Speedloaders and Speedstrips

May 12th, 2012No Comments

When carrying a revolver, it doesn’t take long to realize that reloading is the weapon’s achilles heel.  Compared to the simple act of sliding a fresh magazine into a semi-automatic, reloading a revolver is a slow and cumbersome process.  If you are serious about carrying a revolver then you had better be serious about speeding up your reloads.  Dry practice with dummy rounds helps but you don’t want to be on the street feeding one round at a time as the barbarian hordes ride down upon you.  That’s where speedloaders and speedstrips come into the picture.  Speedloaders are small plastic or metal devices that hold your rounds aligned so they will all feed into the cylinder at the same time.  Speedstrips are rubber strips with pockets sized to hold the rounds in a straight line.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but either is a much better choice than a pocket or pouch full of loose rounds.

Speedloaders versus Speedstrips
  • Speedloaders are bulkier and hard to conceal in a pocket.  Speedstrips are flat, easy to conceal, and less noisy in the pocket.
  • Speedloaders are faster and load all five (or six) rounds at one time.  Speedstrips only permit two rounds to be loaded at one time.  On average, I can load a full five rounds with a speedloader three to four secounds faster than I can load just four rounds with a speedstrip.
  • Speedstrips let you load one or two rounds if you need to top off.  With a speedloader you must load the whole cylinder.
  • Speedstrips are available in 5, 6, or 8 round versions, so you can carry extra rounds without much extra bulk.

I strongly recommend that you buy a couple of each and practice with them to see which you prefer.  Two of each will only set you back about $40.  It is well worth the investment.


I have both the HKS and the Safariland Comp 1 speedloaders.  Of the two, I prefer the Safariland Comp 1.  The HKS is bulkier and takes up more pocket space.  Additionally, it tends to catch on my pistol stocks making it hard to seat the bullets in the cylinder.  Using the HKS is actually a two stage process.  First, the shooter must align the bullets with the cylinder and press down to insert the bullets.  This is easier to do by grasping the housing holding the bullets rather than the release knob.  Second, the shooter much adjust his grip to grasp and twist the release knob.  Most of the time, one or more bullets hang up and I have to give it a shake to release them.  The Safariland Comp 1 is much easier to operate.  Grasp the housing, align the bullets, and press the bullets into the cylinder.  Pressing down triggers the release and cleanly drops the bullets in place.  This may not seem like much difference, but in practice the Comp 1 is measurably faster than the HKS.  The Safariland Comp 1 is the clear winner.


Speedstrips come in two flavors, Bianchi Speedstrips and Tuff Product Speedstrips.  I have both and find them to be virtually identical.  The Bianchis are made of a softer rubber that is a touch easier to load, while the Tuff Products are slightly cheaper.  Really you can’t go wrong either way.  I prefer to carry strips that hold one or two more rounds than my revolver.  This gives me a couple of extra shots and still lets me load a full cylinder if I fumble and drop a round while loading.

Speedloaders and speedstrips are essential accessories for your revolver.  I generally carry both, a Safariland Speedloader (or two) in my left pocket and a speedstrip in my right.  I find this gives me the best of both worlds — a faster reload with the speedloader and the ability to top off my weapon with the strip — while also facilitating one handed reloads if I am injured.  Which you choose and where you carry them is up to you, but my advice is to buy both, experiment, and have fun.

As always, shoot safe and I’ll see you on the firing line.

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