At a Glance: Best AR-15 Magazine Speed Loaders
Comparison of Best AR-15 Magazine Speed Loaders
Our Top Pick
|Butler Creek ASAP Electronic Magazine Loader||
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Our Top Pick
|Magpump AR-15 Mag-Pump Hopper-Fed Magazine Loader||
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Our Top Pick
|Butler Creek AR15 ASAP Universal Magazine Loader||
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Loading bullets into a magazine by hand can be a time-consuming task. Thankfully, magazine speed loaders exist to make the loading process faster and easier. While there are many magazine speed loaders on the market, not all of them are high-quality products.
Understanding what makes a top-quality mag loader and knowing what to look for will ensure you pick one of the best AR15 magazine speed loaders out there. This guide will help you do just that. Read on to learn everything you need to know about AR15 mag loaders, including the different types available and the factors to consider before purchasing.
Our Guide to the Top 8 Best AR 15 Speed Loaders on the Market
To give you more confidence and assurance, I’ve picked the top 8 mag loaders on the market this year to test and review. Like with most shooting equipment, your shooting needs will largely determine which product to go for. This is why I’ve listed the pros and cons of each product. This will help you easily work out which one suits your shooting needs the most.
Butler Creek ASAP electronic AR15/M16 magazine loader
The ASAP electronic magazine loader by Butler Creek is the only product of its kind on the market. The electronic loader was created for serious competitors and training facilities in mind. The hopper feed loader has a large capacity allowing 60 rounds to be loaded in one go.
This next-generation technology gives the quickest and most efficient operation, loading 30 rounds in 45 seconds. Furthermore, it reduces the hand fatigue and frustration that handloading brings. Just fill the hopper with loose rounds, select the desired round count, and press a button. The machine then automatically orientates the ammunition and loads your magazine.
This electronic loader has a dual power supply. It can run on batteries or by AC adapter. It’s compatible with most AR-15/M16 magazines and will work with factory .223 Rem. or 5.56x45mm size ammo. It’s easy to carry around too thanks to its heavy-duty T-handle.
I found this loader to work incredibly well. It quickly and reliably loaded the mags but I did notice one issue. If you put all 60 rounds in together it may jam. Therefore, it’s much better to put in 30 or so rounds at a time. The operation is extremely fast and the automation makes it seem too easy to be true.
Of course, for a state of the art, electronic loader like this you would expect it to be a much higher price range than the manual versions. Because of the high price tag, it’s not the best AR15 magazine speed loader for those looking to keep costs low. Nonetheless, if you want the easiest and quickest mag loading, and money is not an issue, this is a brilliant option.
- One of a kind electronic loader
- Easy, efficient automated operation
- Can loads up to 60 rounds at once
- Super speedy – loads 30 rounds in 45 seconds
- Perfect choice for serious competition shooters
- Very expensive
- Can sometimes jam when 60 rounds are put in
Magpump AR-15 Mag-Pump Hopper-Fed Magazine Loader
The Mag-pump MP-AR15 hopper-fed magazine loader dramatically reduces the time it takes to load magazines by up to 50%. This allows you to load mags fast without wearing out your fingers.
The loader fills up magazines as fast as you can crank the handle and it keeps a fresh supply of ammunition in the hopper. There is also a safety system inside the Mag-pump loader that prevents the rounds from being fed in the wrong orientation. The base plate can be mounted to a bench or other platform. Bear in mind, as this is a hopper-fed loader, there is no unloading ability.
- Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO, .300 AAC Blackout, .223 Remington
Gun Model: AR-15
Number of Rounds: 90
Attachment/Mount Type: Weaver, Picatinny
The loader can load any mil-spec AR-15 magazine including .223 Rem, 5.56 NATO, and .300 Blackout. Uniquely, there are two material options available to suit your needs. You can choose a lightweight polymer loader or a billet aluminum machine if you’re a high-volume shooter. When working well, I found this to be a very fast mag loader, however, there does seem to be a potential jamming issue. Although the manufacturer states that you can simply “dump a box of ammo into the hopper” many users have found this not to be the case.
If you don’t load each round parallel in the hopper, it may jam the chute, requiring a clearing. This is annoying if you’re loading high volumes, as it will make the process longer, rather than shorter.
The concept is good and it’s great at eliminating any thumb pain. If used correctly it can quicken your loading speed significantly but there does seem to be some issues with this hopper.
