Skip to main content

Load Like Lightning

Load Like Lightning

Two popular magazine loaders get put to the test.

Both the Butler Creek's UpLULA (l.) and HKS GL-940 made short, simple work of loading a 17-round magazine.

I'VE BEEN SHOOTING PISTOLS MY ENTIRE adult life. All the years I've spent on the range have helped me become a pretty decent shooter and a blazing-fast magazine loader. I must admit that my beloved 1911s are a whole lot easier to load than any of the high-capacity pistols, but loading even those capacious mags comes pretty easy to just about any old range rat.

Like most seasoned shooters, I never gave a second thought to buying a magazine loader. But watching my wife and kids battle to stuff their 9mm magazines really opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone spends their lives on the range.


To make their lives easier and to keep me from shredding my thumbs loading all their magazines for them, I started researching mag loaders.


The two most popular and highly regarded models I found were the HKS and Butler Creek UpLULA loaders. Both got great reviews on the Internet despite a pretty significant price difference, so I decided to order one of each for a side-by-side evaluation.

The HKS GL-940 magazine loader is designed to load staggered-column 9mm and .40 S&W magazines. It is a simple plastic design into which a 9mm or .40 S&W magazine is inserted from the side. With the magazine inserted, the loader feels very similar to the grip of a pistol.


To load the magazine, simply depress the loader's large thumb lever. The lever activates the lever arm that depresses the follower and allows the user to insert the next round. Once the round hits the lever arm, release pressure on the lever and push the round to the rear of the magazine, then repeat. It is a quick and easy process that HKS claims allows users to load 15 rounds of 9mm in 18 seconds.


The HKS product is very affordable, with a suggested retail of just $14, and you can find it for a few bucks less if you look around.

The UpLULA is the pistol version of the popular LULA loaders. Butler Creek claims its universal pistol loader loads all 9mm, .357, 10mm, .40 and .45 caliber magazines--including single-column mags. The fine print says it may not work with magazines that have less than 8mm clearance between the feed lips, and it may not load the last round in some magazines, but the instructors I asked about it say it works with most popular pistols, and even some .380s.

The UpLULA's body is made from a rugged polymer with a hinged polymer press and a steel beak. To use it, insert the magazine into the body with the beak at the front of the mag, and then rest the magazine on a hard surface.

Squeeze the press to force the beak against the follower while pushing the unit down onto the magazine, and then slide a round into the magazine, above the beak and below the feed lips. Once the round is seated, raise the UpLULA and open the press and then repeat the previous steps until the magazine is full.

The UpLULA is fairly light. It retails for $33, with an average internet price of around $29.

In my side-by-side test I wanted to evaluate speed and ease of use, so I simply loaded a variety of magazines from single-stack 1911s, a .40 S&W Glock and a Smith & Wesson M&P Pro 9mm.

I spent a great deal of time loading multiple magazine types with both loaders and then had my daughter time me in loading the M&P. I chose the M&P magazine for the time trials because of its 17-round capacity, and I loaded the magazine five times with each loader and then took the average time.

With the GL-940 I was able to consistently beat HKS' advertised time of 15 rounds in 18 seconds with very little effort. In fact, I consistently stuffed in all 15 rounds in 17 seconds, and I averaged just 19 seconds to load all 17 rounds in the brand new S&W magazine. The thumb lever made the process fast and effortless.

I was not quite as fast with the UpLULA--loading 15 rounds in an average of 18 seconds and 17 rounds in 21 seconds. I attribute the difference in speed primarily to the fact that loading with the UpLULA requires a bit more movement than the HKS loader does. Still, the difference was minimal and not really worth considering if we're just talking about stuffing magazines at the range.

Overall, I really like both loaders. I felt that the HKS loader was a bit easier to use at first, but once I got used to it, I came to prefer the UpLULA. I let three friends try both loaders, and they also preferred the UpLULA, although all said they would happily use either one.

We all agreed that the HKS looks and feels more fragile than the Butler Creek loader, but that is not entirely unexpected given that the UpLULA costs more than twice as much as the HKS.

I can assure you that either one will simplify your life. They've made loading magazines faster and easier for me, and they've been great for the kids, who previously could rarely get past the sixth or seventh round before passing the magazines back to me to top off. Now we can all spend more time shooting and less time loading magazines. That's a good thing.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Small, compact semi-auto pistols are popular with concealed-carry firearm buyers, and these two models – the KelTec PF9 9mm and the Ruger LCP II .22LR – are no exceptions. They are effective for personal protection but only if you put in the time to practice.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol designed for personal defense.Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review Compact

Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability.Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

See More Trending Articles

More Accessories

The new Nighthawk DTS 1911 trigger is easy to install and can do wonders for your favorite pistol.Nighthawk DTS 1911 Trigger Accessories

Nighthawk DTS 1911 Trigger

Keith Wood - September 11, 2020

The new Nighthawk DTS 1911 trigger is easy to install and can do wonders for your favorite...

Streamlight's new switch options are a game-changer for the company's TLR weapon-mounted lights and light/lasers.Streamlight TLR Flex Series Review Accessories

Streamlight TLR Flex Series Review

J. Scott Rupp - August 07, 2020

Streamlight's new switch options are a game-changer for the company's TLR weapon-mounted...

The Smith & Wesson Model 360 Survival Kit includes an Airweight .357 Magnum revolver, first aid kit, “parashovel” multitool, headlamp, shelter-building advice and a lot more.Smith & Wesson Model 360 Survival Kit Accessories

Smith & Wesson Model 360 Survival Kit

J. Scott Rupp - April 21, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Model 360 Survival Kit includes an Airweight .357 Magnum revolver, first...

This new, .22 long rifle integrally suppressed upper is designed to fit the Ruger Mark I, Mark II, Mark III and the 22/45 series pistols.Tactical Solutions Introduces the All-New Pac-Lite TSS at SHOT 2019 Accessories

Tactical Solutions Introduces the All-New Pac-Lite TSS at SHOT 2019

Handguns Online Editors - January 23, 2019

This new, .22 long rifle integrally suppressed upper is designed to fit the Ruger Mark I, Mark...

See More Accessories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now