Lancer Systems Media Event — Magazine-related Shenanigans

Lancer Media Day 2015

In late September, Lancer Systems hosted a media event to give some gun writers a hands-on experience with its product line. I posted a recap of the 2-day shindig and what I learned about the company and its business units here, and if you didn’t catch that I’d definitely say it’s worth a glance (not that I’m biased or anything). This is the first post of what I expect will be two follow-ups, and it’s going to concentrate on Lancer’s magazine-related technology and performance. Lancer created a handful of competition-style stages and tests to try and drive home the value of its magazines and its bolt-on flared magazine wells, and I think it went over pretty well. . .

As mentioned in that previous post, Lancer’s L5AWM magazines have long-since been my favorite AR mags, and they’re Nick’s as well. So just to be clear, going into this I had a positive opinion of the product, which also means I had high expectations of it. The first of the three tests really put our magazine superiority opinion, well, to the test.

Fully loaded magazines from some of the top brands and a couple USGI mags were placed in a cooler full of dry ice overnight. We took them out and dropped them repeatedly onto a concrete surface from shoulder height. Any ejected rounds were replaced (for weight) before the next drop. The goal was to get at least one impact in basically every magazine orientation — flat on the side, flat on the spine, flat on the front, flat on the feed lips, on the rear corner of the feed lips, flat on the base, on one of the corners of the base, etc.

Lancer Media Day 2015

After one round of this testing, the Lancer mags had only cosmetic indications of the abuse and were completely functional. One of the PMAGs split along a mold seam, cracked a feed lip, and dumped its contents, and the other was functional but fit very snugly in the magwell. Possibly an indication of an impending split at the seam, which is apparently the most common point of physical failure. The USGI mags were not functional due to slight bowing in the body that caused the followers to stick.

We were split into two groups, so the same Lancer mags went through the freezing and dropping procedure a second time. Not only did they survive, but they were then used in the next stage; a timed run-and-gun requiring four mag changes.

Lancer Media Day 2015

Five magazines, six rounds in each, and enough targets along the course to necessitate shooting through all of those mags. As quickly as possible, of course. The sales pitch here was for Lancer’s Adaptive Magwell, which quickly bolts onto a mil-spec AR-15 lower receiver to create a generously-sized magwell funnel. I think this sort of thing — flared magwells and, especially, bolt-on magwells — is sometimes seen as a gimmick. To counter that argument, everyone ran the course with and without the magwell installed.

Lancer Media Day 2015

Running against a clock and 15 other gun writers, we were all sufficiently motivated to hustle through that course and set a good time. Inserting the first magazine then changing out four more was definitely the timesuck on this stage, and — surprise, surprise — everybody was faster with the magwell installed. I managed to stuff a feed lip into the magwell edge once or twice with the mil-spec setup, but the bolt-on funnel just can’t be missed.

Across all of the shooters, the average time was over nine seconds faster with the magwell vs. without, and nobody was slower. That’s actually quite the improvement as, for time reference, on my Adaptive Magwell-equipped run I completed the course in ~31 seconds (which I think put me in 3rd or 4th place). So, gimmick it is not. While plenty of lowers have flared magwells integrated into the design, Lancer’s Adaptive Magwell allows you to very easily and non-permanently bolt one onto any mil-spec lower. If you look closely at the photo above (click to enlarge), it also lowers the trigger guard and enlarges that area for glove clearance and such.

Lancer_VIR_L7-mags

A newer product for Lancer is its DPMS/SR-25 fit .308 magazines, called the L7AWM and available in a handful of colors and in capacities from five rounds to 25 rounds. Since a clear flavor will run you up to 10 simoleons more than an opaque flavor, this next shooting stage was designed to impress upon us the benefits of Lancer’s unique, translucent mag bodies while making everyone curse and yell.

