It’s speedloader time again! A few weeks ago I reached out to 5-Star Firearms to ask for a sample of their loaders to review. They got back to me promptly and got a package on its way. I’ve had three or four weeks to play with these things, so here goes my review of the 5-Star Firearms speedloader.
Full disclosure: 5-Star Firearms sent me two speedloaders and a loading block for review. Some of the links on this page are Amazon affiliate links. Otherwise, I receive no compensation for the sale of 5-Star Firearms products.
The 5-Star Firearms Speedloader
When I opened the package I was greeted by two L6-357/38 speedloaders and a loading block. I happened to be hanging out with a friend when I opened the box. He is no revolver fan, and I am no fan of twistie speedloaders, but we were both in awe. The whole set was absolutely beautiful, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The 5-Star Firearms speedloader is your basic “twistie” loader. Loading the loader involves inverting it and dropping rounds into the holes. Ensuring they are all correctly seated, rotate the knob clockwise to lock them into place. The 5-Star loader has a very positive audible and tactile “click” when the rounds lock into place, and the big ball detent does an excellent job of holding onto the rims. To recharge your cylinder, align the cartridges and twist the knob counter-clockwise.
The loading block is billed as a bedside speedloader holder. Right upfront, I’m not going to use 5-Star speedloaders for my defensive reloads. I will absolutely be using this loading block, though. It holds two speedloaders upright, where they won’t get knocked over and roll around. It is also really handy for loading up your speedloaders: drop rounds in, press speedloader down onto said rounds. As with the loaders themselves, the block is beautifully machined and engraved.
Quality & Craftsmanship: I was fully prepared to be unimpressed by the 5-Star offering. Sure, I’ve seen them in magazines and on the internet and they seemed…meh. My actual reaction was totally different: I was extremely impressed. If there’s one word that jumps out at me, and one that I could easily oversue in this review, it is “craftsmanship”. The 5-Star loaders are CNC-machined from solid aluminum stock. All of the machining is very nicely finished, with not a rough edge to be found. Though these loaders come in a variety of colors, my “in-the-white” exemplars are brightly polished, smooth, and stunning to look at. This speaks to me of a company that cares about the stuff it sells.
Shooting this loader was a pleasure, although it got dinged up a bit on the gravel. The rounds drop free smoothly and the knob detent is extremely positive. I also really like the scalloped design, which helps the loader overcome bulky grip panels and align with the cylinder.
Availability: The 5-Star Firearms speedloader is available for a huge array of calibers, including .22, .32/.327, .38/.357, .41, .44, .454, .460, .480, and .500. It is also available for a bunch of guns, including 5, 6, 7, and even 8-shot revolvers. They even make an appropriately hexagonal model (and a loading block to match) for the Chiappa Rhino. Though not many of us own Rhinos, this is demonstrative of the company’s overall attention to detail.
I really appreciate the availability aspect, even though my guns are mainstream. It’s nice to know that if I buy a K6S or a Rhino or something in .327 Federal, I’ll be able to get a speedloader or two for it. Though I love SL Variant, good luck finding one! I also really like the JetLoader, but it only comes in 3 sizes. Even the Comp II is hard to come by if you shoot a non-mainstream gun or caliber.
Though I generally fell in love with this loader, there is also some bad news to report.
Operation: I do not like twistie loaders. Because they require a non-linear motion to activate, I find them much slower and more dificult to use. I particularly don’t care for the twist-knob on the 5-Star Firearms speedloader. The knob is a bit narrow, and it is smooth. This can make it difficult to achieve proper purchase, especially in a hurry. I wish the knob were slightly knurled or otherwise textured. Because this is also a pure gravity-feed design, you have to get the gun vertical to ensure the rounds fall fully into the charge holes. For some of you this is ok, but it is not my preferred technique.
I don’t like that this loader rotates counter-clockwise to release the rounds as I am more accustomed to the HKS design. This can be overcome with training if this is your desired loader, but you should pick one design and stick with it.
