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grimm100

223 Mag selection- TOO MANY Choices

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Hello Saiga friends! This is my first post but I have been lurking in the shadows for some time now. I have read every thread on mag options i.e factory and surefire w/o bullet guide, circle 10, weiger, galil steel and orilite w/bullet guide, hybrid configuration: modifying surefire to work with bullet guide. However I am still undecided. Surefire 30's and surplus/military mags are pretty comparable in terms of price but the surefires seem much easier to come by. Galil steel are the only exception to this as I have seen for around $12. I am looking to stock a fair amount of mags (10-20). I feel confident installing the guide. Below are my concerns.

 

1. Reliability:

 

-ALL OPTIONS ARE FINE FOR SUNNY DAYS AT THE RANGE.

-I am looking for "battle type" reliability that would be typically asked of any AK variant.

-No drop/torture test on surefires that I can find. Plastic locking areas seems fragile

-K-var drop tests fail most aftermarket mags

-Based on comments on the forum, bullet guide seems to add complexity (especially for the 223) whereby FTF, mags feeding from only one side, rounds not lifted high enoughas well as constant tweaking between mag, rifle and guide modifications to achieve "better" reliability. With the surefires I run now, not one hiccup through 3K rounds without mods (other than conversion that is done)

 

2. Price

 

- Surefires, bulgys and weiger are expensive.

- Galil steels are cheap but variable in fit. Of the 3 I purchased, 1 wobbles like a mother****, the other is a nice fit, and the 3rd is too tight but easily fixed. I could always order and handpick the best fitting mags and get rid of the others. (SEE PICS)

- I already have 5 surefires can easily sell off to fund other mags

 

The way I see it is that the surefire delivers the feeding reliability i desire but I am unsure about the abuse factor. So I guess my questions are; is the added complexity of a bullet guide and what seems like a sacrifice in "feeding reliability" a positive trade off to run structurally sound military mags? Or are the surefires "battle" worthy and good to go as is. I just feel like once the guide goes in I will be on an endless journey of fitting, modifying, testing just to get decent reliability.

 

Sorry for the rambling and thanks in advance for the input.

 

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5ZzW7BJsZk)

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Edited by grimm100

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-Based on comments on the forum, bullet guide seems to add complexity (especially for the 223) whereby FTF, mags feeding from only one side, rounds not lifted high enoughas well as constant tweaking between mag, rifle and guide modifications to achieve "better" reliability. With the surefires I run now, not one hiccup through 3K rounds without mods (other than conversion that is done)

...

The way I see it is that the surefire delivers the feeding reliability i desire but I am unsure about the abuse factor. So I guess my questions are; is the added complexity of a bullet guide and what seems like a sacrifice in "feeding reliability" a positive trade off to run structurally sound military mags?

 

You're looking at this the wrong way. You need to distinguish between different types of military mags. Surefires will not be more reliable than the military mag/bullet guide combination, in most cases. There are different kinds of military mags, and the bullets are fed from a higher or lower point depending on what kind we are talking about. If you examine a Galil, you'll see why their mags sit lower than other types of .223 AK mags. (The receiver is shaped differently than a standard AK receiver). That being said, I've never heard of complaints about Orlites being too low to feed properly in a Saiga. That is an issue for some people with the steel mags, and I find them to be too wobbly to be entirely comfortable with. I've got three, but won't be buying any more. I love the Orlites though, and will be getting more. In terms of simplicity, they are the very best military mag option.

 

The Circle 10s and the Weigers sit higher, the latter such that I wonder whether it would function without a bullet guide. (I don't recommend it though). Quality-wise, they are superior to all the other options, but you will need to make modifications to make them work in your gun. Between these, it would probably be simpler and less error-prone to do the Weigers. (There's a nice tutorial over at cross-conn.com). It might take some diligence and watchfulness to find some though.

 

The Surefires are convenient, but are not really quality fighting magazines. They lack any sort of steel reinforcement. Also, they are overpriced. For $30 a mag, a Weiger would be a MUCH better option.

 

Jim

Edited by Jim Digriz

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One thing too, you don't have to put all of your eggs in one basket.

 

One thing I think we sometimes get hung up on is that we have to get all of one type of magazine, and that type should be mil spec, because there might be a battle some day. Yes, there could be a need to use it defensively, but the average person will never ever need it for defensive pourposes. Does that mean we should not prepare for something, no.

 

On the other end of the spectrum is that you could go with all cheapies (Promag, Tapco Galil, perhaps Steel Galil) depending on your price range. You may suffer some reliability, but you can deal with it for the price. That has its obvious consequences.