- Can reduce loading time by up to 50%
- Has a safety system to prevent incorrect feeding
- Lightweight or high-volume options available
- Great at eliminating thumb pain/soreness
- No ability to unload
- Many issues reported with jamming
- Not the most reliable machine
- An expensive option
Butler Creek AR-15 ASAP Universal Magazine Loader
The Butler Creek ASAP Universal AR-15/M16 magazine loader is designed for today’s fast-paced AR shooter. This speed loader allows you to load your mags faster and easier than ever before so you can spend more time shooting.
The ASAP magazine loader locks securely onto most AR15 magazines but is compatible with 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem cartridges only.
The USA made machine provides three different loading methods. You have the choice to load one round at a time or extend the included loading arm to load up to 10 rounds in a single push. Additionally, you use military-style stripper clips with it.
I tested this out and found the single round loading method works great. However, keeping multiple rounds straight enough to load stacked did prove challenging.
This range loader comes with a very affordable price tag. Several other loaders are quicker but they are also pricier. This mag loader is a brilliant thumb saver though, and it’s a good option for versatility. Another thing I liked was how compact and lightweight it was. You can carry it around easily in your ammo bag.
This would be a good option for low-volume shooters on a budget. For a very small investment, you’ll be able to spend more time shooting and less time standing around, handloading mags and getting sore thumbs.
- Ideal for single round loading
- Gives three different loading methods
- Compact and lightweight
- A great thumb saver
- Very affordable
- Multiple loading is not so straightforward so may not be the best option for high-volume shooters
- Will only work with 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. cartridges
- No unloading ability
Caldwell Shooting Supplies AR-15 Mag Charger
The AR15 benchtop mag loader from Caldwell charges any AR magazine, whether it’s aluminum, polymer, or even high-capacity Beta mags. Operation of this high-volume loader is easy and quick and you can load up to 50 rounds right from the box into the AR Mag’s reservoir,
To use, you line up the bullet tips with the black tray in the loader and flip the tray upside down. You can then simply dump the rounds into their slots. Next, you insert an AR15 magazine into the side of the loader, release the tray and start pumping the handle. With each push of the plunger, it will load 5 rounds into the magazine in just a few seconds.
The smart spring-loaded carrier then automatically advances the next row of 5 rounds into the loading chute until the mag is fully loaded. It also comes with a transfer tray that lets you stage bulk ammo for dumping into the charger. The benchtop mag loader is suitable for range shooting and compatible with 20 Caliber (.204) and 22 Caliber (.223-.224).
For a high-volume bench loader, it’s surprisingly lightweight and easily fits in your range bag. The quality of the construction is good but it could be better. It’s made from a high impact plastic but it would be more tough and durable if it was constructed with metal aluminum or another lightweight alloy.
I was so impressed with this loader. It worked quickly and flawlessly. I was able to load a 100 round magazine in less than 4 mins! It took me longer to get it out of the box than it did to load the mag. If that’s not enough, it also completely prevents sore thumbs. For the quality and operation of this machine, it’s great value for money too. It’s a must for all high-volume shooters!
- Extremely quick and easy operation
- Can load up to 50 rounds
- Lightweight and portable
- Looks after your thumbs and prevents any soreness
- Great value for money
- Ideal for all high-volume range shooters
- Construction could be stronger and more durable
- No ability to unload
Thermold AR15/M16 magazine charger
The Thermold magazine charger is a compact, economical, easy-to-use stripper loader. It snaps on top of an AR15/M16 magazine to preserve your fingers and thumbs from the beating they take during handloading. It allows easy loading of 10 rounds into the magazine.
This charger can load both loose rounds and rounds on stripper clips. If loading with stripper clips, first slide the individual rounds on the included 10-round plastic stripper clips. Then, insert a loaded clip in the loader and push down to insert all 10 without misalignment or damage to the bullet tips.
The magazine charger is suitable for the range and works with 22 Caliber (.223-.224) only. It comes with three, 10-round plastic stripper clips, and more can be purchased separately. It will also accept metal strip clips if you prefer to use those.
When testing I found that it started well but around halfway it started to stick slightly. This did require me to change angles which slowed down the process a bit. Another downside of this loader is the construction material. It’s made from rather thin plastic, so I’m not sure how long-lasting it is. However, for the low price, it could still be a worthy option.
- Compact and lightweight
- Can load loose rounds and rounds on both metal and plastic stripper clips
- Comes with three 10-round plastic stripper clips
- Simple operational mechanism
- Preserves your fingers and thumbs
- Very low price
- Not the strongest, most durable loader
- You might experience some issues with sticking
Power Custom AR-15 magazine loader
The AR15 magazine loader from Power Custom eases the loading process by depressing each round in the magazine. This allows for simple loading of the next round. The ease of use this mag loader gives will get you back to shooting quicker than ever!
