A Colt LE6920 with the newly issued AimPoint Comp4 reflex sight with the 3x magnifier installed. The LULA is on the magazine along with five rounds of M855 ball ammunition waiting to be loaded into the magazine.
By Christopher R. Bartocci
Many recent articles have related to new companies that started with a single product and spawned into other incredible products that are used by some of the most prestigious military and law enforcements agencies in the world. There is a pattern with many of these companies. The founders were all former soldiers who saw a problem in the field that nobody was correcting and took responsibility themselves to fix the problem. Another, parallel pattern, was that their designs and products were driven from requests of troops in the field, not somebody sitting at a drawing board trying to come up with that one design that would make them famous. These were soldiers developing products to make other soldiers lives better and easier.
Many of SAR’s readers own and shoot assault rifles and submachineguns. That means loading many magazines; a tedious and sometimes painful process that is required to be able to shoot these weapons.
Maglula is not a local company; they are located in Tel Aviv, Israel. Maglula (MAGazine Loaders and ULoader Accessories) was started in 2000 by Ran Tal and his son Guy. Sergeant Major Ran Tal is a former small arms instructor of the Israeli Defense Force and Reserves and chief inventor of all Maglula’s products. Guy takes the raw prototypes Ran makes and brings them to life as well as managing the company. A traumatic event with a malfunctioning Uzi magazine on the battlefield in the 1956 Sinai Campaign was the driving force to get Ran interested in the reliability of magazines. During his time on the battlefield, Ran kept his 12 Uzi magazines in socks to protect them from the sand as there were no plastic bags available to him back at that time. Ran was facing an enemy soldier when his Uzi jammed. A fellow IDF soldier pushed Ran to the ground and eliminated the enemy soldier. Lessons learned from that incident by Ran involved purchasing a .22 caliber Beretta pistol as a backup weapon if his primary weapon was ever to jam again and decided to seriously maintain cleaner magazines from then on. Later, Ran’s other son, Nadav, serving in the IDF, experienced similar magazine failures with M16 magazines. Ran vowed that if no one cared to take care of the hardship of cleaning magazines, then he would volunteer to do it himself for the IDF soldiers: and he did just that.
After years of on and off development of a magazine unloading device in his tool shed, Ran discovered that if the unloading operation was reversed, it would load. The first LULA was designed for the M16 magazine. The 1.3 ounce polymer body slides over the top of the magazine and locks into the magazine catch notch. The lever on top of the LULA was attached to two cams. To load, the lever is tilted back-and-forth with one hand while dropping cartridges, case first, into the magazine with the other hand as the cams push down the already loaded rounds. The LULA is then removed and the magazine is ready to be used. It takes approximately 35 seconds to load a 30 round magazine. To unload, install the LULA so the magazine is tilted with the cartridges facing down. When the lever is moved, the cam pushes downward on the inside cartridge releasing the one on the top. This is continued until the magazine is empty. No cartridges are damaged nor is there any damage to the magazine. Normally, to manually unload a magazine one would either push the top round forward until in cleared the feed lips or take a bullet tip and push downward on the inside cartridge releasing the top cartridge from the magazine. Both are time consuming and can damage the cartridges. Due to most modern military weapons having double column magazines, Maglula went on to adapt this design to other common battle rifles.
The AK47 & Galil LULA works the same except it attaches at two points: the protrusion on the front and the catch on the rear of the magazine. This LULA will work on any 7.62x39mm AK magazine regardless if steel, Bakelite or polymer and on any 5.56x45mm Galil magazine. Maglula went on to also design a LULA for the 7.62x51mm FN FAL magazines and one for the 7.62x51mm M14/M1A magazines.
The front of the M14/M1A LULA attaches to the engagement notch of the magazine and the rear is a wire rod that secures under the magazine rear catch. A note on this LULA, this will work with most 1st generation ArmaLite AR-10 magazines. Due to the assault weapon ban, ArmaLite modified GI M14 magazines to adapt to their AR-10. So the forward notch and mag catch were left on the magazine though they serve no purpose. These magazines can be loaded with the M14/M1A LULA. However, magazine samples have been found where the magazine catch had been removed or fell off and this magazine can not be loaded with the LULA. The sample LULA has loaded many AR-10 magazines flawlessly. However, the newly manufactured and designed ArmaLite AR-10 magazines can not be loaded with the M14/M1A LULA. They resemble more of an M16-type magazine in their construction.
Maglula did not stop with assault rifles; they designed them for submachine guns as well to include the Uzi, MP5 and the Colt 9mm SMG. The provided LULA was used to load many Colt 9mm SMG magazines. This proved to be heaven sent. The feed lips on those magazines are quite sharp and loading several magazines gets quite hard on the fingers, especially when you start reaching the magazine’s capacity. The LULA made it easy and painless. Some people claim they can load magazines faster by hand. That may be so if one loads a few magazines. However, pain sure intensifies when one loads many magazines and consequently this certainly slows down loading. Anyway, this is not all about speed; this is also about comfort and loading many magazines painlessly.