Round hold: This is my second biggest complaint about the loader: the rounds are held somewhat loosely. By “loosely” I don’t mean they’re about to fall out – they aren’t. Instead, I mean they aren’t held tightly and unmovingly in the loader. They jangle around noisily (at least my .357 samples did). The photo below shows the rounds sitting against one another when the loader is sitting on its side. Initially I though this might cause an issue with misalignment of some of the rounds with their respective charge holes, but the necessity to get the gun vertical to reload prevents this. In the vertical orientation all rounds hang straight down.
Price: 5-Star Firearms speedloaders are considerably more expensive than their nearest competitor, the HKS. With the HKS 586 running between $8 and $10 on Amazon right now, a 5-Star costs 2 to 3 times as much. I do think these are a big upgrade over the HKS loaders, but I’ll do a fair review of those later and reserve my final verdict until then.
The Bottom Line
Imagine cruising the gun stores and running across that perfectly preserved, pinned and recessed Model [insert favorite model here] with a pristine blue finish that you can get lost in. By itself that finish doesn’t mean anything at all about how the gun will actually function, but we love it anyhow. Now imagine showing your buddy a picture of that same gun in a magazine. It wouldn’t quite translate for him, right?
That’s how I felt about the 5-Star Firearms speedloaders. I had seen them online, but I had to put hands on one to really understand what they were about. Though they are expensive and don’t quite satisfy my defensive requirements, I deeply appreciate the craftsmanship that has gone into them. If Smith & Wesson still had this kind of pride I wouldn’t have penned the post I wrote last week that generated so many comments.
If you have a mainstream revolver in a .38/.357, I recommend the push-type loaders over this one for defensive use. However, if you are outside of the mainstream guns and calibers, or if you are outfitting a range-toy, check out the 5-Star Firearms speedloader (also available on Amazon.com). I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
19 thoughts on “The 5-Star Firearms Speedloader Review”
Great review. I tried their speed loader when I had a Ruger LCR. At the time it was the only loader available for the LCR. Like you, I dislike the twist style of loader as I feel it is too fine a motor skill to be completed under the stress of a gun fight. I was pleased to find the Speed Beez loader for the LCR. They are an adaptation of the Dade design. I hope you can do a review of the Speed Beez in the future.
The Speedbeez is review is on the way. I’m trying to cover as many in as much detail as I possibly can and I’ll probably finish the series off with a big side-by-side comparison of all. Thanks for reading!
I had always thought of the loading block as just that. 5-Star doesn’t actually call it a loading block, so I guess I just assumed that was the purpose. I like the idea of something like that for bedside other prepared locations.
You’re exactly right! I’m not sure why I called that a loading block, but they call it a bedside block. Thanks for calling that to my attention.
I like the 5-Star loaders and use them in all of my revolvers. In fact, just ordered some for my GP100 using their 4th of July sale. The “in the white” loaders look great, but their anodizing options give you the ability to color code your loaders for different patterns of guns so you can tell at a glance what you are dealing with. Love the review and site – keep up the good work!
Thank you for the praise, Dave! That is a great idea – color coding your loaders. I hadn’t thought of that as a reason to spring for the finished/anodized ones, but excellent point.
I used one for my LCR for a while. Great quality but I was also dismayed by the jingle-jangle of the rounds in the loader. One thing of note, 5 Star produces a kydex pouch for the loader model for the LCR, and I think the J Frame as well, that is absolutely awesome. The 5 Star loader sat in that kydex IWB pouch nicely. I stopped using the setup and went back to speed strips because if able to conceal a speed loader on the belt I am wearing an autoloader anyway. I use a revolver for deep concealment and inevitably the speed strip is my only workable option for a reload. But generally I agree with your overall assessment, great quality but I prefer the utility of a push loader like the Safariland.
5 Star is all I purchase when it comes to speedloader. HKS et al, seem to have s QC problem with the little metal bead breaking off etc. I’ve never had to use any of them under fire, thank goodness, but I have yet had a 5 star fail/beak on me yet. After buying the third HKS, I had to change. 5 Star looked good and I’ve yet to have a breakdown. Speedloaders don’t get a lot of review.
Thanks for the reply. I love hearing from people who use this gear on a daily basis – much appreciated!
