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SIG Sauer P320 Magazines – Mec-Gar or Check-Mate?

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Owners of SIG Sauer P320 firearms may not be aware that SIG doesn’t actually make the magazines for this model, or any firearm they manufacture.  In fact, most firearms manufactures don’t make their own magazines. Instead, they outsource the production of their magazines to other companies which specialize in magazine manufacturing.  The Italian magazine manufacturer Mec-Gar is the 800lb. gorilla of firearm magazine manufacturing, and produces magazines for not only SIG, but S&W, Springfield, Walther, Kimber – nearly any and every firearm manufacturer out there.  SIG also uses the American magazine manufacturer Check-Mate to produce magazines.  Traditionally, the arrangement that SIG has had with these manufacturers allows SIG to be the exclusive seller of magazines for a new gun models for a period of time, after which the manufacturer themselves can sell magazines they produce directly either wholesale or retail.  So today, you can call SIG and order SIG Sauer branded P226 magazines, or you can order Mec-Gar branded P226 magazines – ultimately both are manufactured by the same company (Mec-Gar).  The P320 is still quite new to the market, so they are not available directly from either Mec-Gar or Check-Mate.

HOW CAN I TELL A MEC-GAR MADE P320 MAGAZINE FROM A CHECK-MATE MADE P320 MAGAZINE?

At one point, it was thought that the simplest way to distinguish an Italian Made Mec-Gar P320 magazine from a US Made Check-Mate magazine is by the color of the follower.  Mec-Gar manufactured P320 magazines all seemed to have a gray colored follower, while Check-Mate manufactured magazines have a black follower as can be seen in the below photograph of two magazines I own for my P320 Compact:

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However, it has been determined that this is not a reliable method of identification.  Some owners have reported Check-Mate magazines with gray followers, and Mec-Gar magazines with black followers.  It’s possible both companies use a common supplier for the polymer followers.

The only reliable way to distinguish between the two manufacturers is to inspect the sides of the magazines.  The side of the magazine will be stamped with the country of origin – Italy for Mec-Gar and USA for Check-Mate:

IMG_2011

WHICH MAGAZINE IS BETTER – MEC-GAR or CHECK-MATE?

A quality, well constructed magazine is essential to the reliability of a firearm.  So naturally, people are concerned about the quality and performance of Mec-Gar manufactured P320 magazines vs. Check-Mate magazines.  There are those that swear that they think the Check-Mate made magazines are inferior, and that they can tell that Check-Mate P320 mags look and feel “cheaper.”  I however cannot – aside from the above mentioned distinguishing features, that magazines appear identical to me.  In fact, the Check-Mate made magazines feature  round count markers (5, 10, and 15) which are more clearly marked and in a larger font than the Mec-Gar made magazines – which make them a bit easier to see.  Still, Mec-Gar is THE name for magazines in the firearms industry, with over 50 years experience and have produced over 100,000,000 magazines.  Check-Mate isn’t nearly as well known and doesn’t have the past performance that Mec-Gar brings to the table.  Mec-Gar also is focused exclusively on manufacturing magazines for firearms while Check-Mate Industries is a tool and die shop which supports customers in a variety of different industries.  On that basis alone, I’d tend to prefer a Mec-Gar magazine over a Check-Mate one.  However, I do have to admit that during a recent series of training classes I took at the SIG Sauer Academy, I fired nearly 2000 rounds of ammunition using Check-Mate made P320 magazines, and I experienced 100% reliability.  They were completely rock solid.  And the fact of the matter is, much like ammunition manufactures have been struggling to keep up with demand since the Sandy Hook tragedy, Mec-Gar has likewise been struggling to keep up with demand for magazines.  SIG is smart to contract with an alternative source for their magazines to help meet demand for this platform – when I purchased my first P320 Compact back in November of 2015, magazines were quite scarce until the Spring of 2016, which is when I started seeing the Check-Mate made magazines first hit the market.  We’ll just have to assume the SIG vetting process for selecting Check-Mate was a good one.  The P320 is quickly establishing itself as the best polymer frame, striker fired pistol on the market, and deserves the best, highest quality magazines made.

The problem right now for P320 owners is, you don’t have much of a choice.  When you buy a P320, you don’t know which manufacturer’s magazines will come with it.  Neither do you know which manufacturer you’re getting when you order spare magazines.

P320s

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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  1. Mec-Gar vs. Check-Mate Magazines: Which are better? - SIG Talk - […] but I thought I'd offer my opinion having done some serious comparisons of examples of each: SIG Sauer…
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