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One Bullet Clips
"Watch me pop in six bullets and only get one. Sweet."

One thing that video games have come to acknowledge is that if you have three hundred rounds for your pistol, you can't just shoot it three hundred times without a break, since most weapons aren't belt-fed. Today, almost all games with firearms require a reload period while an animation shows the player character removing the previous magazine and inserting a new one. So now it's totally realistic, right? Um, well...

...Try just shooting one round in a video game, then reloading. The animation will show your character removing a magazine from the gun, often dropping it or even throwing it away in the process, and loading a new one. But the number of rounds you have available for reloading will go down by just one. Moreover, even if the magazine is retained during the reload animation, you'll never load a magazine and find it's that same one with one cartridge missing; instead, your remaining ammunition is treated as if you're carrying it in the form of single-round stripper clips that are invisibly consolidated into as many full magazines as possible, with ammo from discarded mags magically returning to your stock. It's almost like the FPS Elves take a break from sweeping up spent brass and plastering over bullet holes to climb into your webbing and sort your ammo out for you.

Another thing that is rarely simulated is chambered rounds; usually when a magazine-fed closed-bolt weapon is reloaded without being empty, a round will remain in the chamber from the previous magazine. This will mean after reloading you'll have a full magazine plus an "extra" round in the chamber; generally in a game the chambered round is ignored to allow for a Dramatic Gun Cock which would be pointless in reality since save for empty reloads the gun will never have stopped being cocked.note 

At the extreme end of the spectrum, if the rounds are visible during the animation but not loaded one at a time (as with, for example, a revolver speedloader) lazy programming could mean the player is treated to the curious sight of a reload where they insert more rounds into the gun than they actually have.

On the other hand, if you scavenge a weapon or ammo off of the enemy, you will typically find at most one magazine of ammunition to go with it (an exception is when you just swapped it for another, when you might get a more generous starting amount). However many shots he might have fired at you, it seems he was down to his last magazine (or frequently half magazine) when he died; this is even the case if his in-game model shows him to be carrying a whole unspent belt of ammunition draped across his body or a bandolier full of spare magazines and grenades. Apparently the Mooks have Bottomless Magazines, but they only work for them.

This tends to be a Rule of Fun thing; manually consolidating ammo between half-empty magazines wouldn't exactly be entertaining, and while it potentially makes reloading a more complex decision than "press button when not shooting," having half-magazines lost completely or remembered doesn't exactly fit the style of a more arcade-y shooter. Obviously, this trope doesn't apply to weapons that are manually loaded with single shots such as RPGs, and typically also doesn't apply to weapons with internal magazines that are loaded with single rounds like shotguns, though sometimes the latter use a fixed-length reload animation no matter how many rounds are actually being put into the gun (if they don't go the Bottomless Magazines route to compensate for the low rate of fire).


Examples:

Action Adventure
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Nathan Drake's reload animation for the Moss 12 pump-action shotgun always shows him loading three shells and pumping.

