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View Full Version : Thoughts on "tactical" revolver reloading


Timber Wolf
October 30, 2009, 09:56
I am getting serious about packing a snub revolver again after letting the pa-in-law talk me out of my favorite little stainless Rossi 5-shooter last year. Picked up an older S&W Airweight Bodyguard a couple of days ago and although I was really looking for a 442/642 or the like I am pleased with the old Model 38 humpback.

So, I was doing my usual pre and post sale internet surfing on the general topic of snubbies & concealed carry and came across the following link: http://snubtraining.com/pdfs/snubby.pdf

I donít know anything about the fellow or his school-of-thought or training other then what is shown but it is thought provoking concerning reloading the revolver and maintaining the strong-hand grip at all times. I also found his points about partial loading and opposed chamber loading interesting. To that end I have started my very limited muscle memory train-like-you-fight re-training by loading my revolvers this way even when I am just shooting off the bench at the range. In other words, I will load my revolvers like you tighten lug nuts on a car and do so left-handed. Yes, I will load all 5 or 6 at the range most times but at least my routine will be to load across and that will be natural if the time comes. I suppose I really need to load from speed strips to take this all the way. Humm, that reminds me, I need to pick up more speed strips.

Outlaw Patriot
October 30, 2009, 11:43
Or you could just have a good smith machine the cylinder to accept full moon clips, and not have to think about any of that. I wouldn't carry a wheelgun that had to be loaded any other way.

BUFF
October 30, 2009, 19:05
S&W revolvers are my first shooting love and I carried one for the first 10 years of my law enforcement career. I shot on our department's pistol team. I got some excellent training from some name trainers and some folks you never heard of. I was the only guy in my 36 member academy class that qualified with a 2 inch 5 shooter as well as a duty gun, at the end of the training.

Reloading a revolver- keep it in your shooting hand or swap hands? Most folks who train seriously try both methods before settling on one. Good work can be done either way, but...

The article hit the primary problem on the head. Just about everybody's shooting hand is the one with which they have the best fine motor control and coordination. Inserting 5 or 6 cartridges into 5 or 6 chambers, using a speed loader or not, requires pretty good fine motor control.

For myself, I found that swapping hands was far more certain. I was far, far less likely to fumble, to drop a cartridge if loading loose, to not get the speed loader lined up properly on the first 'insert,' with my strong hand

I also found that I was much more likely to get the muzzle pointed straight up, prior to hitting the ejector rod, if I shifted the gun to the other hand, so the empties would come out more certainly, with the aid of gravity, which is important with 2 inch snubs and their really short ejector rod strokes. In addition, ejection holding the gun still in the shooting grip, the shooting hand itself was more in the way of the rear of the cylinder, both for getting the empties out and the reload in.

Since you have to bring both hands together as you dump the empties, I found it took me no longer to swap the gun to the other hand.

The greater certainty of accomplishing the reload by using the more dextrous strong hand to insert the cartridges properly, quickly, sealed the deal for me.

By comparison, the insertion of a fresh magazine into the butt of an autopistol requires far less fine motor control; it's a much bigger target and only one thing to stuff into that bigger hole.

You gotta try both ways and see what works best for you. Most people I have seen who are truly good with a revolver swap between hands.

W.E.G.
October 30, 2009, 20:02
I was taught the following method:

1. While still grasping the butt of the gun with the right hand, move the right thumb to the latch.
2. At the same time, use the left hand to push the cylinder to the "out" position at the moment the latch releases.
3. The middle and ring fingers push through the opening in the frame to force the cylinder to a full-open position.
4. The index finger and pinky finger remain on the outside of the frame for support.
5. The right hand releases the gun as the left hand takes over.
6. The left thumb is used to depress the ejector rod.
7. The gun is held muzzle-up, so that gravity is your friend.
8. The spent casings fall free.
9. The right hand is used to pluck any casings that may be hung.
10. The ejector remains fully extended until all shell casings are free.
11. The gun is then switched to a muzzle-down position (let gravity be your friend).
12. Use the right hand to load rounds ONE-AT-A-TIME.
13. Rounds are loaded to the chamber that is most outboard from the gun.
14. As each round is loaded, the middle and ring fingers of the left hand, in concert with the left thumb, index the cylinder counterclockwise to bring the next empty cylinder to the outboard position.
15. Each cylinder is loaded as above until a full reload is accomplished.
16. The thumb of the left hand is used to close the cylinder as the middle and ring fingers are removed from the opening in the frame, and the right hand regains control of the gun.

