All posts in Speed Loaders

Magazine capacity and balance, don’t forget it

There was a transition away from the high capacity or should I say, Standard capacity firearms back in the late 1990’s after the AWB of 1994, but it was mostly because the cost of a gun magazine might have gone up 200% or more.   You could easily spend $1000 for a firearm and magazines depending on what it was.   Once thing that I will that will never change is balance and speed.   I think we have recently witnessed the pinnacle of the M4 Carbine accessorizing craze because now we are seeing more and more that people are wanting lighter carbines and 15 lbs AR15 variants is something that really doesn’t help you out in close quarters gun fights, speed does m ore than what optics you have in close up fighting.

When it comes to caliber and capacity, you really need to put some thought into how much weight you want in a firearm especially a handgun.   I’ve shot some double stack 45acp handguns that were so heavy that taking them in and out of  holster felt like I was wielding a ball and chain.  Throw in spare gun magazines and the bulk and weight can quickly become extreme.  The Springfield XD is a nice 45acp gun, but the balance of a 1911 or even the Sig 220 seem to handle better.   And lets not forget, the reason for a handgun is to fight your way back to a rifle, so why bother trying to carry all that handgun ammo.


Is a 6.8 SPC worth getting?

That is a question we get quite often around here and we always throw a question back to a customer.   People call or show up wanting us to give them advice but there are a lot of liabilities in telling people what to get or do.   So much of gun accessories and firearms has to do with the job at hand and a persons gun skills.   I’ve heard people claim that you can’t shoot long range with a 5.56 gun but I see it done all the time at local gun clubs.   Sure there are instances of high wind where a 5.56 bullet isn’t going to do very well, but sometimes only a 50 bmg is going to get the job done.

Even the trusty and reliable Mini 14 is an often over looked hunting Carbine, but I’ve seen white tails taken up in Vermont with 75gr expanding rounds.   The 6.8SPC would be a more powerful round than what the military is using today but it’s not really going to solve all of your problems.  Most of my friends that own them are using them for hunting rounds and not even for Carbine training ect.  The only problem you may run into when changing uppers in with the gun magazines.  The 5.56 round is better than any handgun round if you use the right kind of ammunition and the AR15 platform gives you lots of caliber options that are really best for upgrading your gun for better hunting.


Magazines that aren’t flush fitting

I have never really liked the feel of having a pistol magazine protrude out of the bottom of the gun unless it is because the gun grip is too small for me.  I’ve seen a few of my friends do this on their Glocks, namely the Glock 26 because it is such a small gun.   I did put an extension on a Sig 239 which is the  only gun I currently own that has this.   The first gun that I owned was a Colt 1991A1 and it only came with one pistol magazine.   It was a Colt magazine which i thought would be the best gun magazine to have, but that turned out to not be true.   After having a few problems with the slide stop not catching, I found out the magazine tab was bending and causing the issue.

I believe it was at a gun show that I picked up 2 Wilson Combat magazines and my Colt 1991A1 ran flawlessly with ball ammo.  The gun magazines really ran well with hollow point ammunition but I found the gun to be too picky with hollow point ammo that I pretty much gave up on worrying about it.   If you look at the velocity that a 45acp is flying at, I don’t think you’ll have massive over penetration issues compared to 9mm ball.   Wilson combat magazines have varying base pads and from my experience this is mostly a concern for competition shooters.   If the magazine drops free I don’t need to worry about gripping it and pulling it out for a fast reload.


Speed loaders and stripper clips

I remember finding stripper clips laying around on gun ranges and not having an idea where they came from and what they were for.  Most of them were for bolt action rifles and probable surplus ammo.   I see a lot of ammo that is sold in bulk like 9mm, 45acp, 8mm Mauser and 7.62×39  are sold in loose ammo cases.  The loose ammo can be cheaper, but it is also a pain in the butt to load if you are going to do some serious range reporting.   Loading up 3 or 4 magazines isn’t a pain, but try loading up 10 magazines and you’ll feel the difference in your fingers.  The military usually issues ammo on stripper clips for this very reason.

