Many trainers advocate performing a tactical reload as part of an after action assessment after shots have been fired. Recently, I listened to a firearms instructor talking about pistol reloads in the context of civilian defensive gunfights. I’m not going to name him here, but I did want to discuss one of his ideas.
I agree with his premise that most average concealed carriers that need to use their gun will never need to reload. I also agree that reloading after a shooting is nonetheless a good idea, just in case the bad guy’s friends show up to continue the fight.
What I disagree with is his advice to proactively rack the slide after a tactical reload, just to make absolutely sure that there is a live round in the chamber. Now, if you are somebody that frequently rides the slide lock with your thumb (preventing the slide from locking back on empty), or if you carry a gun that doesn’t lock back on an empty magazine (Ruger LCP for example), then perhaps this makes sense. However, I’d like to offer some alternative advice for these situations.
If we accept that we are only going to perform a tactical reload (or a reload with retention, if you prefer) during a lull in the action when it appears safe to do so, then why not simply also perform a press check to verify that a round is chambered after reloading? If you are concerned about keeping your eyes up and on potential threats, then perform a tactile chamber check. And truthfully, you’re probably going to have to glance at the magazine well to index the magazine for your reload anyway. You can briefly glance at the chamber as well. After all, isn’t the point of a tactical reload to top off the gun and have as many rounds as possible available to us? Now consider the situation if you are carrying a small pistol with limited capacity such as the Ruger LCP or a Glock 43. If you automatically rack the slide after a tactical reload , you have just reduced your immediately available ammunition by as much as 14 percent! Instead, just verify that a round is chambered, and fix it if not!
A quick Google search revealed that I’m not the only one to have ever thought about this, but I don’t ever recall encountering this specific advice in any of the training classes that I’ve taken. Rather, ammo management has typically been left up to the individual student, with the expectation that either an emergency reload or tactical reload would be performed as appropriate to the situation. In other words, keep the gun loaded and running.
Perhaps the above suggestion is something that you may want to consider integrating into your training if your pistol does not reliably lock back on an empty magazine. As the old saying goes, “train like you fight, and fight like you train!” In the spirit of that saying, I doubt I’ll start reflexively checking my chamber after tactical reloads, simply because I don’t own any pistols that don’t reliably lock open when empty and in all of the hundreds of tactical reloads I’ve performed, I’ve always gotten a bang instead of a click after reloading. In other words, train according to your own unique situation and requirements.
If you have a different viewpoint, I’d like to hear it! Comments and questions are always welcome.