by Wiley Clapp - Wednesday, November 28, 2012
As a rookie cop, I was issued the typical Saw Browne rig, complete with handcuff case, baton ring, key holder and Border Patrol holster (a crummy one that I quickly replaced with a Don Hume). In those days, ammo rode in dump pouches or a belt slide with cartridge loops. We got dump pouches and thus equipped, I went forth to protect the good people of Orange County. A year or two into my new career, someone came up with a marvelous new device called the speed loader. The first that I saw were made of rubber and were somewhat bell shaped with a flat bottom that had six cartridge slots. The shooter dumped his fired rounds on the ground, indexed a loaded speedloader into the six chambers of a cylinder and peeled the loader away. Thus did the reloading process speed up. In the years that followed, many such devices came on the market and I tried every one I could find. There was something to commend each of them and you had to wonder why no one had ever thought of this before.
Someone had. The revolver loading devices of the 1970s effectively answered a question first asked almost a century earlier. As soon as revolvers with swing-out cylinders were developed, people began to build cylindrical devices that held six cartridges in a circle that exactly matched the chamber placement. Different types of cartridge retention and release mechanisms made these thing work. I have the patent drawing for three different types, dated 1888, 1889 and 1904. It should be obvious that Yankee ingenuity was at work well before I took up revolver shooting in the late 20th century. I also learned of the ingenious folding speedloader used by NYPD before World War II and the equally ingenious Prideaux quickloader, used by the Brits for their breaktop Webleys before that.
The old saying of “there is nothing new under the sun” is once again validated. Speedloaders are a perfect example of the wisdom therein.
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