So you’ve bought an airsoft gun and it’s only come with one mag. Worst still, it’s a hicap, and every time you move it rattles about.
You can solve this issue with mid-cap mags or low-cap mags, but you’ll need to find a way to load them quickly and effectively, which is where a speed loader comes in.
A speed loader is a device used to quickly and easily load airsoft BB pellets into magazines that are not high capacity (i.e. have no winding mechanism).
The basic principle is a device that has a reservoir of BB pellets and a mechanical solution to quickly load an airsoft magazine without having to load it by hand.
There are different types of speed loaders built for specific situations available from a variety of airsoft manufacturers but they all operate in roughly the same way.
There is a wide range of speedloaders available, with varying capacity sizes and delivery methods. Below is a list of the most popular and readily available speed loaders today.
These are the smallest speed loaders available and typically hold 100-150 BBs depending on size. They utilise a plunger to push the BBs into the magazine. They have a compact design so they fit in standard pistol mag pouches, hence the name.
Assault Rifle speedloaders
If you need to carry more ammo into airsoft games an assault rifle speed loader may be better for you.
Shaped like a standard airsoft M4 midcap magazine or an airsoft AK midcap these hold between 400 and 470 rounds.
This allows for more magazines to be filled compared to the pistol-style speed loaders, but still fits into pouches on your rig with ease.
Rotary or ‘side winder’ speedloaders
These are the best for short reloading times, but as a trade-off they are more cumbersome and cost more.
The designs allow for storage of up to 1600 BBs and use a side-mounted crank to quickly fill up a magazine. With each spin of the crank loading 12 BBs at a time, they can reload your mid capacity mags in a matter of seconds.
Yes, you can choose the type of speed loader suitable for your airsoft rifle. A pistol or rifle magazine speedloader can be used on anything from pistols to shotguns, and snipers to assault rifles. They all have a similar design for feeding the BBs into the magazine which increases compatibility.
You may need an adapter to work with products from different airsoft brands, but most speedloaders include one.
You can use speed loaders to fill a range of airsoft products, from sniper rifle mags to 150rd midcaps. The only magazine type you can’t reload with a speed loader is a hicap.
Depending on the speed loader there are a couple of different techniques that can be used to load a magazine.
The pistol and rifle magazine speed loaders simply need you to unlock the plunger and then press down repeatedly to feed BBs into the magazine. You’ll feel the resistance increase as you get towards the max capacity of the magazine.
For the side winder style, these are a little more complex. You’ll need to flip the lever out from sitting flush, fit your magazine into the well, and then rotate the lever as marked on the speed loader.
Just as with the other speed loaders you will feel the resistance increase, but products like the Odin Innovations Sidewinder are better than existing crank-operated speedloaders because they have a clutch mechanism to stop feeding once they reach a certain resistance level.
We can’t say for sure, as it depends on the situation. If you want a compact and quieter speed loader then a pistol mag style is the way to go. The combination of lower BB count and smaller size helps to conceal the device as well as reduce the sound of BBs rattling about as the chamber is smaller.
If you need to reload magazines between games as quickly as possible and money is no object then the Odin Airsoft Sidewinder will be perfect for you, as it offers the largest BB capacity and fastest filling ability, but isn’t the easiest to carry into the field.
For a blend of both of the above, the rifle-style speed loader is best. It balances a greater capacity with a design that makes it easy to carry alongside your other midcap magazines, allowing you to fill up 3 or 4 midcaps without having the extra bulk of a side winder speed loader.
Whatever choice you go with it’s certain that a speed loader will improve your gameplay and help to make sure you don’t get caught short out on the airsoft field.