This month I dove headlong into reloads.
This Month’s Skills
There’s a lot of talk about how reloads don’t happen in gunfights. That may be true because civilian gunfights don’t have super high round-counts. It may be true because the vast majority of civilians don’t have a reload on them. Or it may be true because most civilians aren’t that good at reloads. I think it’s probably mostly the first reason, lightly supplemented by the other two.
Fuck that. If I’m in a gunfight that requires a reload, a reload is going to get done. It’s going to be done well. At least that’s the attitude I’ll be going into it with – it may fall apart, but I’m not going to handicap myself by thinking about all the things I can’t do. When I carried revolvers I read author after author who told me that, “no one has ever reloaded a revolver in a fight, it’s probably not possible, etc…” I developed the attitude of, “if I need a reload I’ll be the first to do it and I’ll show ’em how it’s done.” I don’t understand or like the defeatist mentality of, “it can’t be done, don’t bother.”
With that little rant out of the way… I spent the month working primarily on reloads.
Working the Reload
One issue with the 1911 is the small magazine well. Double-stack autos don’t really need a flared magazine well because the magazine well already has a wide mouth relative to the leading end of the magazine. A 1911…doesn’t. The magazine is the same size (practically) as the well it fills. I have elected not to put a mag funnel on my gun (yet, at least) because I don’t want to extend the length of the grip frame (Nighthawk has a mag well that requires modifiction of the frame and doesn’t extend length. But of course, like a true custom shop, they can’t [read: won’t] retrofit this feature on existing guns).
Rather than invest in an equipment solution I spent a ton of time working on hitting the magazine well. I tried adding some oil paint to make the well more visible. I had tried this trick a while back but decided it was worth giving another go. Turns out, that wasn’t really my problem, and it didn’t really help anyway; the paint chipped away really quickly.
I did find that modifying my “workspace” just a bit helped a lot. I feel like we’re often told to bring the gun to roughly eye level and right out in front of us. I’ve not given this much thought in 12 or 15 years. Let’s look at what I did differently that helped my reload times.
First, I got the gun higher. Rather than have the muzzle in my line of sight, I put the magazine well in my line of sight. I know this is not the “right” way to do it…but it improved my times, so I’m going to roll with it until I’m shown why it’s the “wrong” way to do it.
Next, I rolled the gun slightly forward. This created a more natural angle for my left hand as it brought the magazine to the magazine well. Rather than a forearm parallel to my body, this allowed my forearm to track away from my body at a much less severe angle in a way that I have a really difficult time explaining.
It sounds like I’m making dramatic changes to “the workspace” but I’m not. I’m just getting the gun a little higher and leaning it downrange just a bit. Instead of being 6 inches in front of my face, it’s maybe 8. Instead of the muzzle being at eye level the magazine well is. The final modification I found to be successful was to bring the gun just a bit further to my right so the magazine doesn’t address the magazine well straight on. When the top of the magazine addresses the magazine well full-on, more times than not it hangs up slightly.
In trying to avoid that I tried to get the rear corner of the magazine “started” smoothly first, then ride the magazine in.
This saw a pretty good reduction in my reload times (about .20 – .25 seconds on average). Much more importantly it made my reloads more reliable; I now perfectly hit closer to 9 out of 10 instead of 7 out of ten reloads. More work needs to be done; I want to hit 99,999 out of 100,000. I’m going to do some other stuff in October and circle back to reloads before the end of the year.At this point I think I’ve accomplished most of what my physical abilities will let me accomplish in regards to reloading a 1911. I may add a mag funnel at some point, loathe as I am to make my gun’s grip bigger, or to give NHC any more money. I’ll let you guys know.
I’m up to well over 40 hours of dry practice this year (with my EDC gun – add ten hours with rifle and shotgun). I love watching minutes turn into hours turn into work-weeks. Minutes quickly turn into hours and it’s not hard to find ten minutes a day. What have you done?
Below are my day-by-day results of the past month.
January 1 – 15: 150 minutes, January 16 – 31: 160 minutes
February 1 – 15: 150 minutes, February 16 – 29: 140 minutes
March 1 – 15: 150 minutes, March 16 – 31: 160 minutes
April 1 – 30: 300 minutes, May 1 – 30: 280 minutes
June 1 – 30: 280 minutes, July 1 – 31: 300 minutes
August 1 – 31: 290 minutes,
September 1: 10 minutes presentation AIWB
September 2: 10 minutes reloads
September 3: 10 minutes malfunction clearance
September 4: 10 minutes DA revolver fam
September 5: 10 minutes stiker fired auto fam
September 6: 10 minutes DA/SA auto fam
September 7: 10 minutes presentation AIWB
September 8: 10 minutes reloads
September 9: 10 minutes reloads
September 10: 10 minutes reloads
September 11: 10 minutes reloads
September 12: 10 minutes reloads
September 13: 10 minutes reloads
September 14: 0 minutes
September 15: 10 minutes reloads
September 16: 10 minutes reloads
September 17: 10 minutes reloads
September 18: 10 minutes reloads
September 19: 10 minutes reloads
September 20: 10 minutes reloads
September 21: 10 minutes reloads
September 22: 10 minutes reloads
September 23: 10 minutes reloads
September 24: 10 minutes reloads
September 25: 10 minutes reloads
September 26: 10 minutes reloads
September 27: 10 minutes reloads
September 28: 10 minutes reloads
September 29: 10 minutes reloads
September 30: 10 minutes reloads
Monthly Target: 300 minutes
Monthly Actual: 290 minutes
Cumulative Target to Date: 2,740 minutes
Cumulative Actual to Date: 2,650 minutes (44 hours, 10 minutes)
Cumulative Actual w/ Carbine & Shotgun: 3,250 minutes (54 hours, 10 minutes)
Current Streak: 16 days (138 previous)
Tobacco Free: YES