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Revolver Speedloaders: We Like Safariland’s Comp III

Putting bullets in wheelguns can slow down your fun—a solution is to use these devices.

Safariland’s Model J-K2S Comp III is a fast,
positive speedloader. The $12.40 item fits K
frame six-shot Smith & Wesson, Dan Wesson
and Taurus products.

Whether the game is pin shooting, IPSC, Sportsmen’s Team Challenge, or any other competition where speedy reloads are important, revolver shooters can be at a disadvantage. Though many shooters prefer a revolver’s feel and trigger break over what a semi-auto delivers, many competitors don’t use wheelguns because the revolver can’t be loaded as quickly as the stacked-bullet gun, the conventional wisdom says. But Jerry Miculek has proven that with the proper technique and practice, the hand filled with a revolver is quicker than the guy shooting the autoloader—if the cylinder gun can be loaded with cartridges fast enough.

The key to lightning-fast revolver reloads is employing the right speedloader in the proper manner. We recently tested seven different revolver speedloaders from Safariland, HKS, and Bianchi to see which products allowed us to load revolvers in a more efficient and speedier fashion. The products ranged in price from $2 to $12.40, and because they generally operate the same regardless of cartridge, we tested speedloaders with cartridges from .22 LR to .44 magnum.

Here’s what we thought of each product:

H.K.S. Speedloader Models 22K, 36, and 29
H.K.S. Products of Florence, Kentucky, offers the largest line of speed loaders for revolvers and semi-autos. We took a look at three of sixteen models the company offers for revolvers. Our first model was the 22K six-shot item for the Smith & Wesson Model 17 that sells for $8.50. This model will also fit most K frame-size guns in .22 LR caliber, such as Colt’s Diamondback and Dan Wesson products. H.K.S. loaders release rounds when the shooter turns the loader’s rear knob, which also acts as a handle when inserting the nose of the rounds into the revolver chambers. These models use gravity to drop rounds from the loader into the chamber after you have turned the release knob, so you must point the firearm down and in a safe direction before turning the speedloader’s knob. The rounds are held loosely in the loader.

We also examined the H.K.S. Model 36, an $8.50 product built for .38/.357 caliber rounds. This model holds shells in a way that will fit most J-frame five-shot revolvers. The loading and unloading process is the same as the 22K detailed above. Our last H.K.S. revolver product was the Model 29, an $8.50 speedloader for .44 Special/.44 magnum cartridges. This model will fit Smith & Wesson’s 29 N frame, the Ruger Redhawk, Dan Wesson revolvers, and Colt’s Anaconda series.

Performance Shooter Recommends
We noted the same problems with all three H.K.S. products: Their gravity-driven feeding requirement caused us to bring the gun too far away from the target, which slowed reloading overall. Also, the lighter rounds often didn’t feed perfectly, unlike the large rounds, which fell neatly into the chamber. Also, in our view, these loader products allowed the rounds to rattle around too much when we carried them in run-and-shoot courses. Though we never had a round dislodge from an H.K.S. product, we couldn’t shake the thought that they might, and the rattling noise is distracting. Also, the H.K.S. loaders had trouble with wadcutters. Unquestionably, round-nose bullets worked best.

In our opinion, the H.K.S. speedloader Models 22K, 36, and 29 could serve some function while hunting by making reloading in cold or foul weather easier. But for more stressful situations, we would choose other products.

Safariland Models J-S5
Like H.K.S., Safariland of Ontario, California, makes a speedloader for the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum. It loads and unloads differently than the H.K.S. product. Safariland’s Model J-S5, which sells for $8.20, has a cartridge release that worked faster and more positively in our test. After loading the speedloader, the shooter only has to start the rounds into the chamber. When the speedloader’s center post is pushed against the firearm’s extractor and the center pin, the locking plate on the speedloader will automatically snap and release the rounds. Gravity still has to help somewhat, but we feel the JS-5 offers a faster release with its straight push, no-twist loading. This Smith & Wesson Model 29 is used for large-game hunting, and we have found that keeping two of these loaders in a pocket very handy. Also, this loader seemed to hold rounds tighter, and we found it easier to use than the H.K.S. .44 magnum model.

We also tested Safariland’s Model J-K2C Comp II, $8.20, and J-K2S Comp III, $12.40, which fit K-frame six-shot Smith & Wesson, Dan Wesson, and Taurus guns. Loading and unloading the Comp II is the same as the J-K5 .44 Magnum above. It’s a solid, helpful product, in our opinion.

However, the Comp III series speedloaders by Safariland are even better, we think. The Comp III loaders load and release in the same fashion as the other models by Safariland, but they don’t rely only on gravity to insert rounds into the chambers. They have a compressed spring feature that propels the rounds out of the speedloader. With practice, a shooter using a Comp III can reload a revolver as fast or faster than he can a semi-auto. Accordingly, this speedloader model is often used in revolver speed-shooting events.

Performance Shooter Recommends
We unqualifiedly recommend the Safariland Comp III series. They hold rounds securely, and they fill revolver cylinders lightning-fast. Safariland’s Comp II loaders are also good products, in our view. Though the Comp III gets our nod, we would purchase either model.

Other Speedloading
Products

During our evaluation of the revolver speedloaders above, we also had a chance to examine a Bianchi International Speed-Strip, which sells for $4 a pair. This unusual item is a strip of rubber 3.5 inches long and 0.5 inches wide that has slot holes for six rounds of .38/.357 caliber ammunition.

To use the product, the shooter grasps a loaded rubber strip and inserts one or two rounds into the chamber and peels them out of the loader. If you’re looking for low-tech, the Speed-Strip is it. This product will work with any .38/.357 gun from a two-shot derringer to multiple-round revolvers. Its strengths are its versatility and simplicity. It holds rounds securely and compactly, and keeps ammo from rattling around in range bags, pockets, or other containers. For the price, they’re worth a look, even though they don’t load an entire cylinder, as the H.K.S. and Safariland products do.

Last, we also looked at a loading block for speedloaders—a speedloader speedloader, if you will. Safariland offers the loading block for $16.90. Its bullet wells are organized to accept K and L frame loaders. To use the block, the shooter inserts rounds nose down in a circle. Then he drops a speedloader over the rim of the rounds and locks the loader. If you’re loading lots of rounds, the block comes in handy. We would buy it.


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-By Dan Moseley





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