The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Hands On

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 12

MagPump 9mm Luger Loader
MSRP:  $150

This is Magpump’s follow-up to its potent AR-15 and AK-47 rifle magazine loading machines. The device stands just over 10 inches tall, a few inches wide, and is made of some kind of stout fiber-reinforced polymer. Dump a box of 50 9mm cartridges in the hopper, select the appropriate pistol magazine adapter, and shove the duo into the mag chute. Then, all that’s left is to work the lever up and down until the mag is loaded. Pull the lever beneath the mag chute to release the mag, insert another, and load ’er up. Out of the box, the device works with popular models of CZ, Glock, Ruger, SIG, and Smith & Wesson magazines. Accessory mag adapters are available for Beretta, Canik, HK, Hudson, and Walther.

Speed, ease, and the promise of blister- and blood-free thumbs at the conclusion of a long day at the range. The company says standard pistol mags are loaded in less than 30 seconds using the device. More than the minor thumb pain of loading mags, the Magpump deals with the minor annoyance of orienting rounds while loading them. That alone speeds things up over the course of a day at the range.

Pumping the lever activates an agitator and opens the feed chute in the ammo hopper. The rounds stack in the chute with the lead round continuing to hit a series of stops that use gravity and mechanical cunning to turn the rounds nose-down as they stop in front of a ram that forces the cartridge into the magazine and under its feed lips.

We timed ourselves loading 124-grain ball rounds by hand against the Magpump loading Glock 19, SIG P320, and SIG 229, and Glock 33-round mags. We loaded the 33-round mag in 1:14, Magpump did it in 1:04. We loaded a Glock 19 mag in 28 seconds; Magpump 32 seconds. SIG P320: us 21 seconds, Magpump 21 seconds. SIG 229: us 40 seconds, machine 22 seconds.
Mechanically, the loader is a graduate study in Rube-Goldbergism. When things go well, the Magpump is faster, easier to use, and demands less attention than stuffing mags by hand. But, there are a couple caveats. First, you can’t run it as fast as you want. The rounds must pass through a few gates as they travel. Go too fast and the rounds get trapped and gag the device. It’s easily cleared by backing off the lever for an instant and restarting the lever press from the top.

The other caveat is dealing with outright stoppages. The device would load 10 mags without a stop, other times it would choke on a round or two in each mag. That means taking the thing apart and fishing a stuck round from its guts. The two quick release pins make the clearing process simple, but it turns a 30-second mag load into a 50- to 70-second mag load, nullifying the device’s benefits.

It’s a fast and easy way to load mags despite occasional stoppages.

It’s big and awkward to store, but it does break down into several smaller components. It jams if operated too quickly.

At $150, it’s an investment designed for high-volume shooters or commercial shooting operations. Over the course of a full day, the Magpump will save you a few minutes, and it makes loading mags less frustrating.


Otto NoizeBarrier Active Hearing Protection
Earphone Runtime:  16 hours, normal, 12 hours enhanced
Battery Case Runtime:  About a month on a charge,
20+ full earplugs charges
MSRP:  $360

These are amplified, noise-cancelling, in-ear hearing protection devices. Shove them in your ears and hold the button on each one down for a second to activate them. Push the button again and you’ve got superhero-level hearing. The earbuds act a bit like hearing aids in that they pass normal sound as well as you’d hear it without them, but they instantly reduce gunshots, and other loud noises to hearing safe levels. Activating the enhanced mode amplifies sounds, making it much easier to hear faint or distant noises.

Included are foam and flanged tips that provide more hearing protection or easier insertion, respectively, and a combination storage and charging case. The case holds a battery that charges both earplugs about 20 times before it needs to be recharged via its on-board USB port. It displays the charge state of its battery and that of both earbuds.

We switched to active ear pro after trading a flashlight for a set of Peltor COMTAC’s in Afghanistan, then to Etymotic’s Gunsport in-ear ear pro a few years ago. The only thing we complained about with the Gunsport ear pro is its reliance on hearing aid batteries. Once this type of battery is removed from its package, it constantly discharges, whether it’s in use or not. They last anywhere from a few to 10 days. Aside from the cost of the batteries, which isn’t much, the logistics of keeping them on hand is a pain for both frequent and occasional users. So, adding the convenience of USB charging to our favorite type of ear pro makes them even more desirable.