First-Person Shooter
  • Almost all FPS games except the ones near the classic end of FPS realism scale (with no reloading) and a handful near the realistic end of the scale. Half-Life, Halo, Doom 3, Call of Duty, the Medal of Honor series, FEAR, the list goes on. The classic exception is any game featuring the M1 Garand; this is Truth in Television to an extent, as the weapon is tricky to unload while under fire and typically US soldiers were instructed to fire off the rest of the en-bloc clip rather than do so.
    • One of the more common examples are pistols with what are known as "magic slides" - contrary to real-world pistol operation, where the slide only locks back when the final round from a magazine has been chambered and fired, most games with pistols whose slides move on their own at all will magically lock back at the start of a reload, even if you had only fired a single bullet from the previous magazine.
  • Particularly aggravating in Call of Duty - the game actively encourages the player to abuse this trope, by increasing the reload time of every weapon in the game when empty. There is an additional step involved in reloading if the chamber is empty (you have to pull the charging handle/slide back and release it to chamber a new round); on the other hand, you aren't considered to have an extra bullet to fire since you now have a chambered round and a full magazine... many games ignore this fact and have only one animation for reloading any given weapon, typically showing the player character rack the charging handle after inserting the new magazine (even if there's still a round in the chamber, which would eject a perfectly good bullet from the gun in real life) or, worse, simply replacing the magazine and leaving the 'chamber a new round' step out entirely.
    • Also particularly ridiculous in Call of Duty: Black Ops and its sequel, as when reloading the Python and Raging Judge revolvers or the M32 revolver-esque Grenade Launcher, your character is clearly shown taking every bullet/shell/grenade out of the cylinder at the same time, regardless of how many shots were fired, and then only loading as many as had been fired since the last reload - and in the case of the Raging Judge and M32, you can actually see the clearly-empty chambers magically regrow new rounds as soon as it's time to put the cylinder back in place. Every other revolver in the series partially avoids this by using speedloaders, which the Python and Raging Judge can also use with the correct attachment, but then this brings up the issue of loading more bullets than you actually have when you have less than a full cylinder's worth of bullets total.
    • The first two games are actually somewhat schizophrenic about this trope. The bolt-action weapons all follow these rules except for the Lee-Enfield, which can only be manually reloaded if there are five or less bullets left in it. Additionally, the BAR in 1, along with the Bren, Gewehr 43, and SVT-40 in 2, do not have alternate reload animations for emptying the magazine. The M1 Garand takes it a step further, where (in a nod to how real soldiers were trained in its use) the player cannot reload it at all except from empty; in World at War, where the player actually can reload it mid-clip, the gun inverts the usual rules for this and still reloads much faster from empty. The SVT-40 and Gewehr 43, when they were first added in United Offensive, also inverted this, where for some reason reloading mid-magazine would have your character pull and lock the bolt handle back first and then replace the magazine, while reloading from empty would skip that step since the handle had already locked back from firing the last round.
    • World at War mostly follows this, with one exception. When using the Double-Barrelled Shotgun, you may reload after firing only one shell. If you do, the reloading animation will show your character blocking the other shell with their thumb while shaking the spent shell out. Oddly, no other Call Of Duty game with a double-barrelled shotgun features this detail.
    • Shotguns that are loaded one shell at a time in this series go to both extremes - the pump-action ones are always pumped at the end of a reload no matter how many shells are loaded, while the automatic ones leave the chambering step out entirely. The exceptions are the M1897 Trench Gun in the World War II-based games (only pumped after an empty reload) and Black Ops' version of the SPAS-12 (firing semi-auto for once but still always pumped after a reload).
    • Modern Warfare 3 has one assault rifle where the usual rule for empty reloads isn't quite followed. While a reload from empty does take slightly longer than a mid-mag reload, the added length is just from the player character smacking the new mag a second time after inserting it - he never touches any charging handle.
  • In Half-Life, this is Handwaved as a function of the HEV suit. It's also guilty of the "reload more visible rounds than you have" bit with the revolver, but not the shotgun - it actually reloads to full faster if you have shells already loaded, and its reload cycle can be interrupted between shells (both essential anti-zombie features).
    • Half-Life does accurately handle the chambered round in one case: when reloading a non-empty Glock 17, the slide does not retract, whereas it does if the gun is emptied prior to reloading it; in the Source rerelease of the game, this also results in you gaining an extra bullet after a mid-mag reload. This is not the case for the USP from Half-Life 2, however. This is reversed for the shotgun, where in the original it is pumped after every reload, but in 2 this will only happen if the player allows Gordon to fully reload it from empty, although in neither case are you prevented from firing between shells if you haven't let Gordon actually chamber one after emptying the gun.
  • Similar to the Call of Duty one above, Left 4 Dead applied a similar mechanic to the pump and automatic shotguns. If you had just one round in the gun before you started to reload, you performed the standard animation. If you reloaded from empty, your character performed a slightly different animation and would need to take an extra second to chamber a shell before you could start firing again. It dips back into Fridge Logic territory again in the sequel, though, where both Tier 2 shotguns will do the cocking animation regardless of how many rounds are left in the gun, but the Tier 1 shotguns won't, and the animation can be interrupted at any point to fire the gun, eliminating the drawback.
    • Every other gun, excluding the second game's pistols, follows this trope, complete with possibly-superfluous Dramatic Gun Cock after almost every reload in the second game.
    • There was a common misconception that magazine-based firearms would actually lose all the ammo left in their magazine during a reload, but this was never the case. The confusion arose from the fact that the mag-ammo counter turns to zero once you start reloading; most failed to notice that the number of bullets left were re-added to the total ammo counter at the same time.
    • Like in the original Half-Life above, in L4D2 the pistols' slides only locks back when empty. However, should a dual-wielding player reload with one bullet left in the left-hand gun, its slide will magically retract during the animation. In addition, when dual-wielding pistols, both magazines will be removed and replaced when reloading even if only one of the guns was fired.
  • In Team Fortress 2, picking up fallen enemy's weapons instantly gives you half your max ammo capacity back. This is considerably odd since someone can pick up a half broken glass bottle, a rocket launcher, or a dead fish and receive more bullets.
    • Indeed, the original Team Fortress had several types of dropped ammo, and you could even pick up ammo you could not use. This resulted in an annoying shuffle where teammates had to swap ammo to make the most of it. And if you just killed an enemy that doesn't use the same types of ammo as you do, tough luck.
    • Spies can recharge their cloaking devices by picking up the aforementioned baseball bats and bottles. Engineers can also build sentry guns from them.
    • The Scout's Force-A-Nature has a 2-round capacity, and if you reload after only firing one shot, you lose the other one. This is definitely intended by Valve, as an attribute in the game files sets "scattergun no reload single" to 1.
    • It was mentioned in an Ubercharged article that all the classes have a miniature ammo factory somewhere on them that automatically converts ammo, even from baseball bats, bottles, and dead fish - but you can't get ammo or metal from dropped hats, even though they were crafted out of enough metal to build 36+ guns.
    • Ironically averted with any sort of Lunchbox item, which either disappear on death or become a medium medipack pickup. Funny considering that it takes metal to craft a sandvich.
  • The Firearms mod for Half-Life averts this. Partially-empty magazines are still partially empty if the player reloads them. Shotgun reloads can be interrupted after each shell. Most guns retain a round in the chamber if reloaded while there is still one round in the magazine; exceptions are programmed in specifically in the cases where the weapon's real-world counterpart would not behave that way (revolvers; Sterling submachine gun). In the case of the revolvers, there is a distinct reload animation for each of the possible number of shots fired: if reloading only two bullets, the character would place a thumb over the remaining four to keep them in their chambers. The empty chambers were then reloaded one at a time, and the reload could be canceled partway through, similar to the shotgun. The mod's motto, after all, was that it's all about the guns. Its successor, Firearms: Source, has done away with certain features such as magazine merging which was not seen as adding anything to gameplay.
  • Crysis can't make up its mind, magazine-fed weapons realistically have the +1 statistic and faster reloads if they aren't completely empty. At the same time, magazines are filled from the reserve and not individually tracked.
    • On the other hand, enemies DO have limited ammo, often falling back on their sidearms if they use up their assault rifle rounds. You also get more ammunition if you kill the enemy before he can get off too many shots.
  • Halo follows this trope to the letter. Maybe the MC stores his magazines/grenades/reserve weapon (in H1) inside his suit, which also contains a universal speedloader, it's the only logical explanation.
    • Lampshaded by some marines in the game, who will occasionally shoot a few rounds into downed enemies (when there are no other obvious targets remaining) and sometimes say things like "Don't mind me, just emptying the magazine," as they do so.
    • This may be a callback to the below-mentioned Marathon, which required the player to expend their remaining ammo in order to reload to a full magazine.
    • Halo: Combat Evolved does have separate animations for mid- and empty reloads for the pistol, sniper rifle, and shotgun, where either the slide/handle locks back and the Chief releases it once the new magazine is in or the Chief pumps the weapon once the last shell is in place; these aren't as notable as they ended up being in Call of Duty partly because of the inconsistent implementation (every other gun that needs to be reloaded at all ignores this) and they add almost no time to the length of the reloads (the pistol's in particular maybe adds milliseconds, if even that). Halo 2 and later skipped this, where the Dramatic Gun Cock or lack of one is independent of how many bullets the player had left in the magazine.
    • Halo 4 Zig-Zags this with the pistol, the first time you pull it out, the slide gets pulled, every other time the safety gets flipped. No extra bullet on the reload though.
  • Combat Arms allows this trope with reload in that you retain all ammunition, but each weapon's ammunition is tied to the (instance of the) weapon itself; if you drop your weapon in favor of another weapon or another instance of the same weapon, you get as much ammunition as that other instance had. If it's empty...
  • Curiously present in Unreal Tournament despite the fact that you can't reload. Let's say one of the players has an Enforcer with 10 rounds left. They kill off an opponent who drops another Enforcer, with 30 rounds. The player picks this second Enforcer up, goes Guns Akimbo, then fires 20 shots. What happens at the 21st (or 22nd) shot? The first Enforcer should technically be empty (having fired all the 10 rounds it contained), thus it would be appropriate for it to make a faint "click" and be discarded, but instead, both pistols continue to fire alternatively, as if the FPS Elves took the time to equally distribute the rounds between the two guns. This does not apply to any other gun in the game, since only the Enforcer can be dual-wielded.
  • The Golden Gun and Rocket Launcher in Goldeneye 64 are the only weapons that don't do this, both because they only have a single shot per reload. Other guns play it totally straight, especially in multiplayer: if you have an empty gun in multiplayer, and you get killed, the next person to grab that gun will find it with 10 bullets in it.
  • In Quake Live, picking up weapons gives a set amount. For example, picking up a rocket launcher gives 10 ammo, and a lightning gun gives 100. This also applies to weapons dropped by players, no matter how much ammo the player had before he/she dropped the weapon.
  • Every gun in the Quantum of Solace video game adaptation follows this trope except for the Golden Gun, which you don't get reloads for, and any weapon fed with loose ammo, such as the pump-action shotgun, the LTK revolver, and the Revolver Grenade Launcher. Interestingly, the last two examples will have you eject ALL the rounds in the weapon (spent ones get dumped, unfired ones go back to ammo pool) and then reload the chambers individually. Interestingly enough, guns picked up from NPCs will always have a random number of rounds missing from the magazine, completely regardless of whether or not they have actually fired any shots, implying that enemies just walk around with half-loaded guns all the time.
  • SiN and its sequel, Episodes, play this one straight, but even more maddening is the fact that the shotgun in SiN: Episodes, which uses a magazine, will always be pumped after reloading no matter what (ejecting a shell). Since it is also pumped automatically after firing a shot, Blade is in essence ejecting an unused cartridge with every reload.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas is similar to Crysis in this regard. Reloading an empty weapon requires the protagonist to cock the gun to put the first round into the chamber. In addition, reloading before a gun is empty adds one extra bullet to the next magazine (excluding belt-fed LMGs, which are always re-cocked no matter how many bullets you had left). However, despite the HUD only showing how many magazines you could fill with your remaining bullets, magazines are not actually tracked.
    • Also averted in previous Rainbow Six games, where you start each level with X magazines, each holding Y bullets - all tracked individually. You never just drop a mag unless it's empty (this includes reloading with a single bullet left in it; that single bullet would be kept in the chamber and fired along with those in the next mag), instead you put it back in your pocket. Whenever you reload, any non-empty magazine you're holding is kept, and put at the bottom of your loading queue. Meaning that if you're the kind of person who reloads when half of your magazine is gone, then more often than not by the middle of the level you'll be reloading with half-empty mags.
  • Perfect Dark has it with all guns, but especially amusing is the sight of a full clip being loaded into a revolver no matter how many bullets are left. The Jackal sniper rifle in Zero and the shotgun in both games avoid this by being single-shot and loading one round at a time, respectively.
  • Homefront plays it straight.
  • In Cry of Fear any magazine-based weapon loses all bullets in the mag when reloaded. Of course, Simon is a disturbed teenager, not a soldier. Given his already remarkable proficiency with the weapons, he can be forgiven for not thinking of simply saving the magazines and manually topping them up from each other. The exception is the shotgun, which is reloaded one shell at a time; the revolver and hunting rifle, however, also lose every bullet from the current clip on reloading even though they also could be reloaded one round at a time
  • Killing Floor does this - the majority of weapons have a fixed-length reload capped by a Dramatic Gun Cock at the end of it, no matter if you had fired one bullet or every bullet from the magazine before you reload. The bullpup, meanwhile, skips chambering a new bullet entirely. Averted for some other weapons, though: the crossbow and M99 are single-shot weapons, the lever-action rifle reloads with loose bullets, and the pump and combat shotguns do the same with the addition of pumping or pulling back the charging handle at the end of an empty reload if the player doesn't interrupt it at any point.
    • Weapons added in patches and DLC take it to a bit of an extreme - when you remove a magazine it will appear empty, no matter how many bullets you fired from it.
  • Borderlands does this, especially since a lot of the guns are revolvers; you may have a 13-chamber shotgun, and only 5 shells left, but the reload animation will not be any different. There's an implied justification and/or Hand Wave - every character has a "Storage Deck;" essentially a teleporter that doesn't lead anywhere, with its capacity based on memory. You have a separate deck for each ammo type, and for other items (since they are upgraded separately). Your deck may have magazine consolidation as part of its functions.
    • Borderlands 2 also does this, but has more exceptions. In addition to the... unorthodox weapons with magazines that look like CDs, and the countless belt fed things, there's also every Tediore weapon - they're so cheaply made that you reload them by throwing them, and after they explode your storage deck builds a new one for you, but you still lose any ammo that was in it, because that's what fueled the explosion.
  • Far Cry 2 plays the trope straight, bar one weapon. The double barrel shotgun (AKA the Caravan Shotgun) in the DLC reloads both shell but only because the character fires both shells at once (something shotguns of that type are indeed capable of doing, but it's not a good idea in real life with modern ones), making a literal one bullet/shell clip. Far Cry 1, the spinoffs and 3, however, play it completely straight.

