I have done a few endurance/abuse tests through the years. One, in particular, went 23,000 rounds and change (I still wake up screaming at times). The test gun was a Browning Hi-Power, built by Wayne Novak as a clone of his FBI HRT guns of the 1980s.
I have enough magazines for the BHP. As a result, I can start with 200 rounds loaded.
So, I’d arrive at the range, ready to go, shoot off the ammo, load the magazines, shoot again, and then either go home or get to the other range work. Why only 400 for the day? The gun got too hot to handle comfortably.
You can do the arithmetic. Four hundred rounds per and 23,000 total (I just got tired of testing) require 58 range trips—twice a week for the warm-weather months, when shooting can, at least, be fun and not an ordeal.
The Hi Power is not the worst when it comes to loading magazines, but I was truly sick of loading mags long before I was done.
POUR, PUMP, REPEAT
Well, hellooooo, Mag Pump.
The Mag Pump is a bench-mounted tool that has a hopper, a magazine insertion location and a handle. You stuff a magazine in place, you pour ammo into the hopper—no kidding; you pour it—and then, you work the handle to load the magazine. Once loaded (count the pumps so you don’t make a mess of things by going over), remove the loaded magazine, insert an empty one, and repeat.
No more sore thumbs from feed lip mangling with handgun cartridges, and no more tired hands from clutching magazines while you thumb the rounds in. Pour, pump, repeat. (God, I love this country!)
“You can shift the time portion of the equation by spending less of it loading magazines, as well as recovering from loading magazines. you get more—and better— practice in.”
OUTRAGEOUS? I THINK NOT
Now, progress is not always easy. For this convenience, you will have to pay. The Mag Pump comes in two “flavors,” if you will: the standard and the Elite loader. The standard is made of the latest hi-tech, high-strength polymers and will serve you well for a long time. The Elite is made of machined billet aluminum and runs you more than twice as much money. How much? The standard is a penny less than $150, and the Elite is a penny less than $400.
“That’s outrageous!” Is it? Let’s tote up the costs of three different range sessions: 9mm, 7.62×39 and 5.56.
In 9mm, you’re taking a $600 pistol to the range to shoot $100 worth of ammo; and you’re firing it from magazines that cost $200. The ammo is the only consumable, but you are also consuming time and attention. If you are so tired (in part from loading and the time of loading by the end of your practice session) that you now learn bad habits, have you saved anything? In 7.62×39, the numbers are $700, $100 and $100. In 5.56, they are $1,500, $100 and $150.
“The Mag Pump is a bench-mounted tool that has a hopper, a magazine insertion location, and a handle. You stuff a magazine in place, you pour ammo into the hopper … and then, you work the handle to load the magazine.”
Of course, there is no such thing as a tool that does everything. If you want a Mag Pump for your AR-15, it is not going to work with your AK-47. And in the 9mm models, you have to pull the correct adapter out of the box to load your 9mm handgun, be it Glock, SIG, S&W, Springfield, Ruger or CZ. That could mean a grand total of $450 for Mag Pumps for all your blasters.
But then, again, if you have all of those, you have all of the above totals to work with as well. You could conceivably be going to the range with $3,000 worth of guns and $500 in magazines to be shooting off a couple of hundred dollars-worth of ammo.
What is your time—and thumb effort—worth?
I am reminded of my days as a street racer. The question wasn’t, “How fast do you want to go?” but “How fast can you afford to go?” Speed costs money, then and now. Skills require practice, which requires time and money, then and now. You can shift the time portion of the equation by spending less of it loading magazines, as well as recovering from loading magazines. You get more—and better—practice in.
MAKING PRACTICING EASIER
And just to prove that the guys who thought of this were paying attention, there’s an extra gizmo you can spring a big $10 for. It is the universal mounting plate base. This is a base, bolted to the bench or tabletop, that you can clamp your Mag Pump to and not have to wrestle it while you load with it. Using this makes loading easier. Using this at the gun club is just a matter of ingenuity.
And the Hi-Power? More than 23,000 rounds, and only two malfunctions. One ammo, one magazine. All work.
Patrick Sweeney has been a decades-long reloader, competition shooter, gunsmith and firearms writer. He is also a state-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, a court-recognized expert witness—and winner of much more than his fair share of loot and glory.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.