It’s basically an earplug with a tiny mic and amplifier. The amp circuit lowers its output for an instant when the mic picks up noise above the threshold limit.

noizebarrier active hearing protection

Extremely well. The NoizeBarrier noise reduction circuit differs from those we’ve used in the past in that it doesn’t cut out completely when it detects a loud noise. Instead, it ramps the volume down. This is great on busy ranges when other active earpro would drop out, making it tough to carry on a conversation. In general, the noise reduction works well and has never left us with ringing ears, whether running pistols in a shoothouse, rifles in a precision match, or anything in between. Using them a few times a week in short range sessions and some all day classes, we’ve never exhausted the earplug’s batteries, and the charger brings them back to 100 percent within a few hours.

They aren’t advertised for use in hunting, but we used them hunting hogs in Texas recently and the 5x enhanced hearing mode made us aware of a group of hogs grunting and scratching past brush 350 yards across a valley.

Small, convenient, comfortable, and weather resistant. The ear pro support 16-hour days, and the charging case supports weeks in the field without power. An LCD gives exact percentages of power remaining for both earplugs as well as the onboard recharging battery. Replacement tips are easily available online.

The charging case latch feels delicate. The cover’s gotta be latched to keep the earbuds in contacts with the charging terminals. So, if the latch breaks, it’ll cause charging issues.

It’s expensive, but the situational awareness afforded by something so small and convenient makes them ideal for armed professionals and competitive shooters. They seem built to last, and we’ve experienced no issues with them during six months of regular use.

nikon spur

Reticle:  3 MOA
Battery:  1x CR1632
Runtime:  1.7 years, on lowest setting
MSRP:  $200

A reflex style, miniature red-dot sight.

It’s $200 when products from other big brand names, such as the Trijicon RMR and Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, retail for twice that. Nikon has a great reputation for the quality of its lenses as well as for producing quality products at affordable prices. The advertised battery life of 1.7 years when left on is impressive, too.

A tiny, exposed LED in the base of the devices emits a highly focused red light that’s reflected by the viewing lens and appears as a red dot superimposed over the shooter’s view of the target area. The Spur offers 10 levels of brightness selected by two buttons on the device’s left side. The first two brightness settings are for use with night vision equipment. The Spur includes a picatinny base that’s removable for direct mount applications.

The reflex-style MRDS concept is well tested, and Nikon’s application of the technology is sound. The dot is plenty bright enough for outdoor use in the brightest conditions. Optically, the lens is as clear and bright as more expensive MRDS options. There’s nothing to complain about in the presentation of the dot. But, the window is shorter than we’d like. It measures 0.64-inch tall while competitors are a tenth or two taller. This translates into a dot that’s not visible from a higher head position. The Spur’s included picatinny mounting base is short, putting the dot nearly a half-inch below the absolute cowitness height of AR iron sights. Combine the shorter window with the low Pic rail mount, and the Spur is best used directly mounted on pistols (or Pic rail mounted to shotguns) until a spacer or higher baseplate is available that gets it up to a usable height on AR pattern firearms.

Adjustment is accurate, and the sight hasn’t lost zero on our MPX, even after some rough handling. We purposely dropped the subgun a few times and let it slide around a pickup truck bed between shooting sessions. Despite a dent in the sight body, the Spur held zero.

The price. The control buttons are too small for gloved hands, but they’re very positive and allow brightness adjustment while the dot is visible. The lens is bright, clear, and free of distortion in normal use. It’s also lightweight.

Oddball CR1632 battery and the oddball tool Nikon includes to swap it. A flat-bladed screwdriver works, too. The microscopic heads on the windage and elevation screws are a pain and call for the use of the included micro flathead screwdriver. Although far from sloppy, the adjustment detents are on the mushy side. The Unreinforced housing is not strong enough for duty use.

A MRDS for under $200? Sure. It’s a budget optic with some tradeoffs in features, not function or performance. We wouldn’t run it on a rifle, but it seems plenty capable for use on a pistol slide, once someone starts making compatible mounting plates.

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