Snub Training – Loading strips with 4-Rounds (re-edit)

September 23, 2009

But why load only four rounds in each strip? Because loading four rounds in a five (or six) round snub is disproportionally faster than loading five rounds. Generally when timed and when using a loading strip filled with four-rounds, most five shot snub shooters are not 20% faster loading (four rounds insertion time vs. five rounds insertion time) but 30% to 50% faster. (Amount of time save will vary with individual shooters.) This is because the first two rounds can be inserted into any of the five available charge holes. (Inserted two-at-a-time the first two rounds can be inserted in empty charge hole numbers 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, or 5-1) The next two rounds have two loading options as regards the three remaining charge holes (charge holes 3-4 or 4-5) Most of the lost time (four rounds being 30% to 50% faster to load than five rounds) is spent trying to isolate and orient the last available round with the last available charge hole. Well four rounds now have to be of more value than an additional fifth or sixth round in a few more seconds. On the range and in a fight don’t waste half-again more time trying to line up that last round with that last charge hole.  Load four; it’s faster and get back in the fight now. Not enough time? – Load two rounds and get back in the fight. Still don’t have enough time? Load ONE ROUND and get back in the fight.

 

Before discussing this further it is important to note that a five-shot snub loaded with four rounds is not 80% loaded. It is 100% loaded, four times over. Too many shooters too easily dismiss the lesson that the single round makes the firearm 100% loaded.  I would like to remind the shooters who consider a partially filled cylinder a partially loaded revolver that CHP Officer Pence was murderer in Newhall, CA many years ago while trying to fill the cylinder of his duty revolver rather than shoot down his killer with his partially filled but fully loaded revolver.

 

If the shooter has time and insists that the snub must be loaded full and if the situation will safely permit it then access the second loading strip and load the last charge hole. These are a few of the reasons I believe carrying two 4-round loading strips gives the shooter multiple loading options.

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How Many Rounds in a loading strip (re-edit)

September 22, 2009

Before reviewing any loading strip reloading method we should stop and consider how many rounds the loading strip should be filled with. There are several schools of thought regarding the number of rounds the loading strip should be filled with. 

Many shooters like to fill the six-hole loading strip with six rounds. Unfortunately filling all six holes makes quick dexterous manipulation of the loading strip difficult.  Filling the loading strip full leaves no convenient area with which to retain control of the strip and little room for applying leverage for peeling rounds off and into the cylinder’s charge holes.  If six rounds in a six round loading strip is less than optimal what is the right quantity?

Nationally known firearms trainer Massad Ayoob prefers to carry a single six-round loading strip down loaded to five rounds to reload his back-up snub. Why five rounds in a six hole loading strip? Massad was the first to note the advantage in loading up the speed strip with only five rounds. Leaving the empty hole on the loading strip end closest to the tab allows for faster, more positive reloading. Massad’s reloading method employs the use of the shooter’s strong hand index finger laid along the back of the speed loader and is predicated on his StressFire methodology. A complete description of his StressFire methods is outlined in his excellent book of the same title. 

Massad’s argument for five rounds is good but I have an alternative philosophy regarding the quantity, ammo count and dispersal of loading strips. I prefer to carry a pair of six-hole loading strips with each filled with four rounds.

I have several reasons for advocating the carrying of two loading strips each filled with four rounds. Most students assume that my number one reason is that carrying eight rounds is preferable to carrying five or six rounds. While true I only count the additional rounds as fourth on a four reason list. Reason one, with two loading strips if I ever drop or loose a loading strip I have a second strip I can reach for rather that hunt on the ground for my lost dropped strip. Reason two, by keeping one strip in my front pocked and a second in my back pocked I have the option of accessing a strips and reloading when in either a face-up or face-down position. Reason three, because I am generally carrying a pair of snub revolvers, one of which I am prepared to pass off to “a trusted other” in an emergency. This includes my wife, a friend or a visiting trainer who may not legally be carrying in my home state. The availability of a second strip gives me the option of handing off spare ammunition to that person along with the snub.


Snub Training – Reloading with the loading strips (Re-edited)

September 16, 2009

Having filled the loading strips with rounds the shooter now has an option of four techniques for pealing off the rounds and loading them in the cylinder’s charge holes. The shooter can:

One – Twist the loading strip counter-clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against the face of the cylinder.

