KCI 50-Round Drum Mag & Federal Ammo: How’d it Do?

Most everyone has an opinion of drum magazines, one way or another, even if those same people have never shot with one. I am one of those people. In certain applications, I see the need or desire for drum magazines, the ones that hold around 50 rounds of certain ammunition. But other applications, like with a handgun, always seemed a bit silly to me. I had a chance to shoot with a 9mm magazine and I was surprised.

KCI 50-rd Drum Mag
KCI Magazines has a 50-round 9mm drum magazine that is compatible with double-stack Glocks. I was surprised at how it performed with Federal ammo on a Glock and a 9mm AR-15.

The Drum Mag

The magazine I shot with is the KCI 50-round drum magazine for the Glock platform. The magazine is an all-black steel-lined polymer mag that has hardened steel inserts. According to KCI, it is engineered to deliver a smooth, jam-free operation in a 9mm double-stack Gen 3 Glock platform (think Glock 17, 19, 26, or 34) or applicable 9mm AR rifles, like the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 or 9mm chambered AR-15s.

Feedlips and follower of KCI drum mag
The KCI drum mag is a steel-lined polymer magazine with an injection-molded follower and chrome silicone spring. These features are said to give the magazine maximum reliability and jam-free operation.

Inside the magazine is a chrome silicone wire spring with an injection-molded polymer follower for reported maximum reliability and smooth feeding. To load those 50 rounds into the magazine, the outside has finger taps that help crank the spring down to help make it easier to load the ammo.

Federal Champion 9mm ammo

Speaking of ammo, I used the Federal Champion 115-grain FMJ ammo for the testing. This clean, factory firsts ammo from Federal is used by shooters across the country as a reliable and affordable training round with a lead round nose bullet and premium primers and components. According to Federal, this round and load is specifically engineered for high-volume shooters, is highly accurate, and each round is hand inspected for consistent performance.

Federal Ammuntion 115gr FMJ 9mm
I chose to use Federal Ammunition 9mm 115gr FMJ for the testing of the KCI drum mag. The ammo is clean and used by many as a high-volume shooting round.

The Set-Up

For testing out the KCI Drum Mag, I wanted to use both a double-stack Glock pistol as well as a 9mm AR, and thankfully I have access to both. I initially thought I would have problems with the drum mag and the pistol and wanted to have a backup option to fully test both the magazine and the ammo combination.

The Glock 19 I have has seen a lot of use and true to the Glock name, I have had no problems or malfunctions with the pistol. The 9mm rifle, too, had no previous issues when using stick Glock magazines for function so I knew both firearms would be good hosts to use.

Loading the Drum Mag

The magazine straight out of the box was clean and nice looking. There were no instructions or words of advice on the box or inside the box, so you have to feel your way through it, which I had no problem accomplishing. Before anyone gets worked up, I realize it is a magazine and it’s self-explanatory, but some newer shooters may benefit from a little extra info to get them started.

The 1st loading went well, and the finger taps really do help load the magazine faster and easier. You save yourself a lot of effort by not having to push down each round as you load. What I did notice was the magazine got sticky around 45 and 46 rounds, making it quite hard to load even with the finger taps and pushing. Once past that threshold, it loaded the rest of the rounds just fine.

On the 2nd loading, it got sticky or harder to load the rounds at round 36 and then lightened up again until round 46/47. I’m sure it was just the spring getting a little bit of a workout and wouldn’t be much of an issue in subsequent loading. All in all, loading was easy and the finger taps are a nice touch.

Shooting

I started shooting with the Glock 19 first. I wasn’t sold on the idea of a drum mag on the Glock, but by the end, I didn’t hate it entirely. The magazine seated fine into the Glock but there is some play or movement of the magazine inside the magwell. The drum mag and the ammo also were definitely a large weight added to the bottom of the grip. The added weight did help anchor the pistol when firing, but then the extra weight got a touch annoying.

Glock 19 with KCI drum mag
I initially thought the magazine would have problems with the Glock, but it worked as expected with no jamming. There was some movement with the magazine inside of the magwell that was harder to control with rapid fire.

When shooting single shots and not rapid firing, the shots were on target and accurate. But when doing rapid fire, the weight of the magazine started moving more and made it harder to get on target and stay there. The play of the magazine inside the magwell takes some getting used to but the pistol was shootable.

With the 9mm AR, however, things were different. The magwell on the AR is shorter than on the Glock, so the play with the magazine was much worse with the AR. It took a little bit to get comfortable with the seating of the magazine into the rifle because of it. I started with slow rounds and shooting the AR was fine for the 1st four rounds, then there was a malfunction. I stopped and cleared the rifle and started to shoot again. Again, after a few rounds (five to be exact), there was another malfunction.

KCI drum mag on 9mm AR-15
I was surprised that I had as much trouble with the magazine in the 9mm AR as I did. The movement from the magazine inside the magwell led to multiple ammo alignment malfunctions even with altering my grip and shooting speed.

The malfunction happened again after another four rounds. Thinking it could be an issue with the slow shooting, I switched to rapid fire. One more malfunction happened after a handful of shots. After clearing that malfunction, I switched up how I was holding the rifle, thinking that using the magwell as the grip could be adding to the issue. The rifle functioned fine but failed to hold the bolt open on the last round.

For the malfunctions, the best I could ascertain, along with my shooting partner, is the weight and movement from the KCI drum mag during firing altered the feed angle downward. So, as the bolt slid forward to load the next round, the ammo would nosedive into the breach instead of loading into the chamber.  When we inspected the magazine, it looked as if the magazine catch, or notch, was oversized for the host firearms, meaning the notch wasn’t as tight as it could have been and allowed for that extra movement after the magazine was seated.

Damaged 9mm rounds in hand
While the KCI drum mag performed well with the Glock 19, with the 9mm AR-15 there were malfunction issues. These four rounds were the malfunction rounds. You can easily see the bullet pushed back into the casing.

Conclusion

Reviews I saw online for the magazine didn’t mention any problems with malfunctions or with movement while seated in their firearms, so it leads me to wonder if I received a slight lemon or if I was being hypercritical. Either way, the problem was with the magazine and not the ammo. The ammo performed as it should have, which is no real surprise with Federal ammunition.

In the end, the drum mag was fun to shoot with the Glock 19. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did, and I wouldn’t think twice to do it again.

Patti Miller is one of the most awesome females in the tactical/firearm (or any) industry. Imagine a tall, hawt, dangerous Laura Ingalls Wilder type with cool hair and a suppressed blaster and you'll be getting the idea. What's interesting is that in addition to being a willing brawler and intrepid adventuress, she's also an Ent/Ogier level gardener and a truly badass baker.

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