what is tactical reload

What Is A Tactical Reload?

Browse a few concealed carry forums, videos and articles, and you'll likely encounter some discussion about something called the tactical reload. It is an actual reloading technique, so it doesn't mean just reloading your gun while wearing special clothes.


It's also something that's occasionally recommended as part of regular defensive shooting drills. But should it be? For the average Joe...maybe.


What IS the Tactical Reload?

tactical reload

The "tactical reload" is a reloading technique where a partially-used magazine is replaced with a fresh magazine so running out of ammunition is less likely, while reserving the partially used magazine just in case.


Imagine a hypothetical person is shooting at a hypothetical shooting range. This fictional person has a spare magazine somewhere on their person and/or is carrying it on their gun belt. They fire a few shots, releases the magazine but retains it while drawing their spare magazine and inserting it into their pistol. The magazine that's had a few shots fired from it is placed in their magazine carrier or somewhere else about their person as a reserve.


That's the tactical reload.


It's different from other reloading techniques such as the speed reload, which is where a person simply drops the previous magazine and inserts a new one as fast as possible.


There are also a number of tactical reload drills out there, some mirroring courses of fire from some pistol qualification courses. Again, it's just a reloading technique, so learning or practicing it won't turn you into The Grand Kung Fu Handgun Wizard or something.


What's The Point Of This Method Of Reloading?


reloading method

In fairness, this reloading technique has practical applications so it isn't necessarily to be dismissed out of hand.


Say a soldier or policeman engages in a certain amount of gunfire prior to entering a building. How many people are inside is unknown, so a tactical reload would be a good idea before busting through the door. That way, said hypothetical person doesn't necessarily have to worry about reloading under fire and still has some rounds left in their magazine left in reserve.


The primary advantage is that it puts a full load in your gun, while keeping any remaining rounds in the previous magazine in reserve. The primary disadvantage is that it takes a certain amount of coordination and certainly practice to do it efficiently and moreover, takes more time than other reloading methods. As a result, it's also recommended that tactical reloads take place behind cover.


Should I Bother With Tactical Reload Drills?


benefits of tactical reload

Reloading drills, including tactical reload drills are a topic of some discussion within the concealed carry community. Some question whether it's worth bothering with drilling reloading or carrying a spare magazine at all for the armed citizen.


A lot of evidence suggests most defensive shootings are over very quickly, and with few rounds fired. Some, however, are not.


The truth is that you don't know how anything is going to turn out. You don't know if you'll ever have to draw your gun, let alone shoot anyone. You don't know if one shot will be all that is necessary. Additionally, one of the most common failures in semi-auto pistols is a magazine failure, which learning the tactical reload can help teach a person to overcome.


In short, the tactical reload is something that you might not need to know...but it's a very good idea if you do.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.