Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

The Tactical Reload

The tactical reload consists of exchanging the partial mag in your weapon for a fully loaded mag, and retaining the partial mag, saving those rounds in case you need them. Before running a tac reload certain criteria should be met. Your threat(s) are down or gone, you’ve scanned the area for additional threats, and if possible you are using cover. Then you might start thinking about performing a tac reload.

There are a lot of people who say the tac reload is an unnecessary skill, and doesn’t have an application in the fighting process. I believe the tactical reload is a valid skill, but like any combative technique we need to fully understand its application.

First, the tac reload is only done during a lull in the fight. A lot of people question the “lull,” saying it doesn’t exist in a fight. The fight isn’t over until everyone is secured and there’s no chance of the conflict continuing. For an officer this means backup arrives and locks down the area. The armed citizen is holding for law enforcement to take control of the situation. How long will this take? In an urban area it may only be a few minutes. Where I live it will likely be twenty minutes. This is your lull. If I have to hold, waiting on backup or the authorities to arrive, I would rather do it with a fully loaded magazine in my weapon.

The necessity of performing a tac reload may depend on how many rounds your weapon holds. For example I carry a single stack 1911; one in the chamber and seven in the mag. After only a few shots I’m way down on rounds. The same thing applies to revolvers and shotguns. With a high capacity double stack pistol the percentage you fire may be small compared to what your magazine holds, and the same goes for an AR with a thirty round mag.

I think the application of tac reload has been distorted due to its use in competition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to competitive shooting, but it can lead to some habits that will get you in trouble in a fight. For example in a match you are presented four threats, with instructions to engage two, perform a tactical reload, and then shoot the other two threats. In a fight you engage all threats as necessary. Run empty? Reload and continue engaging until you win. Then you may consider performing a tac reload. The key to the tactical reload is that if you’re thinking you need to run it quickly, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Hold with what you have in the weapon.

Fighting is a mental process. As with any combative skill the situation and your equipment determine the validity of the technique. You must constantly be thinking about what you’re doing, and what you’re going to do next. To perform at this level, while someone is actually trying to hurt or kill you, requires plenty of thought, both before and during the fight.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | Auto Pistol

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