Marking Mags – Why and How

Do you ever see high-volume shooters mark their mags? It seems odd, right? Why would they ever need to write numbers of their magazines? Well, great questions, and today we dive into the why of marking magazines and why it might be a valuable idea for you to give a spin.

Why Marking Mags Is Useful

The main reason why magazines are marked is to be able to tell one from the other. Most shooters will number their magazines so they know that this is PMAG 1, 2, and 3. Being able to identify the magazine is crucial in case one begins to fail. Let’s face it: all magazines basically look alike, and in the midst of training, competition shooting, and similar endeavors, it’s easy to experience a malfunction, remove and replace the magazine, and keep going.

If one malfunctions, you can notate the number and keep track of it. One malfunction doesn’t mean much, but if the magazine consistently malfunctions, you’ll know which magazine is problematic and to remove it. You might need to fix the spring the follower or just toss it or regulate it to a training magazine.

(Courtesy Paul Carlson)

That’s one reason, but marking goes beyond that. You might be using a series of very similar magazines for a variety of calibers. Dedicating magazines to .300 Blackout helps you prevent your 5.56 gun from going boom. I also like the Endo 9mm magazines that use a PMAG as their host. These mags all have a big nine on the side. I joke that they are Red Nine magazines.

You might also want to mark your magazines based on what they are used for. Are they training mags? Duty mags? Defensive mags? It might be worth marking them. My Glock mags from KCI don’t look much different than my OEM mags, but I don’t want to mix them up. If you take an AR class there will be mags everywhere and a set of initials makes them easy to separate.

Mark ‘Em Up

Marking mags is pretty easy. You can do it with a paint pen pretty easily. Magazines like the Gen 3 PMAGs have a dot matrix that makes it easy and convenient to mark. Birchwood Casey makes paint pens, and so does Sharpie. That’s the easiest way and can be done on demand.

Another easy way is if you just want to mark them with your name or something similar you have them laser engraved. It’s a bit fancy, but permanent and admittedly looks nice. It’s like monogramming but for your gun’s feed device. You’ll be the classiest gent in class. It’s not exactly complicated to get your magazines marked and can be a valuable task to complete.

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.