Three plastic buckets each held four or five magazines — some clear, most opaque — each loaded with at least eight rounds. Oh, but the idea was that only one mag in each bucket held at least eight live rounds. The other mags had some primerless, powderless dummy cartridges mixed in. Drawing mags from one bucket at a time, each shooter had to engage four targets with two shots each before moving onto the next bucket. To stop the timer at the end, we had to state how many rounds were left in the final magazine. It went something like…

Lancer_VIR_MPX

Dump the first bucket. Snatch the translucent magazine and look at the back hoping to see eight live rounds. Crap! Missing primers are clearly visible. Well, heck, now it’s just opaque mags and there’s no way to know what or how much of what is in ’em. At this point, everyone’s slamming mags in and hoping for the best. Duds, ejecting duds, swapping mags, plenty of swearing.

I admit that I may have had a bit of an unfair advantage in that I noticed the dummy rounds were FMJs while the live rounds had ballistic tips. Thanks to the wide mouth of double-stacked .308 mags, I chose to look down inside of them and was able to spot the fakes with a mediocre level of confidence, and it paid off. I cruised through the stage with no dud round encounters and set the fastest time by a healthy margin. This earned me a prize package of five of my favorite AR-15 magazines, which I gladly claimed in the name of TTAG.

Lancer_VIR_L5AWMs

I wouldn’t usually choose a .308/7.62×51 rifle for offhand, rapid target engagement and transition type shooting, but Lancer’s L30 handled it pretty well. The heavy Bartlein barrel and large Nightforce scope combined with the lightweight, carbon fiber buttstock make it a little front-heavy, but it certainly shoots straight and Lancer’s Viper Brake kept the muzzle rock steady.

Lancer_VIR_308s

That about sums up the magazine-related fun. The next post will concentrate on the rifles themselves, with various types of shooting from 100 to 1,000 yards. Actually, just two more magazine tidbits…

For a little spontaneous fun, some loaded magazines were dropped off the long-range shooting tower from about 35 feet off the ground onto the concrete pad. This managed to split a PMAG at the rear seam. The L5AWM remained functional after a few drops.

BECK AMMUNITION (previously “Right to Bear Ammo”) sponsored all of the ammo for this event, and also showed off a brand new caliber of its own creation along with a firearm and suppressor to match. Dubbed the .510 BECK, it employs a .50 caliber projectile and the cartridge fits within the length of a .308 magazine. Turned copper projectiles, manufactured for BECK by Lehigh Defense, weigh in at 690 grains and are still capable of ripping downrange at an astounding velocity, although for consumer purposes most of this will be loaded to about 1,000 fps so it remains subsonic and highly sound-suppressable. For military uses, rounds with tungsten cores can exceed 1,000 grains of projectile weight and still travel fast enough to punch through engine blocks and armor out well past 100 yards. It’s .50 cal power that slaps onto a standard .308 lower, meaning a soldier carrying an SR-25 can swap the uppers out and immediately start laying down some nasty HEIAP .510 instead.

Lancer Media Day 2015

Shooting the 690 grain ammo was surprisingly comfortable, with a gentler recoil impulse than expected.

What does this have to do with magazines? Glad you asked. Have you ever asked a magazine to serve up a stack of 1,000 grain bullets quickly enough to work in a semi-auto rifle? Unfortunately, I haven’t either. But the reason BECK and Lancer synced up in the first place was because, after scouring the market, BECK found that Lancer’s L7AWM mags functioned better with the .510 BECK cartridge than any other mag. The current solution is a custom follower — the .510 actually single stacks in what is a fully double-stacked .308 mag! — and really no other changes. It has apparently been running great with the 690 grain rounds, and for the time being the tungsten slugs just get downloaded in the magazine a bit to limit total ammo weight.

In April I posted a “what’s the next big firearm trend?” question of the day, and guessed that we’d start seeing more rounds employing extremely heavy projectiles at just barely subsonic velocities intended specifically for suppressed shooting. The .510 BECK definitely delivers here! I’d love to take this thing on an ear-pro-free hog hunt.

Stay tuned, as the last mini novel of a Lancer Media Day 2015 post is a week or so out.

comments

  1. avatar Timmy! says:

    That .510 BECK sounds pretty interesting. I’ve said all along that some day I’m going to have something in .50 caliber.

    1. avatar John L. says:

      And I’m just finishing a .50 Beowulf build.