Role-Playing Game
  • In the Fallout series, you can always reload the exact number of bullets needed directly from your inventory, never spending a magazine. This is made even more confusing by the icons for ammunition items in one's inventory, many of which ambiguously feature a container of loose bullets, chains of linked cartridges, and partly loaded magazines that look like they could fit in one or two of the many weapons that will take a given type of ammunition.
    • Also, if you have a submachine gun drawn and stand around without doing anything for a few moments, your character will change magazines and throw the old one over his/her shoulder, over and over. Apparently you have infinite magazines available.
    • Taken to extremes with weapon mods in Fallout: New Vegas, where you could be loading normal magazines into a weapon, then stop, add an extended magazines attachment to it, and suddenly every magazine loaded into it is extended.
      • The trope is played so straight that in the Lonesome Road DLC, a new weapon (Red Glare) loads from 13 round canisters of rockets. You can find fully loaded canisters around the Divide, but because the game magically generates fresh canisters every time you reload, picking up one of the canisters simply adds 13 rockets to your inventory and deletes the canister from the game.
      • However, New Vegas also averts the trope with revolvers that have loading gates (like the .357 and Lucky), lever-action guns, and shotguns; you'll reload exactly as many bullets as you've fired, be it one, three or four, or the gun's entire magazine capacity. It's played straight when you take multiple ammo types into account, however - if you switch ammo types more than once before the animation finishes, then it'll play out as if there was only one bullet/shell that needed replacing, even if the gun was (nearly) empty.
  • Not only is this trope possible in Parasite Eve 2, complete with ejecting spend bullet cartridges etc. But Aya reloads at the end of every encounter automatically. Making it possible, if you time it right, to reload your weapon ejecting all the cartridges, and then before she's even started putting more bullets in the automatic-reload kicks in and she ejects all another full set of bullet cartridges from the weapon.
  • Mass Effect 2 explains the "ammo clips" as actually being heat sinks for the weapons. Somehow, any leftover "coolness" in the discarded heatsink is retained so you don't lose shots for reloading early. Also, the lore states that the heat sinks are standardized for each weapon type, such that all weapons use the same design, thus explaining why you can use your enemy's dropped heat sinks to reload and why you can't just take heat sinks made for your assault rifles to use on your sniper rifle.
    • This, however, does not explain why you can't simply wait for the heat to dissipate over time and reuse the heat sink (similar to how the overheat mechanic worked in the first game), although some fans have proposed explanations such as the heat sink causing a chemical change in its contents (making it unusable when finished), or simply taking a really really long time to cool down. Or why a heat sink will always absorb at the exact same rate, whether in the vacuum of space, or in a molten crater on a planet inhospitably close to a star. The third game lampshaded the first complaint by having Shepard sheepishly admit that they took the self-cooling systems out of the guns to make room for the heat sinks, prompting Conrad Verner to complain that you might as well go back to limited ammunition.
    • Do note, however, that heat sinks would actually have more trouble cooling down in the vacuum of space- depending on whether the heated weapon is hotter than the environment, and whether the clips are insulated in some fashion. In the original, weapons should be unable to cool down in the vacuum of space because there is nowhere for the heat to transfer unless it's giving off a considerable amount of radiation.

