Sunday, December 18, 2011

When More is Nothing

I overheard it at Camp Perry a few weeks ago.  I learned it from my AR instructors.  I’ve even experienced it myself: Most guns don’t like be to loaded with a full magazine against a closed bolt or slide. 

The close tolerance designed into many weapons doesn’t let a completely filled magazine to compress enough to allow the magazine to lock into place when loaded against a closed action.

AR are notorious for this.  A filled thirty-round magazine doesn’t always seat against a closed bolt.  Glocks are famous for this as are Kahrs.  I’ve owned a few 1911 .45 ACPs that would spit out a filled mag loaded against a closed action.

Glock - 9 mm tool - useful but has limitations

The general gun battle assumption is you’ll shoot the gun dry, discover you’re empty and perform a slide-lock reload.  The tactical reload was reserved for game players on the safety of the range. 

But can you really be sure of that?  I can’t predict the future any more than you, so by some remote, improbable, extraordinary circumstance, could you need a tactical reload to save your butt?

I’ll grant you that at best the tactical reload is reserved for the lull in fighting in which a reassessment also takes place to determine if the battle would continue or not.  At worst it’s a tool gamesmen play on the safety of the range to insure that when they reach the next shooting box their blaster will be fully reloaded.

Unless you’re behind sufficiently large cover, you should be making every attempt to shoot people trying to kill you.  But since lulls in a gun battle can be so temporarily transitory, the need to quickly refill your weapon is critical.  Having the gun spit the magazine out after the next shot is a recipe for disaster.

Solution?  Down load your carry magazine by one.

What!  Heresy you say!  I know, yes, you spent extra for high cap magazines and mag extenders to get extra rounds.  But let’s think about this.

Kahr P9 with "glock' sock

Your AR with an administrative (that’s the first magazine you put in the weapon at the beginning of your day) load of 30 rounds and one conservative reload of 28 rounds gives you 58 instead of 60 rounds available to you.  That’s a 3% reduction in potential fire power.  Which odds are best for your survival:  a 3% or a 50% reduction caused by dropping the magazine after one shot?  

With your 1911 and seven round magazines, one reload with six rounds gives you  13 rounds or a 7% reduction.  Compare this value to dropping a filled 7-round magazine after the first shot following a tactical reload.  Again that’s a 50% reduction in fire power.

The message seems clear, if down loading a reload magazine by one round increases your weapon’s reliability and therefore your survival ability, isn’t it worth it?

“But,” you interrupt. “What if I need that extra round?”

If you’re convinced the 14th round of .45 ACP is significant to your survival, carry an extra magazine.  That gives you 19 rounds. 

Carrying a second reload is like inexpensive life insurance.  Even if you’re a high cap Glock shooter, a second reload is a gift from the gods.

But what if someone with authority prevents you from carrying a second magazine?  I don’t have all the answers, heck, I don’t have all the questions, but I would consider a second magazine in my pocket hidden from that authority. 
A second option might be an aftermarket mag extender and fill the magazine to its original capacity using the “add-on” capacity to ensure I can reload against a closed action.  Again the question to answer is how reliable is it?

If you’re of the mindset that since you didn’t get a third magazine when you bought the gun, so you’re not going to pay for a third magazine, buy life insurance ‘cause you’re dead anyway.  The certificate just hasn’t been served.

It’s something to think about.  If your gun and magazines have no problem loading a filled magazine against a closed slide, great.  Fill’em up.

But if your weapon doesn’t like filled magazines, then down loading by one could save your life.

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