Reload Times

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There's a fallacy amongst hoplophobes (gun phobics) that limiting magazines to 10 rounds will help against mass shooters, or that assault rifles are somehow unique. However:

  • The time it takes to reload is less than the reaction time to know that a shooter is reloading.
  • We fought all wars prior to the Korean war without removable magazines, and all wars prior to Vietnam with 10 round magazines (or less).
  • The FBI studied mass shootings and found that the average mass shooting is 10 rounds over 5 minutes, most never even need to reload.
  • In all the mass shootings in the U.S. there has never been a case where a shooter was charged and disarmed during a reload, even with revolvers[1].
  • Shooting sprees end by them leaving, surrender, suicide or getting shot: virtually never by takedowns during reloads.

Magazine limits, assault rifle bans, outlawing removable magazines, and so on, sound great to those who don't know any better, but is just an infuriating ineffective annoyance to gun owners. Each bad law like this, makes it harder to pass "good" laws, as the tolerance for any more legislation was been wasted dividing us, instead of making a real difference.

00 - The Basics - The rate and effectiveness of fire (including reload times) is less about the gun or magazine than the training of the shooter.
  1. If you give a good shooter a bolt action rifle with a fixed magazine, he can kill more people than a neophyte with a fully automatic machine gun.
  2. With an experienced shooter the death rate will be more dependent on response times, and crowd reaction than gun type.
  3. You can't charge and disarm someone during reload is moronic, it virtually never happens.
  4. The premise is that a mass shooter won't break the law by buying/making an illegal high capacity magazine, use a backup gun (so they don't need to reload), and that while killing the first 11 people (10+1) is OK, that on the 12th round someone can cover a 20-30' gap and subdue the shooter in the <1 second it takes to reload is absurd, it takes more than that to figure out the shooter is reloading and react -- assuming they don't step behind cover to reload (like most do).
  5. The most popular weapon is pistols, but mass murderers have used lever action, pump shotguns, fixed magazines, 23 used revolvers and one of the worst used a bolt action rifle.
  6. If you could successfully take away their guns (impractical), all you would do is move them to more effective weapons that have killed more: Trucks, Bombs (Oklahoma City), fire , or box cutters (9/11). Even shotguns or lever action guns where you can add rounds while you're moving/firing.

This article shows how fast reloads are, and absurdly impractical magazine bans are at making a difference. Now some will whine, "but they're an experts"... while that's often true, many mass shooters train in advance or play games. And the difference between a pro and a good amateur is a second or fraction of a second: it doesn't really matter. There's a reason why no one has successfully rushed a mass shooter during a reload. Remember, you don't know when they're going to reload, thus by the time you've figured out they're reloading, they've already reloaded. So the problem is gun-users know more than the gun-controllers. And the informed are not resisting because they like their murder-toys, they resist because they know what won't be effective. If gun-controllers were more rational, they would ask the experts, and listen to the answers.

01 - Removable Magazines -
Here's Marshall Luton hitting multiple targets with tactical reloads to illustrate the point. Imagine trying to rush him while he's reloading (each ring, is him hitting a different target).

And while he is very fast, and professional, this is a skill that many people practice, and can do well.

  • Travis Tomasie is the World's fastest : video
  • Nick Saiti taking .51 seconds per reload: video
  • Polenar Tactical video
  • Madleaf (Russian, I think): video

These guys are using pistols, but rifles are kind of easier. Also remember that most shooters have a backup gun. If someone charges, they drop the primary, pull the secondary, and ventilate them. Those that think magazine limits can help are ignorant or liars.

02 - Fixed Magazines -
Before there were removable magazines, you put bullets that were held together with a "clip" into a fixed magazine all at once. (This is why many people mistakenly call a removable magazine a "clip"). This kind of system predates metal cartridges, and goes back to the 1700's.

Here's the 1930's era M1 Garand that was standard issue in WWII, or Soviet SKS from the same era. Both these guns are Curio's & Relics, meaning they're antiques (more than 50 years old), or historical guns to collectors -- which means they often have different / easier rules to buy/sell/gift. Even some M16 are about to go into that category.

