Lancer Systems L5 Translucent Polymer 30-Round Magazine for Tactical ARs

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By David Crane
defrev at gmail dot com

December 30, 2008

As long was we’re on an M4/M4A1 Carbine (and semi-auto tactical AR-15 carbine) and 4179 STANAG box magazine kick, we might as well cover the Lancer Systems L5 Translucent Magazine (30-round 5.56mm NATO polymer magazine) in a little bit more detail, particularly since it’s already been mentioned in previous DefenseReview articles here and here.

Defense Review actually picked up a Lancer Systems flyer on the L5 Translucent Magazine at the Falcon Industries booth at SHOT Show 2008.  However, until now, that’s about as far as it went. It wasn’t until we spoke with a professional contact of ours, Mike Pannone (a.k.a. Michael Pannone), about the L5 mag that our interest in it really got piqued. Mr. Pannone is…

a proponent of Lancer L5 polymer mags, since he’s found them to be reliable during his testing. Mike is currently a tactical instructor (including tactical shooting instructor) for Viking Tactics (VTAC) and Mid-Atlantic Training Resources (MATR) and a retired SF operator (U.S. Army Special Forces operator), and he puts A LOT of rounds through M4/M4A1 carbines and SBRs and semi-auto AR-15 carbines and SBRs (tactical carbines/SBRs) during his tactical training and testing cycles. So, the fact that he likes the Lancer L5 mag says a lot. Mr. Pannone has, however, recommended a few slight modifications to the magazine in order to optimize it for his use. Defense Review will try to get more details on the precise modifications that Mr. Pannone has requested.

What separates the Lancer Systems L5 Translucent Polymer Magazine from metal mags (like the Fusil Spring Steel Magazine) and other polymer mags out there (like the MagPul PMAGand MagLevel PMAG and TangoDown ARC magazine) is its translucent (i.e. see-through) aspect over the entire body of the magazine, which provides for some obvious combat/tactical advantages. The most obvious advantage is the operator’s/user’s ability to quickly and easily check his on-board ammo supply during a dynamic tactical engagement a.k.a. combat engagement. Being able to quick-check the number of immediate rounds you have in your weapon during a fight is a nice, handy little feature. The round count markers at the 30 and 20-round marks also assist in quick-reading the mags ammo count at any point during the fight.

The Lancer L5 30-round mag is the first translucent polymer magazine designed specifically for AR-15/M16/M4/M4A1 rifles and carbines. Until now, the only translucent polymer 5.56x45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem. magazines with which the author has had any experience are those made for the HK G36-series (specifically the HK G36C SBR), SIG 550-series (specifcally, the SIG 552 Commando SBR), Steyr AUG-series, and ST Kinetics SAR-21-series weapons.

One of the keys to the L5 mag’s reliability and durability is the feed-lip aspect. The L5 uses "insert molded steel feed lips" in order to "provide consistent, positive feeding" into the chamber. Lancer Systems claims that the L5 magazine’s translucent polymer body is highly durable (impact, drop and crush-resistant) and corrosion-resistant, and that the magazine can be stored loaded for extended periods without experiencing "lip creep". However, what about taking a spring set, which has historically been a risk when storing loaded USGI 30-round AR-15/M16 mags for too long. According to the Lancer Systems literature on it, the L5 uses standard USGI magazine springs.

You can use mil-spec stripper clips and commercial speed-loading devices like the maglula Ltd. LULA Magazine Loader & Unloader with the L5 magazine. That’s very good news, since DefenseReview is a fan of the LULA speedloader. It came in very handy while we were T&E’ing the FERFRANS SOAR direct-gas-impingement (DGI) SBRs, since we put approximately 1500 rounds through them.  Without the LULA, the whole process would have taken a lot longer and would have been much less comfortable.

Another key to the L5 mag’s strength and durability is its reinforcement ribbing. However, this is one of the aspects that Mr. Pannone wants to modify. Defense Review will try to get more details on the exact modifications he’s requested regarding the reinforcement ribs.

We’ll also try to acquire some L5 mags for some in-house testing, as soon as we can.

In the meantime, the following info on the L5 Translucent Magazine comes from Lancer Systems’ product literature on it:

Lancer Systems L5 Translucent Magazine

The L5 is a translucent 30 round magazine developed for the 5.56mm
M16/M4/AR15 rifle. It has an impact resistant translucent polymer body, hardened
steel feed lips and a removable rubber coated bottom. Robust enough for
professional use, the L5 can expedite pre & post operation inspections, increase
op-tempo and improve range safety.

