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Good, Bizarre, and Bad Tactical Reloads in Movies

Friday, May 20th, 2022

Hollywood gets a lot wrong in regards to guns. So much so that we give them a ton of credit when they get it right. Today we are looking at tactical reloads in movies and TV shows. I started looking for good examples of reloads, but then I got deep into the subject and found some very bizarre examples of reloads and some examples of the lack of reloading that are hilarious.

I’m betting most people expect to see John Wick on this list regarding reloads. Yep, lots of great reloads, but I’m making an exception and leaving John Wick off because I could complete the entire best reloads portions with the three John Wick films. So let’s take a peek at the Hollywood Reload and the good, the bad, and the bizarre.

The Best Hollywood Reloads

Tactical Reload from Heat

The bank robbery escape firefight in Heat is legendary. It’s huge, with loud and brutal gunfire, and full of good tactics that might be dated today. However, Michael Mann always does firearms and tactics well, including accurate magazine sizes and appropriate reloads. In Heat, we see one of the best reloads come from Val Kilmer.

Tactical reload from Heat

Amid a gunfight with the police, ole Val runs dry with his Colt 733. Not only does he reload quickly and efficiently, but he does so smartly. First, he takes cover behind a vehicle, and on the way to his knee, he manually strips the magazine from the gun. Then, he grabs a spare, jams it in, hits the bolt release, and keeps on rocking and rolling.

According to internet rumors, this tactical reload was shown at Army/Marine Corps boot camp, but I never saw it at boot camp. Even so, it’s an impressive reload, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s used as an example of a speed reload.

Tactical Reload from Wind River

I took way too long to watch Wind River. But, holy crap, is it a great movie and a solid modern western. The film stars Elizabeth Olsen as a rookie FBI Agent paired with a professional tracker investigating the death of a Native American woman. It’s not an action flick, but the action scenes are well done. The movie is very not Hollywood. It’s not all dolled up and clean, and that reflects in several scenes. One of these scenes is a tactical reload committed by Olsen.

Wind River fight

Hot damn, being maced and in a gunfight would suck

She’s just been maced, and she charges headfirst, by herself, into a run-down trailer with multiple potential threats. Her vision is crap, and the film shows it, yet she charges forward, Glock at the ready. She uses cover, moves carefully, and even keeps her distance from cover. When someone takes a shot at her, she empties her magazine into the guy.

Tactical reload by Elizabeth Olsen

Olsen does a great job with her tactical reload

On the move, she reloads. It’s not super fast or sexy like a Wick film, but it’s pretty realistic. She’s a rookie agent, and most FBI agents aren’t gunfighters. She just got maced and shot at, and adrenaline is jacked. Her reload isn’t a time setting best, but it’s competent and realistic for the scene.

Tactical Reload from Wonder Woman

Yep Wonder Woman, the 2017 film, has a little gunplay. Our titular character doesn’t sling guns and prefers a sword and shield. However, her compatriots are soldiers, and her love interest, pilot, commando guy Steve Trevor carries the legendary Winchester 1897 Trench Gun. A weapon made famous and downright legendary by its use in the trenches of World War 1.

Tactical reload in Wonder Woman

Running a shotgun dry would suck, but knowing how to reload makes things easier

Shotguns require constant reloading, and admittedly the movie doesn’t show much reloading, but it also doesn’t show the trench gun dropping two dozen rounds without reloading. In a scene, Trevor runs his gun dry, and the enemy is fast approaching. With an empty shotgun in hand, what does he do?

Winchester 1897 Tactical Reload

Trench guns are too cool

He slams a 12 gauge round into the port, runs the action forward, and deals with the situation. This is maybe the second port reload I’ve ever seen in a film, with John Wick 2 having a notable port reload.

The Bizarre

Terminator 2 – The T-1000 Multitasks

I don’t know anything about piloting a helicopter, but I know a thing or two about reloading a gun. The T-1000 knows how to fly a chopper and reload and do so simultaneously. In the scene, he chases Sarah Connor and company in the helicopter, and he fires an MP5K through the windshield.

Terminator T 1000 Tactical reload

Multitasking is a lot easier when you can grow extra arms

When the gun runs dry, he reloads. It takes two hands to fly a chopper and two hands to reload. So what does he do? He grows extra arms to both fly the chopper and handles the gun. The T-1000 has hands down the coolest of the movie reloads.

Tomb Raider – Akimbo Done Right

Wielding two guns simultaneously is a prevalent movie trope and part of the Tomb Raider Legacy. Laura Croft has always been a two-gun gal, and the films reflect that with the HK USP Match pistols. However, the film also solves a problem long plagued by dual wielders…how do you reload?

Tactical reload Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider figured out how to reload akimbo guns

You need to drop one gun, reload the other, then rinse and repeat. Laura has two magazines installed on each side of the belt, facing forward, allowing her to slam the guns downward onto the belt to reload. It’s an efficient solution to a real problem.

