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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    8

    Default Magazine capacity vs. magazine loading for an AR-15

    As an old school, former Army AR shooter from the pre-30 round magazine era, I was always told to download the GI aluminum issue magazines by 2 rounds to 18 rounds for reliable feeding. That worked back in the day, and works for me today, too.

    With the advent of the 30 rd. magazines, I was advised to also download them by 2 rounds to 28 rounds regardless of whether they were aluminum, steel, or Magpul polymer.

    Recently I have seen recommendations for 30 round magazines to be downloaded by 10% (Tiger McKee), only load to 25 rounds (Clint Smith), and many people stating that the metal mags with anti tilt followers and the Magpul magazines do NOT need to be downloaded at all and can be loaded to 30 rounds.

    Can one of the instructional staff from SI, or the Taipan himself, please help resolve my confusion?

    Thanks - my search skills suck and did not uncover any discussion on this, so if it is already out there, please direct me to the discussion.
    Live without limits!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Snohomish County, WA
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    When I took the RGF-3 class with Doug Little several years ago he advised the 2 round down count to help with pro-active reloads on a closed bolt and it did seem to help quite a bit. Currently at home all of my mags have 25 rounds in them just for the simplicity of unpacking 100 round boxes of ammo. Recently I just bought my first 20 round Lancer and GI mags and have them loaded to 17 or 18 since it seemed to help with inserting on a closed bolt.

    I'm sure some more details could be had from others here too.
    The government selectively enforces laws, so I selectively follow them.

    RGF-3: December 2014
    CRG-1: March 2015
    CRG-2: June 2015
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    PGF : January 2017
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Thanks!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_k View Post
    When I took the RGF-3 class with Doug Little several years ago he advised the 2 round down count to help with pro-active reloads on a closed bolt and it did seem to help quite a bit.
    I do the same. The magazine carried in the weapon is fully loaded, the back-ups are -2.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Thank you!
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Beyond The Wall
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    The "down by two" concept predates all modern trainers...including Smith. It was a discovery-in-common when the M16 became a thing. Downloading by five rounds is not necessary and in my experienced and educated opinion, unwise.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,454
    FWIW, all my magazines are loaded to capacity. It may take a slightly firmer "whap" to make sure their seated, followed by a quick tug, but this is something I've trained to do without conscious thought. All my old AR magazines that wouldn't seat when full have been either given or traded away.
    "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." — Augustine

    "That upon which you set your heart and put your trust is your god." — Martin Luther

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Exiled in Texas
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    7,495
    Quote Originally Posted by Cacti Rat View Post
    I do the same. The magazine carried in the weapon is fully loaded, the back-ups are -2.
    Personally, I just load them all to 30. Yes, it requires more force to seat a mag on a closed bolt, but not enough to induce malfunctions on my part. But for those who have experienced difficulty seating the mag—or watched their full mag fall to the ground immediately after their attempted reload—the above strategy makes sense. You gain nothing by downloading the mag in the gun. And downloading your spares by five rounds seems absurd to me. One or two rounds light is all you need.

    The mag type matters here, too. The Lancer mags (or old TSD mags) will usually take a 31st round, if you cram it in there (but you shouldn’t). That extra room makes it easier to seat that mag full on a closed bolt. Lancers seem to be the best here, then Magpuls, then everyone else. There is a wide variety of tolerances in aluminum GI mags, so some will be easier than others.

    Unfortunately, most won’t shoot and reload enough to really figure out if they have a problem seating their mags on a closed bolt. (And current ammo prices don’t help.) Even less likely will someone shoot enough to determine if there is a difference from one mag to another. Before you commit to downloading your mags, you would ideally experiment with your mags and gun. Practice reloads with a full mag, then at -1, then at -2. Keep topping of your mags constantly and do some of it “blind”—meaning that you don’t know which mag you are seating until afterwards, so that your preconception doesn’t taint your observation. You can try this dry, but it won’t be the full equivalent of live fire.

    If you discover that you have no difficulty seating a full 30-rd mag, then why would you download them just because someone else had difficulty with a different gun, different mags, and different strength/skill level?
    Virtute et Armis

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    8
    Thank you, Taipan Suarez!

    I have always used the -2 loading, but then again I have used predominantly 20 (18) rd magazines since 1972 and wanted to make sure my -2 loading for the 30 rd Magpul (and metal) mags was not inappropriate for an unseen (by my) operational reason.
    Last edited by PJKeane; 06-24-2021 at 03:06 PM.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sparks, NV
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    198
    I load mine -2, but in reality I really suck at trying to remember how many rounds I've fired to reload while still having a round chambered.
    Most times I'm dry with the bolt locked back
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