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[1] Introduction
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[1-1] Purpose:
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The purpose for this FAQ is to gather as much reliable information about all magazines for the AR-15/M16 weapons system in one place. This will allow for AR enthusiasts, new and experienced, to have a reference with regards to magazine facts and issues. This FAQ will cover both USGI and aftermarket AR magazines in detail, as well as maintenance and upgrades of both. Please present any suggestions for additional content to: mraudio@ecis.com. This FAQ is a work in progress, intended to benefit everyone, so feel free to contribute.


[1-2] Disclaimer:
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This FAQ is for informational purposes *only*. While many issues covered in this FAQ deal with legal issues, this FAQ should not be taken as legal advice. Consult a lawyer in your area if you have legal questions. The author of this FAQ (and all contributors) can in no way be responsible for anything you do after reading this FAQ. This FAQ guarantees *nothing* at all. For all you know, its complete BS...

This FAQ is designed to help organize the collective knowledge and experience of the members of AR15-L and www.AR15.com. As such, there will inevitably be differences of opinion with regards to the content of this FAQ. Submissions or corrections should be made to mraudio@ecis.com.


[1-3] Copyright:
=====
The AR-15 Magazine FAQ is Copyright 1999 by Troy Tiscareno. All rights not specifically granted below are reserved by the author. You are granted the following rights:

I. To make copies of this FAQ in original form, as long as
(a) the copies are complete and are unaltered by anyone other than Troy Tiscareno;
(b) the copies are in electronic form;
(c) they give credit to the author, Troy Tiscareno.
II. To distribute this work, under the provisions above, as long as
(a) the copies are complete and are unaltered by anyone other than Troy Tiscareno;
(b) no fee is charged;
(c) they give credit to the author, Troy Tiscareno, in any
description;
(d) the distributed form is not in an electronic magazine or
within computer software;
(e) the distributed form is the newest version of the FAQ (email
the author to find the latest version number);
(f) the distributed form is electronic.

You may NOT distribute this FAQ in *any* non-electronic media.
You may NOT distribute this FAQ in any electronic magazine.
You may NOT distribute this FAQ within computer software.

NOTE: These rights are temporary, and may be revoked upon written, oral, or other notice by Troy Tiscareno. If you wish to distribute this FAQ within a magazine or electronic magazine, get in touch with the author.

[1-4] Credits:
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The bulk of the information in this FAQ has come from the AR15-L mail list and from the Discussion Forums on www.ar15.com. However, the author owes specific debt to several folks for sharing their knowledge:

James Wesley, Rawles rawles@usa.net
Paul "Paul308" Podhorn allsteel@piasanet.com
LtC. Chuck Santose santose@compuserve.com

A good deal of the information herein came directly from Jim Rawles' great USGI mag FAQ, though I've omitted pricing details due to the constant fluctuations in market value of these items. Find that FAQ here:
http://www.ar15.com/products/magazines/information.asp
Thanks Jim!

[1-5] Additions/Updates in this version of the FAQ
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- Alpha edition

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[2] United States Government Issue (USGI) Spec Magazines
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[2-1] USGI 20 Round Magazines
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USGI 20-round mags are aluminum, straight-bodied, and are angled at the bottom. Like all USGI mags, they are hard-coat anodized, then coated with a gray moly dry-film. Floorplates are generally black aluminum, marked with the manufacturer's name and city/state.
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[2-1-1] Early Designs
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The original AR-15 magazines were made by ArmaLite, the company responsible for the design of the AR-10 and AR-15 rifles, among others.
They were aluminum, 20-round magazines and had waffle-pattern ridges, though later examples had only the vertical ridges. These mags are very
rare, and are generally collectors' items. Floorplates were stamped:

