Last February, Emerson Gear announced their PMAC Style Powerbank phone charger. Emerson Gear is a Chinese maker of airsoft gear. They replicate a lot of name-brand items for the airsoft market.—
The PMAC charger comes with a dust cover and at the time I ordered these, the FDE versions did not have FDE base plates.
The PMAC style power bank comes in a wooden box made to simulate a crate. Not bad packaging. I like it for the aesthetics. However, I think Emerson could have opted out of the premium packaging and sold these for less. They are $18 each. I ordered two, one in tan and the other in black from jkarmy airsoft store last March hoping I would get these in time for the NRA Annual Meeting.
PMAG vs PMAC
The Emerson Gear PMAC Powerbank is similar in style to a Magpul PMAG. However, it is not the same. At first glance, they look similar but subtle changes make it different from a PMAG. You can see the differences in the photo below. The PMAG is longer and the PMAC bodies have four recesses rather than the three on the PMAG right in front of the window. The PMAC bodies have a mottled texture that is rougher than a PMAG.
The PMAC charger body has a sticker on the inside that looks like a stack of 5.56 ammo is in the window. I removed the stickers on the tan PMAC.
The right sides of the PMAC and PMAG are different as well.
Inside The PMAC Charger
The PMAC power bank is basically an insert that goes inside the faux PMAG body. It houses 3x 18650 li-ion rechargeables. Below I just used random 18650 batteries. It is recommended that you use the same brand and model 18650s when using multiples in an electronic device.
The PMAC magazine body is made of a weak plastic. The dust cover does not snap on very solidly and is too easy to remove making it pretty much useless.
With the extra space, you can store your smartphone USB cable inside and cap it off with the dust cover. Sadly a real PMAG dust cover won’t work as it is not the right shape for the PMAC mag body.
Apparently, there are two different versions of the PMAC phone charger inserts. One is taller than the other. This is a recent development that I came across just a couple of days ago. Mine is the shorter variant, which I prefer.
I opened my PMAC charger insert to see what the innards looked like. So my guess is the longer variant in the photo above is just empty dead space. There should not be any functional parts above the battery contacts.
Making A Working PMAG Phone Charger
The shorter insert has an added benefit.
In fact, it is compatible with PMAG springs.
This got me thinking, if I could install this insert into a real PMAG, I could use a shorter PMAG spring and follower and possibly have a functioning PMAG that can charge my phone.
I took the charger insert and tried to put it inside a PMAG. The sidewall protrusions interfere with the charger insert.
So I enlisted the help of my machinist friend, Keith Biddle, and had him mill away 5 inches of protrusions from the bottom. I wanted to keep the railed protrusions near the top since that is what helps guide the PMAG follower.
Below are two real PMAGs.
Here is the disassembled PMAG phone charger.
I was able to fit 5 rounds of .300blk/5.56 in the magazine. More importantly, it is able to feed a real AR15. I tested it in my friend’s SIG MCX pistol in .300blk
After I made the video, I modified the follower. I thought perhaps the follower was bottoming out too soon and that was limiting me to only 5 rounds. Sure enough, after chopping the follower I was able to fit 3 more cartridges in the PMAG phone charger for a total of 8 rounds. 8 rounds is a bit tough to feed into the gun on a closed bolt. So either I can download to 7 rounds or insert on an open bolt.
I used a gen 2 windowed PMAG as a host for the phone charger. However, I see no reason you could not use a gen 3 PMAG. I was hoping that there would be enough space in the PMAG to fit 10 rounds of 5.56 but unfortunately, there is not. Next, I plan on modifying a 40-round PMAG. It should work and give me even more capacity. I am hoping for 20 rounds but suspect I will only get 15 rounds with the phone charger insert inside.
This project was not cheap.
Here is a breakdown in cost to make a functioning PMAG phone charger.
- 1. $15 PMAG
- 2. $18 PMAC power bank
- 3. $11 PMAC shipping from China
- 4. $54 three 18650 li-ion batteries
That comes out to just $98 in parts, not including taxes or shipping for some of those items. Then add on the custom machining of the PMAG to get the charger insert to fit inside the magazine.
That puts the PMAG phone charger cost over $100.
If you are interested in making your own PMAG phone charger, you can start by getting a PMAG from our website. They are as low as $11.95 right now. Click here to check out our selection of PMAGs.