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One Bullet Clips

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"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 the current magazine from their gun, often letting it drop free or even throwing it as far away from themselves as possible in the process, and loading a new one. But the number of rounds you have available for reloading will go down by just one, despite your character having seemingly discarded the magazine with the rest of its perfectly good bullets. 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 if you just swapped for it from another, which could possibly give you a more generous amount to start with). 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 and feed themselves directly from your reserves to compensate for the lower rate of fire from working the pump or bolt).


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    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 
  • The Battlefield franchise zig-zags this; the first four games, from 1942 through 2142 avert this (see below under Exceptions). However, starting from the Battlefield: Bad Company spinoffs, the series plays this straight, with Battlefield 3 adding in different animations between mid-mag and empty reloads.
    • Battlefield 1 uses a variation of this trope: Firearms with integral magazinesnote  are loaded with stripper clips if needed, and single rounds otherwise, with a mid-mag reload for most weapons even showing your character blocking the currently-chambered bullet from being ejected when they pull the bolt open. Both methods draw from the same pool of ammunition, however, as if rounds attach to or detach from clips on their own as necessary.
  • 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 round 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 cartridge 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 Grenade Launcher, your character is clearly shown taking every empty casing/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. Most other revolvers in the series partially avoid 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 ammunition than you actually have when you have less than a full cylinder's worth remaining. The Annihilator from Black Ops III avoids this entirely - in singleplayer it is simply pulled off to the side then brought back up loaded, and in multiplayer it doesn't get reloads, being a specialist weapon - instead, it works off the usual specialist-weapon charge meter, which goes down a little bit with each bullet (enough that you get at most six shots with it), then once those six bullets are fired it's done until you've gained enough points to use it again, which is highly unlikely to be without at least one death between then and the last time you used it.
    • The first two games are actually somewhat mercurial about this trope. The bolt-action weapons all follow these rules except for the Lee-Enfield, which can only be loaded five rounds at a time if you've fired more than five rounds (which makes sense to a degree, as stripper clips for the Lee-Enfield hold 5 rounds, but so do those for all the other bolt-action rifles in the game; it may have been for balance since the Enfield holds ten rounds at a time to every other bolt-action's 5). 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, WWII and Vanguard, the gun inverts the usual rules for this and still reloads much faster from empty (since a mid-clip reload requires manually ejecting the current clip before inserting a new one - an empty reload will have already had the clip eject when the last bullet was fired). There are also a few weapons in the earlier games that are treated oddly: the SVT-40 and Gewehr 43 take longer to reload mid-magazine than from empty in United Offensive (a mid-mag reload has your character lock the bolt back manually before replacing the magazine, while the bolt is already locked back at the start of an empty reload) and then reloads that never acknowledge the need to chamber a round in 2, while the Bren went from reloads in the first game that never require a rechamber to reloads that always start with your character very quickly pulling the bolt open in 2.
    • World at War mostly follows this, with one exception. When using the Double-Barreled Shotgun, you may reload after firing only one shell. If you do, the reloading animation will show your character blocking the unfired shell with their thumb while shaking the spent shell out. Oddly, while its actual sequels in the Black Ops games had similar slightly-different animations for the Olympia over/under shotgun, Modern Warfare 2's Sawed-Off Shotgun has only one reload animation, with your character dumping and replacing both shells even if you only fired one, though in return its animation is noticeably faster.
    • 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 semi-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 the SPAS-12 and HS-10 in the first Black Ops (both chamber a new shell at the end of every reload). The FP6 in Ghosts, meanwhile, has every shell that is needed for a reload visible in the off-hand, though the trade off is that there's some hard-coding involved, so you can't interrupt a reload halfway (and it still is always pumped after every reload). The Updated Re Release of Modern Warfare 2's campaign fixes this issue in regards to the SPAS-12 and the M1014, where when loaded from empty the first shell is put directly into the chamber via the breech, and the former is never pumped when topped off.
    • The usual rule for empty reloads isn't quite followed for the FAD in Modern Warfare 3. 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. The most likely reason for this is that the weapon in question was an obscure prototype when the game came out, and it still is rather obscure even now. Most likely, the person who modeled and/or animated it most likely didn't have much reference material to work with and didn't know exactly where the charging handle was, hence the mag tap.note 
  • 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's loaded one shell at a time, thus 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; the Source rerelease of the game even tracked the chambered round, resulting in the ability to fire an extra round after a mid-mag reload (18, instead of 17), though due to a glitch as this was eventually removed. This is not the case for the USP from Half-Life 2, however, which always locks empty with every reload (though in return it has an 18-round capacity). 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.
