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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.