Rich's column in Tuesday's Wire prompted this column. There are a few different "reloads," and understanding them is the key to applying them properly.
The Empty reload is simple. The slide locks back on an empty magazine. Reloading, which should be accomplished immediately, is performed by dumping the empty mag, installing a fresh one and chambering a round.
The Speed reload is a preemptive action. You've fired a lot of rounds and know you're about to run empty. When you have the opportunity you get rid of the mag that's almost empty and install a fresh, full mag. There's no need to cycle the slide because you still have a round in the chamber.
I've never been a fan of this type reload. I don't like throwing away live rounds. To me ammo is like blood; lose too much and you're not fighting for much longer. Plus the Speed reload is by nature done quickly, usually in-between targets. I'd rather be shooting and then perform an empty reload when necessary.
The immediate threat is down or gone. You scan to make sure there aren't any additional threats and you're behind cover. Then you might start thinking about performing a Tactical reload.
To perform a Tactical reload you remove the magazine from the pistol, replace it with a fully loaded magazine and retain the partially loaded mag, in case you need those rounds. This action is almost an administrative manipulation; if you thought it needed to be performed in a hurry you shouldn't be doing it.
Performing a Tactical reload is like a pit-stop during a race. Yes, the race is still ongoing, but you've made the decision that it's the right time to refill the tank and swap out tires in order to win the long game, finishing the race in first place.
The need for the Tactical reload depends on how many rounds your weapon holds. If your pistol holds eight rounds or less and if it takes four rounds to stop the threat . . . you don't know what might happen between "now" and when the scene is secure so you decide to perform a Tac reload, just in case. (The same thing applies to revolvers and shotguns.) With a high capacity or double stack pistol four rounds fired is a small percentage compared to what your magazine holds.
When it comes to reloads I like to keep it simple. Hick's Law
tells us that the more options there are, the longer and more difficult it becomes to make a decision. I use the Empty reload or the Tactical reload. I run empty, and reload. After firing several shots I'll run a Tactical reload, but only when the time is right.
Regardless of the reloads you choose to use it takes practice to learn the skill and to understanding the timing involved. Timing is always a critical factor in the decision making process. Performing an action too soon - or too late – can be just as bad as not doing anything. Study on this well.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html McKee's new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite's website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html