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Revolver Reload Drill

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When conducting a speed reload, control the speedloader by holding the edge of its cylinder to ensure proper alignment.

Revolvers are a thing. Thought of as old fashioned by some, others know they are effective defensive tools. These days, as gun sales to new gun buyers are soaring, revolvers of all kinds are flying off the shelves. It might be because semi-automatic pistols are becoming hard to find, or it could be that the new folks find revolvers less complicated and easier to use.

Regardless, interest in revolvers is rising, and many shooters wish to learn more about them. This leaves some trainers in a slight predicament, as many of those who grew up with semi-automatic pistols have little knowledge of revolvers. Fortunately, there are places with answers, among them Gunsite Academy where I recently finished teaching a 5-day double-action, defensive-revolver class.

Assuming a six-shot, double-action revolver (I know, there are five, seven, eight and 10 shooters, among others) here’s a drill designed to incorporate both a tactical and a speed reload with the revolver. As you might ask what’s the difference, I’ll explain. A tactical reload of the revolver is one we do after firing one or two shots to fill the gun back up to full capacity. A speed reload is done after firing all six shots when there is an urgent need to quickly restore the revolver to full capacity. We usually do the speed reload with a speedloader, while the tactical reload can be accomplished from a speed strip, cartridge loops or pouches. As such, I usually recommend carrying methods to accomplish both types of reload so you have the ability to load either way.

Here’s the drill:
You’ll need a silhouette target, reloads and a loaded revolver, 10 rounds minimum. I like to work this from the holster, but you can start from a ready position if your comfort level or range rules make it necessary.

 Starting with a fully loaded revolver, draw and fire two rounds. Perform a tactical reload.
Total: Two rounds.

 Next, shoot two, perform a tactical reload and shoot two more.
Total: Four rounds. 

 Now, shoot two without reloading, shoot two again and then perform a speed reload.
Total: Four rounds.

This pattern can be repeated as many times as you wish, and you can work it from close to medium ranges; I usually start the students at 5 yards and work back from there. Notice, there is no time limit, as the idea here is to learn the manipulation procedures and to practice until it can be done smoothly and efficiently. Once you have it down, enlist a shooting partner and shoot side by side, safely competing for speed and accuracy.

I never felt under-armed when carrying a .357 Mag. revolver. Give it a try and you may find, as I and legions of Western lawmen know: It will do to ride the river with.

Article by Ed Head

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