 Two – Twist the loading strip clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against the face of the cylinder.

 Three – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, forward and away from the shooter.

 Hour – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, rearward and toward the shooter.

Of the four techniques numbers One and Two are the least popular. Both of these techniques are failure prone. Both techniques habitably release additional rounds out of the loading strip and drop them onto the floor. 

There are three reasons that both these techniques tend to drop rounds.

First, when twisting off the first two inserted rounds a third round will regularly contact the outer wall of the cylinder. This contact with the cylinder’s wall levers the third round out of the loading strip causing it to fall to the ground. 

Second, when the loading strip is being twisted it is often also being flexed in a cork-crew fashion. The additional twisting rotation opens up the holding holes and permits the rounds to fall out of the loading strip.

Third, the first and second problems can occurred in concert with each other. If the mechanics of the first problem is not sufficient to dislodge extra rounds then the mechanics of the second problem is often enough to finish the job.

Part of the solution is to vigorously dissuade shooters from using either of these methods while practicing reloading from loading strips.

Either of the remaining loading strip techniques will avoid the above noted problems. Both remaining techniques enjoy vocal advocates and knowledge of both methods should be in every snub owner’s collection of reloading techniques.


Snub Training – Loose Rounds (Re-edit)

September 4, 2009

There are several reasons why a shooter might want to practice reloading skills using only one, two or three loose rounds. 

1 – A partially loaded cylinder is a fully loaded weapon. This lesson often needs reminding.

Try a simple test. If the cylinder holds five rounds and you load the cylinder with four rounds then what percentage is the gun loaded? Here is a hint – four divided by five is eighty percent. So by what percentage is the gun loaded loading if you load four rounds in a five shot revolver? If you said eighty percent you need to rethink you gun handling. Four rounds loaded into a five round cylinder means the gun is loaded one-hundred percent. A single round loads the gun one-hundred percent. You do not need the cylinder full to have a loaded weapon. At least one of the four policemen killed during the Newhall, CA shootout was reported to have died trying to load his sixth of six rounds into his duty revolver. That man died holding a weapon that was already loaded five times over. Might that officer have been better served by his instructors if they had taught him a partially loaded cylinder is a fully loaded gun? Isn’t it sometimes better to get back in the fight with a loaded revolver rather than taking the time to fill a cylinder?

2 – A partially loaded cylinder helps a shooter develop a flinch free shooting habit. Load only one or two rounds per cylinder and you will self-correct yourself every time the hammer falls on an empty cylinder and you flinched anticipating a live round.

3 – A partially loaded cylinder will help demonstrate how much more quickly you can cycle through to a live round rather than trying to manually index an available live round.

Here is a simple two-part training exercise. You will need a friend with either a stopwatch or a PACT style timer and a safe shooting area.  Start with a single round. Have your friend start the timer as soon as he gives you a load signal. You can load the single round into any available charge hole. When the round is in the cylinder’s charge hole manually index the cylinder so that with the next pull of the cylinder the round will come under the hammer. Find your target, aim and fire. Have your friend record the time from the load signal to your first shot.

Now repeat the drill with one small change. After loading the single round into the cylinder make no effort to mechanically index the cylinder.  Simply close the cylinder and trigger through the empty charge holes until the round rotates to the fire position. Remember to keep the muzzle pointed at your target and in a safe direction. Again have your friend record the time from the load signal to your first shot.

Compare the time differences between manually indexing the round versus reflexively triggering past the empty charge holes.  You will almost certainly find that triggering past the empty charge holes is statistically faster than trying to manually indexing the next available round. This knowledge can be of valuable in certain self-defense situation

4 – If a shooter is in the habit of indexing the cylinder he may need to be reminded that under stress a partially loaded cylinder will not automatically index itself.

Once when I was at the SIG Academy I set up the following artificial drill. I told the shooter that he would have time to load two rounds but that he was to reload against the clock. As soon as he loaded his two rounds he was to turn to the target and get off two fast, accurate shots. If he got off both rounds in under four seconds he would pass the drill. The shooter rushed to get both rounds loaded, turned to the target and still racing the clock pulled the trigger three times. Click-Click-Click.  Believing the rounds had misfired he dropped his shoulders in defeat and we suspended the drill.  When I asked him why he stopped he told me that the rounds failed to fire. No, I reminded him, the gun was still hot. He was so used to loading the gun and indexing the cylinder that he came to condition himself to believe that the gun will do it for him in an emergency.


