When we get a new rifle, many of us start customizing it to get it just the way we want it. Based on a budget and our specific tastes, we get the best parts and accessories we can. One thing I’ve seen overlooked many times is magazines. Some people just go with whatever came with their new rifle. Some get whatever is a good deal at the local gun store. Some buy truly great mags because they happen to look good and be “tacticool.” But how do you know if you are using a quality mag that you can count on when a 300 pound wild boar is charging you? Or, maybe when you’re investing your time and hard earned money in a carbine class, and bad mags just can’t come along?
One way to find out is to simply go with a brand that is well respected by those who trust their lives to it. Another way is to listen to those who make it their business to know these things. At SHWAT™, we are always on the lookout for quality gear. We especially like finding great gear that not everybody knows about and then telling you about it. In this quest, the Lancer Systems name came up again and again. SHWAT™ Team Member and Wilson Combat founder, Bill Wilson has been telling us how good they are since we met him.
The latest from Lancer Systems, the L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazines (AWM), are hybrid magazines. “Hybrid,” in that they have polymer bodies with a steel upper portion, including the feed lips. The L5 AWM’s are available in Black, Brown and Smoke in the translucent versions, and Black, Olive Drab, Flat Dark Earth and Foliage Green in the opaque versions. Their MSRP ranges from $15.75 to $28.84 depending on size and color.
We picked up 12 of the 30 rounds mags, two of the 20 round mags and two of the 10 round mags. Upon first inspection, the basics are confirmed. The translucent versions will easily allow you to monitor ammo usage. They are light. The integration of the steel and polymer appears to be done quite well. They fit in the magwell of a mil-spec AR easily and drop free when the release is pressed. The mags are easy to load and hold exactly the number of rounds they are specified to hold. No putting 31 rounds in a 30 round magazine, which is by design. Upon inserting a mag into a rifle with the bolt closed, I find it takes some force to make it lock securely into place. We’ll see if the springs loosen up over time making it easier. With the bolt open, it locks in with the feel of a GI mag.
How do they run? This is the fun part! I packed them up and head to a friend’s farm north of the Dallas metroplex with an Accurate Armory AR-15 and Smith & Wesson M&P 15.
Now it’s time to drop the bolt on a full load, and after a couple of shots, see how fast I can empty some mags. Using a mixture of DRT 55 grain frangible ammo and American Tactical (NATO specification ammo made in Turkey) 62 grain FMJ, I send about 120 rounds into a steel plate. So far, flawless. After this initial function test, and some photography in 104 degree temps, it’s time to head home.
The steel upper portion on these Lancer magazines is to enhance reliability, which is the top priority in a magazine. It also allows them to be stored fully loaded without affecting the feed lips. One thing I find is that if I hit the bottom of a half loaded 30 round magazine with my palm of my hand hard enough, I can knock a round loose. I can do this with other magazines too, but some of my other polymer mags take a slightly harder hit to get the same result. Theoretically, this could be a downside. For me, this is a non-issue in the real world. I don’t intend to hog hunt with half-loaded mags in an open mag pouch/holder and hit them just right on hard objects with significant force.
Speaking of reliability, a great benefit of the Lancer L5 AWM is that it works in an FN SCAR with no modification! Many common polymer magazines have to be modified for use in the SCAR due to the design of the bolt catch. This built in compatibility will make many SCAR owners very happy.
They do work well with .300 Blackout, too. We ran about 40 rounds through a .300 Blackout AR pistol with the owner of King’s Arsenal using subsonic ammo and suppressor and it worked perfectly. As a matter of fact, he like them so much, we ended giving one to him!
So, is the Lancer Systems L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazine good enough for tactical hog hunting? In my opinion, yes. And I’m not alone. Bill Wilson also uses them for the 7.62×40 round. Like a great rifle, they do what they are asked to do, the way you ask them to do it, whenever they are asked to do it.