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What’s the Deal with Pistol Heel Magazine Releases?


– Hi! This is Mike with TFB TV. Now, I was going through
my collection of handguns a while back, and realized
I had an awful lot with magazine releases on the heel of the butt. Now… What on earth is
the deal with that then? I mean, nowadays we’re
pretty much accepted that we need a push-button release here, so that we can (click) drop a mag, or if you’re Walther,
maybe a flappy lever there. Anyway… (clicking) Whatever the magazine release
is, it’s not on there anymore, but back in the day, an awful lot of guns had heel releases… Like that. There’s a few aberrancies with a release on the toe of the butt, but heel release was pretty well accepted. Now I think what we have to
do is go and look a bit in the context of when the
semi-automatic pistol was kind of a new deal, and
John Browning was kind of the big guy inventing all sorts of things and he didn’t seem to come
down on one side or the other on it, because for instance we have… Here, an FN Model 1910, which
is a John Browning design: Heel release, and then you’ve
got 1911, which I don’t have. So, eh, I’m sure you’re
all aware of the 1911, but it’s got a push-button,
just like this, 226. Now… A hundred and odd years later,
we’re all very much used to the idea of what a pistol should be, what it’s ergonomics should
be, but back in the day, this wasn’t the case,
people didn’t really know. The other thing that we’re
used to is the idea of magazines being relatively cheap… although anyone who’s
got an expensive racegun and is paying ridiculous
amounts of money for a magazine might disagree with you… But bog-standard, normal magazines are, compared to the price of the
gun, not enormously expensive. Back in the day, they were
relatively precision-made… Items. Now, this modern idea that
we’re gonna drop magazines (click) on the floor,
particularly on the range, that just wasn’t a thing. So, in any case, you’re always gonna be retaining the magazine, so
your hand is always gonna be up near the butt of the pistol, irrespective of whether it’s
a Luger with a push-button, a 1911 with a push-button, or an FN1910/22 with a heel release, you’re going to be stowing that
magazine, getting a new one, putting it in, racking the
slide, and carrying on. This even hung around until fairly late. Here’s a SIG P210, so…
very much a modern… pistol, and… It has a heel-release. But why? There’s gotta be
something more to this than just a choice between two
competing systems and… Actually, there is. Now if we look at the types
of holsters of the day, I mean this is a post-war, German police holster for… this FN1922. Now I know the 1911 gets
it right, but for instance on a Luger the push-button
is actually, sits quite proud of the grip, and it’s quite
easy, if you are wearing this and then are pushed
against something hard, it’s entirely possible
for you to accidentally drop your magazine, and when
you need your gun, you’ve got one round or no rounds
depending on whether you’ve got one up the spout or not. And then if we go over
into pocket pistols, that might just be carried in a pocket, a push button has a much
higher chance of being accidentally pressed in the
pocket than a heel release. And that’s basically what
it comes down to, it’s that back in the day, they weren’t thinking of shooting a 40-round course
of fire in a USPSA match, or possibly getting into an
engagement with some bad guys and needing to very very quickly reload several 15-round magazines. Handguns were badges
of rank, they were for police to fire a few shots
at a ruffian, we’re talking, to repeat myself from earlier videos, pre certain recreational pharmaceuticals, so, you’re not expecting to have to fire a large number of rounds. I mean, for instance… a German policeman armed with
one of these has two magazines of nine rounds each, and that’s
it, with a 32 ACP as well, so not exactly pokey
particularly ammunition in modern standards. And you see this, here’s a Tokarev, TT33, and what they’ve done is
they’ve made the push-button mag release, because
this is based on a 1911, but they made the mag
release hard to get at, and you’ve got to push
it really quite hard, you can’t accidentally…
This is very difficult to do, I’ve not got very long
thumbs but I struggle, to do a quick reload, sort of in front of your
face reload with this, I-I got it that time… This is a non-trivial design choice to try and stop people dumping
their mags in their holsters. Now this isn’t an issue anymore
because we’ve got only got the designs of the gun right in terms of the position and the force
required to press the button, but also we’ve got the
holster design right with modern hard or
padded holsters that are basically impossible to press
the button accidentally with. So there you go! Hope
you enjoyed the video, thanks for watching,
please consider liking, subscribing to TFB TV, thank
you very much to our patrons who help to make this
kind of content possible, and not forgetting our sponsors Ventura Ammunitions and Proxibid. Bye! (marching band)

100 thoughts on “What’s the Deal with Pistol Heel Magazine Releases?

