By: Tom Perroni
Whether you call it a speed reload, stress reload, empty gun reload, or tactical reload, the specific scenario is reloading an empty gun with or without the slide locked back is the point of this article.
Let me first start of by saying you can’t reload your handgun if you don’t have a spare magazine. So if I am carrying a handgun I have (2) spare magazines on my person, because lets face it if you are in a gun fight and your handgun runs dry and you can’t reload because you don’t carry spare magazines……Well now you have a $500 or $600 hammer in your hand.
However No matter what method you use for your Magazine Changes continued training and practice is the key. I will also say that Combat Mindset is also critical I once had the opportunity to hear a very good firearms instructor say “If you had a person armed with a loaded handgun and No Combat Mindset and a person armed with a hammer and Combat Mindset, The person with the proper Combat would win the fight every time”.
So should we practice Magazine Changes? The answer would be yes. Let’s start with gear placement. The spare magazine pouch should be on the opposite side of the body from the holster (which in my opinion should be a strong side directional draw holster) Now I am about to tell you something that is going to catch me a lot of flack in the handgun community: When I place my fully loaded spare magazines in my magazine pouch I put the bullet noses to the rear so that the flat part of the magazine is facing forward. (I have found that I can reload faster this way). Remember what I always teach this is A way to do it not THE way to do it.
I train students to bring their strong hand (gun hand) elbows back to brace against their torso on the reload. As they do this, they should bring the support hand and confirm they have a fully loaded magazine to reload, once this is confirmed then we press the magazine release, at the same time they draw the magazine using the first two (2) fingers and thumb only the thumb and second finger grasp the sides of the magazine while the first finger pops the snap on the magazine holder and then as we draw the magazine out the first finger becomes the index finger slightly ahead of the magazine to guide into the empty magazine into the empty magazine well.
The magazine that was in the handgun drops free onto the ground we are no longer concerned with this magazine we have more pressing issues like winning a gunfight.
This is done with the chin up and scanning left and right we bring the handgun back to the torso to that basketball size area called the manipulation area. We should be doing magazine changes by feel or tactile sensation we should not have to look at the gun while we reload it should be an automatic response. (Practice, practice, practice) We don’t look at the holster when we re-holster our handgun….do you?
If we are reloading we are moving left or right or to cover but we need to move there is nothing worse in a gunfight than to stand still and not be shooting while someone is shooting at you. (Get off the X)
Now here it comes again I will get some grief about this part …weather the slide is forward or locked to the rear we should rack the slide. I know that someone is going to e-mail me and say: You just ejected a perfectly good cartridge from your handgun. YES I know however it is the only way to make sure when you redeploy your handgun it will go bang. You don’t want to have to remember if the slide was forward or locked back just do it.
Now comes the next question slide stop or slingshot? We can debate fine motor skill vs. gross motor skill all day long. My thought is this I don’t care what kind of skill it is let’s get the gun back in the fight. So use what ever method is faster for you.
Once the gun is loaded we can bring it back into the fight. Just like any other skill Magazine Changes are a perishable skill so I say practice them every night with your 10-15 minuets of dry fire practice you never know it might one day save your life.
We could talk all day about Magazine Changes but this is all the room I have for this article. If you want to talk more about Magazine Changes come to class and we can work on them together.
Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!
Thanks again for another fine article! I have nothing to the contrary to say, other than I carry spare mags rounds pointing forward. I always have. It's just like a draw for me from the weak side and the index finger finds it's way naturally to the mag well. For the couple of matches that I've been to for IPSC, I can honestly say I count my rounds and seldom drop a mag with some left (unlike the single stack folks) all the while supposedly knowing I still have one in the chamber. Truth be known, I've gone empty a few times to slide lock and it is sort of a surprise and definitely costs some time compared to a tactical reload. I'd like to think that the matches are furthering me in my training as opposed to simple range time. They test me in doing things I wouldn't ordinarily do by myself in front of a stationary target at ease out on the range. The local matches now and then are really the only thing I can afford as opposed to a certified training class.
Excellent post! Having the extra mag (or two) is insurance against jams (in addition the the obvious...more rounds).
The discarding of one round to insure the weapon is working is a great point.
Stay armed...know your weapon...stay safe!
I never thought about cycling the slide to ensure i have a working gun. I've always kept firing and never had a problem. But as an extra safety precaution i think i'll start doing that... Great post
I carry bullets forward, that's the way I was taught and it works for me. I can see the mechanics of your method - especially if you have a flap covered mag holder. (I don't, in fact I usually carry them in a pocket holster). Either method, with consistent practice will work fine.
