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Old May 25, 2014, 09:12 AM   #1
Shadi Khalil
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Reload Drill Question

Hello all,

I do a good bit of dry fire practice with my carry pistol (S&W M&P 9c) and use the same drills during my live fire practice. I draw from concealment and fire from different position and distances, trying to think of the most realistic scenarios without getting too fancy.

One part of my drills is reloading. I'll do a string of reloads, firing a few shots, stepping to the side and reloading. My question, should I be training to rack the slide after reloading, every time, even when the gun isn't empty? Part of me thinks its just easier to train to run the slide no matter what, however, I also wonder if doing so is inviting a potential failure. For instance, wet, injured or bloody handed attempts that slip off the slide...

Over thinking? I feel like its a valid question and I'm interested in reading everyone replies.

Thanks.

Shadi.
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Old May 25, 2014, 09:32 AM   #2
g.willikers
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I'd vote for:
Only operate the slide if it's back in the locked open position, or when you get a click instead of a bang.
Otherwise, just change mags and keep going.
Like you said, why tempt fate to create a jam.
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Old May 25, 2014, 10:35 AM   #3
Shadi Khalil
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Thanks g.wilikers... Maybe I should have made a poll.
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Old May 26, 2014, 11:53 AM   #4
Derbel McDillet
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Quote:
I'll do a string of reloads, firing a few shots, stepping to the side and reloading.
If this is how you're training then you're programming yourself to fire a few shots and then reload in an actual self-defense situation.

What you should be doing is to load a few rounds in the magazine and shoot until the gun no longer fires when you press the trigger. (When that happens I perform Tap, Roll & Rack first (I'll explain why if you really want to know - just ask), then if that immediate action fails to get the pistol running I move off the X and attempt to perform a Combat Reload.)

Every time I seat the magazine during a Combat Reload I rack the slide, even if the slide inadvertently goes into battery (this is a positive action to ensure that a cartridge is actually chambered and the pistol is ready to fire when I need it).
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Old May 26, 2014, 04:29 PM   #5
zombietactics
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If you are training for self-defense, it makes sense to:
  1. Use the smallest subset of techniques which cover the widest range of plausible circumstances.
  2. Use techniques which do "double-duty" wherever it makes sense.
  3. Practice consistently to ingrain skill and techniques which have high survival value.

So, let's take a look at your question with these principles in mind. You rack the slide when you load an empty gun, and also when you unload the gun for storage. You rack the slide as a part of every common malfunction clearance procedure.

If you rack the slide when doing a top-off or "tactical" reload, you don't really hurt anything, and get the certainty that the gun is now loaded, even if you had a "slide closed on empty" condition (which happens far more often than people like to admit)

You can argue that thumbing the mag catch/release might get you a very slight advantage in the case of a slide-lock reload. My opinion is that if you've shot the gun to empty, you are in the middle of something which isn't solved by a ever-so-slightly-faster reload. Consider that racking the slide works just fine, and you have the advantage of learning and practicing only a single skill which covers all of your bases.

My personal ingrained habit is that every time my palm hits the bottom of the mag (as in loading or malf clearances), it's reflexively followed by racking the slide.
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Last edited by zombietactics; May 26, 2014 at 07:36 PM.
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Old May 29, 2014, 08:06 AM   #6
Shadi Khalil
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Thanks for the replies guys.
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Old May 29, 2014, 08:25 AM   #7
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Regardless of the method you use to charge your pistol, you should be thinking of doing it from behind HARD COVER. Standing flat footed in the open is not the best way to keep yourself safe.

Jim
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Old May 29, 2014, 08:54 AM   #8
g.willikers
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The use of cover is an important subject by itself.
For example, if you duck behind the cover to reload the gun, where do you then expose yourself to continue shooting?
The same place as before or somewhere else?
You might include this in your reloading practice.
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Old May 29, 2014, 11:01 AM   #9
serf 'rett
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Emergency reload - the gun is empty, slide is locked to rear: I train to drop the slide with the slide release as it is quickest with a pistol where the release is in a good location.

Tactical reload - there is a round in the chamber: There is no need to rack the slide; in fact, you will waste time and lose a round if you operate the slide.