Many of my reloaded rounds are on stripper clips because I really don’t like the idea of storing rifle ammunition in loose containers.  All of those primers floating around that don’t have anything behind them bothers me.  Maglula speed loaders are the best option for you if you do have ammo stored in loose ammo cans.   Stripper clips are a better way to store them and for 5.56 ammo, you can find a military speed loader for only a few bucks.   Expect your magazines to show some wear from these loaders, but serious shooters should consider having them.


Speed loaders and training courses

I was fortunate to attend a sniper competition a few years ago where I must have learned more about combat than every before.   About 40 students were attending this training competition even and given the rules for attending the match.   Everyone was told to arrive with unloaded firearms, but to keep all of their gear in the cars and attend a safety briefing.    Well, one of the  best events for this competition/training even occurred in the first 30 seconds after the safety briefing.   Everyone was asked if they understood all of the safety rules and when everyone said yes, it began.    The Instructor explained the first stage of the shooting event.   Everyone was told to grab their gear from their car and immediately return to the firing line, unload the gear and engage the targets.   The attendees gave us a big smile while the students/competitors did an “Oh, Shit!”

I sat and watched every student run back to their car which was about 15-30yds behind the firing line, I noticed varying types of rifle cases and rifle bags, some shooters showed up with loaded magazines and others had to manually load the guns, as soon as they were ready to shoot, they engaged the targets.   I believe they had 6 minutes to take down all of the targets from 100-200yds.   The variations in time to engage the enemy targets varied by several minutes.   Anyone that had a M4 Carbine or 30rd magazine that didn’t have loaded gun magazines or didn’t have a speed loader, was the last to engage the targets.   I saw only 2 people out of 40 engage the targets in the first 5 minutes.   Maglula speed loaders are must for anyone serious about using a carbine for self defense, unless  you have the military style loaders.


Keep your range mags and your primaries separate

Gun magazines have various levels of quality.   Some gun magazines are meant as throw aways i.e. 1911 magazines made in Tawain.   I have several 1911 GI magazines that were pretty good range mags, but when they jammed up on me, and I could blame it on the gun springs, it was time to toss them.   Buying Wolff gun springs that cost about $8 for an $8 magazine isn’t really worth my time, plus I’ve found that many of these have worn out followers and it’s really not worth the headach to tweak them, plus I’d consider them to not be worth using for self defense.   Wilson Combat and Chip McCormick make very good gun magazines and both of them should help get your 1911 to be more tolerant of various types of ammunition.

The one thing I have learned over the years is that no matter how much money I spent on a firearm, I’m still going to have something break.  When you put thousands of rounds through a firearm the you will eventually have to learn some level of gunsmithing.   After taking some of my guns to gunsmiths and having to wait for months to get simple things done, it’s good to pick up an AGI video and do the changes yourself.   The same goes for gun magazines.   Parts on a gun magazine can wear out and depending on how much you spent on the magazine, you may want to just toss it in the trash.  For some magazines, you will only have to replace the springs to get it back to reliable functionality.



Looking for Zombie killing options

Do search for gun clubs and shooting ranges in your State to find out if anyone is holding a Zombie shoot.   They usually occur in the September to October months.   Having some good tactical clothing that will securely hold your gear.   The Eotac Style 201 pants are my favorite because they hold 6- 30rd PMAGS and they are easy to run in.   Tactical vests like the Style 101 are not heavy and don’t make you feel like you are wearing a flak jacket.   There is a time and a place for different types of tactical vests, but mobility is important.  You may want to try getting your magazines loaded up with all of your gear and then try running 100yds with it and see what it feels like and if stuff starts to fly out of your pockets.   Mobility is extremely important.

There seems to be a new craze in competition shooting in recent years.   I’ve seen more high school boys coming home from class with Zombie survival guides, the recent 28 Days later type movies and the doomsday virus outbreaks.    I guess IDPA has lost some traction to the present generation, but I’ve attended a few Zombie survival competitions and they were very good training events.   The best thing about it was the amount of tactical gear that I watched fail, and the number of really novice mistakes people made.   Out of the 5 stages I attended, there was 1 stage that we saw about 18 firearms go down.   About half of those were AK variants and they were mostly magazine related.  Some guys never knew how hard it was to do a tactical reload on an AK if there was a round in the chamber and a fully loaded 30rd magazine.  People found out what happens after firing off the 1st round and the magazine falls out.



