First look: X Products Skeletonized AR drum

TFB has early access to an already awesome product, the X Products X-15, a 50-round .223 drum. Here’s what the standard drum looks like on an AR-15.

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The folks at X Products shaved off some weight by skeletonizing it. Here it is:

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The standard version weighs 1 lb 15 oz, and the skeletonized version weighs 1 lb 9 oz.

I recently competed in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-gun Invitational with this new skeletonized drum, and it worked flawlessly. What I really noticed most about the skeletonization is that it gave me a decent feel for my round count where I could quickly glance down and get a decent read.

At $299, it’s $60 higher than the standard version. However, if you’re in competition or other environment where knowing your round count is important, I’m pretty sure that it’ll be sixty well-spent dollars.

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The rear view of the product is the same as the non-skeletonized version.

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View of the bottom.

www.XProducts.com.





Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.

www.TopShotChris.com.


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  • Eric S

    Wasn’t one of the big complaints about the atrocity known as the Chauchat that it had bits cut out of the side of the magazine? Kinda allows grime to get in.

    • The_Sargentos

      I guess you could glue acetate sheeting over it. Bonus points for being professional…

    • sianmink

      Pretty sure this one isn’t made for the battlefield. 3-gundoesn’t put you in the dirt and muck very often.

      • floppyscience

        From the website: “Our Limited Production skeletonized magazine is built to operate in the most demanding operations.”

        I’d really like to see this tested in the aforementioned demanding operations.

        • Anonymoose

          lol You didn’t read the fine print (*Not for use in Direct Impingement rifles).

    • gunslinger

      i would think so, dirt and grime

    • Anonymoose

      It’s also one of the major complaints about the Japanese Type 89, which is otherwise a great rifle, but the JSDF issues mags with holes drilled in them to check how many rounds they have left. Now they’re thinking of “upgrading” to the HK416, which is nearly the exact same rifle for all intents and purposes, including function (except it lacks the ability to use a folding stock) and will probably issue the same crappy mags.

    • Suburban

      Does the drum have one of those constant-force springs? If it does, then I don’t want to be the one to take it apart to clean it when there’s sand, dirt, or mud in it.

      Might make for an amusing mattv2099 torture test video though.

    • HSR47

      To an extent.

      There are two other factors that are important to keep in mind: First, the Chauchat was designed for the 8mm Lebel cartridge, and many of the complaints of about the reliability of the gun originate with the idiotic attempt to chamber them in .30-06. Second, the major source of fouling in the trenches of the first world war was mud, whereas the principle source of environmental fouling in our current military actions is sand/dust: this would certainly make it easier for sand/dust to get into the magazine, but there would also be very little to keep it there.

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    Eric S beat me too it. K.I.S.S. applies. Geoff Who notes dropping a magazine into the dirt on a range can cause problems, going prone with this looks questionable.

  • GoofyStance

    Theoretically, could you use or modify one of these mags so that an AUG type platform (with STANAG capability) would accept them ? I’ve seen the set up before on the M14 Juggernaut Bullpups. So it probably wouldn’t be a problem ergonomically, right?

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      That’s an interesting take on a variation to the use of the X Products drum magazine. Just thinking about the concept and visualizing it as best as I can, you may be correct in asserting that the drum probably wouldn’t interfere with clearances and ergonomics as applied to a bullpup design such as the AUG.

      Any other professional opinions about this topic, anyone?

  • sianmink

    If I had to have 50+ on tap I’d probably just go for a Surefire 60. Lighter and simpler and reliable enough for competition.

    • Michael

      And cheaper!!! Yes I can’t believe I wrote that, Surefire is cheaper than…………

      • Jesse P Weaver

        *sarcasm*Surefire is cheaper…….lol….. your joking, you have to be…*/sarcasm*

    • Hunter57dor

      or just a pair of 30’s.

      its alot smaller and lighter, cheaper, easier to find parts, and it just doesn’t take that long to switch out.

      i won’t run a magazine type unless ALL my mags are of that type.

    • Patrick

      I was thinking the same thing. Also Ive thought for a while that the M27 IAR would be the perfect application for the SF 60

  • Zak B

    Or for $300 I could buy 15 two PMAG 40s and have $260 left over.

  • History

    I’m with Eric S. This seems like its going to do the same thing to your AR that a mag cut did to the Chauchat in WW1, maybe not as quickly but…its coming, that terrible moment of BANG BANG BANG CRUNCH of something going terribly wrong. Sorry X Products, cool idea but, I’m sticking to solid mags

    • Mystick

      I was going to bring the Chauchat up… but I was beaten to it.

      We really need to look to the past to learn from our previous mistakes to make a better future in not repeating them. This product is a recipe for disaster.

      Mud and dirt notwithstanding – simple dust being introduced into the action can have an incredibly abrasive affect. In this case, it will wear the breech to the point where eventually more gases will escape around the casing.. which can lead to a catastrophic malfunction.

  • Waffleking

    Looks like a product optimised for 3-Gun and looking cool to the point it lost a lot of functionality. Sure skeletonizing saved four ounces and looks really cool but also covered the magazine with numerous entry ports for dirt and debris, a simple window running around the magazine would allow one to check rounds remaining and not allow foreign objects to enter the magazine from every angle. Even the Chauchat had the common sense to keep the bottom of it’s magazine enclosed and it was notorious for getting grime in it’s magazines.
    If I had the choice I’d just get a pair of P-Mags and a coupler (or duct tape!) and save 250 dollars and have a lighter affair than the drum. It is good looking though, so it has that going for it.