ArmaLite(r) AR-15
Patents Pending
CAL. 223
COLT'S PT.F.A.MFG.CO.INC.
HARTFORD, CONN.U.S.A.
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[2-1-2] Colt
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All Colt-marked magazines were actually made by a sub contracter, Universal Industries, a division of Okay Industries. GI-Contract Colt 20s had alloy followers and are marked with a "UI" stamp (for Universal Industries) on the front narrow wall of the magazine. Tilted on it's side, the "UI" becomes a "CH" (Colt, Hartford). The US Military switched to 30-round magazines in the early 1970s, and Colt-marked 20s made after the switch had black plastic followers. Anodizing is generally gray or silver in color.
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[2-1-2-1] Colt .223
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Early US Air Force contract magazines. Early runs had shiny alloy followers; later runs were dull alloy. Made from 1965-1967. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) COLT AR-15
CAL. .223
COLT'S PT.F.A.MFG. CO.INC.
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-1-2-2] Colt 5.56mm
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Army and late Air Force contract Colt mags with 5.56 stamping. These have dull alloy followers. Note that there are no dimensional differences between mags marked .223 vs. 5.56. Made from 1969-1971. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) COLT AR-15
CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S PT.F.A. MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-1-2-3] Colt Commercial 5.56mm
--------- Colt sold mags made for the commercial market with standard USGI mag bodies and black plastic followers. Generally, the black plastic followers are considered less reliable than the Mil-Spec alloy followers. Made from 1980-1989. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S FIREARMS DIVISION
COLT INDUSTRIES
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-1-2-3-1] Colt Nickel-Plated 20s
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Colt had a small number of 20-round mags finished with in nickel, for sale with a limited run of nickel-plated SP-1s in the late 70's. These mags are rare, and are among the few mags desirable by collectors regardless of condition. Note: some people have confused silver or gray anodized mags with no finish remaining for nickel-plated mags. Nickel-plated mags are noticeably brighter and smoother.
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[2-1-2-3-2] Colt .222
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Colt had a run of mags made with floorplates marked CAL .222 designed to be shipped with rifles chambered in .222 Remington. These rifles were for export to countries where civilians are barred from owning guns in military calibers. They are dimensionally the same as standard .223 mags.
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[2-1-2-3-3] Colt 7.62X39mm
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Several lots of mags have been made for Colt's 7.62mmx39mm AR-15 rifles. These are standard 20-round .223 bodies with a floorplate marked 7.62x39mm. They will hold 7-8 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition. Made from 1980s-1994. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) CAL. 7.62 X 39
COLT'S MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN.
U.S.A.
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[2-1-2-3-4] Colt 5-Round Mags
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Colt had a small number of 5-round magazines made for hunting in states where magazine capacities are limited to 5 rounds. This was done by taking a standard 20-Round magazine and adding an upside-down U-shaped insert to prevent the follower from traveling far enough into the magazine to allow more than 5 rounds to be inserted. As these magazines are legal pre-ban mags, many people remove the insert. These mags, in 5-round format, are favored among hunters as the spring pressure is the same as a standard 20-round mag. Made from 1974-1994. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S FIREARMS DIVISION
COLT INDUSTRIES
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-1-2-4] Colt LEO 5.56MM
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These mags were made after the 1994 Crime Bill banned the manufacture of over-10-round-capacity magazines for civilian sales. These mags are marked Law Enforcement/Military Use Only. USGI-type mag bodies with black plastic followers. Made from 1994-present. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN.
U.S.A.
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[2-1-3] Adventure Line Manufacturing Company
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Army and late Air Force contract mags made by Adventure Line Mfg. Co. Adventure Line was eventually aquired by Center Industries. Dull alloy followers and gold/bronze colored anodizing. Made from 1966-1971. Floorplates stamped:

ADVENTURE LINE MFG. CO.
PARSONS. KS. U.S.A.
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[2-1-4] Simmonds Precision Products Incorporated
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Army and late Air Force contract mags made by Simmonds. Dull alloy followers and gold/bronze colored anodizing. (Simmonds was a division of Okay/Universal Industries). Made from 1966-1971. Floorplates stamped:

(S Logo) M16/M16A1 CAL 5.56 mm
UNIVERSAL INDS. DIV
SIMMONDS PREC. PROD. INC.
WEST HAVEN, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-2] 30 Round Magazines
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USGI 30 round magazines are aluminum-bodied and have black or green plastic followers. The body of the magazine is straight on the top 2/5, then curved forward for the next 2/5, and straight again on the last 1/5. Like the 20s, 30-round mags are hard anodized and moly dry-film coated.
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[2-2-1] Colt 30-Round Mags
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[2-2-1-1] Early Colt 30-round Mags
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Army and late Air Force contract mags. The first Colt 30-round mags had dark green, hard-plastic followers with Colt part number 62665A stamped in white on the follower and part number 62667 stamped on the side of the body. These followers did *not* have the lengthened front "anti-tilt" leg that later green followers have. These mags are rare and collectable, though considered unreliable by some. Made from 1967-1969. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) COLT AR-15
CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A
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[2-2-1-2] Colt 30-Round USGI Contract & Commercial Mags
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Made by Okay Industries, these mags had black plastic followers up until the early 1990's when the "anti-tilt" green follower was made Mil-Spec, though commercial mags continued to use up the supply of black followers for some time. Made from 1972-1994. Floorplates stamped:

