AR-15 100-Round Drum by KCI: Reliable or Just Fun?

AR-15 rifles are just fun to shoot, period. They have little recoil; they are accurate and there are a ton of accessories for them. Their biggest selling point is probably that ARs have so many options for customization: handguards, grips, charging handles, and more.

Magazine options run abundant with AR-15 rifles, too. Everything from 5-60 round magazines are available for the American rifle. But what if you want more firepower than that? Just step into the world of drum magazines.

I recently took a KCI 100-round drum to the range for some fun and it didn’t disappoint. A magazine can be changed relatively fast, but with this thing, you can skip three mag changes and keep firing instead. After a few reloads, the only bad thing I found with this drum was the cost to use it. Ammo isn’t cheap and it spits out bullets like a race car.

clear backside of magazine showing rounds of ammo
The KCI 100-round drum is heavy but with that much ammo, it is expected. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
AR drum magazines have been iffy in the past, and many of the drums out there are questionable. Some of the lower-end mags work fine in some guns and not at all in others. Drums are less reliable than box mags and prone to feeding issues. Some are hard to load and take so much time to fill up that you decide to just skip it. I’ll go over the details of the KCI 100-round drum below and explain why I think it’s a good option if you want a drum magazine for your AR-15.

About KCI Magazines

KCI is known for making magazines for those on a budget. Some of their mags work flawlessly and some have had issues. In my experience, they work great but wear out faster than factory mags. I’ve had some Glock OEM mags that came with my first Glock pistol. They still work great and have never failed. Being in law enforcement, I train with them a lot. I’m not sure if KCI mags would hold up to the likes of Glock or some of the other OEM mags.

KCI Gen 2 100-round drum for AR-15
The KCI Gen 2 double drum magazine holds 100 rounds of ammo for an AR-15 rifle. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
But does that mean KCI mags are not worth the money? Not in my opinion. I use just about every brand of magazine out there when running drills on the range. Some of them have serious issues, and others work great for training.

KCI is one of those brands that work fine on the range. Like anything else gun related, there are different purposes for different products. If you want everything you own to be the best product on the planet, then go for it. But some magazines can be pricy and not everyone wants to pay top dollar for some extra mags thrown around on the range. During training exercises, I’ve lost magazines, had them stepped on, smashed into the mud, and more. Sure, I could have used my factory mags every time because they hold up great to that kind of treatment. But I also don’t like beating up my most expensive mags when I could use a cheaper option.

I may not use KCI mags in battle, but for the range, they work great.

KCI’s Gen 2 100 Round Drum

The KCI 100-round drum magazine is a double drum that loads and unloads like any other magazine out there. As you push the bullets into the top, it rotates them into a drum on either side. The back is clear, allowing you to see how many rounds are in it. I like this feature on a drum because 100 rounds are a lot of ammo to keep track of. Each drum sits beside the AR mag that feeds into the rifle. 

KCI Gen 2 100-round drum for AR-15.
The KCI Gen 2 Drum utilizes two drums on each side of an AR-15 magazine. Each one holds 50 rounds of ammo. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The drum comes with a magazine loader, but I was able to load it by hand without any issues. While it is a 100-round drum, I left a few rounds out when loading. This is a practice I have with nearly all AR-15 magazines because they just seem to work better.

One issue that a lot of AR drums had in the past is seating all the way in the rifle with the bolt closed. I didn’t have any issues with this. I placed the loaded drum in an Aero Precision, BCM, Black Rain, Radical Arms, and Daniel Defense. None of them had issues with the mag seating while the bolt was closed.

One of the biggest things I didn’t like about the drum is the loose ammo sound it makes. While there is pressure on the bullets as they enter the magazine portion of the drums, the ammo on the top part of the drums is loose. This makes a rattling sound as you move the gun around.

Are double drum magazines worth using?

A lot goes on in a double drum magazine, so there is more to go wrong. I have used the KCI double drum mag for a while, and it’s been holding up fine. But I wouldn’t use it for self-defense. Because it feeds bullets from both sides of the magazine, two separate springs need to apply even pressure from each side. If one spring becomes weaker than the other, feeding problems will occur.

The other issue is with springs holding up. We know that magazine springs don’t wear out from being loaded or empty, but from being used. Compressing and releasing a spring weakens it. A drum has a much larger spring than a traditional AR mag making it susceptible to wearing out faster. Because each drum holds 50 rounds, the added weight on the spring doesn’t help. Knowing this, would I still want to own one? Yes, they are fun to shoot at the range.

KCI Gen 2 mag for AR-15
I wouldn’t carry a drum in my self-defense rifle, but it’s a lot of fun on the range. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
I own weapons for self-defense, hunting, and long-range shooting, and some are just for fun. Ammo prices make it hard to shoot just for fun anymore, but every now and then you want to stand on the range and feel like Rambo. Holding an AR-15 with a 100-round drum will do the trick.

The KCI 100 Round Drum — It’s a Blast!

You don’t have to use a drum as your primary magazine for self-defense, just because you own one. I like all kinds of guns, magazines, and ammo. That doesn’t mean I would use them all when things go bad, and my home is in danger.

It’s true, drums are not considered reliable for professional use. The military and gobs of law enforcement agencies have tested them and found the same results. In general, drums are just not as reliable as box-fed magazines. But they are still fun to shoot and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to own one.

A double drum mag has even more moving parts than a single drum mag, but it holds more ammo. I have fired a ton of ammo through the KCI Gen 2 drum, and I haven’t had any issues yet. I may not consider this a self-defense-worthy product, but it’s still an impressive magazine on the range.

KCI does offer a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects not related to damage by the user. It comes with a nylon pouch with belt clips and a small tube of dry lubricant. If you’re itching to try a drum that holds a bunch of ammo, KCI offers a great price for a drum that works. Increase your firepower on the range and have some fun.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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