    • Opposing Force had a nice little detail with the M249 SAW when you ran low on bullets, the end of the chain is actually seen once you're below ten rounds left and it visibly gets shorter.
  • Similar to the Call of Duty one above, Left 4 Dead applied a similar mechanic to the pump and automatic shotguns. If you had any shells 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 the first 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 (and much faster than it was performed in the first game), but the Tier 1 shotguns won't, and the animation can be interrupted at any point to fire the gun even if reloading from empty, thus eliminating the drawback.
    • Like in the original Half-Life above, in L4D2 the pistols' slides lock 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. Every other gun, however, will follow this trope to the letter, with non-shotgun weapons in the first game always simply replacing the magazine while most weapons in the second game always have a Dramatic Gun Cock after every reload.
    • There was a common misconception around the release of the first game 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 (thus necessitating some care in when you manually reload, since once you start you have to take the time to do it before you can fire again); most failed to notice that the number of rounds left were re-added to the total ammo counter at the same time.
  • Crysis can't make up its mind, the game realistically tracks chambered rounds and featured faster reloads for magazine-fed weapons 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 (the last one depending on the game/scenario) 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.note 
    • 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 (even ignoring that half of the guns in the game can't be reloaded, every other gun that can be ignores this) and only the shotgun getting pumped adds any noticeable amount of time to its reloads (the pistol's in particular maybe adds milliseconds). Halo 2, 3, and ODST skipped this, where the Dramatic Gun Cock or lack of one is independent of how many rounds the player had left in the magazine, then Halo: Reach went back to this for most human weapons.
    • Games from Reach onward also Zig-Zag this with the draw animations for many human weapons. Swap to one for the first time, like your starting secondary weapon or picking one up off the ground, and your character pulls the slide or charging handle to chamber a round. Put it away and then swap back to it later, the safety simply gets toggled off. You still don't get any extra rounds on mid-mag reloads, though.
    • The series does contain one notable aversion, however: in every installment of the game to date, the amount of time the shotgun's reload animation takes is proportional to how many shells you are reloading.
  • Combat Arms allows this trope with reloads 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... Same for Line of Sight, spun off from Combat Arms.
  • 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 rounds 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 - apparently Bond isn't the only super-spy trying to break in that day.
  • The SiN videogames play this straight (barring the caveat that Blade always loads a new mag into a weapon on picking it up for the first time in the original game), but even more maddening is the fact that the shotgun in SiN Episodes: Emergence, 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 shell 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, the game tracked chambered rounds after reloading a magazine, letting the player fire one more round (excluding belt-fed LMGs, which are always re-cocked no matter how many rounds you had left - in return, you can see their belts visibly get smaller as you run through the last few rounds in them). However, despite the HUD only showing an amount of magazines equivalent to the remaining ammunition you have remaining, they're not actually individually tracked. This was also implemented rather weirdly with Vegas 2's revolver, which due to being a revolver doesn't get chambered rounds, but still gets a slower reloading animation when reloading from empty, just because. Siege excised the bit about trying to pretend it still tracked magazines and just outright tells you how many more bullets you have in reserve, and takes the chambered-round bit to an extreme by even letting open-bolt and belt-fed weapons keep a round from the previous magazine or belt - even though, by virtue of being open-bolt, they never actually have a live round in the chamber until the trigger has already been pulled to fire that round.
    • Also averted in previous Rainbow Six games and in the later-added "Tactical Realism" mode for Siege, where you start each level with X magazines, each holding Y rounds - all tracked individually. You never just drop a mag unless it's empty (this includes reloading with a single round left, at least in Raven Shield; that single round would be kept in the chamber and fired along with those in the next mag), instead you put it back in your pockets. 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 speedloader being loaded into a revolver no matter how many rounds are left. The Jackal sniper rifle in Zero avoids this by being single-shot, as do both games' shotguns and rocket launchers by loading one round at a time.
  • Homefront plays it as straight as any other generic military shooter of its time does. It doesn't even differentiate between mid-mag and empty reloads, and the player character always tugs on the charging handle or presses the bolt release after every reload.
