The steel floorplates are just that - a flat piece of steel, punched out of a sheet, with a Ruger logo stamped on it. The steel plate functions just like on the aftermarket ones. The STEEL floorplates are easy to remove, but sometimes a pain to put back on. Plus, you risk bending a tab, etc, and its more damaging to the magazine than taking the plastic one off.
The PLASTIC floorplates are NICE. They are actually composed of two pieces: The plastic bottom and a metal retainer. The plastic piece is nicely formed with an embossed ruger logo, and is just astetic. The main difference is the maintenance. If you want to take the PLASTIC floorplate off the mag body, you insert a screwdriver (through the hole in the bottom) and push up on the retainer (very little effort) while sliding the plastic piece. The floorplate then easily slides off, revealing the retainer and the spring/follower. What is neat about this system is it's really easy to remove and replace parts/lube/clean. To reassemble, you put the follower/spring inside, and push up on the retainer, which when inside the mag, can be 'hung' on the inside tabs, making it really easy to slide the plastic part back on.
The net is, assembly/disassembly of the plastic floorplate ones is much easier on the fingers and the mag.
Other than that, the only real difference is the looks. I believe the only FACTORY mags with plastic floorplates are the 5-rounders. Also, John Masen makes 10-rounders with a plastic bottom too as I understand it.
Thanx Satan. Do you know which ones are the oldest? I have a 5 round plastic floor plate that came with the rifle in 1976 but I also have Ruger 20 and 30 round magazines with steel floorplates but do not know manufacture dates. Any diffence you know of in quality or function?
As far as I know, the only FACTORY mags ever manufactured with plastic floorplates are the 5-rounders. They still make them this way now.
As far as my experience goes, all of the factory Ruger mags have functioned perfectly for me.
The 5-rounders with the plastic floorplate seem to be a little better quality than the high-capacity variety, but I'm sure this had to do with the fact that a LOT more of them have been produced, and I'm sure Ruger has focused more on tweaking these to perfection than the other caps. (Not to mention Ruger only makes 5-rounders now).
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