You should also train to reload and clear malfunctions with one hand only.
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Old May 29, 2014, 04:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Tactical reload - there is a round in the chamber: There is no need to rack the slide; in fact, you will waste time and lose a round if you operate the slide.
No kidding.

I've watched as different guys came back from some outside training venues and automatically ran their slides after doing a tac-load (w/retention) ... only to eject the live chambered round. On top of that, the "1-size-fits-all-situations" drilled response cost them an extra 1-2 seconds before they got off their next shot on the threat target. (Sometimes a shot timer can reveal things some folks might not expect.) That can be a long time where there's the potential for 'in-coming' rounds while a weapon is being unnecessarily manipulated.

Then, I've also seen folks running traditional double action (DA/SA) pistols, with decocking functions, stop to "decock" their cocked hammers after a tac-load before they fired their next intended shot on a threat target. That took them extra time, too, and they were often surprised when they saw the timer results (as it apparently didn't "feel" like it had taken any extra time to perform an unnecessary manipulation).

And, yes, I've also seen how an extra bit of unnecessary slide manipulation has sometimes introduced the potential for an unexpected "shooter induced" stoppage at an inopportune moment.

Being a long time 1911 owner/shooter, I come from a time when it was commonly taught to release a locked-back slide using the slide stop lever, and I do it without stopping to think about it, on a variety different pistol makes/models. Worked just fine while carrying issued S&W 3rd gen guns for going on 25 years, too (since they had ambi safety/decocking levers on the slides).

Training for circumstances being 'variable", though, I've also trained to run loading manipulations using my non-dominant hand, as well as clearing stoppages with both 1 & 2 hands.

Doesn't mean I didn't complain about being required to learn & perform different techniques as a younger firearms instructor, as the head instructor was a stickler for skills development and adaptability. I stopped minding the extra time spent on those drills after finding myself using a SIG DA/SA gun converted for Simunition at an outside class, where I found myself having to ID & clear a double-feed ... while diving onto the floor underneath a table during an "ambush" by a couple of "attackers". Didn't have to stop and think about it. Upon my return to my agency range, I thanked the head instructor for all those annoying practice sessions.
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Old May 29, 2014, 04:53 PM   #11
zombietactics
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Quote:
Tactical reload - there is a round in the chamber: There is no need to rack the slide; in fact, you will waste time and lose a round if you operate the slide.
Let's think this through carefully in context. (my opinion, YMMV)
  • You aren't in a competition where a timer determines a "win". You are in a fight where staying alive is the measure of success.
  • Staying alive means not getting shot (or stabbed, beaten, etc.) Shooting the attacker is only one of the tools you have available to achieve that.
  • WHY are you doing a tactical reload? If there is any reason to believe that the fight isn't over, that's not the time for a Tactical Reload.
  • IF you are at a point where the shooting has stopped, your first concern should be getting some combination of distance, (hard) cover and concealment. Those are the things most likely to prevent you from getting shot.
  • The better distance/cover/concealment you have, the less important that super-speedy Tactical Reload becomes.
  • IF you indeed have a round in the chamber (and maybe a couple still in the mag) ... that's faster time-to-shot than ANY reload. So if you are worried about time, it's not a good time for a tactical reload.
  • I have seen a LOT of "slide-closed-on-empty" occurrences. (I can post a video or two if you like. What's more important ... the one round you might burn, or being certain that there is indeed one in the chamber?
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Old May 29, 2014, 08:15 PM   #12
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I remember an Instructor, who insisted his Officers rack the slide on their Glock's, if the slide closed on a hard insert of a magazine, when the slide had locked back on an empty pistol. Also saw jams induced as well.

I have never failed to chamber a round in those circumstances.

But I must say the slide does not close on its own on my Glock 9mm pistols, I just use the extended slide release, to chamber a round same as Dave Sevigne did. It is quick.

