The 50 Round KCI AR Drum (Full Review)
Who doesn’t love a drum magazine? Who doesn’t more ammo in their gun? Even Magpul produces a drum. The problem with drums is that they tend to be pricey and if you wanted one just for fun you’re still looking at paying at least a hundred bucks. Korean firm KCI has changed that with the KCI AR drum. This 50 round drum is cheap and perfect if you just wanted to have fun with your gun. It’s made from clear polymer that allows you to see your ammo quite clearly. It’s not designed for duty use, but for the range, it’s a fun option. Toss it in an insanely small AR pistol and the cool factor is off the charts.
Loading the KCI AR Drum is slow, but easy to do. Instead of being an AK style take-apart, you load it like an AR magazine. The follower is made from several interlocked dummy rounds. The front of the drum has a small ratchet that you twist, which drags the follower downwards. You spin the crank a little bit, load a few rounds, and repeat until you fully load it. It’s slow, but you are never destroying your thumbs trying to press rounds into the thing.
Drum Versus Extended AR magazine
You may ask what does a drum offer over an extended magazine? I own a 50 round Torkmag and love it, and I own several 40 round P-MAGS as well. Both are simpler than any drum and often much more affordable. The main benefit over a drum is how short it is. The KCI AR drum is only a hair longer than a 30 round magazine. This allows you to get a lower prone position and keeps it from snagging in the environment. That makes sense for those using a drum equipped gun to provide fire support.
In the regular world, a drum is a really fun way to increase your gun’s capacity. Machine gun owners will have more fun than most of us with these, but I can’t help but adore them. With the price of the KCI AR drum being so low, I can’t help but love it more.
Locked and Loaded
The drum comes with some lubrication, but I wanted to run it dry and see how well it ran. I used Hornady training ammo for the first two drum fulls. Hornady training ammo is “Quality coated steel” cases according to their website.
You can’t fit this drum into a gun with the bolt closed. Maybe if you bash it in, but it’s a little easier to lock the bolt back and insert the drum. The first time I sent the bolt home, the bolt slammed one of the rounds into the bottom of the chamber.
I ejected the drum, cleared the mini jam and tried again. This time the round load perfectly. A failure on the first round made me a little nervous. However, my fear was quickly abated. I emptied the drum in what has to be one of the more foolish ways to waste ammo.
Thinking back, I could’ve worked some drills into this ammo dump, but you only live once. Live and learn right?
What I love about Hornady training ammo is that it comes packaged in 50 round boxes, perfect for this drum, so I loaded another drum up and worked through a few drills from the old Marine Corps Table 2 and 3 qualifying shoots. This time the KCI AR drum ran very smoothly from round one.
Fifty rounds of Wolf Gold brass cased ammo fired uneventfully as well. I expected Brass cased to have the best performance and it certainly performed as expected. Zero issues. With the brass cased ammo, I set into the prone and fired with the drum resting against the round. There were no feeding issues.
The Dreaded Dry Ammo
The next load was all steel case ammo from Tula. Not exactly the smoothest ammo and it proved why the drum needs lube. The Hornady ammo has a lacquer over it, brass is naturally smooth, but Tula is dry and rough. This ammo caught in the top portion of the drum twice. A swift tap, rack, bang sent the round to the top and fixed the problem.
For the next drum full, I lubed the next 20 rounds of Tula and these twenty rounds of ammo lubed the drum as I loaded it. This drum full ran perfectly! A little bit of lube made everything run smooth. Steel ammo like this is notoriously dry and I figured it’d be the make-or-break-it of this drum.
The Point of The KCI AR Drum
In all honesty, the point of a drum for 99% of us is to have fun. That’s what the KCI AR Drum is best for–getting out there and blowing through a few hundred rounds of ammo, 50 rounds at a time. KCI makes that level of fun affordable. KCI makes a number of drums for ARs, AKs, SKS rifles, and even Glocks, so give them a look. This is the second one I’ve reviewed and both are fun pieces of kit.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.