Behind the Logo……Keeping it Vanilla

By: Will

The U.S. tactical community is full of big and small names such as Magpul, Noveske and Tactical Tailor just to name a few.  We are all pretty familiar with these names, logos and products.  But, how many of us actually think about the people behind the names?  In many cases, these brands started out as an idea and a lot of risk, dedication and pure determination helped lead to their success.  So, I think it is high time that we look beyond the products and take a moment to tell the story behind the logo.  Some of the companies we plan on highlighting are already successful, others are still fighting for survival, but one thing they all have in common is a determination to succeed.

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Mike McCarthy of MagBlock

Unlike some of today’s, “heroes” Mike McCarthy prefers to keep a low profile and only agreed to tell his story if we promised to “keep it Vanilla”. McCarthy is one of those quite professionals who served his country and paid a high price.

McCarthy retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4) after 25 years of active duty.  During his time in the army, he served as a Huey crew chief, unit armorer and small arms instructor all before going to flight school in the early 90’s.  In 1991, McCarthy began flying AH-64 Apaches followed by the Apache test pilot course.  In the mid 90’s McCarthy began working in the Middle East as a military advisor and it was during that time that he first realized just how unforgiving a desert environment could be on aircraft and weapon platforms.

After his time as a military advisor, McCarthy turned his attention to aircraft vibration analysis on the AH-64.  He eventually published a book on the topic which was subsequently became part of an Army manual, which led to McCarthy being assigned to the Army’s operational test command.

After 9/11, McCarthy once again found himself in the land of the sand and assigned to SWCS, JFK Special Warfare Center.  During that time, he operated as a military advisor and force protection officer.  One of his duties was to provided force protection and venerability assessments of high value targets within his area of operation.

“At the end of the day, if MagBlock can help a soldier, Law Enforcement Officer or civilian shooter perform better and stay safer than maybe it was a good idea.  For anyone that has spent time on a two way range it’s an easy idea to grasp.”
Michael K. McCarthy   MagBlock Inc.

Working closely with host nation military forces in his area of operation, McCarthy spent a great deal of his time talking to men that were issued AK 47s.  McCarthy peppered them with questions about the AK 47 and how it responded to everyday environmental effects.  More importantly, he was able to talk to guys that used both the AK and M16 platforms.  They all came to the same conclusion… the AK is easy!  

According to McCarthy, the time spent with his foreign national counterparts drinking tea, practicing language skills, all the while talking about guns, planted a seed in his mind that a system to keep the M4 platform clean and prepared to engage should be designed.

Fast forward a few of years, a couple injuries and several countries later, McCarthy found himself on a trip that involved stopping in Kandahar, Afghanistan for a couple of weeks.  Like many places in the AOR he was not permitted to have a magazine in his weapon while inside the wire due to safety reason, e.g., negligent discharges.

It was on this trip that McCarthy came up with the idea for the MagBlock.

According to McCarthy, “The day I came up with the idea was an awesome clear summer day with no sand in the air, we had not received a rocket attack in three or so days, it was a good day and most of us had gotten some much needed rest.  As I was sitting in the chow hall in Kandahar during lunch, I watched a young solider sit down at the table right next to me.  As the young warrior sat his weapon on the floor using a Grip Pod for stability, which was very common, he noticed that the paper towel he had placed in his weapon after cleaning was gone.  The young solider went crazy, yelling things I won’t repeat, he stated that he had just spent three hours cleaning his weapon and now he needed to repeat the action he pulled back on the charging handle and you could hear the sound of grinding.  At that instant I thought back to the black passport days talking about the M4 platform needing to be kept clean. I pulled out a napkin and drew the concept for a magazine blocking device that I named MagBlock.”

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McCarthy was seriously injured twice while serving in the Mid-East, the second of which, pretty much ended his flying career.  The first injury rearranged his stomach and digestive track while the second required fusing his back and nerve damage.  McCarthy now walks “kinda funny” but counts himself lucky to still have the ability.

During one of our telephone conversations, McCarthy spoke of his injuries and expounded on how he felt frustrated because his disabilities restrict a lot of his activities.  McCarthy was quick to point out that most importantly, he is blessed to just be here.

After his retirement, McCarthy founded MagBlock Inc.
 According to McCarthy, “MagBlock has been a bit of a struggle, I don’t recommend launching a product during sequestration and government cut backs.  It has a long way to go before it truly takes off”.  This hasn’t stopped McCarthy from moving forward with new versions including a Barrett M107 MagBlock prototype.

The production of the MagBlock started at Black Dog Machine following an exhaustive patent search.  Once the mold was completed it was moved to ATI, ATI like Black Dog are located in Idaho. The MagBlock is made in the United States out of a polymer that will withstand being run over by a truck and is now patented.

The MagBlock was designed by a solider for soldiers. McCarthy has been growing the patent ranges from pistol applications up to and including the Barrett M107, he also has working prototypes for the AR-10 / M110, 7.62X51.
The 5.56 MagBlock can be found in use with several police departments in the U.S., the green zone in Iraq, Kandahar Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, Djibouti.  And according to McCarthy, “It’s a slow process to reach people.”
McCarthy is not looking to get rich from his venture; “I am looking to help people.  If the device works once somewhere in the world than it has been worth the effort.”

From the writing of his first book on vibration analysis of the Apache Attack Helicopter, to the first patent drawing of MagBlock, McCarthy’s drive to do those things has been purely to provide his brothers in arms, a safer product, and a better way of doing things. McCarthy wants MagBlock to produce products that can help a professional complete the task at hand, and make it just a little easier for them.  McCarthy further stated “If anyone deserves a break it’s the people that carry firearms to work every day, it does not matter what uniform.  How can you not want to help someone that goes to work every day to help someone else?”

We would like to thank McCarthy for trusting us to share his story with our readers.  

You can check out our MagBlock review at

If you have a suggestion for our next Behind the Logo… please shoot us an email at

- Will

This article was previously published in our newsletter.