Home Latest News IMI Defense AR-15 Mags Review: Budget-Friendly & Reliable 5.56/.223 Options By:

IMI Defense AR-15 Mags Review: Budget-Friendly & Reliable 5.56/.223 Options By:

IMI Defense AR-15 Mags Review: Budget-Friendly & Reliable 5.56/.223 Options   By:


IMI Defense AR-15 Magazines
I started with five test magazines, and I abused them all and then set one aside for long-term storage. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I’ve played with quite a few AR mags over the years, and some have stood out as reliable performers while others earned their way into the “turd pile.” The IMI magazines did avoid that pile of misfit mags.

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As far as weight goes, the IMI mags come in at 0.325 pounds – compared to ETS clear mags at 0.3 pounds, steel GI mags at .25 pounds, and Gen 2 Magpul mags at 0.3 pounds. Just for giggles, I also tested my 20-round 0.156-pound Thermold mags that are hilariously marked as “Gov’t Use Only.” Those mags kind of suck, to be honest.

The IMI mags are on the heavier end, but you wouldn’t notice that just from holding them. They seem lighter, and the polymer is textured with some stippling that would also serve well if you wanted to label the mags using a paint marker.

In a side-by-side comparison with the Magpul PMags, the IMI Defense mags are a bit taller. In practical use, I never noticed the difference, and the IMI mags stowed easy and securely into my mag carriers.


Function Testing

IMI Defense AR-15 Magazines
I’ve put over 1,000 rounds through a single magazine, and I have nothing to complain about yet. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I had no notable issues when drawing these mags from a variety of magazine carries, ranging from Esstac carriers and cheapo OneTigris mag pouches to some old military surplus three-mag pouches. As a polymer mag, just like the Magpul versions, it was a bit tight to get two mags inside the surplus military pouches that were designed for the slimmer steel mags. Loading was also easy, and the lockup inside the magazine well was solid.

I tested five IMI mags across four AR platforms, and the only issue I had came from one particular gun that hated steel-cased ammo. It had the exact same issues with Magpul, IMI, ETS, and Thermold mags.

In every other AR I tested, which included a mil-spec Delton, competition Caracal, and newly released S&W Volunteer, the mags had no issues over 2,000 rounds of testing. That includes over 1,000 rounds through a single magazine using a blend of steel-case Wolf, steel-case Tula, Winchester M855 brass-cased ammo, .223 Federal brass-cased ammo, PMC Match brass-cased ammo, Hornady Varmint Express polymer tip, Freedom Munitions Factory Reloads, and Winchester 5.56 NATO.

So far, I have no complaints in the ammo department.


IMI Defense AR-15 Magazines
Other than some nicks and dings, the mags have held up better than I personally expected. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

Personally, I find the texture and feel of the Magpul PMags to be my favorite. I have used hundreds of GI steel mags over the years, and I have seen what happens when they are abused. The mags work, but after decades of abuse I have seen the baseplate break free and dump every round into a puddle of mud at a very inconvenient moment.

All mags can fail, and I have broken Magpul mags with a bit of excessive abuse. Personally, I wouldn’t even let my Thermold mags get too close to a hot lightbulb, and they are the cheapest-feeling mags I own. Overall, I would put the IMI mags in the list of magazines I would trust, but they are not indestructible.

If you want something that will never fail, I can’t say I have found a solution for you yet. But the IMI mags get the job done at a nice budget price that is predictable in performance.

Torture Testing

IMI Defense AR-15 Magazines
I was a bit mean to these mags, and they did well despite that. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

To test these IMI mags, I took them to the range and pumped a few hundred rounds of various 5.56/.223 loads in brass and steel-cased ammo through each. I then took one mag and topped it off at over 1,000 rounds. The mags worked fine, and I cannot report any individual magazine-related failures.

That being said, I also loaded three magazines and dropped them six times on the baseplate and six times on the feed lips from shoulder height (over five feet). On five out of six drops, I noticed at least one round pop free from the magazine. That’s less than I normally see with a Magpul PMag, but it’s also a good sign that the magazine is working to survive the shock of being dropped. That was done on a concrete surface. I saw some scrapes, but zero breaks.

IMI Defense AR-15 Magazines
After a few drops and drive-by hits with my car, the mags showed only minor scrapes. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I then took the same three mags and ran them over with my 3,655-pound RAV4 car on an angled concrete driveway. The mags shifted, squished a bit, and even slid under the tires, but they faired just fine in the end.

I did some debris testing by dumping some dirt into the magazines – not goops of mud – but what I would feel like I should be able to load and shoot in a reasonable scenario under stress. I noticed no issues.

Finally, I have had a magazine loaded for two months now in my safe, and it shows no spring distortion yet. I will likely leave it there for a few more months before my next spring range trip to test it out. I have very low expectations that I will be able to find an issue with it.