Best AK-47 Magazines [Hands-On]

The AK-47 and its variants are everywhere.

Every tinpot dictator, Eastern European force, guerilla army, and fictional warlord packs AKs in some variety or another.

Lord of War AK47

There may be more AR derived designs produced in total numbers these days, but the AK is more wildly spread, and so are its magazines.

Anytime dozens of different countries and companies are producing a single rifle, and we are going to see diversity.

Upgraded AKs
A Few AKs

Diversity is our strength, and AK mags, in particular, shown an impressive amount of variety.

Let’s take a look at some decisions you’ll need to make and then follow up with our favorite AK magazines from a variety of manufacturers.

Decision

Capacity

The Standard capacity AK magazine is a thirty rounder.

These thirty round AK magazines are a sweet spot lengthwise. Admittedly the distinctive curve of these magazines gives them a legendary profile.

AK Magazines Rundown
Mmmmm, magazines…

The magazine is instantly recognizable, but they aren’t the only capacity out there.

We have extended magazines in the 40-round bracket, which are often declared to be RPK magazines. We also have drums in the 70 plus round of capacity.

We, of course, also have 5, 10, and 20 rounders. This helps meet state requirements for mag sizes of all kinds. For example, in Florida, we can hunt with semi-auto as long as they have five rounds or less.

Mikhail Kalashnikov
Can’t have an AK article without a picture of Mikhail Kalashnikov!

Twenty rounders occupy an awesome space size-wise.

They are perfect for AK pistol designs and make my Draco Pistol look a little more reasonable. They also make guns easier to store and allow you to get into a low prone position.

Polymer vs. Steel

The big question when it comes to picking AK magazines is simple.

Do you want steel or polymer?

Polymer or steel?
Polymer or steel?

AK magazines are produced en-masse in both steel and polymer types. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. Steel is the traditional option, but polymer has become a bit more popular over time.

Polymer is lighter than steel by a considerable degree. The polymer can also be easily textured, and there is more flexible for different designs than steel. The polymer also gives you a cheaper magazine base, especially for American produced magazines.

Of course, there are no rust issues with polymer magazines.

Steel is ultimately much stronger. There are no worries about feed lips breaking when dropped, especially when loaded. Most AK steel magazines are brutally well built and will last as long as you don’t let them rust to pieces.

Steel is also much more substantial, and six fully loaded steel mags are quite the heavy load for 30 round mags.

Locked and loaded with AK magazines
Locked and loaded with AK magazines

There also exist a few blends of both steel and polymer, and we are including two of those brilliant designs on this list.

We’ve gathered some of our favorite AK magazines to deliver you a rundown of AK magazines from cheap to pricey, from American made to classic Eastern European designs.

We got em all.

Best AK Magazines

The Americans

While the AK-47 was created and extensively used by countries that loved Communism or were rather forced to love it, American Capitalism can’t be stopped.

We not only design and build AKs in the states, but we have an extensive aftermarket for the AK. While some of the parts and ‘‘upgrade’’ are somewhat questionable, we have companies like Magpul doing god’s work.

Magpul AK magazine
Magpul AK Magazine

Magpul created some awesome AK furniture. Their Zhukov stock is so popular they are tossing them on all manner of rifles and PCCs.

Zhukov Buttstock
Zhukov Buttstock

Better yet, they also created a series of magazines for the AK series rifles.

Magpul isn’t the only creator of AK parts and accessories. Most of us can remember a company called Tapco, that was popular for embracing the AK platform quite early.

Tapco AK Magazine
Tapco AK Magazine

They also produced a series of polymer magazines in various configurations.

Lastly, we have ProMag. ProMag is a budget-based company that mostly makes magazines but also produces some stocks and parts under their other brands.

Promag AK Mag
Pro Mag AK Mag

Of course, they also make Polymer AK magazines.

Buying American magazines can give you three compliance parts for following that pesky 922(r).

1. Magpul PMAG

The Magpul brand AK magazines are the best American attempt at creating AK magazines as far as I’m concerned.

Magpul occupies a weird space in the firearms realm, where they found a mag to produce high-quality parts and accessories at low prices.

PMAG AK Mags, gen 2 and gen 3
PMAG AK Mags, Gen 3 (left) and Gen 2 (right)

The AK MOE magazines are my personal go-to for my AK series rifles.

Magpul makes both 47 and 74 magazines and produces the standard and highly affordable PMAG AK and the costlier M3 AK PMAGs.