When NY or California outlaws removable magazines people can do one of 3 things:

  1. Go to fixed magazines, and use clips or speed loaders which doesn't change the rate of fire or reload times at all. Here's some of those in action:
  2. Go to defeat mechanisms (magazine locks). The law is written to say that you have to disassemble the gun to remove the magazine (that qualifies as a non-removable magazine). What the gun-illiterates don't realize is that is pushing a button on an AR-15, and the gun opens up, the magazine drops, and you close the gun, and put the magazine back in. It's so fast and easy, that some guns (especially belt and drum fed ones) used to work like this by default. It doesn't change the rate of fire or reload times in any significant way. Here's some of those in action:
  3. Break the law. You have to remember the parts you have to put on the AR-15 (or other gun) to make them California/NY legal are extras. You can break them off, or replace them with standard part, for like $10 and 5 minutes (max). The idea that a mass shooter is willing to commit multiple felonies and train sometimes for months, but won't order a $10 part and put it on is silly.
  4. Use something else as or more effective. Features that make a gun an "assault weapon" are things like a pistol grip or collapsable stock -- so you take them off, or by a gun with the same rate of fire and same or bigger caliber (firepower), and you're fine.

These laws don't change firepower, so they do nothing against criminals, but annoy the hell out of other collectors or sport shooters. It's as dumb as outlawing red Porsche's to help with speeding, but not white ones, or other cars that go as fast.

03 - Revolvers -
The isn't just a problem with semi-automatics. It's not practical to try to rush someone reloading using a revolver. It takes less than a second to reload a revolver, and most shooters just move to a secure/obstructed location before moving on. Remember, 23 mass murders have been done with revolvers, none were disarmed while reloading.

The idea of "clips" goes back to the 1800's and something called moon clips: that holds a bunch of bullets together, so you can drop them into a revolver at once. It is not much more complex to flip open the cylinder, eject, and drop in a new set of bullets, then it is to drop a magazine and drop in a new magazine. And again, mass shooters usually have more than one gun, so if someone tries to charge them, they just pull and use the other gun.

A thug with a revolver is as dangerous as one with a semi-auto. Most mass shooters don’t even need to reload w/10 rounds (which some revolvers hold). And a mass shooter with 4 revolvers can still kill 47 people and save the last bullet for himself. Which is a higher kill rate than all but one of our top mass shootings have managed (and those shootings lasted over an hour). The higher reliability of revolvers can actually increase gun fatalities. Revolvers are cheaper than semi-autos (due to their simplicity), so at least you lowered the price for the bad guys.

04 - Pump Action - There are "pump action" rifles, but they're most popular in shotguns.
Shotguns do even more damage than rifles in close quarters and mass shootings. There's two topics with pump actions, how fast can you shoot, and how fast can you reload.

How fast can you shoot, is basically as fast as a semi-automatic, there's virtually no difference in rate of fire. Here's Patrick Flanigan throwing 6 clay pigeons in the air, and hitting them before they hit the ground. That's better than anyone can do with an assault rifle because of the many bullets in each shot of a shotgun.

Reloading isn't worse than other fixed magazines. They make speed reloading tubes, so a shotgun can hold 10 regular rounds, or 20 short rounds (not as powerful, but easily enough to kill people). Jerry is using a semi-automatic shotgun, but the same reloading works with pump action. So the removable or fixed magazine does not matter: you push load 20 fresh rounds into a gun in a fraction of a second. The much larger bullets of a shotgun make them easier to reload, because it's a large muscle motion instead of smaller one. The only difference is the the shape of the bullet grouping goes from stacked on top of each other, to lined up end-to-end. So you carry a bunch of tubes around, instead of magazines -- and each shot has a higher chance of lethality as you're basically firing 10-12 bullets the size of an assault rifle bullet, with each shot.

05 - Lever Action -
Lever action is popular in older style western rifles, but they exist in shotgun and even pistol forms. The reason it was popular for so long, was because it was so effective. Not only can people fire nearly as fast as a semi-automatic, but fixed magazine weapons like this, allow load-as-you-go. You can fire and add rounds in while walking, and never run out of ammo.

The same rules as apply to other guns: you can carry more than one. While rifles (and lever actions) are rarely used by mass shooters, that's just because they don't need the size/range advantages that a longer barrel has. The point is if you took away other kinds of weapons, you could still mow down dozens of people with one of these, no problem. Add in a couple more, or other guns as backup -- and they can do horrendous amounts of damage. Which is why many massacres happened with these kind of weapons in the past. Though, most of those were done by government using them against Native Americans.

