Especially considering the capacity limitation in the Production Division (15 cartridges) or the already limited capacity of single-stack 1911 pistols in the Classic Division, changing the magazine is an important skill. And even in the Standard or Open Division, the magazine is sometimes empty and needs to be changed quickly. For a quick magazine change the magazine release button is pressed with the thumb of the firing hand and at the same time the non-firing hand reaches for the fresh magazine on the belt. Then the fresh magazine is introduced and the non-firing hand is brought back to the gun. So basically no rocket science.
Basic considerations for magazine change
But firstly, the magazine is rarely changed in a static position for reasons of time saving, so there are some things to consider for the magazine change on the move. Secondly, the magazine change should not be considered in isolation. The shots to be fired immediately before and after have a lot of potential for error. In particular, the last shot before the magazine change is gladly delivered hastily to begin as quickly as possible with the magazine change. Instead, the firing motion must first be completed. The grip must not be loosened, nor should the arms be lowered. The same applies to the follow-up. This is often delivered hastily (without sufficient sight picture or with a bad grip).
How to change the magazine quickly
Here are some tips for a successful, quick magazine change: first of all, during the magazine change you should always keep your eye on the gun. To see what you do is the key to constancy. Next, the magazine release must be pressed as early as possible. If you have difficulty reaching the button or lever with the thumb of the shooting hand, the gun can be rotated in the firing hand for this purpose. When ejecting the magazine, the gun should be kept as vertical as possible so that gravity can help the magazine fall out. Once the magazine has completely fallen out of the pistol, the gun must be correctly positioned for the insertion of the fresh magazine. Many shooters find this easier if the weapon is pulled slightly towards the body. Whether it is held at eye level or lower is a matter of taste. In our experience, however, it is particularly advantageous in case of magazine change on the move to lower the gun somewhat, since this makes it smoother. When inserting the magazine, the angle of the magazine well is particularly critical. A good rule of thumb is to orient the magazine well opening in the direction of the magazine carrier.
Next we come to the non-firing hand. This has to pull the new magazine from the magazine carrier without hesitation at the beginning of the magazine change. It is important to grasp it immediately so that it can be introduced quickly. The easiest way to accomplish this is when the magazine bottom is supported on the palm of the non-firing hand and the index finger is placed along the front of the magazine. This allows you to literally point the gun to the magazine. After the new magazine has been fully inserted, the non-firing hand is returned to the pistol. Here you can use the technique described during the draw motion. In addition, you should also refrain from superfluous movements in this activity. A classic here is turning the gun when ejecting the old magazine.
Training with dummy cartridges
The best way to practise magazine changes at home is dry-fire training. The magazines should be loaded with dummy cartridges, so you get used to the weight. Our recommendation here: load cartridges with original bullets (but without powder and primer) and mark them clearly as dummies; the commercially available dummy / drill cartridges made of aluminum or plastic are too light for this purpose.
Here are the other parts of our series on dynamic handgun shooting:
- Part 1: The perfect grip for pistol shooting
- Part 2: The perfect pistol shooting posture
- Part 3: The trigger control for perfect pistol shooting
- Part 4: The drawing process for perfect pistol shooting
Further information on dynamic handgun shooting:
Which IPSC classes are there in the field of short guns? We offer you a short overview to the Handgun Divisions.