Ruger 9mm P-series mag identification

A few years ago I came into a Ruger 9mm of some fashion. It was either a P89 or P95…I can’t recall. But the price was right and I thought it would be a good idea to have a cheap, disposable, quality handgun around. I went on GunBroker to see if I could pick up a few spare magazines. I wound up finding an auction for a lot of 11 factory magazines. As it turns out, I won the auction with a ridiculously low bid. So now I had one handgun and a dozen magazines. This is the part where I fall into the rabbit hole.

I figured since I had one handgun and a dozen magazines, it would make sense to get another handgun and allocate the magazines accordingly. Fast forward a few years and a dozen Rugers later…well… you know how that goes.

So, now I have all these Ruger P89/P95 handguns that take the same magazine. Convenient, but a little awkward as well since the Ruger P-series was never much of a barnburner in terms of popularity. Since I avoid non-factory mags whenever possible, I try to buy used Ruger-made mags. Here’s where it gets interesting. All of those double stack 9mm mags pretty much look alike. How do you you tell the Ruger factory mag from some crappo USA Brand or other sheet-metal abortion?

Well, having a stash of mags here for guidance, I’m going to provide you a quick tutorial, as I understand it, on identifying and distinguishing Ruger factory mags from the non-factory mags. For 99% of you, this post is worthless. But, for those who do like the P-series, you might find this useful.


Note that all the Ruger factory magazines have witness holes on the sides of the magazines.

P-series 9mm factory mags came in, basically, four styles:

  • Full-capacity, blued
  • Full-capacity, stainless
  • 10-rd capacity, blued
  • 10-rd capacity stainless

There were some oddball compact variants in the 9mm P-Series (P93, P94) but it appears they shared the same magazine.

All the 9mm P-series utilize an ambi mag release that puts the mag catch on the front of the magazine. If your mag doesn’t have a notch on the front of the magazine, it’s not for a P-series gun.

Ruger-made mags, as opposed to contract-made-for-Ruger mags, have a distinctive caliber marking stamped on them.

The easiest and fastest way to tell a Ruger P-series factory 9mm mag is by the baseplate. Most of them have a thick ‘bumper pad’-type baseplate. Some have the Ruger logo, some do not. Both are factory mags, however.


L – R: Unmarked factory mag baseplate with no disassmbly hole, marked factory mag baseplate with disassembly hole, unmarked flush-fit factory baseplate with disassembly hole

Since most aftermarket mags have a flush-fit unmarked baseplate, other identifying features need to be present to assure that the magazine is factory made.

Ten round magazines had a truncated metal body and then a plastic ‘spacer’ at the bottom of the magazine to give it the overall length of a full-capacity magazine. On some ten-round magazines there is a hole in the baseplate for a punch to allow disassembly of the magazine, other models of ten-round magazine do not allow disassembly and the plastic space is permanently fixed to the mag body by a roll pin going through the mag body and spacer.


Two Factory Ruger 10-rd 9mm P-series magazines. Magazine on left has a roll pin (seen above ‘M’ in ‘9MM’) to prevent removal of plastic magazine extension. Magazine on right can be disassembled (note lack of roll pin.)

It also appears that during the decade of 10-rd magazines, Ruger also made ‘restricted’ magazines for law enforcement and military users.

thumbnailMagazines also usually have a groove running lengthwise down the side of each mag. This groove is absent in factory magazines that have flush-fit baseplates.

20171022_142727From appearances, it looks like Ruger handed off manufacturing of the P-series mags to Mec-Gar. Mec-Gar mags are identical to the Ruger non-basepad factory mags in virtually every regard. The Mec-Gar branded mags differ in finish and placement/number of witness holes. All the Ruger factory magazines I have observed have 3 or 4 witness holes on both sides of the magazine. The Mec-Gar do not. To the best of my knowledge, Ruger never offered any ‘extended capacity’ magazines for the P-series…all those 20-, 32-, and 40-rd magazines are aftermarket and probably of dubious reliability.


Mec-Gar magazine for 9mm P-series


Factory 9mm P-series mag probably made under contract by Mec-Gar.

Factory mags get the highest marks for reliability, and the Mec-Gars are pretty much tied for that with the factory. Other brands such as ProMag have mixed reviews, and no one has anything nice to say about USA brand mags. For best results, I would recommend sticking with the factory mags, factory mags made by Mec-Gar, or Mec-Gar’s own version.


Those 10/22 mags again

Ok, there’s a page up for the magazines. I took delivery on a bunch of them today and a few of you decided to go long and took about 40% of them right off the bat. Makes me wonder if you know something I don’t. Have about 100 of each left, so theyre there if you want ’em. Got ’em sitting in pile here so they go out the door as soon as you pay the invoice. Whatever isn’t sold by Halloween goes into my personal stash.

