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 gun, we have all had the experience of a bad magazine. It doesn’t matter if you have a Smith & Wesson, Walther, GLOCK, FN…whatever. Your mags will eventually fail.
You can extend their useful lives by cleaning them and replacing followers and magazine springs, but at some point, they’ll give up the ghost.
Instead of throwing those bad semi-automatic handgun or rifle magazines away, though, running them over with the truck or even blasting the crap out of them at the range, here’s another idea, one that might even have you turning good, functional magazines into the bane of most magazine shoppers.
Remember how to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. The same goes for getting good with your guns. And practice is especially important if your job involves carrying a firearm or if you take your own self-defense to heart.
Besides improving your marksmanship, some of us take it a step further by practicing firearm manipulation, mag changes and reloading 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 probably know how many rounds won’t fire. The drills can become somewhat predictable. So why not deploy that bad mag? You know the one. The one that jams every so often. The one that fails to pop up the next round of ammo leaving the chamber empty or the one that refuses the cleanly deliver a round leaving the pistol out of battery.
This isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity!
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. Most were gifted to me by some very disgruntled shooters. And they’ve been invaluable as a training aid. Especially since you can let the trainee load the magazine and they’re 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 who 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 the malfunctions 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, after seeing that, then started discarding the bad magazine after a few attempts and loading a functional one.
Equipment failures happen. They are a fact of life when you’re a gun owner. 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 when used in training. Who knows, the time spent with a bad magazine might even save your life one day. Doesn’t it deserve a little love?