Shooter's Bench: Shoot More, Load Less
By Matt Lindler
An afternoon at the range is a fun way to build shooting skills and confidence in your ability and firearm, but constantly having to reload magazines puts a damper on the fun and can get downright aggravating if you’re practicing a new skill set or running a drill. And by the end of the day, your thumb is sorer than your trigger finger from pushing down cartridge after cartridge into magazines.
There are several convenient products available to reduce magazine reloading time, and using these or something similar will give your trigger finger a workout while giving your thumbs a day off.
Most modern semi-auto pistols come packaged with a magazine loader. The loader slips over the mouth of the magazine and a protrusion (or depressor) rests on the magazine’s follower at the rear of the magazine. As you push down on the loader, it pushes down on the follower and compresses the spring, letting you slide a new cartridge under the lips of the magazine. The tool really becomes useful as more cartridges are loaded and the spring tension increases. These loaders work OK, but they prevent the cartridge from completely seating in the magazine, and you must lift up on the tool to allow the cartridge to slide all of the way in.
Maglula Ltd. has redesigned the normal loader and really speeds up the process of loading pistol magazines. They have two models, the UpLULA for calibers of 9mm up to .45ACP and the BabyUpLULA for calibers of .22LR to .380ACP. Both are universal pistol loaders, however the BabyUpLULA works only with single-stack magazines, whereas the UpLULA works with both single- and double-stack magazines.
The biggest design difference between the old style and the UpLULA is the latter has a forward-mounted depressor that acts as a feed ramp. This allows the cartridge to slide fully into the magazine without having to raise the loader. The UpLULA has a spring loaded grip so with a simple action of squeezing, pushing down on the loader, inserting the new cartridge then releasing the grip, it’s ready for the next round, simply repeat the process. No more sore thumbs! Check out a video showing how the UpLULA works on www.NWTF.org/JAKES. I keep an UpLULA in my range bag as well as one in my gun safe.
While most of the magazine loaders for rifles are not universal, it’s worth investing the money in loaders for rifles you frequently shoot. Tube magazine .22s are easier to load by hand than box magazines, because you’re not having to push against a spring when inserting the cartridges. There is, however, a magazine loader that makes this loading process even easier. The Spee-D-Loader holds 120 .22LR cartridges, and once the loader is loaded up -- you can preload it at home in your spare time -- it’s a matter of simply lining the loader up with the magazine tube then twisting the base of the loader to drop 15 rounds into the magazine in less that a second. I’ve also seen people use drinking straws to hold eight to 10 rounds ready for reloading.
For box magazines, there are several loaders made for specific magazine brands and calibers, so you’ll have to find one that’s designed for your rifle. For instance, there are magazine loaders specifically for Ruger 10/22 magazines and AR15-style MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) rifle magazines.
I have two different styles of magazine loaders for my 5.56-caliber MSR. I use small Maglula brand LULA for loading 1-5 rounds when sighting in my rifles and store it in my rifle case, or the Maglula BenchLoader for loading up to 30 rounds per magazine in seconds. Both make loading a breeze and the LULA loader even speeds up the unloading process if you need to unload a magazine for any reason.
So next time you go to the range, don’t spend all of your time loading your magazines: Spend more time focusing on your front sight and building your shooting skills.