The idea for the Mech-loader came about back in 2017 while I (Jordan) was serving in the operations section of the 2-152 Infantry Battalion staff of the Indiana Army National Guard. Near the end of our annual training, there was an abundance of ammo, so the staff took a day on the range to practice. We did not have an ammo detail, so each shooter was loading their own magazines. As the day went on, most of the staff started taking breaks because their hands hurt from loading so many magazines, and this eventually became the reason most of the staff stopped shooting that day.
The next day, we were working on a battalion force-on-force attack plan for a staff exercise, which was our main training during annual training. As we were discussing the logistics and resupply plan, I thought back to the day before on the range. I realized that soldiers on the front lines would be getting ammo the same way we get it at the range. So in the middle of a firefight, soldiers would be either pausing to load magazines or soldiers would have to be pulled from the front lines for ammo reloading so the companies could be resupplied. This seemed crazy to me since I knew how slow of a process loading magazines was and how critical a supply of loaded magazines are in situations like this.
After annual training, I played around with a few ideas on how loading magazines could be done better. The contraption I came up with and sent to Jamie and Jeron (who are much more skilled at these sorts of things than I am) does not look anything like what we developed, but it got the idea started.
So one day in July 2017, the three of us got together in Jamie's garage to see what we could come up with. Jeron had just gotten a 3D printer, and he brought it over so we could make parts as we came up with ideas. Here is a picture of the very first prototype.
After this first prototype, we (but mostly Jamie and Jeron) kept making tweaks and improvements, 3D printing parts, testing out different materials, and field-testing them with soldiers while I was commander of C Co 2-152 IN. The soldiers loved it and gave us some ideas for making it better. We hired an engineer friend, Justin, to help us with modeling and fine-tuning the design. Our design progressed and changed quite a bit in the years from the first prototype to our now-patented product!
The Mech-loader is now used by a ROTC program, multiple National Guard ranges, and civilians all across the country. We had a loose ammo adapter undergoing development with the assistance of some Purdue engineers, and we have plans to expand to more calibers!