Should you carry a reload for your CCW revolver?

For reasons that I might be partly responsible for, revolvers are enjoying a bit of a comeback among thoughtful CCW practitioners. The unique advantages offered by a wheelgun are appreciated by people looking to exploit their specific performance envelopes. Anecdotally, the number of DMs I get each week about “what revolver should I get” has also gone up significantly. Once people get their Ruger LCR or J-Frame, they suddenly realize that it has almost no ammo in it, and start trying to figure out if they should carry a reload. In this three part series, we’ll first look at whether or not you should carry a reload at all, then in part two we’ll look at three options for carrying a reload, and in part 3 we’ll discuss methods for performing that reload.

You don’t need a reload

A hard truth: you probably aren’t going to need to perform a reload under duress as a civilian during a self-defense incident. You would be hard-pressed to find a single incident where an armed civilian ran their gun empty and needed to reload and keep shooting. If pocket and/or belt space is at a premium and you’re having to decide between a reload or some other piece of kit like pepper spray, a knife, or a handheld white light, I would personally prioritize all of those things over the spare ammo.

There’s simple logic behind that for me: I have used pepper spray and white lights in self defense situations. I’ve never needed to reload.

You do a need a reload

But…what if you do need to use your gun? It’s 11pm, you’re on your way home from a friends’ house, and you stop to get gas and snacks. You end up in a justified self-defense shooting against a single person, and now you’re…standing in the parking lot of a 7/11 at 11pm with an 3/5ths empty gun. You’re waiting for the cops, but it sure would be nicer to have a fully loaded gun while you wait, wouldn’t it?

That is, in my opinion, the best reason to carry a reload for a small caliber revolver. Not because I think I’m going to get into some blazing gun battle and need to reload, but rather because I’d like to be able to administratively top off my defensive firearm while I wait for the cavalry to arrive.

Based on the number of civilian defense shootings that require a reload (almost none), you can, and I have, made the case that carrying a reload for a small revolver is pointless. But we don’t carry guns because we’re optimists, now do we? If it’s feasible to carry a reload for your small concealed revolver, it gives you the option to have a few extra rounds on hand in the event you do have the worst day of your life.

Next installment we’ll look at methods for carrying that reload that will make it a lot easier on you to tote an extra few rounds.