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.


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 – 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 – Speed Strips and QuickStrips

July 29, 2009

Note – Before making any observations regarding the two brands of loading strips I need to point out that I am currently aiding TUFF Products with some of their QuickStrip marketing efforts. I also edited the directions used to explain two loading techniques used in their packaging and wrote the ten loading techniques noted on their web page. So please remember to take all of the following with a grain of salt.

Bianchi Speed Strip 6-round strips

Bianchi Speed Strip 6-round strips

The Speed Stripis an injection molded strip of flexible urethane material with six recessed holes and concludes on one end with a small, flat tab.  The Speed Strip’s recessed holes were designed to hold six .38/.357 rounds in a line and are spaced to permit loading either individual or paired rounds into the cylinder’s chambers.  According to Bianchi sources the Speed Strip was invented by John Bianchi between 1969 and1970. It was invented in the age when the policeman was issued a service revolver and his spare ammunition was carried either on the uniform’s belt loops or inside dump pouches.  A dump pouch is an ammunition carrying case designed to literally “spill” six loose rounds into the policeman’s hand for reloading. At the time many departments forbid the carrying of speedloaders. Forced to work under the mechanical limitations of the dump pouch, John Bianchi invented the Speed Strip.  The Speed Strip would fit inside many of the dump pouches of that era and for the officer trying to hold a weapon in one hand and juggle six loose rounds in the other hand the Speed Strip must have been a Godsend.

TUFF QuickStrip 8-round strip

TUFF QuickStrip 8-round strip

The QuickStripis similar to Bianchi’s Speed Strip, but there are three features that differentiate the QuickStrip from the traditional Speed Strip. First, the rubber used in the QuickStrip seems to be of a slightly more uniform consistency. For student use in my snub classes I own to about sixty sets of Speed Strips. It is my impression that some of the Speed Strips are a little stiffer than they need to be while others are a little more pliable than necessary. I don’t believe the difference is due to the age of the Speed Strips, classroom temperatures or the amount of usage. The range of flexibility seems to be noticeable regardless of these conditions. This does not affect function in any perceptible way but is rather a general observation. Second, TUFF Products molds on each QuickStrip a set of reinforced rubber ridges. There is one ridge along each side of the loading strip. The sales literature suggests that these ridges helps reinforce the length of the strip and reduce the chance of unwanted rounds coming off the strip when using a lateral-twisting loading method. While these ridges may in fact reduce the risk of losing rounds with this reloading method it would be exponentially more effective to completely avoid the risk by never attempting to reload with any lateral-twisting method. Massad Ayoob, I and others have written extensively about the advantages to using various in-line loading strip pealing method. One of Ayoob’s methods is described in detail with photos in every QuickStrip package. Finally, QuickStrip offers a wider variety of loading strip lengths and calibers. They are available in as few as 5-round strips for .500 caliber rounds to 10-round strips for the .22. Smith & Wesson is supplying 5-round QuickStrips with a 5000 model run of their ubiquitous J-frame and I find that many campers and day hikers tent toward carrying a pair of their 8-round strips. Of more interest to the snub shooter is their 5-, 6-strips in .38/.357.

While no loading strip will ever be as quick as a second gun or a speedloader, they do offer several unique virtues.  Loading strips can be a useful addition to your regularly carried speedloader. Failing that the loading strip are also convenient low profile primary ammunition source if you don’t regularly carry a speedloader. Its flat shape encourages the carrying of spare ammo when a snub owner might otherwise be tempted to travel without spare ammo. That is temptation should always be resisted as in the past the practice of carrying no spare ammunition has cost men their lives. Many years ago, two California detectives were shot and murdered by a man in a wheelchair.  The facts I remember were that the killer had ended up in the wheelchair from a previous shooting with the police.  The detectives came with an arrest warrant and found the subject on his bed without his pants on.  When one detective turned around to get the subject’s pants for him, the killer pulled a snub from between his legs and shot the officer. He killed the detective, and was shot at but not hit by the second detective. After the second detective shot his snub empty he tried to escape the area but was unable to locate an exit. The bad guy then got off the bed, took the dead detective’s snub and crawled after the second detective. Trapped in a dead end hall the second detective had time to reload but no spare ammo to do and was subsequently murdered by his partner’s killer.

