All You Need To Know About Maintaining Your AR Magazines

Irrespective of how much you’ve spent on your AR magazine, its type, or its manufacturer, AR magazines need regular maintenance like your AR for a longer life span. Whether you like it or not, magazine maintenance is a necessary evil that’ll decide whether your AR will perform the way it is intended to.

If you were to ask veteran gunsmiths or AR enthusiasts, they’d tell you how magazine malfunctions account for a significant portion of weapon malfunctions. Which makes it important that you regularly clean and maintain the magazines to avoid any malfunctions.

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of maintaining the AR magazine, let’s have a look at some of the common magazine failures.

What are the common AR failures caused due to a damaged magazine?

  1. Failure to Feed

Failure to feed is a common issue found in ARs in which an old magazine is used. Feeding failures are mainly caused due to a weak magazine spring or a bound follower. As in the case of every other moving part, the springs in the magazine will fatigue over time and will cease to function the way it was intended to. 

It is important to note that you can’t service a fatigued spring and it has to be replaced with a new one. Installing a self-leveling/anti-tilt follower along with the new spring will ensure that the follower issues are resolved and the magazine is kept clean.

  1. Double Feed

Double feed is also known as Type 3 magazine is another common issue found in AR caused due to a dirty or weak extractor or magazine feed lip separation. These double-feed issues, especially dreaded bolt override malfunction can happen if the feed lips are wider than the stock one. A wider feed lip can also make the magazine hesitant to drop from its well at ease. 

This is something that happens too often with any magazine with an old, worn-out extractor or springs. It can be rectified as easily by replacing the blue-colored spring with a black one, cleaning the deposits accumulated from the cheap steel shell casings once used, and only in the worst of cases, does the ejector spring have to be replaced.

It is highly advised to clean the shellac or polymer accumulations once in a while to be safe from the extraction or ejection issues. 

  1. Jam

Poor gas pressure can be the culprit here, as after the ejection of the fired case the bolt would not be able to travel back to pick the rear of the case head. The lack of pressure asks for the fresh case to be gently pushed into the feed ramp. The gas rings or the adjustable gas block or tube will be leaking and the pressure needs to be replaced to ensure that the fired cases are ejected forcefully. 

  1. Cracked feed lips

In case you have dropped a fully loaded magazine from a height to any hard surfaces, you should worry about cracks. If it is a polymer mag, then you should check the feed lips in the next cleaning inspection. Metal magazines are prone to bending which can also be detrimental in operation.

Cleaning an AR Magazine

Generally speaking, there are two types of magazines based on the material it uses;

  1. Polymer mags (Pmags)
  2. Metal Mags (made of GI) 

The former are considered disposable and are made using man-made polymer materials and the latter uses steel or aluminum. The age-old rivalry between metal magazines and polymer magazines is no secret. Metal magazines from their introduction have kept the reputation high for being durable even when dropped and being light in weight polymer magazines appeal to a lot of enthusiasts. Whereas, polymer mags have durability issues and are prone to breaks over time.

Regardless of the type of magazine you own, cleaning is the most straightforward thing that you can do to extend the life of the magazines. Before the start make sure that if you are cleaning the gun and magazine together keep everything in brass and ammo from the room. 

The place you chose for cleaning should be well ventilated and have distractions. A slip-resistant cleaning mat and solvent-resistant pad will be good along with a pair of safety glasses as you are having the threat of flying debris while you are cleaning the spring.

Cleaning a PMAG

  • Empty the magazine before cleaning
  • Flip the magazine bottom up to find that button in the middle
  • Apply pressure on the button and push the plate slightly forward making sure that the spring inside under tension won’t jump out of it
  • Slowly take the spring out and place it on the mat
  • Check for any breaks with the help of a hand after wiping off any dust or dirt inside
  • Feed lips should not have any chips or bends at both sides
  • Reassemble properly

Cleaning a Metal Mag

  • Lift the tab of the floor plate very gently and pull it out with a flathead screwdriver
  • As the floor plate is out, slowly take out the mag spring wiggling it if required
  • Check for any breaks with the help of a hand after wiping off any dust or dirt inside
  • Check whether the feeder lips are straight
  • Reassemble it properly

Make sure that you don’t use any lubes as it acts as a dirt magnet that might get stuck inside the magazine.

FAQs on cleaning AR Magazines 

  • Do I need to oil my magazines?

As mentioned, don’t oil the magazine parts or body for any reason as it will attract a lot of dirt which will get deposited in it. In the future, it will cause the inner components to malfunction.

  • How frequently do gun magazines have to be cleaned? 

For a better operation, the magazines are to be kept clean and in good working order. Experts recommend you clean your mags once every month or after you come back from a firing session.


In short, it is a fact that the magazines and the magazine springs wear out over time. Some manufacturers recommend rotating the service-related ammunition every six months. But by keeping them clean and safe, you can prolong the life of the magazines to a greater degree. 

PMags have to be replaced sooner due to the durability issue and Metal mags necessitate a proper inspection regularly. In case you are looking for a replacement, you are free to visit our fancy and personalized collection of Pmags and Metal mags to choose from.