What drives me crazy, are the guys that carry one forward and one backward. They always fumble and flip and twist on mag changes.
'Course, this is coming from the guy who once had his flashlight half way to the magwell before thinking "that's not going to fit".
Good article. I personally disagree with ejecting a perfectly good/chambered round but like the article states: "I don’t care what kind of skill it is let’s get the gun back in the fight." so to each his own.
That there is impressive :blink:
Originally Posted by raytracer
I can't carry mine with bullets forward, the whole index finger on the front of the mag just doesn't work for me, always awkward. I like the thumb on the back of the mag. Always seemed faster and easier to me
it makes sense IMO if you have something with a ridiculous number of rounds, like those silly pea shootin 9mm :wink: but when all i have is 7 in the mag and one ready to cook it's a waste...
Originally Posted by MrGoingdown
Maybe this is for a different thread, but what suggestions do you have for a mag holder? Something that offers retention and ease of access. Most of what I see offers one at the expense of the other.
I carry two IWB/OWB Mag Holster with a Body Shield by HBE every holster i've had from them has been very secure, and easy to get to, don't have to worry about snap covers, etc. The leather takes a bit to break in, but after it does its like a glove.
Originally Posted by chenemf
For years I carried the nose of the bullet toward the bac,. at LFI I learned to put them forward and I got fast. It is also the same movement I use for M-16 and M-4 mags.
Good article...I personally feel that "bullets toward the belt buckle" is preferable but whatever.
I agree with you on the subject of racking after every reload. It took me a while to wrap my mind around this when I was first told to do it this way. The idea of possibly dropping a good round just didn't set right (ammo is freakin' expensive :biggrin2:). However, I've come to believe that this is the best way to "run the gun." By doing it this way, nothing ever changes, every time a mag goes in, the slide gets racked. This ensures that there will be a round in the chamber since it's possible (if you ride the slide stop or if you have a weak mag-spring) that the gun is empty and you didn't know it because the slide didn't lock back. This is also good practice for clearing type 1 and 2 malfunctions.
When reloading from slide-lock, I think it is better to rack rather than using the slide-release. You get maximum spring-compression by drawing the slide fully to the rear. Then there's the whole "gross motor skill" thing instead of trying to hit a little lever under stress.
As taught to me, the advantage of having your index finger on the front of the mag is that you can feel if the top round has slid forward in the mag and either press it back in, or flick it off on the way to the pistol
I carry mine backwards, and tap it against the back of the magwell as i insert it. Accomplishes the goal, and is a little smoother IMO
Originally Posted by raytracer
A guy in my Blackwater Level II handgun course extolled the bullet to the rear reload. Upon seeing it, the lead instructor strongly urged him to try the bullet forward method. He did try it and liked it better. He never went back to the bullet to the rear reload.
I like the reload and rack the slide idea, but it is a second operation. If you time how long it takes to reload plus rack the slide you will see a significant difference in time. If you are in a gunfight, and if you have time and opportunity to reload, which I strongly doubt, do you really want to lengthen the process?
Still it's not a bad idea because it does simplify the decision making under stress. You don't have to remember or even know that the slide was or was not locked back, since you do it the same every time.
I don't buy for a minute that the slide release with the lever is a fine motor skill and hence racking the slide is better. You just found a little button on the side of the gun to release the magazine, how is that any less fine motor skill?
In my opionon, based on vast experience of others, passed on to me, the slide lever release is not an issue. My instructor at Blackwater said that this very thing, full slide release vs slide lever release, has been around a long, long time. All the top competitive shooters use the lever release method and they don't get chambering failures.
Having said that, I don't think the slide release lever is the best way to release the slide in a gunfight, simply because it introduces an unnecessary procedure. If we rack the slide after a reload, that one method works for chambering a round, clearing a stovepipe, reloading and unloading. One method to practice. It simplifies the gun handling.
Let me give you my two cents on using the slide release.
As a former Blackwater Instructor and someone who teaches the FAM (Federal Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course) I would not be able to qualify in the (original) time allotted if I did not use the slide release on the last string of fire from 7 yards with a Glock G32.
I have never seen anyone do a slingshot here and make the time.
Here is the last string of fire on the qualification course
Fire one round, slide locks back; From Low Ready 4.00 seconds (8.00 total) 4 rounds total
drop to one knee; reload;
fire one round. (twice)