U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- A while back I covered an interesting product I spotted during SHOT Show, 30-round mags from Mission First Tactical (MFT) that were made with custom images embedded directly into the magazine's polymer. These didn't catch my eye because this is a novel idea, as laser engravers and sticker manufacturers have been adorning mags for a long time. What really struck me was the high quality of the image, the vividness of the colors, and possibly their use of “Combat Barbie”.
I have a good working relationship with MFT. They routinely send out stuff to review and are always eager to hear impressions and considerations of their products, even from a reviewer who doesn't mind dishing out brutal honesty where it's needed. I have some of their early production mags for testing the reliability of the magazine and durability of the printed image. I wanted to get a better idea of the process, meaning what's a guy gotta do to get images on his mags?
First, I want to explain a little something. I keep using various terms about how the image is applied. “Printed, painted, displayed upon…”, none of these are technically accurate. As you might imagine, MFT is keeping the technological specifics pretty close to the vest on this one. They've decided to call the method “Variable Impregnation Process”. From what I've got from them, I know that the image is bonded at a molecular level to the polymer. It's as if the mag were constructed of polymers that were themselves the many colors of the image. Simply put, unless you gouge out material with a screwdriver, it's not coming off like a sticker or paint would.
To get started, just email MFT at [email protected] with a copy of the image you'd like to use. Really your imagination is the limit! Do you want mags with “.300 Blk Subs” on them to keep your ammo separate? Maybe your old unit insignia? Commemorate the birth of a child? Got something funny to say? Or just go with the old stand-by that was popularized by WW2 nose art, pin-up.
I went with pin-up. I got one image titled “Summer AESTHETIC” from Paigeosity, an extremely talented artist who blends modern gun chic with anime fundamentals (and is often found collaborating with Weapon Outfitters). The other is from artist Dominic Marco, who did a series of Star Wars themed pin-up drawings. I felt like these images really show off the color contrast and detail that MFT is capable of printing.
After one of two emails back and forth discussing image positioning and orientation, everything was ready for MFT to hit the “GO” button. Then, the virus hit and everything stopped. I'm assuming a pandemic won't be unleashed every time a customer places an order, but I haven't confirmed that with Mission First Tactical yet.
Once the MFT team was back up and running to a degree, the mags got shipped out quickly. The finished product looks just as good as the rendered preview image! The detail presented is extremely impressive for such a permanent application method. Plus, I was reminded that MFT is also using this process to apply custom images to their EDC Dump Trays and hardshell Wallets as well.
As mentioned, I've had my SHOT Show mag since January, and have been beating it up with no ill effect. There are, however, two small areas where I think the VIP marked mags could be improved. First, the image is pretty glossy, so if it's bright out it can be tough to see the image at times. Second, MFT is using their Extreme Duty polymer mags for this, which have great textured surfaces and grooves for grip while reloading. They don't make for an optimal image printing surface though, as you're losing or sharing some real estate with utilitarian features on the terrain. I'm curious is MFT would consider producing a more slick side magazine, like the below pictured TorkMag. If you're leaning towards the aesthetic, why not maximize it? Small complaints to be sure, or really just a couple refinements to a brand new technology that is still in its infancy. Regardless, the mags as they are performing well and look good.
So is it worth it? To me, my collection of mags is a diversified investment. I want quantity, and I want quality. Thankfully, MFT's mags provide both in their standard incarnation. Looking at this custom modified version, the same quality is brought to bear with an extremely high-quality dash of art added. Do I need this on every mag? Nah, but I sure like having a couple to spice up a supply cabinet that is already stacked deep. While I went purely aesthetic with the designs I sent in, there's definitely more functional images that could be applied to these products. Really, your imagination is the limit! For $24.99 and a couple of week turnaround, I think these are well worth it. I think it would boost sales if they set up an automated web portal, but this process was pretty painless. Shoot MFT an email and see what they can slap on some mags for you!
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”