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Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: RELOADING THE REVOLVER   Sat 01 Aug 2015, 11:44

Dennis Martin

Despite the fact that the semi-auto pistol has taken over as the worldwide choice of police and military, the revolver continued to have a place in armed self-protection. The number of streetwise experts who regularly employ a revolver as some part of their firearms carry plan is quite surprising.

[Evan Marshal often slipped a snubby into a side pocket]

Although the revolver has certain advantages, even the biggest fan admits that it lacks ammunition capacity. In this article we’ll discuss the various methods of reloading the revolver, to keep the user in the fight.

The earliest method of carrying spare ammo was the belt-mounted cartridge loops. Familiar to us on the gunbelts of countless movie cowboy stars, these loops were actually standard on police belts until the 1970s.

They were problematic. They exposed the ammunition to all weathers, often resulting in corrosion. They were very slow to use, requiring each round to be extracted from the loop, inserted into the chamber, and the process repeated until all five, or, six rounds were loaded. This was slow and fumble-prone even on a clam range day, trying it under fire could be tragic, as demonstrated in the infamous 1970 “Newhall Massacre”. California Highway Patrol Officer James Pence was one of four killed that day in Newhall, by two armed robbers. “...Meanwhile on the other side of the cruiser, Pence fired all six rounds from his .357 Magnum revolver at Twinning, and missed. Twinning returned fire with his Colt 1911, striking Pence in the chest and in both legs. Pence fell to the ground, trying to reload. At the time, the CHP did not issue their officers speedloaders forcing Pence to reload one round at a time........While this was going on, the wounded Pence was still attempting to reload his revolver. As he did so, he failed to notice Twinning sneak up to the cruiser and around the left side. As he inserted the sixth cartridge and started to close the cylinder of his weapon, behind him, Twinning pointed his pistol at him and killed Pence with two shots to the head at point blank range”
There were numerous training issues addressed in the aftermath of Newhall, but one equipment problem was resolved quickly and CHP, and numerous other departments, started issuing, or, authorizing, Speedloaders.
Staying with loops for the moment, there were a number of innovations designed to improve their use.
Some wise shooters started leaving every third loop empty, thus placing the spare rounds in pairs, to be grasped and loaded two rounds at a time, thus halving the reload time.

[This carrier aligns the rounds in pairs, and has a flap to protect the munitions from the weather].

In time the police got rid of the cartridge loops on the duty belt, and some other methods were introduced. This lead to one of the worst methods of reloading a revolver; the “spill pouch”

[Spill pouch on belt]

The spill pouch, also known as a “dump pouch” carries the ammo very neatly, and is quite unobtrusive. However, when a reload is needed...

....the rounds tumble into the hand ay way up, and the shooter then has to juggle with a handful of cartridges while going back to the old one round at a time loading process.
An improvement was the “two by two” pouch which protected the ammo, and, when opened, angled the pairs of cartridges for extraction.....

.... very tidy, and still a popular product with plainclothes, off-duty officers and civilians.
The Speed Strip provided another technological solution. A strip of neoprene, which carries the ammo in a linear stack, there are a couple of variations.
The original, by Bianchi, has a dedicated two-strip pouch...

When inserting the rounds into the cylinder the flexible strip allows two at a time insertion. If carrying a five-shot “snubby” it’s a good idea to charge the strip with three rounds, a space then two rounds. This makes alignment into the cylinder even easier.
From Europe the Manurhin strip, made of a more rigid plastic, carries the ammo in two semi-circular sections of three rounds...

.... allowing reloading to be done in two actions.
The Speed Strips are still a very popular method, as their flat profile enables them to be carried in shirt pockets and other discreet locations.

Another technical solution was the Speedloader, seen as many to be new, which actually dated back to the Prideaux loader for the Webley.....

As mentioned above, modern speedloaders started to be adopted by US police departments during the 1970s. Among the many types offered the best are the HKS and the Jetloader....

The Jet, seen on the left in the above photo, has a trigger catch underneath the body, which is disengaged upon contact with the cylinder star, thus automatically releases the rounds into the chamber.
The HKS, seen on the right, requires the top mounted knob to be twisted to release the ammo, but is a very sturdy and reliable device. The Jet was licensed by the Safariland company, and a more streamlined version was offered as their “Comp-3” The HKS is probably the most popular speedloader for self-protection carry.
Dedicated pouches for the HKS are available from most leather makers. My favourites include the De Santis version, which straddles the belt, with three rounds either side, thus reducing the profile...

....and the Safariland product, designed by Bill Rogers, which allows the correct “fingers ahead of the bullets” grip on withdrawal...

I prefer the Safariland unit, as the snaps on the De Santis carriers corroded and broke rather quickly, making them useless.


[Jeff Cooper monitors two RUC officers on his first UK training course in 1978. Note, each officer uses a different technique]

In my opinion, Mass Ayoob teaches the most practical method of reloading the wheelgun. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a thousand pictures, so, rather than try to explain the techniques in words I’d recommend watching

Many experts whose opinions I respect, recommend the carriage of a second pistol, rather than attempting to reload the empty primary weapon. These experts, with street gunfight experience, recommend going to a backup gun, even if the primary is an autopistol. With a revolver, rather than using the methods discussed above, the simplest, and most stress-proven method would certainly be a second weapon.
This concept is generally called the “New York reload” in honour of Jim Cirillo, the NPYP Stakeout Unit officer who used it several times in his illustrious career. In one shootout, facing a robber armed with a rifle Cirillo shot him with a 12-guage slug, and a round of buckshot. His partner, Bill Allard fired his shotgun dry, drew his .45 auto, shot eight rounds from that, then went to his backup .38 revolver and emptied that as well. This immediate transition between weapons was what gave rise to the concept of the New York reload.
My good friend Evan Marshall sums up this method: "I go to a second gun simply because I don't have the time to perform a diagnostic test in the middle of a gunfight. Why has the primary gun quit working? Don't know and don't care. It would the most common stoppage of all-we shot it empty or it could be nastiest stoppage known to man. If I drop it and its empty-no harm, no foul. If I drop it because its so buggered up it can't be put into action without serious attention-no harm no foul."

The Ayoob Files

Jim Cirillo Tales from the Stakeout Squad

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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