  1. My service handgun was a Sig P210 with heel release, you can imagine I didn't bother carrying that thing a whole lot in Helmand Afghanistan…

  2. Anyone ever find out what that older white man in the USCCA ad who gets pulled over gets arrested for? Tried to figure it out but didn't want to had to deal with that sketchy site to find out.

  3. The "European" magazine release! Back in the day gentlemen were mannered and allowed you reload and get your mags sorted during gun fights, which could go on for hours interspersed with verbal insults.This also explains why pistols had poor sights during the turn of the century, because if you could aim, the gun fight would be over too quickly. They didn't have TV to watch either, so entertainment was cherished. For me, the mag release button marked the beginning of a decline in ethics and manners, culminating today in chicken based fast food and poor grammar. Don't get me started on plastic HKs with "paddles". Give me that P210.

  4. During my last repetition course (in ze Swiss Army) this topic came up too and we took it the test. (Using a heel-release P220 and a push-button P228.
    We figured out that a decently skilled shooter doesn't reload that much slower with a heel-release gun that it will matter in combat, especially as the pistol is a backup weapon and you're not supposed to fire 6 mags in rapid succession. This also explains why the somewhat obsolete P220 (single-stack heel release) is still beeing used, it does the job good enough.
    Although it's end is near, the "combat" Troops (Grenadiers and Special Forces are switching to Glock 17's now).

  5. this vid should be 10 seconds long. something like "1 mag retention. 2. they didn't know better." stop time wasting to look smarter.

  6. The SIG P-210 heel mag release is especially curious as the pistol is derived from the earlier French 1935A, which has the push button release…

  7. Really enjoyed this video! Always wondered why there were heel releases on pistols after thumb releases had been a thing for a bit

  8. I've also heard the reasoning behind the heel release is that it promotes the practice of retaining the empty magazine. Some militaries didn't have the funds to keep replacing magazines.

  9. they are simpler and are better for retaining mags than button releases…….. for race guns push button is faster yeah…. for military retaining the mag is better and made easier to train for troops…… even with push button troops are trained to retain mags….. heck simplest retention for a heel didnt come till the 70s even with the vp70….
    and history wise quick reloads with a sidearm were not seen as necessary as the thought was if you are down to your sidearm from your rifle or for police your night stick, well: you have 1 or 2 targets or you are in such a bad position your screwed anyway…..

  10. Other than its sheer unreliability, and the smooth therefore easily engageable safety, this is the biggest problem I have with the Jennings Bryco 58/59.

  11. They actually did a good job of showing this in “Pan’s Labyrinth” , I.e the firefight in the forest part of the movie

  12. Makes sense the mag release I dont understand at all is the type on the beretta 92f where it is a push button towards the bottom of the grip.

  13. Thanks for the video, another primary reason why they had "Heel – Mag – Release" was to not drop the magazine in the deep snow and loose it. This was the thinking  behind the " Heel – Mag – Release" design, especially if you look at pistol from that era like the Walther P38 / P1 series of pistols. which is arguably one of the finest 9mm combat pistols of that time.The Beretta Mod 1934, while technically a pocket pistol is another fine example of this design.

  14. I really like heel release guns and I have several SIG's and one H&K with that type of release. There is just something that rubs me the wrong way about ejecting an essential part of a pistol onto the ground where it can get stepped on and damaged or filled with sand or dirt. Even with side release guns I still prefer to perform a tactical reload even if the magazine is empty. All magazines, whether partially full or empty, go into my pocket after being ejected from the gun. I do the same with rifles as well.

  15. i don't know how, but when I played airsoft with P08 or P38 in modern holster, I always lost magazine from P38 quite often(I compared the magazine releases and it was comparable to normal firearm).

  16. Am I wrong for being an American and preferring a heel release? I want it on a modern gun. Why? Because I'm positive that my ass and 99.9999999999999999999% of other people aren't going to be pulling off any John Wick level shit in a gun fight and that the reasons bloke listed are statistically far more likely to come into actual effect.

  17. Early p220’s had the European heal magazine release. Funny thing is they were first imported by browning and called the BDM.

    Walther P38’s had heel magazine release as well. The 1911 was originally designed as a cavalry sidearm and it needed to be able to be used with one hand.

