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  1. #1
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    Elite Tactical Systems 30 Round Magazine

    One of the downsides to the SHOT Show is that it's massive. Unless you've been there, you might not understand how easy it is to bypass a new manufacturer that you should have checked out and apparently that's something I did this year. I missed a chance to chat with the folks at Elite Tactical Systems Group and to check out their translucent polymer magazines. A few months later I noticed them being discussed and I picked a few up to test drive. ETS offers two variants, one version has a built in coupler for those that like the ability to secure two or mags together, the other lacks the coupling option and is a more familiar 30 round mag.

    From ETS
    ETS AR-15 MAG System
    -STANDARD 30 ROUND CAPACITY
    -ADVANCED TRANSLUCENT POLYMER
    -AVAILABLE WITH AN INTEGRATED COUPLER OR IN A NON-COUPLED MODEL
    -NO TILT FOLLOWER WITH RELIABLE BOLT OPEN ON LAST ROUND
    -CLIP ON DUST COVER TO KEEP DIRT ANO DEBRIS OUT DURING STORAGE
    -FAST AND EASY DISASSEMBLY FOR MAINTENANCE WITHOUT TOOLS VIA OUR SPECIALLY DESIGNED FLOOR PLATF
    -FLOOR PLATE PROVIDES EXCELLENT GRIP WHEN PULLING MAG FROM A POUCH
    -SUPERIOR GRIP WITH OUR SPECIALLY DESIGNED GRIP R11:16


    OUR ADVANCED POLYMER OFFERS THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS:
    -EXTREME IMPACT RESISTANCE
    -RESISTANCE TO HARSH CHEMICALS
    •SUPERIOR HEAT & UV RESISTANCE
    -DOES NOT BECOME BRITTLE IN EXTREME COLD
    -TRANSLUCENT ALLOWING YOU TO GEE YOUR ROUNDS
    -ULTRA LOW CREEP SO THE FEED LIPS WILL NOT SPLAY OVER TIME. EVEN WHEN STORED LOADED
    Polymer magazines aren't new, remember the Israeli Orlite mags from the 80's? Luckily, vast improvements have been made in materials, engineering and manufacturing.

    I purchased my mags directly from ETS and shipping was speedy. Each 30 round magazine arrived individually boxed. I opted for the non-coupled variety. MSRP is about $18.



    Each magazine includes a snap on dust cover, which is something that gets discarded with my Pmags, same with these. The anti-tilt followers smoothly move up and down in the mag body. For some reason, ETS has molded the follower with the bump on the left side and with 30 rounds in the mag, the top round is in the left. This is the opposite of most mags and while there's no function difference, most of us are more familiar with having the top round on the right on a full mag.



    The floor plate is wider than the mag body and allows for an easy grasp. It's about the same width as a Magpul M2 MOE mag, but a bit longer. The top rear of the floor plate has a bit of a sharp edge to it, which is resolved with a quick pass with a file.



    No tools are required to disassemble the mag into the basic components. The 316 stainless steel spring is very similar to a USGI type, but has a slightly different bend at the top to secure the follower.



    A series of ridges are molded into the body to give the user a better grip.



    Rounds loaded into the mag are easily visible. The value of being able to see your rounds is debatable. Choose for yourself if it's a benefit for what you do, but I don't see much of a downside. If nothing else, they are a great training aid to use in a carbine class for new shooters to understand what's going on inside the magazine.



    I've run the ETS mags in a couple one day classes and during a few additional range sessions. I have no feeding issues to report. One class was in the pouring NW rain...good times! I've test fit the mags in about a dozen rifles and did notice that in a few, the mag had to be seated with some extra effort. It appeared that the over-insertion ridge contacts the bottom of the mag well closest to the trigger guard. It was noteworthy that this was not observed on any Colt rifles. This is most likely to occur with non-standard mag wells. The mags dropped free from all rifles and reliably engaged the bolt lock on the last round. There's enough room in the mag to allow the rounds to compress when seated on a closed bolt.

    Per my scale, the ETS mags came in at 5.0 oz. For comparison: Center Industries USGI mag was 5.0 oz, a Magpul MOE was 4.8 oz and a Lancer AWM was 4.4 oz.

    This fairly stock Colt 6920 was used for most of the testing.



    Durability of "plastic" magazines often seems to be a topic of great debate and some folks still are under the impression that an aluminum USGI mag is stronger than any polymer mag. Since ETS makes some pretty bold claims as to the durability of their product I figured I should put at least one through the ringer. It threw an empty mag against a fence a few times. No damage occurred. I tossed it down a gravel road a few times. No damage occurred. Next up was drop testing a loaded mag from a distance of about 8 feet onto concrete, dropping it directly on the feed lips which is a likely failure point. Minor scuff marks, a couple rounds dislodged, but no damage to the mag body. After a couple more drops to the feed lips with similar results, it was dropped on the floor plate and sides. Again, rounds (1 to 3) dislodged, minor scuff marks were left, but there was no damage to the mag body. It wasn't until I downloaded the mags that I noticed the follower had cracked. However, it was still feeding the rounds.



    Since drop testing had failed to adequately damage the magazine body, I figured the next step was to run it over. I totally agree that such testing is unrealistic, nonetheless, it's fun. The magazine was left unloaded, with the damaged follower left in place. It was placed on the pavement and ran over twice with an SUV. The end result was a slightly bulged body, but no cracks. The mag would insert into the mag well with some added effort, but it would not drop free. The previously damaged follower was more damaged and the floor plate insert was cracked. I borrowed a follower and floor plate insert from a new magazine and found that despite the tight mag well fit, it fed fine.

    http://youtu.be/JCUzmIJqLgo



    Overall, I really like the ETS mags. They feed great and are unusually resilient to abuse. Their proprietary polymer must contain SEAL and Ninja DNA, or something. If I were able to tweak the design just a bit, I would change the follower so that the round presents on the opposite side and lower the over-insertion tab a fraction of an inch for greater comparability with various lowers.

    I'm going to continue to run these mags and I'll be keeping an eye out for anything else ETS has to offer.

    Made in the USA!

  2. #2
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    As part of an agreed settlement between Magpul and Elite Tactical Systems, ETS redesigned the follower so that the rear leg is eliminated. I've found no function difference between the new (right) and old (left) versions.

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