We have come a long way in magazine capacity for the AR-15 rifle. Back in the day, 20-rounders were the norm and then the 30-round mags took over from there. The issues with most high-capacity mags are size, shape, and weight. I have several 60-round drums that function great and look really cool in the gun, but they are very bulky to carry. The Schmeisser S60W M4/AR could be a good option when trying to carry more than one high-capacity magazine.
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Let’s look at the Schmeisser 60-round (casket) magazine and then compare it to the 60-round drum. While Schmeisser is the manufacturer of the S60W, I am going to refer to it as the ATI (they import it) for the sake of convenience. After that, we will look at the ATI’s durability, reliability, and how it compares to the drum.
Schmeisser — German quality
While ATI imports the S60W, the German company Schmeisser is the manufacturer. German-made products are worth paying attention to when it comes to firearms. Just as the Swiss are known for their excellence in precision watch components, Germany is known for the ability to produce high-end machined gun parts. Most all parts manufactured for Schmeisser are made in Germany with a few coming from other European NATO manufacturers. They make some good quality firearms, but in the US, they are more well known for their 60-round casket magazine.
When it comes to the ATI mag, they had quality in mind. The housing is made of heavy-duty fiberglass polymer. The M4 magazine is a quad-stacked mag for .223 or 5.56 and is made with a medium-sized push-button on the bottom of the mag for disassembly. This allows for easy cleaning and replacing of springs or other parts should they be needed in the future. I disassembled and re-assembled the mag in just a few minutes. The mag uses a 2-spring system, which is why it gets a little harder to load after the first 20 rounds or so. The bottom spring is much heavier than the top one and did take a little elbow grease to get back in.
On the range, I filled up the ATI and put some ammo downrange. After that, I started with a 30-round mag and did some mag changes to the ATI. I didn’t have any issues switching back and forth and I found the ATI will fit in a double mag pouch, although it does stick out further than 30-round mag. Carrying 1 ATI in place of 2 standard 30-round mags eliminates 1mag change over a 60-round period. The follower was very solid and does not catch at all as it pushes the ammo upwards.
When performing mag changes, I let the mags hit the ground like I do during any drills. I also dropped it from shoulder height several times to see if the bottom place would come off or if any ammo would come shooting out the top. I had zero fails or issues during range day. When it comes to quality, I give it 2 thumbs up.
How does it compare to the D-60 drum?
The drum has been around for a while and has that iconic gangster look to it. Most people picture the American Tommy Gun when a drum magazine comes up in conversation. The Magpul drum has proven to be reliable as well and has its advantages. After using both, I have found four distinct differences between the drum and casket mag.
- The Drum, while wider, does not stick down as far. This allows it to be used with a bipod and makes the gun more maneuverable overall.
- The ATI casket mag sticks out much further than the drum but is much easier to change on the range and carry. I have not found a good way to carry a drum during tactical training that allows for quick mag changes.
- The ATI mag is faster to load. It does get a little stiff once you get past 20 rounds or so, but you can just push them in the top of the mag like any other AR15 magazine. The drum has a lever that allows you to “ratchet” the spring as you load. This process makes it easy to load, but more time-consuming.
- The ATI is much easier to take apart to replace the spring. The drum can be a little harder to take apart and put back together.
Best of both worlds
I have reviewed the D-60 drum before and found it very reliable. Even though they both hold 60 rounds, there are differences between the two designs. If I were going to head out with as much ammo as possible and wanted to reduce my mag change time, I would start with a drum in the gun and the ATI on my vest. This would allow me to shoot 120 rounds with only one mag change in the middle.
For a magazine that holds 60 rounds, I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about the ATI. It is about as compact as you can get it. The magazine sits flush with the sides of the receiver when inserted so it doesn’t catch on anything or have any awkward corners sticking out. It is definitely a good choice for those wanting to carry more ammo in their rifle. The price on the ATI is also much lower than a drum, making this a good option for those wanting to save money and still get that high capacity. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong with the drum or the ATI casket 60-round magazine.