GunWiki: What is an AICS Magazine?

Just as there are a number of different types of optics, rails, and triggers in the gun world, there are various kinds of magazines. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re standardized, though; some guns take unique, hard-to-find magazines while others work with common styles. One type of magazine you might have noticed, especially if you’re into long guns, is AICS. What’s special about AICS magazines? Read on the find out why you may — or may not — need one.

Tikka T3 AICS Magazine system.
Tikka T3 AICS Magazine system. (Photo credit: Tikka)

What is an AICS magazine?

The Accuracy International Chassis Magazine (AICS) is a detachable-style magazine typically made for bolt-action rifles. They are typically single-stack magazines with metal or polymer housings that are produced in a wide variety of calibers. Short-action and long-action magazines are available with the former being designed around the 7.62x51mm cartridge family and the latter being made for cartridges like the 300 Win Mag. That is not to say they’re not made for guns chambered in smaller calibers like 223 Remington, because there are some of those on the market, too, they’re just less common.

Today, AICS mags are seen as the gold standard for rifles like the Remington 700. They’re designed to fit certain magazine well dimensions which simplifies things a bit: if it fits in the mag, it should feed in the rifle.

Who is Accuracy International?

Accuracy International is a firearms manufacturer based out of England. Their specialty is sniper rifles, so it comes as no surprise they came up with the AICS magazine system. The manufacturer first designed their now-popular magazine system for one of their own chassis, which was the first of its kind to be wildly successful for the general public (as opposed to military-only production).

Are AICS magazines always metal?

Simply put, no. AICS magazines are offered in metal but they are also available in polymer. Whichever material you prefer, you can find. That’s good news for gun owners who want plastic over steel or vice versa.

How many rounds can an AICS magazine hold?

There is no one-size-fits-all capacity for this type of magazine. Capacity depends on the model and is usually 5, 10, or 12 rounds. Some companies such as MDT offer extensions to increase capacity by a couple of rounds.

What is an example of an AICS magazine?

To give you an idea of what this type of magazine is, take a look at this one from MDT:

MDT AICS SA magazine.
MDT AICS SA magazine.

Specifications of this specific magazine:

  • Manufacturer: MDT
  • Model: AICS SA (short-action)
  • Capacity: 5 rounds
  • Action: Compatible with short-action rifles
  • Housing: Durable, nitride-coated steel
  • Follower: Steel
  • Other features: Precision-engineered feed lips, binder floor plate
  • Price: $66.99
  • Description: “The MDT AICS SA .308 Winchester 5-Round Metal Magazine with Binder Plate features a durable, high-strength stainless steel body with a black nitride coating for smooth operation and reliable corrosion resistance. The durable steel spring and follower deliver reliable feeding operation, while the precision-machined feed lips ensure a snug fit for added reliability. Plus, this magazine is equipped with a steel binder floor plate for added versatility.”

Can I Get an AICS Magazine for My AR-Platform Rifle?

The AICS Magazine is made for bolt-action rifles meaning they will not fit AR-platform rifles. Even if you could beat them into place they wouldn’t feed because the bolt-action is different from a semi-automatic. There are a lot of great magazines on the market for your AR, so don’t feel left out.

Do I Need an AICS Magazine?

That depends on your gun. If you have a bolt-action rifle, odds are good you have an AICS magazine and just didn’t realize it. Conversely, if your guns are all semi-automatics, you’re not going to have a need for this kind of magazine. In that case, maybe you need to expand your gun collection to include a few bolt-actions. After all, you can never have too many guns.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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