Installing the Magpul Enhanced Self-Leveling Follower

This article began about 20 years ago when I started stockpiling AR-15 magazines for some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation. My buddies and I would make trips to the local gun shows, and pick up magazines here and there. I never intended to stockpile hundreds of magazines like some hardcore survivalist do. All I wanted was a couple of dozen magazines for every AR-15. I think 2 dozen mags for every rifle is reasonable.

Fast forward 20 years. Improvements have been made to the AR15 rifle and magazines. Due to those improvements, my current setup is outdated. Its like anything else. Technology improves, and to get the best out of your gear you need to keep up with the times. A buddy of mine who served two tours (1 tour in Iraq, 1 tour in Afghanistan) told me about Magpul Pmags. When a combat vet tells you he loves something, its in your best interest to pay attention.

Due to my buddies recommendation I ordered 2 Magpul Pmags with the windows on the side.

As soon as I handed and shot the Magpul Pmag I fell in love. The Pmags are light, window to see how many rounds are in the magazine, and anti-tilt follower.

Ok, so what do I do? I have dozens of AR15 magazines that have been collected over the years. But the anti-tilt follower technology improves the reliability of the weapon.

Since I do not want to replace my AR magazine inventory, I bought several packages of the Magpul enhanced self-leveling followers, and started replacing the followers in all of my older AR magazines.

If something is not broke, don’t fix it. My AR mags were not broke, but they did need to be upgraded.

Before we begin, ask your wife if you can borrow the kitchen table and an old towel she does not mind you getting dirt or oil on.

The instructions included with the Magpul followers said to use a 223 cartridge to pry the front of the base-plate up, then move the plate forward. Instead of using a 223 cartridge, I used a pair of needle nose pliers. Why damage a perfectly good 223 round when I have needle nose?

As the base-plate moves forward, be careful that the spring does not go flying out of the magazine housing. When the plate is about 1/2 out, put your finger on top of the spring.

When the old base-plate reaches the bottom of the magazine, it “might” appear that you will need to bend the retaining clips to get the old follower out.

NEVER, never, never bend the tabs on the bottom of the magazine. When you bend the tabs back into place, they will probably break off.

To get the old follower out, wiggle it around until it finally slips out of the magazine housing.

The magazine spring will be through a hole in the follower. Use the needle nose pliers to get the spring out of the hole.

Caution – Before you attach the spring to the new follower, hold the magazine bottom side up, slip the follower into the magazine housing, drop the follower to see if it falls freely all the way to the other end of the magazine.

On a couple of my magazines, the follower would “stick”. In one magazine, I had to use a long screw driver to drive the new Magpul follower back out. I do not blame the follower or the magazine. This is life, and not “everything” fits together.

For the magazines the follower does not fall freely from one end to the other, those magazines are left original and relegated to training mags. To designate the magazines that did not accept the Magpul follower, I took a black marker and put a big black X on the side of the mags. The mags with the black X are for training, and nothing more.

If the Magpul enhanced self-leveling follower falls freely from one of the mag to the other, the spring is attached to the follower and inserted back into the magazine housing.

Hold the spring down with one hand, slide the base-plate back into place with the other hand.

A good bit of my AR-15 magazine collection is made up of Center Industries 30 round magazines. It just so happens that about 1/2 of my collection of Center Industries mags will not take the Mapgul enhanced follower. Just about all of my Center Industries 30 round magazines were bought in the 1990s. Maybe the ones I bought were out of spec? I do not know what the issue is.

Maybe I should just file the follower down so that it falls freely through the magazine? Maybe I should just buy new magazines? Lets talk about the new magazine issue later.

On the other hand, the Magpul followers have not had a single issue with the Okay Industries 30 round magazines.

Whats Next

My first order of Magpul enhanced self-leveling followers were enough to upgrade 12 magazines. 12 mags plus the 2 Pmags gives me a total of 14 magazines. I still have at least another dozen to upgrade.

What am I going to do about the magazines that did not accept the new followers? Those mags will have to be replaced.  Replacing the mags that did not accept the new followers creates a slight issue.  Do I buy aluminum mags with the enhanced follower or do I buy Magpul Pmags?

A buddy of mine said it boiled down to cost.  Lets say a magazine cost $2 or $3 less then the ones I am buying.  In the long run the person who bought the less expensive magazines will have 2, 3, or 4 more then I have.

Then there is the quality issue.  If the aluminum magazines perform just as good as the Magpul Pmags, then why buy the Pmags?  Just for the window?

Buying magazines in the 1990s was simple.  You just went down to the local gun store or gun show and bought whatever they had in stock.  Then the internet came along.  With the internet we could read instant reviews.  No more waiting on magazines.  Or having to sift though various magazines to find the reviews you needed.

Magazines At The Bug Out Location

After the magazines at my home are upgraded with the new followers, then comes time to upgrade the mags I keep at the Bug Out Location.

Several years ago a buddy of mine and I started stockpiling magazines and ammunition at the Bug Out Location.  The idea was if you had only enough time to grab a firearm, and get to the Bug Out Location, you would have magazines and ammunition already in place.

Once the first set of mags are upgraded, they will be moved to the Bug Out Location.  The mags at the Bug Out Location will then be brought home and upgraded.

I will probably buy some new magazines to keep at the Bug Out Location as well.