Training on Tuesday: Options for a Tactical Reload

Those crazy Slovenians. In all seriousness, though, it is often more expedient to go to a secondary reload. Our old Rangemaster here (who has a whole list of unique aphorisms) always said, “Cuz the fastest reload, boys, is another gun.”

Of course, in the event, it would seem to be better to drop the weapon on the deck and draw than try to reholster…of course, that’s only an option for those of us who understand a carry weapon is a tool not a showpiece.

This is via Polenar Tactical. Once you’re done watching it, let’s talk reloads. Muzzle down  or muzzle up? Elbow tight against the rib cage and handgun in front of your face? Move and reload? Stand still and reload? Crouch and reload? Obviously the situation dictates, but I thought it would be interesting to see what you think. Post links to videos that might be pertinent, if you have a favorite.

About the Author

Kilgore & Call
Richard Kilgore and Jake Call have been writing on and off for for many years now. You can reach them at or follow them on Instagram at @breachbangclear or Tumblr at
  • I currently train elbows in gun comes towards the face, muzzle up. I use to train muzzle on target reloads until I put a timer to it and found out that bringing the gun in is faster. And for fighting elbows in when possible, no reason to be a bigger target then necessary.

  • delacroix

    Muzzle on target is slower until you train to compensate. Similar training with weapon malfunctions of keeping your weapon on target with “tap, rack, bang” as you save time in the end by not having to reaquire the target. There are many schools of thought out there yet all agree you should “do what works for you” which I agree with in an actual firefight you should do what you do best. Training however is exactly that, training. Do things the right way in order to improve.

    Of course this does raise the question of whether or not all carry guns should have a flared mag well installed as they do drastically cut down reload times?

    Would love to see more articles along the lines of weapons malfunction clearing drills, and strategies as well!

    • FormerSFMedic

      The problem with “do what works for you” and “personal preference” is that people use those as excuses. The other problem is that, put simply, there is a right way and a wrong way. We need to start looking at our methodologies from a more analytical standpoint. You can’t fight physics and you can’t get around physiology. The human being is born with very specific biomechanic tendencies. One shooter may say “muzzle up” while another says “muzzle down”. So, they put it on the clock to see which way is “right”. The truth is that the clock doesn’t tell us anything other than the level of application the shooter performs at. The “right” way is not always the fastest way.

  • Lance

    Face it this shows that bans on normal mags 15rd 17rd plus dont work a mass shooter can just bring alot more guns to skip reloading.

    • crackedlenses

      Bringing more guns also decreases the likelihood of the shooter suffering a malfunction that will lower his kill count. It’s funny how those who want to ban guns usually know the least about them or how to use them…..

  • Stormcharger

    I only really train on the basics and expand from there as needed for specific situations. If you already return to a particular ready position when not shooting, that’s the best position to reload from. Just one less thing to not be able to do as fast as you would like under pressure.

    Like can be seen in the video, carrying multiple pistols might seem sensible for reloading, but notice the time lost as he has to decide what to do with the empty pistol and then draw another. Dropping a magazine is far faster and doesn’t require the shooter to have to shift gears to another pistol.

  • Joe in Reno

    Tacticool or not, i don’t think many will beat this

  • John

    If you can walk around with that many handguns, bless you! Me –I only carry two at a time, so I have to practice both weapons transitions (primary to secondary) as well as tactical and speed reloads. I’ve been a narcotics agent for over 30 years and survived some tight spots with only two handguns and extra magazines. Now, if I am involved in a raid, of course I’ll also have the appropriate long gun (SMG, shotgun, or assault carbine).

  • Greg

    I’m a competitive 3-gun shooter here’s my take–I can carry a lot more ammo than I can guns. If we’re just talking pistol work, I can carry 5-20 round magazines and it only takes about a second and a half to reload, even if I run the gun dry. Some people talk about backup guns, I say take one that will work– every time.

    • FormerSFMedic

      A back up gun is not only about staying in the fight or getting shots off faster. There are so many more applications for a backup than just “drawing a reload”.

      • There are no guns that work every time, or at least none that you should bet your life on. Absolutely you should go with the most reliable weapon you can, but there are so many other variables (including catastrophic magazine failure) that a secondary weapon will always be (in my opinion only) a Good Thing…particularly for a LEO On The Job.

  • FormerSFMedic

    To answer David’s questions. I reload palm up. The elbow DOESNT need to be tight to the ribcage however it is a good place to start for new shooters. As far as moving during a reload……I do what I need to do. I don’t believe in training my body to do things that I probably won’t need to do. I’ve seen the “step over and reload” technique and I think it’s completely pointless. Have you ever seen a demo of that in a force on force? That step really gets you nowhere! Why would I train myself to execute complex motor skills that just make the technique tougher and/or slower? That doesn’t make sense. Train as you would fight. Reload while running to a position 10′ away. Reload while backpedaling. That is what is likely to happen in the real world. If there is cover available, always reload behind it!

    • Great points as always, but playing Devil’s Advocate: what do you say to those who argue that a reload should be muzzle down, out of “the work space” so if you crack off a round it goes into the dirt and doesn’t fly across town and give Aunt Pootie something to keep? I have (no kidding) seen certain units/agencies that teach two different reloads. One is for ‘combat’, presumably when you aren’t worried about throwing an airball. The other is for more LE type activities, when you have to account for every round.

      I too reload palm up, muzzle up at an angle (not straight up) and it seems to be about the fastest way for me (and I suspect for most people). There will be those who argue – perhaps correctly in some circumstances – that the slower muzzle down (or at least muzzle downrange) reload is more appropriate because of safety considerations (such as a LEO using patrol rifle).

      What does everyone think?

  • the majority of people that carry firearms are employed to do so. most places of employment do not alow carrying a second pistol, fellow emplyees would make great fun of you and you could incur liability for being a person looking forward to a situation.
    a well trained person can reload just as fast, maybe faster, as a second gun can be brought into play and usually will make it faster onto the target. the person demonstrating the two gun approach is not under stress or fire from an adversary and can make the gun exchange look easier than it would be under the stress of receiving fire. if a person feels the need for a second gun then it should be a rifle or shotgun.