If you’ve been using magazine fed weapons for a while, you’ve probably loaded quite a few magazines. Steel and aluminum AR-15 magazines are not very well known for being easy to load, and while mag loaders are available, I’ve never felt the need for one – I’ve just sucked it up and loaded mags the hard way.
This product isn’t new, but it does address this issue in a unique way. The Cammenga EasyMag, which is produced in Michigan, features a “sliding body” design that allows the user to slide the mag open, simply drop rounds into the magazine, and then slide the mag closed. At that point, the mag is ready to go. If your fingers and thumbs don’t have a whole lot of strength, this may be a good option for you. As an aside, it can be loaded and unloaded just like a standard magazine, and it’s remarkably easy to do so.
However, it’s not without drawbacks. In order to slide the magazine open, you have to have a certain amount of grip strength – I handed the mag over to the rangemaster, who is in his 60s, and he was unable to get the magazine open. Also, there are a number of sharp edges which can slice you if you’re not careful. If you don’t load 30 rounds in the mag, or close to it, it may spit out one or two rounds when the follower slams upward. I’ve found that keeping my palm at the top of the mag when closing it will prevent any rounds from flying out. Finally, rounds may slide out the back of the mag when you’re loading #28-30, so it’s best to load two rounds at a time, essentially side by side.
Now, on to function. I’ve destroyed my share of magazines in drop and crush tests, but it wouldn’t make sense to do so without ensuring that the magazine works before anything bad happens to it.
I loaded the magazine with 30 rounds of Silver Bear 62gr HP. Previously, I had fired about 150 rounds of this ammunition through the rifle (Spike’s Tactical CHF upper, Sun Devil lower) without a hitch, using several different types of magazines. The magazine was fairly easy to insert with 30 rounds in the mag and the bolt forward.
The first round fed out of the magazine just fine, but the second didn’t come out of the mag. Here’s a picture of an identical stoppage that I encountered with different ammunition. In over 1500 rounds and with a variety of magazines and ammunition, this weapon has never suffered any kind of stoppage – until now.
Interestingly, tap rack bang didn’t work with this magazine – not at all. In order to rap the bottom of the mag hard enough to have any effect on the follower or the rounds in the mag, I had to remove the mag from the weapon and slam it down on one of the tables at the range. Later, I was able to hit the bottom of the mag with the heel of my hand about a dozen times, and the malfunction was corrected.
The rangemaster and I then fired the remaining 28 rounds without any problems, however, the bolt did not lock back.
I then fired 10 more rounds of Silver Bear, the last I had brought. The bolt locked back, and continued to do so for the rest of my range session.
At that point, I was out of Silver Bear. I had loaded 100 rounds of 55gr .223, so I switched to that. I fired 5 rounds from a loaded mag of 30 to ensure function, then replaced those 5 rounds, and dropped it on asphalt, directly on the feed lips, from chest height – as if I had fumbled a reload. Here’s what the mag looked like.
Other than a few scratches, the magazine looked just fine. I loaded and made ready, and fired the first round. I could feel that the bolt had gone forward, so I squeezed the trigger again…click! I dropped the mag, and here’s what I saw.
Again, tapping the bottom of the mag didn’t work – I had to slam it on the table.
I was then able to fire the rest of that magazine without and problems.
I loaded and dropped the mag three more times, firing 5 to 10 rounds after each drop, then replenishing the magazine. During one of these strings of fire, I encountered another FTF, which is pictured above.
While it didn’t spit out any rounds during the four drops – which is very rare, in my experience – it did cause the rounds to stick out of the mag at odd angles. These problems were relatively easy to fix with finger pressure.
After the fourth drop, I noticed a crack forming at the rear of the right feed lip, on a spot weld.
At this point, I stopped drop testing, and fired the remaining ammunition without any problems.
After I had expended the 140 rounds used for testing, I opened and closed the mag a few times to see if it had gotten any easier to do so. I don’t think that it had, but on one of the cycles, I “over-closed” the mag, and this was the result.
It was pretty easy to slide back into place, and I was unable to repeat that issue, but it was interesting nonetheless.
In my opinion, a magazine has one purpose: to work. If it doesn’t work, it’s not useful. While this mag has many good points – the strength of its spring steel body, for example – the simple fact that I encountered so many stoppages and issues means that I wouldn’t use it outside of the training arena. Even if it had functioned perfectly, I’m not convinced that it is very useful for folks with bad joints or weak hands, because it does require a good amount of force to open, although closing the mag is easier. It would certainly be beneficial for those who have to continually load mags over and over and over, such as in a carbine course – but for patrol, duty or combat, magazines should be loaded prior to use, even if that takes a few extra minutes to load the “old way”.
My standard disclaimer: I was provided with this magazine, free of charge, for test and evaluation purposes, by someone connected with Cammenga.