06 - Bolt Action -
The uninformed think that a bold action hunting rifle would somehow dramatically decrease the death rates. Two of our most famous mass shooters (Charles Whitman and the DC Sniper) both killed 17 people with one: which puts them on the high end of mass shooting spectrum. (The average is around 5). And WWI killed plenty of people with them. A few guys with them could hold off hundreds. Even mass charges against a line of them didn't end well for most, and that's with smoke, grenades and artillery support.

Pre-WWI the British and the Americans had training with their bolt action rifles, that included a mad minute: seeing how many holes you could put in a target at 300 yards using their bolt action rifles -- you had to do 15 to qualify, but the peak was about 38 shots per 1 minute. But that's 300 yards with a really powerful round (30-06), if you reduced the range and size of round to something about 1/3rd the size (a .223) and you could easily up the rate of fire. The average mass shooting is like 15 minutes, do the math on that. Throw in that someone could have a backup gun (or two), and that you can speed-load these with clips/etc. The average death rate is one person every 3 minutes in a mass shooting event: people don't charge the shooter, they wait. A bolt action can kill as many as an assault rifle with those realities. Again, the problem is the guns action, it's the response times that matter.

07 - Break Action -
Here's a guy named Deuce putting 10 rounds in 10 seconds through a double barreled break-action shotgun: that's 60 rounds per minute for the gun controllers out there. There is no way you can charge him between reloads -- assuming he doesn't have a backup gun for those cases when someone tries. So we're going back to weapons first made in 1875, and still their rate of fire will be way too high for gun grabbers to handle. Most people hunker, run, or hide in a mass shooting -- so the kill rate is limited not by the mechanism used, but by the shooters ability to find people. This applies whether he's using a fully automatic assault rifle, or a break action shotgun.

08 - Air Rifle -
Before you laugh at air rifles (BB guns), the 1790 Girandoni that Thomas Jefferson owned could fire 22 shots of .46 caliber lead balls (at 800fps), reload the tube with 22 more shots, and do it again. Each shot could take down a bear or elk (easily kill a human). It was used by the Austrian Army for a couple generations, but they were expensive to make, and American invented cartridges obsoleted everything else (cartridges are powder, brass, bullets and primer in one). But this was used on the Lewis and Clark expedition to demonstrate to local Indian tribes the kind of magical firepower they had and is why no Indian tribe attacked them. Add in that modern big bore air rifles go up to .50 caliber, and can be fully automatic (up to 10 rounds per second), and the lethality should not be mocked. Though because they are much quieter (can be silenced more) and still have limited rounds, they would work "better" for for the sniper kind of attacks -- the problem is those kind of mass murders are often deadlier, last longer, and are harder to deal with.


Mitigation factors like magazine limits, "assault weapons", or even barring all semi-automatics does NOTHING to stop or slow mass shooters. All these guns have easily exchangeable parts, and the parts aren't illegal to buy or own, installing them is. So it takes 5 minutes (and $10 in parts) to convert a legal gun into an illegal one. More than that, if you know what you're talking about, the firepower of a bolt action rifle exceeds that necessary to kill dozens if not hundreds of people: the limiting factor is the shooters ability, random chance, and police response times.

So laws that try to stop this stuff can ONLY harass those that obey the law, and mass shooters have a tendency to break laws. And even if you complied with the law, it does virtually nothing to change the effective rate of fire or lethality for the weapon, it only changes the cosmetics.


📚 References
  1. * Charged during a reload: There was one case of a shooter being taken out during a reload -- but it was because he stumbled around a blind corner, and into someone while reloading. But the same would have happened if he stumbled around the corner with the gun loaded, so the magazine size had nothing to do with it.

Mass Murderers
This is a list of the major Mass Murders and with enough supplemental data to help show why gun control doesn't really matter. Legislators and their gullible base, seem to think that if you make a law, that will stop someone who is already breaking the law by murdering people (usually in gun-free zones). This from people and legislators who speed, drive drunk, get caught cheating on their taxes (or worse), and from people that don't remember what an abject failure alcohol prohibition or the war on drugs has been. Laws don't change people. Most don't even slow people, because they're so easy to ignore. So bad laws (ones that individuals/society doesn't agree with, aren't enforceable and easily circumvented) often just teach contempt for the law. We can allow the people to get training and fight back.


Reload Times: The Basics Removable Magazines Fixed Magazines Revolvers Pump Action Lever Action Bolt Action Break Action Air Rifle