[Ed. Note – This is the first in a two-part police training series on reloading a revolver. Make sure you also check out Relover Reloads – Speedloaders.]
If you carry a revolver as a back-up duty weapon or off-duty gun, you have a need for extra ammunition. Two common methods of spare bullet carry are speed strips and speed loaders. The word “speed” does not necessarily apply to either one of these reloading devices.
The speed strip, bought from Bianchi International as the “Speed Strip” or Tuff Products as a “Quickstrip,” is a piece of plastic that holds six rounds in a flat orientation. Reloading is accomplished by inserting one or two rounds at a time into the open revolver cylinder.
It takes practice to orient the revolving cylinder so that the bullets go in smoothly. Some wheelgunners load only four rounds in a strip, in two spaced pairs, so they are easier to insert. I find down loading a speed strip to four bullets is akin to down loading a semi-automatic’s magazine. I think it is a waste of usable real estate.
That being said, master trainer Massad Ayoob recommends loading five rounds in the standard six round speed or quick strip. He prefers this because it leaves a bigger space at the tab end to hold on to the strip. He runs his index finger along the length of the strip for control.
During a reload, he inserts two bullets into the outboard empty cylinders then rotates the strip forward. This pulls the bullets out cleanly. A sideways torque of the strip will cause undue twisting to release the bullets and slow the reload. He continues with the next two rounds, and then the final round in the case of a five-shot revolver reload.
This same method works for me, though I choke up a bit and hold some of the rearward rounds for a familiar grip. I also carry five rounds in one of these plastic carriers. Since my on-duty secondary weapon is usually my Smith & Wesson 442, I carry a speed strip in my right front pants pocket.
Revolver reloads can be accomplished with either hand. Mr. Ayoob demonstrates holding the gun in the non-dominant hand as he loads with the dominant hand. This is the way many police officers were trained when revolvers were the handguns for law enforcement until the mid-1980’s.
Another accomplished revolver trainer, Michael de Bethencourt advocates holding the revolver in the dominant hand, rolling the cylinder open and holding it there with the index finger, while reloading with the non-dominant hand. Either technique is sound, in my opinion. I am used to the former.
Though the speed strip is not a very fast method for re-upping the charge holes in a wheelgun, old time dump pouches, single bullet loops on the belt, or a pocket full of loose rounds were even slower.
The advantages to the speed strip are its low profile in a pocket and secure hold on the individual rounds. They are economical and are better than having just the five or six in the cylinder. Of course, the best way to carry five more bullets is the New York Reload—a second revolver on your body!
I’ll address speedloaders for reloading in the next article.
Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department. He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective and SWAT Team Leader. He is currently the Midnight Shift K9 Sergeant and department SWAT Coordinator.