Whenever the discussion about Ruger Mini-14s comes up on our Cheaper Than Dirt Forums or Facebook page, the question of “Gen 1″ vs. “Gen 2″ magazines made by TAPCO accompanies it. There’s a lot of confusion about this issue right now, so we want to do our part to clear things up.
“Nutnfancy” is an online reviewer of guns, ammo, and gun gear. He posts informative videos on Youtube about what gun stuff works and what doesn’t after putting all the latest toys through his testing regimen. Yes, we are jealous of him too. A while back he posted up a review of some new Mini-14 magazines made by TAPCO, and he didn’t like them one bit. To their credit, TAPCO contacted him and asked for input on what changes he thought they should make. They made those changes, then sent him some of the improved magazines to review. He had much better luck with the second batch. He decreed throughout the land that the improved magazines were good to go. Nutnfancy dubbed the new impoved magazines “Gen 2″ or “second generation” magazines, and called the older magazines “Gen 1″ or “first generation” magazines.
There’s only one minor problem—TAPCO didn’t change their part number, packaging, or the UPC code on their Mini-14 magazines when they made Nutnfancy’s design changes. The packaging doesn’t say “Gen 2″ anywhere and if you are buying these magazines online, there is no way to tell which ones you are going to get. TAPCO’s Web site lists a Gen 1 magazine under their Ruger Mini-14 Components category, but they don’t list a Gen 2 magazine nor show that it comes in any color but black. So what’s the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2, and how can you tell?
According to Nutnfancy, Tapco changed the composition of their polymer in the Gen 2 magazines, resulting in a stiffer magazine with feed lips that won’t spread apart over time if the magazine is left loaded with rounds. This doesn’t help us identify the different magazines, but the other major change they made does. The Mini-14 mag is a “rock and lock” design requiring the shooter to put the front of the magazine into the mag well first, then rotate the magazine to the rear until it locks into place. A round pin built into the front of the rifle’s mag well holds the magazine in place, interfacing it with a hole in the front of the magazine. On the Gen 1 magazines this hole is molded into the polymer mag body. On the Gen 2 magazines Tapco reinforced this hole with a steel band wrapping around the magazine body, as shown in the pictures. The steel reinforcement keeps this critical area from wearing prematurely. This is how you can tell at a glance whether the magazine you are looking at is a TAPCO Gen 1 or Gen 2.
Here at Cheaper Than Dirt, all of our in-stock TAPCO Mini-14 magazines are already Gen 2 specification, so if you’re ordering from us you don’t have to worry about this. We have ‘em in black as well as the flat dark earth type pictured here, for $12.97 each. But if you happen to pick up some Gen 1 magazines at a gun show or something, know that TAPCO offers a lifetime warranty on their magazines, so if you have problems they will take care of you regardless of which ones you are using. Now take that Ruger out there and put some rounds downrange!