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The $830 Magazine

In November 2022 I started my own business after being laid off for several months.  I have always loved guns and gun shows, so the goal was to have a kitchen table FFL.  As that got going, one of the things I could not find was reasonably priced side focus scope for my personal 22 bolt gun.  This kind of made me mad, so I decided I could do a better job than my competition; and after a long process began selling my own scope (imported from China, this will play a part later), the Armstrong Precision Rimfire.  (I have found that when it comes to business, if something frustrates me, that is a good sign there is an opportunity for a better service or product.)


Fast forward to one of the winter 2023 gun shows, and another fellow and I were talking about what a rip off it is that CZ 22 mags are never in stock, and when you can find them in stock they are $40.  Again, if I can buy 3 P-Mags for the price of one 10 round CZ mag that isn't right.  So I paid $40 for a brand new 457 mag, then hired an engineer good at auto-cad to start work on reverse engineering the magazine for me.  (As of this writing it took ~28 iterations to the gen 2 mag currently in production).  Because I am both paranoid and cheap, I used an engineer from India for the body, and one from Pakistan for the follower, and one from Sri Lanka for the base-plate. 


As anyone will tell you, the heart and soul of a magazine is the spring.  This is where my connections with Chinese manufacturing companies came in.  Trying to communicate with math and google translate gave me a ton of migraines, and I bought 100 springs to start with.  (I had hoped to make this an all USA product.  I contacted two spring manufacturers in the US.  One had a minimum order of 10000.  The other (Katy Springs) would do a small batch for me but it would cost $20 each.  When I get big enough to order 5000 at a time they are close enough cost wise to the Chinese made springs for me to buy from them.  But as a one man operation working out of my basement I have to pinch every penny).


Once the springs were in hand there was another round of modifications to the follower and base plate, and each magazine needed ~10 minutes of hand fitting to fine tune and assemble.  Then began the materials testing.  I ordered prototypes from 4 different commercial 3d printing companies in a range of plastics.  (Shout out to Jawstech in Pocatello for some quality work!)   I sent some of the alpha models out to people to test.  Lots of them would fail when left in a hot car or had other issues that didn’t meet my standards.  The winners were carbon fiber and Zytel.


I contacted the company from California to start the first production run of 50 Zytel magazines.  The week they were to start production I received an email that they were canceling the contract.  The higher ups had decided they would not produce parts meant for firearms. 


So after a week of feeling sorry for myself and hating the world, I decided to just do it myself and ordered a prosumer 3d printing system capable of working with carbon fiber.  The learning curve was brutal, no lie.  But after a lot of failures I had a system in place and made 50 beta mags to sell and send to you tubers.  I put them up on my website and eBay.  I thought I would sell maybe 20 a month.  I sold all 50 in a week.


From the first batch I had several really good emails from guys letting me know what needed changed.  So while I waited for the next batch of springs, I got with my engineers and made more changes.  The result the Gen2 magazine currently for sale.  Since going on sale last week about 25% are sold.  But I also learned they have issues in the 455, so I need to buy or borrow one and see what the issue is.


So what’s next?  Possibly a new material for the follower that is a little slicker than the current material.  I have prototypes of a 12 and 15 round magazine in hand that “work” with the current spring stretch out, but have larger springs on order already that should actually make them a viable product.  Last week I purchased a Tikka T1X, and a 10 round magazine for that rifle is in the very early development stage.  And I have been getting requests for the Bergara as well, but I need to make some more money before I can afford to buy another rifle just for magazine testing.  (If anyone wants to loan me one though I will hook you up with magazines!)


So the reason I called this the $830 magazine is that is what it cost me out of pocket to make the first actual gen 1 magazine to sell.  I am just very blessed and lucky that other shooters are frustrated by a $40 magazine as I am, and are willing to give a 3d printed magazine a chance.  (Remember guys, there were people who wouldn't buy a Glock when they came out because it was new tech and plastic.  This is version 2.0 of that same issue.)

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