Black Dog Machine Ruger 10/22 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

I will venture to say that most people who purchase the Ruger 10/22 Rifle, Ruger 22 Charger Pistol, or the  Ruger SR-22 Rifle have thoughts about getting a high capacity magazine at some point.  Their is a wealth of aftermarket accessories for this Ruger platform and the quantity of accessories is one of the many appealing aspects of owning one of these guns.  One of the first accessories I purchased over 25 years ago for my first 22 rifle was a 30 round magazine.  Since then I have added another three Ruger 10/22 platform firearms and have worn out my first magazine and replaced it with several others.  Since I have always thought that more is better when it comes to magazine capacity, then it makes sense that a 50 round magazine would be better than a 30 round magazine.  While at a gun show, I noticed a 50 round drum magazine on a Ruger 22 Charger Pistol and thought it was awesome.  Recently I got a Ruger SR-22 Rifle to review and thought that a 50 round drum magazine would be a great accessory for the tactical version of the legendary Ruger 10/22 Rifle.  After doing some research on the internet, I came across the Black Dog Machine Ruger 10/22 50 Round Drum Magazine and decided to give it a try.  You can purchase the magazine directly from Black Dog Machine for their suggested retail price of $80, or you can search the internet and find one for about $60 at MidwayUSA.com.

When my 50 round drum magazine arrived, it was boxed as shown in the photo below.  Nothing fancy, but I believe in spending money on the product and not the packaging.

Figure 1
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

When you open the box, you will find the magazine, Owner's Manual, and two rubber bands taped to the inside of the box lid (shown on top of the magazine).

Figure 2
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

At the Black Dog Machine website, they list the following features shown in italics.  At this time I don't have a need for an interchangeable feed tower, the single biggest feature I want is reliability.

  • Built with an interchangeable feed tower
  • You can easily disassemble the drum, slide your 10-22 tower out and replace it with the new Black Dog AR-22 or S&W .22 feed towers
  • Polycarbonate Material
  • All black dog drums are plug and play for semi-auto use. They do not guarantee that the drum will work in full-auto setups. However, they say that many customers report that with a little fine tuning they can get the drum to work in full-auto.

I scanned the Owner's Manual below for reference on loading, cleaning and changing out the feed tower.  Throughout this review, clicking an a photo will bring up a high resolution photo.

Figure 3                                                              Figure 4 
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review  Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

The next several photos give you an idea of the front, back and side profile of the magazine along with some detailed features. The magazine is approximately 7.75" tall, 5.50" wide, and 1.50" thick at the center of the drum area.  The outer shell of the drum and the feed tower are made from a dark (smoke) translucent polycarbonate material.  This allows you to see some of the inner details of the drum along with the number of rounds loaded.

Figure 5                                                                   Figure 6
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review    Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Figure 7
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

The next photos show the details of the feed tower.  In general, it is the same basic geometry as the Ruger 10 Round Rotary magazine.  The main differences are that steel components (lips and front/rear magazine catch pins) in the Ruger magazine are included in the polycarbonate mold of this magazine.  The other difference is that the left (or upper) lip is longer than the lip on the Ruger magazine.  Later in the review, I discuss this detail further.

Figure 8
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Figure 9
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Figure 10
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

In the photo below, you can see that dummy rounds are used to push the live rounds up the feed tower.  Based on this photo, you can get a good idea on the use of the two rubber bands included in the box.  You can see the white end of a rubber band in the middle of the dummy round.

Figure 11
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review 

The 50 round drum magazine weighed in at 16.45 ounces (1.03 lbs.) empty and 21.90 ounces (1.37 pounds) full of 36 grain ammo.

Figure 12                                                                Figure 13
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review   Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

One thing I really like about the magazine is the ability to see how many rounds remain in the magazine.  The Instruction Manual covers loading the magazine.  I found loading the magazine to be simple by using your thumb to rotate the drum and drop rounds in through the lip area.

