Reinventing my swing

Right after Tiger Woods won something like a zillion championships his first year on the PGA, he went back to the drawing board and totally broke down his swing to see if he could improve.  He did end up getting even better, and while Tiger admittedly isn’t a great example for some other stuff, he is a good example of mastery of a sport.

I’ve recently started screwing around with my revolver reload.  Previously, I did the “Miculek” or “swap” reload, where the gun transitions to the weak hand and your strong hand grabs the moonclip/speedloader to recharge the gun.  Even with practice I always had lots of trouble with the part of this load where I had to re-establish my firing grip.  As you can see in the photo, my weak stabilizes the gun while my strong hand drops the moonclip (in this case) in the cylinder.  The reload works the same for speedloaders, and if you’re using HKS style speedloaders is really the most effective way to recharge the gun.

The weak hand method pictured at right retains the gun in the firing hand.  The weak hand goes to the belt line to grab the moonclip or speedloader which is then dropped or pushed in the cylinder.  This method only works really well with Safariland speedloaders and Jetloaders, which require you to push them in the gun instead of twisting the release knob.  I ran this reload exclusively at the last IDPA classifier I shot using my 686SSR revolver, and with Safariland Comp-III speedloaders it worked very well.  For lack of a better explanation, it feels smoother doing this reload.  I think that if a shooter is transitioning from a bottom-feeder to a revolver, this would be a more familiar motion for them to get used to.  Again, this straight up won’t work with HKS speedloaders unless you reach through the frame to stabilize the cylinder.  With a Safariland or moonclip, the cylinder can rotate all it wants while you’re reloading.

The gun pictured is my S&W 625, which wears a HiViz Fiber Optic front sight and the Cylinder and Slide Extreme Duty rear sight, which is the same rear sight that the S&W 325 Night Guard wears.

I’m going to run some “on the clock” drills today with a par time set – the goal is to be around 2 to 2.5 seconds for a moonclip and 3 to 3.5 seconds with a speedloader.  Under match conditions at the classifier my reloads on the El Pres came in at 3.6 seconds, and shooting FAST with a revo and this technique I’m clocking in around the same area.  My best revolver run on FAST is still 6.86 seconds with a moonclip gun.


  1. The problem I always had with the weak hand reload is that your same hand is hitting the ejector rod as is looking for your next speedloader. I know that a lot of people for combat purposes recommend bringing your whole hand down on the ejector, but for gaming purposes, in a Miculek reload your left thumb is perfectly capable of hitting it while your right hand is already going for the speedloader.

    This may not be as much of an issue for a moon clip gun, but it always *felt* faster to me because you can parallelize those two steps. As I’m bringing the gun back from ejecting the casings I’ve already got the next speedloader in my hand and heading for the cylinder.

    I don’t have a proper timer to really do a scientific comparison, but it *feels* faster.

    1. That was one of my concerns as well. With the “swap” reload, your hand going for the speeloader is a free action. What I discovered though is that any time gained there is lost (for me) when I’m regripping the gun.

      1. Can you post video of your reload?

        I know there are a million videos of how to do a revolver reload, but it’s always useful to see the subtle details of how different people handle it.

  2. Agreed! Weak hand reload feels smoother and faster but I don’t have scientific fact yet.

    also, practicing weak hand reload is demanding on your strong hand wrist. Mine still hurts. At least my weak hand doesn’t get bloody anymore from being pinched when I’m not careful closing the cylinder in a strong hand reload. 🙂

    1. Tam, puh-lease.

      Miculik has (in teh words of a TFL poster about ten years ago), “highly evolved, demi-god like” hands.

      The man fired a 1911A1 single stack with a cyclic rate of fire that was literally in the submachinegun range (over 600 RPM cyclic — significantly FASTER than the longest serving front line SMG is the US Army, the M3 series “Grease Gun”).

      More insulting to mere mortals, he had a smaller group on the target than most people would have gotten with the same length burst from a SMG, and smaller than almost ANYONE would have gotten with a machinepistol.

      I agree with Caleb, and would like to be among the first to welcome our robotic overlords.

      1. (Disclaimer)

        But Miculik’s inhumanly fast hands and finger aside, I still use the swap technique — I tried the strong hand style in my beginning days, as it seemed faster to reload if I didn’t have to swap hands. For me, not so much. And I drop fewer speedloaders this way.

  3. I have shot for years with speed loaders reloading with my strong hand. Now I have a moon clip gun and want to try weak hand reloads. My question- at what point do you hit the ejector rod? Before you grab your moon clip or after?
    I’m pretty accomplished with strong hand reloads but see great possibilities with weak, especially with moon clips.

