The One Handed Reload…With a Revolver

One handed reloads are something that probably not everyone works on, but are a critical part of the complete skill set. It is not hard to find a dashcam video or recounted story of a gunfight where someone has lost the function of a hand or arm because it has taken incoming fire. In the infamous Miami shootout, one of the FBI agents takes a hit the hand pretty early in the fight (FBI Training Video). It isn’t an unusual thing.

This gets to one of the rubs with revolvers. On a normal day, a revolver reload is more complex than a semi auto. If trying to complete the task one handed, it is more complicated by an order of magnitude, but not impossible. I think the key here is to be familiar enough with the process that it can be done without much conscious thought, and just sort of happens.

There is a lot going on here. The cylinder has to be opened, which is probably the easiest part, and the fired brass removed. There are a couple different methods for this part. One is to remove the brass via inertia. It sometimes works, but sometimes 1 or 2 pieces of brass will remain in the cylinder. As you can imagine, that becomes very problematic, so I personally don’t rely on it. Other methods use the ejector rod, but require a little juggling of the revolver in the hand. Since this is the surest bet, I chose to go this way. Once the brass is removed, there are a couple options here too as far as securing the firearm and staging it for the reload. You can stuff the barrel behind your belt, being sure to keep the ejector rod on the other side of your belt so that it holds the cylinder open.

If you can comfortably reach across your body, you can do basically the same thing in the left front pocket. Depending on the barrel length of the revolver, the type of pants being worn, or a persons body composition, one may work better than the other for different people.

Once the revolver is secure, getting bullets back into the chambers is fairly straight forward, depending on what type of speedloader is being used and where it is located. Being able to access the speedloader with either the right or left hand can create challenges. Fortunately I can access my front right pocket with either my left or right hand, albeit a little awkwardly with my left hand.

If using a speedloader like the HKS that requires I turn a nob to release the rounds, I have to find a way to secure the cylinder well enough that it doesn’t spin. The best way that I could figure out, is to secure the cylinder with the index finger, and turn the nob on the speedloader with the thumb and middle finger. I am just glad I don’t really use HKS speedloaders, because it still sucked. That is one advantage to the Dade or Safariland type speedloaders that just require you to push down to release the rounds. Once the rounds are in the cylinder, the rest is pretty easy. Reacquire a firing grip on the handgun, draw it from wherever it was secured, close the cylinder either with a free finger if shooting WHO, or against your body if shooting SHO, and go to work. 

Put in the work, the payoff may come later.

3 thoughts on “The One Handed Reload…With a Revolver

  1. Great post. I admit this is something I have not yet tackled in my journey to true mastery of the revolver.
    At one point PHLster Holsters made a J-Frame holster that was designed to hold the gun during a SHO/WHO reload ( I’m really curious if the offer an real benefit over this technique, but unfortunately I’ve not tracked one down.
    Again, great work and thanks for the videos!


    1. Dude, you have an awesome website. Going on my favorites list.

      Could you not order a City Special from the PHLster Custom Shop with the modification for the one handed reload? The standard City Special is still listed as available in the custom shop.

      With a 4″ gun I think sticking the barrel behind the belt and keeping the cylinder in front of the belt might be a little quicker, and offers a little standoff from the body/clothing for the cylinder. I doubt it would work as well with a snub gun though.


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