I was recently in a firearms class when the instructor, in the middle of demonstrating a drill involving reloads with a semi-auto pistol, suddenly dropped his gun, dropped to a knee, pulled a j-frame revolver out of an ankle holster, and engaged the target. When he stood up he grinned and said “And when you want a REALLY FAST reload, you simply grab another gun.”
That got me thinking, because up until that point in time I had simply gone along with the assumption: New Gun = Faster. Don’t have to drop the mag and find a new one and insert the new one and then shoot–just hit that New York Reload (for those new to firearms, a “New York Reload” is simply pulling another gun) and life is good.
Of course, it could be better.
But….is that really true? Are New York reloads (NYR) actually faster in this day and age when most people carry semi-auto pistols? Obviously, it is true for revolvers being loaded with loose rounds (and probably still true for most people even with speedloaders or moonclips, Jerry Miculek notwithstanding)….but this seems to be a concept taken as “standard truth” by most people for all types of carry, including semi-auto pistols.
Watching the instructor pull his backup gun (BUG), I really wondered about it—because here was a skilled, experienced instructor whom I respected, and it took probably a little over 2 seconds from shot to shot between the old gun and the new gun–and he knew when the old gun was going to go dry so it wasn’t a surprise. Sure, plenty of people don’t have 2-second reloads. But…most people don’t have 2-second draws from BUG positions, either…
So are NYRs normally faster than standard reloads?
I thought I’d find out, or at least get one comparative data set. In my case, instead of drawing a small backup gun from a ankle holster or some other place equally difficult to reach, I used a G19 from an IWB holster carried strong side behind the hip as the BUG. My normal carry is a G17 in an AIWB holster, so I went from my normal carry gun as the primary, to a “BUG” that was a common primary carry pistol using a normal primary draw type for most people who carry.
In other words, I’m giving the NYR the maximum chance to be fast, by making it an easy gun to draw and shoot, and doing so from the place where most people carry their primary.
Contrasting this, I’ll be performing a normal reload-to-shot from my standard extra magazine carry position.
Here’s what happened:
There just doesn’t seem to be that much difference in time. If I was drawing a j-frame from an ankle holster, it would have been even slower.
…I’m just not seeing much in the way of saved time here, using a New York reload.
Now, no matter what else is true, there are some useful things specific to each type of “reload”:
New York Reload Advantages:
- If your primary has an unfixable malfunction (at least, unfixable within a useful time frame) the NYR is obviously going to work best.
- If your primary is taken, lost, or unavailable due to position, then the NYR is obviously going to work best.
Standard Reload Advantages:
- You aren’t reloading to a smaller gun that is harder to shoot well.
- You are reloading to another full magazine of ammunition, instead of a 5-shot snubbie or something similar. (If you shot so much that the gun went empty once, the idea of now only having 5 rounds doesn’t sound good…)
- You don’t have to reach to draw from a non-primary position. Example: You can’t draw from an ankle holster if you are trying to run for cover. Or run anywhere. Many backup guns are holstered in unobtrusive (meaning: slower to draw from and harder to get to) positions, making them harder (and slower) to access.
So ignoring the time differences, there are some potential cases when the New York Reload is the only one that will get you a working gun. In others, the standard reload is the only one that will make it happen.
Best choice? Obviously having both an extra magazine and a backup gun to cover all the bases.
That being said–there just doesn’t seem to be much of a time difference between the two “reloads” when going from shot to shot. And in my case, my standard reloads are actually probably going to be faster than any backup gun that I’d actually carry.*
*Obviously this sample is one case, based on one set of guns/holsters, done by one person. If your reloads suck worse than mine, maybe the BUG will be faster. If you can’t hit anything at speed with a tiny gun past 3 yards, maybe the standard reload will be best for you. But….that difference isn’t a function of the method, that’s a function of shooter skill. From the viewpoint of method, there just doesn’t seem to be as much of a time difference as many people might think—especially if someone is drawing a tiny BUG from deep cover.