Stealth-Based Game
  • In Metal Gear Solid the trope is played perfectly straight; in the original game Snake can reload instantly simply by unequipping and equipping his current weapon, and keeps all his ammo. In a rare example of the entire magazine teleporting back into the player's inventory, if the player actually finishes a magazine, it's stored in their inventory despite being discarded on the ground during the reload animation. Moreover, Snake loads three tracers at the base of each FAMAS mag, yet never encounters an entire magazine of consolidated tracers.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots eliminated the instant reloads (largely because of how easy they'd made the previous game's Shagohod boss) and required the actual reload animation play out; this showed him taking out the old magazine and tucking it away for later. However, almost all weapons have a Dramatic Gun Cock which usually ejects a non-spent round, which is never deducted from the player's total, and all weapons that aren't single-shot follow this trope to the letter.
      • Special mention must got to the highly Unorthodox Reload of the long-barreled, scoped Desert Eagle. Due to a glitch, rather than inserting just a magazine Snake mimes reloading with a whole other gun which he places into the space occupied by the first.
      • Also actually averted by the Type 17 pistol, which required a speedloader to reload. You cannot reload it unless your entire mag is empty.

Survival Horror
  • Averted in the original Resident Evil games, where your character will not go through a reload animation without first emptying the magazine. To reload a partially loaded gun, you must access the inventory screen and combine your ammo with the gun.
    • Resident Evil 6 still follows this trope. It does get a little odd at times, like Leon reloading both of the Wing Shooters even though he only shot one bullet from one of the guns. Or Helena completely emptying the Triplebarrel to reload less than 3 shells.
    • Interestingly enough, in the Resident Evil Outbreak spinoffs, characters find both filled magazines and individual shells, and if you reload using the latter, your character has to reload each shell individually. Magazines can be used to reload instantly, but only when the weapon is empty.
    • This happens a lot with shotguns in third-person shooters. For example, in Resident Evil 4 Leon always loads two shells into his shotgun(s), regardless of how many shells you actually load with it (egregious in the case of the Striker, which, when fully upgraded, can hold a staggering 100 shells, but still only needs two to fully reload).
      • Speaking of RE4, this is also averted with the Hand Cannon: Leon is shown loading three shells into the chamber when he reloads, which is the number of bullets the gun actually holds. Upgrading its capacity at all makes him start using speedloaders instead.
      • Furthermore, in RE4 Leon picks up loose bullets as opposed to actual magazines and clips. Since he carries these in boxes, and doesn't have any magazines in his inventory, it's unknown where he gets the magazines from. Although, having to watch Leon load 15 individual bullets into a magazine would get extremely aggravating.
  • Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth plays this beyond straight: any weapon can be reloaded at any point by removing its magazine (or clip, or shells, etc.) and putting a new one in, even if the weapon is already full.

Third-Person Shooter
  • Dirge of Cerberus had a peculiar case... the Giant Hydra, final form of the Hydra if you choose to upgrade it trough the power route, could take down just about any common enemy with a single shot...and then reload, since you cannot load more than a single bullet inside at a time; literal one bullet clip.
  • Gears of War takes this to baffling levels because of its "Active Reload" mechanic. Reloading a gun starts a slide that takes a few seconds, but stopping the slide in a thin bar will reload faster. Missing the bar will cause the gun to jam, making the reload take longer than simply waiting. However, hitting a small area inside the bar will trigger a "Perfect Reload," which will bestow bonuses (typically to some combination of damage, rate of fire, recoil reduction, effective range, or shot prep time on some heavy weapons)—but only to the bullets it actually replaced. This means that doing a mid-mag perfect reload will show the character ejecting a magazine and replacing it with another, but only bestows the bonus to as many bullets within the new magazine as were absent from the previous one. The first two games overwrote previous Perfect Reloads whenever a new reload was attempted (i.e., 8 perfectly reloaded rounds left in a 30 round mag will leave a mag with 22 perfectly reloaded rounds after another Perfect Reload), while the third allows all Perfectly Reloaded bullets to keep the bonus until they are fired or it expires. YMMV on which of these models makes more sense.
    • That's right, the bonus from reloading your gun harder expires. But that's another can of worms entirely.

