This is a topic that seems to get some debate. So let's look at the tactical reload for a bit. The tactical reload, or reload with retention, is used to put a full magazine into the gun when the current magazine is not full, e.g. after firing some rounds. It is often instructed to be performed during a "lull in the fight". It is certainly more of an administrative function rather than a combat function and should never be done while under fire, however there are many "combat" gun courses that use a tactical reload on the clock during a course of fire and it is often seen in IPSC and IDPA shoots. While it can be performed quickly, a tactical reload should be saved until you have made every effort to ensure your world is clear and there is no impending threat. Don't be in a hurry to do a tactical reload.
There are two basic methods to performing a tactical reload. The first is to take a full magazine with your support hand and bring it up to the gun. You then release the partial magazine from the gun into your support hand next to the full magazine, followed by inserting the full magazine into the gun. The partial magazine is then secured back on your person.
Some key points to doing this. First, you must make a full 360° sweep of the area to ensure you are clear of threats. It is also good form to have hard cover between you and the original threat direction if possible. If you are carrying more than one spare magazine, you should do the tactical reload with the secondary magazine, which leaves the primary magazine ready for a speed load if another fight breaks out. With duty gear, the primary is generally the one closest to the belt buckle.
Grab the magazine in a standard speed load grip with the index finger lying on the front of the magazine and the finger tip at the first bullet. Pull your gun back so it is in front of your chest and still pointing down range while you are getting the magazine. By the way, your finger is out of the trigger guard throughout this process.
When you bring your support hand up to the gun, hold the fresh magazine on the support side of the pistol grip with the palm of your hand under the magazine well. Eject the magazine with your strong hand thumb (or index finger for left-handers using a right handed gun) and let the magazine base hit your palm. Extract the magazine, grasping it between either your middle and ring or ring and pinkie fingers.
Immediately move the fresh magazine into position and insert it in normal fashion. Take care that it is firmly seated and locked into position as you'll be pushing it home against the spring pressure on the ammo, unlike a slide-lock reload which will seat easily. Failure to properly seat the magazine can induce a Type-1 malfunction (failure to fire) on your second shot.
Secure the partial magazine back into your secondary position. This is where a lot of the debate comes in. There are many who teach shooters to put a partial magazine into a pocket or even place it backwards into the magazine pouch. They claim this is so you will know it is a partial magazine. My next question is always, "So now the rest of the BG's gang shows up and you are shooting to save your life. The gun runs dry and you have to speed load, but you've placed your only remaining magazine into your pocket or backwards in your pouch. In the heat of the moment, do you want to be trying to dig that mag out of your pocket or bring it up to the gun from the pouch backwards causing you to fumble a critical speed load?" I always put the partial magazine back into the pouch in a normal, bullets-forward configuration. If you are down to your last mag, it won't matter if it has 2, 5, or 15 rounds in it, you need to get it in the gun right now and fight your way out of there.
The second method used for a tactical reload is to first remove the magazine from the gun and secure it. You then grab and load your full magazine into the gun. This is usually taught to people who have difficulty manipulating two magazines in their support hand. If it is the only way you can get the gun reloaded, then so be it. However you'll be better off if you can learn to do it by the previous method.
Here's the problem with method two. It leaves the gun empty for a much longer period of time while you are fumbling around magazines. If your magazine pouch(es) are full, you'll have to secure the magazine elsewhere before you can grab your fresh magazine. To counter this, I suggest placing the partial magazine, temporarily, into the belt behind your mag pouch, then grab the fresh mag and speed load it. Now come back with your support hand and properly place that partial mag into the secondary pouch position, again in a normal orientation. Ensure that your fullest magazine remains in the primary position.
Following a tactical reload, you would again perform a 360° scan of your world to ensure it is still clear. At this point, you would generally be reholstering your weapon and taking appropriate follow up steps from the gunfight you were just in (calling 911, rendering aid to the injured, etc).
With military or LE teams, prior to starting your reload you would call out "reloading" and your closest teammate(s) would adjust to cover you and your sector of fire. As soon as you are done, you say "ready" and resume your sector while they return to theirs.
Most of what you say is good. Thanks for posting.
Although tactical reloads in IPSC is rarely seen and never required. IDPA on the other hand requires it quite freqent.
One might consider becoming proficiant enough in manipulating the weapon WHILE scanning his/her environment. Taking your eyes off of potential threats could cost you big.
I always get a kick out of folks broadcasting they are out of commision breifly. However I could imagine situations where I would broadcast I am reloading when I really wasn't.....
Good clarification on scanning. I always teach toward the goal of not looking at the gun during any manipulation. Head up and looking at where you're going... 'cause we know you're moving at the same time, right?
When I did my first training on team tactics, I also thought that telling everyone when you were loading or working a malfunction seemed silly. However, it soon became apparent that this is not a bad thing to do when working with a tactical team. First, you're not yelling it out to the bad guys, you are saying it to your closest teammates just loud enough to overcome any ambient noise. If you don't tell someone that you're out of service, then the area you are supposed to be covering is unsecured and no one has your back. By letting your team know, the guy to each side of you widens his scan area to include your zone and they wait until you are ready before continuing with the operation. If there is a hidden bad guy who hears you are reloading and decides it is time to attack, he will be quickly intercepted by your trustworthy and vigilant teammates.
With all that said, it is faster to do a slide-lock speed load, and many are preferring that you shoot until you run dry or the job is finished and don't worry about doing all these tactical loads. In either case, the time from the utterance of "loading" to "ready" should always be less than 2 seconds. And the time from "malfunction" to "ready" should be less than 3 seconds for Type 1 or 2 and less than 7 seconds for Type 3, so it really doesn't give your opponent much time to react.
Hopefully you’re not trying a tactical reload while moving. If you’re moving and need to reload you’re more then likely are in the emergency speed load mode.
I was never big on the tactical reload while in a gunfight. Mostly because being afraid of an empty gun is not one of my concerns as it can be fixed easily enough. I however do a so called Tactical reload ( Tactical Loading of weapon) everyday when I load my gun prior to putting it in the holster. Insert magazine, chamber round, then perform the Tact reload and holster. Then top off short mag.
Several years back we were training with some elite high speed team operators. The goal was to teach clearing techniques when situations require you do so without team members (alone, such as civilians may have to do when families may be threatened). It was difficult for some of them to quit communicating with the bad guys when they where slide locked or had malfunction. It was quite amusing.