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Clear Skies (errr… Glock Mags) Ahead: ETS Glock Magazine Review

Elite Tactical Systems (ETS) is a relative newcomer on the big scene that has become AR-15 magazines. They first caught the attention of people with their visually striking translucent magazines, and then doubled down with high visibility followers and bodies that could be coupled without the need for any special adapters.

Last year they began leaking photographs of a new venture: Glock magazines. Their first run was slated to be released right around the same time as Magpul’s Glock mag offering, but the rollout was delayed due to tooling and an expanded initial lineup so ultimately Magpul beat them to the first punch.

The “expanded initial lineup” soon became clear: ETS was going to drop a lot of different 9mm magazines all once. Of course the standard Glock 17 magazine was an obvious choice, and really all that I expected. The Glock 19 magazine was pleasant surprise. The 22 round and 31 round magazines (especially the 22 round magazine, if I’m being honest) get the gears going. Even the oft-ignored Glock 26 got a translucent ten rounder.
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And for those that don’t live in friendly states, 10 round magazines are also available.
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Regarding aftermarket Glock magazines, I’m of two minds: The first is admittedly a tad incredulous. After all, Glock has some of the most affordable OEM magazines on the market today (if you don’t believe me, have a gander at OEM mag prices for FN’s). Even during the panics I never really had a problem with finding them NIB for $25 or below, which I consider quite reasonable. On the other hand, more options is always better for the consumer. And up until last year, all of the non-OEM options were quite terrible (I actually have several, for use at the range when I want to practice malfunctions without setting them up myself). Plus, well, Glock has a helluva lot of market share, which means sales.

Anyway, away with the aside and on to the magazines. I’ve had these for a couple months and have been testing and running them quite a bit so I can give you some breakdowns. Upon opening the package, I first noted that the magazines were definitely darker than I anticipated. After using ETS AR magazines and seeing photographs on social media, I was expected polymer to be more clear than smoke. Functionally, it makes little difference, as you can still easily view the little playthings inside.

Also, did you have any idea 9mm rounds looked so wonky when approaching the top of the magazine? I didn’t.

So why are they clear?

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Firstly, ETS is already setup with clear and translucent polymers, so it seems like a no-brainer. Some have expressed concern about chemical resistance with clear polymers. ETS claims it’s resistant to harsh chemicals and to UV and temperature differentials. I haven’t been able to test this for myself but no doubt there’s someone soaking these in bleach as we speak. Furthermore, you can think of it like a big-assed witness hole without the holes. Not only can you immediately discern how many rounds you have left, but you’ll also be able to tell what rounds are loaded. While this may seem gimmicky at home, as a sometimes-competitive shooter, I really appreciate this capability. Just a glance into my range bag tells me how many magazines I have to jam before the next stage. But yes, they also look badass in pictures.

Speaking of competition, the 22 rounder is 140mm long (only .7” longer than a standard mag), and for a reason. In USPSA’s Limited Division, you aren’t limited by capacity, but by the magazine length itself. And that length is, you guessed it, 140mm. Just because the size was designed with competition in mind doesn’t mean that it’s useless outside of it. More rounds downrange before a reload, without looking quite as ridiculous as a 30+ rounder imparts, is a Good Thing. And of course, those with subguns that accept 9mm Glock mags should very much appreciate the 31 round hate sticks.

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The baseplates on the ETS mags have little ribs on the side that aid during extraction from a tight magazine pouch. It’s noteworthy to mention that ETS magazines are compatible with other aftermarket base plates and extended pads. In fact, I like the base plates so much that I found myself wishing ETS sold them separately so I could retrofit some OEM magazines.

So I tried it.

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Though the ETS Glock magazines will accept aftermarket base plates, not all parts on ETS magazines are interchangeable with OEM equipment. For instance, you can’t use a factory Glock follower in an ETS magazine, as it gets hung up in the body (which is easy to see because of the see-through nature of the ETS magazine). Magazine inserts (the part with the nubbin that holds the base plate in place) had similar issues. OEM Glock works in the ETS but an ETS insert in an OEM Glock required some trimming. The good news is that this is unlikely to be a problem, it’s easy to fix, and ETS inserts work with OEM base plates and vice versa.

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How do they work? Though I heard some talk about people being able to jam them up with some particular grain weights and shapes, I experienced none of that for myself. Running cheap 115gr all the way to Gucci 165gr subsonic from Freedom Munitions and it all loaded just fine.

For the most part, I had no issues relative to regular old OEM mags. Of course and as usual, there are some nuances. Both the 31 round and 22 round magazines are harder to seat when fully loaded. It can be done, but it takes markedly more pressure to do so. Like a USGI AR magazine loaded with 30 rounds, take one round out and it’s substantially easier. Additionally, I could not get the 22 round magazine to consistently drop free when it was fully loaded. The sides expand ever so slightly and increases friction (likely due to dimensional restrictions to keep it within 140mm). I’m not sure why you want to drop a full magazine, but if you do with the 22 rounder be aware you may have to physically extract it.

Thousands of rounds in and no other ugly issues have reared their head at the time of this writing.

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All told, these are perfectly serviceable Glock magazines, without the hangups that many other aftermarket magazines have. The advantages of clear magazines are apparent. As to whether I’d carry with one? No, but not because of any issues that I’ve had; color me cautious, but I simply won’t carry a non-OEM magazine. I will be getting more of these magazines though, in particular the 22 rounders.

ETS Group recently launched 15 round .40 caliber magazines, and no doubt more sizes are on the way. Hipster .45GAP shooters will have to look elsewhere for now.

You can visit ETS Group online here, or give them a follow on Facebook or Instagram.

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