In additionally to encouraging the carrying of spare ammunition, the loading strip also enjoys the virtue that it, unlike the majority of speedloaders, can be worked effectively with an injured hand for one-hand-only snub reloading.  A detailed description of one-handed-only snub reloading will follow.

What conclusions if any are there regarding loading strips? If you have Bianchi Speed Strips and you pratice an effective loading method I think you are well served. In addition to the classic .38/.357 caliber Speed Strip, Bianchi has introduced a .44/.45 Speed Strip. If you don’t have or have never used loading strips I would recommend you pick up a set of QuickStrips. They are well made, competitively priced and unlike the Speed Strips they come with a well written set of directions. (I would say that of course). In addition to the .38/.357 caliber QuickStrip, TUFF has introduced a .44/.45 and .41 Magnum strips. Finally, whichever one you buy go with the 6-round strips. Fewer common reloading methods can be optimally preformed with the abbreviated 5-round strips and the 8-round strips are little too much of a good thing. While the age of the dump pouch has all but vanished, for the contemporary concealed snub owner either the Speed Strip or its competitor the QuickStrip continues to be useful reloading tools.

Snub Training – Quick Strip techniques

June 3, 2009

Dear Michael

Do Quick Strip loading strips have an enclosed metal backbone like the original Bianchi speed strips did? Without metal backbone my experience has been that when you put two rounds in the cylinder and twist the two rounds in the cylinder stay attached to the strip and the third round falls free. This is certainly an unfavorable experience. What are you thoughts?

W. P.


Quick Strip 8-round .38/.357 loading strip

Quick Strip 8-round .38/.357 loading strip

Dear W. P.:

I hope this note finds you well.

I am familiar with the situation where the third round can be levered out of the strips but this is generally due to a shooter’s re-loading technique rather than to a design features in either brand of strip.

Let me explain.

A shooter has four options for pealing or prying off the rounds from the Quick Strip and leaving them in the charge holes.

#1 – Twist parallel to the face of the cylinder  – to the left

#2 – Twist parallel to the face of the cylinder – to the right

#3 – Peal the strip forward away from the shooter – in a straight line

#4 – Peal the strip in or toward the shooter – in a straight line

These four options exist regardless of whether the shooter is right or left handed and regardless of whether the shooter is holding the revolver in his right or left hand.

Each of these four release techniques has its advocates and each has its limitations depending on the specific release mechanics the shooter is employing.

Rather then outline the techniques for all four of these release options, let focus on the issue of the (lost) third round’s release.

Generally the third round release trouble is encountered by a shooter who employs a “Twist parallel to the face of the cylinder” release, either to the right or left.

There are three reasons for the losing this third round.

1st – Either the strip is being “cork-crew” flexed at the same time it is being twisted parallel to the rear face of the back of the cylinder.

2nd – As the strip is being twisted parallel to the face of the cylinder, the twist permits the third round to contact the outer surface of the cylinder where it is then levered out of the strip.

3rd – Both problem 1 and 2 occurred in concert.

Again, without reviewing the pros and cons of all four strip-release techniques, the fastest fix to the lost third round is to abandon both the #1 and #2 “twist parallel to the face of the cylinder release” techniques and employ either of the #3 or #4 “pealing” techniques.

Try this quick fix.

1 – Load the strip with two dummy rounds – sitting them side-by-side and as near in the middle of the strip as you can.

2 – Open the revolver and drop both dummy rounds (held by the strip) into two charge holes.

3 – Then let go of the strip completely (This is a learning drill so we won’t be making this a habit.)

4 – Place your thumb directly over the two rounds. Be sure that the pad of your thumb is directly over that part of the strip that is holding the rounds.

5 – Peal off the strip in a straight line toward you. Remember to keep your thumb on and directly over the two rounds while you are pealing the strip off.

6 – Keep pealing in a straight line until the rounds come loose from the strip. They will be resting in the charge holes.

Once you have practiced this a few times you can repeat it with three, four or five dummy rounds.  By using a “pealing in a straight line” technique rather than a “Twist parallel to the face of the cylinder” technique your lost, third round situation should vanish.

I hope this helps and that you will give it a try.


Michael de Bethencourt