When I first started carrying a gun I hauled around a 5-shot S&W 442 with two HKS speedloaders. Like millions of other concealed carriers, I took the advice of a gun shop guru who insisted that wheel guns were the end-all, be-all in pocket carry.
And in many ways they are correct; double-action snub-nosed revolvers are very easy to conceal, flawlessly reliable, and available in calibers that can certainly stop assailants in their tracks. That said, most of these gun shop guys fail to mention the disproportionate recoil, limited sight radius, and difficulty reloading quickly under stress. There are ways around the first two, and the last drawback can be mitigated with training, but my favorite solution is an HKS speedloader.
Before I get into what the HKS Speedloader is, I’m going to address all the naysayers out there who will claim that with enough training you don’t need one. See, that might, and I stress might be true for certain individuals. The majority of people on the planet will have a difficult time fishing out individual rounds from their pocket and loading them one at a time into the cylinder. This can be tricky for folks under ideal conditions, but what about a defensive shooting?
Imagine you’re in a dark parking garage and you’ve just been ambushed by two muggers with knives. You do everything by the book, you try to deescalate the situation, walk backward while speaking in a clear, strong voice. You even commit to drawing your trusty pocket 38 special and fire 5 rounds at the first attacker. But to no avail. Between the minuscule sights, the heavy double-action trigger, and all the adrenaline in your veins you only manage to score two hits on the first guy. As he collapses to the ground, the second guy approaches furiously that you just shot his favorite partner in crime.
Now you have two options. For some odd reason you couldn’t make up your mind this morning while getting dressed, so you filled one pocket with 5 loose 38 special rounds, and the other pocket with a single speedloader. As your would-be assailant approaches, you have mere seconds to perform a reload. Would you rather fish around for individual rounds praying the combination of stress-included sweat, hand tremors, and low light doesn’t cause you to drop the rounds on the pavement below. Or, would you rather grab a large item with textured aluminum that requires two simple motions to fill your revolver to capacity in an instance?
For me, the answer is clear: the HKS speedloader.
For the uninitiated, the HKS speedloader (like all traditional speedloaders for revolvers) is a polymer cylinder that holds 5, 6, or 7 rounds (or 8, they’re made specifically for certain guns) in the perfect position to slide into the revolver’s cylinder. To use, you simple eject the spent rounds, insert the speedloader, then twist the knob at the back to release the fresh rounds from the HKS speedloader. After that, just close the cylinder on your wheel-gun and you’re ready to rock!
Sounds perfect, right? Well then, why doesn’t everyone use them?
There is one downside to speedloaders like the HKS – bulk.
One fully-loaded speedloader takes up about as much space in your pocket as a shot glass. So carrying one in your pocket isn’t a big deal, but if you want two or three spare reloads, it’ll feel like you’re trying to conceal an energy drink can in your pocket!
The good thing is that the HKS speedloaders aren’t just for concealed carry guns. They’re available for hundreds of difficult revolvers out there. One of my personal favorites is the six-round HKS for my S&W 686 Performance Center .357 Magnum. I like to carry two cylinders with me when I’m open carrying that revolver while hunting dangerous game like wild hogs.
Any way you cut it if you need to reload your favorite revolver with a quickness (and your gun doesn’t take moon clips) the HKS speedloader is an almost ideal solution. For that, you’ll need to take a look at Safariland’s take on the speedloader. But I’ll save that for another article.
Jim is a freelance writer, editor, and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.