  18. Pretty spot on this time. Much of WWI European semiauto sidearms had heel releases not cause they were "rank badges", or armies didn't think enough about functionality, but because, after having climbed out of a trench, crawled under the barbed wire, jumped into a bomb crater, run through the no-man's-land and finally reached the enemy trench, when the officer finally drew the pistol with an enemy soldier charging him, THAT MAGAZINE HAD TO STILL BE THERE 100%, cause those first seven or eight shots were the most important of the entire action.

  19. Paper punchers of America have got caught up in tacticool and trying to fight before they even train

    Anybody that's been in a proper firefight knows there's a time and place for everything….. at the range none of that happens. I quit going to public ranges in fears of getting triggered just like a snowflake in Cali

    You shoot fast??? Cool but you don't hit shit

    Look you left your ak/ar/glock clipazine behind….. fuck it, finders keepers

    45 long colt does not fit into your glock 30

    Glock mags do not fit your hi point

    ARs should be like assholes, clean with no shit on it

    LOOK I get it. Do what you want, shoot all you want, buy what you want, but you really are fucking it up for the rest of us

  20. I hope Bloke….. pops up on more channels. He reminds me a lot of Ian from Forgotten Weapons. Quietly spoken, knowledgeable and intelligent. More of these guys and less of the adverts masquerading as a 'review'.

  21. Some old surplus European Beretta 92's came into the US a few years ago and they look just like a US version, but the mag release is on the heel.

  22. The point about recreational drugs makes alot of sense now that I think about it. They didn't have armour, or PCP/Meth/Cocaine fiends. Shooting more than 18 rounds would be pretty insane

  23. Whenever I see a fellow Brit living in America I think "Lucky cunt".

    I need to find myself an American woman to marry, so I can get a green card and some freedom!

  24. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure the original 1911 (original design) had a heal release. They changed to push button as the US Military requested it.

  25. Very true about push button magazine releases. My HK P7M8 magazine did eject more often than the PSP while carrying concealed.

  26. It's simple, but (as you pointed out) does not take into account the modern propensity for spraying bullets everywhere.
    People used to manage with six rounds in a revolver after all. Shot placement is all.

  27. Very nice video bloke, despite what people say about you, I think you and your videos are really well done. Keep up the good work

  28. Great video. My grandpa's old Saturday night special has a heel mag release and I was wondering why would anyone design a gun that was harder to release the magazine.

  29. I do prefer a modern mag release, but I never just drop them on the floor; and I love my Beretta 92S with a heel release. That all being said modern mag release by your thumb is a tactical advantage in any situation a civilian is likely to find themselves in.

  30. A century of automatic pistols, and more than fifty years of high capacity magazines, have gotten us used to the idea that you might want or need to lay down a lot of fire from your weapon, and therefore a speed reload is essential. Sometimes that true, and for a military or law enforcement pistol today, I'd argue that speed reloads are essential. But realistically, for civilian concealed carry, there's probably little to no need for it, and you'd be just fine with a heel release. The vast majority of civilian shootings involve only a few shots fired, and speed reloads don't enter into it. (All things being equal, I'd still very much prefer a push button release — it's indisputably faster, and you just MAY be one of the rare cases where more rounds are needed, so why not have speed reload capability? But that said, if i had a gun with a heel release as a civilian, I wouldn't be feeling sorry for myself.) The heel release was preferred by most 20th century European armies because they considered it essential to retain magazines, and a push button release more easily leaves magazines dropped on the ground and discarded. And given how little pistols are generally used in combat, that's not an unrealistic consideration. Strange as it may seem to us today, pistols were not only considered secondary, but speed of reloading was almost an afterthought. Even in the US, during the 19th century, the Schofield revolver failed to supplant the Colt Single Action Army as the U.S. army's issue sidearm, because it's chief advantage — a faster reload — wasn't considered that important. The Colt's greater simplicity and durability were deemed far more significant. And in an era when a cavalry trooper might be issued no more than 12 rounds for his pistol before any given action, and frequently wouldn't fire all of them off during said action, it's hard to argue with that logic.

  31. Hey mike, what about the Beretta 51 and 92s? They have a button at the heal. It makes sense, I can't afford to Fuck up my mags. I'm poor as dirt and I can't be dropping my mags that are hard to find and easy to damage. the one time I had a screwed up mag, I bent the lips till they worked. Anywho…. Thanx for the video, cheers

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