The New York Reload, Kel Tec style

  1. Editor
    There are many, many ways to carry a readily available handgun for personal protection. There are just as many ways today to carry extra ammunition including speed strips and speed loaders for revolvers and spare magazines for your EDC semi-auto. However, this has not always been the case and that fact led to the rise of a tactic known as the New York Reload. This tried and true technique still has applicability today.

    Sure, you would be well served by either this Glock 26 or the KT P3AT, but what if you carried both?

    What is it?

    To put it country-simple, the New York Reload is a second (or third, or fourth) loaded handgun, ready to fire as soon as it is presented. If the first handgun is empty, jammed, or stripped away, the second one can be rotated forward like a shark's teeth and brought into action. It's not for everyone, but it's a solid tactic with a solid history.

    Origins of the NYR

    Gunslingers, soldiers, law officers, and those who just wanted to make it home alive have long carried multiple weapons and trained to transition back and forth between them. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the hardest hitting unit on the streets of New York was the New York Police Department's Stakeout Squad and the Street Crime Unit. Better known as SCU, the 60 or so members of the latter unit used advanced tactics for the first time including disguised officers trolling for muggers, and plainclothes intelligence units covertly shadowing suspects.

    The SCU was immortalised recently in the film, We Own the Night, while the Stakeout Squad is well known through the writings of one of its members, Jim Cirillo

    The officers of this unit made as many as 8,000 arrests per year in some of the most dangerous circumstances imaginable.

    The standard issue firearm of the day was the Smith & Wesson Model 10 for uniformed officers and J-frame snubbies for detectives. With modern revolver speedloaders not being common issue until the end of the decade, most officers carried their reloads in loops or dump pouches. This made reloading a revolver in a high stress situation a very slow, dicey, and by no means guaranteed proposition. If the officer was in plain clothes and carrying loose rounds in their pocket, the prospect of a reload was even more daunting.

    The simple answer of course was just carry to multiple revolvers. A second handgun cold be produced and fired from a holster in 2-seconds or less by a trained shooter. This was much faster than kicking open the cylinder of a Smith K-frame, ejecting six spent rounds, and reloading six fresh ones from your pocket or belt one at a time. Hence, the New York Reload was born. In short, the concept is a fresh load of ammunition, just with an additional handgun wrapped around it

    A survivor of street violence shows off his battlescars, but note the interesting rig carried by the NYPD officer that includes a cross draw snub on his pants inner belt in addition to the standard 38 on his right hand side on the duty belt. He is from "The Fighting Ninth" precinct and the image is from Leonard Freed's excellent photo series of 1970s NYPD photos

    The NYR Today

    This tactic sprang from a bad set of circumstances that have since abated. Today CCW holders, LEOS and everyone in between can inexpensively obtain spare magazines and speedloaders that can cut the reload time dramatically.

    Its easier for many to simply carry an extra mag or two rather than an entire extra gun, but the NYR offers some interesting advantages.

    Larger magazine capacities also make it less likely that reloads absolutely have to be carried. However, the New York Reload is still very, very fast, simple to pull off, and devastatingly effective.

    A decent edged weapon, as long as you know how to use it, could also be your KTs backup.

    Carrying a second handgun, also commonly referred to as a BUG (Back-Up Gun), gives a redundant layer of security that can save your life if your main gun is lost, destroyed, or out of action. It can be used with either revolvers or semi-autos. Of course, two handguns of the same caliber makes for a good interchangeability and two of the same type make for great muscle memory.

    In short, it's not 1971 out there, but the New York Reload still works rather well.

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