Earlier this year, I attended the Rangemaster Master Instructor Development course. That course required students to bring a revolver for some required revolver work. In preparation for that, I picked up a Smith & Wesson Model 66 revolver along with the essential accouterments which included a concealable holster and reloading assistance devices. Long time readers are well aware that I’m a wheel gun fan and tinker with them quite a bit. However, my interest in six shooters, for the most part, had been recreational. Given my lack of defensive revolver knowledge and virtually nonexistent revolver competition experience which was similar to that of my peers, I relied on the internet for advice which is for the most part risky business. Nevertheless, I ended up picking up a handful of reloading assistance devices from Safariland which I’ll identify in this post while sharing my initial impressions and opinions that resulted from using them in class and a couple of local matches that I used them in. The devices include the Speedloader Comp III, the 333 Triple Speedloader Holder, and Bianchi Speed Strips.
Safariland Speedloader Comp III
There are a handful of companies that manufacture speedloaders and there are two dominant mechanical styles of function. Those that release the tension that holds the cartridges in place by turning a knob and those that release the tension by pushing the cartridges into the revolver’s cylinder. The Safariland Comp III are the “push in” kind. Based on my research and limited experience, the “push in” action is faster than the “turn to release” action and are preferred by competitive shooters. However, some grips can interfere with the loading process when the top portion of the grip has sufficient material that doesn’t allow the speedloader to line up precisely with the cylinder.
One of my initial concerns with this speedloader was the durability of the injection molded construction. I was certain how well it would hold up to repeated hard use or the weight of a full grown adult male stepping on it after it’s been dropped on the ground after a reload. That concern subsided quickly after running these speedloaders in classwork and in competition where I have stepped on them more times that I can count.
A feature of this speedloader that I’ve become fond of is the large turret that houses the spring mechanism. I found the turret makes the speedloader easy to find on the belt, easy to securely grasp, and easy to use especially under time or match pressure. My use of the word “easy” is relative to smaller speedloaders that I’ve used. The downside to this design is that it makes the speedloader more difficult to conceal due to its size. The use of larger or heavier outer garment makes concealment of these much easier, but it’s pretty obvious that there is something on the belt when one only has a thin untucked t-shirt hiding these speedloaders away. If concealment is a concern, then one should consider the Safariland Comp II for duty use which is also a “push in” style speed loader. For maximum concealment, one should look at the Safariland Comp I which uses a “turn the knob” mechanism instead.
For what it’s worth, it took me a little work to figure out how to load the speedloaders. It’s not necessarily difficult, but I found engaging and locking in the spring tension to be a little tricky. It’s easy enough to learn, but may require a bit of practice. The process wasn’t quite as intuitive as it is with turn-the-knob style speedloaders.
The Comp III is available directly from Safariland for $25 at the time of writing. However, the street price is closer to $20 from retailers.
333 Triple Speedloader Holder
While one could carry speedloaders in their pockets, reloading from a pouch mounted on one’s belt is a much more consistent process and therefore faster. As such, it made sense to me to find a way to keep a few speedloaders on my belt. There are many different products that can be used for this. The one I landed on was the Safariland 333 Triple Speedloader Holder, which is a mouthful to say and way too many keystrokes to type.
The pouch uses injection molded cups with external clips which will secure any of the Safariland Comp speedloaders. The cups and clips are attached to a leather belt loop which is available to fit either 1.75″ or a 2.25″ wide belt.
To be perfectly frank, I’m unimpressed by this product. Part of that is because the belt loop allows for a little play when worn on the 1.5” wide belt I normally wear. Additionally, it’s a bit on the bulky side due to its size which doesn’t lend itself well for concealment. I’m not displeased with the product, but I didn’t find it particularly well suited for either concealed carry use or competitive use for me. I can’t help but feel as though there is a better option for me out there, but, at the same time, I’m in no hurry to go searching for a replacement.
That said, the holder does what it is supposed to do. It holds the speedloaders and attaches to a belt. It worked for me for class and a couple of matches. It certainly worked a whole lot better than fishing speedloaders out of my pockets. I suspect it will work as well for other folks.
The Safariland Model 333 Triple Speedloader Holder is available from Safariland for $54. Prices from other retailers hover around $40.
Bianchi Speed Strips
I found the instructional block that covered the use of speed strips in class to be enlightening and I wish I would have known a few bits I learned before I picked up a pair of the Bianchi Speed Strips from Safariland.
Speed strips are small strips made from a flexible material that hold cartridges in place and allow cartridges to be inserted two at a time into a revolver’s cylinder. This reloading device and process is slower than using a speedloader, but it is faster than loading loose cartridges one at a time. The neatest thing about speed strips is that one can carry several of them on their person with ease given they are small, light, and easy to conceal. As such, they can be used by themselves or as a backup to speedloaders.
These particular speed strips are made from a flexible urethane material using an injection molding process and are relatively inexpensive coming in at $12.25 direct from Safariland, but can be found for a little under $10 from retailers.
The thing I learned in class that I wish I would have known beforehand is that leaving an empty slot between pairs of cartridges creates an index that facilitates a more consistent and slightly faster reload. For this reason, many revolver users prefer and recommend using eight round speed strips with six shooters as the strips can hold six rounds while also providing two skipped index slots.