 

You can do both! You can get some expensive Bulgarian or Surefires, and have some reliability. You can get the crappy ones (Promag) for the range. You can use them however you want!

 

One thing you have to decide is do you want to put in a bullet guide or not. After that your choices become a little more simple. With a bullet guide you can modify your Surefires, you can do Galil (steel and orlite), you can do Bulgarian Circle 10 and Weiger. There may have to be some modifications, but you at least know what you are up against and can get help and advice.

 

Personally I made the choice to go with Tapco Galil mags. They can be had for under $12. I have yet to hear of a reliability issue aside from Jim D having an issue when wobbling too much to the side. THey do wobble a bit. They may not be as reliable and durable over the long haul, but I can get for the same price as a Surefire or Bulgarian Circle 10. That said they are not built as well, and they may not last forever, but I bought several, and I can throw them away if they do not last more than 5 years. I also am probably only going to realistically shoot no more than 2400 rounds a year (one range trip a month shooting 200 rounds).

 

I will also get 2-4 Bulgarian circle 10 mags when I have the money. I will be sure to practice with these at the range. If there is a defensive need, I will use these as my goto mags.

 

I can do both cheap and expensive with little to no modification.

Tapco Galil - Bullet guide and nothing else

Bulgarian Circle 10 - Bullet guide and I may have to file the interdiction tab

 

Both modifications can be done in way less than 2 hours and that is taking your time.

 

I like to have options and the bullet guide gives you options. Some may be better than others. I have done the math, and figured that most of my shooting will be at the range. That is what I am gearing for, but I want to have some really nice mag should I really really need it. Both!!!

 

 

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Personally I made the choice to go with Tapco Galil mags. They can be had for under $12. I have yet to hear of a reliability issue aside from Jim D having an issue when wobbling too much to the side.

 

I was actually referring to the Galil steels. Haven't used the Tapcos.

 

 

I can do both cheap and expensive with little to no modification.

Tapco Galil - Bullet guide and nothing else

Bulgarian Circle 10 - Bullet guide and I may have to file the interdiction tab

Both modifications can be done in way less than 2 hours and that is taking your time.

 

Some people have only to do the interdiction tab to get the Bulgys to work. I was not so lucky, nor were some others on the forum. I also had to file down the crossbar support a bit to allow clearance, plus I had to file the locking tab on the mags themselves. Even after all that, the black ones sometimes do not go in perfectly straight. So far this does not seem to affect feeding in any way. (No problems going in straight with the clear ones, but they are less rugged than the black ones).

 

By the way, if you file down or cut off the interdiction tab, be careful not to go past flush.

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Well , I am looking at things from a different angle , I guess. I have chosen Surefire Mags , and no bullet guide. As far as I can tell , the Surefires are reliable , feed well , no problems at all . That they are not as stronger as regular steel mags ? So what ... I use them to go to the range , no to to to Afghanistan . The bulgys cost the same as the Surefires and you need to install a bullet guide. Why would I want to mess up my reliability ? If one of the Surefires break with continue use or something unlikely like that , I will just replace it . I have six Surefires 30 rds and one 20 rds, plus the ten rds original that came with the rifle... that is good enough for me. Perhaps for some fellows that play really rough and abuse their guns to the extreme , it would be understandable to use the steel mags , etc . Me, I `ll stick with the Surefires.

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Well , I am looking at things from a different angle , I guess. I have chosen Surefire Mags , and no bullet guide. As far as I can tell , the Surefires are reliable , feed well , no problems at all . That they are not as stronger as regular steel mags ? So what ... I use them to go to the range , no to to to Afghanistan . The bulgys cost the same as the Surefires and you need to install a bullet guide. Why would I want to mess up my reliability ? If one of the Surefires break with continue use or something unlikely like that , I will just replace it . I have six Surefires 30 rds and one 20 rds, plus the ten rds original that came with the rifle... that is good enough for me. Perhaps for some fellows that play really rough and abuse their guns to the extreme , it would be understandable to use the steel mags , etc . Me, I `ll stick with the Surefires.

 

I like to be prepared for worst case scenarios, which admittedly are unlikely. But one should not confuse "unlikely" with "impossible". (Just ask the Japanese). That's why I like all of my equipment to pass the "Mad Max" test.

 

But beyond that, I think you are misled about the reliability issue. Adding a bullet guide and using milspec mags should make your rifle MORE reliable, not less, except for in the one or two cases I mentioned in my first post. Having a more rugged and reliable rifle system, spending less per magazine, and generally not needing to ever replace them - all that equals win-win to me.