Range mags and carry mags

pistol magazinesThe Mini 14 was hands down the gun that was  hit the hardest by the AWB in the 1990’s.   Ruger is now making 20rd and 30rd magazines available to the public and those magazines were going for close to $100 at one point in the later 1990s’.    There is nothing wrong with having magazines for firearms that are not the best, sometimes it’s better to rotate through cheap magazines and practice malfunction drills or just toss them when they were out.   You don’t want to use  your carry mags all the time because if you are shooting through hundreds of rounds of ammo using the same mags that you use for your daily carry, you may find out at the wrong time that the springs need to be replaced.   I picked up a good supply of Mil-Spec 1911 7rd magazines that I rotate through my guns and save the Wilsons Combat Magazines for the serious shooting.   When the mil-spec mags start jamming too much, I just toss them.

I’m not so sure there is as much of an issue in the gun industry as there once was concerning factory mags vs. aftermarket.   Most gun manufacturers can legally get their products to the civillian market without major legal issues.   Back in the 1990’s trying to get “Standard Capacity” magazines meant paying 4-5 times what they should have cost.   I remember avoiding certain firearms just because I knew that the magazines would cost $50-$100 and that just didn’t seem like a good investment at the time.   I noticed sales of the Beretta 92FS were very common back then because they were one of the few firearms that has resonable priced pistol magazines.   Finding good deals on used Glock magazines was a whole other issue, but if you weren’t buying guns back then, you probable have a hard time understanding how complicated the situation was.



How many mags for handguns?

pistol magazinesEvery time I get asked a question about which firearm or accessory someone needs I follow up with the question “For what?”   I have seen plenty of well trained concealed carry owners walk around with a 5 shot j-frame and none of them feel under gunned.   The reality is that in some nightmare situation, you’ll never be full prepared, and sometimes we just have to be practical when we are CCW every day.   For most practical purposes, I’d recommend keeping a spare magazine in your gun safe in your home, or keep one in your car if you don’t think you can comfortable carry a backup.   When most of us are out and about, the ammunition you have on you is all you’re going to be able to fight with, but keeping something near your car and easily accessible in your home is a good idea.

If you are cop or military, you probable don’t need my advice to know how much ammunition to carry.   I’ve noticed that most of the Police in my area have 2-3 pistol magazines on them, but considering that they are usually full size glocks, I think 45-60rds of pistol ammo should easily get you back to your shotgun, M4 Carbine, or back to your radio to call in the SWAT Team.   Police these days are more likely to walk into nightmare scenarios and carrying that much ammunition is called insurance.


How many mags do i need for a handgun?

pistol magazinesBack when the 1994 assault weapons ban was into effect there were more headaches in the gun world due to the fact that factory handgun magazines were so expensive.   People cut corners with other brands and had issues.    When it comes to owning a handgun, especially an auto, I highly recommend having atleast 3 magazines.    Not only can guns malfunction,  but magazines do wear out and break at some points and its always good to have some extra comfort if one goes down.    Most of the time it’s the floor plates that come loose and a loaded mag will just dump rounds on the ground.   I’ve seen it happen with rifles and handguns.    If you ever run a Carbine course, you’re defanitely going to want to have atleast 3 mags for your pistol, too.

It’s very rare these days that I work as a firearms instructor but I still work with a lot of people that are just getting into carrying firearms for the first time. I must admit that I made a lot of the novice mistakes in buying holsters and accessories when i first started carrying, and sometimes its nice to give first hand accounts of what NOT to do.    I’ve seen a lot of people pick up a good quality handgun and then completely ruin the firearms reputation by using 3rd rate pistol magazines that jammed the gun  up.   The 2nd most common thing I see are people shooting with cheap ammo.   I don’t get the whole Wolf handgun ammo thing.   I own and shoot many Com-block rifles and the Wolf ammo works flawlessly, but I have never had good experiences with their handgun ammo.


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