Furthermore, for shooters experiencing the painful ‘mag thumb’ from handloading mags, Power Customs speed loader is the perfect answer for saving your fingers from a long day at the range.
The range loader is 66% nylon and 40% mineral filler which is a very hard polymer. It’s durable and resists oil, grease, and acetones. The hard polymer construction means this loader will hold up during hours of hard use and thousands of rounds being loaded. Power Custom also has a version of this loader suitable for AK47 rifles.
This mag loader is made to work solely with 22 Caliber (.223-.224) and fits only metal magazines. This is the cheapest option on the list but it’s not the fastest. Without a doubt, it’s a great option for preserving your fingers and thumbs and it has been well constructed too.
However, if you’re looking for a top-quality, high-performance speed loader to speed up your magazine loading as much as possible, you may find other options on this list to be a better fit.
- Easy and simple to use
- Preserves your fingers and thumbs, eliminates ‘mag thumb’
- Hard polymer construction for durability
- The cheapest option on the list
- Only compatible with metal magazines
- Not the fastest loader
Mean Arms AR15 MA-loader
The Mean Arms AR15 MA-Loader is a California-compliant mag loader designed for fast reloads. It was designed to comply with the gun laws in California and other restrictive states. It’s the first-ever loading device designed to reload AR-style .308s and AR-15s from the ejection port.
The MA-Loader doesn’t require any modifications to a standard AR-15 or AR-style .308 rifle to function. Mean Arms also offers a feed ramp designed to streamline the loading process, but it is not required to use.
To operate, simply place the MA Loader into your rifle’s ejection port and press the thumb-ring slider to quickly load or reload. One feature I like about the MA Loader is that once you reload your magazine and remove the MA loader, it automatically releases the bolt, and thus, a round is chambered.
The mag loader is constructed with a stronger, durable polymer. It will function in any mil-spec AR-15 rifle and can load 10 rounds of 7.62 NATO or 5.56 NATO quickly and easily.
Because of the unique design, it does feel a bit awkward to use initially. Nonetheless, after a bit of practice, I found it to work well but it does require some effort to press the thumb-ring slider. This is because there is a considerable amount of resistance so you need to push hard and fast.
The MA Loader is a clever system if you’re running a fixed magazine. It’s also a worthwhile and very affordable option for those who live in a restricted state.
- Complies with gun laws of restricted states
- Unique functioning – reloads through the ejection port
- Automatic bolt release
- Strong, durable construction
- Affordable price
- Can feel awkward to use at first
- Requires a strong push because of resistance
Maglula AR15/M16 Striplula
The Striplula magazine speed loader from Maglula is designed to give AR15 and M16 shooters an easy and painless way to load magazines in the field. The thumb-saving, lightweight magazine loader provides fast, painless 30-round magazine loading in less than 13 seconds. It’s capable of unloading a 30-round magazine in 15 seconds.
It accepts 10-round stripper clips or loose rounds for easy loading of 10-, 20-, and 30-round magazines. A great feature of the Striplula is its ambidextrous, grooved thumb slide. This provides a non-slip grip for both right and left-hand loading, making it ideal for lefties.
The loader is constructed with a durable, reinforced polymer. It gives supreme dependability in all operational situations including under extreme field conditions. This makes the LULA style mag loader the perfect choice for range shooting. It fits all AR15 and M16 metal and plastic magazines.
I found this loader to be quick, easy, and sturdy. I could easily load ten magazines in just a few minutes. It also eliminated the pain and soreness in my thumbs or knuckles that I get from handloading. Furthermore, I loved how lightweight it was and the smooth operation the built-in slider gave.
Overall, this loader does exactly what you would want a speed loader to do, with some great additional features too. This makes it stand out from the rest. Considering this and the low price, this is easily one of the best AR15 magazine speed loaders out there.
- Eliminates any pain in thumbs or fingers
- Ability to load 10, 20, and 30-round magazines
- 13 second loading time
- 15-second unloading
- The built-in slider gives a smooth operation
- Ambidextrous use
- Strong, durable and reliable construction
- Great value for money
What is an AR-15 Magazine Speed Loader?
Although loading a magazine into an AR15 itself is a relatively easy and uncomplicated process, getting the actual bullets into the magazine can be a painfully long and slow process.
Loading magazines by hand is also strenuous on the fingers and hands, especially when loading several magazines back to back. A magazine speed loader is used to make the task easier and faster, reducing manual loading efforts.
- It helps to speed up and simplify the loading and unloading process.
- With a speed loader, you can load your AR15 as easily as flipping a switch.
