The blankety-blank tac reload!


August 9, 2004, 07:51 PM
I've tried it in dozens of live-fire exercises and practiced it dry and it's still hit and miss. Even tried to duplicate the form used demonstrated by one of the shooting school gurus on an episode of Shooting Gallery. How do I fix the following problems?

-when taking the reload mag deep in my support hand, the base of the retained mag taken between my ring/pinkie and bird finger is in the way of getting a good mag-slam to get the full mag fully seated. If I let the retained mag rotate downward so it's 90 degrees from the reload mag, it works better but I drop the retained mag about one out of 4 or 5 reloads.

-taking the reload mag high in my support hand leaves more room to retain the other mag, and gives me the "ball" of my index finger (think the ball of your foot) for a nice mag-slam insertion on the reload, but that's not a reliable source of power for that move. It misses about one of every four or five reloads. Seems there's not enough mass in my hand to pull it off--bone & joint flex, sometimes it bruises me, and speeding up my hand to compensate for lack of mass/momentum can result in the retained mag--again!!!--popping out of my support hand.

-I even tried reversing the two-mag mambo so the retained mag is in between my thumb and index finger, with the reload out near the knive-edge of my hand. That seems to work better--the heel of my hand can meaningfully reach the baseplate and the better grip on the retained mag prevents drop-itis intermittenus. However, the initial mag-grab is a bit clumsy and I fear a different type of mag-fumble problem

So before I try any more practice of the third technique, anyone have any pointers for a guy with small hands?

Speaking from a pure tactics perspective, I would probably do a real-life tac reload by putting the retained mag in my teeth and grabbing the spare with a single-purpose support hand. I'd stow the thing as possible, or use it, based on the action at hand.

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Walt Sherrill
August 9, 2004, 08:07 PM
If you're talking about the IDPA "tactical" reload, some people really have difficulty with it. Especially if they have small hands.

Have you considered or tried the comparable (in IDPA) "Reload with Retention"? As far as I know, its allowed allowed whenever a Tac reload is called for.

This method can be faster than a Tac reload, and requires less complicated mag handling. (I've never figured out how the tactical reload, which does risk the drop of a loaded mag, is better -- especially if retaining the mag is your real goal.)

With the RWR, take out the non-empty mag, put it away, and then load the new mag. There's still a round in the chamber of the gun, so unless you're shooting a gun with a mag safety, you're not even temporarily unloaded.

August 9, 2004, 08:14 PM
I cannot do a tac reload to save my life. Not sure if it is a mental block or what. I definitely don't have the dexterity to do it as I have stubby hands. I can do a RWR pretty quick nowadays if I put my mind to it. Maybe you should switch tactics.


August 9, 2004, 08:15 PM
The idea of doing it all with one hand is to minimize the time you spend with a magazine out of the gun.
Unless I missed it, you don't mention what gun you are using.
I have only trained with a 1911, which of course has a relatively thin, single stack magazine.
I grab the new magazine, move my hand up to the bottom of the pistol. I try to keep my hand close enough to the gun to keep control of the magazine. I then eject the magazine. When it hits my palm, I rotate my hand 90 degrees so the magazine is at a right angle to my palm and between my little finger and ring finger, preferably with the base plate lip against my palm.
If I practice, I can do it quickly and without dropping the magazine. The problem is that I don't practice it enough.

I am probably wrong, but I don't see how the size of your hands would matter unless you are using a real fat double stack magazine.

Walt Sherrill
August 9, 2004, 08:52 PM
I understand. With a thin mag, it probably doesn't make that big a difference.

But even if you do shoot a single-stack gun, I think there is a better reason to use the Reload with Retention (RWR): it makes a relatively complex process LESS complex (and, to my thinking, less risky).

With a TAC reload, starting from a standard two-handed grip, you take your off hand, go to your belt and grab the mag to be reloaded, bring the hand back up, then remove the other mag and with that same hand, try to control both mags. You then insert the new mag, and then send your off hand back to your belt to put the newly unloaded mag away. Finally, you bring your off hand back up to the gun to continue your two-handed grip.

With the TAC your hand has gone down, up, down, up, and there has been a potentially awkward moment or two.

