High volume recreational shooters will probably appreciate a nice hand massage. Who wouldn’t, right? I mean, their little thumbs get all tender and sore from stuffing mag after mag with ammunition. Think of the sponsored shooters too. It’s even worse for them. They get thousands of rounds of free ammunition and are forced to load them all by hand. Poor souls… I mean, what does that lead to? Strong fingers? Mental toughness? Killer calluses? I mean, who wants to deal with any of that? Why load mags by hand, when you can have a device do it for you?
In all seriousness, while loading devices do save thumbs, their real benefit is speed (if they work). Time is precious and how you spend it is important. While in the military I remember watching pallets of ammunition being unloaded for training and deployment load outs. Thousands upon thousands of glorious rounds for an 8 man boat detachment. I was very thankful for the spoons and ten round clips that made loading our M4 mags fast and simple. It allowed more time on the range and less time stuffing mags. I remember buying loading clips and spoons after I left the military. I would sit down at the kitchen table and load up cases of 5.56 into the previously used clips and store them that way. In a way I was loading twice: once for the clip then once more using the clip to load the mag. While that may have been a two-step process, loading clips was still quicker and easier than loading mags. (Side Note: Clips and magazines are not the same thing regardless what the internet says). When it came time to load mags, I could reach into the ammo can, pull out the clip and spoon and have at it.
Over the years technology has evolved were there are numerous loading solutions available to the discerning shooter. Some work well. Some not so much. I recently did a write up on the ETS C.A.M. Loader where I looked at how it uses a similar clip and spoon method of loading mags.
Recently I received another loading device that is little more automated. The Mag-Pump box arrived on my doorstep about a month prior to this writing. Honestly, I had never heard of the brand before. They claim they are “The Fastest, Easiest Way to Load Magazines” and their units “Load 30 Rounds in Less Than 30 Seconds.” Well, OK then. Inside the box were two Mag-Pump units. One was for 9mm Luger and the other for 5.56/.223/.300 Blackout.
With both units unboxed, they assembled very easily. Just a few retaining pins to pop into place and we were in business. Each loader comes with a base that can be mounted to a hard surface for more stability, but mounting isn’t required to operate it. You can also purchase one of their Universal Mounting Plates separately so you can have a few around the workshop on truck tailgate or shooting bench to easily mount the Mag-Pump.
The mounting plate and the majority of the Mag-Pump unit itself is made of injected molded polymer. Now you can get their elite loaders which are sturdier made from aluminum billet, however those were not the ones that were sent so that will be a topic for another day.
The concept is simple (but different) for both pistol and rifle calibers. Each unit uses a hopper to contain the ammunition to be loaded. Each unit has a mag-well to accept the appropriate magazine and each unit has a lever that can be pumped up and down by the shooters standard issued Mk1 Mod A Hand and Arm assembly. The idea is that with each pump a round taken from the hopper, down a loading shoot then positioned and loaded into the magazine. Each unit will also sort the round so it is facing the correct direction prior to it being loaded.
9MM LUGER MAGAZINE LOADER
For the 9mm pistol variant, the Mag-Pump comes with a variety of magazine retainer sleeves. Each sleeve is clearly marked for the magazinemanufacture it is intended to accommodate. The six that come with the loader are for Glock, Smith & Wesson, SIG, Springfield Armory, CZ and Ruger. A list of which firearm models that correspond with each manufacture is available on their website. Simply squeeze the ends of the retainer together, slip into the magazine well slot and the install is complete. To operate the 9mm loader dump a standard box of 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition into the hopper. Again, direction doesn’t matter. Take the magazine retainer and pull it so it is extended all the way. Insert the magazine at an angle and push forward and down until there is a click. Then slide the magazine and retainer forward so the lips of the magazine retainer are flush with the loader and there is an audible click. Verify the trigger used to release the magazine is in the locked position then start pumping away.
The rounds are swept from the hopper into the shoot by a little paddle where they tumble down and magically end up in the correct orientation. Note: Mag-Pump does not advise taking the units apart as they are fairly complex. Once the magazine is full the feel of the pump action changes and it becomes apparent nothing else is being loaded. Keep in mind this is a polymer pump handle. If you feel resistance, don’t keep pushing. You will probably snap the handle. Once loaded, grab the magazine, pull the release trigger and remove the magazine. Rinse and repeat.
