Tuesday, August 19, 2014

X Products High Capacity AR15 AR10 Drum Magazine Review

X Products High Capacity AR15 AR10 Drum Magazine Review

When X-Products introduced their drum magazines in late 2012, they asked the market “Who wants a robust 50-round drum magazine for their AR15 and AR10 platform rifles?” “Uhhh, yeah” said nearly every AR15/AR10 owner… and then they immediately had a 12-14 month backlog of orders.

This is the reason that this article is more than a little bit overdue. Actually way back at the SHOT show 2013, X-Products booth was so swamped that I could not fight my way deep enough into the booth to even discuss their products. The crowd at the 2014 SHOT show was a bit smaller, but this time I did get a chance to chat with them about their very high capacity magazines. I was impressed and placed an order and then waited patiently through their backorder process until my X-25 for DPMS format 308 rifles and X-15, and X-15 skeletonized magazines for AR15 rifle arrived at my doorstep.  As I opened the packages, I felt like a spy with a new gadget... they are that cool.

Most of the firearm manufacturing community was founded by redneck good old boys who worked in a machine shop and created a new product.  That is one way to start a company. X Products was formed the other way around by a bunch of college educated gun nuts with one simple dream. That dream was to produce the firearm equivalent of a compact coil drum magazine; an idea first created for nail guns. To quote the “About Us” section on X Products site, “Formed by four gun loving Hillbilly’s with college educations. A diverse group of innovative intoxicated nuts who developed an equivalent of coil (drum) nailer for super sweet destructive weapons, that kick ass. MADE 100% in the USA, eat it china… and yes the lower case is for a reason.”  

After reading that and seeing their drum magazine, it should be clear that the founders are a very innovative and creative thinkers… and of course not afraid to take a risk.  The risk plus a few patents has paid off and I would bet all four of the original founders could walk out the door with fistfulls of cash and retire very well in Belize. These guys have been swamped since they introduced their first high capacity magazine… like, you know really, really busy, however they now have many new offerings including even an AR15 9mm Colt magazine version.

Traditionally most high capacity coil drum magazines are big and have a internal ammo separation/movement star. If you think of your typical round Thompson submachine gun magazine, they are huge dinner plate sized magazines which have ammo separators which help move the ammo alone. The problem is that these separators in almost any drum magazine historically also cause a ton of jams. The old fashioned drum mags also limited he rates of fire due to reliability issues. One solution has been to maintain a single stack, but just increase the radius of the drum.

All these work arounds deliver a bigger and significantly heavier magazine. The guys at X-Products saw how tiny the huge capacity snail/coil drum magazines were for pneumatic nailers and decided the design the same thing the AR15 platform - after all if those could feed thin little nails and screws reliably, why not 5.56 Nato rounds. In essence X-products figured out a way to have 50-rounds of 5.56 ammo coiled up in a very small little space and still feed very fast and reliably. In fact the X-15 magazine can deliver rounds up to 1100 rounds a minute which is approximately 30%-40% faster than M16 cycles even when suppressed.  

The X-products X-25, X-15, and X-15 Skeletonized mags I tested are just a sample of their line up. Not only do they have a huge variety of configurations and a few color options of AR15 and DPMS format 308 magazines, they also have models for other guns including the FAL, SCAR, 9mm AR15 Colt magazines and many others. They are even working on a version for an AK-47 - yeah!

As you can imagine, X Products has a number of patents on its design, however there is a lot more to the X Products mags than just a few patent ideas. Originally the X15 magazines were four axis machined from billet aluminum, however that took an insane amount of time for each and every magazine body. Not a great thing considering they needed to catch up from the backlog of orders. The smart guys at X-Products looked to technology to solve the problem and get product on shelves faster. They began using a High Pressure Die Cast (HPD) aluminum forming process to form the bodies. This delivered many benefits including a higher quality product with smoother operation, higher reliability, lighter weight, more radiused and comfortable handling magazine, and of course very high production capabilities to catch up on orders.

X-Products also began using Crimson Trace to produce the glass filled nylon followers which further increased reliability and production capacity. The remaining steel and billet aluminum magazine parts manufacturing was kept in house.

These mags are heavy due mostly to the heavy duty coil spring which powers the X-products mags. The spring itself makes up a significant portion on the weight. The original X-15 empty weighs in at just under 2 lbs and the skeletonized version around 1.6 lbs. Add in ammo and you have a full mag which weighs around 3 lbs. “Light”, they are not, however there are some non-obvious advantages to the design which can outweigh (pun intended) the added weight such as size and on-hand capacity.

The X-15 for example is actually a bit shorter than your standard 30-round magazine which means that if you are snuggled up in position of cover or on the bench rest, you will have just a bit more comfort than dealing with a long magazine sticking out the end of your AR15. The X-15 mag is also compatible with almost all AR15 mag pouches; both the polymer 3-gun style and the velcro MOLLE style. It will look a little weird, but it will work.

Having the capacity of roughly two magazines on tap without the requirement for a reload can be a huge deal. If you don’t believe me, ask the buttload of 3-Gun shooters who are now running X-Product mags. Even if you are superhuman fast on your reloads, they still take time and also deliver an excellent opportunity for the human body to screw up the reload.

The X-Products mags have also passed the typical Milspec magazine torture tests and performed as well as any other accepted mag. Interestingly, the Skeletonized version was shunned a bit by the forum commandos because it could get dirt inside. “Ohh no, my gun is dirty”, said the guy who has never ever got his gun dirty.  OK, admittedly the Skeletonized versions are more for the 3-Gun crowd, however not one skeletonized version has ever been returned for repair or warranty according to X Products . At least from my little dirt experiments, the dirt which entered through the holes in the magazine also falls out through the holes in the magazine without impeding function.

