Reloads – To Look Or Not To Look That is the Question

Recently, Steve Fisher (aka the Yeti) of Sentinel Concepts shared, in a video, whether or not one should look at the magazine well during the reload. As he pointed out, it has been extremely rare for a civilian to have to reload during a self defense encounter. That said, I wanted to add a couple of things.

He pointed out the extra time that most people will waste trying to perform no-look reloads versus if they had just quickly glanced at the mag well. let’s break this down a touch further. Assume you have 2.5 seconds to perform a reload. Also, if you don’t accomplish it in that time, you die. If you can perform a 1.5 second reload with a quick glance at a magazine well, would you do that? Or would you burn a couple seconds of fumbling while keeping your eyes laser focused on the threat?

Keep in mind that if you do a quick glance at the magazine well, chances are good that it’s half a second or less. In Tueller Drill terms, that’s enough time for a threat to move about 10 feet. If they’re close enough that this is a concern, you best get that gun up and running. If they’re further away, it’s not too likely they’ll make it out of your field of view. Depending on how high you keep your gun, they may not even leave the field of your peripheral while you reload.

For those that choose to look there are a couple of things that can help. First, pick a specific point to look at each time reload, such as one corner of the magwell.. Some shooters I know also go as far as painting part of one side of the mag well with a bright color in the form of a single stripe in either direction.

“Oh but what if it’s too dark to see what I’m doing?” Much like Steve asks, my question would be how you think you’re going to shoot if it is that dark. If it is dark enough that you can’t see, how can the threat see you? Also, want to know a little secret? If you practice a lot, you will reinforce the appropriate neurological paths. This will make you be better in the light when you can see the mag well. That same effort will make it easier to reload in the dark.


The only problem is the actual need becomes a statistical anomaly of tiny number.

10 Replies to “Reloads – To Look Or Not To Look That is the Question”

  1. I have watched some videos of manly men standing up on their two hind legs and performing tactical reloads with speed and grace.
    My interest is survival, I’ll be moving as I draw my weapon and I’ll keep moving until the encounter ends.
    If I need to perform a reload I’ll likely be on the ground with my nose in the dirt or behind something that offers either concealment or cover.
    I spend a lot more time working on my awareness than anything else…

    1. If is the operative word there. And I think we can all agree that watching Travis Tomasie’s reload video is impressive.

  2. I’m not much for watching videos – though I do have videos of Clint Smith because I’ve trained with him. I’ll quote him; “I’m not gonna try to load fast I’m gonna load smooth…”

      1. Our old training mantra was “Smooth is slow which becomes fast”.

        I’ll own to being a Clint Smith fan; there are two people in the country that I decided would be worth trusting my Bride’s training to and Clint was the closer. Observing her class confirmed my choice – and she had so much “fun” that she wanted us to take a class together, which we later did. This is a long way of saying I still hold to the methods Clint taught because they make sense and his idea is to keep the gun between you and the threat rather than drawing it in.
        I had a LOT of training prior to Thunder Ranch; some of it was improved upon, some “validated” through use and examination and I still have one bad habit to break.

        1. See and that makes more sense if you think about it. Context is a huge detail that’s left out. Slow is good for learning to execute a new skill smoothly. Then add speed and video record it so you can see what you’re doing. Sometimes wasted movement creeps in. Though I suspect I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

          I haven’t made it to Thunder Ranch yet. I hope I can make it before Clint retires or gets dementia.

          1. DO NOT DELAY. I’m not saying Clint’s anything but his salty healthy self but as far as I know he IS “backing out” of things and there will be smaller classes and fewer of them.
            The best thing I can say is that I trusted Clint and Heidi to train my Bride – and my younger son before he deployed; the only other guy I have that kind of faith in is on the east coast.

          2. I’ve largely had to take this year away from doing any training. I hope to be able to resume things next year. I need to put him on the list.

    1. Yeah, he’s not the only one. Matt Graham’s typically book the same day they’re opened for registration.

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