      Grumble.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I think the Beowulf is doing just fine. It’s the undisputed energy / big caliber King from an AR-15 platform. Apoarently the Beowulf can launch 600 grain subsonic rounds as well, but I’ve never tried it.

  2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I like Lancers a lot. My problem is I’ve only got half a dozen of them.
    I’m going to look into the .308 ones for my Ruger.

    1. avatar Ben DeRoner says:

      They work great in the ruger just tried them yesterday in my new one

  3. avatar Joe R. says:

    Great review, thank you, don’t have any Lancer’s but like the steel lips, and they are on my short list for purchase. Have to go to ractical stores to get them, but that’s not all bad.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Steel feed lips are awesome but the steel wrapped top part does a bit more, like the mag catch is steel thanks to that and it also just shores things up and prevents the polymer from having to bear all of the stresses. The base plate is also particularly frustration free to remove.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Yes, thanks again. Hadn’t heard the part about the bases? – either way really? But will check out when product in hand.

  4. avatar sagebrushracer says:

    first i though, dry ice testing? why???? we gonna use em on the moon?

    On further consideration, yes, looks like they have them selves are better product. So, Pmag will have to step up to the bar. Keeps the market fresh, and weeds out the complacent, onward ho!!

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “first i though, dry ice testing? why???? we gonna use em on the moon?”

      Plastics / Composites (and some metals) can be brittle at low temperatures.

      The dry ice and drop drill is a good way to test for that…

  5. avatar Accur81 says:

    I’m doing just fine with Pmags, USGI mags, and a Beta-C clone. But I’ll probably pick up some of these, two. I’ve hunted in 8 below zero, but I’ve never put mags in dry ice and dropped them. I guess I’m not the operator I thought. That’s definitely a torture test.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Just makes everything weaker so potential issues are more apparent and easier to find. They showed up with a 5-foot drop when at full temp it took a much harder hit to split a PMAG open. The walls of GI mags warping so the follower sticks is more common and doesn’t take much abuse to happen.

      They were like -40 degrees when they were being dropped as part of that test. Don’t recall if that’s F or C though (bazing!)

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Wiki claims at sea level it’s −78.5 °C (−109.3 °F)…

        1. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Well we weren’t drop testing the dry ice, we were drop testing magazines that were sitting in a foam cooler with dry ice in it 😉 …I don’t know what the temp in the cooler actually was, but the magazines themselves clocked in at about -40 right before the dropping began…

      2. avatar CA.Ben says:

        Fun fact, -40 is the same in both C and F.

    2. avatar Paelorian says:

      Did Jeremy drop-test the translucent or opaque mags? I’d expect the translucent mags to be less strong.

      I was going to try Lancer mags, even though they’re much more expensive than PMAGs, but I got scared off when one failed in Iraqveteran8888’s magazine torture test and the PMAG triumphed. Maybe I should a Lancer one anyway. Cold-weather hardiness is a good attribute. I like those reinforced feed lips that don’t require a dust cover to stay in shape when loaded.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        Both types were drop tested. Lancer claims the translucent ones are every bit as strong. The opaque ones are pretty readily available for $10 to $12. That’s more than a pmag but we’re still talking about pretty dang low figures for a product that lasts a darn long time.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          Not a fan of translucent, not even window mags, only ’cause…? I’m dumb? I dunno, i get the purpose, but the look of them just makes me think ‘toy’ the way they dumb down kids ‘gun’ toys today by making them weird colors or translucent. I know, weird, but I’ve been going to meetings and i think I can push through it.

        2. avatar Jeremy S says:

          LOL. Well… if it helps they also make translucent ones that aren’t actually clear as in like white/glass looking, but are “smoke” http://store.lancer-systems.com/product/l5-awm-30rd-trans-smoke/magazines …rounds are still visible, but it’s more subtle and looks basically black from a distance. The difference is fairly clear (no pun intended) in that pic of a clear L5 and smoke L7 on the MPX (this one)

        3. avatar Joe R. says:

          Read that wrong @ first $10-$12 = more than a PMAG??? Where? Just saw AK PMAG ~$13, AR FOR $12, at Acadamy Sports, was like woo-hoo. Where can you score Lancer’s (unless in bulk purchase???) for $10-$12?

