Kinetic Concepts Tactical
MSAR (Microtech Small Arms Research) is best known for its line of AUG-style rifles and upgrades for that platform, such as their E4 Stock Kit. MSAR is an offshoot of Microtech Knives, a custom blade producer.
Although the Microtech Knives brand is well respected in the knife-making industry, MSAR has had a few knocks and mistakes in its history. Without rehashing old news, the question we'll try to answer is are these good magazines? Please note that our findings are for the revised, new production magazines MSAR released after February 2013. You can check the date code on the side of the magazine to ensure that you've got the new ones, and MSAR has stated that if you grab an older mag, they will replace it for free, so good news there, although the 40-rounders were recently released, so there should be no older versions lurking around.
One of the types of magazines we ordered for testing was the MSAR 40-Round magazine. We will be looking at its smaller 30-round brethren in a later article, but we were eager to pit the MSAR against Magpul's 40-round offering, so we dived in with the big boy first.
I would like to point out that this decision has nothing to do with my affinity for 40-round mags.
The MSAR 40 has all the goodies you would expect in a modern polymer magazine. It features an anti-tilt follower, ridged body for positive grip, and an over-insertion stop. The baseplate is easily removed by pressing in two small tabs and sliding the baseplate off of the magazine.
The baseplate is flared and has a small ridge around the middle to add extra grip when pulling the mag from a pouch. Personally, I like this feature, but some shooters may not. When polymer magazines came on the scene, they were a radical departure from the GI magazines everybody had been using. If you look at a GI mag, there is no flared baseplate. Which is where Magpuls, paracord loops, and tape tabs came from. Most polymer mags need a larger baseplate so that they can be disassembled. The TangoDown ARC mag is a notable exception here, as it is not designed to be taken apart, and thus has a baseplate that is flush with the sides of the magazine.
The MSAR 40's body is constructed of a sturdy opaque polymer. There are indentations on either side that look like windows to assess the amount of remaining rounds, however this is made of the same polymer as the rest of the magazine. MSAR does make clear magazines as well, so if that's your thing, they've got you covered, however they are currently only available in the 30 round capacity.
The MSAR magazines are marked on the top of one side with the designation 5.56x45, and the other side with 7.62x35 (AAC 300 Blackout). It's interesting to note that they marked this for the BLK, as most 5.56 magazines feed the BLK with no issues. We will be testing the MSAR with both ammo types and report the results.
Something that threw me off was the "bump" or dummy round on the follower. This raised section facilitates proper round stacking in the body of the magazine, and in the vast majority of the magazines out there, it is on the right side of the follower. MSAR decided to put it on the left for some reason. Is this a big deal? Not really. Some companies do it, but most just keep it on the right side. What this means, however, is that a full magazine will have the top round seated on the left side of the magazine. Traditionally, the top round is on the right side.
When I check my magazines to determine if they are full or partials from the range, I do two things. Push down on the rounds to make sure the magazine is full, and check that the top round is seated on the right. If the top round is on the left, I know that magazine is down at least one round. Additionally, some shooters perform their press checks by checking the top round in the magazine after charging their rifle. If you fall into this group, the MSAR will be a bit of a switch for you.
The mag can easily be disassembled by pressing down on a pair of tabs in the bottom of the magazine. Once these tabs are depressed, the floorplate can be slid off to remove the lock plate, spring and follower. I tend to get a lot of dirt, grass, twigs, rocks and other crud in my magazines, so any mag that is easy to take down and rebuild gets high marks in my book.
Having run hundreds of rounds of 5.56 through the magazine, I have not had any issues with it. It has fed reliably, and has not suffered any undue damage from dropping, being struck or stepped on. I've had dirt and grass in the magazine, and it functioned as it should. Popping off the floorplate and rinsing the mag out with water is as much maintenance as it needs.
I found that when filled with .300BLK 147 grain ammo, the spring struggles to lift the follower a bit. It still fed with no issues, but fed sluggishly when hand loaded and unloaded. With 40 rounds of ammo that is about three times the weight of 5.56, this may be expected to some extent. If you intend to use this mag for heavier loads, test this out first.
Other than that, I can say the that the MSAR is a good magazine for the price, and a good choice for those wanting a larger magazine for competition, plinking, or defense. At $10 or so, they're a bit cheaper than the Magpul or GI-type offerings.
The kicker is that MSAR is pulling out of their firearms divisions to focus on their custom knives. So if you want some, you'll want to move fast.
Kinetic Concepts Tactical
You can currently find them at CDNN.