Praxis: Experience with AR MagPul Enhanced Self-Leveling Followers & Wolff spring replacements in AR & AK mags?
A reader writes to say that he has a few hundred USGI M16 mags that he picked up for a song years ago. All are vintage with the old-style followers and springs which may or may not work reliably. He also has numbers of ComBloc surplus AK47 mags. He asks: "Do you know if the replacement of the USGI followers with MagPuls and Wolff springs (Approx. $2 each plus $5 each) is worth the extra money?" He also asks if anyone has experience with Wolff springs in AK47 mags? Again, is it worth the investment? Another reader and recipient of some smuggled USGI AR mags in Colorado asks a similar question. Since the acquisition cost for him is zero, $7.00 per mag sounds cheap to me IF the result is reliable. Anyone with experience in mag rebuilding have any guidance for these fellers? Further, I'm curious if there is any place that offers these products at a volume discount? In doing research for this post, all I could find for the followers was packs of three and packs of ten for the springs from Wolff.
Also, now that my curiosity was aroused by their questions and my cursory search on the subject, I wondered if anyone made a M16 feed lip inspection tool for civilian sale as described on pages 13-15 here and if anyone had experience with the Brownells AR15 magazine feed lip tool.
I picked up a lot of 20 rounders about 30 years ago, Army surplus. I sorted out the Colt mags at the store and bought them. Tested them for function, inspected them for deformed feed lips etc. Anything that was not perfect I stripped of the follower and spring for parts and crushed the body so as not to ever get confused with what was what.
Same thing with 30 rounders I have picked up here and there over the years. I have upgraded a lot of the 30 rounders with the new green followers, but to be honest I have never had a follower problem.
I tear all my mags down every year or so and clean them, use a impregnated rag with a preservative type oil on them and wipe down the springs, follower, and internal area of the mag body. I pay special attention to the ends of the mag internally and look for any rough spots and wipe with rag so it has a very light film on them. They are then wrapped up in old cotton cloth to keep dust out of them and stored empty. I only keep a few loaded mags lying around. I used to keep them all loaded up but over the years I feel better having them in strippers and bandos.
AR magazine followers come in a couple of different generations. The very first ones were aluminum. Don't mess with those. Post a for sale ad on AR15.com and sell those antiques for a nice profit. Check the Retro Forum there and RetroBlackRifle.com for details on IDing these mags. Note that some currently built 20 rounder mags still have aluminum followers so do your homework before you try to sell them. Retro AR guys are as anal retentive detail oriented as the Concours de' Elegance antique car guys.
The second generation followers are black. They suck. If you have these, change them. You're an idiot if you don't.
The third generation followers are various shades of green. They're a less tilty design but they still tilt and cause jams sometimes. They suck slightly less than the black followers. I'd still replace them.
The fourth generation followers is where the US mil got an IQ point or two smarter and commissioned a knock off no tilt follower. These are tan or light brown colored. They are made by Brownells and the polymer they are made from is not as slippery as the MagPul followers. Some folks say replace them some don't. I've never played with these so it's your call.
Magpul AR followers are great. They definitely make the magazines more reliable. They do not tilt at all.
Wolf Springs are excellent aftermarket alternatives to OEM springs. Sprinco.com is another excellent source for AR and pistol action springs but they don't manufacture magazine springs at this time.
For his AK mags tell your buddy to look at Tango Down's AK followers. They are polymer replacements that are lighter, rust proof and add 1 US made part for 922(r) bullcrap compliance. $10 ea for a new follower spring and floorplate tab here. http://www.harristacticalonline.com/AK-47-Spring-Rebuild-Kit-for-any-Standard-AK-Magazine-AK-SK-30.htm
Damage Industries makes and sells just the AK mag springs if he wants those. 12 springs made from 302 stainless steel for about $36 here: http://damageindustriesllc.com/product/spring-magazine-ak-47-stainless-12-count
I own 3 dozen of these and they all work fine with no problems in the past year that I've had them.
I have several dozen GI mags. All of them 25+ years old. I've replaced all of the original followers with the wonderful MAGPUL yellow, no-tilt followers. Kept the original springs. Springs are fine. Its those junk black and green GI followers that suck.
Just replace followers. You'll find the mags work perfectly.
Unless you are having function problems ,I'd leave the springs. Magpul followers are a must for me though. Never seen anything bigger than the 3-packs.
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