Labeling AR-15 Magazines

Labeling AR-15 magazines header

An Easy, Inexpensive Way to Label Your Magazines

You may ask, “Why to label your AR-15 magazines anyways?”. I have had friends I’ve been shooting with that ask that very question when they initially see my magazines. After a day of shooting with a table full of firearms and magazines, the same people will say, oh I get it. So here is your answer to why “Labeling AR15 Magazines” can make sense.

Why Label AR-15 Magazines?

There are several reasons why someone might choose to label their AR-15 magazines:

AR-15 with labeled magazine
  • Identification: Labeling magazines can make it easier to identify which ones belong to you, especially if you are shooting with friends or storing your magazines in a group.
  • Organization: Labeling magazines can also help with organization. For example, you might label magazines by caliber or type of ammunition you have loaded.
  • Safety: Labeling magazines can also be a safety measure. Labeling magazines with different types of ammunition can help prevent accidental mix-ups and ensure you use the correct ammunition for your firearm.
  • Convenience: Labeling magazines can also make it more convenient to quickly grab the magazine you need, especially in a high-stress situation like self-defense.
  • Legal Compliance: Labeling your magazines may be required depending on your state’s laws.

The compelling reason to label magazines is if you have multiple firearms in different calibers that take the same magazine. However, labeling AR-15 magazines can be helpful for the other reasons outlined here.

Ways to Label Your AR-15 Magazines

labeled ar-15 magazine

If you dig around online, you’ll find several ways shooters can label their AR-15 magazines. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish and the priority.

For some, they want the absolute least expensive route. If so, they may opt for a Sharpie, paint in a specific pattern, or use tape.

The example to the left is grip tape with stenciled caliber cutouts; it is another effective, practical, and inexpensive way to label your AR-15 magazines.

I prioritize quick identification of caliber, minimum risk of mixing up ammunition, easy identification of my magazines, and an organized-looking storage area for my magazines.

Caliber Mix-Up Possibilities

In particular, the AR-15 magazine can present some potential challenges for mix-ups. These can potentially incapacitate a firearm at best and create serious injuries or death at worse.

The number of different calibers of rifle rounds that can fit in an AR-15 magazine depends on the size and configuration of the magazine itself. However, the most common caliber for the AR-15 is .223/5.56mm, and the standard magazine for this caliber typically holds 30 rounds.

4 different sizes of bullets

While other calibers such as .300 AAC Blackout, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, and 6.5 Grendel can also fit in the AR-15, some require different magazines than the standard .223/5.56mm magazine. It is important to note that other states and jurisdictions may have laws and regulations governing the capacity and type of legal magazines to use.

Some Potentially Serious Outcomes

It is extremely dangerous to mix ammunition between firearms, and it can result in severe injury or death. Here are some potentially dangerous combinations that could occur if the rounds of the following calibers are mixed up between firearms:

  • .223 and 5.56mm: These two calibers are very similar, with the only difference being the pressure at which they are loaded. .223 rounds are typically loaded at lower pressures, and firing 5.56mm rounds in a firearm chambered for .223 only leads to over-pressurization, which can cause damage to the gun and injure the shooter.
  • .300 AAC Blackout and 5.56mm: These two calibers have different dimensions, and firing a .300 AAC Blackout round in a firearm chambered for 5.56mm can cause the bullet to become lodged in the barrel, which can cause a dangerous situation when the next round is fired.
  • .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, and 5.56mm: These calibers are significantly larger than the .223/5.56mm round. Attempting to fire a .458 SOCOM or .50 Beowulf round in a firearm chambered for 5.56mm can cause the firearm to explode, leading to serious injury or death.
  • 6.5 Grendel and 5.56mm: These calibers have different dimensions, and firing a 6.5 Grendel round in a firearm chambered for 5.56mm can cause the bullet to become lodged in the barrel, which can cause a dangerous situation when the next round is fired.

In general, it is important to always use the correct ammunition and magazine for your firearm and to never mix ammunition between firearms or calibers. Doing so can result in serious injury or death. With a little time and some organization, you can avoid problems altogether.

