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OpEd: Magpul AK MOE PMAG vs. US Palm AK30 mag

In a world of Pepsi vs coke,  Ford vs Chevy, AR vs AK, we also have PALM mag vs PMAG. Disputed daily on social media and forum sites, we get to watch self proclaimed YouTube sensations destroy these beautiful magazines from their redneck proving grounds by the most creative and unrealistic means possible. That's all great but what about how they hold up through regular everyday/every training/every gunfight use?  STA Training Group runs on average one AK47 Fighter course (2 days) per month. These are low round count courses of about 600 rounds focusing mainly on manipulation during reloads, malfunctions, loading/unloading and positional shooting within 100 yards.  While we aren't shooting 1000 rounds per day we are probably doing 1000 reloads.  Reloading a polymer AK magazine into that out of spec hole on the south end of the “People's” carbine  can be like dropping a log into a wood chipper. The AK47 is an unbelievable carbine developed just after a world war that was fought with semi-automatic service rifles, flame throwers and sub machine guns. Not much attention was given to the sharp Russian edges that became DNA collection points for knuckles, fingers and polymer magazines.

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STA Training Group has had 35 of the US Palm AK30 magazines in circulation for about two years with great success in our classes. The AK 30 magazine is top of the line with the obvious focus being durability and reliability.  It is the only magazine we have not had break, bend or blow out through regular use in our classes where air temperatures sometimes reach 120 degrees with hard winds, fine gritty sand and other contributing hazards that prevent moving parts from working when you need them to.  (Note: the Magpul AK MOE PMAG is exempt as it has NOT been through enough courses). All of our reload drills are practical, no one sets the magazines on fire before a tactical reload drill and no anvils are used when doing emergency reloads. We have some US PALM AK30 magazines reaching an estimated 5000 rounds and they still run like a Swiss watch. A major factor to this is the metal inserts embedded in the polymer body as well as the stout construction.  This reinforcement allows it to take all the abuse that comes with thousands and thousands of reloads. The retail price on the US Palm AK30 magazine is $29.95 which puts it a little higher than a standard Bulgarian type steel magazine but well worth the investment as it will most likely out live the magazine well in your AK47.

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The somewhat newly released Magpul AK MOE PMAGs have hit the market with the expected success that would come from any Magpul product. Once the initial back order was finished and us little people could start getting them in our hands we put them to the test. We hadthe high expectations that come from the popularity and reliability of the original AR15 PMAG. We pulled 10 and numerically marked them and threw them in the next few courses. We inspected after the first 500 rounds were through them.  The PMAG had some definite pros that were long awaited for an AK47 polymer magazine. For one, it is a very streamlined magazine that, although snug on some, fit in every AK we tried, including a Krebbs Custom with magazine well guide. Too tight or a snug fit is common in any polymer magazine as there is no real mil spec guideline for an Ak47 mag well and polymer can swell and collect surface dust building up in the pours.  Once again, there were no sledge hammer test reloads or tactical reloads while shooting live rounds through the once inserted magazine. The PMAG has a much lower retail price at $14.95 which is appealing to the cost effective shooter that exists traditionally in the AK47 crowd.

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When we inspected the US Palm AK30 magazines after our initial courses the only real problem we ran into was that they didn't fit in all the AK47s. It was easily remedied by some precision eye ball hand sanding at the major wear points until they fit. Not the most convenient thing in the world but not the end of it either. The PMAGs are more of a traditional AK47 size while the PALM mags are more robust and definitely feel it. The AK MOE PMAGs had very apparent and immediate wear on the magazine front and rear locking points with some having prominent gouges from the reload drills or hitting the deck.  After 500 rounds the wear was significant, all continued to seat and perform but one could only wonder at what point they wouldn't. This is due to the entire magazine being polymer with NO metal inserts to confront the steel jaws of the magazine well. The PALM magazine showed no signs of this and their metal inserts proved to be the right decision despite an increased cost.


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The US PALM AK30 and Magpul AK MOE PMAG both had equal success with feeding into an array of AK47s. Both magazines had the same trend of occasionally not feeding the last round or two into the chamber of some AK47s. This could be a tolerance issue on the carbines as there was no consistency with carbines or magazines that were common enough to pinpoint. If you're looking to make a $300.00 investment in Ak47 magazines that can be passed down to your grand children's grandchildren without fail then the US PALM AK30 magazine is without a doubt what I would recommend. If you're on a limited budget, prefer a streamlined magazine, and you are of the correct mindset that magazines will fail and you throw them away and replace, then the Magpul AK MOE PMAG would be your magazine. Either way, both are a re great mag. We will continue to run both magazines in the courses and do more updates as we get practical usage wear from both ‘banana clips'.

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