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Just to add one piece to that entered in to my choices. A Clinton type ban could happen again.

I purchased the Tapcos because they were cheap, and I could get several with what I had to spend. As time goes on I will upgrade and get Circle 10s as the money flows in.

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Well , I am looking at things from a different angle , I guess. I have chosen Surefire Mags , and no bullet guide. As far as I can tell , the Surefires are reliable , feed well , no problems at all . That they are not as stronger as regular steel mags ? So what ... I use them to go to the range , no to to to Afghanistan . The bulgys cost the same as the Surefires and you need to install a bullet guide. Why would I want to mess up my reliability ? If one of the Surefires break with continue use or something unlikely like that , I will just replace it . I have six Surefires 30 rds and one 20 rds, plus the ten rds original that came with the rifle... that is good enough for me. Perhaps for some fellows that play really rough and abuse their guns to the extreme , it would be understandable to use the steel mags , etc . Me, I `ll stick with the Surefires.

 

I like to be prepared for worst case scenarios, which admittedly are unlikely. But one should not confuse "unlikely" with "impossible". (Just ask the Japanese). That's why I like all of my equipment to pass the "Mad Max" test.

 

But beyond that, I think you are misled about the reliability issue. Adding a bullet guide and using milspec mags should make your rifle MORE reliable, not less, except for in the one or two cases I mentioned in my first post. Having a more rugged and reliable rifle system, spending less per magazine, and generally not needing to ever replace them - all that equals win-win to me.

 

 

There are many feeding problems associated with bullet guides , but as everything else , it is a question of choice . Surefires are fine to my needs . Talking about steel mags , all I ever shot with my AR-15 are the plastic Magpul mags and so far , it is not only that I never had any problems whatsoever , but they (the 12 of them ) still look new .

Edited by josey88

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I've not had any feeding problems with Surefire. They're not metal reinforced, but so far have served me well in most of my Saigas (rifles and shotguns)

. Having said that, I bought a dozen or so Circle 10s for my 223, cuz if I ever have to count on something to save my life, or that of a family member, what's the cost of a reliable magazine worth?

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One thing too, you don't have to put all of your eggs in one basket.

 

One thing I think we sometimes get hung up on is that we have to get all of one type of magazine, and that type should be mil spec, because there might be a battle some day. Yes, there could be a need to use it defensively, but the average person will never ever need it for defensive pourposes. Does that mean we should not prepare for something, no.

 

On the other end of the spectrum is that you could go with all cheapies (Promag, Tapco Galil, perhaps Steel Galil) depending on your price range. You may suffer some reliability, but you can deal with it for the price. That has its obvious consequences.

 

You can do both! You can get some expensive Bulgarian or Surefires, and have some reliability. You can get the crappy ones (Promag) for the range. You can use them however you want!

 

One thing you have to decide is do you want to put in a bullet guide or not. After that your choices become a little more simple. With a bullet guide you can modify your Surefires, you can do Galil (steel and orlite), you can do Bulgarian Circle 10 and Weiger. There may have to be some modifications, but you at least know what you are up against and can get help and advice.

 

Personally I made the choice to go with Tapco Galil mags. They can be had for under $12. I have yet to hear of a reliability issue aside from Jim D having an issue when wobbling too much to the side. THey do wobble a bit. They may not be as reliable and durable over the long haul, but I can get for the same price as a Surefire or Bulgarian Circle 10. That said they are not built as well, and they may not last forever, but I bought several, and I can throw them away if they do not last more than 5 years. I also am probably only going to realistically shoot no more than 2400 rounds a year (one range trip a month shooting 200 rounds).

 

I will also get 2-4 Bulgarian circle 10 mags when I have the money. I will be sure to practice with these at the range. If there is a defensive need, I will use these as my goto mags.

 

I can do both cheap and expensive with little to no modification.

Tapco Galil - Bullet guide and nothing else

Bulgarian Circle 10 - Bullet guide and I may have to file the interdiction tab

 

Both modifications can be done in way less than 2 hours and that is taking your time.

 

I like to have options and the bullet guide gives you options. Some may be better than others. I have done the math, and figured that most of my shooting will be at the range. That is what I am gearing for, but I want to have some really nice mag should I really really need it. Both!!!

 

Dorky, all valid points and the bullet guide absolutely provides options. My concern is changing something that is not broke.