Turn-Based Tactics
  • Silent Storm and the other games based on the same engine.
  • In a break from its predecessors, XCOM: Enemy Unknown does not track magazines as separate items, instead allowing soldiers to reload their weapons at will.

Wide Open Sandbox
  • The Godfather: The Game plays this fully straight.
  • In Scarface: The World is Yours, gunfighting on foot follows the trope, but entering a vehicle abruptly prevents you from reloading until the magazine is emptied.
  • Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl follows this trope with the player's weapons, with a few exceptions; most notably, switching ammo types with the shotgun requires the player to manually unload the tube magazine in the inventory menu. Enemy weapons are a mixed bag; the player has to unload actual guns manually rather than removing and hoovering up magazines with their shoes, but the rest of an enemy's ammo is simply depicted as boxes of bullets or shells.
    • You can also use it to use a mixed load. For example, the shotguns can often use the regular pellet shells, a dart shell and a slug. If you take the time to juggle it, you can have it so your gun is loaded with one type, then the next, then the last type, and so on.

Real Life
  • Revolversnote , shotguns with tube magazines, and weapons with internal magazines can be partially reloaded in real life, taking out spent shells and just putting in the needed ones; clips for these weapons exist mostly to quickly and fully reload them from empty.

Exceptions:

Action Game
  • Reloading in Mafia wastes any ammo remaining in the current magazine.

Beat 'em Up
  • Averted in, of all places, Die Hard Arcade (or Dynamite Deka), where every firearm has a set amount of ammo - and if enemies fire said guns at you, they'll be down that many rounds when you get your hands on them.

