Friday, November 22, 2013

Revolver reloading related ruminations

Mostly, I carry a pistol instead of a revolver.  There, I said it.  I do favor a semi-auto.

That said, there always seems to be a revolver of some kind in the vicinity.  If not on my person, then buried in an inside coat pocket in a Nemesis holster, or snuggled into a likely place in my vehicle.

Reloading the G-30, well that's easy.  Spare magazines...... drop the old and in with the new.  Sheezam, all topped up again.  The revolvers..... well..... there's not so obvious an answer there.   Ya'll hang on while I organize my thoughts here.

Generations ago, when all officers carried wheel guns, the common reload method was a dump pouch on the duty belt.  Pop the snap on the bottom, and it dropped six rounds in your hand.  This was one step up from carrying loose ammo in your pocket (something I will admit to doing on occasion).

Later on, 'Speedloaders' became the favored reload method for revolvers.  Rigid plastic or metal frames that held the required cartridges in perfect alignment for the revolver in question.  Eject the spent rounds, insert the speedloader-held cartridges into the cylinder, and then convince the speedloader to let go and get out of the way.  This is faster and generally more efficient than loading cartridges one at a time by hand.   If you care to see just how FAST a master of revolver reloading with speedloaders can be, go read up on Jerry Miculek's site.  That man is just plain astounding in his skills.

Another way to carry revolver cartridges in an organized manner is the 'Speed Strip', which is nothing more than a rubbery dingus with formed holes to grasp the cartridge rims and keep them lined up.  In use the cartridge is shoved into the emptied cylinder and the speed strip just twisted off sideways.  Rinse and repeat til the cylinder is full.  People good at it can do two holes at a time.

Loose 'katridges, speedloaders, speed strips......  what to choose?   Whose ox do I gore here?

Well, The Old Fat man decided on a mix of the above, as the situation merits.  Each method has it's pros and cons, and since this is MURICA! we can do as we darn well please.

 Since there is likely to be a .38(ish) revolver in the vehicle, there is usually a box of cartridges there as well.  Kind of a 'well endowed' dump pouch if you will.  For speedier reloads, there are speedloaders in the console.

Speedloaders are way faster than speed strips for a reload (so says I, but YMMV), but they have a downside as well.  They are darn difficult to just drop in a pocket and carry.  A loose coat pocket.... no big problem.  A tighter pants pocket.... gonna stick out like a lump of coal.The only really good way to carry a speedloader is in a belt mounted pouch designed for that.  Having some in the vehicle console.... no issues at all.   So there they be.

When carrying a wheel gun on my body, as a BUG perhaps (Back Up Gun), I really don't want to deal with having a speedloader pouch on my belt.  Besides, such would upset my G-30 which *IS* on my belt, and it might develop an attitude.

So, for on-body carry, I use Speed Strips.  Two such critters can all but vanish in a spare vest pocket, giving me twelve rounds of comforting backup with barely a wisp of trouble to carry.

Choosing a speedloader, one is faced with only two real choices  (outside competition shooting that is).  The one made by HKS, and the Safariland Comp II.

For years, my speedloaders were all HKS.  Why?  Because they were on the racks at local shops, and they were a few dollars cheaper.  Now that I am older, wiser, and that extra $2 is not quite so critical...... I took a look at the Safariland offerings.

Damn, I was a fool.

The two speedloaders, HKS and Safariland, do the same job but in different ways.  To use the HKS unit, one drops in the cartridges base first and simply twists the knob on the back to lock them in.  To release the cartridges into the cylinder, just twist the knob back the other way and give 'er a wiggle.  Easy peasy and with practice it's not hard at all.

The Safariland, on the other hand, is more of a pain to load up.  It requires placing the cartridges into the speedloader, flipping it bullet first onto a hard surface, and then spinning a nob on the back of  the speedloader to lock them in place.  Reloading the pistol using the Safariland Comp II, now that's a different story.  It requires nothing more than shoving the cartridges into the revolvers cylinder, and the Comp II will automatically release at that point.  From there, just flick the speedloader aside as you close the cylinder and you are back in business.  No fiddly knobs, no twisty this or tweedle that.  Simply shove it in, lock 'er down, and go back to shooting.

Of some critical importance.... the loaded Comp II is significantly smaller than the HKS unit, and security of cartridge retention is significantly better in my opinion.

Guess which speedloader I choose now?

When it comes to using a speedloader with a revolver, one must be sure it fits.  Many revolver stocks need a little trimming to clear the speedloader, and snubbies often just don't have the crane swing to give enough clearance.  The only way to know on your own revolver is to try it.

There you have it.  Revolver reloading on the go; My thoughts on the matter.  These are all for carry purposes now, as I do nothing more fancy at the range than an ammo can full of cartridges.   For reload practice, I have sets of dummy .38/.357 cartridges I made up.  A little time each week practicing reloads keeps my hand in, and makes watching the news oh-so-much more interesting......


Comrade Misfit said...

I use the A-zoom snap caps. Because they're a completely different color from live ammo. And maybe I'd make sure that the dummy ammo that I'd made was different from live ammo, but brass is brass and I can see making that mistake.

Papa Bear said...

For my wife's J-Frame (S&W Bodyguard .38), the Safariland J-C7 COMP I is great. Plenty of clearance, not much bigger than the rounds, and same quick release.

Carteach said...

Comrade, good thoughts.

Papa Bear, I'm not throwing away my HKS, but any new ones I buy will be Safariland Comp II's. I wish a handful for this Mdl 10. It's a fine shooter, and I think it's worth buying extras.

Old NFO said...

Issue is availability of the Safariland units... sigh

Carteach said...

NFO my friend, I know you like those backward turning pistols. What model would you like speedloaders for?

Murphy's Law said...

I loves me my Safariland Comp II speedloaders. They have all of the advantages that you mention plus one: You can step on them and they'll survive, unlike the more rigid/brittle HKS loaders that just crack underfoot.
(Hey, us prosthetically-enhanced folks accidentally step on lots of stuff...sue us.)

I just wish that Safariland would make loaders for the S&W .41 Magnums.

I also want to mention the fastest way by far to reload a revolver: Moon clips!