Handgun Skills: Accessing the Spare Magazine

Reloading a handgun during a fight is exceedingly rare in civilian defensive gun uses.  In fact, it is damn near non-existent.  In law enforcement we see reloads happen more often.  Despite this, for those of us that are serious handgunners, being able to reload your handgun with great speed is an essential skill.  If you compete in any of the action shooting sports this ability becomes even more pressing.

Here I wish to speak about only one part of the handgun reload and that is the actual stage of accessing the spare magazine.  While there are many places on the body that we can carry a spare magazine, here we will focus on the most efficient location in terms of speed: the waistline.  Most often, the spare magazine is worn in the appendix position of the support hand or on the support side hip.

I find that wearing the spare magazine in the appendix position makes it more concealable.  Ironically, I find the spare mag just as difficult to conceal as the gun.  The sharp edges of the base plate tends to print.  Worn in an inside-the-waistband pouch at the appendix position works quite well, however, for concealment under just a shirt.  The motion to access the magazine remains quite similar whether it is worn appendix position or on the support side hip.  We need to sweep the concealment garment up with our hand, and then retrieve the magazine from its pouch.

I have taken many handgun classes where, of course, the reload is covered.  I am dismayed to say that most instructors miss discussing a critical component of the reload: a consistent grip on the spare magazine.  Just as a consistent grip must be obtained on the handgun to facilitate a good draw, so too we must grab the magazine correctly and consistently.  I find that grabbing the mag so that the front of the base pad hits directly into the center of my palm facilitates this.  I also suggest that you use a mag pouch that provides enough clearance so that your hand can gram enough of the magazine without being impeded by the pouch.  When I bring the magazine up to the mag well of the gun, my support hand index finger is running along the magazine and essentially pointing the mag right into the mag well.

Give the positioning of your spare magazine some consideration to find the best balance of concealment and access.  Also, focus on developing a consistent grip on the magazine.  This will speed your reloads so that you can perform this skill on demand.


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