HKS Speed-Loader Review: Compact Lightening-Fast Six-Gun Reloads

HKS Speedloader S&W 442
Snub-nosed pocket revolvers like this S&W 442 are much easier to reload with an HKS speedloader. IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A. -( When I first started carrying a gun I hauled around a 5-shot S&W 442 with two HKS speedloaders. Like millions of other concealed carriers, I took the advice of a gun shop guru who insisted that wheel guns were the end-all, be-all in pocket carry.

And in many ways they are correct; double-action snub-nosed revolvers are very easy to conceal, flawlessly reliable, and available in calibers that can certainly stop assailants in their tracks. That said, most of these gun shop guys fail to mention the disproportionate recoil, limited sight radius, and difficulty reloading quickly under stress.  There are ways around the first two, and the last drawback can be mitigated with training, but my favorite solution is an HKS speedloader.

HKS Speedloaders

Before I get into what the HKS Speedloader is, I’m going to address all the naysayers out there who will claim that with enough training you don’t need one. See, that might, and I stress might be true for certain individuals. The majority of people on the planet will have a difficult time fishing out individual rounds from their pocket and loading them one at a time into the cylinder. This can be tricky for folks under ideal conditions, but what about a defensive shooting?

HKS Speedloader
Simple in construction, speeloaders keep rounds primed and ready for use. IMG Jim Grant

Imagine you’re in a dark parking garage and you’ve just been ambushed by two muggers with knives. You do everything by the book, you try to deescalate the situation, walk backward while speaking in a clear, strong voice. You even commit to drawing your trusty pocket 38 special and fire 5 rounds at the first attacker. But to no avail. Between the minuscule sights, the heavy double-action trigger, and all the adrenaline in your veins you only manage to score two hits on the first guy. As he collapses to the ground, the second guy approaches furiously that you just shot his favorite partner in crime.

Now you have two options. For some odd reason you couldn’t make up your mind this morning while getting dressed, so you filled one pocket with 5 loose 38 special rounds, and the other pocket with a single speedloader. As your would-be assailant approaches, you have mere seconds to perform a reload. Would you rather fish around for individual rounds praying the combination of stress-included sweat, hand tremors, and low light doesn’t cause you to drop the rounds on the pavement below. Or, would you rather grab a large item with textured aluminum that requires two simple motions to fill your revolver to capacity in an instance?

For me, the answer is clear: the HKS speedloader.

3 HKS Speedloaders
Three HKS speedloaders? How many of those things does the author own? IMG Jim Grant

For the uninitiated, the HKS speedloader (like all traditional speedloaders for revolvers) is a polymer cylinder that holds 5, 6, or 7 rounds (or 8, they’re made specifically for certain guns) in the perfect position to slide into the revolver’s cylinder. To use, you simple eject the spent rounds, insert the speedloader, then twist the knob at the back to release the fresh rounds from the HKS speedloader. After that, just close the cylinder on your wheel-gun and you’re ready to rock!

Sounds perfect, right? Well then, why doesn’t everyone use them?

There is one downside to speedloaders like the HKS – bulk.

One fully-loaded speedloader takes up about as much space in your pocket as a shot glass. So carrying one in your pocket isn’t a big deal, but if you want two or three spare reloads, it’ll feel like you’re trying to conceal an energy drink can in your pocket!

Rear of HKS Speedloader
To release the rounds from an HKS speedloader, simply turn this knob. IMG Jim Grant

The good thing is that the HKS speedloaders aren’t just for concealed carry guns. They’re available for hundreds of difficult revolvers out there. One of my personal favorites is the six-round HKS for my S&W 686 Performance Center .357 Magnum. I like to carry two cylinders with me when I’m open carrying that revolver while hunting dangerous game like wild hogs.

Any way you cut it if you need to reload your favorite revolver with a quickness (and your gun doesn’t take moon clips) the HKS speedloader is an almost ideal solution. For that, you’ll need to take a look at Safariland’s take on the speedloader. But I’ll save that for another article.

About Jim Grant

Jim is a freelance writer, editor, and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

Jim Grant



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I prefer wheel guns when I’m out and about in the woods, mountains or desert and always have speed loaders (2) in a pouch on my belt for the revolvers. I have HKS speed loaders for all my DA guns and some Safariland for the .38/.357s, which were faster to use, but prefer the HKS. Thankfully, I never had to use either brand in a combat situation as the mere presence of a firearm was usually enough to defuse a potentially deadly situation.


I prefer the Five Star Speed loader


Reloading a “Six-gun” with a 5 round loader?


