Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen gun sales rise, leading to frantic buying and shortages of ammunition and spare magazines. And there’s little doubt that this will slow down now that there will be an administration change. Discussions of possible bans on magazines holding more than 10 rounds — combined with the fear that ongoing riots are generating — are throwing gas on the fire.
When it comes to magazines, the thought is “the more the merrier.” However, you can’t have an unlimited capacity in a weapon that is fed by a box magazine. At some point, the magazine will become so bulky that either it gets in the way of efficient maneuvering or the weight increases to a point that carrying the weapon is overly fatiguing. Either one of these undesirable outcomes lessens the advantage of having more ammo. So you must find a sweet spot in terms of capacity vs. practicality.
Personally, I prefer the traditional military 20-round magazine for my AR-15s. Eugene Stoner designed the AR-15/M16 to function with a straight-line box, not the curved 30-round magazine developed post-Vietnam. The 20-rounder ejects vigorously and locks in place more easily. It also stays out of the way.
But there are AR users who prefer a capacity higher than 30 rounds. Over the years, various manufacturers have offered 40-round magazines — such as the Magpul PMAG — which are the same width overall as standard AR magazines but with an extended overall length. Other solutions have included 100-round drum magazines. These might be good for mounting on a fixed-position pintle mount but not so good for all-day carry afield.
American Tactical’s 2021 Magazine Update
A 60-round magazine for 5.56mm AR-15s imported by American Tactical has been updated for 2021. That magazine is the Gen 2 S60 Schmeisser 60-round Polymer AR-15 magazine manufactured by Schmeisser GmbH of Germany. This patented, very-high-capacity magazine was made possible by widening the lower portion of the magazine rather than increasing its overall length. The 60-round Gen 2 Schmeisser magazine ends up being approximately the same length as a standard double-column 40-round magazine.
The Gen 2 Schmeisser features an upgraded follower with an integral last-shot hold-open feature, which the Gen 1 version didn’t have. The last-shot hold-open feature is particularly important because keeping track of the round count of a 60-round magazine is difficult even on the target range, much less during a high-stress situation. The Gen 2 S60 features a clear polymer window along the side to also help you keep track.
While some standard 5.56mm AR-15 magazines can handle .300 Blackout ammo without modification, please note that this one can’t. Should you try using .300 BLK ammo in it, your warranty will be voided.
From the American Tactical Website: “Warning! — High Tension Spring. The Schmeisser S60 has a very powerful high-tension spring. Please use caution if disassembling the magazine for maintenance. If not properly secured, spring may eject from magazine when floor plate is removed and can cause serious injury.”
I would heed this warning. I have yet to need to strip and clean an AR magazine in 40 years of shooting. Unless you drop it in the mud, I wouldn’t bother.
The American Tactical Schmeisser Gen 2 represents a major firepower and functionality upgrade for those wanting one. MSRP is $79.95. I found that the Gen 2 version (sans viewing window) is available from Palmetto State Armory and Smoky Mountain Knife works for $49.99 as of this writing.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.