By Lt. R. Michalik
Don’t underestimate the value of a bad ammunition magazine. If you’ve been around guns for any amount of time, you’ve run into them. Whether you purchased a questionable no-name mag at a gun show or one came with your or your buddy’s firearm, we have all had the experience of a bad magazine. But instead of throwing them away, running them over with the truck or even blasting the holy crap out of them at the range, let me suggest another course of action, one that might even have you turning good functional magazines into the bane of most magazine shoppers . . .
What’s the old adage? If you want to be good at something: practice, practice, practice! This is especially important if your job involves carrying a firearm or if you take your self-defense to heart. Besides improving your marksmanship, some of us take it a step further by practicing firearm manipulation with our off hand, one-hand drills and/or failure drills. We’ll even put dummy rounds in the mix and practice clearing the round.
But if we go to the range alone, we’ll know just how many rounds won’t fire. They can become somewhat predicable. But what about deploying that bad mag? You know the one. The one that jams every so often. The one that fails to pop up the next round leaving the chamber empty or the one that refuses the cleanly deliver a round leaving the pistol out of battery.
I started collecting these magazines. Some were purchased on the cheap because I don’t like dumping my good factory mags if I don’t have to, but most were gifted to me by some very disgruntled shooters. They’ve been invaluable as a training aid. Especially since you can let the trainee load the magazine and they are none the wiser to what lesson they will soon face.
In my law enforcement career, I was the lead instructor for over seven years. I had an AR magazine that would jam every single round that went through it. Every officer that crossed its path the first time ended up doing the same thing. They would fool with it until it was empty, wasting valuable time. The next officer in line who witnessed this event would then do exactly the same thing. Only one person ever threw it down after three attempts and inserted a new magazine into the rifle. Funny thing happened after that…the next officers up then started discarding the bad magazine after a few attempts and loading a functional one.
Equipment failures happen. They are a act of life. They also seem to follow Murphy’s Law as they tend to happen at the most inopportune times. But the last thing you would want is to be taken completely by surprise and be woefully unprepared in a time of crisis. That bad magazine can be more valuable than a good one in training. Who knows, that time spent with a bad magazine might even save your life one day. Doesn’t it deserve some love?