  4. Interesting you should bring up this topic… last summer I decided to shoot IDP and Steel with the .357 Ruger PS6- and did all the reloading with the ‘weak’ hand- left, in my case. As to holding the cylinder with the HKS speedloader: what is your right thumb doing sitting above the frame? Mine stabilized the cylinder.
    Hitting the ejector rod was a simple slap as my left hand went for the speedloader, no wasted motion and no lost time. Did as well with the revolver as I did with the XD or Smith so far as times went. But would I prefer the revolver to semi-auto? Not a chance.
    Shy III

  5. I’ve looked at the left hand reload thing on my 625, only because it reduces the damage done by breaking my strong hand grip with each reload. Strong hand means reaching across the gunand breaking the grip; weak hand avoids that, but weak hand/moonclips is a devil’s choice: sometimes it just flat out works, and other times you fight cylinder rotation. If Miculek didn’t keep showing us how darn fast a strong hand reload can be I’d bet that someone would come up with an accessory that binds or locks the cylinder when it’s open to facilitate weak hand reloads.

    Having tried weak hand reloads, I stopped that after a hundred tries or so. It can be made to work, but it messes up my HKS reloads with brain clutter; I frequently carry a revolver (a certain 3″ .45 Colt….) and I’d much prefer my HKS reloads with that be fast and fumble-free rather than shave .1 off my moonclip reloads. The grip destruction thing with me seems to be a training issue, which has me doing a LOT of 2-shot reloads on a modified FAST drill target and focusing on grip structure during push-out.

    On the Miculek video Tam linked to, which I saw a while back but not looked at recently, I noticed that he folds forward at the waist during the reload and has to come back up to s shooting stance. It’s really hard to fault 2.99 seconds, but I wonder if there isn’t a half-tenth in that posture change. Anyone know when that video was shot, and if he’s done it faster since?

  6. Really, the more things change the more they stay the same. This is the way you were taught to reload a wheel gun. From the days when cops carried real gun.

  7. As to the Miculek video, is that the video from MIssissippi? If so that was several years ago. Maybe 2002? Tam may know.

    On the weak hand load, remember to keep the pistol up and rotated slightly to the left (cant it say 20 degrees to the left). Some guys (including me) stick their trigger finger (if right handed) through the frame so the cylinder does not return.

    On both reloads keep the weapon up (Adam’s Apple high) so you can keep your head up to see what’s going on in the fight.

    Of course, everything above is the way I was taught and dinosaurs ruled the earth then.

    1. Yeah, it’s the 2002 video of him crushing the world record.

      I discovered it’s easier to keep the gun higher up in my eyeline with speedloaders than with a moonclip gun. Since the Comp-IIIs are spring loaded they work very well.

  8. Keeping the revolver canted will help you with moonclips too. Keep your eyes and gun (the revolver now) up.

  9. The Miculek grips just don’t fit my hand. They’re comfy and shoot well, but I simply don’t obtain a good shooting grip with those grips.

    For me, the Pachymer “Gripper Professionals” (small) for the N frame fit as if they were molded to my hand.

    Accordingly, the weak hand reload works the best for me, as I have no struggle in re-aquiring the shooting-grip on the gun. It’s like an instant fit, as soon as I grasp it.

    I’d love to find someone who could carve out a set of colabola or Goncalo Alves grips which would precisely duplicate the Pachymer items. That’d be a part of my BBQ rig for sure.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. For S&W guns that are L-frames or N-frames, I have to have an open backstrap grip, or I can’t reach the trigger properly. I really like the Pachys for Rugers though, since an open backstrap isn’t possible with those guns. I like wood grips, and most of the wood grips for Rugers are just HUGE.

      1. I absolutely love the default wood and rubber Ruger grips, but I think I may have a bit larger hands than you. Couldn’t stand the grooved Hogue grips they come with now, though.

        1. I liked the rubber w/wood insert grips they used to do for the GP100s, those were a good size for my hands. The new Hogues with the finger grooves are just too large for my hands.

  10. Have you considered Craig Spegel grips?

    Perhaps a blog post on revolver grips in the future?

    1. I should take a look at that. For S&W revolvers, I pretty much use the Miculek grips so I can get as high on the backstrap as possible. The factory grips for the 686SSR replicate the Miculek grip angle pretty handily.

  11. Caleb,

    The Gripper Professionals are indeed, an open backstrap item. What’s more, the front strap profile, even with finger grooves, is more “flat faced” than most ‘grooved grips, so they just plain fit (and distribute recoil) better.

    That, and the grip angle is for me, just exactly right.

    You might want to give a set a thorough test drive in one of your practice sessions.

    My apologies about the open link, and if you’d kindly edit it down to a proper HTML code, I’d be humbly apprecative.

    But I seriously think you’d enjoy shooting with these. I have large hands, comprised of large palms and average fingers. My lovely Iris has very small hands, period, and these are her favorite grips, also.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

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