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On Magazine Changes... fighting for your life

On Magazine Changes... fighting for your life

Firearms Training, Cajun Arms, West Chester, PA

Master the basics with firearms


Changing out a magazine in your pistol is not that difficult to master  - until you have to do it fast and under stress.

Some shooters will claim that competition gives you that stress level. I agree it will add stress, but not like having bullets fly by you because someone is trying to kill you.

Remember, you will lose your fine motor skills during an attack and any task requiring dexterity will be just about impossible. You must practice your pistol skill set to the point of "unconscious competence". In other words, complete muscle memory. Reloading a pistol quickly does require motor skill. We teach speed reloads using gross muscles as much as possible, but not every movement is such. If you were defending your life with pistol and your gun goes out of battery, it could be the final seconds of your life. Talk about pressure and stress!

Don't run the gun dry

Dave Spaulding is a proponent of not running your gun "dry". I tend to agree within reason. If you have 15 or more in your mag, this is more likely. If you only have 6, maybe not so easy. We teach our students to carry an extra magazine not so much for the extra ammo, but more because magazines fail or you may have a malfunction. It a lot easier to drop your mag on the deck knowing you have a full one on you. That being said, if you can fight your way to cover, an administrative reload is perfect. You will not know how many rounds you've shot. Take advantage of the situation and top your pistol off! If you have a  fresh mag maybe you will not need to run the gun dry and avoid slide lock.

I can hear it now. Why drop a mag that has ammo in it? This is true but are you willing to risk your life for a few rounds of ammo? If dropping a mag with an unknown quantity of ammo saves you a second or so, couldn't that be the difference between life and death? Never give up a known for an unknown. How many rounds did I drop? Who cares because I have 15 in my magazine I just loaded.

Tools in the toolbox

I don't believe there any hard and fast rules in self defense. You also do not want to have too many "tools in your toolbox", it could be confusing under stress. However, a few  good tools give you options and you should practice all of them. 

By all means practice your speed reload from slide lock to complete proficiency. Just also know that dropping that mag with some ammo in it for a fresh one could also save your life depending on the circumstances. I'm not going to get into the techniques in this short post on how to perform a speed reload. I will say, keep it simple, use gross motor skills, and DON"T PICK AT THE BACK OF THE SLIDE OF THE GUN! We are also not big fans of using the slide hold open lever to charge the gun. It's called the slide hold open, not slide release! Give your mag change protocol serious consideration. Don't go by what you saw on YouTube or what your buddy told he does at air soft. Remember, your life is what is at stake - decide what is best for your real wold scenarios. 

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