Oh, and they make great stocking stuffers for Paratus, Festivus, or Chrismahanukwanzaka.

More 10/22 mags?

I might be able to put together another deal on 10/22 mags if anyone is interested. I was going to pick up a few more for my own needs…”just in case”, but figured I’d see if there was any interest. It would be very similar to the last few….they’d be Butler Creek Hot Lips and Steel Lips  25-rd mags, bulk packed (meaning they are loose and not in any type of packaging), and they’d be sold in quantities of 10, 15, or 20 with a small price discount the more you buy. If I can get enough people on board to make it worth ordering, say, a hundred…..then it would work. If interested, email me with “magazines” in the subject line so my spam filters don’t kick it to the curb.Untitled

Link – French Resistance cache unearthed including STENs named ‘Pepette’ and ‘Alice’

Hmm..first it was an StG44 ad now this.

A couple remodeling an old home in north-central France found a cache of ammo, grenades and submachine guns hidden under a granite floor, The Lyonne Republicaine reported.

The find was made in July by the couple in the Quarré-les-Tombes area, about 150 miles away from Paris. Cached under the floor were three STEN guns, over a dozen Britsh Mills bomb type fragmentation grenades, three handguns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammo, and several Bren light machine gun magazines.

I wonder if, a hundred years from now, people in Idaho, Arizona, and Montana will be finding PVC burial tubes full of guns and ammo every time someone digs up an old driveway or tears down an old garage.

Mathematically, there has got to be a lot more of these sorts of things out there. WW2 left millions of guns and related materials spread across Europe. It’s no stretch to think that there were quite a few people who squirreled a bunch of it away.

Here in Montana, the thing found mostly is what we term ‘relics’. Someone plows up an old Sharps that is nothing but a barely recognizable collection of rust, or someone finds an old Colt in the rocks under a bridge somewhere. We all read about that Winchester that got found propped up against a tree after a hundred years, right? I’ve met more than a few folks who have found guns out in the sticks…usually a gun someone lost or forgot, rather than a purposefully left cache. But…..there are those out there too. Once in a a very rare while, one turns up when someone leaves it where they shouldn’t have.

I’m always fascinated by these types of stories because they usually have interesting stories of their own behind them.

Link – Fire Station Orange Go-Kits

Nice to see that someone, somewhere, at some level of bureacracy, had the presence of mind to greenlight this:

Each Portland Fire & Rescue fire station has an “orange go-kit”: a 55-watt Icom IC-2100H and a roof-mounted antenna. NET volunteers are permitted to use this equipment if they have a valid FCC amateur radio license. The kit CANNOT leave the fire station, and so cannot be checked out; but, a volunteer can visit a fire station and use the radio there.

I recall years ago when the LDS church was encouraging a similar plan amongst their membership.


Amazingly, there was snow on the ground this morning. I can not recall getting any real accumulation of snow this early for quite a while. Methinks this might suggest a colder/snowier winter than usual.

One of the things I need to do, since Ma Nature was nice enough to give me a gentle reminder, is to make sure the kerosene heaters are set up and ready for the winter. Given the rate at which natural disasters seem to be occurring these days, it might not be out of place to have a Plan B heating source on standby.

I should probably also move the winter gear out to the vehicle. Actually, come to think of it, I should probably go through it and make sure all the gear is still in good/ready condition and swap out the batteries for new ones. Hmm.

And, of course, hunting season opens in a few weeks. I think I’m going to sit this one out. I just don’t have the time to spend a day tromping around the woods looking for Bambi. The opportunity cost is just to high to spend the resources hunting. Oh, sure…apocalypse gets here I’ll have much more motivation to knock down some animals, but right now it makes more sense for me to simply purchase an equivalent amount of meat and get on with the other things that need doing.

And, before the snow starts, I need to get to the range and function test the new handguns before I put ’em away for the Deep Sleep.

Nuts…Im going to have to start making a list.


P95 mags

Ruger has always been desperate for the much-vaunted military/police contract ever since they threw their hat in the ring with the P85 thirty years ago. Unfortunately, Ruger has just never been able to crack that particular nut. Other than a small (5000~) contract to the US military, they have been, by and large, virtually unheard of in the LE and military handgun market.

Which makes me wonder…who the heck were these for?
thumbnailThese are the first ‘restricted’*** P-series mags I’ve ever seen. I mean, they were obviously made during the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban era, but when they were made they could only be sold to cops and troops. And, as I said, Ruger had virtually no representation in either group. I guess they made ’em “just in case” some department on a (very) tight budget adopted a P-series gun.

Anyway, found a lot of them on Gunbroker and they showed up today. Soup to nuts, I think it was about $15 ea. which is a good price for a factory magazine.