Snub Training – Ayoob’s StressFire reload

August 26, 2009

 
There are two schools of thought on optimizing a revolver reload with the loading strip. The first is from master firearms trainer Massad Ayoob. 

1 – Fill your loading strip with five rounds while keeping the holding hole closest to the loading strip’s flange tab empty.

2 – Hold your open and unloaded revolver in your left hand. Be sure to position the open revolver’s ejector rod between the index and middle finger of the left hand and keep it close to the web of the two fingers. This is in keeping with Massad Ayoob’s mechanics of his StressFire reloading method. For more detailed information on this reloading method please see his book StressFire.

3 – Hold the loading strip in your shooting hand with your thumb and ring finger holding the sides of the loading strip.  Place your index finger along the length of the back of loading strip with its flange tab closest to your wrist.

4 – Insert the two side-by-side rounds that are under the pad of your index finger into two side-by-side charge holes of the cylinder.  Keep the pad of your index finger on the loading strip and directly over these two inserted rounds.

5 – Lever out the rounds by peeling the loading strip forward and away from you.  Remember to peel in a straight line in relationship to the strip and do not attempt to twist rounds out of the loading strip.

6 – When the first two rounds fall into the cylinder’s charge hole, insert the next two rounds in the same fashion but do not attempt to remove these two rounds yet.  Release the sides on the loading strip. Hook the tip of your right index finger under part of the loading strip that a moment ago held the first two released rounds. 

7 – With the pad of your thumb on top of the loading strip and over the two new rounds peel the strip in a straight line back toward you and your center line.

Remember to keep the pad of your thumb on that portion of the loading strip that is holding these two fresh rounds. This will aid in levering out the rounds and prevent the loading strip lifting off the rear of the cylinder and taking the rounds with it.

 

8 – Load your fifth and last round in the same fashion you just loaded the above two rounds. Drop the loading strip and return to the target. 

 

This reloading method is very effective for shooters reloading with either of the Ayoob’s StreeFire techniques or any of the FBI-style reloading methods. Please note that with all six of these methods the shooter’s dominant hand does the reloading and his non-dominant hand holds the revolver.  As the snub training material I prefer to advocate is predicated on the shooter’s non-dominant hand doing the reloading and his dominant hand holding the revolver the above StressFire reloading technique cannot be the primary advocated method. Before describing an alternative “Auto-Pistol” reloading method in detail I want to note that a thoroughly skilled revolver shooter should be familiar with all reloading methods; StressFire, FBI-styles and my own.


Snub Training – Failing with loading strips

August 25, 2009

Having filled either the Speed- or QuickStrip with rounds, the shooter now has four options for pealing off the rounds and loading them in the cylinder’s charge holes. The shooter can:

1 – Twist the loading strip counter-clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against and parallel to the face of the cylinder.

2 – Twist the loading strip clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against and parallel to the face of the cylinder.

3 – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, forward and away from the shooter.

4 – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, rearward and toward the shooter.

Each of these four release techniques has its advocates. Of the four techniques number 1 and 2 are the least popular. Both techniques are fumble prone and both habitably drop rounds out of the loading strip and onto the floor.

There are three reasons that both techniques 1 and 2 tend to be prone to dropping rounds.

First, while twisting out the first two rounds the third round contacts the outer wall of the cylinder. Contact with the cylinder’s wall helps lever the third round out of the loading strip causing it to fall to the ground.  

Second, while the loading strip is being twisted it is often unintentionally being flexed in a cork-crew fashion. The additional yawing twist opens up the holding holes and permits the rounds to fall out of the loading strip.

Third, problem one and problem two occurred  in concert with each other. If the mechanics of one problem is not enough to dislodge extra rounds the mechanics of the second situation is enough to finish the job.

Part of the solution is to vigorously dissuade shooters from using either of these methods while practicing reloading from loading strips.

Either of the two remains loading strip techniques will circumvent the above noted problems. Both remaining techniques enjoy vocal advocates and knowledge of both methods should be in every snub owner’s collection of snub reloading techniques.