        4. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Well PMAGs can be had for $8-ish at a good price. $15.59 is like full retail price on the opaque L5s, and sale prices are typically like $12-ish and extra low like $10-ish. Botach is out of stock right now, but sold 6-packs for $55 as a regular deal and that page is still up on the site (only one of the 10-round options is in stock though).

      2. avatar Joe R. says:

        Thanks, had not heard of them, will check.

  6. avatar Paelorian says:

    .510 BECK: theoretically less case capacity than the .338 Lapua case the .510 Whisper’s is based on, yet from what I read here the ballistics are on par. Compared to the power of supersonic rounds, between a 7.62x39mm and .35 Remington depending on the load. In semi-autos designed for .308 Winchester, for probably a quarter of the price of some custom one-of-a-kind 20lb .510 Whisper semi-auto that may or may not even work. Sign me up for a true subsonic deer hunting rifle! Finally, subsonic with no compromise in hunting power, as effective as a .30-30. I don’t care if this is a boutique round. 690-1000 grains, you’d have to handload anyway if you were shooting it in any quantity. Which you probably wouldn’t be and don’t really need to for hunting and special-purpose ammo. I’m not expecting much in the way of a ballistic coefficient, that’s not the purpose of the round, but I could see some potential there as well. Compare to the 12.7x55mm VKS (Vykhlop). But semi-auto, baby. I might not even want a VKS anymore. Heck, if American subsonic cartridge development like this continues I might not even want a VSS Vintorez or AS VAL anymore.

    Heck, if we get silencers off of the NFA (write your Representative in Congress about H.R. 3799, the Hearing Protection Act like I did!) maybe we can even get captive-piston ammo. Yep, truly integrally suppressed ammunition. That would be amazing, to own dream weapons I never thought I’d touch.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      They were very secretive about what the parent case is for this round, but mentioned that a major brass manufacturer will be making .510 BECK head stamped, ready to load brass. Also, it’s actually downloaded to keep the 690 grain bullets subsonic. IIRC with a full powder load that bullet is supersonic by a freaking large margin. It was a thick case. Little cigars basically haha

  7. avatar Jeremy S says:

    BTW a few nice photos, eh? I love the first one with the rain on and around the MPX (Lancer makes the MPX mags for SIG, which is why it was there). The pics with me in them were taken by http://www.nataliecake.com/

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      You’re good.
      Who’s keeping count, now he’s got everyone wanting:
      1) Lancer mags opaque/smoke/translucent var. calibers
      2) Lancer mag wells
      3) Lancer other fancy utility bits
      4) a soon to be production ~? Wildcat .510 Beck
      5) MCX (albeit reinforced need)
      6) cake (kidding -good pix & page)
      7) and for some reason, an unexpected hankering for dry-ice…
      ?

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        Ms. Cake is a dang good shot, with a rifle and a camera.

        .510 BECK is supposed to be a production cartridge in the not-too-distant future. I’m sure it’ll be $2 to $3 per round, though. But brass, dies, and loading manuals will be available for those who want to roll their own, as will projectiles. It’s a standard .50 cal projectile diameter so there are actually a lot of existing options for the boolits themselves…

      2. avatar Cj says:

        Completely unrelated Terry Prachett quote:

        “Nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of night shall keep them from their appointed rounds…

        Don’t ask us about: Mrs Cake, huge green things with large teeth and tentacles, black dogs with orange eyebrows, Mrs Cake…”

        Ankh-Morpork Post Office

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          Ok,

          ixnay on the ake-Kay.

          Check.

  8. avatar James Lee says:

    I always thought to myself, how about “feedlip supports” inside the magwell that force deformed feedlips into shape once the mag is locked in place? It’s not gonna save a destroyed mag but wouldnt it mitigate some malfunctions?

    1. avatar James Lee says:

      And they can double as overinsertion protection as well

  9. avatar ELOT says:

    Now if we could just get them to hurry the hell up with the MPX magazines… Having only one is really hurting the MPX’s fun factor.

  10. avatar Royal Tony says:

    I’ll take two of each, please.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email