With the RWR, you grab the mag in the gun, put it away (belt or pocket) and grab its replacement, go back up to gun and insert it (just as you would in a slide-lock reload) -- and continue.

You've gone to your belt/pocket once. Down and up.

That seems faster and quicker and I would argue that the gun is out of action less long. (But, unless you've got a mag disconnect, its never really out of action if you need to fire it, with either approach.)

In a real-life scenario where I'd want to do an "administrative" reload (a TAC or RWR) before turning a corner, perhaps, I'd like to think I'd use the one that was least likely to result in a fumble or mistake.

I'd also like to think I'll nver have to do any of this except in a "gun game."

August 10, 2004, 01:39 PM
The idea of doing it all with one hand is to minimize the time you spend with a magazine out of the gun.
Yeah, and since this is supposed to be done during a "lull" in what we euphemistically call the "action", maybe it doesn't matter all that much? In balancing the hazards, I am beginning to prefer _reliability_ over a second faster on the reload which comes at a certain level of risk that I'll drop that beloved mag with a few rounds I might want later. Sorta defeats part of the purpose, doesn't it?
Unless I missed it, you don't mention what gun you are using.
SIG double-stack (9mm) and Glock double-stack.

Let's think about that time thing. Has anyone noted their times from shot, through reload, to the next shot, using the Tac reload vs. the Reload w/ retention? Either of them compared with an "emergency" slide-lock reload?

:evil: We need an IDPA course run with a tac reload, where an appearing target charges the shooter's position on the rangemaster's command *during* that tac reload, with other targets to engage immediately thereafter. Then we can train to use that precious single shot during the time we're grabbing the magazine and truly train this skill set.:evil:

To be truly tactical, shouldn't we also be training to reload from an empty chamber without slidelock? OH, THE HORROR OF MISSING A NEEDED TRAINING SKILL!:neener:

Does IDPA truly allow either tac reload or RWR? I know their Classifer does, but regular courses of fire???

August 10, 2004, 02:21 PM
It's my understanding that if they call for a reload with retention,you can use either...but if they call for a tactical,you must use a tactical..(at least that's how our club does it)which I also hate haveing small hands and a glock 17.....I need to practice the tactical alot more than I do....:mad:

August 10, 2004, 04:05 PM
I also hate the tac reload. I think it is possibly the stupidest tactic ever foisted upon us. I'm a die hard IDPA shooter, but that particular rule just rubs me the wrong way.

I do the reload with retention. It is a whole lot simpler, and for me it is also much faster because my hand has to travel to my belt one less time.

As a match director, I pretty much never include them as required in a stage. If somebody wants to use them on their own initiative, good for them. I hate putting them into a stage as required because in my experience it then turns into a contest of whoever has the loosest pockets. :)

Andrew Wyatt
August 10, 2004, 04:31 PM
Tactical reloads are not supposed to be done in the middle of a firefight. they have their place, just not on the flippin clock.

August 10, 2004, 06:11 PM
Actually, come to think about it, in all of the matches I have shot in, I have only done one RWR that was not mandated by the COF. It was a blind stage. The only information that we had was that when we entered a room there would be some targets, and then we had to flip a switch. (which it turned out activated a some movers).

I shot the first targets, and then did an RWR while I was moving towards the little switch. I did really well on that stage just because just about everybody else shot to slide lock against the mover.

But with that said, the other 99.95% of the time it is utterly useless, and only there to tick me off in the classifier. :)

August 10, 2004, 06:19 PM
I'll go out on a limb here.

They're not safe or practical for real life use. Get a fresh mag in the gun NOW and worry about the partial spent one later!

I agree.........use your teeth, ground, pocket..............just get the fresh mag in the gun.................

August 10, 2004, 09:14 PM
I'm not a fan of tactical reloads. They look spiffy and I'm sure they offer an advantage when they are executed correctly (read "perfectly"), but the subtle dexterity required seems to magnify the chance of making a mistake. And, when that mistake is likely to involve ropping your fully loaded mag, the risk doesn't seem worth the effort.

BTW, they are especially hard to do with double stack mags. They are easier to do with single stacks, but I'm not switching to a single stack just to make an esoteric reloading technique easier. Heck, with a 15 shot 9mm, the odds of my needing ANY reload are pretty slim.