But, it’s kinda cool…I’venever seen a restricted P-series mag before.

*** = See, kids….back in the Bad Ol’ Days, new magazines were limited to a 10-rd capacity unless you were one of the Only Ones. Existing mags shot up in price since they were grandfathered in. And all the new magazines that held more than 10-rds had to be marked in this manner so the nice federal agent would know you had broken the law by being a peon-in-possession. Did anyone ever get federal jail time over it? Beats me. The one time a federal agent asked me about the restricted Glock magazine in my gun case I told him I was shooting at a range with a buncha cops and we musta mixed up magazines. Suited him.


Kalispell gun show

The Kalispell gun show I went to yesterday was an utter waste of time and gasoline. If there were more than fifty tables, I’d be surprised. Gun shows in this state just are not what they used to be. I think part of the problem is that there are so many more of them than there used to be that it has watered down the quality of them.

To try and get something out of the trip, I swung through various gun and pawn shops on my way back. Did stop in at a little pawn shop in Kalispell that, while unremarkable, had a really nice guy behind the counter who was quite pleasant to talk to about guns. He had a Mini-14 with the old-style factory folding stock up on the shelf. That was tempting. Also had the first used KelTec RFB i’ve ever seen. And, sitting on the counter, was a ‘misc box’ full of assorted magazines. Hmmm.

Wound up finding five factory Ruger mags for the P95s. Ten bucks each, offered him eight, he said “Nah, make it seven.” So I got five mags for thirty five bucks. A mix of regular capacity and ten rounders. Coincidentally, I picked up a dozen used mags off GunBroker last week so unless some sort of insane deal comes down the pike, I’m pretty much done buying Ruger 9mm mags.

After leaving Kalispell, I stopped in Ronan at a gun shop where I’ve know the guy behind the counter for twenty years. They deal in mostly new guns, but he had a pair of Winchester Model 100’s in .308 to show me. Kinda cute, but not my thing. I did get to handle Rugers new .44 Special GP100 and the new 8-shot .357 on the Redhawk frame. That .357 would be a stunning beast if they’d drop a 5″ or 6″ barrel on it instead of that snubby barrel.

So the trip wasn’t a total waste since I got some mags out of it, but I think I’m definitely going to rethink these gun shows that require traveling quite some distance to attend. For example, I’d like to go to the Billings gun show but for a five hour drive each way there had better be an abundance of tables and opportunity.

But..extra mags, so, yay.

Video – unboxing an StG44 after 70 years’re remodeling your house, pull the roof apart, and find a gun-shaped object wrapped in cloth. Hmm. Grab some video of the grand unveiling and…it’s an StG44.

I would guess the story is either someone during the war decided to keep it to play partisan, or someone came into it at the end of the war and decided to keep it for a future rainy day, or, less likely, some German soldier hid it with the hope of returning for it. My money is on the second scenario.

Finding old guns in odd places isn’t limited to Europe. Here in Montana ‘relics’ are a genuine category of gun at gun shows. Someone plows a field and a rusted, barely-recognizable Sharps is unearthed…or someone finds an old shotgun stuffed in a corner of a barn…or when Grampa kicks the bucket at 97 the family finds an old .41 Remington in his dresser. Been there, done that.

The more notable cases are things like the guy who found a Thomspon gun hidden the wall of his Chicago home. Or the small-town library that finds a WW1 bring-back Maxim in their attic that used to be used for Veterans Day parades.

So..if you were going to stuff something in between the joists for some future date, what would it be?

I think that, like many folks, I’d probably breakdown an AR, wrap it up with a handful of magazines, and tuck it away with a similarly packaged Glock.

Tell you what, though…I find an StG in my attic, ain’t nobody finding out about it.


FD box meals

You guys familiar with ‘box meal’ services like Blue Apron and similar outfits? You ‘subscribe’ and every week they send you a box in the mail with a recipe and all the ingredients you need to create that recipe. I think it’s a tad silly and expensive, but some people enjoy it.

I’m amused that the folks at Thrive storage food have used the ‘Blue Apron’ model to create a make-it-yourself meal service using, unsurprisingly, their freeze dried foods.

I have to admit, it’s a pretty clever way to tap into an entirely new market. However, even top of the line freeze-drieds are still a bit lacking compared to fresh vegetables and fruits that you get at the grocery store. But, one interesting aspect is that by checking out their menus you can come up with ideas on how best to utilize their selection of freeze dried foods.

Anyway, I thought it was rather amusing. Personally, while I have a really good stock of freeze drieds in storage, I think I’d rather eat the wet-pack canned stuff. Given my druthers between canned pineapple or freezedried pineapple, I’ll use the canned stuff every time…my pina coladas deserve no less.