The .22LR as a caliber needs no introduction. Probably the most important caliber for training (and many other purposes).
.22LR caliber AR’s on the other hand come in many different variety, brand and technology. And almost as a topping on a already sick joke – information about different magazines, their compatibility and differences between generations are nowhere to be found.
The .22LR AR type magazines are in my oppinion the biggest mess in the whole “22AR but what brand and where” -question. I’ve seen people having discussions about same and/or different 22AR magazines without any common knowledge about the confusion.
I’m starting a series of posts covering .22LR AR-type magazines – one manufacturer at a time. Starting from Black Dog Machine.
Note that some magazines have no distinct naming convention so as a clarity to the important issue I’ve come up with GenX -type of naming (the naming started from BlackDogMachine’s Gen2 and Gen3 magazines and I just expanded it around those two)
Enough with the prologue, continue to the article below:
Black Dog Machine
Also called as “Skinny mag” for obvious reasons
In addition to the black magazine there skinny mags have been manufactured in smoke gray color too.
Capacity 30 rounds. Availability of smaller magazines is unknown. Currently discontinued model.
Next magazine from BDM was already starting to look like .223 magazine from it’s exterior dimensions.
In the picture you can see 15 round Gen 2 magazine. Available sizes and ammo capacity are 10, 15 and 25 rounds. Available atleast smoke gray and black.
Feeding lips are two part construction and molded from the same material with the body of the magazine.
There have been two different followers, higher that locks the bolt back after last round (follower usually red) and lower follower which allows the bolt to close after last round (follower color usually black)
Gen 2 magazine is still being manufactured or atleast still being sold branded as SIG. Comes as a standard magazine with SIG 522 rifle.
Similar constuction as Gen 2 magazine but made out of aluminium to mimic the weight of a full 30 round .223 sheet magazine.
AR 1522 DRUM
50 round drum
Similar two part feeding lip constuction as BDM’s Gen 2 magazine.
Follower does not protrude out from the magazine and thus it’s possible to perform a “hammer down” to a empty chamber.
Drum magazines have been manufactured only to a 50 round capacity.
Gen 3 magazines feature a steel feeding lips and magazine fill assist cutouts where you can hold the follower down with your finger while feeding more ammo to the magazine. Owners of S&W MP 15-22 recognize this construction very familiar from magazines made specificly for that gun.
Gen 3 magazines are advertised to work with AR Catch22 bolt hold catch lever. The follower indeed features a extra notch to actuate the Catch22 lever but most cases the magazine spring can’t overcome the tension from bolt catch spring – especially if a milspec .223 bolt catch spring is used.
Available only in 32 round capacity.
X-Form “Gen 4”
Because Black Dog Machine does not have consistent naming scheme I’ve decided to call these screw built X-Form magazines as Gen 4, they came to market after Gen 3 after all.
Feeding lips are one-piece construction and made either from nylon or stainless steel made with lost-wax molding technique. Feeding lips are user replaceable and compatibible with each other. Similarly as Gen 2 and Gen 3 magazine the Gen 4 is built with 6 screws and can be opened relatively easily for cleaning or replacing individual parts.
There have been at least two different followers.
New follower features steeper feeding angle to further improve magazine’s reliability.
Available at least 10, 15 and 25 cartridge capacity.
Sonic Weld, X-Form Sonic Weld or Gen 5
Again with the absence of good naming convention I’ve named these at the moment latest magazines as Gen 5.
Gen 5 is otherwise identical to Gen 4 but instead of screws the magazine body halfs are held together by beads of ultrasonic welds. This construction renders the magazines non-user serviceable and only the spring can be replaced from the magazine. Even the follower is trapped inside the magazine.
Like previous generation the feeding lips are available from nylon and stainless steel. Because the magazine can’t be taken apart the feeding lips are not replaceable. In theory the feeding lips should be identical to Gen 4 and if the magazine could be somehow splitted open and re-sealed it could be possible to go from nylon to stainless steel lip or vice-versa. Naturally this is mostly theoretical discussion as ultrasonic welds should hold really well.
Gen 5 magazines comes in “every color of the rainbow” and smoke-gray or black. Follower is usually black and will lock the bolt back after last shot.
Available at least 10, 15 and 25 round capacity.
Black Dog Machine Bolt Hold Open functionality
All BDM’s magazines which locks the bolt back after last shot (Gen 2, Gen 4 and Gen 5) does this by popping the follower so high into the receiver that the follower itself stops the bolt back. When the empty magazine is removed the bolt will slam forward and naturally a racking motion is required after inserting a new magazine. For most cases the purpose of locking the bolt back is to prevent striking pin hitting the rim of the chamber (if the striking pin is protruding too much, your mileage may vary) or act as a haptic feedback to the shooter that the last round is now spent.