Mag Loader; Gimmick or Worth the Money?

Hornady 9mm and Glock xtendo

Hey boys and girls, today I wanted to take a minute to talk about mag loaders. If you have ever trained with me or read this column often, you know that I was famously against them for years. Pistol magazine loaders specifically, I have always used them for rifles. At least, if my ammunition comes on stripper clips, which thankfully it did for a lot of years.

Choose an Uplula in a color unlikely to be stolen.

To the point, I quite often derided pistol magazine loaders as tools of the weak, and entirely to slow. This is easy to do if someone is paying you to shoot guns all day, and punishing you physically if you aren’t quick to get back to the firing line. One of the hazards of going to door kicker school is wearing the thumbs off of gloves, and it isn’t uncommon to go through 3 sets in either a school rotation or a train up.

Far-right, from the original 10,000 round test of the XDM

My opinion changed, however, when I had to shoot 10,000 rounds in a weekend for Springfield Armory. Twice. For the first test, my boy Chris thankfully brought a couple of Uplula loaders. And while I was talking smack for maybe the first 1000 rounds, by the second I was interested. By the third, I was willing to eat some crow. And by the fourth, I was hooked.

In the years since, I have only grown fonder of the Uplula brand of loader for a couple of reasons. First, as age and arthritis set in, I have a newfound appreciation for a device to take the pressure off my thumbs. Second, I have learned that while I may still be faster without it, the Uplula does get pretty quick with practice. And third, it is a huge help for anyone that isn’t packing Popeye forearms.

New Patriot color scheme

Which is how I have seen it work best recently. If you aren’t accustomed to shooting A LOT, I would rather you saved your hand strength for the pistol than the magazine, should I be teaching you. It is one thing to yell at active-duty soldiers to get stronger, it doesn’t really work that way for normal peoples. Especially having trained a fair bit of the elderly and women over the last few years, the Uplula is a godsend for getting them some good training hours in. (I don’t want to hear it from the NCAA or Olympic Committee. Generally speaking, women have less hand and forearm strength than men. If you tie rebar for a living, okay, fair, you got me. On average, not so much.)

Highly recommended of the big boy mags

I also really like the Uplula for the big stick magazines now common or Pistol Caliber Carbines. A 33 round 9mm magazine has some spring tension, kinda how this works. Trying to cram those last couple in by hand is not a good time, I don’t care who you are. As more and more of them come to market, and better high-capacity magazines follow, the Uplula becomes a great tool to have.

Less likely to be lost color options.

On a final note, I have a recommendation. Get it in a fruity color and your range buddies are less likely to steal it. And you are less likely to lose it in the range bag. And even though I don’t need it, I think they got me with the new red, white, and blue model. Tell ’em Clay sent you, and this is a purchase you will never regret.

Uplula loaders

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Joseph Smith August 9, 2021, 9:58 pm

    Oh hell yes! Bought a CZ-75 just before the dampemic and was amazed at how strong the springs in the mags are. Heard somebody talk about a Maglula and since it was only about 20 bucks or so I figured I’d try one. I tell you what, it’s the way to go. Absolutely. No doubt about it. Yup. Uh huh. Definetely.

  • Wil August 9, 2021, 11:46 am

    I’ve been using the Maglulu and Uplula products for ten years or more. Got a little catchin’ up to do Clay.

  • Zupglick August 9, 2021, 11:19 am

    Even us old dogs can learn new tricks.

  • Mark August 9, 2021, 10:33 am

    If it weren’t for the maglula I wouldn’t be able to shoot anymore. I have severe arthritis in my hands. It’s a great tool and worth every penny.

  • Jake August 9, 2021, 10:20 am

    It isn’t a matter of strength or getting stronger. Eventually you wear out no matter how strong you were. The Lulas keep you from wearing out and wearing down your hands and fingers. With an AR Lula you can load faster with no stress on your ligaments because they are hard to compress when you get past the middle. Same with high-cap pistol mags. An old guy like me can’t get much past the first half without issues. Faster without pain. Win/Win.

  • Kalashnikov Dude August 9, 2021, 10:15 am

    The old 1911 never posed a problem for me to load. Same with Glocks. As far as rifles, the AR and AK are easy and fast to load by hand. I remember the Uplula loader coming out and my FFL friend trying to sell me one. I told him I’d rather spend the money on ammo. That was a long time ago. Now the cost of one of these loaders doesn’t even cover the tax on my ammo purchase. I just made 50 last February and I feel it in my old hands. It still just seems like it’s easier for me to keep loading mags by hand. That said, the average range day for me involves ten or twelve loaded AK mags. Five or six AR mags. Maybe four mags from my Sig P250. I’m not an operator. I don’t test firearms on Youtube. I’m just a guy. I make sure everything works like it’s supposed to. I make sure my shooting is still up to par. And I rotate ammo by using the older and sometimes battered rounds. Then they get replaced and I go home satisfied, relaxed, and happy. If they work for ya use em.

  • Rick August 9, 2021, 7:37 am

    Once I started doing club events with a Sig 226, I was hooked on the Uplula.

    Sometime later, I was taking a class as Sig Academy and a cop from Rome asked to try my loader. He loved it and I gave it to him as a souvenir.

  • Dr. Strangelove August 9, 2021, 5:38 am

    I missed the byline, and halfway through said, “Hey, that’s Clay!” I hope that you’re working on another novel, Mr. Martin.

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