Smoother, Faster Reloads: The Best AR 15 Magazine Release

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A mil-spec AR-15 magazine release works. But a bone-stock magazine release can leave something to be desired.

Whether it’s left-handed operation or difficulty reaching the magazine release button in its default configuration, an upgraded magazine release can help solve your problem.

Also, if you’re building your own AR-15, you might as well use some upgraded parts. Because getting a better-than-mil-spec rifle is what building an AR-15 is all about. So don’t skimp on those small parts that can make a big difference.

Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch
  • Lighter than a cast steel magazine catch.
  • Excellent aesthetic.
  • Good tactile feel on the magazine release button.

SPOILER—if you just need a good magazine release that works well and won’t break the bank, get the Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch. It’s a straight forward magazine release that looks great and feels a bit smoother than most mil-spec AR-15 magazine releases.

If you need something a bit more specialized, or you enjoy reading reviews about AR-15 parts (which we hope you do), you’ve hit the jackpot. We’ve got a whole bunch of the best AR-15 magazine releases lined up for you.

Top AR 15 Magazine Release on the Market Today

Best AR 15 Magazine Release Reviews: Dropping It

Our very best AR-15 magazine release is up first. The other (but still best in one way or another) magazine releases will be pressed in order of price.

The least expensive magazine releases are up first.

The most expensive magazine releases are near the bottom of the list.

You know what to do.

1. Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch - Overall Best AR-15 Magazine Release

Strike Industries is a relative newcomer in the AR-15 parts market. And, so far, I’ve been impressed with their stuff. Most of their parts are really well priced. And they also work very well. The Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch is no exception.

This magazine release is aluminum. So it’s lighter than a cast steel magazine release. However, aluminum is plenty durable for a magazine release. You won’t have any durability issues with this release.

Also, it’s got a slightly more aggressive aesthetic than a mil-spec magazine release that goes especially well with some of the more angular AR-15 lower receivers, like the Aero Precision M4E1 lowers. But it also looks great on a standard lower receiver.

Also, there are two little bumps on the top and bottom of the magazine release button that give you more tactile feedback when you hit the magazine release. It’s not a huge deal. But it’s nice to be able to positively feel your magazine release when you reload.

It’s not an extended magazine release or anything. But it’s got a great fit and finish. And it’s quite affordable. So it’s a great option for anyone who wants to upgrade their lower receiver without adding any crazy bells or whistles.

Pros

  • Lighter than a cast steel magazine catch.
  • Excellent aesthetic.
  • Good tactile feel on the magazine release button.
  • Durable hardcoat anodized finish.

Cons

  • Functions about the same as a mil-spec magazine release. No added functionality.

2. Odin Works AR-15 Gen II Extended Magazine Release - Budget Extended Magazine Release

The Odin Works AR-15 Gen II Extended Magazine Release is a very affordable magazine release upgrade that makes it faster and easier to drop your empty magazine during bolt-lock or tactical reloads.

This is just a magazine release button that attaches to your stock magazine catch. That’s good and bad.

It’s great if you already have a complete magazine catch assembly. It’s not so great if you need a magazine catch.

But, this will give your magazine release button a much larger surface area for faster and more reliable magazine removal under stress.

Also, it works with other aftermarket parts like the Magpul BAD Lever. So it won’t get in the way of other upgrades or customizations.

Also, this Odin Works magazine release comes in a whole bunch of different colors, which is great for custom builds with a color scheme.

It’s just a magazine release button. But, if you don’t need ambidextrous operation, that’s all you need. So this is a very cost efficient option since you don’t pay for what you don’t need.

Pros

  • Extends your magazine release button for more efficient reloads.
  • Compatible with other aftermarket upgrades.
  • Available in multiple colors.

Cons

  • No magazine catch included.

3. Arms Unlimited Inc. AR-15 Ambidextrous Magazine Release - Budget Ambidextrous AR-15 Magazine Release

The Arms Unlimited Inc. AR-15 Ambidextrous Magazine Release is the simplest ambidextrous magazine release solution out there. If you’re not looking carefully, you might think that it’s just a standard magazine release.

