Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Gunday Product Reviews: SGM Tactical 50-round Glock Drum

So, a while back I mentioned that I had acquired a 50-round Glock-compatible drum (still available for $40 + shipping at Mississippi Auto Arms).

I've shot it several times since then and, let me tell you, it's a hoot. Let me break it down for you.

Things It Is

  1. Fun. More ammunition is always better, right? 
  2. Reliable. So far I haven't had a single jam or misfeed while using it, and I'm not the only reviewer to feel that way -- this Video Blogger has similarly good things to say about its reliability. 
  3. Efficient.  It holds an entire box of round nose 9mm. 
  4. Rugged.  It's made of Dupont glass-filled polymer with steel innards. Admittedly, I haven't beaten mine all to hell, but I've dropped it and banged it against things and it still works. I don't know if I'd take it to war, but I have no worries about using it in a home defense scenario. 
  5. Easy to load.  There's a nifty ratchet system that works each round down into the drum. Work the ratchet to depress the follower; insert a cartridge; release the ratchet; repeat.  There's no spring to wind as the ratchet does that for you. 
  6. Inexpensive.  Did I mention it's only $40?  Last I checked, 33-round stick mag from Glock was around $33.  Of course, I also see this drum going for a LOT more than $40 at other online stores, so if you want one, I'd suggest you get one now. 

Things It Is Not

  1. Fast to load.  I timed how long it took me to load it -- not rushing, just a "Ho hum, gonna load this mag" speed, and it took me 2 minutes 25 seconds to load 50 rounds. You aren't going to be reloading this in a fight. Your fingers get pretty tired, too.
  2. Easy to transition. This drum is three times the width of a pistol, and extends a good 3-4 inches from the magazine well. If you're doing lots of  tactical pie-slicing or switching from carbine to pistol, the drum IS going to get in the way and you WILL bump it against something:  your thigh, the hallway corner, the heads of small children or pets...
  3. Easy to gauge. By that I mean there's no way to visually inspect how many rounds you have left. You have to keep count. 
  4. Easy to tell when you're empty.  This is the single biggest drawback of this drum magazine:  there is no slide-lock to indicate when you're out of ammo. Combined with the above, that's pretty serious. 
  5. Easy to clean. Sure, you can swab the feed lips and the stick part of the mag without problem, but if you want to clean and lube the mechanism, you're going to be unscrewing a LOT of Torx-head screws.

Things Neither Here Nor There

  1. Weight. It's not as heavy as it looks, but fully loaded it still weighs about 3 pounds. 
    • Inserted into my Sub-2000 and supported by two hands and a shoulder weld, it's barely noticeable weight-wise. 
    • It's more noticeable when plugged into a pistol, but I didn't consider it a big deal as the weight is exactly in line with the grip. Funny enough, the extra weight did seem to mitigate barrel rise somewhat. 
    • You definitely don't want to carry it in a pocket, though. Its weight plus its size (above) make it awkward to cart around. 
  2. Inattention. If you aren't paying attention when you're loading it -- say, you're watching TV -- it's entirely possible to pull the ratchet down more than is necessary such that when you insert a cartridge, it tumbles nose-first. This can sometimes result in that cartridge being pushed the wrong way (primer facing forward, bullet facing back) when the ratchet is released. 
  3. Insertion. If you insert this into your firearm with the slide or action locked back, there's no trouble. But if you want to insert it with the action or slide forward, you're going to have a bit of difficulty as the rounds aren't going to depress enough.  What you must do in that instance is work the ratchet slightly to make the top round go down enough that the drum can lock in place. 

Is It Worth Getting?

To my mind, absolutely. At the very least it's a fun range toy; at most it brings a lot of bang to a self-defense scenario. However, if you are going to go that latter route, here are my recommendations:
  1. Don't get more than one per gun.  Seriously, there's no easy way to carry it on your body, and prying it out of a cargo pouch takes more time than it's worth. And again, note how there's no slide-lock when empty, and if you're loading with the action forward, you either have to fiddle with the ratchet or lock the action back before you can insert the drum. 
  2. Carry stick mag backups.  Just in case you run out of ammunition, or the drum misfeeds. God forbid you ever need more than 50 rounds to defend yourself, but fortune favors the prepared. 
  3. Train with it.  As I said, it's bulky, and you're liable to bump it into things, or knock stuff over with it. 
That said, I enjoy mine immensely and I'm glad to have it. 

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