddling.

If McCarthy’s legislation moves forward, it would also ban replacement magazines for the Ruger 10/22. I happen to own a couple of these and they are a delight to have for extended plinking sessions. They could also come in handy for rabbit hunters who can’t get bunnies to hold still!

Such magazines are made by Butler Creek, Ramline and others including Pro Mag and Tapco. They may have polymer lips or steel-reinforced lips, and they seem to be pretty tough. Pro Mag has obviously thought this one out, because they offer magazines with a replaceable lip piece that can be installed in about a minute.

Kurvink told Gun Digest that the company began preparing to meet the anticipated demand even before McCarthy’s legislation was introduced. Perhaps not surprisingly, every other vendor and magazine distributor we spoke with had the same story: Almost immediately after the Tucson shooting, sales began to spike because consumers were concerned about a prohibition.

For her part, McCarthy fell back on familiar rhetoric to sell her proposal.

“I’m working to stop it from happening again,” she said. “We need comprehensive reform to reduce the number of people hurt or killed by gunfire in America, but one simple way we can do that is by keeping the worst tools of mass murder away from the general public.  This nation has come together before to support this simple, commonsense measure, and it is the law in several states right now.  It is a small sacrifice that law-abiding gun owners can make once again in order to increase everyone’s safety.”

One might ask, why is it always the law-abiding gun owners who are expected to sacrifice? Whatever happened to holding the individuals responsible for their crimes?

Where the election of Barack Obama brought a membership surge at the National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Second Amendment Foundation and other pro-gun groups, McCarthy’s legislation — introduced with 42 co-sponsors — is almost certain to earn the congresswoman a “sales person of the year” award from the aftermarket magazine industry.

From all indications, the suspect in Tucson’s shooting, which claimed the lives of six people including a federal judge and nine-year-old child, gave plenty of warning signs, from his previous encounters with law enforcement to his eerie video at a local community college, and finally to the bizarre altar in his backyard.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Office had prior contacts with Jared Lee Loughner. They were certainly familiar with his behavior, yet the sheriff quickly played partisan politics by blaming talk radio and conservative rhetoric, when in reality, Loughner appears to be a political leftist.

At this writing, Rep. Giffords appeared to be on a slow but positive mend at a facility in Texas.

Where to Buy High Cap Mags

Mec-Gar www.mec-gar.com (860) 635-1525
Tapco www.tapco.com (800) 554-1445
Pro Mag www.promagindustries.com (800)438-2547
Butler Creek www.butler-creek.com (800) 423-3537
Ramline www.ram-line.com 800-635-7656

This article appeared in the April 11, 2011 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Click here to learn more. Subscribe Now

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The Gun Digest Book of the Glock, 2nd Edition. Click Here.
The Gun Digest Book of the Glock, 2nd Edition

Glock Disassembly & Reassembly DVD

Standard Catalog of Firearms Glock Pricing Download (PDF)


  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.


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