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GUNS Magazine January 2012 Digital Edition - Page 26
STORY: Glen Zediker When the followers lead…. mAGAZines A A “follower,” well, follows the rounds up from the magazine. These are (left to right) Brownells’ stainless steel, “green,” Magpul, and newer Colt plastic. There’s not a lot to gain from a different tray surface design; most are virtually identical in function. The guide ridge is there to orient the cartridges correctly as they “stack” into the box. The real improvements have come in changes to the front and rear guides or skirts. The old-style (Colt original, and similar) had virtually no support at the bullet end. The newest, greatest designs, like the Magpul, make it just about impossible for the follower not to sit level throughout its travel. (Magpul followers go in all my magazines now, except for the old ones that already work.) magazine is a rifle part, and it’s a moving part. The magazine is a critically important component to function. If the magazine isn’t doing its job, there’s no noise at the muzzle. I get a whopping lot of corre- those miscues. spondence from folks complainIf you take a finger (should use your ing about magazine problems. I was own for reasons I won’t go into here) never proud of the answer I gave or the eraser-end of a pencil and push them. Honest as it was, it wasn’t indiscriminately down and around on what anyone wanted to hear. I have a follower, you sometimes can make it been drawing from the same Kroger- stick either end down. When you can’t sack full of Vietnam-era aluminum make a follower stick from pushing on mags I bought 35 years ago for $2 the front or rear of it, that magazine apiece. “Well, I use reshould function. The ally old aluminum mags newer follower designs, with metal followers, when they are correctly and never have had a oriented atop the spring, problem…” Now, I have lick that problem. plenty of new magaThe motivation zines. I have had to fix behind the “green” some so they will work. follower the armed So now I have some bet- The top spring coil orientation is forces changed to was to ter answers. critical. That’s the one that loops solve a common problem I once had a callous into the follower. The turned-in of failures to feed the perspective on magazine end of the top of the coil should last two rounds from function. The first be level with the straight section some bum 30-round malfunction was the on the opposite side of the magazines. The solution last for that magazine. spring. If it’s angled down, it was to add a skirt to the I literally threw it in the shouldn’t be. This one (above) is front end of the follower trashcan. I don’t do that ugly, but common. It’s dead nose and extra length to the anymore. It’s usually down. Now (bottom), it’s fixed, skirt at the rear to help possible to fix them now. plus a little. Bending the wire to stop the follower from I say “now” because support the follower at its nose tilting. These extended of numerous available just about prevents it from tipping skirts ride against the “upgraded” internals that direction. inside front and rear pieces-parts. magazine box walls. When an AR-15 This follower is better. magazine malfunctions, Get a dozen in a baggie it’s rarely the box itself. for very little money. It’s usually because the There’s one designed follower (the tray the for 20-round box mags rounds sit atop) didn’t (the 30-round version behave and the nose won’t easily install in all of the round got stuck 20-round boxes). down. When the bolt pushes that I say, however, there may be round out of the box, the bullet nose fewer follower problems and more may not point itself into the chamber. spring problems in a malfunctioning Sometimes the follower sticks so the magazine. A follower is spring-driven, case-head-side is down and the bolt and there are differences in springs. rides right over the top of the waiting Chrome silicon (CS), when exploited round. Newer follower designs have to its capacity by the spring maker, is taken big steps toward preventing better than music wire. CS magazine Sometimes you have to get creative. The eyelet location on this follower is not standard. Notice the top loop orientation between spring and follower. Glen had to wind it around this way to get the correct orientation for the top loop (toward the bullet-tip end of the follower) and still keep the correct orientation for the bottom of the spring. 26 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2