Throughout my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve carried revolvers in many capacities; from duty guns to backup handguns. And with those revolvers, I used speedloaders from eight HKS or Safariland. But I’ve more recently been using speedloaders from 5 Star Firearms that offer some advantages.
Overview of Other Speedloaders
HKS speedloaders utilize an aluminum control knob and ball-bearing detent mechanism, with a cylindrical cartridge holder constructed of plastic. The user turns the knob clockwise to insert live cartridges into the loader. He or she then turns the knob back counterclockwise to lock them into place. When a reload is needed, the cartridges are inserted into the revolver’s cylinder, and the knob again is turned clockwise to release the cartridges simultaneously into the revolver cylinder. HKS currently offers nine different caliber choices and their speedloaders are made in the USA.
Safariland speedloaders are very fast because the design eliminates the step of twisting a knob to release the cartridges into the revolver cylinder. Unlike HKS and 5 Star loaders, the Safariland loader is pushed straight into the cylinder after aligning the cartridges in the chamber holes until it triggers an internal catch and automatically releases the cartridges. Users don’t need to separately twist a knob to release the rounds. Safariland speedloaders are only available in .38/.357 caliber.
The 5 Star Difference
Unlike any of the other mechanical revolver speedloaders I am aware of, the-made-in-USA 5 Star Speedloaders are machined from solid 6061 aluminum billet. This gives the loaders a basic polished natural aluminum color.
Nine additional anodized color options for 5 Star speedloaders are also available. The colors — tactical black, zombie (a multicolor pattern), green, pink, purple, orange, red, blue and gold — are more than eye-catching. Multiple color options serve three specialized functions over plain black plastic speedloaders.
- A variety of colors allows for easy identification of loader type, capacity and caliber. I currently have two red D6 six-shot loaders for my Colt Cobra .38 along with two natural aluminum K6 loaders for my six-shot K-frame Smith & Wesson .38/357 Magnums. The size difference between loaders is small and not immediately discernable. Each will work in the other gun in a pinch, but the speedloaders should be used with the designated guns. The color difference ensures I am grabbing the correct speedloader for the Cobra or S&W. It could also be helpful to color code by capacity, as 5 Star makes five- through eight-round loaders.
- At the range, having a uniquely colored loader can help shooters keep track of personal gear. a different colored loader helps you keep track of your personal gear. During department qualifications, I would make my Safariland loaders with Whiteout to avoid mixing them with others. Vividly colored loaders are more efficient.
- Finally, a brightly colored speedloader is easier to find dropped on grass, dirt, sand or a dark-colored indoor range floor.
The Speed Advantage
The mechanical design of 5 Star loaders offers another advantage. They are easier to clear from the revolver after cartridge insertion.
As mentioned earlier, an HKS speedloader releases cartridges into the revolver cylinder by turning the knob clockwise. That means twisting the loader toward the revolver frame while attempting to close the cylinder. This can lead to the loader getting fouled up with the gun and the shooter’s hands … considerably slowing the reloading process.
5 Star wisely reversed the locking mechanism of their speedloaders. To load the cartridges into a 5 Star speedloader, twist the knob counterclockwise and insert the cartridges. Lock the cartridges in place by twisting the knob clockwise. When you reload with the 5 Star loader, twisting the knob counterclockwise releases the cartridges into the cylinder and simultaneously twists the speedloader out and away from the revolver, reducing the chance of fouling the reload.
Finally, 5 Star makes speedloaders for nearly any revolver — far more than the other manufacturers. They even make a modified two-shot speedloader for Bond Arm’s .45/.410 derringers!
Should You Buy 5 Star Speedloaders?
Additionally, 5 Star makes precision-machined aluminum billet range racks for holding multiple loaders at the ready. And the racks work with charged full-moon clips. There are smaller dual-speedloader bedside racks to hold emergency reloads at the ready. One of the models shown also doubles as a revolver stand.
Loaders from 5 Star range from $19.95 for five-shot .38/.357 loaders to $24.95 for larger sizes like the eight-shot N8 .38/.357. Loader racks are priced based on capacity and style. Speedloader pouches and other accessories are also available. If you do purchase 5 Star speedloaders, make sure to purchase some dummy ammunition for practice before you “go live.”
5 Star Firearms: 5StarFirearms.com