Locked Back on When to Reload?

Anyone who has been around hand guns for any amount of time can tell you the importance of a weapon reload. A couple of the obvious concerns are usually how fast can my reload be accomplished?  How can I make my reload even faster?  With this you will get the several schools of thought that mention spare mag placement and orientation. However, how often do we talk about when and where?   When should you take that split second to conduct a mag exchange and where is the best possible place for me to accomplish it?

While on the range in our sterile environments, we try to create the stress needed to get officers to build that muscle memory needed to conduct this motor skill. In doing so, we focus primarily on a mag exchange that results in a properly seated magazine producing sustainable firepower.  We often mention that we have to be mobile and we try to instill the two basic types of reloads, combat and tactical reloads.

The combat reload is simply conducting a magazine exchange while still under the threat of hostile fire. This type of reload focuses primarily as discussed before (a properly seated magazine producing sustainable firepower). With a combat reload, your moving to some sort of appropriate cover as fast as you humanly can!

The tactical reload is often conducted after that initial confrontation, where the officer has selected appropriate cover and has the mental ability to realized that they a  mag exchange is needed. With a tactical reload, your focused on secondary subjects (keeping your eyes on the bad guy), your weapons status and maintaining that exchanged mag.

Regardless of your situation, you’re going to react to your training. This is why instructors spend countless hours trying to tailor their training so that their students have something to refer back to. Understanding how you will react under stress is an import factor. Exposure to scenario based training can definitely enhance or maintain this perishable skill.

So, you ask your self, what should I do if I can’t remember which type of reload to do?  The Answer to that one is simple, If your gun locks back, FIX IT! and keep moving!  Don’t get locked back on what to do!

One thought on “Locked Back on When to Reload?


    There are two functions that must be performed properly in order for any well-maintained semi-automatic or select-fire weapon to fire:

    The loaded magazine must be seated properly. Because the weapon is magazine fed, the properly loaded magazine must be both inserted properly and seated in order for the bolt face to strip the bullet out of the magazine and into the chamber. To resolve any stoppage and get the weapon working again, you must feed ammunition to the machine .

    The slide must be “in battery” on a loaded chamber. Because the slide or bolt must be in battery (locked forward) in order to fire, pull the slide (or charging handle or lever) back and release it. DO NOT “HELP” IT MOVE FORWARD. Do not treat it gingerly—let the mechanism do its job.

    When the weapon malfunctions and a stoppage occurs, these two functions must take place to get that weapon back into battery and available for the fight. Any response to a stoppage, or malfunction drill, primarily involves either ensuring the weapon is loaded, or unloading it before reloading it. These activities occur each time you practice, and are ingrained into your habits (which is why trainers seek to “habituate”–create habits–of loading and reloading the same way each time). These developed skills are essentially the same skills you employ to clear stoppages.

    If the slide or bolt is locked back, feed the gun. Replace the empty magazine with a loaded magazine, and drop the slide or bolt in order to get the weapon into battery.
    If your weapon was loaded and it failed to function for any reason (failure to feed, failure to extract, failure to eject–stovepipe), feed the gun–reload it. Immediately:

    Tap. Tap sharply up on the base of the magazine with your palm heel (or any hard surface if your reactive-hand—the hand not operating the weapon’s controls at present time–is unable to fulfill the function) to ensure it is seated firmly. This provides ammo to feed the gun.

    Rack. Pull the slide or charging handle/lever sharply back with your reactive-hand and release it. Do not help the slide or bolt move forward. Allow the mechanism to work as it is designed while firing: it slams back to its mechanical stopping point (or, actually, the limits of its springs), and then slams forward until the breech is closed and locked. This puts a new live round into the chamber ready to be fired.

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