Personally, the last thing I want to do in a gunfight is juggle mags.

Walt Sherrill
August 10, 2004, 10:02 PM
I don't understand the "advantage" of a tactical reload over the reload with retention.

Either one is going to be done when you've got the time (in a lull, before rounding a corner, etc.).

The Tac reload takes a lot more hand motion, and offers more opportunities to mishandle or drop a mag.

If you're shooting a S&W auto, or a BHP with the mag safety still in place, using the tac reload [b]may[/g] leave you with a gun that's unable to shoot for a slightly shorter period -- but if you drop the mag in the process (they're both double-stacks and harder to handle) you're going to 1) waste time picking up the mag and NOT paying attention to what's going on around you, or 2) you're going to go on without it.

Either way, you've gained little and lost what may be a lot.

Forget the TAC reload except when they FORCE it on you in a match, and then just fumble through it. You'll probably NEVER choose to use it in a real-life situation.

August 10, 2004, 10:55 PM
I'm glad to see this thread! To me, it's most natural to carry the used mag to a pocket, etc with my hand going for the fresh mag, than the confusing manipulation of two mags in one hand. On that thought, I'm beginning to like the idea of non-drop-free magazines. That seems to be a "just because" the 1911 happens to allow its mags to fall out, and the idea has taken on a life of its own. Having the magazines pop out an inch or two, where they can be removed under control seem much more practical in real-world settings.

Folks, sheer speed ain't everything. Unless you are one of a very gifted few, shooting that fast means you're missing a lot.

(I did not say "spray and pray"):evil:

August 16, 2004, 06:40 PM
Okay, I think I found a fix and dry-fire practice has given me a clue as to the time differences...

Disclaimer--I'm no speed demon here. Anyway, on a tac reload, I found myself holding the reload mag between thumb and the rest of the fingers. Then the retained mag fell to the heel of my hand, ALSO between the base of my thumb and the other four fingers. Retained mag was right behind the reload mag, anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees rotated towards me. That gave me the base of the retained mag to press the reload mag in, and eliminated the chopsticks-style effort to hang onto both mags at once.

It seems to work.

Just running a timer and looking between the start of the reload and right after the click on my post-mag insert dryfire, it looks like my reload with retention is 3-4 seconds, while the tac reload is 5-6 seconds (revolver speed with reg speedloaders for me!!!). In other words, tac reload is about a full second slower.

Dilemma: insert mag close and no longer "cover" the threat area, or go one-handed at the threat area and bring the mag forward to the gun? First is faster and what most people do, the second seems more true to the rationale behind reloading while you still have a round chambered and dontchadare use a gun with a mag safety. BUT, the follow-up shot after the reload is more steady because there's no support hand re-acquiring the grip after that brief time of "covering" the threat which isn't supposed to be visible because you're supposed to be doing this behind cover.

Personally, I'd go for the faster reload and steadier draw-style presentation--you can always choose to index the gun and fire if a moving target becomes a threat to you in your place of "cover"....and have a really empty gun after that single shot...

How many people have ever practiced this type of emergency drill???? I think the creators of IDPA thinked too much and comed up with a half-baked requireded skill.

August 17, 2004, 10:15 PM
Hmm. Don't have a problem with tac reloads with single stacks. Can do it with the Beretta double stacks with more difficulty. Really have troube with the HK USP mags. Just too danged fat. I will never take that thing to a shooting school again for that reason. It's the P220 or a 1911 for me if I'm going to be doing tac reloads all day long again.

August 18, 2004, 01:22 PM
I started out doing Tac-Load's and did okay.

We had a ~40 post discussion on Tac' Load merits over on the Competition forum.

Some people do them quite well. I think Single-Stacks make it easier.

After 2 or 3 matches, I settled in with the Reload w/Retention. IDPA uses them interchangeably...the IDPA Class I took showed Hackathorn confirming that in instructions to clubs/SO's etc.

During dry-fire practice, I shaved about 20% or more off my reload times by switching to RWR. On a good day, I can have a RWR split (from last shot pre-reload to first shot after reload) in about 4 seconds...I'm still working to improve that.