Figure 14
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

 

The next couple of photos gives you an idea of how the magazine looks in a rifle.  The drum magazine profile does not extend down as far as some of the standard 30 round magazines on the market.  This rifle is my Ruger SR-22 and I have added several accessories like the Iron Eagle Tactical Rails, Iron Eagle Brush Guard, NcStar Scope, Mako Stock, Shooters Ridge Bipod, UTG Foldable Grip and Barska Green Laser. 

Figure 15
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Figure 16
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Everything up until this point of the review gives you a good idea of the product, but the real test of this magazine is how it performs. 

When I inserted the magazine into the rifle, I felt it was difficult to get it to lock in place.  Next when I pulled back the bolt, I found it to be extremely tight and once I got the bolt back, the bolt would not close by it's own spring force and was held open.  Upon further investigation I found that the rear side of the upper (left) lip was contacting the ejector which was pushing against the bolt holding the bolt open as shown in the photo below.  The original Ruger rotary magazines does not have any material on the magazine in this area, so this condition cannot exist with the Ruger magazine.  To me this seems like a very simple fix, but I contacted Black Dog Machine to alert them of this potential problem to see what they would say.  The photo below is showing the 50 round drum magazine in my Ruger SR-22, but the same condition existed on my Ruger 22 Charger.  I also checked it on my older Ruger 10/22 rifle and there was not a problem, which leads me to believe there are some tolerance differences between the older and newer 10/22 components.

Figure 17
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

After discussing this issue with a technical person at Black Dog Machine, this has not been an issue that has been reported since their introduction of this drum magazine for the Ruger 10/22 platform in the beginning of this year.  I told them what I thought would be a fix and they agreed I should try it out.  I put a chamfer on the back side of the upper (left) lip as shown in the second photo below.  In the first photo below, you can see how the contact on the ejector had actually pressed a notch into the magazine.  In the second photo, you can see how I chamfered the back side of the lip with a flat file.  After doing this, there was no further binding on the bolt.

Figure 18
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

Figure 19
Black Dog Machine Ruger 50 Round Drum Magazine Review

I then loaded 50 rounds in the magazine and test fired the rifle.  During this test I was using Federal Value Pack 36 Grain Copper Plated Hollow Points (Load No. 750).  I had one jam when shooting the entire drum, but this jam was also typical for using this ammo with the Ruger factory rotary magazine so I consider the drum magazine to have functioned properly.  Next I switched to loading the 50 round drum magazine with CCI Blazer 40 Grain Lead Round Nose ammunition.  I fired the entire drum as fast as possible and it functioned flawlessly.  Next I had my son reload the drum magazine two more times with the Blazer ammo, and again it worked without any problem and fed every round while he was trying to empty the drum as fast as possible.  We were both impressed.  One thing I did notice was that there is very little room (drum rotational travel) for that last 50th round when loading and the lack of travel make a tight fit when locking the drum magazine into place on the firearm while the bolt is down.  It seems that the 50th round has little to no additional rotational travel and it pressing against the bottom of the bolt is which makes it difficult to install the magazine.  I'm not sure if this characteristic is of all drum magazines or just mine.  If you load it to 49 rounds, it works like a champ.

 

Bottom Line:

The Black Dog Machine 50 Round Drum Magazine is a great accessory to add to your Ruger 10/22 platform rifle or pistol.  You may need to file a corner on the upper lip as I did depending on how the magazine fits in your firearm (see above for details).  I have reported this to Black Dog Machine and they may be taking care of this for in the future.  I was impressed with how fast I could go through ammo and I like the translucent material which allows you to see how many rounds are in the magazine.  At first it may seem a little pricy, but compare the drum against the cost of five Ruger factory magazines and it is not that bad.  Would I recommend this magazine? Yes.  I can already see that my son and I will be fighting over who uses the drum while out on our plinking adventures.


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