Best Mag Loaders: Maglula vs. Magpump

By Robert A. Sadowski
Posted in #Gear
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Best Mag Loaders: Maglula vs. Magpump

October 12th, 2023

7 minute read

In today’s article, Robert Sadowski pits Maglula vs. Magpump in a head-to-head battle to determine which is the best magazine loader for your AR-pattern mags. The results may surprise you.

There are times when loading a 30-round SAINT AR magazine is a meditative pursuit. As I load, I think about the hits, why I missed, how I manipulated the firearm, and what I could do better and smoother. Other times, I look at a loose case of 1,000 5.56 green tip rounds and next to it a pile of empty AR magazines and think: How do I get those rounds in those magazines without a sore thumb? 

best mag loaders maglula vs magpump
In this matchup, the author tries to determine which is the best AR magazine loader: the Magpump or the Maglula.

That’s why investing in a speed loader makes sense. I’ve used the Magpump AR Magazine Loader and the Maglula Range BenchLoader, and both offer the ability to load 5.56 ammo in any AR-15 magazine quickly. I have never used them side-by-side, however. Some of the things to look for in a speed loader is ease of use, speed to load, portability, compatibility with a variety of magazines, and durability. 

Mags and Rounds

I gathered a variety of magazines: Okay Surefeed, Sentry Hexmag, Magpul G2 and G3, Lancer, and Duramag. Most are 30-round magazines, but some are 10- and 20-round variants. The Magpul and Hexmag are polymer, while the Okay and Duramag are metal.

magazines and ammo tested in this comparison
A variety of magazines were tested — Okay Surefeed, Sentry Hexmag, Magpul G2 and G3, Lancer, and Duramag. Brass- and steel-cased ammo was also used.

The Lancer is a hybrid magazine with a polymer body and metal feed lips. I also used brass and steel case ammo to see if case material affects performance. It didn’t.

Magpump AR Magazine Loader Specs

The Magpump comes in two pieces: a hopper and a loader. I liked this setup the first time I used it. Just dump rounds in the hopper, insert a magazine into the loader and start pumping the handle. Two pins attach the hopper to the loader. The unit is made of polymer with metal internal parts, and it is designed not to mangle your magazine’s feed lips. It is lightweight, about one pound, and stands about 10.5” high and 7.75” wide. You can also load 300 BLK with the Magpump using 300 BLK-compatible magazines. MSRP is $99.

Maglula Range BenchLoader Specs

The Maglula is a lightweight polymer loader that is thin and shaped like a flat banana. It’s 16.5” long and weighs about 13 ounces.

maglula ar-15 magazine loader
The Maglula is lightweight and has a small footprint, making it easy to bring to the range.

A magazine is inserted at one end, and cartridges are placed into the tray/track. Then, a loading block on the opposite end is quickly pushed through the sliding mechanism to insert the rounds into the magazine. It comes with a cloth case. MSRP is $149.

Loading the Speed Loaders

For either loader, you need a flat surface like a table, bench top or pickup truck tailgate. Both speed loaders can be mounted to a bench. 

Magpump: When you drop cartridges into the hopper, you must ensure the rounds are correctly oriented. You can’t just drop in a handful of cartridges that are pointed every which way. The process is relatively fast; just be sure cartridges are in the right direction, and gravity does the rest. Insert a magazine via the slot on one side. All tested magazines clicked into place. 

how to use magpump to load an ar magazine
When magazines are inserted in the Magpump, they click in place. That curved lever is pressed to release magazines.

Maglula: First, insert the magazine into the loader. All the magazines mentioned easily clicked into place. Rounds are placed diagonally into the tray and then must be straightened so the bullet tip and case rim are positioned under the lip of the tray. It takes a bit more time to put cartridges into the Maglula since you need to position the rounds properly. I could load and position multiple rounds at a time relatively quickly. A round counter in 5-round increments is located on the outer edge of the loader, so if you are loading a 5-round or 10-round magazine, you know when you have the correct rounds in the tray.

The Magpump is much easier to load; just drop rounds in the hopper. The first point goes to Mag-pump.

