Introduction: Returning a Used AR-15 Magazine to Service

Picture of Returning a Used AR-15 Magazine to Service

Magazines have parts that will wear out and reduce reliability. A few simple steps and some cheap parts can return a beat up magazine to reliable service. Total cost of replacement parts was $3.00. A parachute cord magazine pull was added as an enhancement, and total cost for those parts was under $1.00.

Step 1: Gather Required Parts and Tools

Picture of Gather Required Parts and Tools

Minimum requirement is a replacement magazine spring. Parts and tools shown are: paper towels, knife, rescue hook, industrial Sharpie, lighter, 100MPH tape, ziptie, parachute cord (paracord), toothbrush, screwdriver, paracord template, magazine, Magpul Enhanced Self Leveling Follower, and new magazine spring.

Step 2: Dissasemble Magazine

Picture of Dissasemble Magazine

Use a screwdriver to pry the magazine baseplate off. Be sure to use you hand to catch the spring.

Step 3: Check Spring and Magazine Body

Picture of Check Spring and Magazine Body

Springs will take a set and become less effective over time. Compare the old spring to a known good or new spring. In this case, the old spring has taken about 1.25" of set. It's toast.

Check the magazine body before proceeding. Be sure feed lips are straight and do not show any signs of cracking. Check the body for any dents or bends. If the feed lips have a minor dent, you can true them, but otherwise trash the whole mag if there are any signs of major damage.

Step 4: Clean the Inside of the Magazine Body

Picture of Clean the Inside of the Magazine Body

Clean the insides with a brush and rough patch or paper towel. Don't use oil or solvents, just dry bush to knock out carbon and debris.

Step 5: Prepare the Paracord for Use As a Magazine Pull

Picture of Prepare the Paracord for Use As a Magazine Pull

Using the template (length depends on preference and size of ziptie), cut a section of paracord off with a sharp tool. Strip the paracord of it's internal strands. Use a lighter to seal the ends to prevent fraying. Cut the locking end of the ziptie off and slip the ziptie into the paracord. Tie each end off with a tight, small knot.

Step 6: Reassemble the Magazine

Picture of Reassemble the Magazine

Get parts ready and begin reassembly. Drop the follower into the magazine body and compress the spring. Slide the baseplate on about halfway. Insert the knot ends of the paracord between the baseplate and magazine body. Slide the baseplate back on all the way and test the paracord; it should be firmly attached to the magazine.

Step 7: Test Function

Picture of Test Function

Use a sturdy stick (toothbrush, cleaning rod section, etc) to ride the follower up and down the magazine body about a dozen times. The action should be smooth, with no kinks, and the spring should provide a good amount of resistance.

Take some tape (100MPH, duct tape, gaffers tape) and wrap the base of the magazine. This will help provide some friction for magazine handling, as well as reduce rattle and improve noise discipline. It's also a handy place to mark you magazine.

Use a marker to put an identifying mark on the magazine. Number them as well to keep track of magazines and weed out a troubled mag.

Live fire testing should be conducted with the magazine before it's returned to active service.


psyoper22 (author)2010-10-10

great ible Smashy...

nicknack171 (author)2008-10-05

the ar-15 is the civilian m16 right? good instructable

soltero92 (author)nicknack1712017-03-02

No. An ar15 is a style of rifle just like the ar10 a style of rifle(only difference being caliber of amunition). The m16 is an ar15(full auto or burst fire capabilities do not matter) just like the m4 is an ar15 and the m4a1 is an ar15. So the ar15 cannot be a "civilian" weapon because it is not a specific firearm. You can go to your local gunshop and find many different ar15's up on the wall, the m16 may very well be up there. The only differences being manufacturer specifications and after market parts.

mr.smashy (author)nicknack1712008-10-05

That's right, the AR-15 is the semi-auto only version of the M16.

Southpaw69 (author)2014-01-27

Nice 'ible.

I'm pretty sure I saw a tutorial on Arfcom about refinishing magazines that would compliment this tutorial. They came out looking great! A nice matte black finish along with new spring and follower would make 'em nice enough to sell at a gunshow or something.

Though, I pretty much have switched over to P-Mags at this point. Still have a bunch of old USGI mags laying around though that could probably use this treatment.

Farco556 (author)2013-09-01

I recently redid some of my mags and used fix a leak for grip on the bottom. Its basically spray on rubber and has a decent texture to it. be sure to tape off the section that goes into the magazine well though if you do want to try it.

Rambo556 (author)2013-03-23

I don't think you are suppost to sepirate the follower and spring. gseat 'ible.

Grimmy Grim (author)2012-01-01

Thank goodness!

Yep, replace the magazine spring, don't 'stretch it' like some silly people do.

thematthatter (author)2008-10-05

That magazine looks like its seen some days in the sand box.

mr.smashy (author)thematthatter2008-10-05

Yeah, I have a 50 can full of them. Some more info and another photo of the mag here

Aren't you the guy who told me I didn't know how to clean my rifle?

thematthatter (author)mr.smashy2008-10-06

I didnt say you didn't know how, I said the weapon wasn't clean. enough

It will never be clean enough but it has to be so clean that if the Sgt Major decides to stick his finger in the star chamber that it will come out carbon free. :)

mr.smashy (author)thematthatter2008-10-06

the Sgt Major decides to stick his finger in the star chamber

Dude, DADT.

psyoper22 (author)mr.smashy2010-10-13

LOL! burn!

thematthatter (author)mr.smashy2008-10-07

Its an inspectable item

nature223 (author)thematthatter2008-10-12

bad news....all branches us leaches stuff from the metal pores...the ONLY way to pass inspection is to "cheat",jump in the shower with your rifle and use CARBURATOR's the only thing that flushes out the carbon from the "STAR CHAMBER"(Barrel extension,that the M-16 family bolts lock up into).

thematthatter (author)nature2232008-10-12

we used carb cleaner, compressed air, even shaving cream (cream not gel) and hot water to remove CLP and Carbon from the weapons. The arms room wanted them completely dry when we turned them in.

nature223 (author)nature2232008-10-12

*use CLP*

Cerberus (author)2009-06-04

Very clever to swap the 550 cord guts for a zip tie. I'll try it and test it before I buy my next set of MagPuls. Thanks!

Zack Paetzold (author)2009-05-03

Great Instructable It really helped me out I found a few old mags and I plan on giving them to my dad for fathers day

phalanx447 (author)2009-01-20

"Be sure to use you hand to catch the spring." Heh, seen a few of those go shooting across the squad bay.

JamesRPatrick (author)2008-10-05

Very professional. Do these accept dyes? If they do, I'd give it a new dye job.

You can paint them. We paint ours to tell the difference in loads

hotpixel (author)2008-10-06

excelent as usual dude!

rectifiedbuzz (author)2008-10-05

Excellent subject and excellent details! Will definitely be putting this to good use. Thanks. 5 star Instructable in my book. PS: Thanks for the toothbrush.

oakleygear (author)2008-10-05

Just be sure not to brush your teeth with that toothbrush after doing this... just a suggestion! Great write up - more tactical stuff on instructables!

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More by mr.smashy:Cleaning and Maintenance of the AR-15Fixing a SureFire E-Series Pocket ClipReturning a Used AR-15 Magazine to Service
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