Do you practice reloads?

For the last few weeks I’ve been focusing on fast and fluent reloads. Both types - emergency (slide lock) and proactive ones.

The reason to make it perfect was my recent discussion with few shooters on the Range about weak points during the gunfight. We all agreed that reloads are something that people mostly struggle with.
Because we all learn on own and others mistakes we started watching Police YouTube channels focusing on LEOs gunfights and how did they proceed with reloads.
And… results were horrible. Most of cops involved in shooting were doing reloads very poorly.
You can watch “PoliceActivity” YT Channel to see I’m not lying about this.
The only LEOs I found and could tell - yes, this is the correct procedure with both types of reloads - were SWAT Teams. They handle their firearms like true pros. :muscle:

Anyway. I’m wondering how often do you practice reloads. How do you train this procedure? Do you make it simple way - inside the shooting booth or do you try to imitate gunfight scenarios, doing emergency reloads while moving and proactive reloads behind the cover?
Or perhaps you don’t care about this?


I include reloads in every training session I have, live or dry. I believe in having solid reload skills for several reasons. A couple of them are, there could be a malfunction that may require a reload and I do not believe in having a gun that isn’t topped off.


I have watched Police Activity for years.

Yes, some of the tac reloads are horrible. The worst was a dude who did his reload and just gripped the mag along with the grip of his firearm. I guess that would be a quadruple stack,

I practice a tac reload virtually after every iteration. It literally only takes a few seconds and should be part of your muscle memory.


I carry a spare mag, yes, I practice using it. :grinning:


You better be practicing reloads! Your life may depend upon it! Lots of good videos out there on it too!


Reload practice with dummy rounds at home or live rounds mixed with dummy rounds on the range is a very crucial part of any training regimen.

I’ve also watched “PoliceActivity” channen on YT and have seen the results of stress on those Officers. When a skill or movement (like performing emergency and tactical reloads) is repeated, pathways are modified in the cerebellum linking those steps and making them appear as if they flow together into continuous movement.

That way under duress, the brain will cause these motions to become fluid and automatic. The more you practice certain movements correctly or incorrectly (unfortunately), the stronger those pathways in the cerebellum become.

Having magazines “staged” correctly in pouches or in pockets is very crucial too. SO that when you index your magazines, and insert them into your firearm, that too becomes automatic and fluid.

So, not only should you practice, you need to practice correctly.

Stay safe out there.


@Jersey and I have had this discussion before and it is a good one to periodically bring to the top of discussion.

I practice reloads both at home during dry fire as well as at the range with live fire. I do not practice reloads unless the magazine released from the gun is going to fall on something soft like dirt or carpet. I do not practice reloads if the magazine is going to fall on concrete because I have a mental problem with magazine lip damage when it hits the concrete. The magazine hitting feed lips down is almost a guarantee if practicing proactive/tactical reloads, unless of course you are training to catch the falling magazine to retain the ammo for later in the gunfight.

I don’t personally train to catch the falling magazine because I perceive that approach as a behind cover/currently out of the gunfight technique and I don’t want to instill that negative training into my brain if a tactical reload is required because tap and rack didn’t resolve an issue in the middle of a gunfight.

Things I have learned from reload practice are:

  1. Double stack magazines are a lot easier to reload with because the taper at the top of the magazine is narrower than the magwell entrance and it will guide itself into place if you are anywhere close. Single stacks are not so forgiving
  2. The magazine release may not be as easy to reach on some models of handguns. Therefore you need to practice reloads on every model you might use for self-defense to ensure you have a plan to smoothly/quickly get to the magazine release and back to a good grip.
  3. Don’t train to catch the falling magazine, even if it is still partially loaded
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Not very often. Looking around at facts, stats, anecdotes, everything ASP has on YT, Tom Given’s data, etc, everything says that private citizen concealed carriers basically never reload. In fact, I have yet to find a single example in the US of a private citizen concealed carrier reloading. Which is not to say it hasn’t happened, or won’t happen, but it seems to be about as likely as me hitting the Powerball for $700 million (and don’t even play the lottery…)

I get that gun guys like to practice gun stuff and carry gun stuff, and there is a chance, no matter how tiny, that the person who finally someday needs a spare mag might be you.

In the other thread, people literally refuse to train for shots longer than 5 yards or maybe 7 yards because the majority of DGU’s happen close. But bring up spare magazines, which are, as far as we can tell, never needed, and suddenly speed reloads are a critical lifesaving requirement.

Kind of weird how that works


Never catch any magazine if you already decided to dump it into the ground.
Proactive (tactical [I hate this word here]) has to be done consciously by sliding it out into your hand.
If the ammo is still in mag, no reason to let it go away…


I think there is a reason to let the ammo still in the mag go away. That reason is that it’s slower and more prone to failure when you juggle two magazines in your hand at the same time, and you spend more time with 0 magazines in the gun. A really smooth motion where you bring the second mag up and have it primed right below its home, then you drop-free the one in the gun and immediately shove in the new one is what I prefer. Easier and less to go wrong

But as stated above, I view a spare magazine as a feel-good that is almost guaranteed to never be needed so you can imagine how I feel about the odds of doing a ‘tactical reload’ and needing to re-reload with the leftovers of your first magazine lol

Proactive reload doesn’t need to be fast. It has to be smooth, so you can do this while being focused on the situation / threat.
This reload makes sense when you get cover or there’s a time you can do this.
You never top your gun while shooting.