It’s shaped just like the mil-spec magazine catch. But it extends out a bit further and adds a small hinge that pulls the magazine catch out when you press it from the left side.

This magazine release is cool because it’s so minimal. Many ambidextrous magazine releases add weird levers and stuff. This one barely changes the look of your rifle.

Unfortunately it’s just the magazine catch side. You’ll need a magazine release button to go with it. But that’s not a problem if you’re replacing a mil-spec magazine catch.

Also, this Arms Unlimited Inc magazine release is made of steel. So it’s just as durable as a mil-spec magazine release and won’t fail when you need it most.

Overall, this is not only one of the most affordable ambidextrous magazine releases on the market, it’s also one of the least intrusive ambidextrous magazine releases. So it’s great for anyone who doesn’t want to add a bunch of clunky controls to their rifle.

Pros

  • Adds ambidextrous functionality without adding much bulk to your lower receiver.
  • Steel construction is just as durable as a standard mil-spec magazine release.
  • One of the most affordable ambidextrous magazine releases available.

Cons

  • No magazine release button included.

4. V Seven Weapon Systems AR-15 Ultra-Light Magazine Catch - Lightweight AR-15 Magazine Release

Every infantryman knows that every ounce counts. That’s especially true if you’re building a lightweight AR-15. And the V Seven Weapon Systems AR-15 Ultra-Light Magazine Catch is an excellent solution for those who are counting ounces.

In terms of function, it’s essentially just a mil-spec magazine release.

It does have slightly more aggressive texturing on the release button. So you get more tactile feedback when you hit your magazine release. But that’s really the only functional upgrade you get.

However, this magazine release is 48% lighter than a mil-spec magazine release. Obviously that means it’s constructed differently than a mil-spec magazine release.

But it’s covered by a lifetime warranty. And it has the same hard coat anodizing as a mil-spec magazine release. So V Seven Weapon Systems is confident that you won’t have durability issues.

It’s nothing special in terms of function. But, if you’re trying to save weight, this is the magazine release to get.

Pros

  • 48% lighter than a mil-spec magazine release.
  • Aggressive texturing on the release button provides extra tactile feedback.
  • Covered in the same hard coat anodizing as a mil-spec magazine release.
  • Covered by a lifetime warranty. Though, you likely won’t have durability issues.

Cons

  • No additional function. Just a standard magazine release, albeit more lightweight.

Battle Arms Development Inc. has always made intriguing gear. And the Battle Arms Development Inc. AR-15 Investment Cast Enhanced Modular Magazine Release is also a cool design.

This is a complete magazine release, with the catch and the button. The button is extended to make it easier and faster to drop your empty magazine when you need to reload.

And the button sits slightly closer to the receiver. That way it’s less likely that your magazine release will get pressed unintentionally.

However, the thing that makes this modular is that you can remove the extended paddle and replace it with other Battle Arms Development buttons. It gives you a bit of customization without having to remove your magazine release every time.

Also, this magazine release is cast from carbon steel that’s lighter and stronger than a standard mil-spec magazine release. So it’s an all-around upgrade over stock equipment.

This might be the most expensive extended magazine release that’s not ambidextrous. But it’s better in every aspect than a mil-spec magazine release. So the extra cost is worth it.

Pros

  • Includes magazine catch, release button, and spring.
  • Extended release paddle can be swapped without removing the magazine release button.
  • Cast from carbon steel that is both lighter and stronger than standard mil-spec equipment.
  • Magazine release button sits closer to the receiver to reduce the chances of an accidental magazine release.

Cons

  • One of the most expensive non-ambidextrous magazine releases.

6. Strike Industries AR-15 Ambi Magazine Release - Ambidextrous AR-15 Magazine Release for Custom Builds

The Strike Industries AR-15 Ambi Magazine Release is ambidextrous. And it looks cool. As everyone knows, looking cool is half the battle. So this magazine release does 50% of the winning for you.

