Drill of the Week: Basic Reload Practice

5-Feb-08 – 01:55 by ToddG

tlg-reload-middle.jpgFebruary is Learn to Reload month at pistol-training.com so for our first DotW this month we’ll begin with the basics.

There are many different kinds of reloads for different situations. But they all have certain basic elements in common … elements which many shooters fail to master because they see reloading a pistol as an unimportant administrative task in between actual shooting. But whether you carry a gun every day, shoot in competition, or merely practice at the range you will constantly be reloading your pistol. So, let’s learn to do it right.

We’ll begin the way good handgun manipulation training always begins: with some dry-fire practice.

azoom.jpgLike any dry-fire drill, it is critically important that you follow proper precautions. First, you must always obey the Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety even during dry-fire practice. Also, all weapons must be completely unloaded and double-checked before the start of this drill. (pistol-training.com also recommends that you use a snap-cap, such as the A-Zoom Action Proving Dummy sold by Lyman pictured on the right, to protect the internal parts of your handgun from excessive and unnecessary wear)

You’ll need your empty pistol and two or three empty magazines, along with some magazine carriers on your belt.

We’ll try to address two important factors with our reload practice. First, we want to use the principle of economy of motion. Our goal is to get one magazine out of the gun and a new magazine from the belt into the gun with as little wasted movement and delay as possible. To do this, you need to practice slowly … don’t see how fast you can go, but instead see how smoothly you can perform the action, how precisely you can move.

tlg-reload-grip-close.jpgSecond, learn to grab the magazine properly while it’s still on the belt. This is without doubt one of the most overlooked aspects of good reload technique. Improper or inconsistent grip on the magazine is the cause of many people’s fumbles and problems when reloading.

Remember, dry-fire is about going slow and being precise. Be smooth. Do it the right way, not the fast-but-jerky way. Aim at a safe target and perform a simple reload. Some things to remember:

  • Make sure you have a spare magazine before ejecting the one in the gun.
  • Try to move in straight lines … this is economy of motion.
  • Use your eyes … don’t fall into the belief that it’s more “tactical” to look downrange during a reload. Guide the magazine into the gun with your eyes. Fast reloads are “tactical.” Fumbled reloads are not.
  • Get a good, strong two-handed grip on the pistol before pulling the trigger.

Work on the basics for now. Don’t worry about slidelock reloads or retention reloads (inappropriately named “tactical” reloads). Get the important movements burned into your brain: getting your support hand to the magazine quickly, getting the right grip on the spare mag, ejecting the magazine in the pistol, and bringing the new magazine up and into the gun in one smooth, straight motion.

Next week, we’ll be taking this skill to the range for live fire, so be ready!

Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity. Be sure to follow all safety protocols when using firearms or practicing these drills. These drills are provided for information purposes only. Use at your own risk.

  1. 4 Responses to “Drill of the Week: Basic Reload Practice”

  2. Is there a training schedule available? What does one train on first, what comes next and so on?

    By Flyfishtom on Feb 21, 2008

  3. As a general guideline, begin with this early post here at pistol-training.com.

    By ToddG on Feb 21, 2008

  4. Todd my man,

    At what point during the reload process do YOU start dropping the slide release? When the pistol is still angled in front of you, in the working space, or do you wait until you are extending it back towards the target?

    I realize this is obviously related to slide lock reloads, but wanted to know your thoughts.

    By JLM on Apr 18, 2008

  5. JLM — As soon as you are certain that the magazine is locked in place, you can drop the slide. If you watch some of the vids on the site, you’ll see that my slide is usually forward before the gun begins to move forward. However, that doesn’t mean you should pause to do it. All that matters is that the gun is ready to go when you are.

    By ToddG on Apr 18, 2008

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