The Magpul P-MAGs were not the first polymer AR 15 magazine, but by God, it was the first successful one. Over time the Magpul P-MAG has basically become the default AR 15 magazine. The P-MAG is currently in use by military forces around the world and is a favorite in the law enforcement realm as well. Magpul currently produces both Gen 2 and Gen 3 P-MAGs and as a consumer, you might be asking, what’s the difference? 

The most obvious difference when shopping for P-MAGs, the price is typically a few bucks cheaper when you purchase Gen 2 models. However, the difference most certainly doesn’t end there. 

P-MAGs Generational Differences

There are a few notable differences between the inside and the outside between generations of P-MAGs. Some may tip your scales in favor of one or another and it’s important to know as you choose your loadout. 


The P-MAG Gen 3 incorporates an aggressive texture to the front and rear of the magazine. This is to increase your ability to grip the magazine and makes it easier to grip and rip magazines with gloved hands. 


The Gen 2 baseplate is a good bit wider than the Gen 3 P-MAGs. This slimmer baseplate of the Gen 3 magazines make it easier to fit mags in a double magazine pouch. The wider Gen 2 baseplate makes the magazine easier to grab in my opinion, especially from a belt mag pouch. 

Aggressive Over Stop 

The Gen 3 P-MAGs have a built-in overstock that prevents you from over inserting the magazine into the weapon. Over insertion can also happen with non AR 15 firearms, most notably the SCAR 16S. 

Dot Matrix 

At the bottom of Gen 3 P-MAGs is a dot matrix designed for you to mark your magazines with a paint pen. This allows you to identify magazines for calibers, loads, or for different uses. Perfect for marking old beat up magazines that need to be regulated to training. 


The Gen P-MAGs come with an improved follower designed to enhance reliability. The Gen 2 P-MAGs have always been incredibly reliable and it’s unlikely they’ll ever give you an issue. However, a little extra reliability never hurt, especially when the chips are down. 

Weapon Compatibility 

The Gen 3 P-MAGs both increase and decrease weapon compatibility. They increase their ability to be used by weapons like the SCAR, the IAR, the HK 416, and many more. However, the big lip that’s in place to prevent overtravel can cause interference with premium lowers from BCM, Noveske, and billet lowers that are different in dimension than a forged lower. For those guns the Gen 2 P-MAG still works perfectly. 

When choosing P-MAGs I typically go with Gen 3 P-MAGs for serious use. They are better made and have a better follower. With that being said when Gen 2s are on sale and quite cheap I don’t mind buying them either. Neither has given me issues and I trust Magpul for my AR 15 mags, my AK mags, my Glock mags, and now my CZ Scorpion mags. They are famed, and even beloved for a reason. They work, and what more can you ask from a rifle magazine?