I was talking with Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts the other day about reloads, specifically reloads for the semi auto precision rifle. While the context was designated marksman, the technique discussed was based on keeping the rifle on the bipod and bag for the reload. This got me thinking about the reloads I have had to do over the years and if there were other techniques I had been missing.
The first thing is, get your hits without needed to reload. Most stages are less than 20 rounds and all the real-life distance shots I have done were on a handful of bad guys at most. 20 rounds should carry you through to point where the reload is not on the clock. This can be applied to a lot of reloads beyond the scope of use here. Reloading on the clock is something we must be good at but is not the preferred technique. I have done a lot of reloads on the clock, so this applies to me as much as you.
Next, lets assume the shot is a distance shot, we built a stable position and have finally gotten to where we almost getting hits and then the bolt locks back. Most of us have learned and perfected the non-firing hand reload but is that really the best way? Our Non firing hand is holding the bag, or the barricade or doing something to hold that position. By taking that hand away, we truly go back to the beginning of the shot process and must rebuild the whole position.
Steve was talking to Colton Miller and Colton showed Steve a cool technique where he reloads using the firing hand. This allows the non-firing hand to remain in position and allows for faster follow up shot. On all my reloads during matches and the ones I have observed, I would guess 90% happen while trying to get the last hit or two. This means that reload can take you from Hero to Zero very quickly. 6-10 seconds can really influence a match.
The theory is to reload with strong hand but there are some “things” you will need to make this work. You will need some way to release the bolt with your firing hand. There are a dozen devices out there to make this possible, but I recommend a dedicated Ambi lower. Something purpose built will not have the same potential failure points as an add on system. If glory is on the line, get a dedicated lower. If you do not know my recommended brand, send a message and I will let you know. Another advantage of a dedicated ambi lower is you get a mag release on the left side of the rifle. This can be an advantage in other positions.
Next, you will need to set up and practice the reload using your firing hand. The steps are the same, get the empty mag out of the way, get new mag in, and release the bolt. With practice, this reload can be just as fast as the normal reload. The advantage in speed comes in not having to rebuild whatever the non-firing hand was doing when the bolt locked back. You are closer to that final shot.
Spend a few minutes in dry fire and check it out. It may be more of a hindrance, but it may be something that gets you some time back under match conditions.