  • 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 how many rounds you fired before reloading. The Bullpup, meanwhile, skips chambering a new round 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, where even if you only fired one round from a magazine before reloading, it will appear completely empty when you remove it, before loading in a new magazine with actual bullets in it - partly a side effect of the weapons being added after a point where actually modelling bullets in magazines, rather than just flat textures, started becoming commonplace but not yet consistent, and partly a limitation of the engine it runs on.
  • Killing Floor 2 continues this, and has at least four different reloading animations for any one weapon. Reloading from an empty magazine will have the player character drop it as normal and replace it with a fresh one before chambering a new round. Reloading partway through a magazine will have them tuck the old magazine away for later while inserting the fresh one. Every perk in the game also gets a skill to increase reloading speed by giving them different animations, showing empty magazines being flicked away rather than pulled and having the player character grab the fresh mag and bring it up to the used one before switching them in one quick motion. Pressing reload when the weapon is full instead plays an idle animation, where your player character looks over the weapon, slips the magazine out for a moment to confirm it's full, or pulls the handle/slide/whatever back just far enough to check the chamber without ejecting a bullet.
  • 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.
      • Gaige the Mechromancer is well-advised to pretend this trope is not in effect, since accidentally reloading will wipe out all of her stacks if she's been building up Anarchy. It's better to empty a magazine into nothing than to reload, since losing a 350% damage bonus at 200 stacks is enough to make you weep.
    • Gearbox's Battleborn has some characters with passive effects that have fun with the players' tendencies with regards to this trope - Oscar Mike's first half of his assault rifle's magazine do extra damage, encouraging the player to act regularly and reload often. Meanwhile, Mellka expels an energy blast when she reloads that does more damage based off how much ammunition was fired off and Ghalt's last 4 rounds in his magazine do extra damage to make the player think about not reloading immediately when they get a break.
  • The Far Cry series plays the trope straight at all times, bar the double-barreled shotguns in Far Cry 2's DLC and Far Cry 4. These weapons replace both shells with every reload, but only because the character fires both shells at once (something shotguns of that type are indeed capable of doing in real life, as they generally have two separate triggers), making it a literal example in practice. The double-barrel rifle in Far Cry 4, however, does get a different reload animation if only one round has been fired.
  • The R8 Revolver in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a cylinder with space for 8 rounds. You only have 8 rounds of spare ammo, but reloading while not having fired all rounds in the cylinder makes it teleport to your spare ammo counter (and makes an additional speedloader full of bullets appear out of thin air on your next reload). If you empty your cylinder and reload, you'll load in a full speedloader's worth - 8 rounds - but will only be able to fire as many as you have in your ammo counter.
    • The automatic CZ-75 was another example when it was first added. Like the R8, it only features one spare magazine to make it a "high-risk, high-reward" weapon, and that spare magazine is mounted as a foregrip on the front of the gun, which your character will detach and load after emptying the first mag. However, nothing is stopping you from reloading before emptying the gun, so you can switch to the fore-mounted magazine after three bullets fired - and before a patch added more animations to the weapon, reloading again after the first reload would have that magazine teleport back onto the front of the gun so you could reload with it again. A later update added more animations to the gun to account for scenarios like this, including slowing down the draw animation by requiring the player character to mount a magazine under the barrel and giving it a second reloading animation of just grabbing a new mag from their gear like with the other pistols for cases where the foregrip mag has already been used to reload.
    • The series as a whole plays this straight, where most weapons only ever have one reloading animation and do not track individual magazines. In earlier games, cocking the gun or not was entirely dependent on the gun rather than how many bullets were left in; by Global Offensive, every gun is now cocked after every reload, though the converse issue is that every gun is also cocked on their draw animation (barring the Desert Eagle, which is still twirled like it was in earlier versions) without subtracting any bullets from the magazine.
  • Brutal Doom, a Game Mod for the classic Doom, adds a reloading mechanic to most of the weapons that plays the trope straight (going so far as to have discarded magazines/energy cells tossed on the ground and remain there, even though any ammunition that they may have had remaining stays with the player). Of note, however, is that reloading the assault rifle (the replacement for the pistol) when empty gives thirty rounds, while reloading with ammunition still present gives thirty-one, and as of v20 reloading the shotgun produces a Dramatic Gun Cock only if the shotgun was empty when the reload started.
  • Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad averts this in most cases, but like Battlefield 1 mentioned above, it plays it straight with stripper clips. Most rifles (all bolt-actions and the G41) are loaded with five-round clips if needed, and single rounds otherwise. Both methods draw from the same pool of ammunition, as if rounds attach to or detach from clips as necessary.
    • The SVT-40 (and its full-auto cousin the AVT-40) is the most bizarre; it can be reloaded with either stripper clips or by changing magazines, but not with individual rounds. If the magazine has eight or nine rounds (out of ten) or is empty, you switch magazines. Otherwise, you appear to load a five-round clip... even if there are six or seven left. Finally, the clips somehow draw ammunition out of the magazines; keep using them and you can wind up with a bunch of empty mags despite never changing the one in the gun.
    • Rising Storm 2: Vietnam's SKS-45 avoids this trope; reloading it when there are still bullets in it will result in you dumping the un-fired rounds and then putting in a stripper clip. Eventually, however, you'll actually run out of clips and will have to reload bullets one by one.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon plays this straight as an arrow, weapons having a fixed-length reload animation regardless of whether you fired one shot or every bullet in the magazine; at best, most reloads have a Dramatic Gun Cock, though some skip it (the versions of the Penetrator or the second game's Sniper Rifle) or otherwise find a way to be weird about it (the second game's handgun, where the slide locks back on reloading, is released forward upon placing in a new magazine, and then pulled by your character again to chamber a bullet despite that it should have already done so). Ammo acquired from weapons makes it one of the oddest examples, as how much ammo you get is entirely dependent on two factors: whether you already have a copy of the weapon in question, and if you do, whether it was dropped by an enemy or found pre-placed in the map. Dropped weapons give the least ammo, often less than half a magazine's worth (for instance, only 15 bullets for the 45-shot assault rifle and 50-shot SMG), and pre-placed ones don't give much better (e.g. 30 shots for the AR or SMG), while picking up a weapon for the first time gives much more ammo, often two or three magazines. What makes this odd is that there's a button to actively drop a weapon, which lets you abuse this mechanic to get more ammo than intended - drop your assault rifle, pick up a fresh one off a security office's weapon rack, pick up your first one again, then rinse and repeat for the next two rifles on that rack, and you suddenly have six more magazines for your gun when the game intended for you to only get two. The sequels keep this behavior, but make it harder to abuse by removing the button for dropping a weapon, with F.E.A.R. 2 also adding a fourth weapon slot that means you're a good ways into the game before you even have enough weapons to juggle them around to min-max ammo pickups for them.

    Role Playing Game 
  • In the Fallout series, you can always reload the exact number of rounds 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 feature a container of loose ammunition, 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 rounds 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 starts actually replacing any rounds, then it'll play out as if there was only one that needed replacing, even if the gun was (nearly) empty.
  • Not only is this trope possible in Parasite Eve 2, complete with ejecting spent casings or shells, but Aya reloads at the end of every encounter automatically. Making it possible, if you time it right, to start reloading your weapon, ejecting all the ammunition, and then before she's even started putting more ammo in, the automatic-reload kicks in and she ejects another full magazine's worth (or equivalent) 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 but 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 detachable heat sinks, prompting Conrad Verner to complain that it's a step backwards from guns used around the time of the first game, where the ammo source lasted so long it would take days of non-stop fighting to run out.
    • 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 space because there is nowhere for the heat to transfer unless it's giving off a considerable amount of radiation.

    Simulation Game 
  • Project Zomboid
    • Although not a specifically gun-centric game, earlier builds actually allowed you choose how straight to play this trope. With "Easy" reloading, loose cartridges in your main inventory are deducted, and the firearm filled, when the reload key is pressed; magazines are ignored. With "Normal", magazines are separate objects (you may eventually find yourself picking up a scavenged pistol, ejecting the magazine for your stockpile, and leaving the gun behind), and the number of rounds in each is tracked. Loading them with individual rounds can be quite tedious (do it while you're waiting for a stew to cook, maybe). For a pistol, the reload key ejects your magazine if one is loaded, or loads your fullest one if it is not, so it must be pressed twice for a full cycle. For a shotgun, reload will start adding shells to the tube until it is full. The chamber is even considered: If you eject your pistol's magazine before firing your last round, you can still take one more shot without loading a new mag (or if you did load one, that first round is "free", though at the cost that your previous magazine, if it was still loaded, will have one less bullet in it). The info panel for your equipped weapon uses the handy "15+1" notation to make this clear. Finally, with "Hardcore", racking the action is added as a separate maneuver with a separate button (works the slide for a pistol, the pump for a shotgun). You must rack if you add a fresh magazine/shell with an empty chamber, you must rack a shotgun between each shot, and you must not rack after reloading if the chamber was loaded. Doing so will actually drop loose rounds on the ground. Not as fiddly as Receiver, but close.
