Anyone who owns a Mini-14 Ranch Rifle knows the pain of trying to find decent aftermarket magazines for it. Seems we can send a man to walk on the moon, but no one knows how to cobble together a reliable high-capacity mag for one of the more popular carbines in the United States. For years the conventional wisdom among Mini-14 owners has been that if you want mags you can trust, you buy ones made by Ruger. I’ve run across a few good aftermarket 20-rounders, but just about the only really good 30-round mags I’ve found have been factory mags.
When I heard recently that Tapco had come out with a polymer Mini-14 magazine, I did a little research, found that the price seemed right, and bought a couple. Now, I’ve purchased polymer mags before, and the last ones I bought, from Pro-Mag, actually had to have the feed lips modified with a grinder before they would feed properly in my rifle. I sincerely hoped the Tapco mags would be an improvement – and they are.
Although cosmetically similar to the Pro-Mag polymer magazines, the Tapco magazine impressed me immediately with a much sturdier follower and a set of strong, properly proportioned feed lips. The base plate can be easily removed for cleaning. Both mags seemed sturdy, locked up properly when inserted into the weapon, released easily, and locked the bolt securely open when empty. I loaded both mags up to capacity and left them in the safe for a couple of days to see if any of the rounds would pop out because of feed lip “creep” – something I have experienced before with cheap polymer mags. None did.
The next step was to take the mags to the range and bust some caps to check for reliability, and I must say I was suitably impressed. I loaded and fired both magazines several times, with no malfunctions. Some other aftermarket mags I’ve tried in the past, even though they fed properly, had the annoying habit of not properly locking the bolt back after the last round, causing the bolt to fall closed as soon as I removed the magazine. The Tapco mags didn’t do that.
The one negative I found is that when the rifle’s bolt is closed, it is very hard to get a fully loaded magazine to insert and lock properly into place (as you would do, for example, when performing a tactical reload). This would tend to disqualify them for use in a real-life defensive situation.
So, bottom line: would I buy them again? I’d have to say yes, even if only for range use. At just $14.99 each from Brownell’s, they’re less than most others on the market and well worth the price.
See more reviews of shooting accessories at MikesCampfire.com.