Snub Training – Speedloader tips

August 9, 2009

As noted in the section on Stocks not all speedloaders work with common “combat” stocks.  Please thoroughly test your current speedloaders with your stocks both with and without gloves before you bet you life on them.

SPEEDLOADER SKILLS

These are a few speedloader tips worth passing along.  The first comes from Ed Lovette in his text The Snubby.

(Photo 1 here) Ed offers the following: “Don’t attempt to load all five of six rounds (depending on your revolver of choice) into all five or six charge holes in the cylinder.  Just concentrate on loading two rounds into the charge holes under you thumb. […] Trust me the rest will follow.”

(Photo 2 here)It should be noted that when Ed advocates that the two guiding rounds being inserted should be indexed under your thumb it is because he prefers a more classical FBI style reloading method.  As an advocate for the lesser known “auto-pistol” reloading method I support the “aim-two, load-five” tip except that I prefer to aim for the two charge holes closest to the tip of your right hand’s index finger when reloading a snub held in the right hand.  For this to work the snub needs to be fitted with a set of stocks that are properly relieved for speedloaders. Most stocks are not properly relieved so please check first.

When reloading the snub held in the left hand with either the FBI or the “auto-pistol” manual of arms Ed’s recommendation about indexing under the thumb remains in effect.

FILLING THE SPEEDLOADER

(Photo 3 here)Filling the speedloader is distinct from reloading with the speedloader.  As a general rule the directions included with each maker’s speedloader are straight forward.  Nonetheless there are a few items worth passing along regarding filling speedloaders.  Six-round D- and K-frame sized speedloaders can be quickly loaded with the aid of a loading block. The loading blocks can be a helpful range tool, are inexpensive and is still available from Safariland.  If you do purchase one for your range practice you may wish to add a small 1/4 inch strip of skate board tape around all four sides of the base.  This gives a better purchase when moving or transporting a block loaded with ammunition.

(Photo 4 here) One speedloader that could use a load block is the 5-shot J-frame sized Safariland Comp I.  Filling a five-round Comp I speedloaders is down right anoying compaired to filling the nearly identical six-round Comp I. With practice the Comp I speedloader can be as convenient to load as any speedloader, but many J-frame sized snub owners are casual shooters and many won’t take the time to learn how to lock in the rounds when using the five-round Comp I. 

A very effective home made tool I use in class to address the issue is a 9mm Ruger moon clip, produced for Ruger’s 9mm SP-101 snubs and fitted with five-rounds of either spent 9mm or .380 brass.  To load the Comp I pick up the five shot Comp I and insert your five .38 rounds.  Now pick up the loading tool with your free hand and slip the empty cases over the bullet noses of the currently unlocked rounds in the speedloader.  Remember to follow Ed Lovette’s advice to “aim-two, load-five.”  Once the five empty cases of the loading tool are on top of the bullet noses, cover the loading tool with the palm of your left hand and invert the combined unit.  This will orientate the small locking nipple of the Comp I up.  You can now 1) press down on the nipple and give it a quick 2) clockwise twist to lock in the rounds.  In my snub classes I keep the loading tool handy with a short length of key ring chain and attach both to a de-jamming tool. (See more on the de-jamming tool below)

There is one speed loading tip that works well with HKS style loaders but can be used with almost any speedloader.  This reloading tip is a variation on Massad Ayoob’s StressFire method for reloading the revolver but can be applied to the speedloader. 

(Photo 5 here) With Mas Ayoob’s StressFire reload, the ejector rod of the revolver is pinched between the index finger and the middle finger with the ejector rod kept closest to the web of the hand at the base of both these fingers.  With the revolver, this hand position holds the open cylinder in a “cup and saucer” fashion.  While reloading both the revolver and the loose ammunition are kept in the left hand and the right hand picks the rounds off the palm and loads the cylinder. 

(Photo 6 here ) Using the same mechanics for filling the speedloaders, the loose rounds are scooped out of the pocket and the locking knob of the speedloader is slipped between the index and middle fingers and kept closest to the web of the two fingers.  The strong hand plucks the rounds off the cupped palm and inserted into the speedloader.  Any extra rounds remaining are returned to the pocket.  Then the speedloader’s knob can be manipulated to lock the speedloader.