MINUTEMAN REVIEW may be compensated for purchases done through links on our site. To learn more about this, you can read through our Affiliate Disclaimer here.
The Lancer L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazine is one of the few polymer AR-15 magazines that doesn’t try to compete with the Magpul PMAG on price. The Lancer L5 is shamelessly more expensive than a PMAG. But it claims to deliver on features.
I’m not a huge fan of magazines which cost more than a PMAG. Can a polymer AR-15 magazine really be that much better than any other polymer magazine? A more expensive polymer magazine is a tough sell.
But Lancer is selling a more expensive polymer magazine. Does it have the features to justify the extra dollars?
I’m kind of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of person. So I was skeptical of the Lancer L5. Despite my skepticism, I tried the L5 Warfighter magazine.
One of the upgrades the Lancer L5 boasts is better grip and usability. And, admittedly, the design is pretty good. The Lancer L5 is covered in a textured waffle pattern that does a couple things.
First, the textured waffle pattern actually does offer a good grip surface. The texturing is pretty aggressive. And it’s strategically located so that it’s under your fingertips when you grasp the magazine.
Then, the waffle pattern also improves the grip surface. However, the waffle pattern also increases the impact resistance, according to Lancer. I can’t verify the impact resistance claim, since I didn’t do any crazy smash tests.
But I can confirm that the waffle pattern makes for a nice grip surface. And the L5 is similar to a PMAG in size and shape. It’s a comfortable and familiar form factor.
Interestingly, the base plate is not flared. That’s kind of a standard feature on polymer magazines. This probably isn’t a dealbreaker. But the Lancer L5 base plate doesn’t give you a whole lot of help in getting your magazines out of your carrier.
Overall, though, the Lancer L5 does make good on it’s promise of better grip and easier handling, even if it forgoes a relatively standard feature.
How functional can a magazine really be? Relatively functional, as it turns out.
First, this magazine is translucent, which makes it super easy to see how many rounds you have left in the magazine from any angle, without taking the magazine out of your rifle.
Of course, you can also get this magazine in opaque black. But then you can’t see your bullets.
The other cool feature is that there are markings on the magazine that show how many rounds are in the magazine. There are marks at the 20 round and 30 round mark. Kind of nice for getting a more exact idea of how many rounds you’ve got left.
Unfortunately, there are no drain holes. It’s an interesting design choice, considering this is literally called a “warfighter” magazine. Obviously, the magazine isn’t water tight. The water will drain out eventually. But it would drain out faster if the base plate had drain holes.
Most civilian shooters don’t put their rifles underwater all that often, though. Lack of drain holes probably won’t be a deal breaker for you.
That’s a minor gripe. And this is the only magazine I know of that has round count markings. So it at least gets credit for doing something that most polymer magazines dont.
My biggest concern with the Lancer L5 magazine is the steel feed lips. On the surface, the steel feed lips seem like a good idea. After all, metal is more durable than polymer, right?
However, that’s not exactly the case.
To be clear, my L5 magazines have held up so far. This may be an unfounded concern.
But my experience with steel magazines is that the feed lips eventually warp and cause malfunctions. Then the magazine gets scrapped because the feed lips are virtually impossible to reshape.
Polymer magazines pretty much solved that problem. Yes, eventually polymer magazines fail. But it appears that my polymer magazines last longer than my steel magazines.
All this leads me to question using steel feed lips on a polymer magazine. That’s like putting the weakest part of a steel magazine on a polymer magazine.
There’s good news, though. The steel liner on the Lancer L5 appears to be harder than the steel in most all-steel magazines. It doesn’t flex at all. And there are benefits to using steel feed lips, which I'll dig into in the next section.
But, regardless of my concerns about the steel feed lips on this magazine, it never sustained any permanent damage from being dropped on the cement floor at the range.
I didn’t do any end zone spiking or anything. But being dropped normally during reloads didn’t seem to be an issue.
Maybe Lancer finally got the steel feed lips right. The only thing that remains to be seen is how long these magazines will last before the feed lips start to warp.
In fairness, the reason I didn’t test the longevity of this magazine is because my steel magazines usually last for years. That’s far longer than I have to write this review. Take that as you will.
The benefit of using steel feed lips is reliability. The steel liner on the Lancer L5 has a much smoother finish than most polymer feed lips, which makes this magazine feed super smoothly.
Is it more reliable than a polymer magazine? Good polymer magazines are often perfectly reliable. So this one isn’t any more reliable than a polymer magazine.
But it’s also not any less reliable than a polymer magazine. I had zero malfunctions through all the rounds I tossed out of this magazine. To test the steel feed lips, we also ran it through a bunch of abused rental guns.
This magazine is certainly not finicky. It worked well in every rifle I stuffed it into. That’s exactly what I wanted to see.
Is it better?
Is this magazine worth the price?
It looks super cool. And it’s a nice magazine with some thoughtful features that are actually useful. I have concerns that the steel feed lips might shorten the lifespan. But this magazine will still last for years worth of frequent shooting.
Personally, I will probably not be stocking up on L5 magazines.
But, if you’re a stickler for steel parts or want a magazine that basically makes counting rounds unnecessary, it might be worth stocking up on Lancer L5 magazines. The L5 is definitely worth the price if it hits all the important points for you.