    • Build 41 removed the options in favor of making reloading always play as something of a mix between the old "Normal" and "Hardcore" rules. Weapons require magazines which must be individually acquired and manually loaded beforehand, and working the action manually is always an option, but except to clear a jam or totally unload a weapon it's never necessary, since loading a magazine with bullets into an empty weapon will have you automatically chamber the first round, and ejecting an unfired cartridge simply has it slip into your inventory rather than fall to the ground.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid switched from the MSX games' classic "can fire as long as you have bullets" to actually requiring a reload after every certain number of shots from a gun, but the trope is still played perfectly straight. In particular, Snake can reload instantly simply by un-equipping and re-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 to be thrown as a distraction, despite Snake having visibly discarded it on the ground during the reload animation. Moreover, Snake loads three tracers at the base of each FAMAS mag (which is standard practice in the French military), yet never encounters an entire magazine of consolidated tracers.
    • After Metal Gear Solid 3's Shagohod boss was made incredibly easy by the combination of instant reloads and a rocket launcher whose only limiting factor was its slow reloads, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots eliminated the instant reloads and required the actual reload animation to play out; this showed him taking out the old magazine and tucking it away for later. However, almost all non-pistol weapons have a Dramatic Gun Cock which usually ejects an unspent round (explaining why only pistols still get an extra round in the chamber, as the instant reloads would give you in previous games, but not why that round isn't deducted from your total) and all weapons that aren't single-shot follow this trope to the letter. Moreover, the abundance of usable weapons compared to previous games meant the ammo system had to be switched out from dedicated ammo pickups for each weapon to identifying by caliber and having weapons draw from the same ammo pools, allowing you to e.g. keep an M14 EBR firing by picking up dropped SCARs.

    Survival Horror 
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth: 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.
  • Played straight in No More Room In Hell, despite there being a function to check how much ammo is left in the magnote . Also if you reload with one bullet in the chamber, that counts as an extra shot.
  • Zig-zagged in Cry of Fear: any magazine-based weapon loses all rounds 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 exceptions are the shotgun, which is reloaded one shell at a time, and the hunting rifle, which only loses the bullet currently chambered as the bolt is pulled open when a reload is triggered, and otherwise works the same as the shotgun. The revolver also loses every bullet on a reload, though that's explained in that Simon visibly dumps the entire cylinder, fresh and fired rounds alike, as with the mag-fed weapons. That said, while the game does acknowledge the need to have a round in the chamber to fire a weapon, by requiring Simon to chamber the first round of any non-revolver gun after completely emptying and reloading it, you don't get to keep an extra round if you reload early.
  • Averted in Darkwood. Ammo for magazine-fed guns (pistol, SMG and assault rifle) is measured in individual magazines, and if the Protagonist reloads one, the remaining rounds will be lost. The shotguns have no such problem.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • 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 pressing the reload button again while the slide is 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 rounds 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 rounds 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 rounds to keep the bonus until they are fired or it expires.
  • Dead Space 3 hits a curious middle ground between averting the trope and playing it straight. All guns are fed by the same type of Universal Ammunition magazines that stack to up to 20 units per inventory grid. Any full magazine of any weapon, no matter how many shots its magazine holds, equates to four of these units. In other words, reloading a magazine that's 51% full costs you two ammo units, one at 25-49% costs three, and so on. However, the important part is that every reload uses up a minimum of one unit. Therefore, reloading partway through the magazine can subtract more ammo from your stock than you actually fired. An upgraded chaingun for instance can hold 200+ rounds per magazine; shoot one bullet and the following reload will cost you the equivalent of 50+ rounds. This mechanic can get you into serious trouble if you're a compulsive reloader and play on high difficulty settings where ammo is so scarce that every single unit can make the difference between life and a very messy death.

    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. XCOM 2 is similar, but keeps track of up to three speedloaders that make reloading a free action. Once the character is out, they must reload manually, which takes up an action.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • 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.
