Tag Archives: reloads

Look At Your Firearm While Reloading

There are too many people in the firearm world – especially when it comes to “real world” or “defensive” use of firearms – who hide behind the word “tactical” as an excuse for poor technique or performance.

Today I would like to discuss reloading, both of handguns and rifles. Basically, anything with a magazine. There are many things to discuss when it comes to reloads, and this is a topic I plan on covering in detail in the future. To be specific, I believe that looking at the firearm during the reload, whether I am fighting or gaming, is important and beneficial.

Some people protest that you should never take your eyes off the target during a reload – that doing so is only for competition or “gaming.” I beg to differ. If someone is trying to kill me while I reload, it isn’t going to matter if I glance down at my pistol for a fraction of a second. They are still going to be doing the most dangerous thing they could possibly do, which is…try to kill me. My steely gaze is not magically slowing down their bullets.

The most complicated portion of a reload – perhaps better termed as the easiest portion of a reload to screw up – is inserting the magazine. During the time which the magazine is approaching the magazine well, looking at my pistol will help me return it to shooting condition as fast as possible. The weapon is already in front of me, it’s not as if I need to turn my back to the threat to look at the magwell. If looking down speeds up my reloads, it follows that this will enable me to stay alive longer in a real gunfight.

It just so happens that this also makes split times faster during competition. Look, just because something is valued by a competition shooter (see the above linked photo of Bob Vogel) does not mean that it is immediately suspect for “tactical” or “gunfighting” purposes. It may or may not be useful, but it should be evaluated on its merits, not simply whether it is a “game” technique or not.


Here’s what Mike Pannone had to say on the topic:

You look at it with a quick glance. Anyone who says “no” isn’t realistic. I was taught in every shooting package I ever did by every unit I was in or contracted shooter I shot with that if you can see, you should glance down quickly (maybe .20 sec) to ensure proper orientation and insertion of magazine. If you do this properly you are creating the proper procedural memory. This will allow you to perform the act even when you can’t see because you orient the pistol to your body and oncoming magazine the same way every time. You lose nothing in quantifiable situational awareness that you wouldn’t lose by blinking 2 times in rapid succession but you are affording yourself the highest likelihood for success.  If it is at night and you have NVG’s you may still glance down because that is part of the action but with time your situational awareness of limited vision will remove that. With any useful vision available I will look, without I won’t.

Summary- Looking for a split second when vision is available is the way every great shooter (military, L/E and sport) I know does it. They do this for a specific reason and that is to have the best likelihood of success without loss of situational awareness.

If you get the chance to take any courses taught by Mike, I would highly recommend doing so.