RE­THINK­ING THE SPEED RELOAD

CARRY EXTRA AMMO AND KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF IT.

Gun World - - Everyday Carry - Steven Paul Bar­low is a re­tired sergeant/sta­tion com­man­der and for­mer firearms in­struc­tor with the New York State Po­lice. He has been writ­ing on out­door top­ics for more than 30 years and has served as the ed­i­tor for a num­ber of En­gaged Me­dia spe­cial publi

You don’t want to be out there, run­ning on empty.

You’ve prac­ticed your speed reloads, and you’re fast at them. You are im­pres­sive. But in pre­par­ing for real-world con­fronta­tions, maybe you’re fo­cus­ing too much on the speed reload when you should re­ally be con­cen­trat­ing on other skills.

TAC­TI­CAL TALK

Sta­tis­ti­cally, very few rounds are fired in typ­i­cal de­fen­sive hand­gun in­ci­dents in­volv­ing civil­ians. So, it would stand to rea­son that the main thrust of your prac­tice ses­sions should be on get­ting that gun into ac­tion and putting those first rounds on tar­get quickly. And be­cause you don’t want to be an easy tar­get, you should be con­di­tion­ing your­self to re­act to a threat by mov­ing to­ward cover on the draw.

You do have to ad­dress reloads. But in­stead of an em­pha­sis on speed reloads, where you shoot to slide lock, you should spend more time prac­tic­ing tac­ti­cal reloads: swap­ping out that par­tially loaded mag­a­zine for a fully loaded one from a po­si­tion of cover when there’s a mo­men­tary break in the ac­tion.

If the at­tacker is upon you when you’re at slide lock, you’re out of luck. If he’s on you dur­ing a tac­ti­cal reload, you still have at least the bul­let in the cham­ber—and maybe more, if you haven’t dropped the other mag­a­zine yet.

You don’t want your hand­gun to go empty dur­ing a gun­fight, and if you must move from one po­si­tion of cover to an­other, you don’t want to do so with a gun that has only one or two live rounds, either.

EXTRA AMMO

Sta­tis­tics aside, car­ry­ing extra ammo is a good thing. For one, on semi­auto pis­tols, many mal­func­tions can be at­trib­uted to the mag­a­zines: bent feed lips, worn springs or im­per­cep­ti­bly com­pressed bod­ies that might have been stepped on at some point.

You might have to di­rect rounds to­ward the bad guy to keep him off bal­ance and ducking as you’re mov­ing to cover or re­treat­ing. If it’s harder for you to be ac­cu­rate when mov­ing, it will be for him, too. That might take the ex­pen­di­ture of extra rounds. And these days, you’re more likely than ever to be faced with mul­ti­ple as­sailants and sui­ci­dal cra­zies. Ter­ror­ists and other men­tal cases are less likely to take off run­ning when you sim­ply dis­play your gun or fire your first round. You’re more apt to be in­volved in a fight to the death, and that could ex­pend more ammo.

SEMIAUTOS

Dur­ing a speed reload with a semi­auto pis­tol, the empty mag is dropped from the mag­well by press­ing the mag re­lease with your strong hand while, at the same time, reach­ing for the fresh mag­a­zine with your weak-side hand. To grasp the fresh mag, you nor­mally place your in­dex fin­ger along the front edge of the fresh mag­a­zine to aid in align­ing it with the mag­well of your pis­tol.

… IN­STEAD OF AN EM­PHA­SIS ON SPEED RELOADS … YOU SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME PRAC­TIC­ING TAC­TI­CAL RELOADS …

Dur­ing a tac­ti­cal reload, you want to re­tain the par­tially spent mag­a­zine—you don’t want to throw away any ammo you might need later. One way is to hold that fresh mag­a­zine with the base plate be­tween your fin­gers. Take the par­tially spent mag­a­zine out of the pis­tol, in­sert the fresh one with a turn of the wrist, and then stow the par­tial mag­a­zine in your waist­band or a pocket.

It’s worth­while to oc­ca­sion­ally prac­tice both tac­ti­cal and speed reloads one-handed. Either re-hol­ster your pis­tol, place it in your waist­band or, if kneel­ing, pinch it be­tween your thigh and calf. In­sert the fresh mag­a­zine; then, draw the pis­tol. With a speed reload, you’ll have to hit the slide lock lever to cham­ber a round. With a tac­ti­cal reload, there should al­ready be a round in the cham­ber.

RE­VOLVERS

Extra ammo for a re­volver can be car­ried in car­tridge loops, speed strips, speed­load­ers or moon clips. Moon clips are eas­ily bent and limit the brands of ammo you can use, be­cause the ex­trac­tor grooves in the car­tridge cases can vary from one man­u­fac­turer to an­other. With .357 ammo, for in­stance, I’ve found that many brands of ammo flop around so much in the clips that a speed reload is al­most im­pos­si­ble. I no longer use them.

I like to carry a com­bi­na­tion of speed­load­ers and speed strips. Speed­load­ers are quick. Speed strips are less bulky and al­low you to top off your cylin­der one or two rounds at a time af­ter you push the ex­trac­tor rod halfway and pluck the par­tially ex­tracted emp­ties from the cylin­der. You have to know which way your cylin­der ro­tates, and you can use the flutes on the cylin­der to ro­tate and prop­erly in­dex the cylin­der as you add rounds.

CARRY CON­FI­DENCE

Tac­ti­cal reloads can seem awk­ward at first, which is why they need to be prac­ticed. As with any reload, they need to be ac­com­plished while you main­tain your vi­sion on the threat with­out look­ing down at the mag­a­zine or the gun. You should be able to do these reloads in com­plete dark­ness.

Car­ry­ing a spare mag­a­zine or a speed­loader in a pocket is bet­ter than not hav­ing any spare ammo at all. But it’s bet­ter to carry it in a ded­i­cated car­rier on your belt so that through mus­cle me­mory, you can ac­cess it quickly. That way, it will also be prop­erly ori­ented so that when you’re un­der pres­sure, you won’t have to twirl it around in your hand to fig­ure out which way is up.

Of course, the fastest reload is a se­cond gun ... but that’s a topic for an­other time. GW

DUR­ING A SPEED RELOAD WITH A SEMI­AUTO PIS­TOL, THE EMPTY MAG IS DROPPED FROM THE MAG­WELL BY PRESS­ING THE MAG RE­LEASE WITH YOUR STRONG HAND WHILE, AT THE SAME TIME, REACH­ING FOR THE FRESH MAG­A­ZINE WITH YOUR WEAKSIDE HAND.

Spare ammo should be in­cluded in your everyday carry gear, even if a reload is rarely needed.

I An in­dex fin­ger placed along the front edge of a mag­a­zine can help you align it with the mag­well dur­ing a speed reload. The hand­gun shown here is an HK VP9SK.

It makes sense to oc­ca­sion­ally prac­tice one-handed reloads with your EDC pis­tol by re­turn­ing the gun to a hol­ster, your waist­band or, in this case, a pocket.

Dur­ing a tac­ti­cal reload, a fresh mag­a­zine can be held by the base plate be­tween your fin­gers as you re­move the par­tially loaded mag­a­zine from your gun.

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