Isn’t it interesting how “six gun” tends to mean “revolver” to most, even gun people? Even though they all understand that they could be anywhere from 4 to 9 (or even 12) shots? Even the Colt SAA was really a five-shooter, since before transfer bars or inertial firing pins, they would fire if dropped on the hammer with all six chambers loaded.


I’m somewhat familiar with Three-Gun, but a Six-Gun competition could be really interesting.


A minor nit to pick. The term is “Lightning-Fast”, not “Lightening-Fast”. Two different things. Who edits these posts? Why give the libtards and anti-gun zealots any more ammo to use against us?

Dr. Strangelove

Proofreading is a lost rat.


Ha, I see what you did there.
I too have noted a distinct lack of proofreading. It seems like a lot of “writers” are composing on their smartphones and not paying attention to what auto correct and predict insert. Of course that doesn’t explain the questionable grammar and gross overuse of commas.


I guess 5 cartridges would be lighter than 6.

Terril Hebert

I prefer Safariland Comp I loaders just so there is no twisting or turning involved. With that said, I think there is still some merit to packing loose rounds. After the Newhall Massacre but before speedloaders became widely available, quite a few departments started to train guys to load two rounds, drop the rest, and get back to shooting. Loading two, if time was of the essence, was better than fumbling to load all six.


I have used the HK’s and the Safariland comps for over 4 decades. They both work. I found the Safariland to be a bit faster. No matter what equipment you have I can design a scenario that well make it fail. What works in competition does not always work in real life. Competition is good shooting practice but isn’t always good tactical practice. Speed loaders are the fastest way to fully reload a revolver whether they be HK ect or full moon clips. Well one need to reload fast maybe maybe not. But they beat loose rounds for doing so… Read more »

Ansel Hazen

Video tape a challenge of wheel gun users with whatever speedloader they want to use against Jerry Miculek with a semi auto 9mm that locks back on empty, and a spare loaded mag in his pocket.


Ansel – if ya want to ‘challenge’ Jerry to ANY sort of speed contest you will likely need a Mini or Gatling gun 😉
FWIW – I used dump pouches early on (mid 70s) and then went to speed strips and finally to speed loaders. I have no specific brand loyalty, they all have strengths/weaknesses. Choose the one that works for you.


I think reloading for a revolver is BS. If you feel the need for more than five you need more practice or a 10 shot auto. Speedloaders are so bulky WTF? Might as well have a 10 shot Sig 365.
The statistics say just showing the gun stops most attack’s, then depends on caliber 60% are stopped by one shot. What’s left? If you didn’t hit with 5 where did the other 5 go? The gun companies sell fear. Can’t make money off the same old thing.

Get Out

Like most things gun related you have to practice doing a combat reload to become proficient at it. Practice doing the reloads while backing up or moving sideways to simulate creating distance from an attacker to get the gun running again, worse case is to club him with it. I fill 4 speed loaders with snap caps and drilled dummy rounds I made at home for that purpose.


I have an assortment of wheel guns which I use HKS speed loaders, for carrying I have found if you can find used Mosin Nagant ammo pouch they hold4 HKS speed loaders and are very easy to pull out and reload your wheel gun.

Xaun Loc

In the scenario presented, our crime victim is certainly going to be stabbed because there is simply zero chance of completing a reload in less time than it takes the second knife-wielding criminal to close the distance. His best chance of survival is if the second assailant is stumbling drunk, drugged, or terrified, but not “furious” as described in the article.

This is an obvious example of why multiple-assailant drills are at least as essential as reload drills for defensive shooters, especially anyone choosing to carry a low capacity firearm such as a revolver or single-stack compact pistol.


I was always taught that everybody gets firsts before anybody gets seconds. Not that it would matter because the “mugger victim” was obviously unprepared to engage in a defensive shooting. He, like many, carries a gun as a talisman that is going to protect them because it will. But, that was his choice.


So a few years ago, I bought ALL THE LOADERS. HKS, 5-Star, Comp I, Comp II, Comp III, S.L. Variant, Jet Loader, Dade Loader, and Quick Strips. I needed to know which one was the best, and there was no info. The HKS and 5-Star are almost identical, with the HKS releasing clockwise and the 5-Star releasing counterclockwise. The HKS wins there because closing the cylinder is more of a clockwise motion, but the 5-Star have a better build quality. The Safariland Comp I and Comp II are very nice: smallish and simple. They hold the rounds in a little… Read more »


I feel likewise. When I was a cop in the 70s, the strips came first and we carried them in the drop pouches, much better and faster than loose rounds. Later when the speed loaders appeared they were hits. I carried the Safariland comps until switching over to a wonder-nine in the early 80s. S5ill carry them when Roscoe rides in my pocket…