There are surely other ways to skin this cat.
But this method is absolutely foolproof. Reloading a revolver under stress is hard enough. Don't make it any harder than it has to be.

bykerhd
October 30, 2009, 23:48
I've watched videos many times of Jerry Miculek firing and reloading and firing Smith & Wesson revolvers at unbelievable speed.
I think he is using full-moon clips, which would be easier, but he is so fast he looks like is fumbling the revolver when he reloads. Awesome demonstration.

While any speedloaders would likely be slower to use than full-moon clips, and also realizing you will not likely best Mr. Miculek, I think the key is practice.
Your speed and proficiency should improve. Regardless of what method you use.

Snap caps and dummy rounds would seem the safest means to achieve your speed without ventilating yourself and your surroundings though.

Outlaw Patriot
October 31, 2009, 17:19
Originally posted by bykerhd
I've watched videos many times of Jerry Miculek firing and reloading and firing Smith & Wesson revolvers at unbelievable speed.
I think he is using full-moon clips, which would be easier, but he is so fast he looks like is fumbling the revolver when he reloads. Awesome demonstration.

While any speedloaders would likely be slower to use than full-moon clips, and also realizing you will not likely best Mr. Miculek, I think the key is practice.
Your speed and proficiency should improve. Regardless of what method you use.

Snap caps and dummy rounds would seem the safest means to achieve your speed without ventilating yourself and your surroundings though.

Yea, the problem is, at least in my experience, the snap caps do not fit the same in the moon clips as the live rounds do, the snap caps wiggle around more and have more play. Its still good practice, but it does not completely replicate the feeling of loading live rounds.

Snap caps in speedloaders may be a different story.

W.E.G.
October 31, 2009, 18:06
I think you will find speedloaders to be very pinched/cramped for reloading a 5-shooter.
That was my experience anyway.

Not saying it can't be done. Just saying its teh suk.

Never tried moons in any gun.
Really wonder whether moons would eject without major fanfare in a 5-shooter.

BUFF
October 31, 2009, 19:45
I have had a couple of S&W's 9mm 5 shot snubs, the Model 940. They use a 5 shot moon clip.

The clips seem to make full extraction of the empties pretty sure.

When carrying a .357 on duty, and a snub .357 much of the time off duty, I got into the habit of using the free strong hand to smack the ejector rod to eject the empties. Sometimes spent .357 casings don't eject so easy and need the extra oomph.

When emptying the .38 snub, I tend to use the gun holding hand's thumb to work the ejector. I give it two or three fast punches with the ball of the thumb while waiting for the other hand to produce the reload.

I am by nature very clumbsy. I have very limited coordination. My academy firearms instructor, Dennis Tueller (author of the 21 Foot Knife rule), pretty well taught us that if we had to reload, it was likely that even with just a 5 or 6 shooter, we may well have lost count of how many shots we have shot and to dump the entire cylinder and use a speed loader to refill fully. It doesn't take much longer to reload 5 or 6 with a speedloader than it does to load 1 or 2 single cartridges. It was years before I ever carried loose rounds or single rounds in a loops belt slide. Even the extra box of ammo in my briefcase was already in speed loaders.

A lot of older factory grips on revolvers made speedloaders harder, in fact, some blocked the complete ejection of empties. S&W first added a 'football' shaped dimple to the top of their wood target grips, then a much bigger scallop to add more clearance. The rubber grips had plenty of clearance there since their beginning. I liked the Uncle Mike "Boot Grips" for my 5 shot J frame .38's and they have plenty of room there. The cylinder release is also right there, almost in the way, too.

Practice is the key. Safety while practicing is paramount. I made up dummy rounds using just empty cases without primers and felt better. I also hung my vest on a bookcase and used that as my target for any dry-fire I did.

molotov
November 01, 2009, 06:58
I am getting serious about packing a snub revolver again after letting the pa-in-law talk me out of my favorite little stainless Rossi 5-shooter last year.

