January 2013, Dagestan A top judge was gunned down outside his home; the assassin fired at least five shots into Magomed Magodemov, 55, as he went to his car in the evening. He died at the scene of the shooting while his attacker fled.
At some point you will have to reload your handgun and clear stoppages and misfires. If you are on a nice comfortable range doing some target practice, this is not a problem. But if you are involved in a serious hostile situation, your reload and stoppage drills need to be slick and well-rehearsed.
To begin when you are training on the range, start to count your shots and anticipate when you need to reload. If you are involved in a hostile incident, you should always try to keep a count of how many rounds are in your handgun. You do not want to have to engage a criminal or terrorist and only have one shot in your gun before needing to reload.
So, keep a count of your rounds and, if possible, reload your handgun before it’s empty. After you have dealt with the threat, always reload your handgun since there could be other threats in the area. The general rule is to keep as many rounds in your handgun as possible.
The amount of ammunition you carry will depend on where you are and what you are doing. If your main threat is from petty criminals, you may not need to carry extra speed loaders or magazines; this is something you will need to work out for yourself. Then again, if you are a security contractor in one of today’s more hostile areas and carrying a handgun as your primary weapon, a few spare 30 round magazines may be required in addition to what is in your hi-cap semi-auto.
The main rule for tactical reloading and clearing stoppages is to get into cover; you don’t want to be standing up in the middle of a shootout clearing a double feed. Get into the habit of doing all reloads and stoppage drills in cover or at least from a kneeling position.
To carry your spare ammunition, you have two main options, either in pouches on your belt or in your pockets. Magazine and speed loader pouches can make reloading faster but if you are wearing tight clothing, can also make a silhouette. Putting spare magazine and speed loaders in your pockets is good for concealment but can make access a little trickier. How you carry your spare ammunition will again depend greatly on where you are and what you are doing.
Tactical Reloading of Revolvers
Revolvers carry less rounds than semiautomatics and take longer to reload but are still good tactical handguns. I tell my students, especially those who travel internationally, that they need to learn to use as many different types of firearms as possible, be it a .22, .45, revolver or Semiauto. If you travel internationally and your weapons are supplied locally at your destination, you could end up carrying anything and you shouldn’t expect to be given the best on the market.
If you carry a revolver, you need to practice reloading it. When you practice, always use dummy rounds. Firstly, you need to work out which way the chamber revolves, clockwise or counterclockwise. If the chamber revolves clockwise, you should load individual lose rounds at the 10 o’clock position; if the chamber revolves counterclockwise, you should load individual loose rounds at the 1 o’clock position. This is because if you were in a hostile situation and only managed to reload several rounds before you had to engage a criminal or terrorist, you would close the chamber with a live round in the fire position.
With a revolver, you carry your spare ammunition/speed loaders/ stripper clips on your strong side, the same as your gun hand. You use your strong hand to insert the ammunition/loaders into the revolver’s chambers, as this is a precise task and you have better motor skills with your strong hand.
Tactically Reloading of Semiautomatics
Semiautomatic handguns are easier and faster to reload than revolvers. If you carry a semiautomatic, you should practice reloading your handgun and loading your magazines. Many people have problems putting rounds in their magazines; this as with everything else is something you need to practice. There are numerous gadgets on the market, and most new semiautos come with magazine loaders. Personally, do not use them; loading magazines quickly just takes practice. You also need to ensure you can work the slide on the handgun easily; a lot of people with small or weak hands can have difficulty working the slides on semiauto pistols.
If you are in a hostile situation and need to reload your weapon, you will have to remove the magazine that is already in the gun before you can insert a new fully loaded one. There is a practice of dumping magazines—this is when you drop the empty magazine out of your handgun on the floor and insert the loaded magazine. This makes loading fast, but you could lose your magazine. if you can buy or get hold of more magazines, this is not a problem.
It becomes a problem, however, if you’re working somewhere where you can’t obtain more magazines. If you do recover the magazines and they have been dropped in mud or sand, they are going to need to be cleaned before you can reload them. One option is to put empty magazines down your (tucked in) shirt, as this is quicker than putting them into a pouch or trouser pocket.
I have seen one technique being taught where the shooter is meant to put a spare or partially full magazine between the fingers of the gun and; this is rubbish. This technique means the shooter cannot get a good grip on the handgun. It may look sexy on a comfortable shooting range, but if you had to run, crawl, or climb, your spare magazine would be lost quite quickly. When loaded magazines are not in your handgun, they should be in your pouches or pockets.
With a semiautomatic handgun, you carry your spare magazines on your weak side and use your weak hand to insert the magazine into the handgun.
Again, the main rule for clearing stoppages or weapon malfunctions in a hostile situation is to do so in cover. Never stand exposed and clear a stoppage. There are many reasons why a handgun may jam or a round not fire; if you take care of your handgun and use quality ammunition, you should keep stoppages to a minimum. Revolvers are not as prone to stoppages as semiautomatics; For revolvers if a round does not fire, pull the trigger and move to the next chamber.
With semiautomatics, you can get various stoppages; I am not going to go into detail with how to deal with them here. You will first need to quickly access what caused the stoppage and then rectify it. Some schools only teach the “tap and rack” technique, which only works on some malfunctions and can complicate others. What I will say is that you must become familiar with your handguns so you’re loading and unloading and can make ready with safe drills that are quick and easy. Then your stoppage drills will be a lot easier to perform.
Tactical Reloading & Stoppage Drills
By: Orlando Wilson
Orlando Wilson has worked in the security industry internationally for over 25 years. He has become accustomed to the types of complications that can occur, when dealing with international law enforcement agencies, organized criminal and Mafia groups. He is the chief consultant for Risks Inc. and based in Miami but spends much of his time traveling and providing a wide range of kidnapping prevention and tactical training services to private and government clients.