It’s an adage so old that I’m sure even Socrates thought it was a groaner: “When I was a kid, I had to walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways.”
It brings to mind the good old days of competitive shooting when we loaded magazines by hand. We had to scoop loose rounds out of a box and thumb each one into the magazines. The saving grace was that we were usually doing it with 1911 magazines in .45. I still remember one day of practice when I realized I had gotten so grooved into the routine that I had spent the entire day loading eight-round magazines and had not once scooped seven or nine rounds out of the box. Only eight rounds, each and every time. That was an indicator that I needed a life outside of guns.
Today, large-capacity magazines are as common as dirt, and thumbing 15 rounds or more can be work. What to do?
Maglula to the rescue.
Maglula was founded in 2001 in Israel by Ran Tal and his son, Guy Tal. Magazine loaders are not new; the first was most likely invented during World War I. However, most of the designs prior to Maglula could be charitably described as useless — worse than not having a mag loader.
Maglula’s solutions differ in that they are molded from high-strength polymer. They are not simply bent metal strips that are supposed to help you (and always slip out of alignment). The Maglula designs are sturdy housings that either slip over or clamp on to the magazine.
Someone out there is thinking, Loading magazines is a hassle? How can that be? A box of 50 is no big deal, but load up 200 to 300 rounds in a day’s practice, and it gets to be work. Do it several times a week, and you begin to wonder why you are practicing. Your fingers get sore, your thumb gets chewed by the feed lips, and if you get in a hurry or are tired and clumsy, by the end of a practice session, you can damage the feed lips by forcing a round in that wasn’t quite lined up.
Some years ago, I had to torture test a Browning Hi Power by myself. I had enough magazines on hand to load 200 rounds at once. Each range session would start with the magazines already loaded. I’d shoot them empty, load them up and shoot again. Four hundred rounds in a range trip (in addition to all the other work). By the time I finished the 23,000 rounds of the test, I was so sick of loading those magazines that I stuck with revolvers for a while. Had I not found a Maglula to use partway through the test, I might have never finished. The Maglula was a lifesaver, making the on-range reload of the magazines less of a burden and almost fun. (Emphasis on almost. In all honesty, I cannot describe loading any magazine as “fun.”)
I can’t claim any records here, however. Maglula has had high-volume units sent back for study, like the UpLula SCCY returned after they loaded more than a million rounds with it.
The process of using a Maglula takes longer to describe than learn, and once learned, you can load a magazine quickly. Maglula lists the loading time of a magazine as something like 30 seconds, which may seem long. It might not seem as though you’re saving much time. But you should not compare the time it takes to load the first magazine of the day against your first attempts with the Maglula. Instead, compare the time (and effort) it takes at the end of a practice session against practiced loading with the Maglula. It is when your hands are sore and tired that the difference really manifests itself.
Just to verify, I grabbed the same Hi Power mags I loaded back in that test and checked my efforts against the clock. Twenty rounds took 37 seconds with my hands and 22 seconds with the UpLula. And no feed-lip-gouged thumbs with the UpLula, either.
The proliferation of AR-based pistols has made the Maglula even more of an asset. If you are using a 9mm pistol-caliber carbine or an AR pistol as an everyday carry trunk gun or for competition, you likely aren’t loading 15-round magazines. You are stuffing 20, 30, even 40 rounds or more into a magazine.
While there are good magazines (the SIG Sauer 9mm mag design ranks as one of the best), the most common is perhaps the worst ever made: the Colt 9mm. Not only do the old Colt mags occasionally spew rounds at random, but once you’ve gotten 18 to 20 rounds into a 32-rounder, you practically need a mallet to stuff any more. I have literally poured ammo onto a table and, holding the magazine upside down, loaded the magazine by pushing the magazine lips down over the ammo. Ugly? Yes. Potentially damaging to the feed lips? You betcha. But the alternative of scouring my thumbs before I’m halfway done with practice is not in the cards.
The Maglula for the infamous Colt 9mm magazine makes it possible to fully load one without a mallet.
The standard handgun model, the UpLula, loads 9mm through .45 and works on a host of handgun magazines. The webpage lists the few magazines or types that it can’t load. But if you have one UpLula, you have a loader for almost all your magazines. As if that wasn’t enough, you can have it in one of six different colors. Having learned to shoot at a time when the choices were blued steel, stainless steel and shades of walnut, the idea of a pink or purple loading accessory is one I’ll have to get used to. At least in the four colors that aren’t subdued (pink, purple, lemon and orange-brown), you are much less likely to lose your UpLula or have it “mistakenly” wander off at the local range.
The carbine loaders are listed as SMG loaders, which is fair. There, you have to be model specific, as the magazines differ so much that they don’t work well across brands. That isn’t a problem, as few of us have more than one brand to load for.
How popular are they? Maglula sells their loaders worldwide. When the Swiss Army adopted Glocks, they also ordered 12,000 UpLulas to go with them. Maglula has nine U.S. patents, and they do everything in-house.
The modern measure of success is how many people want to steal your design. Maglula reports that there are a whole lot of fakes out there being sold online. If you want to be sure you get the real-deal item, don’t go to China. Go to a reputable dealer like Brownells, or go down to the local gun shop and pick up one (or more).
The universal UpLula has a retail price less than most boxes of ammo. Why don’t you have one already?
For more information, visit www.maglula.com.