First-Person Shooter
  • Bungie Studios has gone from one end to the other of this trope:
    • Pathways Into Darkness had its ammunition management integrated into its inventory system, in which everything that can hold another item (including guns that hold a magazine and magazines that hold bullets) were treated as generic "containers" openable with a click of their disclosure triangle (exactly the same as the Macintosh Finder's list view, similar to Windows Explorer's TreeView), and items can be moved in and out of each other with a drag and drop. Individual magazines and the bullets in each one are all tracked as separate items, although you can not repack bullets from one magazine to another. In case you're wondering how all this works in the heat of combat, the game pauses whenever you click outside its main window.
    • The Marathon trilogy neatly sidesteps the whole issue by having no reload button, your character instead only reloads after emptying a weapon.
  • Keeping with its other attempts at a realistic portrayal, SWAT 4 prevents you from taking rounds out of your enemies' weapons, as they're evidence and in most cases not actually compatible with your current loadout (especially when using non-lethal or less-lethal arms). Also, when reloading, one simply switches to the next magazine with rounds still within it. Shotguns are still required to load in one round at a time, as well.
    • However, the game averts it as later missions of the game have you and your SWAT team of five (including you) raiding dangerous cults, going toe-to-toe with domestic terrorist organization with only about four magazines. The worst offender seems to be when you're expected to secure an entire hospital AND prevent the assassination of a foreign diplomat being treated there for wounds taken in a failed suicide attempt. And no, there's not a single security guard to be found. The only law enforcement in the nation seems to be you five, your sniper backup, and the guy who drives the van.
    • That said, as the game constantly reminds the player, SWAT is a police force and life-saving organization first and a military unit second. Thus SWAT never intends to kill people until all other options have been exhausted (or said person is clearly threatening a civilian or officer). As a result, they are not intended to be firing a high volume of rounds.
  • The Rainbow Six series, based off the work of Tom Clancy, is very accurate in its depiction of firearms. The ammo counter shows the number of rounds in the weapon, and the number of magazines in reserve, however in Vegas the number is not tracked internally. Instead Vegas just keeps track of the number of magazines the rounds you have left would fill. In its more tactical predecessors though, if you reload a half-full magazine, it jumps to the back of the line, and you may just put it back in later. This can lead to a player carrying six magazines with two bullets each. Rainbow Six is also very realistic with this "fast loading" by actually showing the magazine size + the one bullet left in the chamber. Shotguns, on the other hand, track individual shells, and they must be reloaded one at a time.
    • Unfortunately for those who prefer more firearm simulation, compared to its predecessors, later Rainbow Six games fall prey to the Reality Is Unrealistic trope as far as weapon effects are concerned.
    • The first Rainbow Six, as well as its expansion (Eagle Watch) and even the sequel, are pretty realistic for game weapons. As the series became less about planning and realism and more about action (the switch from a dedicated planning screen to a field hand-signal system in the Vegas games, for example), the realism of the weapons started to go downhill.
    • Operation Flashpoint does this as well, minus the "+1" reloading.
    • Being a throwback to Rainbow Six-type shooters, Takedown: Red Sabre handles weapon reloading much like it does. The odd bit, however, is that weapons only have one fixed-length reloading animation, which always includes the slide locking back or the player pulling the charging handle or what have you, only to somehow not eject an unused bullet.
  • In Day of Defeat and its Source rerelease, reloading makes you lose all the unspent ammo in the magazine. Since you only carry two or three magazines in the first place, you soon learn not to do that.
  • Frontlines Fuel Of War gives you 3 magazines. Reloading will just drop the mag, wasting any bullets still left in it, which makes it really annoying if you play a lot of games where this trope comes into play.
  • The PC series Battlefield gives you limited ammunition, and you find yourself losing any bullets left in a discarded magazine. The exceptions to this rule are the Battlefield: Bad Company spinoffs and Battlefield 3.
    • A strange example is the AK-101 with two magazines taped together, used by the MEC Assault and Medic classes in Battlefield 2 - its reload animation always consists of taking the magazines out, flipping them over, and inserting the one that had been upside-down. This somehow simultaneously gives you a full new magazine and counts as dropping the other mag and losing all the ammo left in it.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, any ammo you currently have in your magazine is discarded with it. It has to be noted, however, that you get so darn many magazines in the course of the game that preserving ammo isn't really necessary.
  • In Urban Terror, you toss a magazine - kiss it goodbye. Having only 2 to 4 mags means that even a good player can run out of ammo pretty quickly, sometimes meaning that you have to toss your weapon and pick up another, which may or may not have ammo, often leaving you with just a knife.
  • If you toss your magazine in the Ghost Recon series, kiss it goodbye. The tutorial at the beginning of the first game actually makes a point of saying that it is better to sacrifice a few bullets and reload than to have a magazine run out in the middle of a fight.
    • However, there is no animation for racking the charging handle of an automatic weapon, regardless of whether or not there were any bullets left in the magazine.
    • Future Soldier instead plays this straight, where even the added charging handle animations for empty reloads don't play much into it (excluding those for bolt-action weapons, they always take half a second at best).
  • Averted in the Delta Force series of first person shooters by Novalogic. In these games, if you reload, even if you only used a few bullets, the entire rest of the magazine goes to waste. Needless to say, one should almost never manually reload a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the game, which due to its large magazine, the player usually can only carry 2 spare magazine. The games (or, at least, Land Warrior) do keep track of the extra bullet in the chamber, however, so you can reload with one bullet left in the magazine and get to keep that bullet anyway.
  • The Quake II mod "Action Quake" tracked magazines. Players have only 2 or 3 extra magazines unless they choose the bandolier as their optional equipment, so knife fights aren't uncommon.
  • Averted in Condemned, in which you simply can't reload guns. At all. Also, guns you scavenge off corpses will only be fully loaded if you managed to take their previous holder down before he could squeeze off a shot, otherwise they'll be down by the correct amount of bullets, or even empty (at this point enemies can reload their weapons, but this also means you're probably dead).
    • Condemned 2, however, allows the player to scavenge ammo from dropped weapons and find ammo in supply lockers, but not carry reloads. This ultimately meant that the player had one magazine, and that was it. However, you can carry two weapons after a performance-based upgrade, in which case you can reload, but the ammo is taken out of the other gun, and only if it's the same type as your primary.
    • Condemned 2 also features an unlockable "FPS Mode", which gives you weapons with infinite ammunition for each level, but as in normal gameplay you cannot reload mid-magazine unless you find another copy of whatever weapon you have on the ground.
  • Fully averted in Americas Army, where the game keeps track of the individual magazines, so if you fire a bullet and reload you can later re-reload that magazine with one less bullet. It also keeps track of whether a round is in the chamber.
  • Unreal had the Automag, which is the only weapon in the game that needed a reload every few shots. In fact, even the Automag avoids this trope, because while you have to reload every magazine, you can't reload manually - the only way to do it is firing the remaining bullets or switching it out. Additionally, you can't see the amount of bullets left in the magazine (though you can hear the gun clicking in the last five shots). Originally, Unreal Tournament's Enforcer was also meant to work like this, though all that remains of this is the animation in the game files.note 
    • Unreal II: The Awakening plays this trope straight, though.
    • Conversely, you have a limited number of clips/magazines in the WW2 mod Red Orchestra, and you reload by removing the entire thing. If you run out and you're the only one on your team with that kind of weapon, you'll have to dump it for a replacement from dead soldiers.
    • Red Orchestra averts this trope, not just with tracking magazines and not individual rounds, but there is no bullet counter at all, even for loaded magazines. When reloading an SMG magazine for instance, the only information it gives you is how heavy it feels ("heavy" means fully/almost fully loaded, while "very light" means only a few bullets left). It's like Jurassic Park: Trespasser, but without the voices.
      • The Darkest Hour mod for Red Orchestra naturally also averts this trope; however, if you choose a class equipped with the M1 Garand, you can reload it mid-clip. Doing so does take longer than an empty reload, because the clip has to be ejected manually if it still has bullets.
    • The Infiltration mod did much the same thing.
    • The Covert Forces mod keeps track of the bullet in the chamber, but otherwise plays the trope straight, even spawning an empty magazine model that drops to the ground regardless of if the player actually emptied their last mag.
  • Averted in The Darkness: If you reload a weapon before you empty the entire magazine, the remaining part of that magazine is gone (for pistols this is because Jackie doesn't bother reloading them normally). Careless players might take a while to realize where all their ammo went when they had around 100 bullets beforehand.
  • OPERATION 7, a tactical MMO FPS, deals with this realistically like the Rainbow Six series. Since there's no way to consolidate partial magazines at any time, you could wind up with mags that are a third-full or worse.
  • Firearms, a mod of Half-Life also had this, although it did allow you to consolidate partially loaded magazines at any time during gameplay.
  • Averted in Duke Nukem 3D, where the pistol fires twelve shots before reloading. Players can't trigger a reload sooner, except by switching to another weapon and switching back. The same is true of Blood's double-barreled shotgun, being on the same engine. Note however that these are the only weapons in either game that even need to reload at all.
  • E.Ψ.Ǝ.: Divine Cybermancy has you lose the magazine if you reload with bullets left in it.
    • It also tracks your ammo reserves by magazines, which must be manually acquired from the Armory one at a time or picked up from dead enemies; they also take up physical inventory space and have weight. A few forms of ammunition contain several magazines in one inventory slot, however they are still treated as separate magazines as far as reloading goes. As such, given limited inventory space and loss of ammo in the magazine, the choice of whether or not to reload in EYE, and when, is an extremely important one.
  • Metro 2033: Mostly played straight due to the scarcity of ammo in the game, but one of the shotguns in the game doesn't necessarily fully reload every time. The ammo is put on a belt on the sides of the gun, and it can hold up to six shells at a time. However, the slot on top of the gun can't be accessed which means if you completely ran out of ammo before reloading, one slot will be empty. If you were to fire the gun then reload again, you would be at full ammo though.
  • Part of the premise of Receiver is that the gun mechanics are simulated in complete detail. Thus, reloading if you only have one magazine means taking the magazine out, holstering the gun, adding individual bullets to the magazine, drawing the gun, reinserting the magazine, and, if necessary, racking the slide or hitting the slide release lever. Every one of these steps has a dedicated keypress.note 
  • With all the above about Call of Duty, there is one instance where this is avoided - if you go Guns Akimbo, fire just one gun, and reload, the other one will stay in firing position; you can even fire it while reloading the first one to put out a constant stream of bullets.

