Magazine extensions always suck.
Never say never, never say always.
There has always been some intermingling of the competition shooting world and the tactical. Many of the items we’ve come to accept and use for military and law enforcement have their roots in competition: electronic sights (for both rifles and handguns), smoother triggers, offset iron sights, offset red dots, long forends, adjustable gas regulators on ARs, enlarged and enhanced controls, and more.
Due to differing requirements regarding reliability and durability, usually what happens is that a more robust version of a competition accessory makes its way into tactical shooting. JP offset sights become Surefire Duecks. Adjustable Jard trigger becomes a Geissle SSA. Miculek brake becomes a BattleComp, C-More becomes an Aimpoint—there are countless examples.
Extended capacity magazines started out on the military side of the house. They were usually relegated to automatic weapons, for reasons which remain obvious. Dillinger famously used a 25 round capacity .38 Super 1911 (the, uh, ‘criminal’ side of the house?).
The sheer bulk of the magazines made them less practical for men on the front line when not used for special purposes and many suffered from feeding issues. But in gun games though…
If you’re shooting IDPA or Steel Challenge, any magazine capacity over ten is moot. It’s a different story in USPSA/IPSC and multigun. In a game where speed is placed as the first among equals, any reduction in time is beneficial. No matter how fast you are, reloading takes time. Due to this need for speed, magazine extensions made a return.
While you still won’t often see Glock 18 magazines on the line, you will see magazine extensions. Not only do they give you a few more rounds (usually anywhere from 1 to 5, depending on the handgun, caliber, and brand) but they also give your fingers more purchase and add a bit of weight to ensure empty mags drop free.
But there are some issues.
Unless the spring is replaced, feeding reliability can be compromised, most notably with larger extensions. Some are susceptible to fouling (you sometimes see shooters removing and cleaning base pads from dropped mags between stages).
Many models can even pop off when stressed, especially if dropped loaded or partially filled. This can be an embarrassment on the range (ask me how I know) but far worse if done in the real world. This isn’t just a theoretical worry either. Here’s something the multiloquent minion Hernandez experienced:
There I was, minding my own business, on night shift patrol in a rough area. I had a probationary officer with me, fresh off field training. He was a gun nut, the kind of guy who carried not just a backup gun but also a third gun in his bag and an extra 500 rounds of ammo, just in case. His duty gun was a Glock 22, with +2 mag extensions on all three mags.
Not much was going on, and we stopped a motorcycle rider with a burned out brake light. The rider was nervous as hell, way too nervous for a simple traffic violation. He had a big sweatshirt on, with overflowing pockets. I asked him to empty them. Nothing illegal was in them. I asked him to raise the front of his sweatshirt. He froze. I grabbed the shirt and lifted.
A revolver was stuck in his waistband. He turned and sprinted away. My partner and I started after him, and his pistol clattered to the pavement. I stopped to get it as the probationary kept running. By the time I recovered the pistol, the suspect and my partner were way ahead of me in a wide-open parking lot. I called out the foot pursuit as the suspect tried a quick turn on loose gravel.
He made the turn. My partner ate shit, face first into the concrete. He popped back up and ran a short distance, but he’d been hurt. I flew past as he collapsed to a sidewalk.
Backup arrived and we got the suspect. I went back to get my partner. He had managed to get to his feet and was staggering around the spot were he fell. I didn’t know what he was doing, but as I got closer I figured it out.
.40 caliber rounds were scattered all around. My partner was slowly, painfully collecting each one. Two mag extensions and springs lay among them. A hollowed-out mag was on my partner’s duty belt, another hollowed-out mag in his weapon. If the suspect had pulled another weapon, my partner would have had one round. And one good mag to reload, but only after he fought the baseplate-less magazine out of his mag well.
Because of issues like the above, many shooters place mag extensions firmly in the “gamer gear” category (some opt for wider base plates, which offer some of the same advantages sans capacity). I’ve dabbled in the past with competitive shooting (the Duo gave me the equivalent of a experimental marijuana waiver) and I tended to agree with those who didn’t trust magazine extensions.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the Breach Bang Clear crew attended a Will Petty VCQB class hosted at 88 Tactical. Learning that there would be a couple of guys using Glock 43’s, Taran Butler graciously sent us some of his new mag extensions. He also included some of his increased capacity base pads for PMags and fullsize Glock magazines.
Taran Tactical Innovations (TTI) is the brainchild of the phenomenal shooter bearing its namesake, Taran Butler. While initially I found ‘tactical’ to be a bit of a misnomer, I gave it a pass because it contains an alliteration.
Taran corrected problems commonly encountered in other base plates. First, Tarans are machined from a block of aluminum and hard anodized for strength. It pretty much doesn’t matter where you drop them, it’s not going to break. Our token competition shooter, Candice Horner, has used them for years without issues and the same goes for a number of world-ranked shooters. But just to convince ourselves, we dropped the shit out of them on the knee-grinding gravel over and over without issue.
All Taran extensions include a pin in the back of the base plate to prevent them from sliding off of the magazine body. While they are friction fit, there is also a small screw so you can lock it totally in place if desired (I do). The hardest part about installing the TTI base plates is removing the old factory plate. The increased capacity Glock bases (ours were the +5 9mm model) also meant swapping the mag spring.
How did they work? They were nauseatingly impeccable.
Of course, there are some nuances. When using the +5 base pad, the capacity is supposed to be 23+1 with a G17 mag. I say supposed to be because cramming that last round in proved to be very difficult. I still managed it, but in the future I may channel my inner child and use a LULA. Also, like a fully-filled USGI AR mag, loading on a closed slide was more difficult due to the tight spring pressure.
For concealed carry, at least those who now have the coveted Glock 43, the TTI base pads help alleviate some capacity concerns. TTI has both +1 and +2 pads for the G43. But what about the larger +5?
The +5 doesn’t play well with Glock 19 magazines due to spring issues (it ships with an appropriate length spring for a G17) and we’re told it will add a cant (TTI advises to use the smaller +3 extension). For a fullsize G17 on a rig though? Provided the extra length won’t hurt you, rock it.
Mag extensions are like prostitutes—if you want a good one, you’re going to pay for it.
TTI base pads are available in a variety of colors—from tactical to girly. You can check them out here. You can also visit TTI on Facebook or Instagram (which is totally worth the visit anyway, as he invariably has beautiful women shooting).
Mad Duo Merrill About the author: A combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Mad Duo Dave Merrill is a former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. An occasional competitive shooter, he has a strange Kalashnikov fetish the rest of the minions try to ignore. Dave is currently the operating manager and instructor for MilCopp Tactical. There he munificently promulgates superlative fighting advice. Translated, that means MilCopp teaches and advocates a constantly evolving, amalgamated method of military and law enforcement tactics. They leaven those TTPs with lessons learned from continued training and ongoing experience on the sharp end; these TTP’s are based on a combination of hard lessons learned and practical real-world results. Merrill, who has superb taste in hats, has been published in a number of places, the most awesome of which is, of course, here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is kind of a dick and married way, way above his pay grade.