I have several of the HK 30 round steel AR magazines (#251770S) but they seem to be less desirable than they were 10 years ago. Is it because there are more reliable options vs the original GI magazines for less nowadays?
Lots of people like the weight and cost savings of the numerous polymer magazine options.
In my experience, the polymer mags are great for training, but lack the longer term durability (not forgetting that all magazines are expected to be disposable items) of the metal counterparts.
I got some of the HK maritime mags just to have them for the collection, but like the others have said they're heavy and expensive. Given all of the fine AR mag options out there, they are a bit of a tough sell.
I don't even own an AR but I have several of the black steel HK mags. I have the polymer HK 416 mags too. If HK ever releases/builds an RAL 8000 MR556 in the US, I'll finally have a rifle to go with the mags I have collected over the years.
I'm an AK guy so the weight of magazines doesn't bother me, of course I don't carry multiple mags on me typically, and when I do it's usually G36 mags as the G36 is my primary in professional application. It's a compromise really, heavier mags, more durability generally. Ever handle a slab side AK magazine? They are made of 1mm thick steel, the original AK magazine, they are beautiful, and built like tanks! Some polymer mags are more resistant and "bounce back" against impacts, but when they break, they break. Steel dings or dents that impede follower movement can sometimes have the damage knocked out, or feed lips tweaked back if they get bent up, but the wiser option would be to replace it if the mag is used in serious or professional application.
Like James said, they are replaceable items, so buy good mags as cheap as you can, when you can, and stack them deep!
Plastic is cheaper and with todays technology, more resistant to short term abuse. Never seen a plastic feed lip bend and cause a feed issue and any force that will actually break a plastic magazine would have damaged a metal magazine even more.
Long term plastic mag issues are buldging (stretch) cracking, etc. The newer P-mags apparently last a lot longer then the older generations.
HK steel mags have been problematic regarding feed lip spread over time though. A relatively short amount of time at that when left loaded. The juice isn't worth the squeeze. I.E. the short term reliability isn't worth the cost.
Various AR mags have their pros and cons.
Polymer mags are light and don't bend when dropped, but Pmags did have issues with fed lips spreading, at least the older models did. That is why they have feed lip covers.
There was never an issue with fed lips spreading on the HK steel mags. The only concern was bending the feed lips when dropped. Some people also whine about the weight but they are great mags.
That leaves us with the aluminum GI mag, which is probably the best all around mag when equipped with a MagPul follower.
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