How to Load Our Old Second Generation 9mm RIA Mags For Reliable Shooting

7/25/22 Update: This only applies to our second generation magazines. With our current mags, we are using Mec-Gar P18 tubes that were designed to stabilize 9mm rounds so no extra work is needed. We now have 10, 15 and 17 round mags available.

To maximize reliable feeding from our second generation 9mm magazines, there is a process you need to follow. We start with a 10mm magazine and both narrow down the feed lips and reshape the top. This angles the cartridge correctly but we also need to ensure the cartridge is seated to the back of the magazine. Why? Well, let me explain a bit.

The RIA A2 HC pistols use an enlarged mag well to hold a staggered magazine – it’s not a true double stack because the rounds alternate going into the magazine and feed from a single position at the top. An important detail that not many realize is that the 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto chambered pistols all use the same frame.

The same frame is used for a number of chambers including 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto. Notice the bulged mag wells and that the grip panel bushings are integral with the frame.

Even though the frame is the same, there is a huge difference in the size of a 9mm vs. a 10mm round so the mags are subtly different as well. The magazine dimensions in terms of width and height are the same but the feed lips differ slightly plus the follower stabilizing guides that are pressed into the body differ as well.

These are A-Zoom snap caps that are made from solid machined aluminum. They are made to the dimensions specified by SAAMI for the 10mm Auto round (at the top in red) and the 9×19 Luger round at the bottom in blue. You can immediately see the difference in size.
Look at the difference in sizes in the mag well. The 10mm (Red on the right) is far longer than the 9mm (Blue on the left).
Here they are from a different angle – 10mm at the top and 9mm at the bottom
Left is a 10mm mag and on the right is a 9mm mag. In terms of stabilizing the follower look at the large diamond shaped depression at the top of the front magazine groove. The 9mm mag’s depression is deeper and longer.

A 10mm magazine body can stabilize the follower when feeding 9mm rounds but it takes a couple of tricks to do it. First, the magazine has a 10% stronger Wolff spring that is pushing the follower upward. Next, the cartridges must be loaded evenly and pushed to the back. Do you remember the old AR15/M16 magazines with the tipsy followers? These are very much the same. If you load the rounds by hand and push down too much on the front, weird things can happen with the rounds further down in the mag.

To compensate for the follower, use a good magazine loader so the rounds go into the mag relatively level and consistently. I prefer the MagLula Universal loader (sometimes called the UpLula). You can get into a quick rhythm where you load a round and keep it seated to the back with your index finger as your withdraw the ramp/tongue of the MagLula. If you don’t keep your finger there, the retracting ramp may pull the round forward out of position.

This is the MagLula universal loader.
When you go to load a round, you squeeze the loader shut so the steel ramp is closed as shown, you push down so the rounds below are pushed down as well and you then insert the new round.
Before you release the loader and the ramp retracts, use your finger to hold the round in place so it stays seated at the back of the mag.

The very last step is the tap the base of the mag on the table. You might need to push the first round back a hair with your finger but you will notice the top round is now firmly held in place and will not “tip” down when you push on the bullet. This is where the 10% stronger Wolff spring really factors in – it is pushing the follower upwards and in turn all of the rounds are held in position by the feed lips.

Once the mag is loaded properly, the cartridge should be held firmly in place and not want to “tip” down.
The Wolff spring and follower are pushing the rounds up against the feed lips thus holding them in place.

Yes, there are a couple of extra steps here – use a loader, push to the back and then tap the mag’s base on the table. It may feel awkward at first because you don’t normally do these extra steps but they get easier and faster the more you do them. If you do them, the mags are very reliable.

Click here to go to our 9mm RIA A2 HC magazine page.

If you have a new RIA A2 HC pistol, be sure to field strip, clean and lubricate your pistol. Then rack the slide back and forth a couple hundred times before your first range visit. If you do this, you are helping the pistol wear in and will have a much better range visit. If you don’t, you are going to get frustrated fast. Note, you need to shoot 200-500 rounds to wear, or break your pistol in. The need for the parts to smooth out and get to know each other is very common – just bear in mind the RIA pistols do not work smoothly right out of the box.

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