  • A constant in the Grand Theft Auto series. Even with the addition of limited magazines and reloading animations in Grand Theft Auto III, there was still not a dedicated reload button, and the only way to reload a weapon was to either fire off every bullet currently in it or simply switch to a different one, at which point the weapon would instantly refill. The shotgun took this to the extreme by not even having reloads beyond the pumping animation (a case which continued even through San Andreas, where the pump shotgun was the only one that didn't have to reload after a set number of shots); even when they eventually got actual reloading animations in Grand Theft Auto IV and V, they consist of only loading, respectively, two and then one shell into the weapon. Submachine guns that can be fired out the windows of a car or while on a bike handle this oddly as well, where while being used normally they have to reload after emptying their mags, but if fired from a vehicle, they can keep shooting long after that mag should have emptied.

    Real Life 
  • Revolvers,note  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 and speedloaders for these weapons exist mostly to quickly and fully reload them from empty.


    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 Cop / 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 ammunition) 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 rounds in each one are all tracked as separate items, although you can not transfer ammunition 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 ammunition out of your enemies' weapons (or, in fact, taking their weapons at all), 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 in it. Shotguns are still required to load in one round at a time, as well.
  • 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 and Siege 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 rounds each. Rainbow Six is also very realistic with this "fast loading" by actually showing the magazine size + tracking the round 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 and the ARMA series 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 unfired round.
  • Escape from Tarkov realistically reloads everything as they would in real life
    • Magazines are returned to your inventory with exact ammo counts. If your inventory is full, or you do a quick reload, the mag is dropped on the ground.
    • Weapons are not cocked if there's a round already in the chamber. Semi-automatic tube-fed shotguns have the bolt locked open to put a round put in the chamber, then the tube is reloaded.
    • Bolt-action weapons with internal magazines are reloaded manually, but opening the breech will eject the round in the chamber, when applicable. It's possible to recover the bullet... if you can find it in the grass.
    • If you brought or salvaged spare bullets, you can reload magazines in the field. It's not a fast process.
    • There's hotkeys for checking approximate ammo counts in magazines (which is faster/more accurate if you have a see-through mag) and checking the chamber.
  • 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 ammo 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 started out averting this trope: you're given limited ammunition, and you find yourself losing any bullets left in a discarded magazine. The corollary about chambered rounds is also ignored, even up to the first Bad Company that started playing the trope straight, by way of every reload capping off with a Dramatic Gun Cock to make sure there always actually is a round in the chamber.
    • 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 counts as getting a full new magazine and discarding the other one entirely, even if you've attached and detached both of those taped-together magazines several times.
    • Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline play this straight in the same manner as 3, but also have the old behavior as part of hardcore mode and a toggle-able option for other servers, where all the remaining ammo in a magazine (minus the bullet in the chamber for appropriate weapons, a mechanic added to the series in 3) is lost on a reload.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, any ammo you currently had in the previous magazine is discarded with it when reloading. 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, if 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.
  • The original Ghost Recon and its trilogy of expansion packs played this differently depending on system. In the PC version, this was played in the same manner as Rainbow Six, where used magazines were put back in a queue and could end up loaded later if you go through a lot of ammo throughout a mission. The console versions instead go for dumping the current mag entirely when you reload, with the tutorial at the beginning making a point of saying that it is better to sacrifice a few rounds and reload when the coast is clear than to have a magazine run out in the middle of a fight. However, there is no animation or extra time needed for racking the charging handle of an automatic weapon if you emptied the mag, nor do you get to keep an extra round in the chamber if you reload early. Later games got progressively more arcadey about this, playing this trope completely straight by Future Soldier where even the added animations for pulling the charging handle only ever add a quarter of a second to an empty reload.
  • Averted in the early Delta Force series of first person shooters by Novalogic. In these games, if you reload, even if you only used a few rounds, the entire rest of the magazine goes to waste. Needless to say, one should almost never manually reload an M249 or M240 in the game, which the player usually can only carry 2 spare belts for because of their size. In return for this, you can keep a round in the chamber from the previous magazine when reloading before emptying it. However, the games get a little overzealous about this and apply both rules to almost every weapon: open-bolt, belt-fed weapons which never have a round in the chamber before firing keep a round from the previous belt, as do the Jackhammer (fed via drum mags similar to a revolver cylinder) and the P11 (pepperbox-style weapon with multiple barrels instead of a magazine) - only a very small handful of weapons like the MM-1 revolver-grenade launcher in Land Warrior are specifically programmed to not do this - and weapons with internal magazines like the M40 and the Masterkey mounted under the Colt 727 dump every round to replace them with fresh ones, instead of topping up with loose rounds. Black Hawk Down onward instead go to play this straight, complete with removing the chambered-round rule.
