There is no doubt that high-capacity magazines are expensive. In many places, magazines above 30 rounds are also illegal or banned. The answer to carrying extra magazines in a ready position is a magazine coupler. In this article, we look at several magazine couplers and give you our take on the best.
Many of us are familiar with the old standby methods of connecting two magazines for convenience and quick magazine swaps. Electricians tape, duct tape, and heavy rubber bands have sufficed in some situations. However, these makeshift solutions always fail and usually at the most inopportune time. Manufacturers heard shooters and introduced several solutions to the problem. Now let’s find out which ones are worth having.
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Magpul AR-15/M16 PMAG Mag-Link Coupler
Anyone who shoots an AR-15 style rifle should be familiar with Magpul Industries. The Magpul PMAG has become a de facto standard for polymer magazines. It stands to reason that Magpul would see the need for a magazine coupler and respond to the market.
The Mag-link coupler is made of the same polymer material used for PMAGS and other Magpul accessories. When used with two Magpul PMAG 300 round magazines, you can ensure that the magazines will stay in place securely.
Superior Strength and Design
The design of the Magpul Mag-link coupler is awesome. When properly installed, the two mages perform like a single mag. There is no movement, vibration, or annoying wobble. Magazine changes are quick and intuitive. When coupled with a Magpul Mag-link coupler, the magazines are the perfect distance apart for quick magazine changes and maintaining as low a profile as possible on your rifle.
- Low Cost
- Well, made with quality materials
- Holds magazine side by side or in a staggered configuration
- Magazines stay securely in place
- Only works with PMAGS
- Requires a screwdriver to install properly
If you run PMAGS with your AR-15 style rifle, the only coupler you should be considering is the Magpul Mag-link coupler.
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Lancer Systems AR-15/M16 Magazine Coupler
Lancer is probably the number two manufacture of polymer AR-15 magazines today. Many AR-15 shooters have switched to Lancer magazine for a variety of reasons. To complement their AR-15 magazines, Lancer offers a magazine coupler as well.
One of the major selling points of the Lancer magazines is the translucent body. Being able to see the exact number of rounds left in your magazine can be a huge advantage in some situations. One weak point on many polymer magazines is the feed lips. Lancer addresses this with a steel insert to reinforce and strengthen this part of the magazine.
Customizable Installation with a Two-Part Coupler
Each Lancer magazine coupler has two separate coupling devices. A split design of this sort allows you to customize the placement of your coupler and how you carry your spare magazine. You can separate the couplers for larger magazines or place them close together. If you prefer a staggered carry, you can place the couplers where you feel they give the best support.
- High-quality polymer construction
- Strong, durable, and lightweight
- Includes aluminum spacers to prevent over-torquing the screws and damaging your magazines
- Compatible with magazine capacities of up to thirty rounds.
- It won’t fit PMAGS well
- Some metal mags may not stay secure
If you like the convenience of a translucent magazine body and want to connect your Lancer mags. In that case, the Lancer Magazine Coupler is a wise choice.
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Brownells AR-15/M16 Magazine Coupler
Brownells is one of the largest gun and gun-related parts retailers in the world. No one should be surprised that Brownells has an entry into the magazine coupler market. The Brownell design takes a slightly different design path than other magazine couplers.
Brownell chose a fixed staggered design for their magazine coupler. The coupler is made of tough molded nylon and features three compression adjustment screws to keep your spare magazine secure. Brownells also includes a top-round cap to protect the top of your spare mag. The design of this magazine coupler is rock solid.
The Difference Is Often a Matter of Millimeters
The Brownell magazine coupler functions well at several levels.
- The magazine offset is solid. Three separation stand-off points prevent magazine wobble.
- Stagger height is precise and won’t interfere with the ejection port or ejection port cover
- The three-screw adjustment system is solid and keeps your spare magazine in place during the most challenging maneuvers.
Brownells has done a good job designing a magazine coupler that delivers high quality, durability, and performance at a competitive price.
- The reinforced nylon construction is rugged
- The design is almost bulletproof and keeps your magazines in place
- Perfect alignment and no problems with the stagger interfering with the ejection port on your rifle.
- Includes a protective cap for your spare magazine
- The three adjustment screws can be hard to manipulate in the field
- The Brownells magazine coupler won’t fit PMAGS
The Brownell’s magazine coupler is probably the best coupler I have used for standard mil-spec metal magazines. A staggered configuration seems to be the most popular with shooters, and Brownells got this design right.