The L5 Translucent Magazine has been tested and recommended
by the members of the National Tactical Officers


• Made in the USA
• Translucent polymer body that is impact resistant through a wide range of temperatures
• Can be dropped onto the feed lips without damage.
• Withstands 5’ drop, fully loaded onto concrete at -50 degrees F through +180 degrees F
• Exceeds crush strength of the aluminum magazines
• Body and component materials that are corrosion and chemical resistant
• Hardened steel feed lips are permanently molded into the body, feedlips are PTFE coated for corrosion resistance
• Rubber Coated bottom, designed to improve gripping
• Round Count Markers at 20 and 30 rounds
• Body texture, contour and rubber coated bottom are designed to provide positive
gripping and improve retrieval from magazine pouches.
• Body design incorporates a constant radius geometry that facilitates
follower/spring travel.
• Same basic design envelop as the USGI aluminum magazine, can be used with
existing pouches and carriers.
• Easy to disassemble and maintain

Ability to visually inspect rounds:
• Reduces Pre & Post operation inspection time
• Know what type of ammunition is loaded; ball, blanks, marker rounds, etc.
• Increases overall operational tempo
• Increases training safety
• Increases efficiency of range operations
• Reduces maintenance time

• Lightweight
• Corrosion resistant
• Permanent color retention
• Can be stored loaded for extended periods of time with no lip creep
• Can be used as a monopod
• Designed to maximize grip for quick access and loading
• Durable – impact, drop and crush resistant


• Steel feed lips provide consistent, positive feeding
• Body and follower engineered for maximum reliability
• The magazine’s readiness can be determined visually

L5 Translucent Magazine Specifications:

Weapon Type: AR15/M4/M16
Caliber: 5.56 x 45 mm NATO
Capacity: 30-rounds

• Total Height: 7.35”
• Width, Body: .94”
• Width, at support rib: 1.07”
• Width, Bottom: .99”
• Length, Body: 2.56“
• Length, at support rib: 2.6”
• Length, Bottom: 2.69”
• Unloaded: 4.1 oz

Major Components:

Body – Engineered polymer body with insert molded metal feed lips. The translucent polymer was specially designed to be robust and chemical resistant. The body design incorporates a constant radius geometry that facilities follower/spring travel. The steel lips are treated with PTFE to be corrosion resistant.

Follower – Polymer follower developed exclusively for use with the translucent body and will not work in other magazines.

Bottom – Rubber coated polymer bottom especially designed (Patent Pending) to be impact absorbing and improve gripping.

Spring – The same spring currently used in USGI magazines.

Chemical Compatibility:

Chemicals tested with no adverse effect:

• Gasoline
• Kerosene
• Diesel fuel (high/low sulfur)
• Turbine fuel
• Dry cleaning solvent P-D-680
• Lube Oil, VV-L-800 oil
• Hydraulic Oil, MIL-H-5606
• Anti-freeze, MIL-A-46153

Cleaning solvents / lubricating oils tested with no adverse effect:

• Carbon Removing Compound (CRC)
• WD40
• Gunzilla
• Hoppes No. 9
• Militec
• CLP/Break-Free
• Cleaning Compound, MIL-l-372B

Chemicals tested with some reaction:

• Insect repellents containing DEET can damage the magazine. Avoid direct contact of the feed lips and the plastic around the feed lips with DEET or insect repellents containing DEET. If DEET is sprayed or directly applied to the plastic around, or covering the feed lips it will crack and become unusable. If DEET is accidentally applied directly to these areas, clean immediately and inspect for damage. DEET will not effect the rest of the body and other components of the magazine.

Secondary exposure, getting it on your hands and then touching the feed lip area, will have no effect to the magazine.

The effects of DEET can be reduced, but not eliminated by using CLP or similar penetrating oils. Apply CLP to the feed lips and plastic covering the feed lips prior to potential exposure. Wipe dry prior to use.

Hydraulic Oil (Skydrol), MIL-H-46170B – Skydrol can damage the magazine. Avoid exposing the feed lips and the plastic around the feed lips to Skydrol. If exposed the plastic around or covering the feed lips will crack and become unusable. If the areas are exposed, clean immediately and inspect for damage. Skydrol has no effect on the other parts of the body and magazine components.

Company Contact Info:

Lancer Systems
7566 Morris Court,Suite 300
Allentown, PA 18106
610-973-2601 General Info Email Sales Email Website

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Lancer Systems L5 Translucent Polymer 30-Round Magazine for Tactical ARs by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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