The Standard PMAG AK

I own what seems like dozens of these things lying around. Some never even opened. They are almost entirely made from polymer and features Magpul’s aggressive texturing. The AK PMAGs are available in various capacities, with the 30 rounders being the most common.

The back, front, and sides are all highly textured for an excellent grip regardless of what condition your hands are in. These are great if you are wearing gloves, and they grip your hand. The magazine body is made from an impact and crush resistant material.

I can say from experience you can drop them, kick them, throw them, and they will keep kicking. The front and rear locking lugs are polymer as well, and back in the day, this could be a more significant issue.

However, Magpul has done a fantastic job with these magazines, and I doubt this will ever be a problem with 99% of shooters.

Magpul PMAGs
AR-15 PMAGs have been adopted by the USMC, AK PMAGs are equally as awesome

They won’t wear out within a single shooter’s lifetime, and I’d love to see someone break one in the gun without also breaking the weapon.

What made PMAGs for the AR so damn good wasn’t just how durable they were. No, the Magpul follower is an absolute legend. The anti-tilt design changed the world of AR magazines, and they are sold separately to outfit non PMAGs with.

Magpul did the same thing with their AK magazines, and they utilized a high quality, anti-tilt follower to guarantee reliable feeding for round after round. The magazines are reinforced with a stainless-steel spring, and the floor plate is easily removable for cleaning.

Magpul PMAG AK followers
Magpul’s legendary anti-tilt followers in the AK PMAGs

The Magpul AK PMAGS are also fat bottom girls. The floorplate is flared, which makes retrieving the magazine easier from a pouch. This little addition is a nice touch, and it can still fit slim pouches without issue.

The fit in both my Draco pistol and SIG 556R is perfectly tight with no wiggle room. It’s also not overly tight and painful to remove or load with. You can even do a Battlefield 4 style speed reload with these magazines. You’ll feel cool as hell doing it too.

AK Reload Gif

In my years of using these magazines, I have never seen a single feeding issue. AKs are designed to function with the cheapest, most janky ammo on the planet, and the PMAGs are intended to do the same.

What’s the M3 Business?

You know all the things I said about Magpul AK magazines? Well, that all still applies to the M3 magazines, however, the M3 magazines use steel locking lugs. This metal reinforcement came to be from AK fan demand, and I get it.

PMAG AK Mags, gen 2 and gen 3 locking lugs
Gen 2 locking lug on the right, Gen 3 on the left.

I don’t think there are any issues with polymer locking lugs, especially Magpul’s. If I was carrying the AK as a duty rifle, then I could also certainly see the need to get the best magazines out there, and that may include a steel locking lug.

Believe it or not, a police force in the far north reaches of Alaska issues the AK over an AR because of the AK’s better cold-weather performance. The M3 magazines are the professional Grade AK magazines, and they are a little costlier.

North Slope Borough Police Department

If you want the best, then you got to pay for it. 

And if you’re in a ban-state, like California or New York, Magpul also makes the best 10-round AK magazines on the market.

There is the standard list of reasons why they are great, like all of the reasons a normal PMAG rules, but they also stand out since everyone else’s 10-round AK mags… really are not nice. In our experience at least.

What’s your take on the PMAGs?

Readers' Ratings

4.96/5 (160)

Your Rating?

2. TAPCO

Tapco exists as a company that most gun owners are torn on. Some people hate their SKS drop in stocks and find some of their products corny.

However, at the same time, the G2 trigger for AKs is excellent for the price, and they make some impressive AK Muzzle devices too. And their 10/22 stocks are nice also.

10/22 Tapco Intrafuse Stock
10/22 Tapco Intrafuse Stock

Best of all, they also produce affordable and reliable magazines. Tapco is all about the polymer, and polymer magazines are lighter than most.

The Tapco Intrafuse series comes in two different flavors the smooth side mags and the ribbed for my pleasure type.

The Smooth Side variants are modeled after the original Bulgarian AK magazines, and we’ll talk more about them later. However, the Tapco variants are American made and come a ton of different colors.

Tapco AK mags
Tapco AK mags

They still act as three parts for 922(R) compliance, as well.

The Ribbed variants are Tapco’s own design, and they are textured heavily for a better grip. These magazines are easy to grip and have a unique look. Both the Smooth side and Ribbed variants come in different colors and capacities.

