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I have a couple of revolvers that do not reap the quick reloading benefits of the semi-auto pistol. On the other hand, that may be considered a benefit to some of you, depending on your point of view. But regardless of which side of the auto vs. revolver debate you take your stand, the revolver needs some method of speed reloading. Pushing fresh cartridges into the cylinder, one at a time, is too slow when every part of a second counts. Enter the revolver speed loader.
Here are three of the more commonly found speed loaders
available for revolvers. I have a S&W Airweight (5 shot .38 Special) and a
Ruger Security Six (6 shot .357 Magnum) and use the above speed loaders
depending on which revolver I am carrying.
The Bianchi Speed Strips are pretty straight forward and have no
moving parts to break, jam up, or get dirty. The Speed Strip is a length
of molded plastic/rubber that is sized for the various revolver cartridges.
The cartridge is pushed into opening in the Speed Strip and retained there until
it is time to re-load your revolver. I can slip two cartridges into two
cylinders at a time, peel the rubber strip away, and repeat on the next two
cylinders. It is not super fast, compared to the other speed loaders, but
it beats the heck out of fumbling for loose cartridges in your pocket. One
nice benefit of the Speed Strip is the low profile it presents in your pocket.
You won't have a bulge in your pocket if that is where you carry your spare
ammo. I find that it works well with my S&W 637 Airweight.
The Safariland speed loader (left) presents a lower profile than does the H.K.S. (right) version. The operation of the two is slightly different as well.
Loading both of them is essentially the same (see manufacturer
directions for specifics). The cartridges are held in place when you twist
the loader's knob into the "locked" position. The biggest difference
between the two loaders becomes apparent when you are releasing the cartridges.
The H.K.S. speed loader releases the cartridges when you twist the knob in
the opposite direction you did when you locked it. Be sure you have lined
up the cartridges in the cylinder and then twist the knob. I usually have
to "shake" the Ruger, just al little, to ensure the cartridges release from the
speed loader and drop cleanly into the cylinder.
The Safariland speed loader releases its payload when you press the body of the speed loader into the cylinder. A spring loader catch releases and the cartridges drop very cleanly into the cylinder....and I do mean cleanly. There is a notable difference between the two when comparing the release of the cartridges.
I can't comment on the long term reliability of Safariland as I recently picked it up to support my S&W 637 five shot. I've had the HKS bouncing around for 30 years (got it back when I purchased the Ruger). To be truthful, the HKS hasn't seen a lot of use. I don't normally shoot the Security Six at the range in a manner that requires speed reloading.
Any of the above speed loaders will help you get that empty cylinder loaded faster than you could without them. Which is best? I guess that depends on what you like and what you might be wearing (concealed carry). They all work as advertised.
The most important thing is that you pick the type of speed loader that meets your needs and then PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE using it. Remember, every part of a second counts during a speed reload.