1.) Bring the weapon up into your “work space.” This is an area near your chest which allows you to more easily manipulate your weapon. You should still maintain your awareness downrange. Make sure the weapon is not past 45 degrees as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine.
2.) With your firing hand, press the magazine-release button. Simultaneously, reach back with your support-side hand and index your fresh magazine. You should make an effort to get as much of your hand around the magazine as possible. The baseplate of the magazine should be in your palm. This allows for greater control of the new magazine when it comes time to insert it.
3.) Pull out your new magazine and start moving it towards your gun’s magazine well. If done correctly, the new magazine and old magazine will pass in mid-air.
4.) With the new mag in hand, insert the top of the magazine into the well. With one firm and smooth motion, drive the magazine into the weapon. Avoid beating on the bottom of the magazine in order to get it to seat.
5.) Now that a fresh magazine is in the weapon, we need to get it back into battery. There are two methods to choose from. The first utilizes the slide stop. Point the weapon back downrange and with your support-side thumb press down on the slide lock. The spring tension in the gun will now run the slide forward and bring the gun back into battery, allowing you to fire again if needed.
Shooting is very similar to other martial skills. It requires that you develop an entire spectrum of abilities in order to master the art. While many shooters focus purely on accuracy, serious shooters spend time working on reloads and other mechanical skills. You can be the absolute best shooter in the world, but if you can’t clear a malfunction or execute a reload your life could be at risk.
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Reloads are undeniably one of the most essential skills a serious defensive shooter can have. With that in mind, we will look at three different reload techniques to help you master the skill: the emergency reload and then two versions of a tactical reload.
The emergency reload has many names, but is always the same problem. The slide of the weapon is locked back and the magazine in the gun is empty. If you are in the middle of a self-defense scenario, this is indeed an emergency. The technique to get the gun back into operation is as follows.
A second technique is called the “sling shot.” After the magazine is seated, grab the back of the slide with your support-side hand. With one quick motion pull the slide to the rear and release. The slide will now run forward and the gun will be back in battery.
1.) Again, bring the weapon up into your “work space.” You should still maintain your awareness downrange. Make sure the weapon is not past 45 degrees, as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine. Now bring your support-side hand to the base of the magazine in the weapon.
2.) With your firing-side hand, press the magazine release and let the mag fall into the palm of your support-side hand.
3.) Take the partially depleted magazine and place it in a pocket. Do not put a half-empty magazine back into your mag pouch!
4.) Now transition your support-side hand from pocketing the old magazine to grabbing a new one from your belt or pocket.
5.) Pull out your new magazine and start moving it toward the mag well.
6.) With the new mag in hand, insert the top of the mag into the well. With one firm and smooth motion, drive the magazine into the weapon. Again, avoid beating on the bottom of the magazine in order to get it seated.
A tactical reload is the replacement of a partially depleted magazine with a full mag. This is only executed when it is absolutely safe to do so. If you are ever in a situation where you have had to fire your weapon, you will more than likely have no idea how many rounds you have fired. In that you should always expect multiple assailants during an attack, it is a good idea to get a full magazine into your gun as soon as possible.
One debated idea revolves around what to do with the partially depleted magazine. I believe it should be retained. Unlike competition settings, most people do not carry a large number of magazines. In fact, most people carry only one backup mag during everyday carry. While there may not be many rounds left in the partially depleted mag, you may need them. There are two distinct schools of thought on the methodology used in tactical reloads as well. Each has its pros and cons. With that in mind, we will look at both.
1.) Bring the weapon up into your “work space.” You should still maintain your awareness downrange. Make sure the weapon is not past 45 degrees as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine.
2.) With the support-side hand, index a fresh magazine from your pouch and start bringing it toward the gun. The grip on this magazine will be different than in other scenarios. As opposed to being set in the center of the palm, the magazine will need to be seated between two of your fingers.
3.) Once the magazine is at the base of the gun, use your firing-side thumb to release the magazine you’re going to replace.
4.) Let the partially depleted magazine now drop into your palm, and hold onto it firmly with one or two of your fingers.
5.) Now angle your hand so the fresh magazine can be seated into the mag well.
6.) Seat the new magazine in the weapon and pocket your old magazine.
The position of the fresh magazine is debatable. Some advocate putting it between the pinky and ring finger, while others teach index and middle finger. The factor that will influence your decision on this is the size of your hands and your dexterity. When choosing the technique that suits you best, you must explore the fundamental pros and cons of each technique. The “One Out, One In” technique is easy to execute but does leave the weapon without a magazine for a longer period of time. The “Combat” version does allow less time without a magazine in the gun, but it requires decent dexterity and hand qsize. The “Combat” reload was created when the most common weapon was the Model 1911. Slender single-stack magazines are much easier to manipulate than modern double-stack polymer magazines. In the end, you should try both and find the technique that works best for you.
The ability to shoot accurately and quickly is undeniably an essential skill in the defensive firearms world. Equally important, however, is the ability to keep your gun in the fight. You should be as diligent with mechanical manipulations as you are with accuracy training. Only through this can you become a master of the defensive handgun.
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This story was from the June 2015 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS magazine. Subscribe here.
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