View Full Version : Magazine orientation

John Lindsey
15th October 2007, 14:20
One of the most common mistakes I see with new pistol shooters is how they orientate their magazines in their waist belt mag pouch. Either the bullets face the front, or they can face the rear. To me, this is really a no brainer, but I still have people try to explain why they prefer the other way. Then, I explain to them WHY it is better, emphasizing the tactical considerations.

You really only have two options, bullets face the front, or the rear on your belt. Or as we say in Texas: pecker or pooper.

Bullets facing the front is the accepted orientation.

All this boils down to how is the best way to load a mag in a pistol. Best does not mean lightening fast. You may be tired, hurt, confused, shell shocked, etc. It has to be natural and without thought..

You must understand that there is a difference between shooting a gun, and fighting with a gun. This is the biggest challenge I see as an instructor. If you never intend to use your pistol for nothing other than range shooting, then you don’t need to be worried about this stuff. Just do it safely. If on the other hand you want to learn to use it as a weapon, you better learn to do things properly and put the time and effort into converting it from a drill to a skill.

Like it or not, anytime you do anything with a weapon, you are training.
Your are training your body and subconscious on how you interact with it. Remember the story of the dead police officer with revolver brass in his pocket? On the police range, officers were required to immediately remove the spent casings and put it in their pockets, so not to dirty up the range! He did what he was trained to do.

It is true that for simply loading a magazine, it is not rocket science. Most people can take a mag and insert it in a gun without any problems. The real problem is, we do this is a controlled, stress free environment, such as when you load your weapon before leaving the house. You have all the time in the world, and you are in complete control of the situation. Every time you do it, you are training. Is it good training? Depends if in the future you will only have to load your weapon under such conditions. Then it is fine. But we know that is not the case. If you change the situation, induce stress or confusion, then you fall back on what you have trained.

.So, we want to optimize our movements and mindset. We know now that the best way to insert the mag is to use the first finger to point to the mag well and guide it in. We want the magazines facing to our front so we don’t have to search of the magazines leading edge. We want to grab it and go. That is why the forward mag orientation is the best way.

When I load my pistol, be it at home, at the range, or at work, it is always with the same core movements. Nothing is done casually. It is done with intention and focus.

15th October 2007, 18:00
Good stuff, John.

Your point re: stress and confusion and how you train is critical.

People should realize that when bullets are flying and the threat is lethal and very close, you will have no time to think. Only here is where you will truly come to know muga mushin and fudoshin. You must come to operate in this realm in order to function. If you have to start thinking about something as basic as how to load your pistol you will quickly drown in your own OODA loop - tactics and techniques, and how you wear your kit must be optimized so that you can be concerned with the totality of the situation.

I see too many people under the stress of Sims fumbling with bad kit set-up, going into the "Fetal Fighting Position" for reloads and weapons manipulation, which can be fatal against a committed opponent willing to close the distance while you finger-f*** your gun.

Some of our guys are starting to wear their mags with a cant - about a 45 degree angle with pecker oriented rounds (LOL at that one!!) They say it actually helps speed up magazine acquisition because it fits in the normal circular flow of the hand dropping to the mag on the re-load, versus breaking the wrist to get to your mag in a top feeding pouch.

On another note - I've gone to open top mag pouches, which significantly improve reload speed. I work in a very wet environment and haven't had problems. What is your experience with the sand?

John Lindsey
15th October 2007, 18:29
I follow the advice of Paul Howe, the former Delta guy from Black Hawk Down fame who now teaches here in Texas. Paul’s setup is to have the first mag without retention, and the rest of them with flaps secured. First pouch with a kyvex insert works well. I never carried more than 3 mags on my belt. Never had any pistol mags on my vest. My Bail Out Bag next to me in the car had 30 round glock mags as my final backup.

Mags do get dislodged during explosions and car wrecks.

Canted mags may work fine, like it does in sport shooting. I don’t see a need for it for me.

My vest had the bare minimum of pouches. A lot of people load the vest up with all kinds of stuff, often in the wrong place. Worst example is putting a radio pouch on your upper back, where they could not adjust the volume or change the freq.

I never liked having a spare pistol mag on the pistol holster.

Best mag change drill is to transition to your backup weapon. I think it was Clint Smith who said “one gun is none, two are one”.

15th October 2007, 18:40
Good points, John.

Luckily I've never had my car blown up to experience that! Good one.

More of us are going to the radios accessible on the vest, moving it from the back. You tend to start relying on your buddies to do stuff for you, but not to think about "what if my buddy goes down."

I got a new vest and have to switch it over - today is my first day back operational!

How many mags (long gun) do you typically carry on your vest? Do you guys run with gas masks?

George Kohler
15th October 2007, 21:49
Glad your back working, Kit. Stay safe.

John Lindsey
15th October 2007, 22:23
I had 12 mags on my vest, 4 on a drop down thigh rig, and about 15 in the bail out bag. We never had gas masks, but the US clients had them for a time, when the Iraqis started to use chlorine gas along with bombs.

16th October 2007, 04:01
Glad your back working, Kit. Stay safe.

Thanks buddy, doing very well.

12 mags, dang! Of course you're putting a lot more lead downrange than we ever do.