For the test I used 124gr Rainier Munitions ball ammo and Glock magazines made by Glock, Magpul and ETS as well as factory M&P9 magazines. For the Glock magazines there weren’t any issues. All Glock magazines appeared to work fine and it didn’t matter size (capacity) of mags were used. The S&W mags didn’t go so well. There were lots of hang ups. Sometimes only a round or two would get loaded then it would bind or it would load most of the way then jamb up. Not sure what caused this problem other than the magazine itself. When the binding would happen, the mag had to be removed and the rounds that had dropped all the way down the loading shoot removed before the magazine could be reinserted. I used both full sized and compact M&P9 mags for the test and both had the same result. As I didn’t have any of the other compatible firearms manufacture magazines on hand, I was not able to test them so your mileage may vary. I would need to spend more time working with the M&P mags before I gave a final verdict because I could be doing something that is causing them to bind, however my process is the same with the Glock mags without the binding issue. Maybe it is a steel vs polymer magazine construction issue…?
AR-15 MAGAZINE LOADER
Like the pistol variant, the AR-15 loader uses a hopper, however instead of 50 rounds it holds 90 rounds. While the hopper doesn’t care which direction the pointy end faces (forward or backward) it must face either or, meaning you can’t just dump a handful of loose ammo in the hopper and expect it to function. The rounds must remain parallel with the feed shoot and slide from the hopper into the feed shoot without tilting very much. Again, insert your ammo and magazine in the very obvious locations on the unit. There aren’t any magazine adapters necessary for the AR-15 loader. I used a wide variety of magazines from different manufactures and didn’t find any that caused a malfunction. They were (included, but not limited to) Magpul, Hexmag, Tapco, Lancer, ETS and Mission First Tactical. All magazines fit into the mag well of the loader and didn’t experience any issues loading. That being said, during the first day of using the loader there were some issues with the feeding claw (my terminology) not dropping back into the hopper after the first round was loaded which required me to push another round into the feed shoot by hand. After a while this problem went away. My assumption is it was a tolerance issue that worked itself out after a few dozen cycles. After that initial incident, there have not been any issues. The rounds load fairly easily, although not every pump equals a round loaded. Sometimes it takes a few pumps for the internal mechanism to grab the round and seat it, but overall it works well.
Overall the Mag-Pump does work, however I have not had a flawless experience and I can’t verify it is the fastest loader on the market. Pretty sure I can load three, 10 round stripper clips into a mag a helluva lot faster. That being said, I do think it would be a fast way to load up a complete load out of mags before a 3-gun match or training exercise. Loading a single pistol mag? I’ll stick to using my thumbs. Loading 10? Enter the Mag-Pump. If I got the M&P mag issue worked out I would be happy. Still working on that one. The rifle loader is pretty good. It would be great if I could dump in a bunch of rounds any which way and it would sort them the way the pistol loader does. I would like to try out their elite version of the rifle loader to see if it is much better as I am concerned with flexing or breaking the pump arm on the standard unit. I would assume at some point they will offer an elite version of their pistol offerings as well but I can’t say for sure.
Currently Mag-Pump offers rifle loaders for the AR-15 and AK-47 with pistol mags for 9mm. They also offer magazine unloaders all of which can be found on their products page on their website. Loading units range from $150 for their standard loaders up to $400 for their elite. Is the elite that much better to warrant the price? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. Ultimately the value of any magazine loader comes down to the shooter. What do you shoot and how much do you shoot? Also how valuable is your range time? Some folks only have a short period of time to train. If so, a magazine loading device like the Mag-Pump may be useful for you. For this shooter, I prefer to preload all my mags prior to going to the range, which often means I load a lot of magazines. The night before, I slip into something comfy, throw on some Kenny G, open up a good red and dump the rounds into the Map-Pump hopper and get to pumping. Now that’s what I call a date night.
Ok, Kenny G might be a bit much…. I’m more of a Frank Sinatra kinda guy.