[1970's Production]

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S FIREARMS DIVISION
COLT INDUSTRIES
HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.


[Recent Production]

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN.
U.S.A.
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[2-2-1-3] Colt LEO/Military 30-Round Mags
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After the passing of the 1994 Crime Bill, all high-capacity magazines were marked "For LEO/Military/Gov't/Export Use Only" and are illegal to possess for most. Standard USGI-type mag body and green followers. Made from 1994-present. Floorplates stamped:

(Pony) CAL. 5.56 MM
COLT'S MFG. CO. INC.
HARTFORD, CONN.
U.S.A.
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[2-2-2] Okay Industries 30-Round Mags
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Okay Industries is a current US Military contractor, and is the subcontractor that manufactures all Colt-marked AR-15 magazines. They also sell magazines under their own name, identical except for the floorplate stamping. Early mags had black plastic followers; mags made since 1992 had green "anti-tilt" followers. Made from late 1970s-present. Floorplates stamped:

(Okay Logo) INDUSTRIES,
INC.
NEW HAVEN, CONN. U.S.A.
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[2-2-3] Center Industries
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Center Industries is a current US Military contractor. Parsons and Adventure Line were aquired by Center. Center is one of the largest manufacturers of M16/AR15 magazines, and recently (1999) received a new GI contract for 10 million mags over several years. Early mags had black followers; mags made since 1992-3 have green "anti-tilt" followers. Made from 1980s-present.

*WARNING* Center Industries is not marking its post-ban magazines with the required "FOR LEO/MILITARY/ GOV'T/EXPORT USE ONLY" verbiage. All Center mags since the late 1980s have the date (in 12/99 format) and Center's CAGE code (6P199) stamped on the side of the mag body. It seems that some individuals have ground the date stamp off of some post-ban magazines and refinished the area. These magazines are being sold at gun shows to unsuspecting folks as pre-ban mags. Possession of these post-ban magazines by non-approved folks can result in a felony charge.

Floorplates stamped:

CENTER INDUSTRIES CORP.
WICHITA, KS. U.S.A.
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[2-2-4] Adventure Line Manufacturing Company
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Adventure Line was one of the early magazine contractors, making both 20 and 30-round magazines. Adventure Line was aquired by Parsons, and eventually by Center. Adventure Line mags had gold-colored anodizing, black followers, and have especially long-lasting moly finish. Made from late 1960s-early 1970s. Floorplates stamped:
ADVENTURE LINE MFG. CO.
PARSONS, KS. U.S.A.

[2-2-5] Parsons Precision Products
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Parsons bought out Adventure Line, and was eventually aquired by Center Industries. Parsons mags all had black followers. Made from early 1970s-early 1980s. Floorplates stamped:

PARSONS PRECISION PRODUCTS
PARSONS, KS. U.S.A.
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[2-2-6] Cooper Industries
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Cooper Industries is well-known as the only M16 mag contractor to lose its contract. There had been reports of problems with Cooper mags in the field, and an investigation uncovered that Cooper had mixed "reject" mags in with those that passed inspection. Some Cooper mags were found to have only 3 spot-welds per seam, instead of the usual 6-7. Others were oversize and wouldn't fit into mag wells, or had the mag halves welded together unevenly, causing feed problems. Although the majority of Cooper mags were fully in spec, the US Army recalled all Cooper mags. Always examine any Cooper mag for fit and welds before buying, preferably in your own lower. Because of the stigma surrounding Cooper mags, you can often find them at bargain prices. As long as you know what to look for, they can actually be a bargin. Made from mid 1970s-mid 1980s. Floorplates stamped:

