Every once in a while, you stumble across an invention that you can appreciate. However, for various reasons, the invention was not readily accepted, or perhaps it was ahead of, or behind its time. The Link Loader, as I’m dubbing it, was just such an invention.
While perusing YouTube a couple months ago, I stumbled on a very unique revolver loader that I had to know more about. Having been a revolver enthusiast for the last twenty years, I was very familiar with common methods of reloading revolvers, but this invention was new to me. The Link Loader is a series of links that hold individual cartridges. It is designed to be stored flat in a ridged pouch on the user’s belt, similar to a plastic speed strip. Attached to the end of the linkage is a ring that protrudes from the pouch for easy retrieval and retention. When the loader is pulled from the pouch, springs in the links automatically force the loader into a circle, spaced just right so as to charge the empty revolver cylinder with cartridges from the loader, much like a speed loader. It doesn’t end there though. The cartridges are mostly in the cylinder but still attached to their links. While keeping a finger in the ring of the loader, the user must pull the Link Loader away from the cylinder, perpendicularly, which releases the cartridges one at a time as the cylinder rotates. After you watch the video, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a very unique and clever reload method, as well as keeping it very concealable when not needed.
YouTube video posted from AnGarGoy’s channel
Unfortunately, the video leaves more questions than answers. Why the wooden gun? Which six shot models does this work best with? Could this be easily made to fit five, seven or eight shot models? The video says these are for sale, but where? The inventor and video creator was kind enough to leave the patent number and contact information in the comments section, so I decided to contact the inventor to ask him these and other questions specifically for this article. I was disappointed to hear that he was not interested in answering any questions and that he wanted to remain anonymous. I will respect the inventor’s desire in this article and not mention his name. However, there are some sources that I feel I need to link here to give a well-rounded look into this invention that won’t completely adhere to his wishes.
Feel free to check out the patent here. According to the patent for the Link Loader, the inventor lived in South America at the time, which could explain the use of the wooden revolver in the video if guns were restricted or prohibited in that country.
The questions that I wanted to ask the most would have been; “what inspired you to make this loader?” or “what existing design led you to create this?” After digging a bit further, I discovered an excellent article on the evolution of revolver loaders on RevolverGuy.com. The article mentioned a loader that is similar in concept from 1964, which I believe may have inspired the Link Loader.
Even though the patent by Billman, cited in the Link Loader’s patent, seems to fit the bill more closely, it doesn’t appear to have made it to the market, while the “Matich Loader” had come to market about twenty years earlier with some success. While the Matich Loader appears to have been a source of inspiration for the Link Loader, neither seems to have weathered the market to make it into the options currently available to wheel gunners. The Link Loader seems to have addressed the shortcomings of the Matich Loader in terms of concealability, but they both require the reloading hand to move away from the gun in a controlled motion, which could add time if that same hand is used to close the cylinder. The Link Loader is more compact than the Matich Loader and doesn’t have a clip to undo, but the design to accomplish the simplicity is also much more complicated and costly to produce. According to the Revolver Guy article, the Matich Loader had to be pulled carefully so as not to spill the cartridges as the cylinder is spun. The other benefit to the Link Loader over the Matich Loader is the slimmer design of the Link Loader which allows the cartridges to sit deeper in the chambers while being spun to release from the loader.
The other bit of information that sheds some light on questions left from the video is the date of the patent, 1988. It’s my belief that this unique invention was just invented too late for the market to truly appreciate it. Law enforcement had already begun its slow transition from revolvers to semi-automatics. Also, those that hung onto the revolver a little while longer were already familiar with existing reloading techniques and accessories and they were efficient with them. The other thing that held this invention back was its complexity. The inventor himself stated that the cost to produce the Link Loader was “high” and that there was only one prototype. He encouraged the “shut up and take my money” crowd to give actual numbers, presumably to start up manufacturing (there were no publicly visible replies in regards to start up funds). The inventor also admitted that he was good at design, but not good at negotiating and that it was the reason the Link Loader was not on the market. There seems to be a consensus that the unit price would be high. A $30 (or under) cost per loader had been suggested as the goal to maintain if it were to go into production. However, it’s was also pointed out that to outfit yourself with three Link Loaders was getting close to the same cost as having a cylinder cut for moon clips. Depending on caliber, moon clips can be very quick to reload with and are much more cost effective.
When I first wrote this article, I expected to never get a chance to play with the Link Loader or the Matich Loader to see for myself how quick the “pull-tab speedloaders” could be. If you’ll remember the product announcement of the Ripcord Speedloader, it turns out that a taste of the pull-tab speedloaders can be had and I’ll be reporting back once I’ve had a chance to play with them.
One of the last questions raised is how well the Link Loader holds up to dust, dirt and lint. This was another of my questions to ask the inventor, but, given the presumed lack of serious investors, I wasn’t going to blame him if he didn’t want to subject his only prototype to materials that might stop it from working or make him painstakingly clean the links afterward.
What are your thoughts? Would you consider using this loader for your revolvers if it were produced?