You’re advancing towards the flag with a s*** eating grin on your face because you just lit up two unsuspecting enemies. You tag one more with the last rounds in your mag. You honestly believe you might be the real-life Rambo.
You look down at your vest and snatch a fresh mag full of First Strike rounds. As you look up to take aim you get that all-too-familiar feeling of hopelessness in your gut as you spot Boxmag Bob aimed directly at you with his Dye Dam. Before you have a chance to get into cover he sends a stream of graffiti slapping straight into your nut sack. Game over. This always happens when you reload. But there’s nothing you can do, you may as well accept it and hope it doesn’t happen next round. But it does, it always does. You’ll never be Rambo. Right?
Let’s rewind this scenario and go over what you did wrong, and how to perform a correct tactical reload so you can be a more effective player for yourself, your team, and your sack.
Stop Looking Down. Keep Your Eyes On The Enemy, Not Your Gear.
The first mistake here was looking down at your vest to spot that full mag. This is a dead tell to the enemy that, well, you likely don’t have ammo to use against him. You’re also losing sight of the field and are essentially blinding yourself for a few seconds, losing that awareness and creating a handicap for yourself. And like any player would do, he’s going to capitalize on that and either advance on you or take better aim.
Always keep your head up and aimed down your sight at the enemy. Position your mags so you can go “down the line” when reloading without having to actually look to see where the next one is. Getting the hang of this will take practice. Lots and lots of practice. But eventually (after a few hundred times) you’ll imprint that into your muscle memory and never have to take your eyes off the enemy to know where that next full mag is instinctively.
Stop Dropping Your Marker. Keep It Up, Keep It Aimed, And Keep It Firing.
Just like dropping your head to look at your gear positioning, dropping your marker (or your magazine) is just as much of a tell to the enemy. Except if they had any reservations as to whether you were really empty or not, that doesn’t matter now because you’re not even sighted in on him. This gives him a huge advantage and he will likely leverage that to put the pressure on you (and your testis). Additionally, you always want to have rounds in the chamber ready to fire. If you don’t, you’ll miss that perfect opportunity to cover your opponents mask with that new hot pink paint you’ve been wanting to test out…
Keep your marker up with your trigger hand, and your eyes down your sights. With your opposite hand, reach down and snag that full mag (which you can do because you’ve practiced so much!). As you’re bringing it up, hit the mag release button with your strong hand finger and send that empty mag to the ground. (Pro Tip: If it your mags tend to stick in the well, wrist-flick your pistol grip to the outside. This will give it extra momentum to fly out of there). Simultaneously, slap that fresh mag home. Boom. This entire reload sequence took you about 2-3 seconds instead of of 5-7. But look at this through the eyes of your enemy, did he have 2-3 seconds of opportunity? Try 1/2 second. That 1/2 second gap between your old mag dropping out of the mag well to you slapping in your fresh mag back in there. 1/2 a second isn’t enough time for him to even make a decision of whether to advance, fire, sight in, or reload himself. Rambo Status.
Take Cover, And Take A Knee.
Regardless of how fast you become at your reloads, you can still get hit from alternate enemy positions or perhaps just an overly-confident opponent who decided to take a dumb risk and got lucky. It happens all too often. By lingering in place while you perform your reload, you’re exposing yourself to the enemy and just painting a bigger silhouette (target) for them to light up.
As soon as you hit that mag release button, drop to your knee and get as close to your cover as possible. Bring your barrel to the corner of that wall or truck tailgate. That being said, never stick your barrel past corners or ledges. You don’t need those extra 6″ to hit your target… retain cover and concealment by keeping your gear from poking out. There’s no reason to expose yourself unnecessarily, your nuts will thank you.
Use The Buddy System. Cover Each Others Sector During Reloads.
The only foolproof way to ensure your sector will stay covered during your reload is to have someone else with ammo covering it. You’ll need to communicate this to your teammates as they obviously don’t know your mag count. Without alerting the enemy, let your buddy know you’re reloading so he can pick up your slack for that downtime. BTW this is also how we utilize effective “Buddy Rushing” in the Marines, a tactic you’ll find very useful and effective which you’ll find we pulled from another one of our articles “Tactics 101: A Basic Guide Derived From Marine Infantry Combat Tactics.”
Summary: Order Of Operations
This is how a tactical reload should go step by step.
- You’re firing, you’re firing, you’re firing.
- Signal “RELOADING” to your fire team buddy
- As you’re draining the last of your mag, at the same time take a knee behind cover and reach down with your weak hand and grab that full mag in your gear.
Remember, keep your head and weapon up and eyes on the enemy.
- As you’re pulling that full mag out of its pouch, hit the mag release button with your strong hand finger to send the empty to the deck.
- Slap home the that fresh mag and continue firing if the enemy is in sight.
(If you’re worried about losing your mag on the field, this is the time to reach down with that weak hand to grab that empty and throw it in your mag drop pouch. If you don’t have one, get one. Attach it to your vest on your weak hand side. Do NOT try and stuff it back into the fitted pouch it came out of, you’ll waste valuable time.)
- Aggressively war cry and act out the rest of the game like Rambo. See, dreams do come true.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
This is the only way to become more proficient in things which require muscle memory. The more you practice, the more it will become muscle memory. The more it becomes muscle memory, the faster you are at it and the less you have to think to perform it. The less you have to think to perform it, the more thinking space you have to make other critical on-the-spot decisions to avoid casualties, take out enemy, and bring home that victory.