Loading magazines quickly is almost every shooter's need - or at least desire. That’s especially true for shooters who like to or have to burn a lot of rounds down the range. To help people out with this task, designers came up with magazine speed loaders.
Mag loaders are quick, precise and effortless. They come in a variety of designs and a ton of them are available on the market. Here we'll be discussing a mag loader's capability, different types available and which one will be the best for you. We will also review the best magazine speed loaders on the market to help you make your buying decision.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Magazine Speed Loaders
Butler Creek AR-15 ASAP Universal Magazine Loader
Maglula Ltd. - AR-15/M-16 Mag Loader
Maglula Ltd. AR-15/M-16 Striplula
Command Arms ACC Rifle Magazine Loader
AR-15 Magpump Hopper Fed Magazine Loader
Is A Loader Really Faster?
There’s a decent amount of argument about whether a loader is worth it. And it comes down to a simple answer: maybe.
Using a magazine speed loader is always faster than hand-loading rounds. But that “maybe” refers to the skill of the loader in some cases. No doubt a mag loader is faster than handloading, but if someone is not that quick with setting up a loader, the resulting difference (5-6 seconds) might not be substantial.
However, using mag loaders does speed up the process and protects you from unnecessary scratches, bruises and cramps in your hands. Some people suffer from problems like hand arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, so loading magazines can be a real pain for them. Mag loaders are inevitably a boon for such people.
Mag loaders are also extremely helpful for people who need to load a lot of magazines at once. Like for 3 gun shooting competitions, target practice, testing or simple plinking. Those small gains on each mag do add up!
Types of Loaders
There are quite a few different designs of mag loaders out there. Some of the very common ones are field loaders bench loaders, stripper loaders and hopper feeds. Some magazine loaders are also referred with the term LULA which stands for “loading and unloading accessory”.
A simple LULA mag loader just sits over the top of the magazine and can be used to load or unload rounds one-by-one by using a simple lever . Such LULA loaders are simple and compact to carry. Just pull it out of your pocket and begin loading rounds. No bench rest or additional support required.
The other type are the bench loaders. As the name suggests you need to place them on a bench to operate. The magazine is clutched on one end and rounds are placed side by side in the middle cavity of the benchloader. Once full, a latch at the other end of the loader is pushed all the way down to the magazine's head and all the rounds simply slide in. These loaders are good for range shooters who have to load a lot of mags quickly. Bench loaders, however, cannot unload the magazines.
Another type of loaders are stripper loaders. The rounds are fed onto a strip (just like the WWII 303 clips). The loader is then placed on the magazine's head and the strip is slid down, eventually loading the magazine. Stripper loaders can also be used to unload rounds from a magazine.
A less-popular mag loader among AR-15 users is the hopper feed loader. It is primarily a bench feeder but with a different mechanism. It is a simple hopper feed mechanism where rounds are fed into the upper cavity and the hopper is then repeatedly pushed up and down to load the mag.
Hopped feeds have higher capacities (90 rounds can be fed in one go). These feeders are very useful for quick bulk loading of mags at once. On the contrary, these can not be used for unloading rounds.
Reviews of the Best AR-15 Magazine Speed Loaders
Now we know what a mag loader does and what are the different types available on the market. You probably have decided by now as to which model you are going to use. To help you further, we have reviewed the best magazine speed loader of each type on the market.
This Universal Magazine Loader from Butler Creek is a three-in-one magazine loader. You can either load rounds one by one, use the extendable arm to load 10 rounds at once or use military-style stripper clips with it.
The loader is compatible only with 5.56 NATO/.223 REM cartridges which is fine if you are using it mainly for your AR-15. The loader is made in the USA, assuring you about the quality and proper customer support.
This loader can be used at the shooting range to load rounds quickly. The low price point and multi-functionality makes it a good choice for regular shooters.
- 3-in-One loading methods
- Low Price
- Made in USA
- Quick Operation
- Can be used with military style stripper clips
Compatible with only 5.56 NATO
This model is a compact, effortless and easy-to-carry magazine loader from the renowned mag loader manufacturer Maglula. The mag loader can load and unload rounds quickly one-by-one with just a push of the lever. It’s great for people with finger arthritis, carpal tunnel or any other problems for that matter.
The loader securely grasps the magazine lips and prevents its wear and tear. It works perfectly well with polymer as well as metal mags. The magloader is compatible only with 5.56 NATO and is a good choice for competitive shooting, tactical uses and target practice. The loader features quality construction and is quite resistant to wear and tear like on hunting trips.
- Lightweight and Compact
- Easy and Quick Operation
- Safe for Unloading Mags
- Quality Construction
Loads only one round at a time
The Striplula is an amazing product from Maglula Ltd. This strip loader when combined with stripper clips can load you a 30 round magazine in less than 10 seconds. If you don't have those stripper clips, you can load the rounds individually on the stripper and just slide it down.
This takes a bit longer than using clips, but it still falls below 45 seconds for a 30-round mag.
The Striplula features a quality polymer construction and will save you time and fingers. It is compatible with .223 and .224 calibers. The loader is priced reasonably and there's not really any drawbacks you can find. It’s perfect for hunting, self defense, tactical and target practice.
- Quality Construction
- Quick, Precise and Effortless
- Reasonably Priced
- Works extremely fast with pre-loaded stripper clips
None that we could find!
The Command Arms mag loader is a simple pushbutton loader which protects your thumb while loading in rounds. The ACC mag loader attaches securely to your magazine lips and all you have to do is just put in the rounds and pop the lever. The loader lines up the rounds itself so you don't have to meddle much with the mechanism.
The loader is compatible with .22 calibers and is compact enough to carry in your pocket. While there are faster loaders out there in the market, you can’t expect anything more of a magloader at this price point.
- Quality Construction
- Fits snugly on magazine lips
- Compact and Small in Size
- Low Price
- Not very fast
- Feeds only one round at a time
- Does not unload the magazine
The Magpump mag loader features a hopper-fed mechanism which can be used to load magazines at exceptional speeds. All you need is to dump the rounds at once into the hopper without the need for alignment or 'pre-staging' them.
The user only needs to crank the handle and the rounds get loaded in the magazine attached below the hopper. The safety mechanism ensures that the rounds are not in the wrong direction while being fed in the magazine.
This largely reduces your effort as well as the loading time. Load as fast as you can crank the handle and maintain the hopper supply. The hopper feeder can load .223 REM, 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout rounds.
It is available in polymer as well as aluminum variants and can be mounted to any platform. The only thing that might concern you is the price, but the features are worth paying for it.
- Super-quick Loading Mechanism
- No Need for Pre-Staging Rounds
- Reduced Loading Time By 50%
- Available in Polymer and Aluminum
- High Price (if you mind).
- Stays Fixed At One Place
Magazine speed loaders are an effective and intelligent way to load your magazines with less effort and within the least possible time. There are many types of mag loaders available in the market, so you must check out and decide what works best for you.
If you like loading mags at the range, go for a compact model. If you like doing your work at home, or need to feed a lot of rounds, go for the striplula or hopper feeders. Eventually, a mag loader will be saving you time and will protect your fingers and magazines from any damage.