U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- American users of the AK are at an interesting crossroad between simplistic communist designs and Western free-market modernizations. When I jumped into the Kalashnikov world nearly a decade ago, my Russian Saiga conversion came with an American magazine. A twenty-round, tanker style, polymer magazine from SGM Tactical. As a young man, I knew that a new production, polymer magazine would decimate any surplus steel mag. After almost 10 years of use, how has this old SGM Tactical magazine stood the test of time?
Design of the SGM Tactical Tanker Magazine
A typical AK magazine holds 30 rounds when fully loaded. This gives them the stereotypical “banana mag” shape, thanks to the significant taper on the 7.62×39 case used by most AK’s. While I was initially disappointed to see only a 20-round magazine in the box with my Saiga, I’ve come to appreciate the half-pint plinker. The reduced length seriously helps while shooting from a rest to zero irons and optics. Maneuverability is also improved when operating in cramped environments, such as in the back of your BMP or IL-76.
The body of the SGM Tactical magazine is smooth, with a few ribs found up and down the mag. These ribs are for more than just pleasure, helping to increase the durability of the polymer magazine. Additionally, the ribs help the shooter achieve a positive grip during adverse conditions, avoiding any awkward fumbles during reloads. Originally all black, I have painted my SGM Tactical magazine using Krylon and Rust-Oleum. This has added a bit of texture to the magazine, which is normally fairly slick.
While most shooters will never take advantage of this feature, the magazine base plate is easy to remove. This simplifies cleaning if you find the magazine filled with dust, mud, or other debris. As someone who has shot in places resembling the surface of the moon, I recommend occasionally cleaning the interior of your magazine to improve reliability.
Real World Use
My SGM Tactical magazine has seen use in normal range time, as well as a single local carbine class. In total, it has just over 300 rounds cycled through the magazine, a mix of Wolf and Tula steel case, plus some brass Federal American Eagle. Despite this low round count, the problems have been numerous. I have encountered several nose dives in the magazine, failures to feed, and more. It is the only magazine which has caused issues in my Saiga conversion.
I haven’t noticed any significant wear in the magazine, despite my problems with reliability. From the follower to the feed lips, everything looks to be in decent shape. The SGM Tactical mag locks into the gun without issue and remains there throughout recoil, even with polymer locking surfaces.
Final Thoughts on the SGM Tactical 20 Round AK Magazine
While I certainly appreciate the benefits of a tanker length magazine, this one doesn’t quite make the grade. For a range toy, SGM Tactical is acceptable, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it when better options are widely available for a comparable price. Instead, I suggest people look to quality options from people like XTech Tactical or Circle Ten.
About Dan Reedy
Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.
Dan’s work has been published by Primer Peak, and The Kommando Blog, and he has been featured as a guest on Primary & Secondary.