Defensive Handgun Shooting Techniques: Emergency Reload

This will be one of the most important defensive handgun shooting techniques to learn. An emergency reload is exactly what it sounds like. It is an emergency. You are in a gunfight and your gun runs out of ammo. Hopefully you have a spare magazine, but if not it is now time to run, hide and pray!

What is an Emergency Reload?

This is a combat pistol shooting technique used to quickly “reload” when the gun runs out of ammo. As you can imagine, if you are in a gun fight and your gun is out of ammunition, it is quite an “emergency”!

In particular, we are going to focus on semi-automatic weapons, rather than revolvers at this time. Revolvers also have an emergency reload technique, but seriously, if you are in a gunfight with a revolver and you run out of ammo, you are kinda screwed. That is, unless you have speed loaders hanging on your belt and practice daily.

The emergency reload is quite simple and is one of the quickest techniques to learn.

As with any of the malfunction drills, when the gun does not fire when you press the trigger, it is most likely one of these reasons:

This article will deal with the first one, running the gun dry. We call it the Emergency reload as it refers to running out of ammo while in the middle of a gun fight. This is bad. If you are fortunate enough to have an extra magazine on you, then this technique is for you!

How to Set up for the Drill

Set-up for this is quite easy.

If you are performing this drill as part of your Dry Practice, you will simply insert an empty magazine into the gun and rack the slide to the rear. The slide stop will cause the slide to stay to the rear. Then be sure you have a fresh, loaded magazine in your belt holster.

If you are practicing the drill at the range and using live ammo, you can have a few rounds in the gun and shoot until the gun is empty and the slide locks back on the empty magazine. You will also need a loaded magazine in your belt holster.

You can also practice this drill at home using dry fire with dummy rounds or snap caps.

The Emergency Reload Drill

Here are the steps to perform the Emergency reload drill:

  1. Pointing the gun downrange, press the trigger and you get a dead trigger. (if using live ammo, simply shoot until empty and you will get the dead trigger)

    Emergency Reload Slide Locks back on empty magazine

    Slide Locks back on empty magazine

  2. While moving to cover, tip the gun up to look at the ejection port and you will see no brass or ammo, and immediately know that the gun is empty.

    Emergency Reload- look into ejection port

    Look into ejection port

  3. Keeping the gun high and pointed downrange, reach for your spare magazine with your support side hand.

    Retrieve spare magazine from belt

    Retrieve spare magazine from belt

  4. Index the spare magazine and start to bring it up to the gun.
  5. At the same time, using your firing hand thumb, press the magazine release and let the empty magazine fall out of the gun.

    Index a magazine with your support hand

    Index a magazine with your support hand

  6. Continue bringing the spare magazine up and insert it firmly into the gun.

    Insert the magazine into the gun

    Insert the magazine into the gun

  7. Release the slide either with your support hand thumb by depressing the slide lock lever, or rack the slide with your support side hand.

    Release the slide lock

    Release the slide lock

  8. Look at your target and make a conscious decision whether to continue shooting or not.

That’s it! Practice this technique until it is second nature and you can perform it flawlessly every time.

Here is the video: