The ETS AR-15 Mags: Get a Couple

Search AR-15 magazines in the GunMagWarehouse search bar and count how many pop up. That’s not a bad thing. More magazines means more options, and more options means lower prices. It’s capitalism at work.

However, when shopping for magazines, how do you pick which one you want? Is it the steel-fed lips of the Lancer inspiring confidence? Maybe the reputation of the Gen 3 PMAGs? Do you look for features or shop just on price alone? I always enjoy it when a company can do something a little different, and the ETS AR-15 Mags certainly dot the “i” in “different.” 

I’ve mainly used ETS magazines for my Glocks and Glock-based carbines. ETS provides affordable magazines that tend to be quite reliable, and, let’s be real, I’m a sucker for translucent magazines. 

But until recently, I’d never really tried any ETS AR-15 magazines. The aforementioned Lancer and Magpul Mags suited me fine. It wasn’t until I gave them a close look purely by happenstance that I noticed ETS was doing something different and gave them a chance. 

Basic Run Down Of the ETS AR-15 Mags

First and foremost, the ETS AR mags are fairly affordable. They retail for about $12, so that’s not bad. They are made in America and feature all the modern equipment we expect from an AR-15 magazine. There is a no-tilt follower for reliable feeding and proper LRBHO engagement. We get an over-insertion tab to increase mag retention, and it’s made from an impact-resistant polymer material. 

ets magazine rear view
This view makes it easy to observe how much ammo you have in the gun.

The magazines are translucent, so it’s easy to determine whether or not the mags are loaded. Even when inserted into your rifle’s magwell, it’s easy to see how much ammo you have without breaking out of your firing grip and stance. You can get them in a smoke color or completely translucent design. Predictably, they are 30-round magazines, and I don’t think ETS makes anything less than 30 rounds in this configuration. 

What Makes the ETS AR Mags Stand Out 

The most interesting design feature is the presence of these odd, splintered circles on each magazine. Those little circles are designed to allow you to combine two magazines together. These are built-in couplers. Admittedly, you can couple more than two magazines and seemingly combine as many as your arms and magazine catch are willing to bear. I think two is probably the most common we’ll see. 

These built-in couplers are super easy to use. Just position one magazine upward and one facing away from you and align the circle. Give the mags and twist and boom; they are locked together for seemingly forever. You can pick and choose which magazine sits higher than the other. It bears mentioning that the magazines are designed to orient the rounds upward at all times. You can’t position the rounds lead-down, or the magazine won’t lock. 

ETSmagazine top
The ETS mags only fit on one side of your rifle, so make sure that’s acknowledged.

The quick connect is a cool trick, but that’s not all the ETS AR 15 mags have to offer. They are also modular to a degree. ETS produces a series of high-visibility followers that are easy to track as your round count gets lower. They even produce a tritium version with a small dot that you can follow when the lights are out. It’s pretty freaking neat. 

Another interesting feature is the base plate. The base plate is massive. That’s a good thing because a wide base plate makes it easy to retrieve the magazines from a mag pouch. It acts as a brake, which allows it to lock onto the hand. The base plate also features a massive release shaped like a cartridge. It’s easy to take the mags apart and clean them. Finally, the magazine is also super heavily textured and easy to grip and rip. 

ETS magazine in rifle
The magazines make coupling super easy, and it’s one of the magazine’s selling features.

Running and Gunning With the ETS AR-15 Mags

All the features in the world mean just about nothing, and the magazine won’t work reliably. More so than that, do those features matter? Do they make a difference that’s worth noting? That’s the hard question you have to ask.

My first test was pretty dang easy. I have been reviewing an AR-15 model and shot a little over 500 rounds through the gun with two ETS magazines. In those 500 rounds, there were exactly 0 issues with the ETS magazines feeding the rifle.

ets mag coupler device
Those little circles make 30 rounds into sixty pretty quickly.

After shooting and grooving, I began to do some simple drop tests with the ETS Mags. I simply loaded them and held the rifle to my shoulder. Then, I hit the button and let the magazine fall. I noticed more than once the magazine didn’t drop free. At first, it annoyed me, but then I realized there was a purpose to it, which we’ll talk about a little later. 

I dropped each magazine a dozen times. Rounds would pop out with each drop, but that’s normal. After all these drops, the magazines still fed without an issue. I emptied both magazines, and neither had feeding issues. 

Reloads: Keep It Moving 

First, I wanted to embrace the main selling point of the ETS AR-15 mags. That’s the coupling design that makes it easy to pin two magazines together without any special parts or accessories. Coupled mags are nothing new, and integrally coupled mags are fairly rare. I think the ETS mags and the stock G36 mags are the only ones to do so. 

ets mag clear
The ETS mags are translucent and allow for easy observation of your round count.

I practiced the coupled reloads, and it made sense why the magazines are a little resistant to falling freely from magwell. If you have two mags linked together, there is a little more weight to the design. If you are running coupled magazines and hit the release, they are going to fly freely from the gun and drop to the earth. Making them a little stiff makes a ton of sense so it doesn’t accidentally fall from the gun. 

front of ets magazines
Look at those little pokey fellas.

What about reloads from the chest rig or a belt? My main concern was the circular coupled magazine design, which made it tricky to retrieve from a magazine pouch. Will these circular ridges catch on the mag pouch? Believe it or not, it doesn’t. It flows out smoothly, and nothing caught or failed when drawing from the mag pouch. 

More Than A Gimmick 

Overall, I was impressed by the ETS AR-15 mags. For the price of $12, we get a fairly solid rifle magazine option that even gives you a built-in coupler. The magazines feed reliably, are easy to clean, well textured, and work in and out of magazine pouches. Being able to couple them is just an added benefit to the design of the ETS AR-15 magazines. If you need a solid magazine option, check out the ETS mags. There are a few different options, including a coupler-free one if you want to take that route. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's 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 probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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