- High-quality magazine speed loaders can also reduce hand strain and finger soreness from multiple loading.
- When loading by hand it can be easy to miss-load a round, creating a higher potential for jamming when firing. Speed loaders reduce the chance of this.
- Mag loaders can also influence the overall weight of the weapon, making it heavier or lighter.
What Kinds Of AR-15 Shooters Need A Speed Loader Most?
While speed loaders can make the process quicker and easier for all shooters, the devices are most beneficial to certain shooters.
- Firstly, some people suffer from problems like hand arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Loading magazines can be extremely uncomfortable for them, and even potentially worsen the problem. Mag loaders are inevitably a vital device for them.
- Mag loaders are also super helpful for those who need to load lots of magazines at once. Examples of this are shooters taking part in three-gun shooting competitions, those who do a lot of target shooting, or even shooters using their rifle for simple plinking. In these cases, those small gains on each mag do add up!
Even if these cases do not apply to you, if you’re a serious shooter, using a magazine speed loader is still going to make your shooting experience much easier.
How Much Faster Can You Load Using Magazine Loaders?
A high-quality magazine speed loader can significantly shorten this time to 5-6 seconds. However, this does depend on the skill of the user. Using a magazine speed loader is always faster than hand-loading rounds. Many mag loaders will claim to speed up the process by 50%. Loading by hand can take a minute or more, depending on the magazine.
There’s no doubt that a mag loader is quicker than hand-loading, but for shooters who are not used to using mag loaders, it will take much longer to set up. Therefore, the loading time may not be that different.
What is ‘mag thumb’?
Loading large quantities of magazines by hand can cause you to bash your thumbs against your magazines. This can be very painful and lead to scratches, bruises, and soreness, This is known as ‘mag thumb’ and is something that speed loaders can greatly reduce or eliminate. If this is something you experience when handloading magazines, investing in a speed loader is a no brainer. Your thumbs will thank you for it!
Types Of AR15 Magazine Speed Loaders
When searching the market for a new magazine speed loader you may notice that mag loaders operate in various ways. Let’s explore the four operational types further and the differences between them.
This is one of the most popular speed loaders on the market. A LULA loader is a military-grade, pocket-size, universal pistol magazine loader, and unloader.
- They sit over the top of the magazine and can be used to load or unload rounds one-by-one by using a simple lever.
- A cool feature of the LULA loader is that it self-adjusts to the magazine.
- It offers easy and painless operation for both loading rounds into a magazine and unloading them out.
- They are also a very reliable choice as they are usable for tens-of-thousands of rounds.
- Their compactness and ease of use are what make them such a popular choice. You just take it out of your pocket and start loading rounds. No bench rest or additional support is needed.
Bench loaders are heavy-duty industrial magazine loaders designed to load a magazine in a single hand stroke.
- They are intended for the high-volume daily loading of hundreds of magazines at shooting ranges or armories.
- As the name suggests, you need to place them on a bench to operate.
- Hold the magazine on one end and place rounds side-by-side in the middle cavity of the bench loader. Once full, push the latch at the other end of the loader all the way down to the magazine’s head. All the rounds will simply slide in.
- Bench loaders are perhaps the best option for eliminating any thumb pain and injury.
- They also shorten the loading time significantly and keep the magazine’s lips intact.
- These are one of the toughest and most durable loaders thanks to their detailed robust design and high-quality materials.
- Bench loaders are tested for slide against bodywear, and dimensional stability at high and low temperatures.
- The downside to bench loaders is that they cannot unload magazines.
- Stripper loaders are designed specifically for use with stripper clips.
- These loaders can rapidly load up to 10 rounds with a single motion.
- The rounds are fed onto the strip. The loader is then placed on the magazine’s head and the strip is slid down, eventually loading the magazine.
- They are extremely fast and effective with loose ammunition.
- Stripper loaders work equally well with aluminum, steel, or polymer magazines.
- They also incorporate a simple unloader.
Hopper Feed Loader
- This is one of the least popular styles of loaders.
- It is primarily a bench feeder but with a different mechanism. The simple hopper feed mechanism feeds rounds into the upper cavity and the hopper is then repeatedly pushed up and down to load the mag.
- Hopper feeds have higher capacities than other styles. You can feed up to 90 rounds into this type of loader in one go.
- It auto-orients the ammunition in the proper direction, allowing you to simply dump loose ammo into the feeder.
- Built-in safeties prevent damage to the rounds while loading, and automatically stops loading when the magazine has reached full capacity.
- These loaders are a very useful option for quick bulk loading of mags at once.