Good review, thank you. I wish I would have found it before hand. I ordered some hks loaders I figured would be great for the range and 5Stars with a loader block (48rds) for more serious SD needs. I love the quality, but was distraught with the counter clockwise twist vs clockwise for the hks. Now I have to decide which way to go. There can be only one.
I agree totally with the assessment that you have to pick one and go with it.
So far, I really like the 5 Star for LCR. I got the black anodized and it’s like handling a nice piece of jewelry with it loaded. Best news is it clears all of the grips I have and I’m finding I like counter-clock as it feels more natural and “roomier” to twist away from frame and in the same direction that the loader is going to fall – away from the frame. The smooth knob is a potential negative, but its larger size compared to the HKS almost offsets this; more range time required, though.
Loose in cargo pocket, I hardly notice rattle at walking speed; it doesn’t bother me. I purchased the IWB Kydex holder and I like it; however, rattle IS a serious problem with this guy unless you place a piece of foam in the bottom, then rattle goes away completely- problem solved. It’s very small and is a custom fit to the loader. I would only purchase it if you wear 1.5-inch belt; the loader will not cling to pants only and it will tilt severely on a thinner belt. There is still tilt with 1.5-inch belt, but it is acceptable to me. Even with tucked shirt, the loader/holder disappears in the waistline. I’m still working on placement and extraction but 12:30 strong side (adjacent to the belt buckle) is my preference so far. I have asked Nick Jacques to make me one of his holders but it is several weeks out. Another surprise is how well two of these (black anodized) totally (and quietly) disappear in my Bulldog double belt pouch. I would have no problem wearing this setup in the open.
Speaking of rattle, I can live with it because the cartridges “let go” much more smoothly and positively from the 5 Star compared to the HKS, especially in the smaller revolvers where space is tight. Looks and quality is certainly there and I can live with the price. The loader itself performs flawlessly, it’s just going to come down to my performance with the loader.
I forgot to say the hook on the Kydex holder is an exact fit for 1.75-inch belt with almost no tilt (tested on 5.11 Operator belt). On 1.5-inch Ares Aegis belt, which is thick and stiff, there is manageable tilt. I would not go lower than 1.5-inch belt with the provided clip, which is screwed on; I suppose the clip could be replaced with something else.
READING ALL YOUR COMMENTS IS GREAT JUST WISH I KNEW WHICH WAY TO GO RE:BEST SPEED LOADER FOR MY NEW TRR8 357 MAGNUM 8 ROUND REVOLVER.
TRIED A SPEED BEEZ HOLSTER WHICH I NOTICED STARTED NICKING MY GRIP..NOT GOOD.
I LOVE THE GUN JUST DISCOVERED THE MOON PLATE LOADERS ARE HORRIBLE..NIX TO THEM.
JUSTIN YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE SO I AM HOPING YOU WILL RESPOND TO MY QUESTION IN THAT WOULD YOU PLEASE RECOMMEND THE BEST SPEED LOADER YOU WOULD USE ON THIS 8 ROUND TRR8 357 MAGNUM 5 IN BARREL ?
YOUR PROMPT REPLY WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED SIR.
Sir, what did you not like about the full moon clips? Also, wood grips tend to get a little scratched by all speedloaders, eventually. It’s just part of the game, unfortunately.
There are certainly some disadvantages to moon clips. Cheap ones, or universal fit ones, won’t fit tightly in the rims and will let rounds (especially longer cartridges like .357) droop, making alignment with the cylinder difficult, and finding a suitable (read: non-competition) carry methodology for moon clips is certainly challenging.
You’ve also encountered the other big challenge to running revolvers today – speedloader availability. I dont’ think there’s much out there that supports the 8-round models. The Speedbeez might; I think the only other contender is perhaps the loader. If these were my only options I think I’d prefer the Speedbeez. And as Mike said, some wear and tear is par for the course; your grips may get nicked even without loaders.
Hope that helps,
I just wanted to say thanks for the various speedloader reviews. I started out with HKS, and while I like them, I’ve grown to prefer the 5-Star ones. They’re better made, and are more accommodating of different grips (in my experience).
Glad you like it! I think we’ve covered most of major the stuff on the market. There are a couple odds’n’ends we haven’t gotten to.
I have a big speedloader piece planned, so stay tuned!
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