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Revolver reloading

Speedloader being loaded

The modern revolver speedloader holds a full cylinder complement of cartridges in a secure fashion, spaced in a circular configuration so as to allow the cartridges to drop simultaneously into the cylinder easily. A mechanism is provided that allows the cartridges to be released from the speedloader when loaded, so that when it is removed, the cartridges remain in the cylinder. The most common type of speedloader uses a rotating latch, such as the HKS brand speedloaders. Another type slides the cartridges out an open side; and a third type, such as the Safariland brand speedloaders, has a latch that releases when pressed.

Revolver speedloaders make the process of reloading an appropriately matched revolver much faster than reloading one round at a time. Swing-out and top-break revolvers are designed to eject all cartridges with one movement, and speed loaders allow loading with but a single additional step. Speedloaders also provide a convenient way to carry ammunition for a revolver. Speedloaders do not allow revolvers to be reloaded as fast as semiautomatic handguns, at least, not without considerably more practice.

Prior to the introduction of speedloaders for revolvers, reloading of revolvers was typically accomplished by manually loading each cartridge into each chamber from dump pouches, cartridge pouches, and other cartridge holders.

Prior to the introduction of cartridges, circa 1861–1873, older black powder cap and ball revolvers often were used with multiple replaceable cylinders functioning as speedloaders. As the reloading process for a cap and ball revolver was rather lengthy and time-consuming, carrying already-loaded cylinders with percussion caps placed on cylinder nipples was a considerable savings of time for reloading one's revolver. This practice was primarily done on Remington revolvers, as their cylinders were easily removable and were held by a cylinder pin, unlike the early Colt revolvers which were held together by a wedge that went through the cylinder pin.

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