For those running America’s rifle chambered for the AK’s cartridge, here are the best 7.62×39 AR magazine options.
While some cartridges like .300 BLK were designed to function in standard 5.56 AR mags, other chamberings require their own, special magazines. ARs chambered for the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge are among them.
Since 7.62×39 ARs aren’t nearly as popular as 5.56 variants, there is less factory support for 7.62×39 AR magazines. This means that many of your typical go-to manufacturers like Magpul and Okay Industries are no longer an option.
Here we’ll be going over what makes 7.62×39 AR magazines different, what to look for when buying one and our top picks for the best options on the market.
Why Do 7.62×39 ARs Require Proprietary Mags?
Simply put, the issue is that the 7.62x39mm case has more taper than the .223/5.56 case. The Russian 7.62×39 cartridge tapers from 11.35mm in diameter at the rim to 10.07mm at the shoulder, whereas .223/5.56 barely tapers at all (9.58mm at the web to 9.00mm at the shoulder).
Case taper is what determines how curved a magazine needs to be to feed a given cartridge properly, and it’s why AK magazines have that distinctive “banana” curve. Naturally then, problems arise when attempting to design a very curved magazine for a rifle with a straight magwell like the AR.
Historically, one of the best ways to design a new rifle from a clean sheet is to start with the cartridge. Once established, a reliable magazine is designed to feed it. Only then is the gun itself designed.
Well, it seems that Kalashnikov and Stoner both did that, as both of their rifle designs have excellent magazines. When the industry decided to combine Mikhail’s peanut butter with Gene’s chocolate with the advent of 7.62×39 ARs, the magazines, unfortunately, could not live up to the reputation of either parent rifle’s mag.
The result is that 7.62×39 AR magazines have historically been a crapshoot in virtually every capacity that they’re offered in. Common failures include the top round sitting too low to be picked up by the bolt as well as nosedives leading to failures to feed.
What Makes A Good 7.62×39 AR Magazine?
What you want to look for is a magazine manufacturer who has invested the time to come up with a follower, floor plate and magazine body that seats and feeds correctly. That means they need to be designed by shooters, for shooters, not mere products to meet demand.
Anti-tilt followers are a must, and in truth should be in any AR-15 magazine you buy regardless of its caliber.
Unfortunately, what you can't see until you physically have the magazine is that the top cartridge should fully contact the feed lips. If it doesn't, it can mean there will be some issues stripping the top round.
If possible, don't buy any 10-round 7.62×39 AR magazines. Since 10-round mags are straight, it means that the cartridges are not being pushed up as efficiently as possible due to the taper. These have given people more problems than quality magazines of larger capacities.
If mag pouches are a concern, look for 28-round magazines as the curve is slightly less pronounced than with true 30-rounders.
Also, you don't need to worry about deciding between polymer or aluminum. All examples that you're going to find are made of steel.
What About AR Lowers That Take AK Magazines?
It's easier to adapt the AR-15's lower receiver to take AK-47 magazines than it is to adapt the AR-15 magazine to feed 7.62x39mm. Some companies have realized this and started making AR lower receivers that can accept standard AK mags. On these, the magwell is removed and replaced with an AK magazine catch.
The reality of the situation is that these lowers are a better solution for getting 7.62×39 to run in an AR than trying to convert AR-pattern mags to feed it. The downside, of course, is that it requires a new upper and lower. A large reason why people are interested in the 7.62×39 AR concept is that they could use their existing, standard AR lower to fire the cartridge, only needing a new upper and mags. ARs chambered for this caliber that feeds from AK mags are the better design, but it also defeats the purpose for most.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have or want a 7.62×39 upper for your standard AR-15 lower, and that means you’ll need magazines for it. While they may not be as good as 7.62×39 AK mags or 5.56 AR mags, the good news is that some are well-proven and shouldn’t give you any real issues.
The Best 7.62×39 AR Magazines:
This is the gold standard. Duramags are one of the no-brainer AR-15 magazine brands, so this should arguably be your first choice unless it turns out they don't work in your specific setup.
They're available in 5-, 10-, 20-, 28-, and 30-round capacities, but all have a stainless steel body, a Teflon coating, revised feed lips for total contact and anti-tilt followers. C-Products does things right, and it designed them from the ground up to function. MSRP ranges from $18.90 to $29.30.
ASC is another excellent AR magazine manufacturer, and while it specializes in aluminum GI-style mags, the company also offers its stainless steel line in 7.62×39.
The mags are offered in either black or FDE, with chrome silicon springs, anti-tilt followers and a stainless steel floor plate. They're available in 5-, 10-, 20- and 30-round capacities. MSRP is $21.99 for the 30-rounders, though factory seconds (cosmetic issues only) are a bit cheaper.
The magazines from D&H feature carbon steel bodies with a QPQ finish and anti-tilt followers specifically designed for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. They're available in 10- and 30-round capacities. MSRP is around $40 for the 30-rounders, but these are buy-once/cry-once magazines. D&H builds them like tanks.
AR-Stoner is the house brand of MidwayUSA, and its 7.62×39 AR magazines are said to be capable, but that comes with a caveat. Some individuals report having issues with them out of the box, but after some minor tweaking, they can run like a top.
They're offered in 10- and 30-round capacities, with stainless steel bodies, anti-tilt followers and chrome silicon springs. MSRP is only around $20 for the 30-rounders, making them one of the more affordable options.
E-Lander is an Israeli manufacturer mostly known for producing magazines for its country’s military, and it does not skimp on build quality or reliability. It only exports a 17-round 7.62×39 AR magazine because it was the only one that ran reliably enough for its standards.
The body is stainless steel with a stainless floorplate and features an anti-tilt follower and corrosion-resistant finish that's said to be rated for over 60 hours of continuous salt spray. These magazines are tough, and what they slightly lose in capacity they more than make up for in reliability. Street prices are usually around $30.
More Non-Standard AR Caliber Info:
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