 

My 223 is my go to rifle to protect my property and family. I have other firearms but chose the Saiga 223 based in the fact that I wanted AK ruggedness and reliability in the common 223. In my state, 7.62 is not an option. I am jealous of the fact that these mag issues of the 223 are non-issues for 7.62 owners and wish I could have gone that route as well. That being said, i don't want to find myself in a defensive situation where my rifle is dropped, banged etc. yielding the mag useless. Have you seen some of these videos where plastic locking areas simply snap under the pressure of a full load-out? In addition, I don't want to find myself in that 1 in a million situation where I need to call upon my rifle to due its job, and a fussy mag that was not intended for this particular rifle causes a failure.

 

The more I read all your comments the more I realize this a trade off to the fullest. There is no solve all here. For controlled environment reliability I don't think the Surefires can be beat. I have yet to hear of feeding problems at all. This is not the case with the bullet guide. I have seen numerous post on various forums about the endless tweaking that is involved from one military mag to the next. Some rifle mods, some mag mods, the dinzag increased height guide, having to bevel the breach face etc. etc.

 

If I want a military mag configuration I think it comes down to taking the time, effort and cash to find a rifle/bullet guide/mag combination that PROVES to be reliable over time. I am getting the feeling that dropping in a bullet guide is merely the start of this process and each mag I purchase will also require fine tuning. There is something to be said about being able to order some surefire from one of the vendors and plug away.

 

I think I just need to get another one. Set one up for plinking fun i.e No BG, surefire or factory mags and reserve a second rifle that is fine tuned to accept QUAILITY military mags .

 

Decisions SUCK!

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Yep, I understand. I thought long and hard before doing the bullet guide. I think that has to be your decision for what you want to accomplish. I am glad I did it, but I don't have any ciccle 10s yet either, so it may not be as easy as I think it will be.

Jim did bring up that some have had more trouble with the circle 10s.

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I have seen numerous post on various forums about the endless tweaking that is involved from one military mag to the next. Some rifle mods, some mag mods, the dinzag increased height guide, having to bevel the breach face etc. etc.

 

This is not representative of most people's experiences with the Saiga 223 and milspec mags. There may some fitting involved with certain mag types, but the only feeding problem I've ever had with my Saiga was when I was TRYING to produce a feed problem with my wobbliest Galil steel by pushing the mag as far as possible over to one side. None of the other mags have ever had a problem with feeding, and I've never had to mess with them or the rifle after the initial fitting. (The Circle 10s were the only ones I had to alter the rifle for, other than the bullet guide of course).

 

What I'm saying is, you are worried about basically nothing. Grab up some Orlites to start with, and install the bullet guide. If you have major problems, you can always remove the bullet guide and go back to what you are doing now.

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I have seen numerous post on various forums about the endless tweaking that is involved from one military mag to the next. Some rifle mods, some mag mods, the dinzag increased height guide, having to bevel the breach face etc. etc.

 

This is not representative of most people's experiences with the Saiga 223 and milspec mags. There may some fitting involved with certain mag types, but the only feeding problem I've ever had with my Saiga was when I was TRYING to produce a feed problem with my wobbliest Galil steel by pushing the mag as far as possible over to one side. None of the other mags have ever had a problem with feeding, and I've never had to mess with them or the rifle after the initial fitting. (The Circle 10s were the only ones I had to alter the rifle for, other than the bullet guide of course).

 

What I'm saying is, you are worried about basically nothing. Grab up some Orlites to start with, and install the bullet guide. If you have major problems, you can always remove the bullet guide and go back to what you are doing now.

 

Jim, that's good to hear. I have a habit of that- being worried over nothing that is. Maybe a lack of sleep. I am going to take yours and others advice as and do the guide. Appreciate the insight.

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I have seen numerous post on various forums about the endless tweaking that is involved from one military mag to the next. Some rifle mods, some mag mods, the dinzag increased height guide, having to bevel the breach face etc. etc.

 

This is not representative of most people's experiences with the Saiga 223 and milspec mags. There may some fitting involved with certain mag types, but the only feeding problem I've ever had with my Saiga was when I was TRYING to produce a feed problem with my wobbliest Galil steel by pushing the mag as far as possible over to one side. None of the other mags have ever had a problem with feeding, and I've never had to mess with them or the rifle after the initial fitting. (The Circle 10s were the only ones I had to alter the rifle for, other than the bullet guide of course).

 

What I'm saying is, you are worried about basically nothing. Grab up some Orlites to start with, and install the bullet guide. If you have major problems, you can always remove the bullet guide and go back to what you are doing now.