My Latest AR-15 Magazine Labeling Solution

A while back, I found a great deal on some Sentry’s Hexmag magazines and ran them for months without an issue. I started playing with the labeling features they offer and love the result. Below I’ll outline the system I do, show you a breakdown of how I do it, and what it costs, and you can decide if it’s a fit for you.

Below I’ll lay out how I do my magazines; you can keep adding or removing any steps for your needs.

What You Will Need

SENTRY HEXMAG MAGAZINE: The SENTRY HEXMAG magazine is a polymer magazine used with AR-15 and AR-10 rifles. Its unique hexagonal design looks great and provides great grip and handling. The magazine has a tool-free design for easy disassembly and cleaning, and the patented HEXTURE surface provides a non-slip grip for easy insertion and removal from the magazine well. The SENTRY HEXMAG magazine also features an anti-tilt follower and a heat-treated stainless steel spring for reliable feeding and long-lasting durability. Available in a variety of colors and capacities.

HEXID FOLLOWERS LATCH PLATES: The HEXID followers and latch plates are an upgrade kit designed for use with the SENTRY HEXMAG magazine. The kit includes a set of color-coded followers and latch plates that allow you to easily identify different ammunition types and capacities. The followers and latch plates are made from polymer and fit seamlessly with the SENTRY HEXMAG magazine. The followers are self-lubricating and feature an anti-tilt design for improved feeding and reliability. The latch plates feature a tool-free design for easy installation and removal, making it simple to switch between different configurations. With the HEXID followers and latch plates, you can quickly and easily customize your SENTRY HEXMAG magazines for different uses and firearms.

HEXMAG Tactical Grip Tape: The HEXMAG Tactical Grip Tape is an adhesive grip enhancement for firearms. Designed specifically for the SENTRY HEXMAG magazine, this grip tape provides a non-slip surface that improves handling and control during use. The adhesive is strong enough to stay in place during heavy use, yet can be removed easily without leaving residue behind. The HEXMAG Tactical Grip Tape is available in a variety of colors and patterns to match your firearm’s aesthetic, and its low-profile design ensures that it won’t interfere with magazine pouches or other accessories.

SENTRY Hexmag AR-15/M4/M16 Magazine


Items I start with are listed above; a HEXMAG magazine comes in 10, 15, 20, and 30-round AR15 magazines. They also offer full-size looking magazines compliant for states with 10 or 15 restrictions or reduced-size magazines.

The standard HEXMAG holds .223/5.56x45mm, .300AAC Blackout, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, and more. They work in AR-15s, SCAR 16, IWI Tavor, CZ Bren, Beretta ARX 100, and more rifles and or pistols that use an AR-15 style magazine.

SENTRY Hexmag AR-15 HexID Follower & Latch Plate

The AR-15 HexID Follower & Latch Plates are sold in colored 4-packs. Using HexID color-coded magazines allows me to change magazine followers without tools in under 1 min.

Using different colors and configurations, you can easily and quickly differentiate between magazines with varying types of ammunition and capacities. For example, you could use a blue follower and latch plate on a magazine with a 30-round capacity for your AR-15 .556, and a red follower and latch plate on a magazine with a 30-round capacity for your .300 Blackout.

different color followers and latch plates

The system makes it easy from any vantage pion to grab the correct magazine for each firearm. Additionally, the color-coded system can help prevent accidental loading of the wrong ammunition. It improves safety and prevents potential damage to your firearm. It is a simple yet effective tool for any gun owner who wants to keep their magazines organized and easily identifiable.

SENTRY Tactical Grip Tape

HEXMAG with Tactical Grip Tape

I add the tactical grip tape more for function as it doesn’t really affect my AR-15 magazine labeling.

If you do decide to add the grip tape, it is a really simple process. Peel and stick. From doing Handleitgrips on my handguns, I know that sticking them to the magazine and using a hair dryer to seal the adhesion helps. Once they are stuck, I don’t have problems with them coming unstuck. If you ever want to remove them, hit’em with a hair dryer, then peel them off. I hope I don’t have to say this, but make sure your magazine is not loaded:)

AR-15 Band Labels

For extra ease in identifying magazines, I like to purchase bands. I don’t have a particular manufacturer I use but I have never really sourced a consistent solution. Typically, I just go to Amazon and look for the band color/caliber combination and buy them there.