Hope you didn't let him walk off with a 720. Ain't no aluminum Smith gonna compare to that.

STGThndr
November 01, 2009, 15:24
I was taught thus by police training officer: revolver stays in rt hand. Rt Thumb pushes cyl release, index finger puhes cyl open. Revolver tipped bbl up, left hand operates extractor rod, empties drop to ground. Revolver pointed bbl down, left hand accesses reloaders from left side of belt and places cartridges into chambers. Twist reloader release while maintaining finger pressure on cyl. Bullets fall into cyl.. left had closes cyl and drops reloader. Revolver is ready for action. Has worked for me for many years, .38/357 and .44's

1911guy
November 09, 2009, 09:05
I ahve always ejectedtheempties with the left hand while reaching for the speedloader with the right (I fire right handed). After loading it is easy to drop the speedloader and, while the left hand closes the cylinder the roght can regain the grip and the left is in perfect position for a two handed grip. With practice one can do it about as fast as an auto. Oh, I believe Miculek loads with his right and fires right hand also.

EOD
November 10, 2009, 22:02
"14. As each round is loaded, the middle and ring fingers of the left hand, in concert with the left thumb, index the cylinder counterclockwise to bring the next empty cylinder to the outboard position."

I was taught the same way, but later came across loading the cylinder in the opposite direction in which it revolves.

On A S&W load a round and rotate the cylinder clockwise in the event you only have time to load two or three rounds. This, in theory at least, increases the odds that a live round will rotate counterclockwise under the hammer if you have to close and fire with less than 5 or 6 rounds loaded. Something you'd think of under stress? Of course not, but if that's the way one always does it, then you don't have to think about it. Other than that, trying to use your weak hand to perform fine motor skills under stress doesn't make sense to me.

One of my favorite carry guns, and probably most carried, is an old S&W model 37, with an aftermarket gray finish, square butt with a tyler T grip adapter and white pearl grips, the hammer is also bobbed, but with enough left to cock if desired. That along with extra ammo carried in an old bianchi dump pouch on the strong side, and loaded with cor bon DPX. Many of us used to carry the old hollow base wadcutter loaded backwards by one of our range officers. Cool thing about it is that it didn't look like a cop gun, and mostly just stuck it in the waistband or pocket.

Now typically carried in a Don Hume JIT or a galco IWB. It just feels right...light, fast, instinctive. I don't feel undergunned at all when carrying it. I've gone through a lot of guns, but it's a keeper.

SWOHFAL
November 18, 2009, 21:09
Originally posted by W.E.G.
I was taught the following method:

1. While still grasping the butt of the gun with the right hand, move the right thumb to the latch.
2. At the same time, use the left hand to push the cylinder to the "out" position at the moment the latch releases.
3. The middle and ring fingers push through the opening in the frame to force the cylinder to a full-open position.
4. The index finger and pinky finger remain on the outside of the frame for support.
5. The right hand releases the gun as the left hand takes over.
6. The left thumb is used to depress the ejector rod.
7. The gun is held muzzle-up, so that gravity is your friend.
8. The spent casings fall free.
9. The right hand is used to pluck any casings that may be hung.
10. The ejector remains fully extended until all shell casings are free.
11. The gun is then switched to a muzzle-down position (let gravity be your friend).
12. Use the right hand to load rounds ONE-AT-A-TIME.
13. Rounds are loaded to the chamber that is most outboard from the gun.
14. As each round is loaded, the middle and ring fingers of the left hand, in concert with the left thumb, index the cylinder counterclockwise to bring the next empty cylinder to the outboard position.
15. Each cylinder is loaded as above until a full reload is accomplished.
16. The thumb of the left hand is used to close the cylinder as the middle and ring fingers are removed from the opening in the frame, and the right hand regains control of the gun.

There are surely other ways to skin this cat.
But this method is absolutely foolproof. Reloading a revolver under stress is hard enough. Don't make it any harder than it has to be.

I pretty much do it like this, but I try to load two rounds at a time