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Tac Reload vs. Reload w/ Retention

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Can someone please explain the difference of a tac reload vs. a reload with retention. I seem to be a little confused on the two.

Many thanks-

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Tac Reload:

Spare magazine is accessed and brought up to gun. The partially loaded magazine is ejected into the support hand, which is also holding the fresh mag, and the fresh mag is inserted into the gun. The partially loaded magazine is now placed into a pocket, waistband, etc.

Reload with Retention:

Partially loaded mag is ejected from the weapon and placed in pocket, waistband, etc. The spare mag is accessed and used to reload the weapon. Note that the gun is charged with only a single round for a longer period of time, and if the weapon has a magazine disconnect it is not able to be fired during this period. Hence the emphasis on a tac reload since the weapon is out of action for the shortest period of time.


[This message has been edited by Black Rifle (edited 03-04-2001).]
thanks mark....that clears it up very well for me.....

take care

I'll try...First, it's time to reload but gun is not empty...

Tac Load: Grab a full mag from pouch - when hand with full mag is at the gun - exchange mags with that hand (which means momentarily handling BOTH mags simultaneously with that hand) - stow partial mag in pouch or pocket. In IDPA this means you can move or break cover, if that is the next step in the scenario, as soon as the fresh mag is seated. This allows you to be moving as you stow the partial mag which can cut time off a stage if it is set up for it. In the real world it means your gun is mag-less for the shortest period of time.

Reload with Retention: Remove the partial mag with your weak hand - stow the mag in pouch or pocket - retrieve a fresh mag from pouch and reload. The entire reload must be accomplished before you can move or break cover in IDPA competition. In the real world it leaves you with a single shot (or a no-shot if it has a mag safety) pistol until the reload is complete.

I used to HATE tac loads until I practiced them one evening for about an hour. Now I only do Tac Loads or Slide Lock Loads. The motion for each is identical except for a slight delay in dropping the partial mag for a tac load. When I quit trying to fart around deciding what kind of load to use on each stage, I move up a class!


Sorry for the duplicate info...I was typing while you were getting your answer...

[This message has been edited by Mikey (edited 03-04-2001).]
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thanks mikey....great explainations from mark and yourself....nms
We would strongly encourage you to do away with the reload with retention, poor tactical technique.

The tactical reload technique describe is effective. Two main points to remember. First and most important, a lull in the fight exists that permits you the opportunity to perform the tac-reload, other wise shoot to slide lock and perform a speed reload. Second, storing your partially spent magazine in a pocket works great, but bear in mind you most likely train tac-reloads from your spare magazine carrier. So, if you go to slide lock, perform another tac-reload or heavens forbid a Type III malfunction you may find yourself in a more desperate situation when you can not locate your spare magazine.

In addition to performing the tac-reload, reindex the magazine and tactily feel for a live round. If there is one there stow the magazine back in your magazine carrier, if it is empty, ditch it or stow it in a pocket. This addition to the technique is to incorporate because there is a lull in firefight, so take the extra second or two to confirm what you got.

Now, if you carry a double magazine carrier it is not a major issue, but I carry a combination carrier with one spare magazine and light. If this is applicable to you then consider this as another option.


Director of Training

The HALO Group
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DOT brings up an excellent point!

Speaking strictly from a competition point of view (since I've never been in a real firefight) there is a really good reason to stow your partial mag in the pouch that you just emptied when you pulled the full one. Our IDPA club has devised several devious scenarios which force the re-use of the partially emptied mag. The small amount of time lost by indexing and finding the pouch to stow the partial mag is MORE than saved by not having to "hunt" for it during the second reload. Once you build muscle memory for a certain mag location that is where you will reach first no matter what you told your brain before the action started.

I had never heard of reload with retention before seeing this thread. It sounds like a really dumb idea. In classes where I have seen people do it, instructors usually pointed out that they were doing a tactical reload all wrong. Little did I know the 'wrong' way had its own name.

Placing a partially used mag back into a mag pouch isn't a bad idea if you carry a mag pouch with a capacity of only one magazine. It may be slightly slower that stowing in a pocket, but retrieving the mag later will be quicker should you need to do it.