This includes 5 and 10 round variants for our friends in the less free states, or if you hunt with your AK. Tapco magazines are plenty reliable. I’ve had quite a few dating back to 2011, and they’ve always been good performers.

Are they professional-grade magazines? Hmm, that’s a hard call. I have broken one slab side by dropping it fully loaded on its feed lips. They split on one side, and that’s not great.

Sad goodbye
RIP that magazine

They are also a little tight-fitting, which isn’t a bad thing unless you have a tight magazine well. However, in my Draco and SIG 556R, they fit nicely. I like them as a training magazine or as a magazine I can stock up on for cheap.

I still like to run Magpuls in my gun for dangerous use, but I’m keeping the Tapco mags around.

3. ProMag

Don’t hate me when I say the ProMag AK magazines weren’t terrible. I was expecting a lot less from them. My previous experience with ProMag was far from great.

Promag AK Magazines (3)
Promag AK Magazines

I’ve never gotten through a full magazine of ammo in my 1911 mag, or my Colt SMG magazine. However, this polymer AK magazine ran surprisingly well. It fed through both my SIG 556R and Draco reasonably well.

It ran perfectly in the Draco pistol but choked twice in the SIG 556R when fully loaded. Downloaded to 28 rounds, and it ran fine.

The ProMag admittedly feels thin in hand. It’s not super stout feeling like the Tapco and Magpul variants. The ProMag AK magazines are certainly in training and stocking up of AK magazines.

Promag AK Magazines (2)
Promag AK Magazines

While they worked, I would probably choose Tapcos or the later mentioned KCI magazines. The ProMag variants are textured and waffled and come in various colors. On top of that, there are also clear polymer versions that look slick.

When compared to Magpuls, it’s tough not to spend a few extra dollars for Magpul’s quality.

However, if you get them cheap or it’s all you have, they aren’t that bad. Far from professional-grade, but they are functional.

The Koreans

4. KCI Gen 2 AK Magazines

KCI used to be a name most people wouldn’t associate with quality, and that was mostly due to their AK mags. As someone who owned a Gen 1, I get it. The thing rusted if I breathed on it.

KCI AK Magazine
KCI Steel AK-47 Magazine

It also fit super loose and rattled in my gun, which caused feed issues if I was in the prone and allowed it to rest on the ground.

The excellent news is KCI took the feedback seriously and tightened down and now produces a respectable AK magazine.

I gave their AK mags a try after I got a Glock drum and later an AK drum. Their quality is vastly improved. These are steel AK magazines that are still somewhat cheaply made.

They are very light and don’t feel near as thick as most AK magazines. The finish is gleaming and in need of a matte Rustoleum refinish. It seems to rub off and cheap easily. However, they fit right and feed correctly in my 556R and Draco pistol.

10
at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The KCI Gen 2 magazines are on the more affordable side of the AK aisle and are most certainly the cheapest metal magazines out there. These are perfect for the range or competition.

5. KCI 75-Round Drum Magazine

The AK could be considered the modern Tommy gun. Not because of how often it’s used in a crime, but because of how often movies and TV make you think it’s used in crime.

A modern Tommy gun needs a drum, right?

drum magazine AK
Yesss, drum magazines

Lots of drums exist, but I’ve had the KCI 75 round AK drum for quite some time. I have two of them, and I enjoy the hell out of them. They certainly look wicked in my Draco pistol.

They won’t fit in the SIG 556R, so they are AK only style magazines. The rear of the drum is also clear and gives you an instant look at how much ammo you still have. The rear plate hinges open to allow you to load the drum fully.

It takes a manual to load correctly, and I would most certainly follow the instructions provided. It’s not complicated but does need to be done in a specific way to ensure proper feeding. When loaded and winded, the KCI drum correctly is a beast.

KCI drum magazine AK
KCI drum magazine, fully loaded

It feeds surprisingly easily and gives you 75 rounds of 7.62 x 39 to spray and pray with. I mean to shoot responsibility and in no means create a mag dump with because it’s fun.

The KCI Drum takes up about the same vertical space as a standard 30 round magazine so you can get a nice low prone and live out your RPK fantasies.

It’s a massive beast, and you’ll certainly feel the weight. Luckily every time you pull the trigger, it gets a little lighter. This is a tool that’s made purely for fun.

I wouldn’t trust it with its rear plastic cover for dangerous use. The hinges that hold the cover closed are loose and easy to defeat. If that door comes, open ammo is going to come pouring out.

