Mastering the magazine

     What is the loudest sound in a gunfight?      The click of an empty chamber.      Keeping bullets in the chamber is important to stay in the fight. Officers should practice changing magazines efficiently.      The...

     The administrative reload is a "press check" that checks the magazine, not the chamber. It can be used in the locker room without raising an eyebrow. It also is appropriate before shooting stages when practicing on the range.

     Officers should practice magazine changes as often as they practice shooting. This can be accomplished anywhere, even while watching one's favorite television show. Use a product that positively blocks the chamber, like the Rovatec Bullite. This product delivers a visible laser pulse when it is hit by a firing pin. The laser fits into the chamber like a bullet. There is a tube that screws from the end of the barrel, making it impossible to chamber anything else.

     Range instructors should deliberately include drills that require magazine changes. Officers should be required to shoot scenarios with multiple engagements that exceed the capacity of a single magazine. Instructors should not require a magazine change at a particular point. Instead, officers should be told to keep their gun ready for duty throughout the training. Any officer who completes a scenario, scans and reholsters deserves the verbal abuse of his fellow officers when he shoots his gun dry after two rounds in the next scenario.

     Holstering an empty or partially filled gun is a serious tactical error. If peer pressure makes this painful, it may at least prevent a real-life tragedy.

     Mastering the magazine may seem like a minor shooting skill, but essential for winning the fight.

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches Administration of Justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He may be reached at

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