The Return of the US Palm AK30 Magazines – Do They Suck?
The world released a small tear the day US Palm closed their doors. 2017 was a rough year for all of us. American-made AK stuff had a long history of kinda sucking. US Palm came around and changed that with their furniture, magazines, and more. It sucked when they shuttered their doors, but Century Arms recently revived the brand. I approached this with cautious optimism. Can Century Arms keep the reputation US Palm built? Well, I got my hands on the banana clip edition of the US Palm AK30 Magazine.
US Palm produced the first American AK magazine that mixed both polymer and metal in the design. Since the AK30 magazines came to be, companies like Xtech and Magpul have released their polymer and metal-infused magazines. US Palm magazines have an exciting history. The founder of the company was inspired by the Tango Down ARC magazine and its waffle pattern. He approached Tango Down and formed a partnership to produce the AK30 magazines.
What Made the US Palm AK30 Mags Different?
In short order, the US Palm AK30 mags became the standard to which the rest of the American AK market had to live up to. Century’s revival of the brand was smart enough not to change the design to save a few bucks.
US Palm waffled the outside of the magazine, giving it an unbeatable grip texture and rigid reinforcement. The waffle-like design was chosen because it adds strength and rigidity to the magazine.
Tango Down invented the ARC magazine to be the toughest magazine ever made. They did so by making the magazine effectively a one-piece design. The US Palm magazine retains the same idea. There is never a reason to take it apart, and doing so is rather difficult.
So how do you clean it?
Well, you sink it in hot, soapy water and drain it out the top. Place that bad boy upside down and let it dry. US Palm placed several holes in the follower to allow easy drainage, and they wrote those cleaning instructions themselves.
Next, they incorporate a metal cage molded into the top of the magazine. AK mags are traditionally made of metal, and AKs are designed to function with metal on metal contact. The metal cage in the top of the AK30 magazines provides steel locking lugs that allow positive metal on metal contact. Polymer in these areas can be weak and can break under stress.
Steel though? Steel is good, reliable, and strong. That metal cage ensures the polymer AK30 magazine is just as tough as any steel magazine. US Palm invented the American metal/polymer hybrid magazine, and it’s good to see Century retain this design, even if it drives the price of the magazine upward. These are professional-grade magazines designed for demanding customers.
Professional Grade Yellow?
Okay, just because it’s a professional-grade magazine doesn’t mean it’s a professional-looking magazine. I’m a professional writer, but I’m also typing this in my boxers, so looks can be deceiving. My model is a special edition ‘Banana clip’ Century has made as a bit of joke.
If you are the super-serious type, have no worries, the AK30 mags come in black and FDE as well. However, if the Banana clip gives you a laugh, check it out and join us in the world of fun and sun.
Anywho, the big question you might have is, “Does it work?” US Palm magazines were famously reliable, superbly well made, and set standards we all look to. I understand that once new ownership and new management come in, we should be cautious. Hopefully, you come to places like The Mag Life to get the lowdown on what works and what doesn’t.
I filled my AK30 with the classic Wolf ammo most AK users frequent. This steel-cased stuff fills the mag of countless AKs and shouldn’t be an issue for a well-made magazine. The friction-free follower glides smoothly downward with each round, and the magazines never feel difficult to load.
After I squeezed in 30 rounds, I popped the magazine in my test AK, a PSA GF3 model. Popping the magazine in the gun revealed a very tight fit. A tight fit isn’t a bad thing. I find tight fighting magazines are often easier to remove, especially on Battlefield 4 style speed reloads. You just have to make your drive that magazine into place on the reload.
Hitting the Range
How does it function under fire? Well, surprisingly well. I broke testing down into 5 phases.
This was a simple slow fire test with thirty rounds of ammunition. I used this time to ensure the rifle was properly zeroed and to see if the magazine can do the most basic of shooting.
Results: It functioned flawlessly. Not that I’m surprised, but there were zero issues. My rifle’s irons are zeroed and I’m ready to rock and roll.
Let’s do some speed reloads. For the first set, the US Palm AK30 will be empty in the gun and will be cast out! It will hit the ground, and I’ll reset and do it again twenty times.
Reloads once more, but this time I’ll be using the US Palm AK30 to eject an empty AK mag, then load and fire the weapon twice. No cleaning will be conducted between Phase 2 and 3. Again, we’ll repeat this test thirty times with 60 rounds total.
Results – The reloads hit the wet and sandy ground of my range over and over. I got pretty sick of speed reloads and got complacent enough to rap my knuckles. Even after a bit of a beating and some sand exposure the magazine never failed to feed.
Let’s add a little stress to the AK30. First set into a prone position with the magazine acting as a monopod and fire ten rounds. Then press the magazine against a barrier causing forward pressure, and fire ten rounds. Finally, place the magazine in front of a barrier and pull the magazine rearward, creating rearward pressure. Fire ten rounds once more.
Results: No amount of top, rearward, and forward pressure caused a malfunction in the magazine.
The final phase is the long-term test. I’m currently testing the PSA AK, and I like to be efficient. So in my PSA AK test, I’ve exclusively used the US Palm AK30. Long-term testing involves 300 rounds of Steel cased world and 100 rounds of brass cased Sellier and Bellot. Total round count was 520 rounds.
Results: I wish I had more ammo, to be honest. In 520 rounds I had zero malfunctions, even no ammo-related malfunctions presented themselves.
Is The New US Palm AK30 Magazine Good to Go?
The AK30 proved to be issue-free over my testing. I tried my hardest to beat it up, beat it down, toss it in the sand and feed it average steel-cased AK fodder. While some may be turned off by this color, keep in mind this is a special edition and we got all the tactical colors you can handle. These days it seems like we have more high-quality AK magazines than we have high-quality AKs, and now we’ve got one more.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.