But it still begs the question, you might be in real trouble, having expended 16 rounds?
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Old May 29, 2014, 10:46 PM   #13
zombietactics
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Quote:
I remember an Instructor, who insisted his Officers rack the slide on their Glock's, if the slide closed on a hard insert of a magazine, when the slide had locked back on an empty pistol.
I've wondered about this. I've heard reports of people "staging" the slide release and accidentally releasing the slide before the magazine was fully seated, but I can't say I've even seen it personally, or at least not often..
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Old May 30, 2014, 05:59 AM   #14
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[QUOTEI've wondered about this. I've heard reports of people "staging" the slide release and accidentally releasing the slide before the magazine was fully seated, but I can't say I've even seen it personally, or at least not often..
][/QUOTE]

Now as I think back, using my first Glock17, with my newly installed extended (after market) slide release, I did that! Fixed it, never done it since.

I am mainly speaking of watching rounds fly out, in every case! Monitoring a class.
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Old June 1, 2014, 08:46 PM   #15
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what you practice is what you will do when it goes south....and sometimes you won't even do that!

I saw a good guy with a 1911 return fire on two bad guys who then on the reload he racked a whole magazine through is gun during his first firefight.... fortunately others of us were there to take care of the badguys.

I saw a bad guy try to jam a full magazine into a semiauto pistol without first ejecting the spent magazine. he didn't survive the incident.

If the slide is closed and you reload, leave it that way when the new magazine goes in.

If it is locked back, release it.

If either fails to produce a bang when the trigger is pulled, go through tap rack bang.....

For training a couple of ideas. Shoot with a friend and reload mags for each other with various number of rounds as well as dummy rounds (or use snap caps). This will simulate a couple of problems and give you some practice. Pay attention to how long it takes the shooter to go into clear the failure mode. Second, you can't duplicate the adrenal rush but brisk exercise (sprinting, pushups, etc done HARD) will help. Third, you have to practice hard. That means push yourself.
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Old June 2, 2014, 12:33 AM   #16
Jeff22
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Always racking the slide after a reload?

In the 1980s and 1990s the Heckler & Koch International Training Division was very influential in police training in the US (this was when the MP5 SMG was very popular with police tactical teams) H&K had a lot of outstanding instructors and classes. {When H&K shut down their training division, many of their instructors joined an organization called the Team One Network.]

Due to a weird design flaw, H&K system long guns (MP5, HK91 and HK93, etc) DID NOT LOCK THE BOLT OPEN WHEN THE MAGAZINE WAS EMPTY. So, they trained their students to ALWAYS cycle the action upon a reload to make sure that they had a round in the chamber.

That made perfect sense if you were operating those long guns with that peculiarity of design. Does it make sense for all weapons all the time?

We just had this discussion at a pistol match a few weeks ago. A new shooter (who was running a Glock 17) was always racking the slide after a reload, even after accomplishing an in-battery reload where a round was already in the chamber. So he kept ejecting a live round to the deck after each reload.

He'd gone to some introductory training with a local instructor and that instructor advocated doing that so that you were always certain you had a round in the chamber.

I can see arguments both ways for doing that. I have also seen shooters do that and manage to create a malfunction because they did not cycle the slide with sufficient vigor.

I don't do that, but I don't necessarily think you're wrong if you DO do that, just know the why's and why nots.
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Old June 5, 2014, 12:22 PM   #17
Derbel McDillet
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Quote:
I remember an Instructor, who insisted his Officers rack the slide on their Glock's, if the slide closed on a hard insert of a magazine, when the slide had locked back on an empty pistol. Also saw jams induced as well.

I have never failed to chamber a round in those circumstances.
But when the slide releases unexpectedly when the magazine is seated it's not what you expect to happen. Unexpected events impact your decision-making, particularly the Orientation and Decision phases of your OODA Loop. When it happens you hesitate as you mentally labor to make sense of the unexpected situation and then make a decision what to do next. The result is it takes longer to get back into the fight.

Whereas if you train to immediately rack the slide as part of every Combat Reload then you don't hesitate because the action is intuitive. It's an ingrained response (Observe-Act) and you simply do as you've trained to do. You're back in the fight sooner because your OODA Loop hasn't been disrupted by the unexpected.
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Old June 5, 2014, 01:14 PM   #18
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

It's hard to convince people of this unless they've experienced it personally or observed it "in the wild" enough to make it real.

