Random Thoughts On AK Versus AR Magazines

The AK-47 and its variants are probably the most ubiquitous firearms in the world. They have been made everywhere from the armories of Russia and the former Soviet Union to the tiny workshops of Peshawar, Pakistan. There have been multiple books written about them and how they changed the face of war.

They have the reputation of working in all climates and in all regions of the world. They are not considered finicky as compared to the American M16/AR15.

Given all this, why are their magazines so damn finicky?

I just got a couple of orders of AK-47 and AK-74 magazines delivered in the past few weeks. They included magazines made by Magpul, by KCI in South Korea, and by AC-Unity in Bosnia. My AK-47 is a FEG AMD-65 imported by Tennessee Gun and my AK-74 is Bulgarian variant also imported (and assembled) by TGI.

The results so far is that the Magpul AK-47 magazines fit and lock into place. Their AK-74 magazines have required quite a bit of sanding and finagling to fit and lock.

You can see how this had to be sanded.

The metal “tanker” 20-round KCI magazines are working just fine.

Don’t even get me started on the AC-Unity AK-47 mags from Bosnia. Despite having metal tabs, I have yet to get one that will lock into place without pounding. Likewise, they won’t drop without a good hard slam from the heel of my hand. They are going to take some work just to make them into range magazines.

AC-Unity metal tabs highlighted.

In the past, the actual milsurp ComBloc mags seem to have worked OK. The Tapco ones were a bit of hit and miss. ProMag is to be avoided at all costs.

Contrast this with my experience with AR magazines.

I have used mil-surp, Colt, Magpul, D&H, the Israeli eLander and Orlites, C-Products, Lancers, and others that I can’t even remember. They all work. They lock into place and they drop out when the mag release is pushed. I think I even got Thermolds to work.

These have fitted in lowers made by Aero-Precision, Anderson, CavArms, Essential Arms, and probably others than I have around here.

The only explanation I can think of to explain this is that milspec means something when talking about ARs and not a damn thing when talking about AKs.

2 thoughts on “Random Thoughts On AK Versus AR Magazines”

  1. I had always used Mil Surplus for my AR mags (I bought them before Magpul started making them). I have never had a single issue with any of them. Then I got a PSA lower. Not a single one of my mil surplus mags would stay in the mag well. They all fell out. Turns out the mag well is just a little wider than the mag wells on my other lowers. But the Magpul mags fit and lock in place. No issues.

    Regardless, I believe that all mags need to be tested with all firearms you plan to use them with to verify functionality.

  2. My PSAK-47 from Palmetto needed the magazine catch filed on to fit any magazine at all, but once done it’s accepted every magazine I’ve thrown at it.

    My kit-build Tantal (Polish AK-74 equivalent) accepted unmodified PMAGs, steel Polish, polymer Polish, and bakelite East German mags. Bulgarian mags needed filed down to fit.

    The AR’s… One of the retro guns magazine well is a “bit tight” and PMAGs don’t drop free.

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