Reload! Right in the Box, Reloading Magazine
Yes, I know there is an ammo shortage. Prices are high and ammo is scarce, so this drill, like the last few it will help you maintain your pistol reloading skills without burning any ammo.
The focus for this issue is reloading magazines for the auto-loading pistol. Sorry revolver guys, I will get something for you in the near future. The focus right now is getting more rounds into your pistol effectively and that means practicing the skills correctly. Good shooters practice until they get it right. Exceptional shooters practice until they can’t get it wrong.
So let’s begin by setting up your gear to give you every possible advantage. You do want every possible advantage in fight, don’t you? I thought so. First off, your reloading magazine pouch or pouches should be on your weak-hand-side in a location where they are both comfortable and concealed. I like to have the spare magazine on my left hip, just behind the seam of my pants. With your pouch or pouches in place insert the magazines with the bullets pointing to your belt buckle. That way, when you grab a new magazine your index finger goes directly to the front of the magazine to help guide it into the magazine well.
Now that you have your magazines where you want them and set up properly it is time to consider the reload. You are going to do this as dry practice. Spend a couple bucks for dummy rounds so you don’t have to deal with the slide lock. The first step for dry practice is to make sure you have no live ammunition anywhere near the firearm. Triple-check the pistol is clear. Triple-check the magazines you use are clear and triple-check that you have only dummy rounds with you. Move all ammunition out of the room you will use for your dry practice. Now you are ready.
Pull the gun in front of your face. Prepare for and complete the reload in front of your face in order to keep your eyes on the threat while you insert the new magazine.
Place a magazine with at least one dummy round in your reloading magazine pouch. Assume your shooting stance with a firing grip on your pistol and prepare for your reload. The first thing you do is pull the pistol back toward your face with your strong hand. Keep that pistol up in front of you; just below your eyes. You want to be able to look at the threat while working the reload. Don’t look down. At the same time move your weak hand to your magazine pouch to retrieve a loaded magazine. Get your thumb between the magazine and your body and have your index finger on the front of the magazine. Pull that hand up to the pistol. Do not lower the pistol to your waist to perform the reload.
Only when you have the new magazine up near the pistol should you hit the magazine release button to drop the empty magazine. Push the button firmly with your strong hand thumb and, if needed give the pistol a bit of a shake to insure the empty magazine drops free. When it does, simply let it fall to the ground as you insert the new magazine firmly into the magazine well and slap it into place.
Next, reach over the top of the slide with all four fingers and, keeping your fingers behind the ejection port, run the slide fully to the rear and let go of it to charge the pistol. At this point you may be asking, “Am I not ejecting a live round when I do this?”
Well, you might be dropping a live round on the ground. But the one thing you are doing for sure is putting a fresh live round into the chamber. Do that every time and you will know for sure you have a round in the chamber, where you need it. I don’t care if you have shot to slide lock or if you are doing a tactical reload after the initial attack has been stopped. When you top off your pistol, rack the slide to insure there is a live round in the chamber.
In the headline, I made reference to doing your reload right in the box. That is what we call your “fighting box.” Imagine an 18-inch square right in front of your face. That is area from which you fight. Get the tools with which you will fight up into that box so you can see both the tools and the threat. During a reload, you may have to look through the trigger guard to see the threat, but so what. It is better to see the threat and be able to react to it than to be looking down at your waist while someone closes in on you. The reason you use all four fingers to rack the slide is because this is a gross motor skill. If you try to pinch the rear of the slide with your thumb and forefinger (a fine motor skill) you may miss, slip or otherwise fail because you’ve lost your fine motor skills under stress.
Let’s review by the numbers:
You’ve got some options with spare magazines, too. I opt for an open-top kydex pouch that holds one spare magazine and a flashlight. I keep it concealed because I don’t want people to see the spare magazine. You can choose a single mag pouch with a flap over the top. The casual observe will think it is a multi-tool or small phone pouch. A big double reloading magazine pouch with flaps may be too big for most uses. Some people say more ammo is better, that is up to you. I find that I use my flashlight far more often than I use my third 10-round magazine. No matter how you carry your ammo, keep the bullets pointed toward the belt buckle for the easiest possible reload. Gun handling skills are perishable. If you don’t use them you lose them. So train often but correctly. You are responsible for your own safety.