Far be it from me to tell anyone how much they should charge for their product. Neither is it my business the level of quality they choose to engineer into it. I’ll let the free market determine those weighty issues every time. Take RF’s current carry piece, the Bill Wilson Carry Pistol, as an example. It appears to be an elegant 1911 made to extremely close tolerances. Something you probably have to shoot for yourself to fully appreciate. And if you appreciate it enough – and have the coin – you can lay out the three grand needed to bring one home. It’s your money, right? Then again…

you can also buy a Rock Island Armory 1911. It’s a little more, well, Spartan than the BWCP. Both guns are basically the same size and weight, and carry about the same. And both will put a pretty good-sized hole in whatever you point them at. It’s just that the RIA will do it for about $2,500 less.

I get the picture. It’s all a matter of what you need, what you value and what you can afford. Just another version of the old ‘-ex’ comparison. Timex vs. Rolex.

But here’s a picture that’s a little more out of focus. To me, anyway. Would someone – anyone, really – pay $510 for a magazine loader? Anyone other than maybe the federal government, that is. Check out the Maglula Benchloader in the vid, above. It certainly looks like a quality piece of kit, as they say. Solidly built, nicely designed. Here’s what Brownells has to say:

Heavy-duty, polymer loader makes it easy for you to load a 10-, 20- or 30-round magazine in less than 30 seconds. Load hundreds of magazines a day without the pain, pinched fingers, or bruises of hand-loading—perfect for military/law enforcement armorers, shooting ranges, and any high-volume AR-15 shooter. Standard model accepts USGI-type AR-15/M16 (NATO STANAG 4179) magazines; Universal also accepts other AR-style magazines, including HK 416, SAR-80, Beretta AR-70/90, plus Magpul PMAG, Thermold, Orlite, and SIG Sauer polymer mags. Foolproof design, with only one moving part, makes it impossible to load magazines incorrectly and requires no maintenance. Feeds rounds into the magazine without contacting the feed lips, so it prolongs magazine life. Rounds are held securely in the tray and won’t fly out when the slider is moved. Numbered indicators show the number of rounds in the tray, so no more guessing how many rounds have been loaded. Convenient carrying handle makes it easy to take to the range; includes heavy duty padded ballistic nylon carrying case.

And it has a convenient carry handle, too! Which is all very nice. But there are any number of other options out there to make the drudgery of loading your AR mags less drudgerous. All for $50 or less. Most for around $25.

For the princely sum of $510 the Benchloader should damned well zero your scope and clean your gun for you, too. Has Maglula gone just a little overboard here? Can they really sell these things? How much is too much?

21 Responses to Question of the Day: How Much Is Too Much?

  1. If you’re wealthy, have arthritic or otherwise marginally performing hands, and bring a lot of loaded mags with you to the range, this could be an ideal tool.
    Also might be an expedient thing for an LE or military unit armorer to have back at “home base” to quickly charge up a lot of mags for a long training session or even a live-fire field op.
    Or, you could turn an AR-style rifle into a crew-served weapon: one guy to run the mag loader, and another to actually fire at the enemy.

      • Well, the Palm Pistol was submitted as a medical device and actually FDA approved, as such.
        Hey, at the very least, maybe we can buy this stuff with leftover Flex Spending Acct dollars?

  2. DPMS tests every gun before it goes out the door. They have a kid that spends all day on of these so every rifle gets a full mag. If that was my job, that’s what I would have too.

  3. If I was loading 100+ mags a week I would probably consider the 500 bucks worth it. For pretty much anyone but incredibly high volume shooters or people with special needs this seems a bit excessive, especially since the uplula costs like 20 dollars.

  4. There are three basic marketing strategies:

    1. Price – the lowest price.
    2. Value – quality at an affordable price
    3. Quality – price no object

    Number one—price—is easy enough. The gun or gun gear company simply cuts corners anywhere and everywhere. Low-cost labor, parts, assembly, customer service, etc. The end result is a lot of consumers shaking their heads ruefully and saying “They were right: you get what you pay for.” And a lot MORE who said “Hey, that’s what I get for X dollars. It’s good enough and I saved a BUNDLE.” Hi-Point? Charter Arms? Armscor?

    Number two—value—is a tough market. The gun or gun gear company has to convince price-minded consumers that the extra quality justifies the extra price. At the same time, they have to fend off the quality producers who often “reach down,” selling their rep for quality at a [more] affordable price (e.g. Smith & Wesson M&P).

    The extreme competition usually takes it toll; the value market is usually dominated by big names who can afford mass marketing and access to the main distribution channels. Ruger, Smith, Springfield, etc.