    • balaclava

      math

      • Waffleking

        I checked the math, a pair of unloaded, windowed M3 Pmags and a coupler weigh in at 13.4oz While even the skeltonized drum weighs in at 1lb 9oz. A larger weigh difference than I expected, even a pair of HK magazines and coupler weighs in at 1lb 5.8oz

    • UD

      “If I had the choice I’d just get a pair of P-Mags and a coupler (or duct tape!) and save 250 dollars.” This.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    If we’re examining this topic from the point of view of the battlefield or similar situations, both the Surefire 60 and the standard ( non-skeletonized ) X Products drum appear to offer a good alternative to having to deal with overly-long high-capacity stick magazines that restrict firing in the prone position as well as the potential debris ingestion issues of the skeletonized drum, Judging from Photo #2, ground clearance appears to be quite good and the only trade-off, which still seems fairly acceptable for most scenarios ( except for close quarters combat in confined areas and the like ), is the lateral bulk of the drum. This assumes, of course, that the solid X Products drum design is mechanically reliable and durable enough to compete with a good stick magazine, and that the end user is willing to accept the additional weight gain in exchange for added ammunition capacity.

    • Big Daddy

      It’s 100 degrees out in the shade, you are already carrying over 100 pounds of gear and the people around you all look the same, you are just waiting for the bullets to fly, you know it’s coming. Oh by the way here’s another 20 pounds on your rifle so you can carry 20 extra rounds in it. I don’t think so.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        I’m largely in agreement with you from a soldier’s standpoint on the battlefield — which is why I made a point of stating in my previous post that a drum magazine is alright provided the end user is willing to accept a weight penalty in exchange for additional ammunition capacity.

        Personally, I have found during actual operations that the standard 20- or 30-round magazines common to most battle or assault rifles comprise the best general balance between having adequate immediate firepower on hand and weight / bulk considerations. For certain requirements involving situations where the need for firepower outweighs the need for weight control, two such magazines coupled together is normally more than enough to deal with the majority of situations ( and without significant added weight penalty ).

  • UD

    Just can’t justify spending that much on 20 extra rounds….. I get the low profile, just not for me.

  • Big Daddy

    I have read that the newer version do not have the same attention to detail and quality. The skeleton version is fine for non-combat civilian use, having a magazine with holes in it like that is asking for trouble. When your life depends on it that’s a no go. Overall the weight is just too much for 50 rounds. The magazine in 223/5.56 should have more in the 70 round range to justify all that extra weight. I would not want to hump around all day a weapon with that much added weight, a simple 30 round mag would be fine. Having one available if I was the squad automatic gunner would be a good idea but with more like 70-75 rounds. Otherwise it’s just really a toy that would add too much weight for what it does if used by a combat soldier. If the reliability is there it might be useful for people who are in a vehicle and don’t have to carry it around everywhere they went in a war.

  • Raoul O’Shaughnessy

    Because keeping dirt, debris and grit out of your magazine is highly overrated.

    • Anonymoose

      Put it in a STANAG-converted Galil or an M249 and it will probably run better than standard mags. lol

  • jamezb

    A clear plastic cover that snapped over the loaded drum portion would eliminate the possibility of debris entry without increasing weight or interfering with round counting. And adding one to the unit would be relatively easy and cheap at factory level!

    • Clodboy

      You’ll notice most folks here bringing up the Chauchat as a negative example, which was a stick rather than drum design. The biggest problem still arises when people decide to cut huge openings into a magazine for dirt to enter the gun.

  • Anonymous

    Why would you pay $60 more for less material?

    • Drapetomanius Grimr

      I really think an economics class would help you, and I mean that in a respectful way. Ref. subjective value theory vs intrinsic value theory vs labor theory of value.

      “The subjective theory of value is a theory of value which advances the idea that the value of a good is not determined by any inherent property of the good, nor by the amount of labor required to produce the good, but instead value is determined by the importance an acting individual places on a good for the achievement of their desired ends.”

    • Shooter13

      you have to get rid of that material with a machine or human labor, which cost money. more cutting, more time on the machines, more processing of parts= more money

  • I’m really enjoying all the discussion here, along with all the varied perspectives and facts.

    Lots of valid points have been made.

    • sianmink

      Yeah, I mean, I’m sure it’s fine for basic range and competition use, where everything is clean and pretty, but once you’re running and diving and crawling, well, I’d love to see some tests.

  • SP mclaughlin

    Looks more practical on an AK, like the ones in the Metro game series.

  • Cahal

    Perhaps something like this might be useful

    .http://www.baronbob.com/condom-candom.htm

  • Esh325

    That magazine is just asking for dirt and debris to get into it and jam it.

  • Laserbait

    That’s awesome! But If I needed to use it for more serious purpose, I’d just slip a magnum condom on it and call it good. 😀

    • Anonymoose

      I can see it now: Trojan Intermediate Condoms for rifles! Also available in Short-Action, Long-Action, and Elephant!

  • Rick

    so would this feed .300 BLK?

    • Anonymoose

      Anything that feeds 5.56 should feed .300BLK.

  • Cristobal

    Yep, the coolness factor is really about the only thing going for it. Range/competition. Yes. Real world? Probably not. I’ve got one of the regular 223 versions and have a skeletonized 308 version. An equivalent number of P-mags would be a lot more handy. Now, for use in my observation tower overlooking the approach to my compound. OK, give me a handful for use up there.

  • Brandon

    Remove material, add $60 to the price. Alrighty then…

    • HSR47

      The cutouts require more time on the machine. Time = money.