Note – Before making any observations regarding the two brands of loading strips I need to point out that I am currently aiding TUFF Products with some of their QuickStrip marketing efforts. I also edited the directions used to explain two loading techniques used in their packaging and wrote the ten loading techniques noted on their web page. So please remember to take all of the following with a grain of salt.
The Speed Stripis an injection molded strip of flexible urethane material with six recessed holes and concludes on one end with a small, flat tab. The Speed Strip’s recessed holes were designed to hold six .38/.357 rounds in a line and are spaced to permit loading either individual or paired rounds into the cylinder’s chambers. According to Bianchi sources the Speed Strip was invented by John Bianchi between 1969 and1970. It was invented in the age when the policeman was issued a service revolver and his spare ammunition was carried either on the uniform’s belt loops or inside dump pouches. A dump pouch is an ammunition carrying case designed to literally “spill” six loose rounds into the policeman’s hand for reloading. At the time many departments forbid the carrying of speedloaders. Forced to work under the mechanical limitations of the dump pouch, John Bianchi invented the Speed Strip. The Speed Strip would fit inside many of the dump pouches of that era and for the officer trying to hold a weapon in one hand and juggle six loose rounds in the other hand the Speed Strip must have been a Godsend.
The QuickStripis similar to Bianchi’s Speed Strip, but there are three features that differentiate the QuickStrip from the traditional Speed Strip. First, the rubber used in the QuickStrip seems to be of a slightly more uniform consistency. For student use in my snub classes I own to about sixty sets of Speed Strips. It is my impression that some of the Speed Strips are a little stiffer than they need to be while others are a little more pliable than necessary. I don’t believe the difference is due to the age of the Speed Strips, classroom temperatures or the amount of usage. The range of flexibility seems to be noticeable regardless of these conditions. This does not affect function in any perceptible way but is rather a general observation. Second, TUFF Products molds on each QuickStrip a set of reinforced rubber ridges. There is one ridge along each side of the loading strip. The sales literature suggests that these ridges helps reinforce the length of the strip and reduce the chance of unwanted rounds coming off the strip when using a lateral-twisting loading method. While these ridges may in fact reduce the risk of losing rounds with this reloading method it would be exponentially more effective to completely avoid the risk by never attempting to reload with any lateral-twisting method. Massad Ayoob, I and others have written extensively about the advantages to using various in-line loading strip pealing method. One of Ayoob’s methods is described in detail with photos in every QuickStrip package. Finally, QuickStrip offers a wider variety of loading strip lengths and calibers. They are available in as few as 5-round strips for .500 caliber rounds to 10-round strips for the .22. Smith & Wesson is supplying 5-round QuickStrips with a 5000 model run of their ubiquitous J-frame and I find that many campers and day hikers tent toward carrying a pair of their 8-round strips. Of more interest to the snub shooter is their 5-, 6-strips in .38/.357.
While no loading strip will ever be as quick as a second gun or a speedloader, they do offer several unique virtues. Loading strips can be a useful addition to your regularly carried speedloader. Failing that the loading strip are also convenient low profile primary ammunition source if you don’t regularly carry a speedloader. Its flat shape encourages the carrying of spare ammo when a snub owner might otherwise be tempted to travel without spare ammo. That is temptation should always be resisted as in the past the practice of carrying no spare ammunition has cost men their lives. Many years ago, two California detectives were shot and murdered by a man in a wheelchair. The facts I remember were that the killer had ended up in the wheelchair from a previous shooting with the police. The detectives came with an arrest warrant and found the subject on his bed without his pants on. When one detective turned around to get the subject’s pants for him, the killer pulled a snub from between his legs and shot the officer. He killed the detective, and was shot at but not hit by the second detective. After the second detective shot his snub empty he tried to escape the area but was unable to locate an exit. The bad guy then got off the bed, took the dead detective’s snub and crawled after the second detective. Trapped in a dead end hall the second detective had time to reload but no spare ammo to do and was subsequently murdered by his partner’s killer.
In additionally to encouraging the carrying of spare ammunition, the loading strip also enjoys the virtue that it, unlike the majority of speedloaders, can be worked effectively with an injured hand for one-hand-only snub reloading. A detailed description of one-handed-only snub reloading will follow.
What conclusions if any are there regarding loading strips? If you have Bianchi Speed Strips and you pratice an effective loading method I think you are well served. In addition to the classic .38/.357 caliber Speed Strip, Bianchi has introduced a .44/.45 Speed Strip. If you don’t have or have never used loading strips I would recommend you pick up a set of QuickStrips. They are well made, competitively priced and unlike the Speed Strips they come with a well written set of directions. (I would say that of course). In addition to the .38/.357 caliber QuickStrip, TUFF has introduced a .44/.45 and .41 Magnum strips. Finally, whichever one you buy go with the 6-round strips. Fewer common reloading methods can be optimally preformed with the abbreviated 5-round strips and the 8-round strips are little too much of a good thing. While the age of the dump pouch has all but vanished, for the contemporary concealed snub owner either the Speed Strip or its competitor the QuickStrip continues to be useful reloading tools.