If I were going to fight in a Balkan war, I’d probably take a standard 30 rounder. If I was going to piss off Fudd RSO’s, I’d take the KCI drum.

6. KCI 5.45×39 Drum

For the longest time finding an AK drum for 5.45 x 39mm rounds were hard to find and extremely expensive.

KCI decided they would come out with a more affordable option for AK 74 owners.

KCI 5.45 goodness

Oddly enough, this was in the form of a Beta style drum magazine. Beta is the term applied to this drum because it’s kind of looks like B when it’s on its side. It also kind of looks like Boobs, which starts with a B.

The Beta drum for the AK 74 holds 95 rounds of ammo. The Beta design is lower profile than most AK drums, and that’s the benefit to this design. You can achieve a low prone with the Beta drum, and it gives you a low profile for shooting around barriers and the like.

The design is a little more reliable than the standard drum and comes with a speed loader to help push 95 rounds into the little drum. The KCI AK drum can be left loaded and under tension without worrying about failure.

This is an impressive drum and is super slick and relatively affordable for the AK 74 series.

7. The Bulgarian Monsters

Silvia Dimitrova, Chushka Biurek, and AK furniture and magazines are all things I love about Bulgaria. Plum AK furniture is to die for, it’s the coolest AK furniture on the market, and one of my bucket list guns in a plum furnished AK 74 clone.

Bulgarian AK Magazines - poly and steel
Bulgarian AK Magazines

Bulgarian AK magazines have long been considered some of the best on the market. Long before we all fell in love with Magpul PMAGs, the Bulgarian Slab side steel lined polymer magazines were the mag to beat. These are the Cadillac of foreign-made polymer AK magazines.

To me, they are on par with the Magpul M3 magazines and are even more affordable than Magpul M3 mags. Of course, you don’t get that wonderful 922(r) compliance. The Slab side bulgy magazines with their steel lined design make them both light and durable.

13
at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You can fill it up and drop it directly on the feed lips over and over, and it’ll be mostly fine. The Bulgarian Slab Side magazine was the Bulgarian armed forces magazine way back when and proved to be an unstoppable AK magazine.

Bulgarian AK Magazines Feed Lips

Bulgarian slab sides aren’t the only Bulgy AK magazine. The steel magazines are also exceptionally well made and proven among the Bulgarian military. If you prefer the look and feel of all-metal AK magazines, it’s hard to beat the Bulgarian models.

Best of all, both the polymer, steel-lined magazines, and all-metal magazines are quite affordable, matching the standard AK PMAG variants for price.

In both my guns, these mags functioned flawlessly. The steel variant was ultra-smooth to install and remove. It was the smoothest magazine to execute reloads with.

Bulgarian Steel AK Magazines
Bulgarian Steel AK Magazines

The slab side polymer magazines were also very smooth and fit perfectly in both guns. I had nary a failure in either, and you can feel the quality of these magazines just by picking them up. The finish on the Steel magazine is rough and feels baked on.

17
at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

But it’s robust and scratch and rust-free. Especially when you compare it to Korean magazines.

8. Zastava (Yugoslavian)

Finally, I want to mention the Yugo mags from a company called Zastava. Zastava made some exciting and subtle improvements to the AK platform in the form of their N-PAP Rifles and pistols.

They did it without sticking a bunch of tacked on rails, and weird scope mounts too.

One of their innovations is their magazine and its last round bolt hold-open device that’s built into the magazines. On a Zastava rifle, the safety has a slot cut in that allows you to lock the bolt to the rear and hold it there.

AK Bolt Hold Open
SIG 556R with Zastava Yugo magazine bolt hold open

The reason being is that if a magazine has a last round bolt hold-open device, then as soon as it’s removed, the bolt slams forward, and that’s true of these magazines.

The last round bolt hold-open device merely lets you know you are out of ammo instead of the gun going click.

You can feel the bolt lock back to the rear, and that lets you know it’s time to reload. The Yugo magazines are all metal and a heavy-duty design. It’s not a lightweight polymer magazine by any means.

The Zastava Yugo magazines aren’t cheap and are getting harder and harder to find. I got lucky and snagged two at a gun show for a great price.

These magazines are rock solid, and the bolt hold-open device works in both my Draco and SIG 556R rifles.

