RELOADING UNDER FIRE

Ammunition management techniques to ensure your survival during a gunfight!

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To ease insertion of the partially spent magazine into the pocket, use the tip of the index finger as a guide to hook the edge of the pocket and then shove the magazine home with the heel of the hand.

It’s often taught that the “Tactical Reload” or “Reload with Retention” should be executed when there is a “lull” in the gunfight. So let me ask you… when is that, exactly?

In some situations it might be obvious; your attacker is down after an exchange of gunfire and you have no reason to believe there are other assailants. This would be a good time to “top off,” in the event your attacker reanimates and starts to fight again. But short of actually having your opponent in your field of vision, can you ever be assured of how long the lull will last? Maybe it’s not a lull at all, but a flanking maneuver that will soon place you in your attacker’s sights. If I could offer you some telltale signs of what a lull in the action is, I would do so. However, I don’t know what they are—no one does.

With this in mind, should instructors even spend valuable time teaching a Tactical Reload? Is it a valid technique or just “something to teach” filling time at gun school? The idea of being able to retain unused ammunition sounds like a good one, as no one can predict how much ammunition will be needed to end a fight. Statistics accumulated over decades of research reveal that most conflicts (non-battlefield) are over rather quickly with just a few rounds fired, but no survey guarantees this. The one thing I am willing to guarantee is that Mr. Murphy is alive and well—and he will visit you when you least need his intervention. Training to statistics is just not something I would advise, but that is up to you. My thought on Tactical Reloads is that they should be taught, but only in the context of making sure that it is employed at a time of least risk. Also, if you don’t know how much time you have, reload as fast as possible, as time is life in a gunfight.

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The Thunder Ranch method uses the greater dexterity of the thumb and index finger to control the partially spent magazine.