Platform Game
  • Averted for comedic purposes in Contra: Shattered Soldier - the intro movie shows one of the main characters loading individual bullets into magazines. (Turns out that they're Bottomless Magazines once the game starts.)

Rail Shooter
  • Operation Wolf would only get you more ammo by the magazine. Reloading is automatic, too, so if you want to avoid it you'll need to waste a few rounds.
  • Virtua Cop 3 provides an example of actually accounting for the chambered round. Practically every gun from the default pistol with unlimited ammo to the ones you collect from pickups will keep the chambered round upon reloading when you haven't spent the full clip. You even get to see a cross-section of the magazine and chamber so you can view the entire process as well as have the ammo counter go up by 1 when a round is kept chambered. Though every other aspect of the ammo system plays this trope straight.
  • House of the Dead: OVERKILL does like Shattered Soldier above, where the intro cutscene for the final level has G and Washington loading individual bullets into assault rifle mags, only for them to, as always, have an infinite number of reserve magazines in gameplay.

Role-Playing Game
  • The first Xenosaga game used ammunition for both mecha and some characters, but there was no reload mechanic in battle; rather, characters started off each battle with the necessary ammunition. Then again, since the weapons themselves occasionally phased into existence, it's unclear as to why ammunition couldn't do the same (and, in fact, in the case of KOS-MOS it did, so go figure).
  • Averted in the Sega Genesis version of Shadowrun. Ammuntion was listed in number of magazines instead of bullets, and characters would only reload when their magazines were empty. However, it is possible to reload in the pause screen. Doing so when the magazine isn't empty brings up a warning: "You still have ammo left. Reload?" Accepting would discard the ammo left in the half-empty magazine.
  • The classic RPG Wasteland had variable-sized magazines, but once loaded you can't unload or otherwise salvage the ammo inside if you have to either reload or unjam the weapon. In other words, reloading a weapon results in losing the ammo which was left in the weapon before reloading. Consequently, reloading a fully loaded weapon by mistake is equivalent to tossing away a full magazine.
  • In Sword of the Stars: The Pit, this is played straight with ballistic weapons but averted for energy ones, which use up a whole Energy Backpack or Fuel Cell regardless of how many shots you have left.

Shoot 'em Up
  • Classic wild west shooter Outlaws is an interesting case. In this game there are only boxes of bullets and shells which are manually loaded into their respective firearms one at a time.

Stealth-Based Game
  • Averted in the first Hitman game. If you reload, the entire magazine is tossed away.
  • In the original 80's version of Castle Wolfenstein (the non-3D one), the character only wielded one pistol, and did not store any extra bullet magazines. Thus if he came across enemy bullets, he only reloaded if they had more bullets then he currently had.
  • Siren avoids this issue by simply not using weapons that have detachable magazines. The guns in the game are either revolvers or hunting rifles; you reload the cylinders or internal magazines with loose bullets. It also deals with the corollary by not letting you take weapons from fallen enemies.
    • Siren 2 features much more gunplay, and as such follows this trope to the letter. Ammo is still extremely limited, however, and the only way to replenish it if you run out is both long-winded and unsafe, since it involves beating a Shibito senseless, dropping your gun for whatever it had (since Shibito, being the bad guys, have Bottomless Magazines), waiting a few minutes for it to wake back up, and then beating it unconscious again after it reloads but before it can shoot you with the gun you just gave it.
    • The first game's remake, Siren: Blood Curse, acts in much the same way, the only differences being that the rifles are now single-shot instead of repeating, double-barrel shotguns (which can be sawed down in levels with workbenches) are thrown into the mix, and you can take weapons from enemies (although you can only carry one weapon at a time, and there's usually only one person with a gun in the level — either you or an enemy).
  • The first three Metal Gear Solid games account for already-chambered bullets when reloading - do a quick reload and your weapon will have an extra bullet. Metal Gear Solid 4 mostly does away with this, due to the Dramatic Gun Cock at the end of every reload - pistols keep a round in the chamber, but that's it.

Survival Horror
  • Averted in Eternal Darkness: when revolvers (the most common firearm) are reloaded, only the spent shells are dropped, and each bullet is reloaded one at a time (you can even stop before the revolver is full by letting go of the reload button or moving). Weapons like shotguns and single-shot rifles also avert this trope; however, in the one level where a character acquires magazine-loading weapons, this trope is played completely straight.
  • The revolver, double-barrel/pump-action shotguns, and hunting rifle in Alan Wake all have to be reloaded one shell at a time, which will slow Alan down if you have him trying to run from the Taken. Reloading can also be stopped if you have to let loose a round or two to get some breathing space, or find a Safe Haven.
  • When reloading an empty unscoped rifle in Cryostasis the protagonist is shown using a speedloader to reload. However when you try to reload a non-empty rifle the protagonist takes the required amount of bullets from the next ammo pouch and loads them in manually.
  • Deadlight has only a revolver and a pump-action shotgun available to Randall, who has to reload both one round at a time.