I do plan on at some point finding a U.S.-based manufacturer and looking to buy direct. Not because they do not have a great price and decent quality. Just because I don’t necessarily agree with Amazon and some of the other big tech companies finding the need to enter the world of politics and social campaigning. How about just keeping business, business?

ar-15 magazine label bands

The Cost of Labeling AR-15 Magazines

Basing on the full retail price, which is typically the highest price you would ever pay. These products go on sale frequently.

Below is the per magazine cost;

  • HEXMag’s: Retail for $16 per magazine but we sell them for less than that, as do many other places online.
  • AR-15 HexID Follower & Latch Plate: Retail for $12.99 (can be found cheaper) and will do for magazines.
  • SENTRY Tactical Grip Tape: Retails for $9.99 and will do about 1 1/2 magazines per packet.
  • Magazine Band Labels: These vary, but a packet like the one above is under .50 cents a piece.

So, factor in how many magazines you can do with each product. You’ll be at a $23.39, worst-case price per finished magazine. Doing a little shopping around, you can likely have finished magazines for approximately $15.00. Even less if you go without grip tape.

The Process

Although there are a few steps to the process, you can do about ten magazines in under an hour. A lot less if you’re not adding tactical grip tape. Before you start, plan out how you want to identify your magazines, how many calibers you will account for, and what you want your result to be.
I am going for idiot-proof and obvious, with some added practicality with the grip tape.

Pop off the magazine Baseplate

Popping off the baseplates on the HEXMAGs is basic. Push in on the bottom of the colored hexagon and slide the plate off. This part is only necessary if, like me, you want your base plate and follower to match the color of the band you use.

This helps identify your AR-15 magazines no matter how they are positioned. When out shooting, I can glance at my magazines and know precisely which firearm they go to.

Remove Spring and Follower and Plate

removing latch plate, follower and spring

Once the base plate has been removed, you grab the plastic latch plate and guide it out of the magazine. The latch plate, spring, and follower will come out collectively.

Make a mental note of the direction the follower and the latch plate orientate to the magazine and how they attach to the spring. If you are doing a single magazine and are worried about forgetting how everything goes back together, set them aside the way they came out and take a photo.

Add New Follower and Latch Plate

This is the trickiest part of the whole process and is still pretty straightforward. Nonetheless, as I started my first magazine, I removed the follower and latch plate. And subsequently realized I hadn’t looked at how they came off the spring. Because I was doing multiple magazines, I popped off the base plate of the next magazine and used it for reference. This is why the photo might come in handy.

Reinstall Spring, Follower, and Plate

Once removed, I take the color “Follower & Latch Plate” corresponding to the caliber and magazine band I will be using and install it. In this case, the magazine will be changing from black to red.

Apply Tactical Grip Tape and Band

finished ar-15 magazine

The grip tape is a no-brainer.

Peel off the hexagon grip tape and place it on the magazine. Each piece you peel off corresponds to a hexagon on the magazine.

You want to start at the bottom of the magazine and only go as high as the line. It’s about 2/3 of the way up. That way, you don’t have grip tape inside the magazine well.

I’m confident that applying the band requires no instruction:)

The End Result

labeled ar-15 magazines

I know what you were thinking when you saw the photo above. Why didn’t he do all black on the .300 blackout instead of the .223? I thought the same dam thing when I saw the photo.

Labeling your AR-15 magazines is a matter of what works for you. You likely won’t need to do this if you have one rifle chambered for one caliber.

Have you ever seen someone load the wrong caliber magazine in their gun and prepare to shoot it? It is a sobering moment. This is an easy way to keep things safe and efficient.

I welcome your comments below.

Labeling AR-15 Magazine FAQs

What are some ways to label AR-15 magazines?

There are several ways to label AR-15 magazines, including using stickers, tape, paint, or markers. Some people prefer to use colored or numbered magazine followers or to use different colored base plates on their magazines. There are also pre-printed magazine labels and covers available for purchase.

Are there any legal restrictions on labeling AR-15 magazines?

There are no federal laws that specifically regulate the labeling of AR-15 magazines, but it’s important to check your state and local laws for any restrictions on magazine markings or capacity.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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