As the name suggests, this is an ambidextrous magazine release. And it’s one of the least intrusive ambidextrous magazine releases you can get.

I find that many ambidextrous magazine releases add a lot of bulky levers to the side of your rifle. This one is very simple and streamlined. It’s just a single, serrated paddle that you can press from the left side of the gun.

It’s very functional and easy to use, without any clunky levers.

On the other side, the magazine release button has 2 raised nubs that give good tactile feedback when you hit your magazine release.

But this is a good ambidextrous magazine release for custom builds because it’s available in a bunch of different colors. So you can get a magazine release that matches your color scheme.

All in all, this Strike Industries magazine release looks coolIt works. And it won’t get in the way when you don’t need it. That’s about all you can ask from an ambidextrous magazine release.

Pros

  • Comes in several different colors to ensure your custom build looks cool.
  • Ambidextrous function is very minimal and non-intrusive.
  • Standard magazine release button has two raised bumps that give good tactile feedback.

Cons

  • Not available in some common colors like blue.

7. Juggernaut Tactical California Compliant AR-15 Magazine Locking Kit - California Compliant AR-15 Magazine Release

The Juggernaut Tactical California Compliant AR-15 Magazine Locking Kit isn’t really a magazine release. Actually, it’s the opposite. But it’s California compliant.

This kit locks your magazine into the magazine well. So you’ll have to break your rifle open to load it. However, it enables you to add other things to your rifle without violating California laws.

Also, it looks almost exactly like a standard magazine release. It doesn’t disturb the aesthetics of your rifle, which is nice.

However, it also comes with an extended rear takedown pin knob. That way you can split your rifle open more easily for faster reloading, even with a fixed magazine.

Overall, this is not a good solution if your state doesn’t require it. But, for California and some other states, this Juggernaut Tactical accessory is a good solution for those who want to run other standard features like a pistol grip and adjustable stock.

Pros

  • California compliant.
  • Retains the ordinary aesthetics of your rifle.
  • Includes an extended takedown pin knob for faster reloading with a fixed magazine.
  • Offered in black and stainless steel.

Cons

  • Not useful if you don’t need it for legal compliance.

8. Knight’s Armament AR-15 Ambi Magazine Release Assembly - Extended Ambidextrous AR-15 Magazine Release

The Knight’s Armament AR-15 Ambi Magazine Release Assembly is probably the most robust ambidextrous AR-15 magazine release design.

It’s essentially a standard magazine catch with an extended lever on the left side. It gives you a really large release button on the left side, which makes for fast left-handed reloads.

However, the button on the right side is also a bit larger than a standard release. So you get more reliable ejection of empty magazines during right-handed reloads, as well. However, it’s not quite as large as the left side release.

This magazine release is very durable, though. It’s made of steel. And Knight’s Armament has won a few military contracts. And their quad rails are ridiculously durable. The longevity and durability of this magazine release won’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, like most Knight’s Armament stuff, this magazine release is pretty pricey. But it’s super high quality gear. So it deserves the price tag.

Pros

  • Left-side lever is large and easy to reach.
  • Standard magazine release button is also enlarged.
  • Super durable construction.

Cons

  • Very expensive.

Let the Mags Hit the Floor

AR-15 magazine releases are (usually) not that expensive. And a good magazine release can make your reloads faster and easier. In terms of performance per dollar, a magazine release can be one of your most valuable upgrades.

If you’re content with the standard magazine release design, an upgraded magazine release improves the durability and potentially reduces the weight of your rifle without changing the function.

Bottom line: there’s a magazine release for everyone.

Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch

If you just want a solid magazine release that works just as well, but with a bit less weight than mil-spec, get the Strike Industries Strike Magazine Catch. It’s a durable magazine release that offers more tactile feedback than a mil-spec magazine release. And it’s quite affordable.

Now that you know, it’s time to get a new AR-15 magazine release and bump up those slow reloads.