How to quickly reload a handgun is one area of firearm manipulation that many people take for granted. I have found that many take the instinctual path. They try to rush it rather than take the time to learn the proper process. Master the process before attempting to add speed.
Going to fast causes students to fumble their magazines rather than smoothly inserting it into the firearm. Remember, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
For the purpose of this article, I will only reference the semi-auto. Additionally, I will only address reloading from a completely empty firearm (slide lock). I actually prefer revolvers in many situations, and address reloading revolvers elsewhere.
Before attempting tactical reloads and “reload with retention”, the shooter should master the basic slide lock reload.
Fire 3 Fire to Slide Lock
Typically, (learned through after action reports), we see that if an individual fires more than 3 rounds they generally stop counting rounds. Statistically, if they fire 3 rounds they fire until the slide locks to the rear.
That makes sense – Bang… bad guy is still attacking… Bang Bang… OH $#!^ BANGBANGBANGBANGBANG….
In a slide lock situation, your running full tilt. Your Adrenalin is raging, your heart is pounding. The ability to think calmly is reduced. Most importantly, your fine motor skills are compromised due to vasodilation. This created the adage; In a fight fingers turn to flippers.
What you need in this situation is good training and perfect practice.
What we are going to do is to give you a overview of the steps and explain WHY we do what we do. As always, no matter how awesome the internet video is or how articulate the article is, neither substitute for live instruction from a qualified instructor.
Slide Lock Reload Procedure:
- Keep your shooting arm up. Remove support hand from pistol and reach for magazine while rotating gun in your shooting hand to bring your dominant thumb to the magazine release. (Watch video for clarity). TIP: take some white out or a paint pen and place a small white dot on the inside of your magazine well (right side if your right handed – left if otherwise, about 1/8 inch from base of magazine well and about 1/8 to ¼ from front right corner of the well) When inverting the gun practice inverting it until you can see the dot.
- Grasp full magazine in your support hand. I personally do not care how you orientate your extra magazines as long as you are consistent. I keep mine forward of my left hip with the bullet heads facing the rear. Place your index finger along the front of the magazine (bullet tip side). This allows your body to unconsciously track the magazine and allow you to bring your index finger to the magazine well (tip of your dominant hand pinkie). It may sound silly, or be confusing until you watch the video, but I guarantee that with your eyes closed you can stick your index finger of one hand into the palm of your other hand.
- Press the magazine release with your dominant thumb. Let the magazine fall to the ground. Simultaneously draw your fresh magazine and bring it to the gun. Practice this repeatedly until you can literally do it with your eyes closed. The gun is still up – you are looking PAST it toward the threat… If you bring the gun down toward your body and reload it by vision instead of by proper body mechanics and touch you lose all sight of your attacker and may have the fight ended for you by getting shot in the back of the head.
- Firmly insert the magazine into the gun, ramming it home with your palm. Depending on the type of handgun, the condition of the magazine lips, and the intensity of your action, the slide may or may not move forward on its own.
- If it goes home on its own – AWESOME, you just earned a cool point, reestablish your proper two handed grip, index the gun on the target and assess the situation.
- If the slide stays to the rear, it has worked exactly as designed, rotate the gun back into a proper one handed grip, and while pointing it in the general direction of the threat, reach over with your support hand, placing the middle of your palm on the rear sight. Grab the slide and pull it back slightly to release the slide lock and then let go to let the slide ride home under its own spring pressure. Reestablish your two handed grip and assess the situation.
The key to this is twofold – PRACTICE and more PRACTICE. Get some dummy rounds to add weight, stand over your bed so the dropped mags are easy to retrieve and perform this over and over until you can reload like Travis Tomasie….
You have to keep the gun up and resist the urge to bring it and your eyes down – don’t let the bad guy out of your sight
I appreciate your time, hopefully this has helped you, and as always I welcome any constructive comments.
and with practice….