Having a proven firearm in a sticky situation is one of the best ways to ensure survival. It is crucial to ensure that the firearm functions reliably. 

What is the leading cause of malfunctions with the AR-15 platform? If you guessed the magazine, you’d be correct. The wrong magazine can turn your rifle into an expensive paperweight, so it’s paramount that you choose a good magazine.

Magpul PMAG

It’s hard to argue with a Magpul PMAG. Source: reddit

We’ll discuss the best magazines for your AR-15, whether for home defense, the range, SHTF, or all three. 

There are many quality magazines out there, but here are some of our favorites that we highly recommend. 

Home Defense & SHTF

Home defense is arguably the most important scenario in which you can utilize your rifle, so having a magazine you can trust to feed your AR-15 is crucial. It can be the difference between life and death. The same applies if and when SHTF.

SALE Magpul PMAG Gen 3 30 RD w/Window
Magpul PMAG GEN M3 AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Window Magazine
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Magpul has been supplying magazines to law enforcement agencies, the military, and civilians for many years. While these magazines are constructed from polymer, they have proven themselves to be durable and reliable when it matters. 

The Gen 3 is the most recent in the PMAG line and features a paint pen dot matrix, an over-travel insertion stop, and a slim floorplate. You’ll also find windows on both sides of the magazine, which are accompanied by numbered round count indicators that allow you to quickly assess your remaining capacity. 

Thankfully, they are also affordable and easy to find in bulk packs

SALE CPD Duramag AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Aluminum Magazine
CPD Duramag AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Aluminum Magazine
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If you’re looking for a lightweight yet extremely durable magazine, consider the aluminum Duramag Speed magazine. Its bright orange anti-tilt follower keeps the magazine feeding your rifle smoothly and lets you know immediately when you need a reload.

While aluminum isn’t the most robust material out there, I’ve seen great results while running these mags hard, and others have, too. Duramag doesn’t break the bank and delivers a magazine you can bet on.

Lancer Systems L5AWM Ar-15 30 RD Smoke Magazine
Lancer L5AWM AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Smoke Magazine
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The Lancer L5AWM magazine combines the best of polymer and steel. The polymer body reduces its weight while hardened steel feed lips provide the reliability and durability that you want in a time of need. 

The magazines feature superior texturing to maintain control and help with reloads. They are also offered in many colors to match your build if this classic “Smoke” finish doesn’t fit its aesthetic. 

Lancer 300 blackout magazine
Lancer L5AWM AR-15 .300 BLK 30 Round Magazine
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As the name suggests, this magazine is meant for those who like to use the powerful and quiet .300 Blackout. These magazines are the same as the ones mentioned before but are designed to hold 30 rounds of hard-hitting .300 Blackout – a great round for home defense.

Lancer L5AWM .300BLK Smoke mags

The Lancer L5AWM .300BLK Smoke mags are tactically subtle. Source: lancer-systems

Range Use 

SALE Amend 2 MOD 2 AR-15 30 Round Magazine
Amend2 MOD 2 AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Magazine
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Amend MOD2 magazines are some of the best in the industry and give the PMAG a run for its money. They’re inexpensive and built from similar materials as Magpul magazines. Multiple agencies and military personnel have tested them and provided excellent feedback. 

They are made in the U.S.A., and they’re available in bulk! Who can argue with 50 magazines for $400 bucks?

The newer MOD3 magazines are also available now for only a couple more bucks. 

SALE magpul d60
Magpul PMAG D60 GEN M3 AR-15 60 Round Drum Magazine
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While I wouldn’t usually recommend a 60-round magazine for any other purpose, the range is where it can be used for fun. 

A 60-round magazine is great for breaking in your new rifle when you’d normally spend a decent amount of time reloading. Magpul made sure to make these as reliable and durable as possible, making them one of the best-selling drum magazines out there!

60 rounds drum

Ringing steel with 60 rounds should be a Christmas song. Source: sandboxx


CPD Duramag SS AR-15 .223/5.56 10 Round Magazine
CPD Duramag SS AR-15 .223/5.56 10 Round Magazine
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Duramag has an assortment of different magazines for your hunting needs, including 5.56×45, .308 Winchester, 7.62×39, 350 Legend, 450 Bushmaster, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, and more. If you’re looking for odd-caliber magazines for your rifles, there’s surely a Duramag with your name on it. 

Again, these magazines have all the durability needed to do the job, thanks to their stainless steel construction and T-360 coating that covers the entire magazine, inside and out. When you’re out there tracking an eight-point buck that’s been eluding you for weeks, these Duramag magazines can handle any terrain while ensuring your next round is ready to go. 


Magazine Loader

SALE maglula AR-15 LULA Gen 2 Magazine Loader/Unloader
maglula AR-15 LULA Gen 2 Magazine Loader/Unloader
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Loading magazines is not always a fast process and takes time away from the essential things, like shooting. So when you need to get those magazines loaded and ready to go, it’s best to get yourself a solid mag loader to take the stress off your thumbs. 

Magazine Coupler

Magpul PMAG Maglink Mag Coupler
Magpul PMAG Maglink Mag Coupler
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The Magpul PMAG coupler is a simple way of ensuring you have an extra 30 rounds of ammo ready with one flip. The only downside is that this coupler only works with PMAGs. But let’s be honest; you probably have some PMAGs already, anyway.

Magazine Coupler

Couplers are rather old-school but still work. Source: reddit

Magazine Coupler

lancer magazine coupler
Lancer L5AWM Magazine Coupler
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It’s the same concept as the PMAG coupler, but this Lancer mag coupler also works with other box-style magazines, like the Duramag Speed Magazines. So, if you want a more versatile coupler, this is a great option. 

Magazine Pouch

high speed gear rifle taco pouch
High Speed Gear Single Rifle TACO Magazine Pouch
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Don’t put your magazines in your pocket when you can put them in a mag pouch. The HSG Taco is made of a mixture of Kydex and nylon. It is adjustable for magazines of different sizes, which saves you money if you’re switching between different caliber rifles. 

Make Sure You Buy The Right Magazine 

As you’ve probably noticed by now, not all magazines are the same. For the most part, all of these magazines are interchangeable with different AR-15 lowers. However, you can still run into issues with specific rifle and magazine combinations, so read the detailed descriptions before stocking up on dozens of certain magazines. 


Finding the right AR-15 magazine shouldn’t be complicated or stressful. All of these magazines are ready for hard use, but some can handle the heat better than others. Consider what you intend to use the magazine for, set a budget, and go from there.

If you have any questions, our magazine experts are always there to help!

Be good and take care.

Brian Zerbian
Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things.
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