Revolver reloads

I DVR every episode of Shooting USA and Impossible Shots; I don’t always watch every episode but I do when it covers a topic that I’m interested in. On Wednesday on Impossible Shots, Mike Irvine had Jerry Miculek doing some crazy reloading tricks with his S&W 625. Jerry had a throwaway comment in this where he mentioned that a time of 1.70 shot-to-shot was a good par for a revolver reload with moonclips. He further elaborated that under match conditions, anything under 2.00 was “pretty good.” That in conjunction with watching some SnubTraining videos got me thinking about speedloader reloads and the perhaps underappreciated HKS speedloader.

hks speedloader

For many shooters, the twist-knob HKS speedloader is the only loader they’ve ever known. It’s the most common revolver speedloader on the planet, and simultaneously the least common speedloader used in competition. There are a couple of reasons for this, first the HKS requires you to stabilize the cylinder in some way because the release knob must be twisted to drop the cartridges in. Second, because it’s not spring loaded like the Comp-III or Jetloader, the cartridges have only gravity to get them in the revolver’s chambers. That means that if your cylinders are dirty, rounds can hang up. Of course, rounds can and do hang up with the Comp-III as well.

Back to Jerry for a moment – Jerry uses a switch-hand reload, where during the process of the load he transfers the gun from strong hand to weak hand, then back to strong hand. This load works really well with moonclip guns, because all six cases are tied together with the clip. With speedloader guns, you really need to give the ejector a positive strike to get all six out of there; so the speedloader gun version of the switch hand usually involves a little bit more gun manipulation. However, watching Jerry’s reload got me thinking about the HKS for one reason – the barrel of the loader (that’s the black part, the body) is relatively short, but not too short. It occurs to me that you could do a speedloader reload with the HKS much like a moonclip reload, but with the added movement of twisting the release knob.

I messed around with this for just a few minutes in dry fire last night, using my usual weak hand reload technique but pushing my index finger through the frame SnubTraining style to stabilize the cylinder. It…actually worked pretty well, because the chamfered charge holes on the gun would help guide the rounds into place, then twist-click and everything’s in place.

I’m not saying throw your Comp-III speedloaders away, but this definitely bears some further investigation in dry fire over the cold winter.


  1. It is nice to see a serious look at the use of this speedloader. Although I prefer the Safariland, one cannot deny that HKS has models for many more guns (and so I own some). So kudos for them for supporting those who do not always shoot the most popular guns.

    1. Honestly, the availability of an HKS loader for basically any wheelgun on the market is a big recommending factor for it. Especially if people carry a large caliber wheelgun like a .45 Colt or .44 Special.

    2. An HKS can also roll around in the bottom of a purse or pocket for months or years without turning loose of the rounds. Ask me how I know.

    1. I plan on it. Right now it’s just an idea kicking around in my head, so I need to spend some time with it first.

  2. One thing pointed out to me in a snubbie class I attended last weekend was that the HKS loader holds rounds more securely than the Safariland speedloaders. They also taught the switch hand reload technique for reloads. I personally think it puts you in a better position to control the firearm and especially the cylinder while reloading.

  3. I wouldn’t say HKS speedloaders aren’t used in competition. For several years a friend of mine has used them both locally and at state matches to include the Indiana IDPA State Matches from at least 2009-2012 (I only met him in 2009). Of course Don is unique in that he shoots a S&W Model 29, preferably with Keith loads (Blazer Aluminum is a passable load) instead of the more normal .38 or .357 with lower power .38s. It helps that he isn’t shooting to bring home trophies and such but is more interested in the practical gun handling skills and self defense practice. I also use HKS speedloaders on the rare ocassiona that I shoot my S&W Model 67 at club level IDPA matches. I think Kirk Crego is the only revolver shooter I’ve seen locally that uses the more competition oriented speedloaders. While I only shoot at a few clubs here in Ohio, HKS speedloaders appear to be more commonly used among those that are more wheelgun oriented as opposed to a dedicated bottom feeder such as myself.

    Just shot it early in October at a club IDPA match at the Ashland Lake Gun club and had a blast doing so. Nowhere near my overall standing that I usually get with a Kimber Pro (4″ barrel and my usual EDC) but still somewhat respectable for me. I do agree that you have to keep those cylinders clean or risk a hangup on the load. That happened once or twice. Nothing major, but do need to pay attention and be prepared to tap one down if it happens. No problems on ejecting the spent brass as I learned to do it with a “healthy tap” to make sure they clear the cylinders. Someone even joked that much more force and I’d put my hand through the rod. Enjoyed it enough that I actually picked up some more .38 bullets to load on the way. Unfortunately I haven’t able to make it to any of the other matches since and may not make it to any of the last three here in Ohio this year. Still, always next year and doesn’t hurt to get some more boring range time in with the revolver.

  4. After a comp 3 failed to eject and some others seemed sluggish in the cold sat at the Ky Kolonel I considered trying them again. I have several comp 3,some super smooth and a few that need some attention. I thought I had them segregated. Simple may be better….

  5. When I carried a revolver I used the HKS. I was never taught the “right” way to reload a revolver but I’d always push the cylinder out with my trigger finger and hold it in place that way while rotating the knob on the HKS. Seemed easy enough.

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