Admittedly the weight of three Mil-Spec mags is less than on of X-Products magazines, however if you need a more compact single high capacity magazine which is still reliable to drive your semi or full auto AR format rifles, then the X-Products mags are the only choice around. Some will ask "what about Surefire high cap mags?" Simply put, some steel cased ammo, does not feed well in the Surefire mags, however the slicked up Ceramic internal coating on the X15 and X25 mags had no issues at all with any steel cased ammo I tested.

Functionally, I had zero issues with any steel, brass or nickel plated FMJ or polymer ballistic tip ammo I tested. While loading and hand unloading each of the magazines to get the "feel" of the mags, I thought that I would have some feeding problems with hollow point rounds due to some sluggish feeding/loading rounds however once in the gun, they feed without incident.

Loading is accomplished by cupping the magazine and releasing tension on the feed spring and load the rounds. The loading process does have a learning curve however it does go quickly considering it feels like you are loading rounds forever.

Once the X-Products magazines are loaded, the fun begins as it is slipped into you firearm.  For testing, I used several 5.56 AR15s platforms from Houlding Precision, Mega Arms, Aero Precision, Barnes Precision, and even an IWI Tavor. On the .308 AR format, I tested with my DPMS G1 format, a custom Mega Arms Ma-Ten DPMS format, and a new DPMS GII rifle.  

I did have two compatibility issues. If you planning on using the X15 with the Tavor, either expect a very snug magazine seating, or plan on whipping out the Dremel tool to take just a hair of polymer off the Tavor around the magazine well to make seating the X15 mags a little more reassuring. The other issue X-Products had already updated by the time I called them was the compatibility of the X-25 .308 magazine with the new DPMS GII format rifle. Technically your old DPMS mags should work perfectly on the new GII format, however, the maxwell is ever so slightly a tad tighter. The end result was that X-Products tweaked their X-25 .308 mag dimensions to comply with this new DPMS "standard dimension."

Beyond those two issues, the X-Products X15, X-15 Skeletonized, and X-25 magazines all performed perfectly as advertised.

Some will see the X-Products coil magazines as a fun luxury AR15 accessory reserved for the 3-gun and zombie hunter crowd. Go ahead and thing that, because still almost three years after introduction, the company is still in a constant backorder on kick ass coil magazines for AR platform rifles, all while they are burning up leaf blowers from blowing all their cash around the office. For me, the X-25 seems to be a great option for a .308 hog hunting gun and the X15 series are the perfect mags for 3-gunners and that extra defense magazine... you know, in case the zombies show up.

X-15 AR 15 High Capacity Magazine  $239  - Skeletonized Version $299
The X-15 is one if not the most compact and versatile 50 round magazine ever produced for the AR-15 in 5.56x45/.223 and 300 AAC Blackout full length. Designed and built primarily from aluminum and steel, the magazine uses minimal plastics in it's operating assembly to give it unparalleled function, and rigidity. Engineered using our proven coil magazine technology, which allows side by side staging of ammo in a single stack. The streamlined design allows for no separation of ammunition during function, preventing malfunctions and lending to it's compact design. Our patent pending tension relief device allows the X-15 to operate nearly unlimited spring loads, allowing it to operate in weapons with capabilities 1100 rounds per minute. The profile is shorter than a standard 30 round magazine and 4-5 inches shorter than a surefire quad stack magazine.  User friendly ergonomics and the ability to use your sling makes this the choice magazine for 3 gun competitors. Coated in Cerakote for friction reduction and proven reliability without using lubrication, and given a liftime warranty. Manufactured in the USA, fit’s most M16/AR-15 rifles, Bushmaster ACR,  and Stanang Rifles with improved M4 feed ramps. Note: may require modification to work in Robinson Arms XCR. Will not work in SCAR 16 or IMI Tavor. No tools necessary to load or operate.

X-25 - AR .308 High Cap Drum Magazine - $285
Serious firepower in a small package. The X-25 is a .308 caliber 50 round drum built primarily from aluminum and steel, the magazine uses minimal plastics in it's operating assembly to give it unparalleled function, and rigidity. Engineered using our proven coil magazine technology, which allows side by side staging of ammo in a single stack. The streamlined design allows for no separation of ammunition during function, preventing malfunctions and lending to it's compact design. Our patent pending tension relief device allows the X-25 to operate nearly unlimited spring loads, allowing it to operate in weapons with capabilities 850 rounds per minute. The profile is shorter than a standard 30 round magazine. Easily loads and unloads by operating the front operating wheel. Magazine includes a lifetime warranty and instruction manual. Currently available in black, optional colors coming soon. Fits the following manufactures rifles:
DPMS, Bushmaster, POF, C-Products, Fulton, Knights, JP Rifles, Remington R-25, PWS
LWRC, Sig Sauer 716,  Other models that take the Magpul P20LR style .308 magazine
Will fit basically all .308 AR15's with exception of the AR10 style firearms.

Buy it at Brownells.com and support MajorPandemic.com


Unknown said...

Terrific review and exciting journalism style; Thank You. I am using an X-15 with a 10.5 AR pistol and Black Hills 50gr Barnes XTP 556. The X-15 just finished off this small power house package. Nice...

418 said...

This magazine is the best thing since pancake syrup.
ZERO malfunctions.
Mine isn't the skeleton style model and is 5.56 caliber.
I like these ....a lot