The UpLULA (Universal Pistol Magazine Loader)
Pistol magazines are much harder on the fingers than rifle magazines partially due to the fact that most are double column magazines with a single column feed. Most of the steel and aluminum magazines have sharp feed lips and it can make your finger sore very quickly. This intensifies considerably when it is cold out. The 2.3 ounce polymer UpLULA is a universal loader that can be used with most pistols chambered for 9mm NATO, .357 SIG, 10mm, .40 S&W and .45 Auto caliber cartridges. The sample UpLULA was used to load Glock 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 Auto caliber magazines, Beretta 9mm magazines, Heckler & Koch 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 Auto, Colt M1911 .45 Auto caliber magazines as well as SIG Sauer .40 S&W caliber magazines. All loaded simple and reliably. The sample UpLULA was used for a SWAT handgun course, which over the day loaded more than 400 rounds. The magazine is slid into the UpLULA. The base of the magazine is placed on a hard surface and pushed down. The grip lever is squeezed. On the spring loaded grip is a hardened steel beak that looks very similar to the feed ramp on a chamber. When loading the first round in the magazine, the UpLULA beak pushes downward on the follower allowing you to drop the cartridge into the magazine. When the lever is released the feed beak clears the round. To load the following cartridges, the lever is pulled inwards and the UpLULA is pushed all the way down. The beak pushes the top round down allowing the next cartridge to be dropped in. This continues in a cyclic motion until the magazine is full. It takes 1/3 of the time to load a magazine with the UpLULA than loading the magazine the conventional way and no sore thumb. The UpLULA loads most all conventional pistol magazines including, but not limited to, Astra, Beretta, Browning, Colt, FN, CZ, Glock, H&K, Hi-Point, Jerico, Kahr, Kel-Tec, Llama Para Ordnance, Sturm Ruger, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, Walther and many more. As of this writing, the only known magazines the UpLULA will not work with is the Glock 36 single column magazine, Glock models 37, 38 and 39 .45 GAP caliber magazines and the Smith & Wesson single column pistol magazines.
Anyone who has ever had to load large quantities of magazine realizes that it is a tedious and sore task. Between sharp feed lips and the pushing of the rounds under compression (especially the last 10 rounds) causes strain and pain. If you do it enough, even carpal tunnel can result. This is not an issue for the occasional shooter but for someone in an armory or training academy, this is a real issue. Maglula developed a special tool for this purpose, the BenchLoader. The first model was designed for standard NATO M16 magazines, which are the primary weapons of the IDF. The BenchLoader is both portable or could be bolted to a work bench. The BenchLoader is CNC machined out of tough polymer and consists of only three pieces. The magazine is placed into a receptacle that aligns the feeding track with the center of the feed lips. So when the magazine is loaded the cartridges never come into contact with the feed lips of the magazine. The feeding track consists of two alignment grooves, one for the tip of the bullet and one for the cartridge case base. Every 5 rounds are marked off letting the loader know how many rounds are being loaded (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30). Once fully loaded and the magazine in place, the slider is pushed inward loading the magazine with one swift stroke. No strain on the loader’s hands or fingers. This whole process for loading a 30-round magazine is about 25 seconds. The original model would load both 20 and 30 round GI magazines.
Another model is designed for the M16, Heckler & Koch High Reliability/SA80 magazines. Due to the slightly longer profile of the H&K magazine, an additional shelf was added above the standard M16 slot to accommodate the H&K magazines. Also, the Magpul PMag fits as well. This model was provided for test and evaluation and numerous PMags were loaded as well as standard GI and a few H&K magazines. Additionally, models are made for the Steyr AUG and M16 5.56x45mm magazines, 5.56x45mm Galil (35 Rounds) and the 5.56x45mm G36/XM8. The sample BenchLoader came with a nylon carrying case. For hobbyists, the BenchLoader is extremely expensive retailing for $430. This was designed for military and law enforcement armories as well as ranges that load hundreds of magazines a day. This is where they truly shine and what they were intended for.
The newest member of the Maglula line up is the StripLULA. Most military ammunition is not issued in individual boxes; this is especially true for the U.S. military. M193 and M855 5.56x45mm Ball ammunition are issued in 10-round stripper clips. Originally in bandoleers containing seven ammo pouches with two stripper clips of 10-rounds in each, they were later changed to five pouches with three stripper clips of ten rounds. Each bandoleer came with a stripper clip follower which slid (with a little force) on the back of a NATO M16 magazine. The stripper was placed in the guide and the loader would push on the rear of the top round downward until all 10 rounds went into the magazine. This is an efficient system but not for large volume. The cartridges often sit quite tight in the stripper clip requiring significant amount of pressure to load. This can be a very painful process to the loader’s thumb in but a few magazines.
The StripLULA is a 1 ounce loader that makes this job a whole lot easier. It includes a body with a cartridge track; the slider is not separate from the body. The body slides on the back of the magazine and the stripper clip is placed in the track. Then the slider is flipped over the top of the body to be above the top cartridge. The slider is pushed down with a swift thrust loading all 10 rounds with little effort and no finger pain. The magazine is tipped and the empty stripper clip falls out of the StripLULA. Three stripper clips can be loaded into the magazine in around 12 seconds.
Although a relatively new company, Maglula produces products designed to make the soldier’s job just a little bit easier and painless. The Israeli Defense Force figured this out and acquired many M16 BenchLoaders for all its armories and ranges and thousands of M16 LULAs were issued to combat soldiers. The LULA is a tool for any shooter. With a retail cost of around $25-29 for the LULA family and around $33 for the UpLULA, these could be used in anyone’s range bag. The LULA can be used by recreational shooters and law enforcement/military professionals. The BenchLoader, StripLULA as well as the M16 LULA are products more designed for military and law enforcement use. The BenchLoader is designed for high volume loading such as an armory, range or ammunition distribution points. We can expect great things in the area of loading magazines from Maglula in the future. The Maglula product line is exclusively imported and distributed in the United States by Butler Creek and Bushnell and can be found throughout the US at many gun and accessory retail shops.
Made in Israel
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N2 (November 2008)|