Magazines and the firearms they fit can be fickle. Some guns will hum along on whatever magazine you put in them, while others…not so much. At this point, I will again say that no maker that might be named pays me anything. I do indeed have one “diva rifle”, that doesn’t like certain magazines, and I have a few pistols that are the same way. You may have similar experience. If such is the case, get specific magazines for that specific gun, and , if you’re in a profession that requires a firearm that cannot have this personality trait, take a different gun to the fight.
Tearing magazines apart and cleaning them is not necessary unless you find yourself constantly in sand, or salt water environments.We do not ever lubricate magazine springs. We also know that the 2 things that kill magazines are the constant loading/unloading (which is why we have dedicated range mags) and the nervous do-gooder types who have an obsessive need to take things apart.
If you have friends who are also shooters (chances are you do if you’re rolling through this website) get together and shoot a wide variety of magazine types to see which works best in what. This is easy with the AR platform, but pistols tend to be more difficult based on personal preferences.
Now, we look at the concept of concealed carry. We’ll gloss over things like your legal right to carry, you’re a solid citizen, you’re intimate with the Force Continuum for your state, and so on. We’ll even go so far as to say that you’re a darn good shot, and you’ve got proven rounds for the firearm. Please carry spare magazines.
A lot of us use more than one pistol if we live in a state that allows such. When it’s cooler (what’s known as winter for me 12 months of the year), we can tote a full sized fighting gun. When it’s warmer, we tend to carry smaller pistols. Smaller pistols equal smaller bullet counts. I perpetually carry at least three magazines.
I’m a Glock guy- with reason. My employment demands that we document everything to death, and with a quarter century of documentation, I’m confident in them. My “small gun” is a Kahr, and I have very little data to stack against the Glock. This is not bad- if I had a quarter century with this platform, I’d have more facts, but I don’t. That makes me extremely conservative in my decision making.
Every 3 years, the mags I’ve carried on the street become range mags. Period. None of these mags have failed, but, I still do the exchange. My primary Kahr will eat whatever I feed it for plinking, but when it comes down to anti-two legger rounds, it is finicky. This leads me to have quite a few defensive rounds of a certain type. When I’m waddling around with a Kahr, and three mags, it’s kind of like a Glock with one.
Let’s explore the 2 basic reload types, being the Speed Reload, which means “Oh dear, I’ve ran this thing to slide lock, and must do something”, and the Tactical Reload, being” I’ve got cover, and 1 miscreant neutralized. I need to top off, since things are quiet at the moment, and miscreants do not move alone.” Needless to say, you have to have both types down pat, especially when you switch from a double column magazine to a single stack.
If the magazine is empty, shuck it out vigorously. There is nothing more useless than an empty magazine. Don’t be found dead with an empty magazine in your hand. This is embarrassing. Even worse would be if you were the person who foolishly believed that spare mags were not necessary…Train yourself to count your rounds, especially with a single stack mag.
Perhaps the mere presence of yourself with a firearm will stop the action that was being directed against you, perhaps not. Don’t be willing to risk your life on this type of posturing.Remember there is a lawyer nailed to every round you press at the threats.
Let’s focus on single stack magazines for a moment. When we go to the range, we may not be able to work at “full speed”, as some ranges have very Draconian rules about what you can and cannot do. Acquire realistic targets of people,holding guns, as close to actual size as possible. Anatomical targets are very valuable, to see what structures you’re destroying with your bullets.
One item that should be allowed everywhere (but verify this) is the usage of dummy rounds. Have your range buddy sneak one into your magazines, here and there, and work on strings of fire as you move around (if allowed), and you’ll likely see that movement is different than standing still. You will also quickly learn that perhaps your trigger control isn’t picture perfect anymore, either.The third thing you’ll quickly learn is that with a single stack, even 1 “bad” round equals a significant percentage of loss to your defense.
The fourth thing you will learn is that you’d better get your Immediate Action Drills squared away. The fifth thing is very important.Look at how many times you shoot the hand holding the gun, on the target. The brain identifies the threat, and bullets will go there.The range is the place to learn, as the learning curve during an actual confrontation is much more severe.Once you’ve got all of this down, try to count your rounds. To finish all of this off, introduce a stop watch, or PACT timer.Please be safe in your exertions, and if all of this is too much initially, work your way into these items, 1 at a time.This is far superior to shooting 50 rounds in 2 hours into 1 small hole and convincing yourself that you’re a Pistolero. Bravado can be fatal.
Do not carry your naked spare magazine in your grubby pocket. You would be amazed how many people do, and you would be even more amazed at what will find its way in there. This will likely give you a nasty malfunction in the moment of truth. That would be a dandy time for a third magazine drawn from a pouch, now wouldn’t it? Ammunition equals options, people. No ammunition means you have no more options. Perhaps you’re a world class knife fighter…who knows?