AK Bolt Hold Open Draco
Zastava Yugo bolt hold open on the Draco

They are rock solid and well-made magazines, and if you are willing to spend the money, they will serve you very well. Mine has been at it for years. The big issue is if you buy 1, you might as well buy 6. The BHO changes how the gun handles and getting used to it with the Zastava mags is excellent. Until you use another magazine, and it’s not there.

25
at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

That throws you for a loop ergonomically. Once you learn it, you’ll get it down, and it can be an advantage, but the cost can be prohibitive, so think it through.

Conclusion

All of these magazines will serve you well.

Some of them might be lighter, some might be easier, but in the end, they all work and are reliable.

Magpul M3 magazines are the standard go-to if you need the best quality and reliability.

But for a purist, the Bulgarian magazines are the classic choice that leaves your wallet happy.

17
at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want to put a lot of lead downrange quick, you owe it to yourself to get at least a couple of drums!

What are your favorite AK magazines? Let us know in the comments! Looking for a purely American made AK-47, then check out our review of the Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47 Gen 3!

PSAK-47
Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Bob

    No US Palm? I've found them better than Magpul and you keep the 922(r) bonus.

    8 hours ago
  • Bill Bridwell

    What kind of load out bag is that? https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Locked-and-loaded-with-AK-magazines-1024x488.jpg Thanks!

    1 month ago
  • Gregory Hodge

    You guys are great! Excellent articles always! That said I totally disagree with your polymer mag assessment. I don't have AR's, never have. Only AK's. Never had ANY polymer mag work properly in any of my AKs, EVER! Hungarian 20rd mags work the best for me followed by any eastern European steel with the exception of new Croatian. They have gotten pretty cheap.

    1 month ago
  • Cunty McShitterman

    Bro, you need to get out and use some quality mags. Surplus Combloc is readily available on Facebook and other forums. No mention of Bakelite or Plums.

    6 months ago
  • Dan R

    Why'd we leave out the Xtech -MAG47?

    8 months ago
  • Bull o' the Woods

    How come Bulgarian mags at GunMag Warehouse are US$13 while Bulgarian Circle 10 waffle mags are ~US$50? Is there that much difference in quality and performance? I'd be tempted to buy a couple of the less expensive Bulgarian mags for comparison. The Circle 10 waffle mags have always been the gold standard for Combloc AK mags.

    9 months ago
    • Cthulhu 669

      @Bull o' the Woods Yah, Circle 10 30s have long been legendary gold standard for AK mags. I have a couple, as well as Bulgarian steel, Yugoslavian, Croatian, Chinese, American, Russian steel, Russian Bakelite, and so on. The AKM has long been my favorite military rifle and I have mags of many national origins. It could well be that you re paying for the iconic aspect of the Circle 10 30s. With the steel lined polymer mags being $13, I think I'll buy a couple to see and would suggest doing the same. If you buy 3, what's $36? If they are just as good, cool. Even if they were junk ( which I doubt ), you would have additional 30s every day you go to shoot. I have a couple of Tapco mags hat someone gave me, and I see why they didn't mind. Tapco might be junk mags, but they are extra range mags. @EnergyKev I have some classic surplus Chinese mags ( I like them, as they perform well and fit into more pouches easier because f height ). I would imagine they are good, unless they are completely new and they have to work some bugs. My 2 AKMs are a Chinese MAK 90 and a Romanian/Romak. Both have always performed excellently for many years and will probably still be when I'm dead. I was therefore surprised to hear that early MAK 90s were junk rifles that were soon made into great ones. I guess mine was manufactured after they made them good because for more than 20 years mine has always been great and is today. The surplus Chinese mags have always worked well in both of my AKs.

      8 months ago
  • EnergyKev

    You didn’t cover the metal flat back China mags that have been coming into the country lately for $15. I was very curious how they stacked up. They feel very robust.

    9 months ago
    • vorkosigan

      Where are you finding Chinese flatbacks for 15$ ?

      5 months ago
  • Prepper

    The standard is not Magpul, but rather the Bulgarian Circle 10 waffle magazines.

    9 months ago
  • Mikey

    is Pew on the payroll? Maybe I'm wrong, but with all the past feedback about Magpul AK mags.....not sure if this article is 100%

    9 months ago
    • Travis P

      Hey I wrote it and I wish I had Magpul money but alas I do not. Ive just used and abused them and appreciate them a ton.

      9 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      The gen 2 and gen 3 magazines are very solid. We've never had an issue with any of them across a few dozen samples and too many rounds to count.

      9 months ago
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