Mad Max Needs a Friend

Mad Max Fury Road is one of my all-time favorite action flicks. In an early part of the film, Mad Max tangles with Furiousa. They get into a nasty, all-out brawl, and it’s one of the best. It involves Max chained to a War Boy as he brawls it out. Then, Furiousa frees a Glock 17, and they tangle over it.

Mad Max Glock

Everyone needs a friend sometimes

The magazine gets ejected, and the round in the chamber gets fired into the air. They fight, the War boy recovers the mag, and Max gets the gun. They dive together, and the War Boy holds the magazine as Max slams the weapon on it. Finally, he racks the weapon by slamming the sights against his belt or boot and fires a warning shot. This ends the fight, and they all become friends.

The Bad (The Lack of Reloads)

The Walking Dead Infinite Ammo Hack

In season 2 of the Walking Dead, Hershel carries a magical pump shotgun. As the zombies approach, he calmly stands his ground and fires what feels like 50 rounds of 12 gauge. Even when he’s not on the screen, we can hear the gun firing. He doesn’t even look stressed, and recoil isn’t an issue as he gently pumps the action and pulls the trigger. Reloads? Herschel needs no reloads.

Hershel shotgun

Hershel’s magical shotgun doesn’t need to reload


Is Commando the ultimate 80’s action flick? It sure feels that way. Like all great 80’s action flicks, our hero is shirtless, muscle-bound, and firing an M60 from the hip. He doesn’t need to reload in this scene because his ammo belt continually grows between shots. It’s an impressive feature, and Arnold makes it work.

Rambo Machine Gun

Arnold’s belt of ammo is like his biceps… constantly growing

21 Bridges

21 Bridges is the other Russo Brothers movie with Chadwick Boseman where no one is a superhero. In the film, two thugs rob a cocaine stash, shoot some cops, and everything goes to hell. Those two bad guys with SMGs seemingly firing hundreds of rounds without reloading. It’ gets absurd for a movie that takes itself so seriously. The Scorpion and Micro Uzi Pro are cool.

21 Bridges no tactical reload

No reloads, but hundreds of rounds fired in full auto

Tactical Reload It

Hollywood might not get it right often, but it’s worth mentioning when they do. When they don’t get it right, I can at least appreciate the creativity they use. When they get it wrong, it’s a great way to get dragged out of the movie. These are just a few of my favorites. What are yours? Share below.

About The Author:

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor. is the world’s Okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Travis Pike

ETU: SWAT Training Simulator – SHOT 2013

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013


Outdoor Channel hosted a training simulation booth to promote their upcoming show ‘Elite Tactical Unit: S.W.A.T.’ It featured a variety of on-rails scenarios where the participant used either a CO2-powered AR-15 or SIG pistol outfitted with projection technology to shoot bad guys on screen. Afterwards, the participant could view a sneak peak of the show split up into segments with multiple choice questions in-between.

Venture Bros. Season 5 Teaser Images

Sunday, January 6th, 2013


The next season of ‘Venture Bros.’ is well on track, as evidenced with this image, along with many more found at the link below. For the uninitiated, ‘Venture Bros.’ is a deconstruction yet loving parody of ‘Johnny Quest’ and other shows of that era mixed in with plenty of pop culture references and humor, ranging from outright crude to fairly esoteric.


‘The Walking Dead’ In Black And White

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Starting February, AMC is going to re-air seasons one and two of ‘The Walking Dead’ in monochrome. If anything else, it’s a nice treat for the fans of the comic, which is done in black and white.

Hat tip: io9.com

Internet Movie Firearm Database

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I’m sure you know about the Internet Movie Database, or imdb.com, another one of those internet time sinks that has information on almost every movie ever along with almost every actor ever, the parts they’ve played, etc. Since this is the internet, where just about any damn thing can be found, and copycats are common, somebody made a similar site in the form of a Wiki, but with firearms as the primary focus instead of movies and actors, even calling it the internet movie firearm database. On the site, you can look up what movies, television shows, and video games a firearm has been in, what firearms a movie, television show, or video game has featured, and even what firearms and in what show/movie/video game an actor has used.

It’s pretty exhaustive, which makes games of 6-degrees-of-a-Beretta-92F all the easier to play.


Season 3 Comic-Con Trailer: The Walking Dead

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

America’s Love for Guns – Little Britain USA

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

That LEO really loves him some guns…

Get Your Zombie On With The History Channel Tonight!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Tonight, The History Channel will debut “Zombies: A Living History”. Featuring some of our favorite Zombie authors Max Brooks, Jonathon Maberry and JL Bourne, this documentary takes a look at Zombies through a historical lens.

Examining not only the voodoo Zombie but also the modern apocalyptic Zombie myth, “Zombies: A Living History” considers what makes the phenomenon just so damned scary. And oh yeah, there will be some guns in the show too.