Why if only one mag? You don't want to confuse grabbing a partially loaded mag with a fully loaded mag should you need to retrieve another magazine. If you carry multiple mags, don't put partially loaded mags with the fully loaded ones.
First of all I want to state my disclaimer. I have nothing against Mr. John Sayle, one of the co-founder of IDPA, and if he is lurking here or if any of you know Mr. Sayle this reply is not to flame John. Another co-founder of IDPA told me that John invented the "reload with retention" so he can speed up the reloads. It is a smoother and less clumsier than the true "TAC RELOAD", but it is purely a game tactic, said Ken Hackathorn. Like Mikey, I only do slide lock reloads and tac. reloads. Whenever I try to "game" the classifier and do the "retention", I always confused myself and ends up fumbling the reload.
thanks to all who responded to my question. this was my first post on this forum and was truly amazed with the enthusiasm forum members provided with their input.....nms
While I agree, for the most part, that the "reload with retention" is a "game" technique, it has some real world applicability in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are the unfortunate combination of big mags and small hands.

It's better to accept the slightly longer time it takes to get the pistol topped off than to risk dropping BOTH magazines.

If you have a double magazine pouch, then I would discourage you from placing the partially depleted magazine back into the pouch. However, if you have a double magazine pouch you should have the labled. The one closet to the centerline is the #1 magazine and strictly reserved for speed reloads. The one furthers from your centerline is the #2 magazine and used for tactical reloads. The #1 is easily accessible and when time is critical, such as in a speed reload, then that is what you go to. The #2 magazine is a little further back and can be cumbersome to retrieve, this is reserved for the tactical reload when a lull in firefight exists that provides us with precious time to go for the difficult magazine. The key here is you have to train that way to perform that way, period. Now, back to the beginning of this response. If you have a double magazine carrier and peform a tactical reload, it is prudent to replace the depleted magazine in a pocket. If a speed reload, tactical reload or Type III malfunction occure, you have the reserved speed reload magazine handy. After that all bets are off and my advice would be to [email protected] the area ASAP. Hope this clarifies some issues.


Director of Training

The HALO Group
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Question for the experts:

During a tactical reload, when the depleted magazine is ejected into the support hand, how do you hold the depleted mag (i.e., which fingers do you use) while you are inserting the fresh magazine into the gun?

Thanks, Ed.
If you are doing it properly, you have the new mag running along your index finger with it positioned such that the tip of your index finger is touching the first round. You hold the mag with your thumb and middle finger.

Once you have acquired your new mag (and feel the first round). You drop the partially depleted mag into the palm of your support side hand while rolling your hand. With this action you strip out the mag and you end up holding the base of the mag between your little finger and ring finger. The mag extends out from the front of your hand (not palm side).

Once you have done that your new mag is positioned to insert into the gun. Quickly seat it with your palm. Then store you partially depleted mag.

This works great. It is fast. It can be a problem if you have small hands and a double-stacked magazine. Practice is the key. This is a skill many IPSC shooters never try or develop.
Not to suggest that AAShooter is wrong, but I would like to expand what he said about doing it properly. Hand size, shape, and strength, along with mag size and shape may all come into play when doing tactical reloads, as Rosco noted above about small hands and big mags.

I pretty much do what AAShooter does, but I have seen people who do this really weird thing with catching the spent mag between the little finger and ring finger and do it extremely well and quickly. I can't do that and for the life of me can't get the fingers to apply the appropriate pressure to make it work. Each shooter will eventually work out the best way that works for them and the gun setup they are using. The important thing is to be efficient, quick, and to be able to consistently NOT screw up the procedure.
I am 5'9" and have short fingers, but I can do tac reloads with double stack mags (Glocks) with no problem.
I have seen the biggest problem with this technique with small women with small hands and a double stacked magazine.
I have pretty small hands and used to carry a Glock. One variation of the tactical reload that seems to work well for small-handed people using fat magazines, including me, is, once one acquires the new mag from the pouch, shift its position to being between the middle and ring fingers. This may sound awkward at first, but try it. It is easy.

Next, receive the old mag with the thumb and index finger as it is released from the gun. Using the thumb and index finger for this is especially nice if the magazine doesn't drop free. Once the old magazine is out of the gun, insert the new magazine into the gun. Again, this may sound a little strange, but try it. It works.
There's a pretty neat example of a Tac Reload on this website, with some pictures too:
With the exceptions noted by Roscoe and others, the only thing that makes a "Tactical Reload" clumsy, etc. is lack of practice. I agree that it is more difficult if you have small hands and big mags.
But has been pointed out here by other posters, with practice and maybe slight adaptation it can still be accomplished smoothly.

I have a friend who has spent A LOT of time practicing all manner of tactical skills and you would not believe how well and fast he completes a Tac reload.
Even with a bad little finger on my left hand I have learned how to do an acceptable Tac reload with either single or double stack mags.

I would like to see scenarios end with a Tac reload and "cover" the targets prior to unloading and re-holstering. Won't happen, though. Too much extra gun handling, etc.

As the Nike add said "Just do it". Whether it is required in the COF or not, use it. You will get used to it.

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