DIY Fazmags

The problem with playing magfed paintball is that you need to lug a bunch of magazines around with you. Finding a harness for a standard 140 ball pot is easy, with hundreds of different styles to choose from, however for mags you usually have to try and find a military or airsoft pouch of roughly the right dimensions and make do.

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MILSIG Fazmag

A better solution is to use Fazmags – sprung, hard plastic holders which your mags slot into. They allow mags to be removed with ease, but won’t let them fall out unexpectedly. A brilliant bit of design, but not suitable for all styles of magazine – with the larger Fazmags not gripping DMAGS particuarly well at all.

Military style vests or harnesses with generic M16-size mag pouches will hold 20 round DMAGs fine, but don’t offer the ability to re-insert a used mag like the Fazmags, so you then have to carry a dump pouch to drop your empties into – more stuff hanging off your body to get tangled in the bushes.

 

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Standard M16 pouch with DMAG installed

Having experienced the brilliance of Fazmags with my TiPX setup, I wasn’t looking forward to using a traditional mag pouch and dump pouch setup with my MKP-II and DMAGs. The M16-size pouches on my harness were decent enough, with bungee cord retainers, but once you’d removed a mag the pouches had a tendency to collapse, making reinsertion almost impossible one handed. So I decided to try and create a solution which was part-pouch, part-Fazmag.

To make these ‘Fauxmag’ liners I bought some A4 sheets of 1mm Kydex from Ebay, costing less than a couple of quid each. Kydex is a thermoplastic, i.e. when you heat it you can bend it and when it cools it retains the bend. Lots of scary Americans use it to make knife sheaths and pistol holsters.

First job was to do some measuring – getting the dimensions of both the DMAG and the existing pouches on my harness. I then went through a couple of mock-ups using old cornflake boxes until I got a size that worked. I wanted the liners to be a reasonably snug fit on the DMAGs and also able to slide into the pouches on my harness ok.

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Second mock up using the side of a cereal box

Next step was to transfer those measurements onto a sheet a Kydex. With a little bit of tweaking I found that I could fit two Fauxmag layouts onto a single A4 sheet – so mistakes permitting I should be able to make the six I needed for less than £6, result! A normal pencil will do for marking the Kydex, or like me, you could blag one of your 4 year old son’s colouring pencils.

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Putting the design onto Kydex sheet

The 1mm Kydex is pretty thin so cutting with a jigsaw isn’t really possible – a Dremel with cutting disk would do the job but leave wonky lines. I found the best method was heavily scoring the lines with a sharp knife (score about 3 times with heavy pressure) then snap the plastic along the lines. Using this method I trimmed away the excess plastic.

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Scoring with a sharp knife then snapping off unwanted plastic

I wouldn’t recommend trying to bend Kydex freehand as you’ll end up with a wobbly mess. I did briefly consider just using a DMAG to form the Kydex around but couldn’t predict what effect the heat would have on the mag, so decided to do the forming using a basic jig made from a vice, blocks of wood and some strong clamps.

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DIY bending jig

With the Kydex clamped in place, it’s just a case of running the heatgun along the line of the bend you want to make. It doesn’t take long – probably 10-12 seconds on the lowest heat setting.

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Heatgun and Nomex gloves

You want the Kydex to be flexible but not to start curling or drooping. Once it has the consistency of cheap leather, make the bend, using another wood block to press it into the shape you require. Leave it for 10-15 seconds to cool slightly and it should hold its shape without support.

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First bend complete

Once you’re a couple of bends in, try it out for size on the mag. No need to panic if the fit is off, the beauty of Kydex is that you can reheat and remold as many times as necessary. As I’m making liners which won’t be visible, I’m not too fussed about getting a perfect result – which is lucky as my efforts are looking a bit of a bodge job, but the fit appears pretty good, so I’m happy!

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Two bends done and a nice snug fit so far

Without moulding the Kydex to the mag itself you’re unlikely to get a tight enough fit for the mag to be retained by friction, which is why I cut the centre tab into the design, it’s going to be used as a basic retention spring to prevent mags from jumping out of the holders. This is where the spot nozzle on the heatgun and the heatproof gloves come in really handy. Heat the tab until is starts to bend then grab it and bend it into a semi ‘S’ curve which protrudes into the body of the holder. A bit of blowing to cool it down and you’re done.

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Heating the mag retaining tab

Here you can see the tab curving into the body of the holder. Inserting the mag pushes it outwards and it maintains pressure against the body of the mag, holding it in place. You can vary the amount of pressure by adjusting how deep the curve of the tab is.

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The mag retainer inside the body

As it’s hardly a piece of precision engineering there are some protruding corners which might snag on the harness, so it’s worth spending a couple of minutes with a Dremel and grinding bit just to tidy the edges up. After that, test to see if the finished Fauxmag fits into the mag pouches on the harness ok – success!

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Perfect fit

The only downside of the mag retaining tab is that Fauxmag may stay attached when you try removing the mag from the harness, which is definitely not a good thing. Thankfully the now-redundant bungee retaining cords supplied with the harness provide a nice easy solution. First loop the bungee over the base of the Fauxmag – the base and sides are a pretty snug fit so should hold the bungee in place.

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Bungee looped around bottom of Fauxmag

Then thread the ends of the bungee through the drain hole at the base of the pouch, thread on the original pull tab, pull everything nice and tight and tie a suitable knot. The Fauxmag is now prevented from moving much by the bungee. It can still shift upwards by about a centimetre when removing a mag, but that’s about it.

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Bungee exiting through drainhole, then looped through pulltab and knotted.

….and that’s it complete. It’s not as slick as a proper Fazmag, but it holds your mags in their pouches without needing to use retainer cords and won’t let them fall out when running around. It also keeps the pouch held fully open when empty, allowing easy re-insertion of used mags, so no more need for a dump pouch. Best of all it only costs about £1 per Fauxmag, plus some time and effort in the shed. 🙂

 

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Finished product

 

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