Third-Person Shooter
  • In Oni, individual rounds aren't tracked, only whole magazines (not that they could be given Oni's universal ammo system), so reloading with a shot left in the weapon wastes it (and magazines are very hard to come by). Enemies carry finite numbers of ammo magazines, and reload, so their weapon will have exactly as many bullets in it as they had left to shoot at you (so, it's best to kill him just as he reloads.)
  • SOCOM games tend to do this. When reloading, you simply switch between magazines you're carrying on you, so you could end up with any number of One Bullet magazines if you're not budgeting how you use each magazine.
  • In the video game adaptation/sequel to The Thing, if you reload a magazine based weapon, the remaining bullets in the replaced magazine are gone forever.
  • In WinBack, reloading your sub-machine gun or silenced pistol while there were still bullets in the magazine led to those spare bullets being discarded as well (though the one in the chamber would be saved). Unfortunately this was kind of redundant as your starting pistol was very accurate, did decent damage, granted you a bonus if you completed a mission using nothing else, and had infinite ammo - in comparison, to start with you can only carry one extra magazine for the other weapons.
  • ARMA: Armed Assault keeps track of the amount of ammunition in each magazine in your inventory, only throwing away magazines if they are completely depleted. If you have multiple semi-depleted magazines, they are sorted in order of decreasing bullets.
    • The sequel ARMA 2 and its expansion Operation Arrowhead continue this behavior, militantly so. However, it should be noted that the U.S. M1014 shotgun and clip-fed weapons are some of the few that do NOT work "properly" as identified in the trope definition. In the real world these weapons use integral magazines, loaded one round at a time or with stripper clips. Tactical doctrine for the M1014 calls for the soldier to load additional shells at any opportunity. ARMA 2 breaks this, where you are never able to load single rounds, and instead mime reloading with an invisible magazine, which somehow replaces every round currently in the weapon with a fresh one. The game's other shotguns are more correct in this regard, since they actually do use magazines.
  • Alien Swarm averts this:
    • Whenever you reload mid-mag you lose any bullets you had left and get a note saying how many you lost if it's a significant amount. Especially annoying when you're using a minigun, and you reload it after taking two shots because that's what you always do in shooters, and promptly lose half of the precious ammo you started the level with. However, to compensate for inverting the usual rule about reloading, the game has a Gears of War-esque tactical reload that cuts down reload speed to about a third.
    • Ammo Boxes contain a certain number of charges before they're used up. The autogun and minigun require a full box to get one magazine. There are also scattered ammo boxes that are exclusive for one type of weapon, which is a godsend for auto/minigun users since they no longer have to use up a whole box (whereas one box can fill up for at least two other assault rifle players) and for Flamethrowers, since they get more ammo overall.
  • BloodRayne doesn't reload weapons. She fires until the magazine is empty (or she finds a better weapon) and then tosses the entire gun to grab a fresh one.

Turn-Based Tactics
  • Jagged Alliance 2 works similarly, except that when the squad isn't in contact with the enemy, reloading a partially full weapon transfers rounds from the new magazine until the weapon is full. This allows partial magazines to be consolidated between battles.
    • The characters seem to haul a Bag of Holding full of empty magazines of every size and description, though; it's possible to load an arbitrary number of, say, 10-bullet magazines of 7.62 WP bullets into an AK-47 (three magazines of 10 at a time, obviously) and have a fully loaded 30-round magazine, or vice versa with the Dragunov sniper rifle (although that leaves you with a loaded 10-round magazine and a 30-round magazine with 20 rounds remaining). Note that in some fan mods of the game such as some iterations/builds of the famous and continually evolving v1.13, using magazines not suited for a weapon (such as feeding a 7-shot pistol a 30-round SMG mag of the same caliber) costs extra action points
      • And both fail to address the fact that the SVD and AK-47/AKM use different kinds of ammunition (7.62x54mmR vs. 7.62x39mm) ... and the game also allows the same generic '7.62' ammunition to be loaded into the PPSh (which actually fires 7.62x25mm rounds). They're all Warsaw Pact rounds and all 7.62mm caliber, but that doesn't make them the same stuff.
      • Averted in 1.13. Not only was the above issue fixed, it also features every kind of production ammo ever made, some of the wildcat cartridges, and a couple of fictional ammo types, just for fun.
  • Likewise the first two X-COM games, in which every magazine is a separate inventory item, and the number of bullets in each is tracked realistically.
  • Averted to an almost ridiculous extent by 7.62 High Calibre. If you have a box of bullets, but no spare magazine, it takes significantly longer to reload your gun as you have to insert the bullets into the existing magazine one at a time. Because many guns require a magazine to function, losing all of your magazines makes that gun useless; a major part of properly using a gun is purchasing spare mags or looting them from bodies, which makes magazine availability a big choice in determining what gun to use (do you use the one that's very good but only has one mag, or the one that's pretty crappy but you've got an entire backpack full of loaded mags for?). Guns that are reloaded one round at a time (bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and revolvers [there are no speedloaders]) take longer to reload the more rounds you're reloading at one time. It's also possible to tape two magazines together; while the ammo counter depicts a doubled capacity (making it seems like the taped mags are treated as one large mag), the shooter actually has an automatic pause when they empty half of the ammo for about a second while they flip the magazines around.
    • Each gun also requires its own model of magazine that takes up inventory space, with some magazines (like the ammo boxes for machine guns or drum mags) taking up large amounts of space. The magazines all need to be individually filled with ammo, which is best done before combat. You also have the choice of either dropping an empty magazine or returning it to an inventory slot; you only have 8 individual slots in your uniform and any magazine larger than a pistol mag usually takes up 2 to 4 slots, so you need to buy tactical vests and belts to have more ready inventory slots instead of struggling to stuff an empty mag in your backpack in the middle of combat.

Wide Open Sandbox
  • Averted in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Whenever you pick up a gun, you get X number of magazines with Y number of bullets in each. When you reload, you throw the magazine, and any bullets left in it, on the ground.
  • Also averted in Gun. If you shoot four of your six bullets you'll watch Colton put exactly four bullets in the cylinder before he's ready to fire.
  • 7 Days to Die averted this as well, but maybe a little too much. Reloading a pistol empties it of any remaining bullets and reloads with a fresh mag. For a shotgun on the other hand, reloading also empties it of the remaining shells and refills it with a new batch.

Genre-Busting
  • Sidestepped in Pathologic. The revolver is reloaded offscreen (the character pulls it down to their side first), avoiding the need for custom animations depending on how many bullets it currently has. The rifle is reloaded on-screen, but it has a literal one-bullet clip, so the trope doesn't apply. Played straight with the shotgun, however — your character always chucks the shells out of the gun, regardless of whether or not one is still unspent. The shotgun is also guilty of the "reload more visible shots than you actually have" subtrope.

Murphy's BulletBullet IndexOne Bullet Left
Missing BackblastGuns Do Not Work That WayOne Handed Shotgun Pump
Olympus MonsAcceptable Breaks from RealityOne Size Fits All
Missing BackblastGuns and Gunplay TropesOnly a Flesh Wound

alternative title(s): One Bullet Magazines
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