I didn’t own my first AR-15 or begin training with them until after I was out of college, in the workforce, and had a little bit of money. Back then, around 2004-2005, it wasn’t unusual to see people on the internet trading DIY ideas for how they coupled rifle magazines. There were also a handful of prominent products specifically for coupling magazines (or carrying a spare magazine on the rifle). This was a time when there really weren’t any reliable drum or quad-stack magazines.
Now it seems that magazine coupling isn’t really talked about anymore. The posts about how to use duct tape and a dowl to space the magazine don’t seem to pop up on internet forums these days and many of the products are long gone.
Now that we have reliable 40 round magazines, quad-stack magazines, and even drums that work, is there still room for coupled magazines? I think so. In fact, I maintain that there is a good a case to be made for keeping a coupled mag staged in any home defense rifle for a key reason:
Redundancy, not capacity, is the foremost reason to own at least one coupled magazine set. The additional capacity is just a secondary benefit to coupled magazines. The real benefit is having a spare magazine on the rifle. There is no need to take the time to grab a bag or a chest rig… that spare mag is just there, attached to the first mag, ready to help deal with stoppages.
The likelihood that your average home defender will need to conduct a reload is quite small. I can’t give you statistics but I would say that experiencing a malfunction is more likely than needing to reload. Using a coupled magazine versus something like a drum or quad stack magazine addresses this reality while also providing additional capacity.
The above holds doubly true if you live in rural areas with acreage. Checking out that sound in the barn pulls you away from your home and cuts you off from your supplies. Having a spare magazine that comes with you no matter how hurriedly you run out the door could be clutch.
Now, I can already hear some of you saying that remedial action for something like a double feed that requires removing the magazine from the rifle is going to be awkward with a coupled magazine and you’re right. It will be awkward… but not as awkward as having a double feed without having a second, functional magazine to fix the problem.
Finally, I’ll also point out that drum and quad magazines that work aren’t cheap. They are more affordable than ever at the moment but they still cost more than some DIY coupled mags or even a set of PMAGs locked together with Magpul Maglink Coupler (total cost of mags and coupler is around $35). You probably only really need one of these coupled sets to keep staged in your home defense rifle.
I am not saying you shouldn’t buy a case of Magpul D60 drums. You absolutely should if that is how you want to spend your money. I am just trying to point out that the old-timey wisdom of coupled magazines is that just that… wisdom. The concept still has application today.