    Number three—quality—is not all about “exclusivity.” There are a certain percentage of high end buyers who purchase guns and gun gear based entirely on brand perception. They don’t have the time or inclination to find out what makes a company’s products so damn expensive; they’re too busy making money or it’s not their thing. And yes, the higher the price, the more comfortable they feel about buying the firearms and related products.

    But the majority of high end buyers really DO know what makes a top price gun or bit of gun gear better than the value-based products. Details that value-oriented consumers don’t, uh, value. It can be stupid stuff; tiny screws made of unobtanium. It can also be extreme quality control or call-the-customer-by-name service or “old world” craftsmanship (which can be objectively inferior to digital machining).

    But a high end brand MUST maintain excellence to survive. They can cruise on their rep for years, but not forever. Cadillac springs to mind. I’m sure our Armed Intelligentsia can think of similar top end gun brands that fell from grace or moved so far mid-market they lost the plot (I couldn’t possibly comment).

    It’s easy to see why there are so many quality-driven people in the gun world; the products and services can be a matter of life-or-death. Not always. Maybe not even most of the time. And certainly not in this case. But they want “the best” and they’re willing to pay through the nose for it.

    I reckon there ain’t nothing wrong with that, even when there is.

  5. Time is money. My time isn’t worth that much. If this is better kit than the 50 dollar rig, I can see situations where it would pay. I have met plenty of people who value their time more than this costs. Turn it around. What if you were paying someone, and one of their duties was loading mags. How long till this tool has paid for itself? Help costs big. A few minutes time savings and this thing would pay in a hurry. The market will tell if something is too expensive. If no one buys it, well, there you are.

  6. Maybe if you could dump loose ammo into a hopper and it would self-sort like the Butler Creek 10/22 loader. Maybe if it could handle multiple calibers. I would still think it was insane, but maybe someone else might not. However if I am loading mags up 30 rnds at a time then I am probably loading Lake City, and for just a little more I can get that stuff on stripper clips that load just as easy.

  7. We all have different truths, needs, values, priorities, interests, and budgets. If a person makes a valid and rational buying decision that is right for them then I’m not judging or critiquing the purchase.

  8. A couple things…

    a: There are those who need this. Manufacturers. Military units. People running firing ranges in Vegas, etc… At $500, its really designed only to appeal to “those who need it” market.

    If you have someone spending just 15 minutes a day, every day, at $20/hr total cost to the business, loading magazines, this speedloader will save the business >$5/day, and pay for itself in four months time.

    But because there aren’t that many businesses in that camp, the price is high (low volume goods -> high price).

    b: Its a brand-halo: Lexus doesn’t need the LF-A, nobody needs to buy it, but its designed to help sell the bog standard IS-250.

    MagLula makes very nice, vastly cheaper manual loader/unloaders as well.

    • “b: Its a brand-halo: Lexus doesn’t need the LF-A, nobody needs to buy it, but its designed to help sell the bog standard IS-250.”

      Basically, it’s the same basic idea as Intel’s Extreme Edition processors, and the pissing contests that AMD and Nvidia partners do to have the top-performing video card… If you have the top card, people will assume that your demand for performance extends to your cheaper offerings.

  9. This isn’t for someone who loads 14 magazines to take to the range. This product is mainly targeted at the military. Imagine have to load up a few hundred magazines. In such a case, this product definitely makes up for it’s price tag.

    I find it absolute amazing that the firearms press has a hard time understanding the need for certain products in very specialized applications. I remember reading a write up on the Barrett MRAD and the author couldn’t imagine why a sniper would carrying around a spare 7.62x51mm barrel and ammo when he could just carry more .338 Lapua Magnum. The answer is that he wouldn’t. The .308 barrel system is for training. .308 is really much better for training snipers as it’s much more sensitive to wind than something like the beastly .338 Lapua. It’s also massively less expensive, just compare M80, or even M118LR or Mk 316 Mod 0, to the cost of .338 LM.

    Niche products are just that. The vast majority don’t need them, but those that do need them badly and will pay for it.

    • I don’t think it’s a good product even for its niche purpose. It took him 15 seconds to load the ammo into the tray, I think strippers are faster.

      • Stripper clips are faster – but its pretty rare to see commercial ammo sold on stripper clips. As I recall, most of the live 5.56 x 45 ammo we used in the military came packaged on 10 round stripper clips. So I don’t think the military would find this product to be all that useful.

  10. Obviously the reviewer hasn’t spent a day loading magazines for the other 200 guys in his basic training company. Though I remember getting ammo in stripper clips, not loose rounds.

  11. I doubt the military will buy it. At training ranges, you have privates on ammo detail to load magazines. Deployed, after the patrol, what else is there to do beside clean your weapon and charge magazines? Your only other activity is getting your 20 minutes of internet time to talk to family, eat, and sleep.

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