Skills Check: AR-15 Reloading Drills

by
posted on January 15, 2018
reload.jpg

What’s the difference between tactical and speed reloads for the AR-15? Put simply, in one case you retain the magazine removed from the gun and in the other you let it fall to the ground. Why might you wish to retain the magazine? Do you recall the incident in Mogadishu, Somalia, where our Soldiers got into a running gun battle and had to fight it out all night? It became known as the “Blackhawk Down” incident. One of the many lessons learned involved retaining magazines—rather than dropping them on the ground—because they might be needed later. Today, most of the military units we see at Gunsite Academy use drop pouches, and we recommend them to our students. What’s a drop pouch? It’s an open-topped pouch, usually worn on the belt, into which empty or partially depleted magazines get dropped and retained.

For the sake of these drills, let’s assume we’re going to do a speed reload when the bolt locks to the rear—when the carbine is out of ammunition—and we start by dropping the magazine to the ground. We perform a tactical reload any time we have expended an unknown amount of ammo, yet the bolt is forward and cartridges remain in the magazine. In both cases, maintain control of the AR-15 with the strong hand, barrel pointed downrange and finger off the trigger. The safety should be switched to “SAFE” at this point.

It’s quicker to do two things at the same time so, in the case of the speed load, press the magazine-release button to eject the empty magazine to the ground while reaching for a spare magazine with the support hand. Insert the spare into the mag well, pushing up firmly, then pull down on the magazine to make sure it is seated. Hit the bolt catch to send the bolt forward and resume a firing position.

There are a couple of ways to do a tactical reload, but I think this one is easiest for most people to accomplish: Grasp the magazine in the AR-15 with the support hand while pushing the magazine release with the trigger finger. Pull the magazine out, put it in a pocket or dump pouch, then insert a loaded magazine in the magazine well by pushing up firmly then pulling down to make sure it is locked in place.

For a speed reload drill, load your AR-15 with a magazine containing two rounds. Attempt to fire three rounds. The bolt carrier will lock back after the second round, so reload and fire two more. This is a “two-plus-two” drill.

A “three-plus-three” drill can be used to set up a tactical reload. With the AR-15 loaded with a full magazine, fire three, perform a tactical reload and fire three more rounds.

Working these drills will help you determine how to carry your spare magazines while improving your AR-15-manipulation skills. Then, if you ever find yourself with a magazine-related failure at a critical moment, you’ll be prepared to perform the appropriate reloads.

Latest

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus In 30 Super Carry
Smith & Wesson Shield Plus In 30 Super Carry

Review: Smith & Wesson Shield Plus In 30 Super Carry

Before we dive headfirst into the morass that is the 30 Super Carry debate, let’s start with something (slightly) less controversial: Smith & Wesson’s Shield Plus is a supremely good pistol. Building on the success of the standard Shield and updated M2.0 versions, the Shield Plus kept critical dimensions similar to allow most gear designed for the Shield to work for the Shield Plus.

2022 New Optics Guide: Thermal and Night-Vision

New advances in electronics and updated manufacturing processes have made thermal and night vision optics more affordable than ever before.

First Look: Wilson Combat 45th Anniversary SE 1911

A special edition pistol to celebrate the legacy of a legendary gun manufacturer.

New from Nosler: ASP Handgun Ammunition

Nosler has an impeccable reputation for producing quality ammunition and components, but it is most often thought of as a company that manufactures hunting bullets and hunting ammunition. This is understandable—the company was founded on the Nosler Partition bullet.

First Look: SilencerCo Osprey 2.0 Suppressor

An updated edition of a very popular pistol-caliber suppressor.

First Look: Grovtec QS Two Point Sling

Available in four colors with a quick-adjust capability.

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.