In IDPA, the one issue that probably draws the most commentary both positive and negative is the tactical reload/reload with retention. Way back in February of ’09 I took a look at the reload with retention (RWR) and the tactical reload; interestingly I wrote that post well before I started shooting revolvers exclusively. In fact, I wrote that before I had purchased my 625. Since then, I still don’t like RWR, but they have largely become a moot point for me in IDPA.
That being said, revolver shooting has brought another component of the reloading process to my mind, which is namely “when do you reload your gun in a fight”? The concept behind the IDPA tac-load/RWR is that during a lull in the action, you top off your gun. In USPSA, if you’re shooting Production, L10, Single Stack, or Revolver you basically load any time that you’re not actively engaging an array of targets. Essentially, if you’re moving – you’re loading.
The obvious answer to “when do you load during a fight” is “when your gun is out of ammo” – the slide lock reload being the most likely situation you’d encounter in an actual defensive situation. Most of us as private citizens are not going to get in a protracted gunfight with multiple targets, so for the sake of discussion I’m going to boil this down to a simple and relatively likely (as likely as these things get, I suppose) scenario. You’re attacked by a single assailant while strolling through your neighborhood with your spouse/partner/dog. You’re given no option but to respond to the attack with deadly force, and put your attacker on the ground. After surveying your surroundings and making sure there are no other attackers, do you top off your heater with your spare magazine/speedloader?
Discuss in comments – for what it’s worth, my thought is “if I have the presence of mind to remember, then yes I absolutely top off my gun.” No one that ever survived a gunfight wishes they had less ammo.