COOPER INDUSTRIES
UPLAND, CA (r) 786
MFG. CODE 030389
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[2-2-7] Sanchez Enterprises
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Sanchez magazines have aquired a wholy undeserved reputation as being bad mags. It began when it was discovered that Sanchez magazines exhibited a higher-than-normal rate of failure when feeding the last few rounds in a magazine, particularly during full-auto fire. An investigation found that Sanchez magazines were in-spec, and no explanation was ever given for the increase in the failure rate. Instead, the problem was corrected with the new green "anti-tilt" followers. The Green Followers (GFs) were first seen in Sanchez magazines in 1988, and became standard issue for all M16 magazines in 1992. Sanchez mags should be considered on par with any USGI-spec mag. Made from early 1980s-early 1990s. Floorplates stamped:

(DSI) SANCHEZ ENT.
MANSFIELD, OH USA
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[2-2-8] Labelle Industries
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La Belle is best known as the only manufacturer to have offered magazines finished in teflon (in place of the moly dry-film) from the factory. However, the majority of La Belle mags were for USGI contracts, and had the standard moly finish. In early 1994, just before the Crime Bill was passed, La Belle made several lots of mags finished in black or gray teflon for sale to civilians and LEOs. AR15 manufacturers Bushmaster and DPMS were the largest distributors of these mags, though several other companies also offered these teflon mags with their own floorplate stampings. Teflon La Belle mags are widely considered the best of the USGI 30-rounders. La Belle was bought by General Stamping in 1995. Made from late 1980s-mid 1990s. Floorplates stamped:

LA BELLE IND.
OCONOMOWOC, WI. U.S.A.
MFG 90435
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[2-2-8-1] Bushmaster Firearms Incorporated
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Bushmaster sold gray teflon Labelle mags with black Bushmaster floorplates until their supply of these pre-ban mags ran out in late 1998. The last of the mags had unmarked black floorplates. It appears that Bushmaster is making their 2nd Generation 10-round magazines from cut-down, post-ban teflon Labelle mags. Made in 1994. Floorplates stamped:

B.F.I.
WINDHAM, ME (Snake)
U.S.A.
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[2-2-8-2] Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services (DPMS)
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DPMS sold black teflon Labelle mags with DPMS floorplates until they ran out in late 1998. Made in 1994. Floorplates stamped:

DEFENSE PROCUREMENT
MANUFACTURING SERVICES, INC
OSSEO, MN 55369
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[2-2-8-3] Armalite Incorporated
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Not the original Costa Mesa, CA ArmaLite; this is the company formerly known as AR15 manufacturer Eagle Arms and currently located in Genesco, Il. Armalite supplied teflon La Belle pre-ban 30-round mags with Armalite rifles. Made in 1994. Floorplates stamped:

(Lyon)
ArmaLite
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[2-2-8-4] Eagle Arms Incorporated
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Eagle Arms is now Armalite, but still makes a bargin line of AR15 rifles under the Eagle Arms name. La Belle-made Eagle Arms magazines were supplied with pre-ban Eagle Arms rifles. Made in 1994. Floorplates stamped:

EAGLE
ARMS
INCORPORATED
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[2-2-9] General Stamping
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General Stamping bought out La Belle, and made USGI contract 30-round mags for the military. All General Stamping mags are post-ban, and restricted to military, LEO, and export use only. Made from 1996-present. Floorplates stamped:

GENERAL STAMPING
OCONOMOWOC, WI. USA
RESTRICTED LAW ENFORCEMENT
GOVERNMENT USE ONLY
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[2-2-10] Fabrique Nationale (FN)
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FN is the current contractor of the M16A2, A3, and A4, as well as the M249 SAW, all of which use M16 magazines. FN also makes steel M16-type magazines for their competing rifle called the FNC. Made from late 1980s-present. Floorplates stamped:

FN MFG. INC.
COLUMBIA, SC
MFG. CODE
3S679
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[2-2-11] Diemaco
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Diemaco is a Canadian company that makes AR magazines for the Canadian military's M16's, called C7s and C7As. As these magazines are not made in the US, they are not required to have date stamps on them, but nearly all of these magazines are post-ban. The Canadian military was still using locally-produced Thermold magazines around the time of the 1994 Crime Bill. Floorplates stamped:

DIEMACO
MAGAZINE, 5.56MM
30 ROUNDS
P/N:07465C NBOM: 20085
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