“It’s all about context. Off CONUS military gunfights are different in size and duration. In such a fight, keeping magazines, using cover, communicating, firing and maneuvering are all important concepts and key to victory. They have almost nothing to do with Leon approaching you on the stop and rob parking lot and demanding your valuables.

Are there exceptions – yes but they are rare and most often found in the LE context. Cops have an obligation to corral, cuff, and control suspects. This means that their fights (not contacts) are initiated by the bad guy and when you have dedicated bad guys you get gun battles like Miami or Newhall. The armed civilian should not be initiating the contact but they should be starting the fight. To paraphrase James Yeager – the faster you finish the fight, the less shot you get.

If you put a 2-4 solid hits on the dude before he realizes he’s failed the victim selection test, you will win. Even if dude has friends, definitively burning down the first one sends a potent message and the odds of them sticking around to fight it out are low (gang members being the obvious exception).

If you look at the research on police gunfight winners, you don’t see cover being used by WINNERS. One in six (15%) of the WINNERS used cover in their fight. These aren’t protracted, drawn out engagements. The first person to make the gun go off (hit or not) has a huge psychological advantage. If that loud noise is accompanied by a high, mid-line hit, that solves most problems. If you spend your time working to cover, you diminish your ability to make meaningful hits because very few of us can shoot and move briskly (concurrently) very well. In the stateside engagement, cover is something you worry about AFTER the initial fight is over. Burn dude down, then worry about cover – don’t end up like Trooper Coates.

For the armed citizen, and most cops, knowing who’s around them and what they’re doing will go a long way. The other part of that is not denying what you’re seeing. If someone plots an intersect course with you in the parking lot that is not an innocent coincidence. If someone offers you violence, offer them more violence, more quickly.
Reloads are generally like cover, they are something you do after the initial exchange. The friends may decide to get engaged, the bad guy may realize he’s not hurt that bad, having a full gun is nice (if you’ve got a double stack pistol how many rounds do you have left?) The speed reload works great for this as it is very quick and simple. Emergency reloads are important because they’re a sign you’ve screwed up. If the guns empty, it’s most likely because you’re not hitting – you need to get more bullets in the gun but more importantly YOU NEED TO HIT THE SOB high and along the mid-line.

Personally, I think that one can train enough to perform tactical reloads after a fight. The problem is that this skill should be really far down your training priorities. Most folks just don’t have the resources (time and ammo) to practice the really important stuff, let alone the esoteric.”

– John Hearne

“People need to stop worrying about tactics and buy a few thousand rounds of ammo, take a class, and learn to shoot before they even worry about cover, concealment, or any of that jazz. If you can’t pull the trigger straight to the rear without disturbing the sights all the rest is of lower priority.”

– John Vlieger

My response to the “OMG, competition will get you killed”-people… Well, if I’m ever faced with three dudes and am able to draw, shoot, and hit them all in the chest in under three seconds and still get killed, I deserve to die.

– Caleb Giddings