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100 Round AR-15 C-Mag Copy from KCI Korea – Gear Review

It was a huge surprise when, on March 1st, right at the top of the high cap mag crisis, I got an email from the Sportsman’s Guide for “100 Round AR-15 Magazines.” Excuse me? What do you live in a cave? Who isn’t sold out on any and all AR-15 mags for six months at this point? But sure enough, the sale was real, and while people were still buying 30 round P-Mags on the auction sites for almost 100 bucks each, I got two of what appear to be exact copies of the Beta C-Mag for $179 each (after I joined their stupid club, otherwise they are $199). Initially I thought that it was kind of a dumb move. They were probably a cheap Chinese copy and probably didn’t work well, but since I could write about them for you guys, and “the company” could pay for them, I figured I’d give them a try. Bad reviews are as well received as positive reviews here, and if they were anything like the other after high cap mags I have bought at gun shows over the years, they would end up in the garbage after my scathing review.

KCI Korea 100 Round “C-Mag” Copy
Check out the real Beta C-Mag for .556/7.62/9mm Glock:

Turns out that the magazines are in fact copies of C-Mag, but they are from Korea, not China. Each came with a full color manual, well written in English, as well as a carry case, a magazine loader, and some powdered lubricant, just like the C-Mags do. It did take Sportsman’s Guide several weeks to get me the order, but I just ordered four more yesterday (before you guys clean them out) and they are still $179 for Buyers Club members. In very limited tests (one full mag each, at full-auto speed), they worked perfectly, and they are nearly indistinguishable from the “real thing.” We would all love to “buy American,” but the original C-Mag from Beta is back ordered at best, and it is about $100 more. At today’s ammo prices, a hundred bucks is just about one magazine’s worth of bullets, but a hundred bucks is still a hundred bucks, or er, at least it still says a hundred bucks on it.

If you haven’t encountered a Beta C-Mag in your travels yet, the C-Mag is the one with the two roller cans on the sides of the receiver. As you load the magazine, each side feeds into its respective can, and it indeed holds 100 rounds. I had assumed that C-Mags were still covered by a patent, but it appears that the patent was approved in 1987. Add 17 years to that and you get 2004 (patents are good for 17 years), coincidentally the same year that the Federal high cap magazine ban expired. Right after the ban went into effect C-Mags were going for big bucks, but even before the ban they were $250, back when .223 was about 15 cents a round. That made them too expensive right out of the gate. These days .223 is floating at almost a buck a round so the current $274 price tag is much more reasonable, if you figure total cost of your shooting. Originally the government tested these mags and found them unreliable, but a subsequent test,apparently in 2008found that whatever issues they had were fixed, and that they are now incredibly reliable. We have not yet tested a “real” C-Mag, but since they also come in 9mm and 7.62, we will definitely be trying one out soon.

As for this Korean copy magazine, first let me say that no, Sportsman’s Guide is not paying us for this article. Neither have they ever been an advertiser here, and no contract is imminent. I say this because there is nothing bad that we could say about these magazines except that are a stolen design from an American company being made in Korea. We bought these mags figuring that we would beat them up and lay their bodies out for your viewing, but there is nothing bad say. Gushing about them may sound silly, but we ran a full magazine of Fiocchi .223 through each of our two test subjects using a Colt 6920 and a SlideFire stockand the brass came out like a garden hose to the last round (see the video). Both mags rocked every last round without a hitch, and they physically feel very sturdy and sound. My guess is that they are indistinguishable from the Beta mags. If you Google “KCI 100 round” you will find other retailers of the same mag for about the same price, or a little more, but most are out of stock.

The manual comes with full instructions on how to disassemble and clean the magazine completely, and it even gives you tips on how to deal with various kinds of contaminants. Since we are not planning to assault a lard factory, nor a terrorist cell entrenched in a desert hideaway, I found no reason to experiment with disassembly, so you are on your own with that one. These mags are perfect for 3-Gun where you might be prone for some shots, because they stick down from the rifle only about the length of a 20 rounder. We are going to use this for prairie dog hunting too. The poly-canvas case has a waterproof lining in the top of it, and it has military clips that will attach to Molle gear or your regular belt. The 5 round magazine loader works perfectly and all 100 rounds load up quickly with about the same amount of force for each rack. Loaded full the mag weighs just under 5 lbs. Don’t lose that loader though. It’s a thumb buster after about 10 rounds. The directions mention a special speed loader for 10 round stripper clips but we have not been able to find one outside of the Beta loader that you can get with the actual Beta C-Mags, but which will probably also work on these.

All in all, whether to buy a Korean copy of a solid, American designed product is really up to you. Say what you want about Sportsman’s Guide, but it would be crazy not to give you guys a heads up about what a crazy great deal these mags appear to be. It isn’t a “too good to be true,” but more like a “just good enough to possibly be true.” We didn’t run the mags over thousands of rounds or bang them on rocks or jump up and down on them screaming “why aren’t you made in the USA?” but my guess is that neither will you. Beta got kind of screwed by losing 10 years of their patent to the national high cap magazine ban, but what can you do? These mags are a fantastic buy.

This was our second KCI magazine tested with a full 100 round compliment of Fiocchi .223. As you can see, except for a minor pause for adjusting hearing protection, the mag ran perfectly, as had the first one. At around a buck around for .223 for the foreseeable future we don’t do a lot of these tests, but it was worth a couple hundred bucks to see if these mags actually work. This summer we hope to use them for 3-Gun matches and prairie dogs.
This is surprisingly not a Beta C-Mag. It is a Korean copy being imported by the Sportsman’s Guide. We ordered two thinking that they’d get a good beating but in testing each with a full 100 rounds they fed flawlessly and were easy to load.
Each kit comes with the magazine, fully assembled, and a nice poly-canvas case with a waterproof cover. The loading tool and some powdered lubricant is also included. The directions are in easy to read English with great color pictures of the magazine.
The loader slips over the lips of the magazine and holds five rounds at a time.
Squash the five rounds in, then load it up again. The pressure was about the same from the first 5 to the last, not difficult at all.
Thumb loading the magazine is extremely difficult after half a dozen or so rounds. Plus the lips bend out. Just don’t lose the loading tool, which is held in the black case as well.
The manual speaks of a “speed loader” for military 10 round stripper clips, but we haven’t seen one available. Beta makes one for their mags and it might fit this. The five round loader definately is not made for stripper clips.
The magazine has a good deal of powdered lubricant in it, enough to noticeably get on the ammo and the dust cover. It is probably a good idea to keep it well lubricated.
Why would Sportsman’s Guide sell these for $179 at the top of the scarcity when they could get two to four times that? Probably all these crap offers you get with an order from them. They just want you to see how amazing their gay forest king fleece jacket would look on you.
These mags are great for 3-Gun and prairie dogs. Because they are about the height of a 20 round military mag they work great with bipods like this Atlas from US Tactical Supply.
Everything about this magazine screams quality. It is made in Korea, but so are a lot of Epiphone Guitars and a whole bunch of other high end brand names.
The black case has these military clips on the back for Molle gear or a thick web belt.
If you Google around for KCI magazines you will see that they make straight mags too, and others besides Sportsman’s Guide do carry them, but they may not be in stock. Most of the prices around are back down to the normal $179-$199, (no buyers club required), but some discussion board posts have members claiming that they have seen them at gun shows for $130.

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