Generally, most who say "it's never happened to me" are being honest. They certainly aren't lying about it. They either haven't noticed it, don't remember it, or haven't trained enough under the right kind of circumstances and contexts to form a complete basis for their position. (I said generally, so don't get in a twist)

What I've observed is that those who use their thumb to release the slide tend to thumb the release anyway (if forceful insertion causes the slide to release) ... or there is a brief "huh wuh happin?" moment .. so there isn't a time savings in that case.

Those who overhand-rack the slide tend to just rack it anyway. If it's certain that the slide going forward at that time results in a chambered round ... yes, that's a slight waste of time.

I don't place much faith in "ooooh look ... bonus!" being recognized quickly enough to really result in a time savings.

I also offer the opinion that shaving nths-of-second off of reloads is low on the list of techniques with a statistically high survival value. My take is it's better to go with something consistent and reliable and focus practice/training time upon more important skills.
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Old June 6, 2014, 10:05 AM   #19
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No way in Hades I would ever allow myself to fire to empty mag, locked slide if I can avoid it. If the opportunity presents itself to reload, I will ALWAYS reload.
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Old June 6, 2014, 10:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csmsss
No way in Hades I would ever allow myself to fire to empty mag, locked slide if I can avoid it. ...
Are you imagining a protracted gunfight as your singular point of reference?
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Old June 6, 2014, 10:47 AM   #21
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Quote:
Are you imagining a protracted gunfight as your singular point of reference?
I'm certainly not ruling out the possibility, as you seem to be doing. Perhaps it is YOUR point of reference that is singular.

Let me put it plainly. If I have discharged my pistol and am no longer in a situation that requires or allows me to fire it, I'm most certainly going to reload. There simply is no point whatsoever in waiting for slide lock.
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Old June 6, 2014, 11:33 AM   #22
g.willikers
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If the so called tactical reload is the point of contention, here, don't 'most all firearms trainers teach that procedure?
Always load the gun with a fresh mag or loader, whatever the perceived situation.
Yes?
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Old June 6, 2014, 11:58 AM   #23
zombietactics
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Quote:
I'm certainly not ruling out the possibility, as you seem to be doing. Perhaps it is YOUR point of reference that is singular.
A protracted gunfight is so far into low-probability (for citizen self-defense) that it's difficult to find an instance. Of course it's far more likely for LE, and even more so for military. Given that I am in the first category, that's where I focus the majority of my efforts in terms of training and practice. I don't exactly rule out the possibility of a protracted fight, otherwise I would spend no time practicing reloads at all.

Quote:
Let me put it plainly. If I have discharged my pistol and am no longer in a situation that requires or allows me to fire it, I'm most certainly going to reload. There simply is no point whatsoever in waiting for slide lock.
We agree. I mistook your earlier comment to mean that you'd be topping-off mid fight, which sounded a bit iffy.
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Old June 9, 2014, 08:52 AM   #24
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Shoot a USPSA match in the divisions of Production-10 rounds per mag, Limited 10- 10 rounds per mag, and Single stack-1911 8 rounds mags. This will get you reloading on the clock and test your accuracy.
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Old June 9, 2014, 11:34 AM   #25
Vermonter
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Train For Your Reality

My training priorities include many things.

- Draw from concealment
-Time to first Hit
-Non Standard Response
-Use Of Cover
- Shoot / No shoot
-Multiple Threats
-Malfunction Drills
-Slide Lock Reload / empty cylinder revolver reload

I could think of more. Bottom line is a TAC reload does not reach my priority level. It seems more useful in gun games than it does in real life. I am not training to infuriate an Al quieda strong hold. I am training to survive a lethal force encounter in a general every day civilian role.

If I have time to "top off the gun" it is because I am behind cover and the threat may not even know my location. I am going to do my best to slow down and top off from there. In the heat of battle (so to speak) I am not going to be thinking top off the gun I am going to be thinking about how to end the encounter.

With all of the above being said my version of a tac reload would be form behind cover. Speed may be less important and I would be trying to have my weapon as full as possible. Therefore I would not rack the slide and waste a live round.

YMMV
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