By Christopher R. Bartocci
The popularity of the Black Rifle has created markets throughout the world to manufacture accessories. Though no commercial market in the world can match the demand of the United States, the supply is open to anyone who can get approval to import their products into the country. In May of 2013, a new polymer magazine hit the American shores – the Hera Arms H3/H3T polymer magazines from Germany. Importing other Hera Arms’ products as early as 2009, LAN World, Inc. is the exclusive importer of Hera Arms products.
At first glance the new magazine has a similar appearance to the Magpul PMag but once you get a closer look at it, the magazine is quite different. There are two variations offered by Hera Arms. The first is the H3T magazine with a window and the H3 version, which is a solid version without a window. The window on the H3T magazine is positioned along the rear spine of the magazine allowing the operator to easily identify visually the approximate number of rounds remaining while the weapon is in use. The H3T is a fiberglass filled polyamide body with an anti-tilt follower. The round-count window is made out of transparent and 5% tinted polycarbonate. The window is an over molded part to increase the strength and stability of the construction of the magazine. The magazine spring is made out of stainless steel and pre-coated for rust protection. There are two holes placed in the rear of the window; the top is placed over the 20th round and the bottom one is placed on the 30th round allowing a very accurate way to tell how many rounds are in the magazine. The inside of the magazine is made out of a glass-polished mold to provide a smooth travel for the follower and shot column. The H3 variation shares all the same specifications but without the window. The magazine can be fully seated with the bolt closed with a full 30 rounds in the magazine.
Both the H3T and the H3 are offered in black, olive drab and flat dark earth colors. The quality of the mold is quite nice and the appearance of the magazines is flawless – this is what you come to expect from Germany – they place just as much emphasis on cosmetic appearance as they do on functionality. Maintenance is quite simple. The magazine comes apart quite uniquely compared to the norm. There is a locking tab on the bottom that is pushed out with a cartridge tip, knife or any other suitable tool. The floorplate cams out and is unhooked from the rear of the magazine and the magazine spring and follower may be removed from the magazine body for cleaning. All in all the magazine is quite solid.
Of course, the question is, “Does it work?” Many manufacturers have released polymer magazines that are just not reliable. SAR was able to put the magazines through a pretty good test that involved several firearms including fully automatic fire. Two magazines were used; one of the H3 and one of the H3T magazines. The first rifle the magazines were tested in was a Chinese CQ-A, which is a Chinese copy of the M4A1 carbine. More than 500 rounds were fired through this rifle, mostly on fully automatic fire. Only the Hera magazines were used. There were no malfunctions of any sort. The magazines locked back on the last round and dropped free from the magazine well whether loaded or empty. There was not any noticeable swelling of the magazine when it was fully loaded. The next rifle the magazines were tested in was a STS Arms AR rifle. More than 200 rounds were fired with no malfunctions. Then a LMT Guardian MRP was tested with the magazines both semi as well as fully automatic and there were no malfunctions. The last rifle tested was a Colt LE6920 with 100 rounds and no malfunctions. This was a decent cross section of rifles; although there was limited quantities of magazines available for testing the two magazines were ran quite hard being dropped and thrown as well. According to LAN World, Inc. Hera Arms has sold these magazines to military and law enforcement customers in Europe. They are too new in the U.S. at this point to get any serious consideration from the American law enforcement community. This market usually likes a successful track record before they consider buying something new. In time as more come into the country and more people get experience and gain confidence in this new product the larger sales are bound to come. The magazines tested performed well and proved quite reliable. They will continue to be tested to see how far they can go. They are undoubtedly a high quality and well thought out and executed magazine. The only issue this author had with the magazine was its inability to be loaded from stripper clips as there are no guide grooves for the striper clip guide. However, the magazines are compatible with the Maglula LuLa but not the Benchloader.
LAN World has told SAR that Hera Arms is in the process of producing 20-round versions of the H3 magazine as of this writing and 10-round magazines are in the works as well. As soon as these become available SAR will acquire test and evaluation units and run them through the gamut as well. The Hera magazines will find acceptance without a doubt in the industry as well as many customers looking for advanced polymer magazines for their AR-platform rifles.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V18N2 (April 2014)|