 

Jim, that's good to hear. I have a habit of that- being worried over nothing that is. Maybe a lack of sleep. I am going to take yours and others advice as and do the guide. Appreciate the insight.

 

I think this may be a case of internet paranoia; where the only info available on a google search is usually negative. I guess a whole bunch of threads about how the gun goes bang every time could get boring...fast.

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as you may notice, mag selection is a personal choice. there are lots of good options. you say you want battle type set up. then i would think you would choose galil steel, weiger, or bulgy 10's. those are mil-spec and easiest to find currently. the surefires are great mags too. some will say they are not mil-spec due to lack of metal reinforcement, but i think surefire makes a great polymer. i had several of their mags but sold them and bought some bulgy-10's for very cheap and came out with more mags. i then found some romanian weiger clones. these are good mags but it is very hard to strip a round by hand. they are the shortest of the mags i have used also. Military ak's have bullet guides installed at the factory.

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I got a few more Circle-10s for my rifle. I think it took about 10 seconds to modify them to work using my belt grinder. About 0.10 inch came off the top where they fit under the bullet guide and just a hair's breadth came off the bottom of the rear locking lug. My emergency loadout is now the three Circle-10s plus my four fully-functional, steel Galil 35-rounders.

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Did you get them "Midway" in before you moded them?

The front tab was in place, but the rear locking tab was about an inch from the bottom of the receiver before I ground down the part under the bullet guide. That allowed the magazine to rotate the rest of the way in.

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The best magazine for the saiga .223 is the USGI Military M16/AR15 magazine. Plain and simple.

 

I see why some people want to go this route, but USGI military mags don't even have a great reputation for AR15s.

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Did you get them "Midway" in before you moded them?

The front tab was in place, but the rear locking tab was about an inch from the bottom of the receiver before I ground down the part under the bullet guide. That allowed the magazine to rotate the rest of the way in.

 

Does it go in straight? That was my problem; the front of the mags are too narrow (compared to Galil and Weiger mags) and often go in somewhat crooked in my rifle.

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They seem to go in straight for me. The lockup is nice and tight too, with very little wobble along all three axes.

 

I envy you! I can only get the Weigers to fit perfectly in my rifle, with no cant or wobble of any kind (now that I learned the correct way to trim them). They are great mags, but I would have preferred the lighter and cheaper Circle 10s.

Edited by Jim Digriz

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Thanks Jim. I actually went the circle 10 route.

 

How do they fit in your rifle?

 

Jim, just had to trim down the front of the feed lips a smidge. Maybe 20 passes with flat, med-fine file. No mods at all to the rifle. Interdiction tab still intact. Snaps in tightly. I can see where some people complain of going in crooked, but its only minimal in my case. If I push from either side of the mag close to the receiver I can get the mag to slide slightly either way. Not sure if this will be an issue. As far as front to back rocking, there is none. About the same side to side wobble as the factory 10 rounder. Still waiting on the Dinzag guide, hoping its in the mailbox today. I will post an update on function. Overall, pretty painless in my case (so far). Oh, going to run US floor plates also. We'll see how well they match up. Very glad people are hashing out some of the individual issues with the 223, continues be helpful.

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Jim, just had to trim down the front of the feed lips a smidge. Maybe 20 passes with flat, med-fine file. No mods at all to the rifle. Interdiction tab still intact.

 

Wow. Amazing amount of variety in the manufacture of these rifles.

 

Just curious, what year was your rifle made? (Usually indicated by the first two digits of the serial number after the H).

Edited by Jim Digriz

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Well, no wonder I haven`t had any problems of any kind at all with my Saiga .223 ... I am using only Surefire magazines . Perfect reliability , and that is the way I want to keep it. somehow I really don`t get the argument of multyple different types of mags on a certain firearm ... My PSL only works with PSL magazines , my VZ58 only works with VZ58 magazines , my AR15 only work with AR15 magazines , so why will the Saiga be different ? This firearm comes designed to use Surefire type magazines and works perfect with them , so I use them . And it is true : many AK sites are full of stories of problems with bullet guides ... Why will I trow away reliability and piece of mind ? to save $15 or so on a magazine ? I just don`t see the angle. I don`t buy magazines every week . I have 7 Surefire mags , six are 30rds and one is 20 rrds . I get to the range and shoot 200 rds , all of them without a single hitch , then I pack up and go home . Seven mags are good enough for me and will last me a long, long time. If one ever gets bad I will just replace it. Sorry, guys , but that is how I see it.

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