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Mercob Security Group AR-15/M16 PMAG Magazine Coupler
Mercob is not a well-known name among shooters. However, they are rapidly building a reputation for high-quality accessories for many different firearms. Among those products is the Mercob PMAG magazine couplers.
The Mercob design is simple and elegant. Each package contains a single magazine clamp and a connecting screw. Using a single Mercob clamp is an option. For more security, adding a second clamp to the pair of magazines doubles the strength and rigidity of the system.
The Caveat You Must Attend To
It must be noted that the Mercob PMAG magazine coupler only works with Magpul PMAGS. Trying to use this coupler on other magazines, both polymer and metal, yielded very poor results.
- Extremely small and lightweight
- Well-constructed to very tight tolerances
- Adjustable tension to prevent movement or magazine wobble
- All edges are radiused to prevent snagging
- Low profile doesn’t add bulk to your AR-15
- Only works with Magpul PMAGS
- May need two Mercob clamps to get a solid connection between the magazines
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The Other Option for The Technically Inclined
Technology is affecting the gun industry as rapidly as it affects every other part of our lives. New materials, new processes, and new technology are driving changes in the shooting industry faster than ever before.
For those of you who embrace this technological race, you may already have in your shop or shack the necessary tools to build your own high-quality magazine couplers. All it takes is a computer and a 3D printer with the right resins, and you can produce your magazine couplers in a few hours.
What It Takes to Join the 3D Printing Revolution
Most of us have a computer capable of driving a 3D printer. The cost of a good 3D printer has fallen over the past few years. Now almost anyone can fit the price into their budget. The internet is full of free magazine coupler designs that you can download and be printing your own magazine couplers in a matter of minutes.
We spent a few minutes searching the internet and returned hundreds of sites offering 3D printable magazine couplers. We have provided a few examples that we found interesting enough to want to try ourselves.
File Drop: 3D Printable AR15 PMAG Accessories
This design is a baseplate coupler. This is a unique design, unlike any option in the retail market or as a 3D printed model.
AR-15 PMAG Magazine Coupler by anuckolls
This coupler is a standard single screw body coupler. This couple uses a single three-inch #10-24 screw and nut to make the connection. The designer gives instructions for printing and further enhancing his magazine coupler.
Yeggi “Magazine Coupler” Search
Yeggi is a website catalog of 3D printer designs. Most of these designs are created by individuals who share them at no cost. A search on Yeggi for “magazine couplers” yielded more couplers than we could ever list here.
3D printing your magazine couplers may be just the beginning. Almost any other firearms accessory can be printed using a 3D printer. Designs and ideas are abundant and, if you become creative, you can design your own.
Why Should I Consider a Magazine Coupler?
There are several good reasons for using a magazine coupler to carry a spare magazine for your AR-15. The most compelling of these reasons include:
- Faster Reloads – Having the second magazine attached to the one in use puts your reload only inches away. No more fumbling in a magazine carrier or vest pocket for a spare magazine.
- One-Handed Reloads – A magazine coupler makes a reload almost automatic. The spare magazine is already in position. A quick press of the magazine release and a very small movement puts the spare magazine into the magazine well without having to move your rifle from the firing position.
- Increased Reload Speed – When you remove the need to drop a magazine and retrieve a loaded replacement from a magazine carrier, you increase the speed of your reloads. Increased speed can keep you in the fight when a standard can take your attention away from the critical action.
Are There Downsides to Magazine Couplers?
There are downsides to almost everything, and magazine couplers are no exception. If you are considering adding magazine couplers to your load-out, you should consider these possible problems.
- Added weight – A loaded 5.56 30-round magazine is not light. Coupling a second magazine to your rifle can add enough weight to make carrying the firearm all day a chore.
- Balance and Control – Coupling a loaded magazine to one side of your rifle can seriously alter the weight distribution and balance of the rifle. This added weight on one side can affect your accuracy.
- Compatibility – Some magazine couplers are proprietary to specific brands of magazines. You may find yourself in a situation where your magazine coupler doesn’t work with the ones on hand.
Too Couple or Not to Couple
The decision to couple magazines or run your AR-15 with single mags is very personal. In any event, the key to success is getting the right magazine coupler for your needs and expectations. The second part of the equation is practicing with the coupled magazines until you are comfortable and proficient at magazine changes and shooting with the additional weight and different balance.
I hope that this article gives you some insight into magazine couplers. We understand that your priorities and needs are different than ours. Make your selections carefully with any accessory you add to your AR-15 rifle.