Pistol Magazine Loaders — A Must For Some Shooters, by Pat Cascio
Getting old is no fun! Back in the day, I was able to load any type of magazines, with thumb power only. Sadly, along with old age, comes certain disabilities. To wit: I have terrible osteoarthritis in various parts of my body – not the least is lower back pain, that at times is debilitating to say the least. Next are my hands, and especially my right hand and fingers – they are misshapen. My trigger finger is the worst. But thankfuily, I can still pull a trigger!
Over the years, there have been efforts to produce manual magazine loaders, that are supposed to make loading some magazines a lot easier. Most of these were junk, but they still sell for some reason. Some years back, I tested and reviewed a magazine loader that was pretty impressive – it was similar to a reloading press, however it was a bit too big to lug around, especially out to the range.
Glock provides a simple plastic magazine loader with their double-column magazines, and it works fairly well. Whenever I get a new Glock, I load up the magazines that come with the gun, and let them sit for a couple weeks, after that, the magazines are a lot easier to load to capacity. As well-made as the Glock magazine loaders are, they tend to break if you apply too much pressure trying to get the rounds loaded.
Springfield Armory also provides a really nice, hard plastic magazine loader with some of their double stack magazines. And, believe me, they sure do make loading double-stack magazines a lot less work – I’ve yet to have one break on me.
I also have about half a dozen .22 LR loaders for handguns, and some .22s are a real pain to load. Some have a tab on the side of the magazines so you can pull down on it, as you load the rounds into the mags – this isn’t needed for all .22 LR pistol mags, but they sure do come in handy just the same.
Most importantly on my list in the Lula loader/unloader – and this is the best of the bunch, in my opinion. They aren’t exactly cheap, as they sell for around $35 and up from there. These magazine loaders are made in Israel, and they really are worth every red cent. Once you get the technique down, you can really load up those tough double-stack magazines very quickly.
In my “Golden years” (and what is so “golden” about them is a mystery to me) I have lost a lot of strength in my fingers and hands, not to mention losing several inches of muscle in my arms – not a good thing at all. My wife used to hand me her magazines to load for her – not any longer, as she has her own Lula mag loader and she is very fast when it comes to loading magazines up when we’re out on the range. Her biggest “problem” is that she tends to really burn through handgun magazines faster than she can load them up again – then again, my oldest daughter is like that – the youngest daughter, not so much.
The Springfield Armory magazine loader works just like the Glock loader works. You press down on the magazine follower (or the top round in the magazine) and then you can slide the next round into the mag – it works fairly well. The Glock loader is the same, other than the “prong” is soft plastic and as mentioned, they can break in short order. The Springfield version is a stiff plastic material, and I’ve yet to have one break on me.
Now, the Lula loader is a different type, compared to the Glock and Springfield versions. It is made out of a hard plastic, and it operates quite a bit differently than the other loaders. First of all, it is spring and lever-activated, you simply squeeze the lever, and it presses down on the magazine follower, or the top round in the magazine, then simply slide the next round on top of the top round – it will slide in there with no effort. Then release the lever and you’re ready for the next round – keep going until you have the magazine fully loaded.
The Lula loader really shines when loading those 33-round magazines that are available for Glock 9mm pistols, and especially with the new Springfield 35-round magazines that are available for their XDm Elite and XDm Elite Compact 9mm pistols. These magazines have some super-strong springs, and you will really appreciate the Lula after loading a couple of rounds.
A hint here: I only load the Glock 33-round mags with 31 or 32 rounds – and they tend to function all the time when you download them by a round or two. Now, the Springfield 35-rd mags – I’ve yet to have one fail me, when I fully load the 35 rounds in these magazines – nice!
I have some other “generic” magazine loaders, that work with some other handguns, once you get the hang of them. I don’t usually have too many problems loading up 13-to-17 round magazines – as a rule. Still, using a magazine loader sure makes it a lot easier to load some magazines.
I’m on a tight budget, so whenever possible, when purchasing a firearm, I look at it from a different aspect – and see if they can do double duty. When it comes to a Glock 19 or 17 – or other similar months, that can take double stack mags, I can envision them working as a poorman’s CQB weapon, of sorts. When you insert a 33-round mag into those guns, you can sure lay down a lot of rounds downrange at the bad guys. My long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who used to own Cold Steel knives, can be found using a Glock 17 on steel targets, out to 200 yards and hitting them with every squeeze of the trigger – and he is standing up on two legs – not using a rest of any sort.
If you are doing a lot of shooting, you will really appreciate a good mag loader, it makes your range time a lot more productive. Be advised, you will go through a lot of ammo, and your handgun will really get hot to the touch – ouch!
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you might be having a little bit of a problem, loading up some magazines that hold a lot of rounds. It took me some time before I admitted I wasn’t nearly as fast when it came to reloading some of those really high-capacity magazines. I started using my wife’s Lula loader, and man, what a difference it made! So I purchased one of my own. A worthwhile investment in my humble opinion.
I don’t have problems loading up rifle magazines, even with 30-40-rds, but if the time comes, I’ll sure be looking at some of the magazine loaders for long guns – it will make the job a lot easier.
Back in 1989, I took a course from Executive Security International (ESI) in Colorado. There was a 650-hour home study course, before you could take the two-week resident course. The latter phase was brutal, to say the least. I don’t recall how many students were in my class, but I think it was about 25 souls. Besides the classroom portion, we had four days on the range, and each day was a 15-hour day. It was fun the first day. But after that, it was a lot of work. Long-time friend, and one of the best firearms trainers I know, John Farnam, and his wife Vicky taught most of the classes, along with Dick Barber, one of the best shooters in the country. We fired 500-to-1,000 rounds per day – that’s a lot of shooting, no matter how you look at it.
After the end of the first day of shooting, most of the students had band-Aids on their trigger finger and thumb – lots of trigger time ‘caused blisters, and of course, loading your magazines. By the end of the second day, practically everyone was wearing Band-Aids. There were few magazine loaders available back at that time, I’m sure anyone doing a lot of shooting these days, will benefit from a good loader, like the Lula.
You’ll be glad you “discovered” the Lula – and it is money well-spent, if you do a lot of shooting. I don’t spend nearly as much time on the range as I used to, mainly because of the high cost of ammo. If you plan on doing a lot of shooting, get a mag loader!