I do like "Tac-Load's" as an administrative skill while running through a multi-string stage so I can visibly inspect Mag' 1 & Mag'2 to verify appropriate # of rounds.

I wear a medium size glove so I probably do a variant of the "traditional tac-load" finger positions.

I think it's useful to know how to do it (some club somewhere may "take liberties" and insist on an actual Tac-R)...I'm glad I know how, but I find the RWR to be more intuitive.

Good luck,


August 18, 2004, 01:41 PM
I used to do Tac-Reloads whenever a retention reload was called for. I practiced practiced and practiced some more and became pretty good at it. I thought it was more tactical/practical. I was wrong.

I now practice "reloads with retention" for a few reasons. The first being that they are simply faster. The second reason is that tac-reloads are fumble fests. No matter how much I practiced every now and then I would end up screwing it up. A screwed up tac-reload is much worse then a screwed up "reload with retention."

Bottom line: Tac-Reloads require too much practice to become proficient and they always seem to go south at the wrong time. Tac-Reload = Fumble Fest!

August 18, 2004, 04:26 PM
I also hate the tac reload. I think it is possibly the stupidest tactic ever foisted upon us. I'm a die hard IDPA shooter, but that particular rule just rubs me the wrong way. Right. As is the requirement that you tuck away the partial mag before you resume shooting. Early in my IDPA career I got hit with a procedural for that. The COF called for kneeling behind an overturned table, and shooting a couple of shots around one side, strong hand only. Then, while behind cover, doing a tactical reload, switching to weak hand only, and shooting around the other side of the table.

I didn't properly tuck the magazine in my pocket fast enough, I started shooting while the partial was still in my strong hand. How very UN TACTICAL of me. :rolleyes:

August 19, 2004, 07:31 PM
requirement that you tuck away the partial mag before you resume shooting.
The risk of allowing "gamey" one-hand hosing after a tac reload seems far more in the spirit of the IConcealedCarryPA's goals than does such a silly requirement. What!?!? We're going to condition our shooters to NEVER take a shot until the retained mag is stowed?!?!?

Pardon me, Mr. Goblin, please wait to charge my position until I put this partially-loaded magazine away.

Someone needs to have a real heart-to-heart with the IDPA Bosses.:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Black Snowman
August 19, 2004, 08:23 PM
How about working on the "anime" reload. It's like a tac reload but you only handle one magazine at a time. You grab your spare mag and bring it up, drop the current mag from the gun, drive the fresh mag home then grab the falling magazine before it hits the ground and put it away.

All it takes is inhumanly fast speed, where as a tac reload requires inhuman dexterity and an impossible level of consistancy. That's only 1 impossibilty to deal with instead of two ;)

August 20, 2004, 11:48 AM

I'd have to see what you're describing to get a better idea, but I learned this method from Randy Cain and it seems to work well for me:

- When reaching for the reload, grab it between middle and ring finger, with the bottom pad of the magazine in the palm of your hand.
- Release the current mag and grab it between thumb and index finger.
- Rotate so that the lips of the reload can be shoved straight up into the pistol and since you're already holding the base of the magazine in the palm, just shove it on home.

Hope this helps.

August 20, 2004, 01:36 PM
I always grab the new mag the same whether I'm, loading, speed reloading, tac reloading, or retention reloading. To change the way the new mag is acquired for each kind of reload serves only to inspire more fumble and inconsistency.

When I draw a mag it is mainly held between middle finger and thumb. Index finger is pointed up the front of the mag with the bullets facing it. In a tac-reload I grab the ejecting mag between my ring/little finger and meaty part of my hand that is upstream of my thumb. I set the new mag in the magwell then slam it home against that same part of my hand while spreading out my thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Putting the mag in the gun is a two step process. Put the mag in the magwell then slam it home.

Here is a little video I made a while ago.

Brad Johnson
August 20, 2004, 04:29 PM
I have to agree with those who see a tactical reload as a silly necessity.

I used to shoot a lot of IDPA before scheduling conflicts got in the way. Most of the time I got along fine, but I had a problem with a couple of things. One was the classification of firearms based on the BATF(E) action class and not the practical opration of the pistol (i.e. Springfield XD vs Glock - classed completely different even though they are identical in practical operation). The other was the tactical reload.

