Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Revolver Myths
- Top Five Types of Revolver Grips
- Top Five Questions I Get as a Gun Owner
- Top Five Glock Enhancements
- Top Five Belly Bands
If revolvers get a bad rap for anything, it’s because in the ammo department they’re 1) relatively low capacity and 2) slow to reload when compared to almost all autos. And yet they persist as concealed carry guns.
As we’ve discussed here in the past, carrying a lower-capacity gun may not be such a big deal, as most armed conflicts require very few rounds (if any) to resolve. Still, if you carry a gun you should carry at least one reload, and if you carry a revolver, you can carry your reloads in a number of ways. Here then are my top five ways to carry a revolver reload.
1. Speed Strip
The speed strip uses a flexible carrier to hold six (or more) cartridges in a row by the rims of the cases. The strip can be dropped into a pocket or carried on some kind of belt carrier. When it’s time for a reload, you insert a round from the speed strip into an empty chamber and peel the speed strip away, allowing the round to drop the rest of the way into the chamber, and then continue doing so for each empty chamber.
Some speed strips are spaced just right to allow you to insert two cartridges into two adjacent chambers, increasing speed of reloading. Note that most speed strips can carry six rounds but are most often used to reload five-shot revolvers. Load that sixth round anyway; you never know when you might need it. Carry a second or third speed strip with .357 Magnum (assuming your revolver is a .357 Magnum, of course,) light-load .38s or snake shot to increase your options.
2. Belt Packet
If the speed strip isn’t your thing, consider carrying extra revolver ammo in a belt packet. This is a small snap-cover pouch that usually carries six rounds, nose-down, allowing you to easily grab them without having to dig in your pocket or otherwise fumble around.
Some belt packets arrange the extra rounds in pairs: when you grab for your rounds, you’ll grab two at a time and then recharge the empty chambers two at a time. These also typically carry six rounds, but again, go ahead and load up the belt packet with six even if you only have a five-shot revolver. You never know when you might need it.
Arguably one of the fastest ways to reload a J-frame or LCR is to reload all five empty chambers at once. A speedloader carries five rounds (or six or seven or eight, depending on model) in a configuration allowing them to be dropped into the empty chambers simultaneously.
Usually, the speedloader requires a twist or push of a knob to release the rounds, and they’re best carried on some kind of purpose-built belt pouch. You can also carry a loaded speedloader in your pocket but it’ll print, looking like you’re carrying a golf ball. Though it ought to go without saying, make sure to function-test your speedloaders before carrying them; some cylinders may not provide enough clearance from the frame of the gun or the cylinder release to allow a speedloader to function effectively.
Same goes for grips; too high or too thick of a grip will interfere with speedloader function. Oh, and once you drop the rounds into your revolver, don’t get hung up on pocketing the speedloader mid-fight. It’s a throwaway item, meant simply to get you back in the game.
A bandolier may seem a bit old school, and it is, but it can be a decent way to carry reloads assuming you keep those reloads concealed. (The bandolier I’m talking about is a simple belt slide model that carries 6 to 18 rounds, not the over-the-shoulder leather behemoth studded with dozens upon dozens of rounds seen in Westerns.)
Load up the bandolier and wear it where it is most natural and efficient to grab the rounds, which for me is weak side at 9 or 10 o’clock. Carrying via bandolier on a belt slide has some strengths: Rounds are located in an easy-to-reach position and grabbing them one by one means you are being intentional and probably more careful as you reload. If you drop one, just go for another.
Also, it doesn’t matter how many rounds your revolver holds, just keeping grabbing them off the bandolier until the revolver is full. You can also mix up the rounds if needed: first few from right to left are light loads, next few are snake loads, etc. Just keep track!
5. Loose Rounds
Loose rounds in a pocket may seem like the least efficient way to carry a revolver reload, and it may be. Like to admit it or not, loose cartridges in a pocket promote an inconsistent motion from pocket to gun and also force the extra steps of indexing and orienting the rounds one at a time.
There are some advantages, however. First, it is very easy to conceal such a reload, and you can walk around with as many loose rounds as you and your pocket can handle. Second, with a little practice, it’s possible to be able to quickly and deftly load a five-shot revolver as you can grab all five rounds at once and drop them in one by one. Six is a little more difficult and any number more than that, especially when you’re required to dip back into your pocket more than once, creates even more complexity, which decreases reload time.
As if it needs to be said, if you intend to carry loose rounds in a pocket, then carry nothing else is in that pocket – no pens, keys, coins, or anything else. And practice, practice, practice so you’re not just capable of reloading this way, but actually good at it.
If you carry a revolver as part of your EDC, let us know how many rounds your revolver holds and which means of carrying a reload suits you best.
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