Gun Magazines Explained

Seminar by Black Hills Ammunition’s Jeff Hoffman

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Gun magazines are the most common cause of malfunctions in AR-15s, M4s, and M16s. It might not be a big deal if you only shoot recreationally, but if your life is on the line, it’s obviously a huge problem. In this seminar, Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition explains how to identify bad magazines, what bad magazines can do to you, and what they can cause—malfunctions. Jeff also provides tips on how to load top loading gun magazines, and a simple, fast formula you can use for shooting in the wind.

The most common malfunction caused by bad magazines is a bolt-over-base malfunction. This is a situation in which the bolt has traveled forward past the base of the cartridge, failing to push the cartridge into the chamber. This is usually caused by the magazine having a weak spring. It happens most when the magazine is almost empty. Another possible cause of bolt-over-base malfunctions is spreading of the lips of the magazine, which can cause the cartridge to not feed properly.

Another way gun magazines can cause problems is they can “nosedive.” This primarily happens with older magazines. Newer magazines have a non-tilt follower that prevents this problem.

As with many things, magazines have undergone continuous improvement over the years and the new ones are better than the old ones. Two of the most proven right now are the Magpul generation M3 and magazines made by OKAY. Using good magazines will prevent problems and could prevent injury.

If you shoot a lot, it is beneficial to number your magazines. That way if you notice you have a problem and that a certain gun magazine has been involved, you know it.

Gun magazines are better today than they’ve ever been, so malfunctions don’t happen often. However, if you own older-generation magazines, you might want to consider getting new ones.