variations on a theme:emergency reloads

Theres the basics, then theres the basics of the basics and then there are the different variations on how you do the basics. I just got out of my garage after filming a few variations of the emergency reload. One would think, “how many ways are there to do a friggin emergency reload?” Well let me tell you.

This is how I was taught how to do it by my department back when I was a rookie. Physically strip the empty. Reload, then overhand sling-shot the slide. The reason for the selection of this technique was based on a known issue with Glock magazines.  Some versions of the magazine were known to not drop free consistently. Rather than juggle a mag in the off-hand and then try to strip the hung-up magazine it was decided to strip the empty out before grabbing a fresh magazine. The slingshot technique was chosen because it is a gross motor movement, which was argued to be a better choice for a positive release under stress and possibly sweaty or blood soaked hands vs. trying to hit the small slide release.

With the advent of the newer Glock magazine…the ones with the metal tabs that contact the magazine release…

The drop-free issue is no longer much of a problem. So if you remove the “strip the old magazine” step you get this…

On the slide release issue; I decided to try a “strip..reload…slide release” and a “drop free..reload…slide release” to compare for speed:


Undoubtedly there is a speed advantage to the “drop free” and “slide release” technique, but I suppose that for the training of the average cop they are more skilled techniques with the potential for bobbling, dropping mags or missing slide levers. The question I am asking myself is what technique would be best for me to practice in general? I am still thinking about it.


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15 thoughts on “variations on a theme:emergency reloads”

  1. Great post!

    I am not a police officer…

    I have wrestled some of the same issues involving gross motor skills etc. I always trained to the sling shot method of releasing the slide because I was told that was how it was done and the fine motor movements killed kittens. Then I had a trainer point out that dropping the magazine and controlling the trigger were fine motor skills. So, if I wanted to avoid fine motor skills, then perhaps the handgun wasn’t the weapon for me.

    That made the pieces fall into place I guess. Now I train to the use the slide release. It is faster (and that can be reliably measured and repeated). I have also found that I rarely, if ever, miss the slide release because it falls directly under the weak hand thumb as the hand slides up to reestablish grip after inserting a new magazine. It seems natural.

    So, like you said, the slide release may not be for everyone. It is probably something that you should devote some regular training time to mastering. It is measurably faster so there is something to be gained by training to it. I guess training is the key.

    Hopefully I never have to find out if I chose the wrong technique.

    1. A “problem” many cops will probably attest to is that even if I did train to be very smooth and fast with the “drop and release” technique, I would probably be greeted with “THAT IS NOT HOW WE TRAIN!!!” if and when I used it during a departmental range session.

      Not that that would prevent me from doing it anyways mind you. 😉

  2. I notice that you stop and look at the top of the slide at the top of these videos. Am I correct that you’re checking for a malfunction before you reload? If so, consider this: Physically stripping the magazine, inserting a new one, and racking the slide also clears a double feed on a Glock. Making this your default reload allows you to skip trying to diagnose your problem and go straight to the reload, which makes up for any extra time spent ripping out the mag and jerking the slide to the rear. Always doing non-diagnostic malfunction clearance/reloads also allow you to use the same procedure in the dark when diagnosis is not possible.

    1. Not a bad technique, but if you simply had a “click no bang” or a limp wrist- failure to battery, you just ditched a full mag when a “Slap rack bang” would have kept you running. Not dissing your idea though it does have some logic to it.

  3. There is another option; on some guns, notably the S&W M&P, if you slam the mag in at a forward angle, the slide will go forward automatically every time, which is really fast. Of course, once in a while if you do the technique wrong, it doesn’t go forward and then you have to manually rack it. In my own training with the M&P, I’ve probably failed to have the slide auto-forward about one out of every 100 reloads. Most people probably have some kind of bobble on one out of 100 reloads anyways.

  4. Great post.
    I teach and prefer the first method that you demonstrated. I like it because it works well with any weapon, in any condition and does not rely on gravity or fine motor skills. I have not ever had to do an emergency reload in a shooting but I have pressure tested lots of methods during force on force training (granted that in training I end up with different types of handguns that are not my normal carry). I have found that although I can pull a trigger and hit the magazine release (fine motor skills), I have missed the slide catch under high pressure (being charged by two pissed off guys that I just emptied a full magazine into) while trying to use my thumb. If you test different methods in force on force integrated training you can learn what works for you under stress and what does not.

    You should train for the worst case scenario such as being on your back (gravity will not remove the magazine now), having the weapon fouled in mud, blood or tissue, or using a weapon that is unfamiliar to you. You are not going to win any IDPA matches with the first method but you will increase your odds of getting the job done in a real live goat*&**$# of a fight.

    If you can perform all the methods then you will truly be prepared for the worst case scenario such as being severely wounded in your support side hand or your primary side thumb. I know, the “Hicks Law” believers are getting red faced. I don’t think Hicks ever got shot or stabbed while formulating his computer based ideology.

    I have my opinions and preferences but I teach all methods shown (plus a method that the shooter uses his support side thumb to release the slide) and allow the use of whatever method works best for the individual. The “one size fits all” mentality does not work well for clothes or gun handling.

  5. Interesting post.

    Having run IDPA matches for a number of years I’ve seem just about every variation of slide lock reloads including the “shake, shake, shake your pistol” variation. On the whole, I would suggest using that each shooter determines is the most reliable for their specific carry gun.

    Who said “The fox knows a 100 tricks (ways) but the hedgehog has mastered one.”?

    I will share a LFI video I saw ten or more years ago. Ayoob had two shooters, each firmly grounded in their technique, get shot-up with a bolus of adrenalin under the skin, (he had previously tried drinking lots of espresso coffee with no results) and had them do a slide lock reload. I believe both were shooting the classic stock 1911. The goal was to reload your gun against the clock.

    Both fumbled fingered the dummy magazine into the gun but then things changed.

    The sling-shot shooter missed the locked back slide and ran his hand into his chest and had to move his hand back to the slide and try again.

    To my surprise, the slide release guy also missed the slide release with his thumb. He just had to move his thumb and got his gun reloaded before the other contestant.

    My understanding is that Ayoob received significant criticism for not having proper efficacy and suitable controls. And I haven’t heard of this film surfacing again.

    Stay safe……………

    1. Well…we are instructed to “rip and overhand” and some instructors will tell officers to do so if they see them not doing it. I have enough rank, experience and training (SWAT, etc.) that I don’t get lectured all too often when I handle the weapon “my way”. 😉

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