Blast From The Past – Stingray

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Unlike most of the people in my generation, I was lucky enough to be exposed to the wonders of supermarionation TV shows, including the much-loved Thunderbirds. However, I wasn’t aware of this show until recently seeing it in an io9 article, so I figured I’d share the intro with the rest of you:

A quick plot synopsis from the video description: Gerry Anderson’s third SF supermarionation saga told the adventures of the WASPs (the World Aquanaut Security Patrol) as they explored the oceans and kept the world safe from a variety of perils. The WASP’s main weapon was Stingray, a super-sub under the command of Troy Tempest. Troy’s copilot was Phones, and they were often joined on missions by Marina, a princess of the undersea kingdom of Pacifica.

It’s cool, but I think I’d rather stick to the adventures of International Rescue. Of course, there might not have been a Thunderbirds without Stingray, so I’ll give credit where credit is due.

weLoaded T-Shirt

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Now’s your chance to wear the most impressive armory of weapons found throughout all of fiction. From the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to the Klingon Bat’leth to the Nuke at the end of Dr. Strangelove, 79 fictional weapons adorn this circular design. Available in these styles: Blue/Black, Green/Forest (with a couple of replacement weapons), and a third that’s numbered to make future identification easier. True nerd cred goes to anyone who can name every weapon; I’m admittedly not recognizing a few.

Buy this shirt

Drunk Ewoks On The Today Show

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

An oldie but a goodie. Drunk Ewoks are always good for a laugh, but I think that Al Roker’s Han Solo hair steals the show, to be honest.

Modern Warfare 3 World Premier Trailer Tonight

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Just a quick reminder that the World Premier trailer for MW3 will be airing during game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on ESPN around 6 PM PT, much like MW2 and Black Ops in years past. If you’re like me and don’t watch a lot of televised sports, I’m sure it’ll be up on the internet minutes later.


November can’t come soon enough!

Call of Duty – MW3

Archer Season Finale – NSFW

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Just a reminder than the season finale of Archer premiers tonight on FX at 10 PM, Eastern. If you haven’t been watching this show, you’ve been missing the best, if highly vulgar, animated spy comedy of all time. In other words: it’s mandatory viewing. Also, a brand new Duke Nukem Forever trailer will be premiering on TV, because who else but Duke could pair so well with Archer?

This is the uncensored version of the trailer, btw.

Mythbusters Season Premiere Tonight

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Just a quick reminder that the new season of Mythbusters premieres tonight, April 6th, at 9pm Eastern on the Discovery Channel. It’s worth a mention if only for all the explosions and firearms that have appeared in the past seasons. Personally, I’m hoping for a lot more of the same!

House: Zombie Hunter

Monday, March 28th, 2011

“Good thing I brought my axe-cane.”

I think the above line pretty much sums up how awesome this clip is. But wait, there’s more! It also converts into a shotgun! And do I detect a Wilhelm scream? Why yes, yes I do.

AOTS Visits Blackheart International – Foreign Weaponry

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Video GameE3 2011AOTS Exclusive

AOTS correspondent Weston Scott spends his second day at Blackheart International firing their impressive selection of foreign weaponry, including such classics as the AK-74 SU and PKM machine gun. Pretty entertaining stuff, but I’d feel irresponsible if I didn’t point out the PPSH-41 is actually a SMG, not a rifle. Not a big issue, but then again anyone who has played any of the WWII Call of Duty’s would know this by heart, and since G4 is a channel for gamers…

Also, I really want one of those Saiga-12s. Anything that can shoot a creepy looking mannequin in half is a definite must-have.

Visit http://www.bhigear.com/ for the full selection of Blackheart International gear.

Top Self Defense Tools For The Apocalypse

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Game TrailersE3 2011Attack This

This video from AOTS shows a couple of so called ‘top self defense tools’ in case of a zombie apocalypse. I’m going to totally debunk them both, since I’m a huge fan of zombie fiction, and I can easily tell using either of these will only end you up as undead chow. I’d also like to add that the video starts by mentioning the only way to stop a zombie is by decapitating it. That only separates the still-biting head from the body. Destroying the brain is the only guaranteed method. Fanboy moment over, onto ripping on some products!

Axe Maker Kit – bestmadeco.com: A do-it-yourself ax valued at $140? I’ll pass. Even with two handles made of American hickory, a hand-forged ax blade, and a shaver, that’s a bit too much for something I’ll just repeatedly bury into the undead. I’d rather pick up an ax at the store ($30, easily found for less or more) or even a crowbar (again $30, easily found for less or more). At least with the later I have an effective melee weapon and a tool for opening whatever barriers I may find.

Card Sharp – iainsinclair.com : It folds up to look just like a credit card? Seems more like an altercation with a TSA agent waiting to happen than an effective anti-zombie device. Actually, killing a zombie TSA agent with this would offer what I imagine to be some form of poetic justice. But I digress, if you need a zombie-fighting blade, go for a machete, or a shaolin spade, if you can find it. This is just too small to cause any noticeable damage to the undead hoard. After all, the whole concept is to destroy the brain, not cut away at them.

Long story short: these are horrible options. In case of a zombie attack, go with something else. After all, your life may depend on it.