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.