Fumbling around trying to accomplish a tac reload in a real defensive situation will quickly get you dead. In the time it takes for most to accomplish a tac reload (your's truly included) most BGs could pump a dozen rounds into you. Your time is better spent finding cover or a way out. IF you find cover AND the BG is still a threat AND you have the presence of mind, then swap mags and keep the old one just in case.


August 20, 2004, 05:13 PM
Mute & Ktulu:

With double-stacks, both of those techniques leave me with my finger hitting the base of the pistol when inserting the new mag. That induces a mag-drop much of the time. Fat mags and small hands don't mix with that technique.

Now I want to see some new video showing that done while scurrying into and peeking around cover/concealment!:evil: :neener: :cool:

August 23, 2004, 10:26 AM
Now I want to see some new video showing that done while scurrying into and peeking around cover/concealment!

You wont see it from me. I'm done with tac-reloads.

August 23, 2004, 12:03 PM
That seems to be a "just because" the 1911 happens to allow its mags to fall out, and the idea has taken on a life of its own. Having the magazines pop out an inch or two, where they can be removed under control seem much more practical in real-world settings.

You don't like drop-free magazine releases? Heretic!

August 23, 2004, 03:24 PM
Now I want to see some new video showing that done while scurrying into and peeking around cover/concealment!

You wont see it from me. I'm done with tac-reloads.

Same here. I don't compete in IDPA, so for me a tac reload is purely administrative. Anyway, regarding hitting the pistol base with your fingers, have you tried straightening out your fingers so that you're holding the mag in the magwell with only the palm of your hand once the tip of the magazine is in the well?

August 23, 2004, 06:13 PM
Well, one of those fingers stays curled while it's trying to hang onto the retained magazine.

Hanging onto both magazines with thumb and all fingers (think of a sideways shot of Young Frankenstein with two cigarettes in his mouth) seems to work best now with double-stack mags. The base of the retained mag is then used to seat the reloaded mag, no fingers get whacked, no skin gets pinched, and I still have enough grip to retain the retained mag...

August 23, 2004, 06:27 PM
I have only shot a few IDPA matches, and at both of them, I just dropped the magazine on the ground from the pistol as I inserted another magazine, whether or not I was at slide lock made no difference. They just add a penalty or something, but who really cares?

A few of the guys asked me why I did all of my mag changes like that, and I honestly replied that I had never been in a firefight where I was concerned about the magazine I was taking out of my weapon until the shooting was over.

Think about the odds of you ever needing a second magazine in a gunfight. Then think about the even more astronomical odds of needing the partially full original magazine again in a gunfight. It is my belief that getting a full magazine in the weapon quickly will do a whole lot more to keep me alive than retaining or being tactical ever will. Of course, I think that retaining or being tactical when it comes to magazine changes seems like a good way to get dead, but then again, what do I know???

August 23, 2004, 10:01 PM
In a few weeks we will be going to back to standard capacity mags. Tactical Reload= drop mag insert fresh 15 rounds magazine :)

August 24, 2004, 08:28 PM
I don't find the actual mechanics of doing it that hard. I have big hands, after all. Remembering to do it is the hard part.

My procedure:

1. off hand goes to belt, and grabs mag (mag base in palm, index finger along front)

2. while off hand comes up to gun, mag is shifted slightly over to be grasped between index and middle finger

3. partial mag is released into off hand palm, and grasped by index finger/thumb grip.

4. off hand drops low enough for partial mag to clear magwell

5. off hand rotates to index fresh mag into magwell, and fresh mag is inserted just like a slide-lock reload (back of mag indexed to magwell, slam it home with palm).

6 partial mag goes into pocket.

August 25, 2004, 09:32 AM
The only time I've ever felt the need to tacload is string 2 of the classifier. It's RWR's for me every time. Faster. Safer.

- Gabe

August 25, 2004, 08:19 PM
The only time I've ever felt the need to tacload is string 2 of the classifier. It's RWR's for me every time. Faster. Safer.

Stage 3 I presume...

Safe shooting,


August 25, 2004, 09:23 PM
Oops. Yep, that would be Stage 3, String 2. :D

- Gabe

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