Maglula Universal Pistol Mag Loader/Unloader: Is It Worth A Darn?

It was simply awful. The day was frigid, the type of frigid that makes you not even want to take your hands out of your pockets. My fingers stung from the cold, and it was far worse because I was loading pistol magazines at an outdoor range.

As a gun writer, I do have occasion to get to the range and load magazines. In the cold winter months, loading mags just plain sucks. It’s not a ton of fun even in warm weather, but when the fingers are stinging from the cold, it takes misery to a whole new level. Add in some sharp, metal edges that we sometimes find on magazines, and the misery is amplified.

But what’s a guy gonna do? Use those Mk. 1 Standard Issue fingers and get after it. Or is there a better way?

I’m about to make your day a whole lot better feel free to thank me for it. Or at least thank Maglula.


Maglula was established in 2001, and all of their products are designed and produced in Israel. They routinely test samples of their products before they are shipped out, with quality control being a high priority. Every one of their products that I’ve ever used has performed flawlessly, so they must be doing something right.

Initially, the company was founded and run by a father-and-son team; Ran Tal (the father) and Guy Tal (the son) were the company. Ran would design prototypes by hand using materials such as plastic, wood, and metal. When a prototype was prepared, Ran would design a 3D CAD model. Steel molds would then be made for polymer-injected products.

Sadly, Ran Tal passed away a while back. However, his son Guy is still hard at work, and the company is chugging along well.

So far, I have close to a half-dozen mag loaders, including one for the Ruger 10/22, AR-15, M1A, and AK-47/Galil. My experience with these products has been stellar. They are simple, inexpensive, durable, and do exactly what they say they are going to, all of which are rare qualities these days.

Time is Money

Have you ever attended a firearms or tactical training course? If so, you’ll realize that these courses pack as much instruction as they possibly can into a compressed time frame. There’s never quite enough time to go over all the information and activities that they would like to cover.

Because of that, training must be conducted at a fast pace, and downtime is frowned upon. When a trainer tells people to show up with a requisite amount of magazines for their weapons, it’s a good idea to not only heed that guidance but bring more than you think you’ll need. Why? Because having many loaded magazines means more time shooting on the range and less time stuffing “Freedom Pills” into those magazines.

There’s always “That Guy” who shows up with two magazines for his weapon. Throughout the course, the class is hamstrung by having to wait for him to load his mags. Frustration builds, and irritation grows. Don’t be That Guy.

Maglula can’t help you if you’re running short on magazines. However, they can help you get the magazines you do have stuffed with rounds extremely quickly. That saves time, which gives you more time to train. It also saves fatigue because you don’t have to work as hard to fill your mags.

It’s one thing if you hit the local range and plan on running four or five magazines through your weapon. It’s entirely another when you’re in a training environment and will be shooting 1,000 to 2,000 rounds in a weekend. In a high-volume scenario, your fingers will be raw by the time it’s all said and done. Focusing on hurting extremities takes away from your ability to learn.

Universal Pistol Mag Loader

First introduced in 2006, Maglula’s Universal Pistol Mag Loader is made of lightweight polymer and has few moving parts; there are two springs inside. Overall, it’s the epitome of simplicity. It comes in several colors, including black, yellow, pink, purple, and green.

Maglula’s Universal Pistol Magazine Loader will load most magazines from a wide variety of manufacturers in calibers between 9mm and .45 ACP. Here, it’s seen with a Magazine from a Sig P365XL and Nosler ASP 9mm ammunition. Photo: Jim Davis.

The Maglula Mag Loader is designed to load calibers between 9mm and .45 ACP, single-stack, and double-stack magazines, regardless of manufacturer. It also unloads the magazines quickly and easily. Maglula states that the loader will work with most .380 ACP single- and double-stack magazines.

Maglula advises that this loader will load the following calibers:

  • 9mm
  • .357 Sig
  • 10mm
  • .40 S&W
  • .45 ACP

It will load from the first round to the last. It’s small and light enough (2.53 ounces) to fit into the pocket. It will fit most magazines by slipping over the top of the mag; no inserts are necessary.

How Does It Work?

The shooter slips it over the pistol’s magazine, then squeezes the lever at the front of the loader, then pushes down. An arm pushes the magazine follower down, and the user feeds a round into the mag. You simply repeat the process from there. It really is that simple. Squeeze, push down, feed a round in.

After squeezing the front piece of the loader and pushing it down, a round of ammunition is slipped into the magazine. The process repeats. It’s simple and fast. Photo: Jeremy Charles.

At first, it was awkward for me to operate the Maglula Mag Loader, but after a few rounds, I got the hang of it. After a short time, I got to the point where I could load one round about every second. Even magazines with extremely stiff springs posed no challenge to the loader. I was mesmerized at how easy it is to fill a magazine with this thing, especially when I filled a Glock 9mm 33-round magazine. Filling any applicable mag with the Universal Pistol Loader was a snap.

Maglula’s Universal Pistol Magazine Loader with some of the magazines we tested it on, including Glock, Sig, and Springfield Armory. It worked like a charm! Photo: Jim Davis.

In addition to what I’ve named above, other manufacturers that can be filled with the Maglula Mag Loader include Astra, Auto Ordnance, Barak, Beretta, Browning, Colt, CZ, EAA, FN, HK, High Point, High Standard, Jericho, Karh, Kel-Tec, Kimber, Les Baer, Llama, Magnum Research, Para Ordnance, Phoenix Arms, Ruger, Sigma, S&W, Star, Steyr, Taurus, Vector, Walther, and more.

To unload magazines, it’s so stupidly easy that you can’t help but chuckle. On the side of the loader, there’s a groove with a little tooth that protrudes out. Slide the exposed bullet from the magazine up to that tooth, and the tooth strips it out of the magazine, popping the round out. You can unload a magazine in a few seconds.

Final Thoughts

I love things that make my life easier, and by golly, the Maglula Mag Loader does precisely that. It’s lightweight, simple to operate, durable, compact, and light.

Were there any downsides to this piece of kit? No, not one.

Want to hear the next best part? At the time of writing, it only costs $32.99. Take it from me, it will be the most satisfying money that you’ve spent in a long time. This loader is going straight into my range bag, so I’m certain I’ll never be on the firing line without it.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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