Magazines are the single most critical component of the weapons system; a properly designed and fabricated magazine can enhance a weapons reliability dramatically whereas a poor magazine can make it non functional. After using modern small arms on nearly a daily basis for over 20 years and having first hand knowledge of what it takes to make a reliable magazine I have come up with some key things to live by;
1.) Baby them. Treat your magazines as gently as you can within the realm of realistic training. Don’t drop them fully loaded during a mag reload drill as that is very abusive and does not reflect reality. Don’t drop them on hard surfaces such as concrete and gravel as a matter of habit. If it is necessary to do this due to range restrictions then put down something to cushion the dropped magazine.
2.) On tough to seat mags, download at least 1 round. If a fully loaded mag is difficult to seat with the slide or bolt assembly in battery then download the mag by at least 1 round as a matter of habit. USGI aluminum M16 magazines are a good example of this as they are really only properly designed to take 28 rounds, not 30 as advertised. Glock pistol mags as a general rule should always be downloaded 1 round as a fully loaded mag is difficult to seat with the slide forward.
3.) Leave loaded only when necessary and rotate with fresh magazines monthly. This will increase the longevity of your magazines.
4.) Attempt to keep them clean particularly in sandy and salt water environments. Do not oil the magazine internals as this tends to attract debris.
5.) Use OEM mags as a general rule. Original manufacturer mags tend to be the best choice across the board. An exception would be magazines for 1911 and AR15 magazines. 1911 manufacturers as a general rule supply a cheap, low bid magazine with their pistols as they realize most serious shooters will buy higher quality aftermarket magazines. Wilson Combat 1911 magazines are some of the finest on the market. I specifically like the Wilson Combat ETM magazines, but the 47D mag is good too. For the AR, Magpul magazines are worth a hard look.
6.) They require periodic replacement. I know this will come as a shocker for some of you but believe it or not after awhile you need to trash your mags and buy new ones if they are used a lot. They take a lot of abuse and are expected to work 100% of the time with no exceptions yet be reasonably priced. This is a tall order and it means that after awhile they have simply have met their service life and need to be replaced. I know it is a radical concept for some people but it is the truth.
I have lived by these guidelines for years and have had exceptionally good luck with my magazines. Those who know me also know my weapons tend to work very reliably and a major reason is I treat my magazines with the respect they deserve. I would recommend you do the same.