- This style cannot be used for unloading rounds.
How to Choose an AR-15 magazine speed loader
There are a few key aspects that you should take into consideration when choosing the best AR15 magazine speed loader. Here are the main factors to look for before making your purchase.
Style of mechanism
Since there are many different operation methods, you should ensure you have a full understanding of how your new speed loader works. The operational types in the previous section all use a different style of mechanism, as explained above.
No one style is universally better than the others. It’s more of a personal choice. By researching how each style works, you will understand which one is best suited to your AR15.
When choosing the style, one thing you should consider is the speed that a particular mechanism creates. This is because the design of a mag loader will determine how much time you save.
Of course, how long you take to set up and operate the machine will also impact how fast the process will be. The best way to get a sense of how much time a mag loader will save you is to read reviews from other users or credible websites.
Some mag loaders will only allow you to feed a single round at a time. Others have the ability for you to simply drop them all in and pull the handle, without the need for pre-staging them.
- The highest capacity loader out there is a hopper feed loader which lets you feed up to 90 rounds at once. Therefore, loaders of this style may be the best AR15 magazine speed loaders for you if you frequently work with large quantities.
- Many magazine speed loaders will fall somewhere between the two contrasts. The stripper loader is one of these, of which 10 rounds can be loaded with a single motion.
As with all AR15 equipment, your budget is an important factor to consider. The higher budget you have, the more options available to you. Although understandably, you may prefer to put your savings towards something like a scope, the best AR15 magazine speed loaders really can make your shooting experience much easier. This is why, even though you don’t need to splurge, you shouldn’t skimp either.
Another thing to keep in mind is this. As with many pieces of equipment, a high price does not always equal high quality. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
That’s why we’ve ensured that all the mag loaders featured in this guide deliver great value for money. The products we chose also have different price ranges, so by following this guide, you’ll confidently find a great speed loader whatever your budget.
- The materials used to build the machine will play a huge role in how durable and reliable the loader is.
- As much as possible, opt for models made with durable material, like polymer.
- A big, heavy machine doesn’t necessarily mean it is well constructed. Mag loaders can also be fairly bulky and heavy if they’re not designed well.
- There are some great compact and lightweight mag loaders on the market that give great portability and ease of use while maintaining a strong and durable construction.
- That being said, some of the best quality heavy-duty loaders made for high-volumes such as bench loaders are not so compact or lightweight but are one of the most robust styles out there.
How To Use An AR-15 Magazine Speed Loader
If you’ve just purchased your first magazine speed loader and you’re not sure how to use it, do not worry. Most mag loaders are easy to operate. Here is a brief step by step guide on how to use one.
- First, place the instant transfer case above the ammo rack. Then flip it over. Every round should fall in place perfectly.
- Next, place your magazine into the mag charger. Then pull back the handle. Move the handle back and forth until the magazine is fully loaded.
- If you’re loading multiple magazines and your loader does not allow simultaneous feeding, repeat the process as many times as necessary.
Note: keep the ammo tray in case you have more rounds to load in the charger.
Do AR-15 Magazine Speed Loaders Work With Any Magazine?
No, not always. AR15 mag loaders are usually compatible with all or most mil-spec AR15 and M16 magazines.
- Most will work with both metal and plastic magazines, but some loaders will only fit metal mags.
- There are also a few mag loaders such as the Caldwell mag charger which works with aluminum, polymer, and even high-capacity Beta mags.
This is something you need to research beforehand.
Do AR-15 magazine speed loaders work with non-standard calibers?
Most AR15 magazine speed loaders are only compatible with the standard AR15 calibers – 223 Rem (22 Caliber) and 5.56 NATO. However, some loaders will also work with other calibers like the .300 Blackout, .204 (20 Caliber), or 7.62 NATO. Again, this is something you need to check before purchasing.
How large do AR-15 magazine capacities get?
The 30-round rifle magazine has been the standard high-capacity magazine for more than three decades. Therefore, most AR-15-type rifles are sold with a 30-round magazine, but it is possible to find after-market magazines with as many as 100 rounds. This means the speed with which you shoot is limited only by the speed at which you can pull the trigger.
The Best AR-15 Magazine Speed Loader
There are some worthy contenders on this list. However, I have to say the one that stood out the most for me was the Maglula Striplula magazine speed loader. When testing this loader I was so impressed that I couldn’t find even one fault.
I hope this article has helped you to recognize the best AR15 magazine speed loaders on the market and equipped you with all the knowledge you need to make the right choice for your rifle. As you now know, a top-quality mag loader will speed up the loading process and protect your thumbs and fingers too!