Review: ETS C.A.M. Mag Loader

Last December Tim Harmsen of MAC showed off a prototype of the ETS mag loader. We saw it again at SHOT Show in January.

The concept is not particularly new. We have seen similar magazine loaders that scoop up ammo out of the boxes. B&T made one for the MP5 magazine. However this is the first time the concept was applied to a pistol magazine. Specifically a double to single stack type magazine like a Glock magazine.

ETS sent one in and I immediately tried it out. I had high expectations that this would supplant the Maglula UPLULA (Universal Pistol Loader) as the go to loader for pistol mags.

My experience was not stellar. Right off the bat I had issues loading steel cased ammo. The loader would manage a handful of rounds but not the full 10 rounds. I had spotty performance across the board with a variety of Glock magazines. I tried OEM mags and third party Glock magazines. Even the ETS magazines did not work flawlessly.

Then I tried other magazines. As the ETS mag loader is supposed to work with 9mm and .40S&W magazines. I tried loading my STI Steel Master magazines and they did not fit in the loader. M&P, Canik, and FN 9mm magazines fit but also had spotty results with the loader.

Watch the video below.

 

The loader works, however I wouldn’t say it works well. As I repeatedly point out in the video above, the ETS Loader requires a lot of hand strength to load the rounds into the magazine. This makes it less desirable for people who struggle inserting rounds traditionally. The Maglula UPLULA is seeming effortless in comparison and while it is not as fast as the ETS loader, it works 100% every time.

Often the rounds will get jammed trying to feed into the magazine. Since the rounds refuse to go into the magazine, they take the path of least resistance and spill out the side of the loading tray. Which you saw in the video above.

After posting this video up on YouTube, I got an unsolicited email from ETS about changes they have made and tips on using the ETS Mag Loader.

ETS will have MADE IN USA markings on all of their Mag Loaders and they will have lubrication applied from factory. The early production versions, like the one I was sent did not have the lube nor the markings.

Ahhhh lube makes everything work better. The email indicates that some lubricant should be applied to the internal ramped surfaces.

 

Now armed with this crucial information I revisited the mag loader and tried it again.

The lubrication did help. However you can see in the video above, there are a couple of hiccups. The first ten rounds are always the easiest to insert into the magazine. Additional rounds require increased strength. As I said in the video, you might want to load 5 rounds at a time after the first initial 10. Besides avoiding rounds getting stuck, it is easier to grab and manipulate the plunger with fewer rounds.

ETS contacted me after seeing both of the videos above. I spoke with the engineer that designed the mag loader and he had some more insight that is not posted online or on their FAQ section. The best ammo they have tested is Blazer Brass. It feeds the best using their loader. According to the engineer, the parabola of the bullet shape is somewhat critical for the success of the Mag Loader. The geometry of the bullet is what helps feed the rounds into the magazine. The worst ammo to use is Wolf steel cased 9mm. I tried USA forged by Winchester and struggled to get them in using the ETS Mag Loader. I also use flat nosed Montana Gold 147 grain bullets in reloaded brass in my first two videos. They worked but now knowing that the shape of the bullet is crucial for the loader, I think some of the issues I had may have been due to the non parabolic shape of the flat nosed rounds I was using.

ETS did send me a replacement loader. They saw how the rounds were spilling out of the feed tray in my videos and thought that it might have been slightly damaged due to my initial attempts using the non lubricated loader.

Here is the video of the new loader.

 

FAQ section from ETS’ website.

Q: Will the CAM Loader work with my model gun mags?
A:
In all of our testing the only 9mm or .40 pistol mags we have found that do not work with our loader are 2011 mags. They are too large to fit into the loader.

Q: Will the CAM Loader work with all ammo?
A:
In our extensive testing the loader works with over 95% of all ammo tested. The only two ammo types we have found that do not work well with our loader is Wolf Steel Cased 9mm Military Classic 115gr FMJ and Winchester Steel Cased USA Forged 115gr FMJ. As always, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so rest easy knowing you can try our loader risk free.

Q: How much force does it take to operate the loader?
A: We designed the loader so that a petite woman would be able to fully load a standard capacity pistol magazine. As with any type of loading, as the round count goes up the tension needed to load goes up as well. That said, everyone should be able to fully load standard capacity mags, and most people will not have any trouble fully loading a 30 round mag. As always, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee so you can try our loader risk free.

