Gunfight Reload Tactics

By GunSpot
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Gunfight Reload Tactics

September 24th, 2020

5:14 runtime

GunSpot has talked about the specifics of shooting from cover the right way here on The Armory Life (to see that piece, click here), but we have yet to cover what to do when you run out of ammo and need to reload. Grant and I really wanted to cover this topic after we started discussing reloads and their trending popularity.

If your gun runs dry during a gunfight, do you have the skills to survive?

Everybody loves to see a fast emergency reload, and as a result we are all wearing our battle belts at home practicing reloads over and over in our dry-fire training. However, in reality, most “real gunfights” that we’d find ourselves in would be over before your need to reload. Depending on the source you look at, most studies indicate deadly encounters are usually over after two to four shots. Make no mistake, though, reloads should be practiced.

However, we want to encourage you to practice them as if you’re in a gunfight. Think about it — if you are needing to reload, that more than likely means shots are being fired at you, so let’s act like it in our practice.

Firing from cover is just one aspect of effective “gunfighting” training.

Realistic Concerns?

I, as a lover of movies, can think of several fallacies we see in our favorite films regarding reloads. One of these is reloading out in a wide-open space when cover, or at least concealment, is readily available.

Could there be a time when you need to perform an emergency reload out in the open? Sure. But in the real world we will likely be surrounded by concealment or cover opportunities when a gunfight happens. We have to train to be efficient with objects around us.

Not utilizing cover when your gun is empty is a potentially deadly mistake.

Which brings me to the theme of this piece. Use cover when you reload, and put this into your practice sessions. With 3-Gun competition being a craze, it’s not uncommon to see people practice reloads running between stations or cover and, like I stated, reloading out in the open. That is a good way to get hit in a gunfight.

We need to step back behind cover, conduct our reload and then, if we are behind cover, we need to start slowly slicing the pie around that corner so as to not reveal ourselves openly to the bad guys. If what you are behind is not bullet-resistant cover, also known as concealment, it would be wise to cautiously fall back to a new covered location.

Keeping your body oriented toward the threat during a gunfight is a sound tactic.

Just remember during your reloads to keep stand-off distance from your cover. As long as the situation allows, try to avoid slamming yourself up against your cover. Also, do not roll around with your back on the cover and turn your back to your assaulter. The chances of your survival go up if you keep your body facing the direction of an assailant, and just step behind cover. There will be a lot going on in a firefight and your adrenaline will be pumping no doubt, but you have to try to keep your wits about you and be aware of any movement down range.

Stand-off distance when working around cover is an important part of an effective training regimen.


So, to recap, next time you’re practicing your reloads, by all means train to be fast, but start incorporating simply stepping behind some cover and then go back to slicing the pie. This is a life-saving muscle memory skill to have, so practice it and build it into your training sessions.

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GunSpot was created to be the one spot for everything gun-related. With us, you can buy or sell guns. We have everything from small-caliber pistols to belt-fed machine guns. And on the GunSpot Academy, you can find high-quality original content. In our content, you will see two faces regularly. Dylan Casey is a gun enthusiast with a digital media degree who is GunSpot's Creative Director. Then there is Chief Instructor Grant LaVelle, who has decades of experience training Marines, police officers and citizens alike. Grant served with and taught marksmanship for the United States Marine Corps. After his time with the Marines, Grant served as a SWAT sniper.

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