Pro Tip: Magazine Change with Retention

Pro Tip: Magazine Change with Retention


One of the skills that we teach in our Defensive Handgun I courses is the Magazine Change with Retention. We, and the firearms training industry in general, used to refer to this as a “tactical reload”… But we asked ourselves: “What is so damn tactical about it?”

Not to get wrapped around the axle over semantics but it does seem kind of silly to refer to this skill as “tactical” when the priority is to get good ammo to the gun.

So we stopped calling it a tactical reload and now call it what it is… a magazine exchange, with retention of the magazine. Here’s a quick demonstration on how to do it from a recent Defensive Handgun I course.



The answer is pretty simple. It would behoove you to have a fully loaded firearm at all possible times. If you’re involved in an engagement and fire X number of rounds, sound logic dictates that since predatory animals (of both the two and four legged varieties) tend to travel in packs, there may be additional threats. Since we have no means of telling how many rounds may be required to stop the threat, we should have as many on board our weapon system as is possible.


First off, make sure that you are conducting this from the work space. This will allow efficiency in movement as well as aide in maintaining your situational awareness. A simple focal shift to the magazine well will allow you to see what you need to see in order to get things done without turning into Mr/Mrs Tactical Oven Mitts and drop your magazines all over the place. Secondly, be sure to retain your magazine in the least accessible magazine pouch as you want a full magazine in the most accessible spot in case things get weird and you need it.

Get this exchange done as quickly as possible and with as much efficiency as possible as we do not know when the next threat will need to be addressed.

Come join us on Feb 19 and Take your Pistol Skills to the Next Level

Come join us on Feb 19 and Take your Pistol Skills to the Next Level


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Robert Curran

Rob is co-owner of Tactical Dynamics Firearms Training and is a USMC veteran and active Law Enforcement Officer. Rob is a Sig Sauer Master Rated Firearms Instructor and holds several other ratings from various institutions.

  • Ilir Kavaja
    Posted at 10:10h, 22 January Reply

    Isn’t it true that in a defensive shooting situation, magazine retention is not a priority and should not be something to worry about?

    • Rob Curran
      Posted at 17:11h, 22 January Reply

      Priority needs to be on stopping the threat and then scanning and assessing for additional threats. You shouldn’t drop a magazine with rounds in it for the sake of adding more ammo to the gun. If I have rounds on board the gun and need to stop the threat, I will engage with however many rounds as is needed to do so, and then perform a magazine exchange with retention IF I can. Empty magazines are essentially useless and will be discarded temporarilly until the engagement is “officially” over and can be retrieved and stowed away for future use depending on the situaton and threat environment. – Rob

  • Rick
    Posted at 18:57h, 23 January Reply

    Nice demo. I like the “Tactical Oven Mitts” aside.

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