Magazine Loading: Pump and Slide

Magpump: With the hopper filled and a magazine inserted, you then hold the loader with one hand and pump the handle with the other. If it’s bolted or clamped down, you only need one hand. Push the lever forward, and you’ll see a round drop through the window built into the loader. Release the lever, and the round moves to the loading position. You can feel the rounds being pushed into the magazine. When the magazine is full, the loader will stop loading rounds. You can feel it when the mag is fully topped off. 

magpump hopper
You need to orient rounds correctly when you drop them into the hopper of the Magpump.

While pumping the lever, you can get into a rhythm. If you try to pump the lever too fast, the mechanism can jam, so release the lever and push it again. Don’t force it, or the cartridges will jam. This happened to me once. I removed the partially filled magazine and flipped over the loader to allow the cartridges to fall from the hopper. I had to remove the hopper to remove a stuck cartridge. It was my fault for gorilla’ing the lever with too much force. Not much effort is required to pump the handle, even when the last few rounds are being loaded. 

All magazines were easy to load except for the Lancer, which had a five-round limiting floor plate. This is the magazine I use for hunting. The fifth round would not load.

Maglula: With the rounds properly placed in the tray, hold the magazine end of the loader and slide the slide handle into the rounds, pushing them into the magazine. Rounds load in a blink of an eye. If there are too many rounds in the loader, like 30 rounds, and you are loading a 20-round magazine, it will stop when the magazine is loaded. I tried babying the Maglula and sliding the slide slowly, and it still easily loaded rounds. It even loaded all five rounds into the Lancer magazine.

loading the maglula
In the Maglula rounds are inserted diagonally, then slid toward the magazine so the cartridge tip and rim are under the tray lip.

I counted rounds from both loaders to ensure all 30 rounds were loaded. For someone with not a lot of hand strength, I’d recommend the Magpump. It is easier to operate. The Maglula requires more strength. The point goes to Magpump.

Magazine Speed: Which Loader Is Fast and Furious?

You can load up to 90 rounds at a time in the funnel-shaped hopper of the Magpump. Magpump says it reduces loading time by more than 50 percent, and I must agree: it is fast. The Maglula, however, is faster. 

maglula and magazine
Magazines snap into place at one end of the Maglula. All magazines tested were compatible, and the Maglula proved faster than the Magpump in the author’s testing.

My pseudo-scientific test process was to start my phone timer, pick up a 30-round magazine, insert it into the loader, dump in your rounds, load the magazine and stop the timer. My benchmark was loading a 30-round magazine by hand. I averaged 1 minute, 12.8 seconds.

how to load a magazine with the maglula
The slide on the Maglula needs to be quickly slid to insert rounds into the magazine.

With the Magpump I averaged 55.7 seconds, and with the Maglula I averaged 39.8 seconds. Clearly, the Maglula is the speed demon. Point Maglula.

Which Loader Is Range Bag Ready?

If the Magpump is a complicated mechanism, then the Maglula is an example of simplicity. The Maglula is a slide, a tray that acts like a track, and a latch to secure the magazine. You can take this to the range with you since it is lightweight and portable. You can even store it in a rifle case. The Magpump is larger and, in my opinion, is better bolted to your shop bench. It is too cumbersome to take to the range, though you could. Again, point to Maglula.

Last Impressions of the Rifle Mag Loaders

I have been using both loaders off and on for a few years and can say they are both well-made and durable. The cost of them is comparable, so that’s not really a factor. It comes down to speed and ease. The Maglula has speed, but the Magpump offers ease. Either one will fill up empty mags and no sore thumbs.

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Robert A. Sadowski

Robert A. Sadowski

Robert A. Sadowski has written about firearms and hunting for more than fifteen years. He has trained with some of the country’s finest firearm instructors in handguns, rifles/carbines, shotguns and long-range shooting. He is the author of numerous gun books, including 9MM — Guide to America's Most Popular Caliber, a #1 New Release on Amazon. He is a contributing editor to numerous gun-enthusiast magazines and websites, including Combat Handguns, Black Guns, Gun Tests, Gun Digest, Gun World, Ballistic,, SHOT Business, and others. He also edited Shooter’s Bible Guide to Firearms Assembly, Disassembly, and Cleaning; 50 Guns That Changed the World; and Gun Traders Guide.

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