Hera Arms Magazine for AR-15 Review
If you follow the Modern Armament Facebook page, you might have figured out that I’m a big fan of the parts and accessories made by Hera Arms for the AR-15. The aesthetics are unparalleled, and the fact that U.S. citizens have very little access to their merchandise because it’s made in Europe just adds to the mystique. I have been wanting a Hera Arms receiver set since I first laid eyes on them, and their 30 round magazines looked just as good. So when Lan World took on the official role as distributor for Hera Arms, I was excited to get a chance to get my hands on some accessories.
Last week I got my first order in, two 30 round H3 Magazines with windows. The windows give the mags a futuristic look, along with the sleek diagonal lines and the slim base plate. The aesthetics were just as good as the pictures online, minus a few details you could scrutinize when looking very closely.
To start off, the Hera Arms H3 mags are polymer and have a follower that isn’t fully anti-tilt, but instead has a limited tilt design that keeps it from getting lodged in the magazine body when the front is depressed further than the back. The magazine is lighter than a PMAG, but that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to durability in polymers. Still, it doesn’t quite feel as durable.
My first shock came when I loaded the magazine. The combination of the follower design and thin feed lips allow bullets on the even side to orient themselves in an akward position. In the odd side they fit just fine, but starting with the second bullet I loaded, I could tell there was a problem with the design. Smacking the loaded mag against my hand made the orientation even worse, and with a hard enough smack I could knock bullets out of the mag. The more bullets I loaded, the better it seemed to get, but the orientation on the even side wasn’t adequate all the way to the very end.
I was also surprised when I had loaded all 30 rounds, I still had some room left. I ended up squeezing another round in; yes, these are 31 rounders! Most people down load their mags anyway, so this would be right up your alley (if you care to risk using these anyway).
Doubts Become Reality
The magazine seated fully loaded with a firm tap, but I couldn’t pull back the charging handle. It may have been where I overloaded the magazine to 31, but when I first stepped to the firing line I could not get my charging handle to budge. I pulled the mag, pulled back the charging handle, re-inserted the mag and hit the bolt release; loaded weapon.
From my initial inspection of the magazine, I was concerned about double feeds while firing. I was surprised after I had shot the first 10 rounds without a hitch. I fired the last 21 rounds rapid fire, and the bolt locked back at the end, no problems during the whole mag. A this point I began to think that the follower may be highly engineered, and the orientation of the bullets on the even side had a purpose. I finished off another box and a half, loading the weapon to 29 rounds this time. The charging handle worked fine this time, and the weapon loaded properly.
I started through my second string firing quickly, firing as quickly as possible while keeping on target. If these mags were going to fail, firing quickly had a better chance of inducing it. After a long string of fire, the bolt locked back and I lowered the weapon, now concentrating on my good work instead of the matter at hand. I had sawed the target board in half with my final rounds. I went to eject the mag, and that’s when I noticed the brass angled in my upper, holding the bolt open; I had a double feed on the last two rounds.
Now, a malfunction could be a coincidence, and I would usually write off 58/59 as a re-test, but given the fact that I had already identified the problem with the Hera H3 magazines, and this was the first weapon malfunction in over 3,000 rounds with that particular AR, I didn’t need to shoot anymore.
Hera Arms Needs to Take a Hard Look at The H3
What can I say? The Hera Arms 30 round window magazines are beautiful… all their parts are. I’m starting to think that the company puts aesthetics over functionality, and when it comes to defensive weapons that your life can depend on, you can’t gamble with function. I wanted these magazines to be great, and I expected them to be satisfactory at the least. I never expected to replace my current stock of PMAGs and aluminum with Hera H3 30 rounders, but I did want to get a couple for photography and to possibly use as a range toy.
Everyone always has the same old mags, and it’s nice to bring something new to the table every now and again. I wouldn’t bet my life on these mags though, and I’m not shy to tell you about it. I suspected they weren’t as durable, and I wouldn’t have put the follower quality on the same level as Magpul anti-tilt technology, but these aren’t deal breakers. Predicting a double feed and only needing two mags to make that prediction a reality – that’s my deal breaker.
I encountered further problems while loading these mags for photographs. The bullets on the negative side were catching against the front and back of the magazine body causing the mags to lock up. I also found out the pushing the front of one of the bullets that was oriented funny could cause them to pop out of the magazine. I did complete tests with both magazines I received, and they had identical problems.
The problem is in the design of the follower. It angles the bullets upward, which seems like a good idea in theory to help with feeding. The problem is that the bolt strips bullets from the rear, and the poor design that allows the follower to torque and drag on the magazine is causing enough delay that the bolt is striking the middle of the bullets on the even side. On the bullet that I pulled from my rifle after the double feed, there was a long scratch on one side, and a dent on the other.
- Great Looks
- Rare new Item (Only Available at Lan World)
- Window to verify capacity is at a certain level
- Mags will hold 31 bullets
- Not very durable
- Feeding System is Junk
- High Cost – Nearly 25$ for Windowed version
Verdict: These magazines are a liability to anyone using them, and I would stay away from them if I were you.
Negative Reviews, an Industry Essential
I have never liked to take part in negative product reviews. It makes it harder to get other companies to buy in to what we’re trying to do here when they know that getting their product on Modern Armament isn’t just free publicity. The problem is that these products are part of a larger defense system that people depend on to function flawlessly, and poorly designed products can lead to dire consequences.
I feel like getting this information out is even more important than giving the good to go on a good product because good products will not get an officer killed. I’m glad to say that you won’t see me doing a lot of negative reviews though; most products in this industry are thoroughly tested and perform as advertised, and even if I don’t particularly like the design or think a product doesn’t measure up to the hype, I’m not going to have to give a hard recommendation against its use most of the time.
On the up side if you never shoot your AR-15, and use it constantly for product photography, I would highly recommend the Hera Arms H3 mags. They look great in photos, almost as good in person, and the futuristic looks go well with billet receivers and boutique rifle parts. However if you shoot your rifle or depend on it for your protection or the protection of others, these magazines are nothing more than a liability.