Learning new skills

I have been practicing with my new S&W 625 a lot lately, primarily trying to anchor the skills necessary to reload the gun quickly.  I took the factory wood stocks off and replaced them with an open backstrap Hogue grip, which in addition to being a lot more narrow than the wood stocks due to the open backstrap also are a lot thinner in the lateral cross-section.  That means I can get more “meat” on the gun, which means better recoil control, which of course means faster follow up shots.

However, I’m running into a problem with this revolver thing, and that comes when I’m reloading.  To reload revolvers the traditional way, you have to break you grip with your shooting hand during the reloading process, and eventually regrip the revolver.  Doing this has shown me why the top pros use smooth wood stocks with no finger grooves – as you re-grip the pistol you needs to be able to slide your hand around if your grip isn’t perfect on the first try.

There’s another solution though that I accidentally discovered last night, though.  Holding the revolver in my shooting hand (my right hand), I was able to load the cylinder using my left hand, without breaking my firing grip on the gun.  Now, this only works with revolvers that are loaded via moonclips, and it bears further investigation, however the technique works as follows:

  1. Cylinder is opened in the “traditional” manner
  2. Left hand whacks the ejector rod to clear the empties while the right hand retains a “shooting” grip
  3. Left hand pulls moonclip from belt as right hand moves gun to reloading position.
  4. Left middle finger is placed on the front of the cylinder while the left thumb pushes the moonclip in to the charge holes.  Essentially, you’re trying to touch your thumb to your middle finger.
  5. Left hand closes cylinder and regrips gun.

The disadvantage in terms of speed is that when you’re using the “traditional” loading method, while the left hand is clearing the empties, you let go with your right hand and grab the moonclip.  Because I’m not that fast yet, I actually get an advantage in speed this way, because even with smooth wood grips, I lose a lot of time messing around trying to regrip the gun.

The greatest advantage comes in terms of muscle memory.  Because the loading motion is more similar to that of reloading a semi-automatic pistol, my brain was able to adapt a little faster when I was practicing last night.  I was able to stick my reloads faster by about 0.3 seconds on average, primarly because the left hand is positively driving the cartridges in to the chambers, which means less time mucking around with a moonclip saying “go in the hole, the hole is your home!”

Of course, this idea is currently just sort of in its infancy, but I’m going to keep playing around with it to see if I can make it legitimately faster than a traditional reload, of I’m just wasting motion having the left hand do all that work.

3 thoughts on “Learning new skills”

  1. It seems like pointing the muzzle up for positive ejection would be tricky.

    Also, what’s holding the cylinder to stabilize it during this process?

  2. The muzzle elevates about 30 degrees during this stunt. To stabilize the cylinder, I’m holding it with my middle and ring fingers on the loading hand.

    It sounds hinky to write about, but for someone who has essentially no revolver background, it actually “feels” okay.

  3. Been there, done that. Tried the “Miculek Method” you describe and stunk at it. My solution was retain the “traditional” method which – as a right-hander – is easier. I loaded some dummy rounds with 230 gr FMJs, put them in a few moon clips, and spent a few nights standing over an exercise mat blindfolded working reloads. Took several nights over a few weeks, but my reload speed went way down. Not as fast as Miculek or a mag swap in the 1911, but way faster than when I started.

    Biggest challenge in matches: keeping eyes focused on the targets rather than the gun. It helps to bring the gun up into my “fuzzy vision” space which is what I teach my students; keep “focus vision” on the target, put “fuzzy vision” on the gun and reload. If something doesn’t fit right, you can put focus vison on the gun, with fuzzy vison on the target without losing much time.

    The plus to all this is off-duty I carry a Lew Horton 629 wheelgun and once I trained myself on fast reloads with moon clips it was fairly easy to transition to speed reloads with a speedloader.

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