While there are way too many ignition systems available to the market today to describe. I do have some experience with electronics, and have had a few different styles of ignition systems. So what I have to say will mostly be from a personal stand point.
The systems that I will talk about are as follows:
For most people on a budget, a stock ignition system is a dependable setup that will get you there and back. The following systems have their advantages, but ALL come at a cost. If you are on a budget, and don't mind adjusting the points all the time, then stock will work for most applications. I DO recommend getting a magnetic breakerless distributor off of a newer motor, and the ignition box that came with it. This should almost be a give-me at most junkyards. Just make sure that it is all matching equipment.
MSD makes a great system that is used by a vast majority of the racing industry. And with this much usage, comes a lot of knowledge and customer interaction that makes for a solid product. They have also followed suit with other ignition systems and brought a more powerful race style coil to the market. It seems on par with what Crane has, and will be used by enough people soon to work out any problems that might be encountered pretty quickly.
MSD distibutors are some of the best on the market. And until only recently, haven't made a distribtor for AMC. They have released a Pro Billet for AMC's. But not having a vacuum advance will dissapoint more thena few people.
The MSD 6AL is probably the most used ignition box used on the street. It is reliable, fairly easy to wire and mount, and not too expensive. It can be easily tailored for your best interests with any of the many products that are available. It is as easy as changing a plug in RPM module to set your rev limiter. I like the soft touch rev limiter that MSD uses. IT is a very effective rev limiter that does not give you the impression that your motor just threw a couple of rods through the pan when you hit the rev limiter. It will rev until it hits the limit, then cut signals to alternating cylinders so as not to create a build-up of unburnt gasses. And it will sit at whatever limit you set, rather then cut out like a factory rev limiter will. When testing my MSD when I first installed it, I used module that limits it to 3,000. I did this to see just how well it works.
Let me just say that NEVER use a dual point distributor and a rev limiter together!! It will create some of the LOUDEST backfires that you have ever heard. Trust me =) If you have a dual point distributor, then just unhook the second set of points. This will limit the dwell time, but not create the backfires that will occur with both hooked up.
I then floored it, and it accelerated until it hit 3,000, then just sat at the same RPM without any fluctuations. The only real drawback to this module set up is that you haveto buy new modules to change the rev limiter. The box comes with a test 3,000, a 6,000, 7,000 and a 8,000. Most people will not want to go above 5,500. And sometimes that is too much for some motors.
This was my second try at after market igntion systems. It is a very well made system. I got the Omni-Pak that has the Ultra-Coil built into the box. Making it a easy set-up to mount and wire. I had mine located on the inside of my firewall to keep it clean and cooler. It also gave me a clean look for the engine compartment because you couldn't see any thing but a coil wire going to the distributor. It is also a great system for low rpm applications. Jacobs say that there system can actually determine whether or not the flame has gone out or not, then re-spark that cylinder. It does this by checking the resistance in every cylinder before it fires, then keeps checking the resistance. The system fires the spark for 1 1/2 degree of crank rotation. It fires a HOT spark for a shorter times. I noticed that I gained a much better idle when I installed this system. And ran much cleaner at low RPM. It seems to me that this is THE system for people running their motors at low rpm.
Jacobs also offers wires and many other products. I think that they offer some good equipment, but most of it costs more then most people want to spend on ignition. The wires actually come with a good warranty that they back up.
I personally don't run the Mallory system. But I run the Unilite distributor becuase they are the only one who offer a good distributor for AMC motors. I have had no problem with the distributor, but I would prefer one that is a little bit more friendly to adjustments. I had their dual point setup before. And while it worked fine while it was adjusted. It still had to be adjusted. And it would not read accurately at the higher RPM's.
This is the new system that I have. I chose this system becuase of the ability to change the rev limiter by turning two dials. They also offer a higher discharge then the MSD box. I am running the HI-6 box with the PS-92 coil. This coil is only usable with this system, but is still cabable of constant running without overheating like other race coils. I plan on getting the MSD timing advance box. This will let me adjust my timing up to 15 degrees from the dash board without having to touch the distributor. This is a good choice for me because I am running 9.8 compression, and I want to run ANY pump gas. And when I want to go race, I can use race gas and adjust the timing. Also because I will be turning some high RPM's, I want to be able to adjust for detonation IMMEDIATELY! Best of both worlds is my opinion. I will mount the box inside the vehicle on the firewall. This will allow for a cooler running setup. And for less clutter in the engine bay. I will mount the coil as close to the distributor as possible to reduce the length, and resistance, of the coil wire.
Accel makes some equipment that seems to be pretty good. I like their U-groove plugs. But I would stay away from the cheaper wires. I do not like these wires. And I have tried a number of different sets. But that is my personal opinion. Their high end race wires appear to be some good stuff. The new racing ignition system also is a good looking product. But I don't see Accel as the choice for ignition with some of these other systems (in my opinion, better) out there for the same, if not less money.