Do NOT train yourself (or allow others to train you) to drop the magazine if you get a “click/no bang” scenario. If you drop the magazine, and you brought no spares, be prepared to be assuming ambient temperature. There are many out there who train to immediately drop the magazine to the deck if they hit a bad round. I see this constantly. This is very bad-inoperable firearm-and mad scramble to procure a spare magazine begins. Now you have an overwhelmed shooter attempting to multitask, and they stop moving. If ever there is a time to move, it’s when the firearm needs to be fed, or has a hiccup. After all of this gets sorted out, what do you suppose the next issue is? That’s right, they manage to seat the spare magazine, but fail to eject the bad round that started the whole darn process. This may sound humorous, but the stakes are high.
The beauty of range training is that you go HOME at the end of the day, to practice, and return again.You may be at your computer now thinking you wouldn’t ever do this, but actually try these exercises mentioned above, and be prepared to purchase a dead crow to snack on.
Getting the magazine out of the gun. This should be easy, correct? Magazines don’t stick in the well, do they? If you’ve got the liberty of movement at your range- bring along your range buddy. Let’s say that you have put in the time to get good at moving, shooting, coping with dummy rounds, and round counting, under time. We can now take our drills a step forward. We need to put increased heart rate into the picture. Have 3 mags loaded for the pistol, each with a dummy- 1 in the gun, the other 2 concealed as you carry them. Jog in place for 45 seconds. Your range buddy has the timer, and they are in charge.
Your shooting positions are Standing, Kneeling, and Prone. Have your buddy call cadence like “2 standing, 2 prone, 8 seconds”.On the agreed stimulus, execute what your buddy said. Long story short, working with pistol or carbine, you will inevitably “monopod” a mag, and it will not come out easily. The fun of this type drill is you get to run your buddy through it next. Be realistic and safe, and learn. To be sadistic- acquire some Glock Non-Drop-Free magazines if you’re a Glock shooter, and throw these magazines into the mix.Remember to relentlessly seek cover. If you have 10 round magazines, mix these in with high capacity mags, and have your range buddy insert the mag so you’re not exactly sure how many rounds you have on tap.
These drills are pretty modular, and can polish up issues you may currently possess. When proficiency is developed, start doing drills with the Support Hand. Anybody can hit all day long Strong Hand. You will be shot in the Strong Hand, by the way- remember the 5th learning tip from earlier. All of these drills are done with range mags- don’t go back out into the mean old world using mags that you beat up on the range. Get used to placing the mags where they are hidden, but accessible.
One of the best tests you can do when you’ve mastered all of this is to fill magazines completely with dummy rounds, and work on disabled drills, in DRY FIRE mode. Disabled drills are when you simulate an injury which puts one hand out of action. Performing disabled drills with a hot gun is an invitation to shoot yourself or someone else for real, so don’t just jump into this after reading an article.
The next step in our education is to NOT take our eyes off the threat as you reload and relentlessly seek cover.Once you get this down, start working on Tactical Reloads from cover, and stow your partial magazines somewhere OTHER than the pouch you took it out of. This is why- if you stick a partial back in a pouch, Murphy’s Law dictates you will reload the partial, believing it is full. This is bad juju.Whenever possible, based on how/where you carry those spare magazines, grab the magazine furthest from your Strong Hand first.
This is why- when you get hit in the Strong Hand, you’re now operating Support Hand only (if the hand is severely damaged) It is only prudent to have access to the closest magazine, not the furthest.With a rifle, things are even more difficult, due to more weight/length of the firearm.I’m sure all of you have already pondered this, though.
All of this might be a lot to take in a single dose, so let us retouch on lessons learned for this segment;
1-We carry to defend ourselves, and we have spare magazines, properly covered, and stowed.
2-We have correctly functional magazines loaded with proven rounds that our firearm will reliably digest.
3-We likely carry different firearms seasonally, so it’s critical to recognize exactly what we have on tap
4-Ammunition=options. No ammunition=no options.
5-We constantly visually look at cover to perform our Tactical Reloads from, because we know that man makes magazines and bullets, so failure could indeed occur.
6-If we empty the mag, we get rid of it forcefully, and seat the next mag the same way. If we hit a malfunction, we clear it forcefully while keeping eyes on the threat.
7-We stay sharp with practice, and don’t feel bad when we beat up our range mags.
8-Each time we practice, we incorporate movement, dummy rounds, time pressure, increased heart rate, reloads, round counts,and the relentless pursuit of cover.
9-We don’t want to be caught dead clutching an empty magazine because it’s bad form.
10- We will dominate the fight, as we did not choose it. If no cover exists, we will aggress the threat to stop it quickly.
Bonus tip- do not EVER mix 223 rounds/ firearms with 300 Blackout rounds/ firearms. Bad things WILL happen.
Stay Safe, Train Often
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