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The Magpul D-60: A drum that works

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Magazines are critical to the weapon’s performance. Most M16/M4 malfunctions are caused by bad magazines, outdated magazines, magazines older than the guys using them. Quality magazines are literal lifesavers. One interesting magazine concept is the drum. Drum magazines like the Magpul D-60 offer soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen more bang for the buck. 

What is a Drum? 

A drum is a quasi-circular magazine made famous by the Thompson submachine gun and Russian PPSH41 SMG. A stick magazine might offer shooters 30 rounds of ammunition, but a drum can hold 50, 60, or even 100 rounds. That sounds great, right? Well, historically, drums suck. They tend to feed terribly, cause jams, and generally don’t work very well. The military has experimented with Beta drums in the past and found them to be less than reliable. 

However, the Magpul D-60 is different. Magpul is without a doubt one of the most well-run outfits on the market. It was founded by a Force Recon Marine with tons of experience on the M16/M4 rifles. Magpul doesn’t fail when they try to innovate, and the D-60 is the most successful drum for the M16/M4 series rifle ever made. 

The D-60 is a rugged and reliable drum from Magpul’s famous polymer composite material. That polymer is incredibly stable in all environments, and as they say, polymer doesn’t rust. The D-60 holds 60 rounds of 5.56 and remains the same length as a 30 round magazine. It just happens to be a bit wider. 

Unlike previous drums, the Magpul D-60 feeds reliably without fail. The design is also very simple and can be taken apart at the field level for cleaning and maintenance. Another major plus is that, unlike other drums, the D-60 can be left loaded, and it won’t break or fail. 

The Magpul D-60 Trial By Fire 

I’ve been using the Magpul D-60 for quite some time now. In my hundreds of rounds fired, I’ve yet to find a way to make the gun fail. It’s easy to take apart and clean without issue. Pop some tabs off, open the drum, and clean away. It only needs to be cleaned after 1,000 or so rounds. A loading lever makes it easy to shove 60 rounds of ammunition in the gun. It can feel like you need three hands at first, but once you figure it out, it’s not so hard. 

I’ve used and abused the D-60 in various situations. I’ve rested the gun against the ground and rested the body of the drum against various obstacles at various angles. I cannot induce a malfunction outside of using a hammer to break it apart. 

Don’t just take my word for it. The Magpul D-60 is being evaluated by the USMC and has been tailored toward the new IAR rifle being issued to Marine infantry. Overseas we’ve seen the Magpul D-60 in the hands of several interesting people. This includes Green Berets in 7th Group. 

A member of General Miller’s security was also seen carrying a Magpul D-60 in his rifle. A General’s security team is typically made up of some form of elite operator. In the past, we’ve seen operators from Delta Force and Seal Team 6 occupy the position. The Magpul D-60 seems to be a very well-trusted piece of gear among operators on the ground. 

Is the Magpul D-60 Worth it For Servicemembers? 

The Magpul D-60 is not a cheap tool, at least when compared to the cost of magazines in general. For the price of a D-60, you can buy almost a full combat load of Magpul P-Mags. That being said, the value of the D-60 shows in the first few seconds of a firefight. In a firefight, that first bit of contact is critical. Establishing fire superiority quickly and decisively helps ensure you win the fight. 

A Magpul D-60 is perfect for that role. It allows you to lay down a ton of firepower in a short period of time and allows a person to establish fire. Especially if that person is an IAR gunner.

The Magpul D-60 is best suited for a combat arms role. For daily patrols outside the wire, the D-60 is an excellent tool. The downside is bulk. A drum pouch can hold 4 to 6 standard magazines. That makes it tough to carry multiple drums, and with that said, it’s best to carry just one and carry it in the gun for that first burst of fire needed to establish fire superiority. 

Beat the Drum 

As far as drums go, the Magpul D-60 is the only one I know of that works, at least with the M16/M4 series of rifles. Magpul is an industry-leading company with a history of creating innovative products. The D-60 is no different. If you’re on the ropes about a D-60, know now that it’s reliably, easy to use, and easy to maintain. It serves a specific niche, and in that role, it dominates. 

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.