Do You Count Rounds While Training?

I’m seeing a lot of people on the different ranges who keep shooting until they get a click or see the slide lock back.

Back when God was a child I was trained to count rounds as I fired, to this day I still count, do you?

Shooting until you hear the click in my opinion is dangerous, was it a malfunction or an empty mag? The time you take to figure out the difference between a malfunction or an empty make puts you at increased risk of the bad actor gaining the upper hand.

During intense SD training I’ve also failed to recognize slide lock after emptying the mag, I never noticed it until one of the folks I train with pointed out after x number of rounds (depending on gun of the day), you automatically drop your mag and replace.

After that comment I paid a little more attention to my method, yep after 17 as I was dropping the mag I noticed slide lock that I hadn’t noticed during the actual drill. I’ve been working on combining the mental count with the visual cue.


I try very hard to always keep a good round count. The last thing you want is a “click” at that critical life and death moment.

I’m also not a fan of “tactical reloads” because if I’m in a fight I want to be able to use every single round I brought to the fight if necessary.

More and more often we see criminals working as teams of 2-4 individuals whether it’s for purposes of robbery on the street, convenience store robberies or home invasion so while it’s exceedingly rare for you to need a full mag in a fight those odds go up exponentially with the number of bad guys being engaged.


Agreed, I’m wondering if counting rounds it’s not being taught today.

When I learned to shoot it was with a revolver in a reserve academy. Could it be as semi-autos with increased capacity became more widely accepted the counting method went by the wayside? I’ve noticed some of the deputies I train and shoot with also shoot until click, which leads me to believe the previous sentence might be true.


I think so. Many tactical instructors teach you that in a fight you always want to have a full mag if possible and to drop your mag and reload every time you have a lull such as you’re ducking behind cover/concealment or able to move without being shot.

I understand why they teach that, I just don’t agree.

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I’m with you @WildRose, dumping a mag with rounds available is wasting a resource you may need.

I haven’t run into this method of instruction yet, but I have to ask. Are they saying drop mag regardless of how many rounds you have discharged every time you have a lull or reach concealment/cover? So if I shoot 2 of a 17 round mag I’m supposed to drop & waste the remaining 15? I think not.

I my day we were taught to count, shoot to count, reload, and get back in there if needed.


My instructor taught if the mag was empty to just drop it. If it still had rounds in it, to keep it. He was an advocate of the tactical reload, if, the fight went on long enough that you were reloading while in a covered position. Your best chance, is a fully loaded weapon.


The problem with combat reloads as taught is that you are supposed to just “drop it” and leave it and keep moving.

In an extended fight you could be leaving a considerable number of rounds that might be needed to save your life trailing behind you.

This of course is generally taught by Police and Military trainers where the shooters are likely to have a large number of backup mags in their kit. I don’t see that this wisely translates over to the civilian self defense world but I still see it being taught by former military and police trainers who have transitioned to the civilian world.


@BrophE, the recent NRA training for civilians I had a couple weeks ago had you count rounds.
It also differentiated between a combat reload and an emergency reload. A combat reload was when you still had ammo in the magazine. You released it into your hand and either tucked it into your belt or pocket and inserted a new mag into the pistol. An emergency reload was when the slide locked back on an empty mag, you dropped the empty mag onto the ground while simultaneously getting a new mag from a mag pouch , inserting it and getting back into the action.


That’s good to hear @Shepherd, and first I’m hearing they’re teaching the difference between a tactical and emergency reload.

People I’ve seen at the range aren’t holding onto their mags during a tac reload, they’re dropping them to the ground.


If you have the time, why wouldn’t you change mags and know you have a fresh mag and are ready for anything. Would not drop the partial mag on the deck tho, that’s what pockets are for. I co ducted law enforcement for over 25 years before retiring in 2011, and as an tactics and firearms instructor I Always taught my folks to count their double taps and if there was a lull in activity, to insert a fresh mag into their weapons, no matter what they were using. It’d be really stupid to have to engage multiple threats and well, you would have just a few rounds to do so, before having to stop firing to change mags. That is certainly a way to lose ANY advantage you may have had via position, concealment and/or cover. I’m my book that’s a recipe for your own funeral.


If there was a momentary lull to change magazines, that make sense to me - take advantage of the time. What did you advise them to do with the partial loaded magazines that they were releasing, @ROBERT27?

Welcome to the Community!

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Law enforcement have the luxury of boots on the ground joining the fight. Civilians do not.

Many of those training civilians aren’t teaching drop and tuck, but drop and leave the mags. Not a smart move.

edit: I might also add that I’m not a fan of instructors who have students top off while on the line during a lull in teaching. If it’s true we react the way we train, topping off during a lull leaves you with an empty weapon.

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My firearm is 14 +1 I count my rounds and at 15 I drop my magazine and load my next magazine. Knowing your count whether you need that many or not is better than needing to wait for the click or your slide to lock. In a more serious situation you may need that reload quickly.


I’m in agreement about not topping off a mag in training situations.

You play the way you train, I trained them to use their heads, not switching to a fresh mag when you have the chance L/E or civilian is a plain bad choice, but hey you do it your way and I’ll do it mine and I can guarantee who’s gonna
come out on top.

By the way, in my job there was zero back up available within the time frame of any shoot situation and most times it could be any manner of hours or possibly even a day or longer for me to get backup. That’s the life of conducting law
enforcement at sea.


Guarantee eh? That’s a mighty tall order to fill.

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It’s all about how you’ve trained. I guess you don’t as have much confidence in your abilities and training as I do in mine.

This conversation is over because it’s obvious we have different views as well as levels of training. I trained and trained and trained to win, sounds as though you trained to um, I don’t know exactly, but it sure wasn’t to win.

I learned at 12 to count rounds. It is now second nature. There may be a time to drop and put a fresh mag in but under most circumstances use the ammo in the weapon before reloading. I train to reload at the last round out of the mag with one in the tube. Although with practice a reload can be done in about 1.5 seconds without fumbling, that may be the split second you need to fire and having one in the tube gives you that option.


Okay Capt’n have good days.

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Very well said. If I’m in a fight I want every round I brought to the fight able to be used in it.

The only way I’m dropping a mag that still has rounds in it is if I were in a well protected position where I had the time to drop it, replace it, and secure it so that if I have to move I still have it.

If you’re well practiced it takes no more than 1-2 seconds to replace a mag once you hit slide lock and of course if you know it’s coming you can already have a fresh mag in hand ready to go as soon as you hit the release on the empty mag.


No, you certainly cannot make such a guarantee.