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AR Magazine Maintenance

AR users will find plenty of magazine brand options on the market.

By John J. Woods

AR magazines are tough but not indestructible. They can wear down and wear out over time. They require basic maintenance. It's simple, but tricky. Follow these steps for flawless metal AR magazine function:

1. Clear all rounds if magazine is loaded.

2. Inspect exterior for dents, cracks, or a sticky follower.

3. Ditto to find bent feeding lips on top of the magazine.

4. Check all spot welds. Inspect condition of the magazine lock slot.

5. Make sure the baseplate fold-over ears are not bent out of shape.

6. If anything looks out of condition, toss the magazine rather than trying to self-repair.

7. To disassemble, begin by putting the flat end of a small screwdriver into the hole in the baseplate. GIs know a .223 bullet tip can be used for this, but a screwdriver works better. Soft non-FMJ bullets are easily marred.

8. Pry down on the screwdriver tip just enough to free the two stamped indents holding the baseplate in place. Once freed over the magazine body, slowly slide the baseplate over until it clears the magazine body, being careful to hold down the mag spring, which is under tension.

9. Worm the long spring and attached follower back and forth until it frees the magazine body. This is the tricky part. There is no need to take the follower off the spring unless it is being replaced due to damage. Inspect the follower for cracks, chipped or worn edges.

10. Clean the mag body inside with compressed air and short cleaning rod and patch.

11. Wipe the spring and follower down with a clean, dry lubed cloth. Use toothbrush for grit, dirt, or grime.

12. Reassemble magazine in reverse making sure the follower "bullet" is forward. Wipe magazine body with dry lubed cloth.

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