Q: Will the CAM Loader work with .357 SIG ammo?
A: Yes.

The main issue with the ETS loader is that it is not as universal as I would like to be. It doesn’t work with 2011 magazines, and only works with 9mm and .40 S&W magazines. Of course you can use it with .357 sig but that is not a common round and not many guns are chambered in that. In contrast the Maglula UPLULA works on 9mm up to .45acp magazines and everything in between. I’ve used it to load my Glock 21 magazines, 10mm Glock 40 magazines, STI 2011 magazines, everything the ETS Loader cannot load. The ETS mag loader will with with single stack magazines but results are spotty. I tried it with the ETS 12 round Glock 43 magazine and had inconsistent feeding. It would not work well with my Sig P938 magazines. The main difference between the two is how the magazine is supported in the ETS mag loader versus the UPLULA. The UPLULA funnels the magazine and centers the feed lips. That is not happening as well in the ETS mag loader. So it is easy for the magazine to shift side to side.

If you are loading a lot of 9mm Glock magazines then the ETS Mag Loader could be what you need. I recommend having the Maglula UPLULA on standby just in case you come across issues using the ETS Mag Loader. I like to fill up my mags with the ETS Mag Loader close to full capacity. Sort of like a rapid charger for batteries. Then use the UPLULA like a trickle charger and top up the mags for the last couple of rounds.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • noob

    Great honest review! And kudos to their customer service. I hope they get all the bugs worked out. It ain’t easy inventing things that literally put round pegs into square holes (lubed or unlubed even)

    • Nicholas C

      Thanks. I don’t have every different type of pistol mag but I tried to be as thorough as possible.

      I think it would work well for PCC in USPSA for shooters who are running high capacity Glock mags.

      • I bought this for my PCC mags, it seems to work ok with my reloads using coated bullets.

        • Nicholas C

          Good to know. As you saw in the videos above, it sort of works. The brass ammo I was using is supposed to be suppressor food.

          The third video, with the new loader, I used American Eagle factory brass ammo. Couldnt find 50rd boxes of blazer at my LGS.

      • DangerousClown

        You didn’t contact them about your issues BEFORE uploading a video?

  • gg5k

    Still waiting for a 45acp version for my fnx45, this product has me curious, I like Maglula but something different is always interesting

  • VDMA

    Meh….Maglula all the way.

    • Try using one of them with gloves on, particularly thicker winter gloves. It is a very slow process.

      • Nicholas C

        You can use the UPLULA with gloves. It is grabbing the bullets that is more challenging with gloves. Not a detriment to the UPLULA.

        • I wasn’t saying that to be negative on the Uplula, simply that it isn’t a solution to every problem.

          Even if this loader worked 100% it wouldn’t replace my Uplula, because for thing like loading a few rounds into a half used magazine the Uplula is better. And of course there trying to get that last couple rounds in a 2011 magazine which requires you to depress the rounds several times to compress them.

  • PK

    “Specifically a double to single stack type magazine like a Glock magazine.”

    “Double stack, single feed” is the phrase you were looking for.

    • Nicholas C

      lol thanks. You know what I mean.

      • PK

        I do indeed! Sometimes I can’t think of a phrase, or how to describe it properly, so you did fine there.

  • Destro Yakisoba

    I’m the type of shooter that dumps all the ammo in a case or a can, just due to the fact I reload everything that comes out of my blasters. This is a neat idea, but the Maglula will work with everything, no matter what kind of crazy ammo lifestyle you choose to participate in.

  • st381183

    I’m currently beta testing the ACEM Glock mag table loader. The first beta was a no go. I just got the beta 2 in the mail. I am hoping that it will work much better.

    • Russ Kell

      Love to hear how the updated one works. I have a handful of ACEM loaders for AR/AK and was looking forward to their glock loader.

      • st381183

        Beta 2 version is definitely better in that it will load the magazine. It still takes a huge amount of effort to overcome the binding up of the rounds. The first version would not load at all. I used some ballistol oil to lube the rails and friction points on beta 2 and it was better, the last 10 or so rounds are very difficult.

        • Nicholas C

          What rounds are you using? Try different makes. Shape of the bullet may make a difference.

          • st381183

            I’m using round nose factory 147s from freedom munitions. If it doesn’t work for those it won’t work for me. The beta 2 version is better but not 100% yet.