To each their own may apply here.

If I have already discharged my firearm to save my life, and consider myself still at such extreme risk that not only am I keeping the gun in my hand but also reloading the gun because I might need all of the ammo possible to continue to fight for my life, then I think my personal opinion is that that reload needs to be fast…in such a deadly dangerous situation I want the absolute minimum time possible where my gun has 0 magazines in it and I want the absolute minimum time possible where I am attempting to manage two vitally important things (my two magazines) with just the one hand. There always exists the possibility of a fumble in this scenario.

I believe this is an area where, how would Tom say this, reasonable minds can have different perspectives

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Do they keep records of if a person reloaded?

I agree it is unlikely but carry an extra mag anyway.


A thick towel on a kitchen counter works great for me. The mag does not fall very far, and it lands on the towel.


“I have yet to find a single example”

I’ve been paying attention to this stuff for awhile. I do a lot of research. I talk to a lot of people. I look to guys like Tom Givens and other titans of the industry who have actual data.

I have yet to find a single example of a private citizen concealed carrier needing and using a spare magazine to reload their carry gun.

Has it happened to somebody in the US, somewhere, over the decades of concealed carry? Probably. Will it happen to one or more in the future? Probably.

Is it common? Certainly not.

What you do with that information is completely up to you. Being good at reloading and having a spare magazine carried in such a way that you can effectively use it is an overall asset for sure. I Just don’t know that it’s as critical as some people make it out to be, given the probabilities. There are simply SO MANY things a person might carry on their person that might save a life.

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Agreed…but this is the moment when these differ - emergency reload has to be fast, proactive reload doesn’t.

I’m not sure if we are on the same page here talking about “proactive”.
There are few schools that teach it differently.
For me proactive reload means the same as tactical reload. You grab spare magazine from the pouch FIRST and then change magazines in the firearm one handed, saving the old one. Order is important here.
And to be honest this one is .25 second slower than emergency reload…but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be fast.


That is where we disagree.

To me, if I am reloading my gun, after firing it in self defense, because I think I might need to fire it again in self defense, and the ammo still in it might not be enough, that seems like it must necessarily be an extremely dangerous situation, otherwise I wouldn’t even have the gun in my hand anymore, so if I’m putting that extra ammo in, I want it in now and I don’t want the increased risk of a fumble that comes with managing two magazines in one hand.

Additionally, just because you let the mag drop free, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost forever. I have done training where, after doing this step, you locate the mag you just dropped (possibly with your foot without even having to look), and with your head up still looking, you squat down (if not already) and pick up the mag and shove it into your pocket.

Like I said, I believe reasonable minds can have different perspectives and choices here

I understand you are saying grab the spare first, but, still holding two mags with one hand is just extra complexity and risk I personally don’t care for, so I let the mag drop free for the fastest and strongest possible reload.

Considering how extraordinarily unlikely it is for a private citizen to reload their concealed carry gun in the first place, i can’t imagine how tiny the odds are of needing to re-reload with the leftovers from the first magazine. Maybe I"m a butter fingers, but think my risk of fumbling the tac/proactive reload are higher


And that’s why we discuss it here. :metal:

The most important is to practice everything the same way as we are going to do in reality.

I understand your thinking and cannot disagree. Each of us do this the best way that works for him / her.

I like this kind of conversations. They bring lot of info which can be used and sometimes change habits if found better.


I practice slide-lock reloads at pretty much every live range session, and occasionally all sorts in dry fire when MantisX tells me to. But I don’t carry a reload with a double-stack 9mm. So why practice?

  1. general proficiency in gun handling and status awareness;
  2. occasionally carry single-stack, and prioritize supplemental ammo;
  3. I might get a shot at formal training one day, and don’t want to end up in the remedial group.

How do I do it? I load magazines ahead for my planned activity, usually not plumb full, and carry a couple on my belt. Any time the gun runs dry, I reload immediately at real time speed. Also, some drills will incorporate “reload and resume” — so I do that. Other manipulations, just occasional when they happen to come up in live, dry, or administrative handling — I try to safely conduct them at speed when practical.

I don’t practice a lot, but I think my time to complete a tactical reload is less than a second slower when I grab the release instead of dropping it. And I don’t think there is more lost time than that during which there is just a single round in the gun. Yes, potential to fumble. Yes, there is a bit more time when you have only one hand on the gun. Train your brain to be ready to drop the old mag if circumstances change, but I don’t advocate attempting an “optional” reload when I need to be shooting — tactical reload is for when there is a tactical reason to rearrange things during a pause of some sort. Agree that civilian defense would present this need very rarely.


I have never trained as much as after the pandemic kept me home. That is onw of the silver linings. I do practice reloads & pre-active reloads when I feel I’m low