Those of us lucky enough to be able to indulge in the shooting sports are doubly blessed with a large number of entrepreneurs who have made it their business to provide us with all sorts of things to help improve our game. One example is Arredondo Accessories. These folks make all kinds of ingenious devices that cater to the needs of practical shooting enthusiasts. Recently they have expanded to include the needs of the burgeoning 3-gun community. But what got them on the map was arguably their best and most successful product: the magazine base pad replacement.
During my time shooting USPSA I have been curious about and interested in shooting in different divisions. In that respect Production division has served as a “gateway drug” to lure the unsuspecting into the more and more hardcore addictions. This goes all the way up to the Heroin of USPSA: Open Division. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The introduction of a Production division has undoubtedly helped USPSA to become the most widely practiced competitive shooting discipline in the United States. It is interesting to note that our version of Production differs in one very significant way from the Parent organization’s version. The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) allows 15 rounds in each magazine, which can be a stock or aftermarket mag. This makes a big difference in how courses are shot obviously but this pales in comparison to the Limited and Open divisions where capacity is limited only by the overall length of the magazine (140mm and 170mm, respectively). This is where the afore-mentioned base plates come into play.
Arredondo makes a base pad for the Springfield XD, the XDm, the Glock and the Smith and Wesson M&P series pistols. This consists of a hard plastic housing that slides onto the bottom of the factory magazine along with an insert that 1) holds the spring up inside the magazine while the base pad is installed and 2) after installation pops down inside the base pad to keep it secured to the magazine in correct alignment.
So instead of shooting with mags loaded with only 10 rounds, I realized I could shoot Limited/Minor PF (9mm) with 23 rounds in the magazine! This was very intriguing. I ordered two in kit form, which includes a longer, stiffer mag spring. At $22.00 apiece plus modest shipping, this was short money to get into Limited in a meaningful way. With 23+1 rounds there are relatively few courses that would require a reload based on round count. I’ve seen a number of guys do this to good effect. In fact Andy normally wins Limited at our local match with his G34 with this same setup. A-zone hits all count the same, regardless of power factor!
I got the kits and installed them on my two original mags for the M&P. These are shiny and slick, unlike the matte-finish mags I purchased later. I figured that the extra slipperiness can’t hurt with all those rounds in there. First thing I noticed was that it was hard to load the last few rounds. In fact with the replacement springs i could only get 22 rounds in the mag. Hmm. I have since read that this is all too common. I switched back to the factory mag spring in one just to see if it made a difference. I was in fact able to get the 23d round in there but it was more effort than should be necessary and it was questionable in terms of the stresses on the feed lips, etc. I switched back to the high-power spring and decided to be happy with 22 rounds in there.
I went to the range and was delighted to find that even with the 13lb recoil spring in the M&P I could load and fire every single round in both of these mags. Outstanding! I will say that barney’ing the first round then loading that mag is tough, but doable. If a stage required more than 23 rounds I would skip the barney round and actually only load 21 in the second mag, just to remove the potential for a failed mag lock during the reload. That means 43 rounds with only one reload!
So now in addition to Production and Limited/10 I will be trying my hand at Limited-Minor PF, thanks to our friends at Arredondo.
Oh, brave new world that has such mags in’t!