You have just picked up your first gun, probably even shot it a few times, but you realized that the one mag the gun comes with is not enough. The gun is hungry for more ammo, so you take a trip or go online to your airsoft store, but what you are greeted with is a ton of options for magazines; "hi-cap, mid-cap, drum, stick...." what do they all mean?!?!?!
Well today, we will go through the common types of AEG magazines, and hopefully this will help you find out which one works the best for you.
AEG magazines come in three different types (categories)
1. High Capacity, (250 - 500+ Rds)
2. Mid Capacity, (60 - 250 Rds)
3. Low Capacity (AKA "Real Cap"), (>50rds)
These simply refer to the BB capacity that each magazine can hold. There is a caveat to this, depending on the capacity of the mag, it can dictate how the magazine system functions.
High Capacity Magazines (HI-CAP)
Not as common as they used to be, but these magazines are typically included with the gun during your initial purchase. They hold the most amount of BBs, and can usually be distinguished by the trap door opening on the top of the mag, or by the winding wheel at the bottom.
(Drum mags fall into this category)
In order to fit the most amount of BBs, the mags have an open reservoir, this where you pour the BBs into the mag. This design does have two significant disadvantages, the open reservoir allows the BBs to free-float which can create rattling sounds when your are moving, not the best when your trying to be Sam Fisher sneaking around taking out opponents. The other issue, is the way the magazine feeds, there is a internal winding wheel that allows the BBs to constantly feed however, you will need to wind up the mag about every dozen or so shots to keep the mag feeding.
- High capacity - usually holds more then 250 rds, with drum mags holding 1000-10,000 rds
- Easy to find - comes usually with the gun during initial purchase
- Loud Noises - Since the BBs are held in an open reservoir
- Winding - "Zip Zip Zip" get used to the sound as you wind up the mag regularly
- Hard to repair - they are more complex internally, if they break, not worth it to repair
Mid Capacity Magazines (MID-CAP)
*Some Mid-Caps comes with extra features, such as this mag indicator for this Krytac 150rd Mid-Cap*
Probably the most common magazine you will find on the current market, in addition, some guns now come with Mid-Cap magazines instead of the Hi-Cap type. The primary reason why Mid-Caps are so popular, is that they use an internal spring to feed the BBs. This internal spring removes the need to wind the mag and eliminates the rattling. The main downsides is the capacity is limited to 60-200rds, and you will need a speed loader to load them. A speed loader is a plunger type device that pushes BBs into the magazine via the top feed opening.
- Easy Feed - Feeds all BBs without winding, no sound when moving
- Varying Styles - Comes in a variety of styles from STANAG to PMAG, some also have extra features like rubber baseplate or load indicator
- Moderate capacity - does not hold has much as Hi-Cap magazines
- Requires speed loader to load - Speed loaders are purchased separately and is an additional cost.
Low Capacity Magazines (AKA "Real Cap")
These magazines are similar to Mid-Caps but hold even less BBs, only carrying less then 50rds or similar to their real steel counterparts. These mags are not as common, and only used by players who want a more realistic experience. They look and work identical to Mid-Cap mags.