  • 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.
  • Condemned
    • Averted in Condemned: Criminal Origins, 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 some enemies can reload their weapons, but this also means you're probably dead).
    • Condemned 2: Bloodshot, 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.
  • Fully averted in America's Army, where the game keeps track of each individual magazine, and of rounds chambered.
  • Unreal had the Automag, which is the only weapon in the game that needed a reload, after 20 shots. In fact, even the Automag avoids this trope, because while you have to reload it, you can't reload manually - the only way to do it is firing the remaining rounds or switching it out. Additionally, you can't see the amount of rounds left in the magazine (though you can hear the gun clicking on 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 
    • You have a limited number of clips/magazines in the WWII mod Red Orchestra, and you reload by removing the entire thing. There is no bullet counter at all, even for loaded magazines; when reloading an SMG for instance, the only information it gives you is how heavy the magazine feels ("heavy" means [almost] fully loaded, while "very light" means only a few rounds left). It's like Jurassic Park: Trespasser, but without the voices.
      • The Darkest Hour mod for Red Orchestra naturally also averts this trope, complete with new rules for the M1 Garand, which can reload mid-clip but takes longer because an en bloc clip with rounds still in it needs to be ejected manually.
    • The Infiltration mod did much the same thing.
    • The last release of the Covert Forces mod keeps track of the round 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 the mag before reloading.
  • Averted in The Darkness: Jackie doesn't carry spare magazines for handguns so much as he carries entire spare handguns, and tosses them once they're empty to grab a fresh one, so reloading before you empty a weapon's magazine means any remaining ammunition is gone along with it. Careless players might take a while to realize where all their ammo went when they had around 100 rounds only a couple minutes beforehand.
  • OPERATION 7, a tactical MMO FPS, deals with this realistically like the Rainbow Six series. Since there's no way to refill partial magazines at any time, you could wind up with mags that are a third-full or worse.
  • Averted in Duke Nukem 3D, where the pistol fires twelve shots before reloading. The caveat here is that, this being one of the earliest FPS examples, the game doesn't actually keep track of the number of rounds in the magazine - instead, the reload animation plays whenever the pistol's total ammo count reaches a multiple of twelve. Since the maximum ammo for the pistol is 200 rounds rather than something divisible by twelve, that means Duke can carry a maximum of 16 magazines, plus one with only eight rounds which he'll load first if you have full ammo. It also means that with the right timing in finding or getting enemies to drop pistol mags, Duke could either fire far more rounds than normal from that supposedly-less-loaded mag, or load a full mag and then feel the need to replace it with one to four rounds still left in it. A few other Build-engine games also tracked ammunition and had reloading animations, though except for WWII GI, there was only ever the one weapon per game (Blood's Sawed-Off Shotgun, Shadow Warrior's potentially-dual Uzis, etc) that this actually applied to, and save for Blood all of them triggered reloads when your ammo reached a multiple of a specific number.
  • E.Y.E: 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, effects of encumbrance for the player movement, and loss of ammo in the magazine, the choice of whether or not to reload in EYE, and when, is an extremely important one in the harder difficulties. On the other hand, the Armory has infinite amount of magazines for any given weapon, and drops are plentiful, with common mooks dropping a full magazine of ammo at their very least, and you have the ability to convert incompatible magazine into health.
  • 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 normally which means if you completely ran out of ammo before reloading, one slot will be empty, and you will have to fire the gun again once and reload again to have the full 6. This is fixed in the sequel, where you'll always reload the full six rounds note .
  • Part of the premise of Receiver is that the gun mechanics are simulated exactly as they would in real life. Thus, reloading if you only have one magazine means taking the magazine out, holstering the gun, adding individual rounds 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 the addition of a revolver to the game, it gets a little simpler as you only need to open the cylinder, eject the spent rounds, and load in the new bullets without having to juggle magazines (there aren't any speedloaders). However, ejecting rounds will dump the entire cylinder at once, so if you do it with unspent rounds still in the gun, you'll have to pick them back up off the floor again if you don't want to lose them.
  • 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.
    • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare adds a weapon where this trope actually makes sense - your ammo comes from a canister of liquid matter attached to the weapon that a tiny 3D printer uses to make new bullets inside the magazine whenever you reload it.
    • At least with weapons that are reloaded one round at a time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II finally acknowledges the ability to have a full magazine plus one in the chamber: an empty reload for weapons like the Expedite 12, Bryson 800, and Lockwood Mk2 starts with the player character opening the chamber to load a round directly into it before then loading the rest into the magazine as normal.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi: Refreshingly averted. Reload the Revolver or Machine Gun and lose whatever ammo was already in there.
  • Overthinked Doom 3, a mod for Doom³ that emphasizes the Survival Horror elements, averts this trope. If you reload a weapon while there's still ammo in the magazine, then you can kiss that ammo goodbye.
  • 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.
  • In Team Fortress 2, it's generally played straight, with one exception: 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.
  • Though the Wolfenstein series has traditionally played this straight as an arrow, The New Colossus has one instance where it's averted - the "jungle mags" upgrade for the Sturmgewehr takes the form of a second magazine taped to the first one to double your magazine capacity. When you have that, B.J. will fire 29 bullets from the first magazine, then very quickly switch over to the second to fire the last still-chambered bullet plus the 30 in that second mag.
  • System Shock averts this trope. You discard the old magazine when you reload, ammo and all.
  • The first Titanfall averts this. Next to your current ammo counter, there's a magazine counter instead of a bullet counter; any bullets in an ejected magazine are lost. Titanfall 2 instead plays this straight.
  • Into the Radius has magazines not only retain their ammo count when ejected, but the player also needs to manually load each magazine with the correct ammo type.
  • Pistol magazines in Half-Life: Alyx keep their current ammo reserves if ejected while still partially-full. They can be picked back up and loaded back into the gun, though they can't be stored in Alyx's ammo backpack (and the individual rounds can't be loaded into another magazine either). Realistically, you can also skip racking the slide if reloaded while there's still a round in the chamber, which gives the next magazine one "extra" bullet. The other guns work the same way, though with the twist that neither has to worry about losing ammo on a reload without conscious effort from the player - the shotgun, as in the other games, loads with loose shells, while the Combine SMG uses "pulse plugs" that can't be manually removed, only automatically ejected and replaced once empty.
  • The Firearms Game Mod for Half-Life (and its Source successor) avert this very thoroughly. The mod's motto, after all, was that it's all about the guns.
    • Partially-empty magazines are simply moved to the end of your magazine reserve, and still partially empty if the player reloads them. Consolidating rounds between partial magazines requires a button press and a significant amount of time, leaving the player vulnerable.
    • Shotgun reloads can be interrupted after each shell.
    • Most guns retain a round in the chamber if reloaded while there is still at least 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, such as revolvers or open-bolt firearms like the 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 rounds, the character would place a thumb over the remaining ones 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.

    Platform Game 

    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 magazine. 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 rounds 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 rounds, 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.

  • Pointedly averted in SYNTHETIK. For a fast-paced roguelite, this game has a realistic reloading system. First, you must Eject the current magazine (unless using a crossbow or the RPG7), which ejects all current bullets as well (unless you have a specific accessory). Then you need to Reload with a different key (though the game does have an option to have a single key that does both).

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Averted in Hitman: Codename 47. 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 magazines. Thus if he came across ammunition from dead enemies, he only reloaded if they had more ammunition 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 rounds. 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 as the original game, the only differences being that the rifles are now single-shot instead of repeating, double-barreled 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 play this straight for total ammo counts, but do account for chambered rounds when reloading - do a quick reload and your weapon will be able to fire an extra round. 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, and the M870 Custom has the first round from an empty reload breech-loaded before filling up the mag normally, 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 round 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.
  • Alan Wake goes out of its way to have this make sense by only including weapons that have to be reloaded one shell at a time - a revolver, double-barreled and pump-action shotguns, a flare gun, and a lever-action rifle - 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 stripper clip 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.
  • 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 round 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 rounds, and if you reload using the latter, your character has to reload each round 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. In Resident Evil 4 Leon always loads two shells into whichever shotgun he's using, regardless of how many shells it actually needs. Especially in the case of the Striker, which, when fully upgraded, can hold a staggering (and completely unrealistic) one-hundred 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 rounds into the chamber when he reloads, which corresponds to its actual capacity in the game (despite the real weapon it's based on, the S&W Model 500, having a capacity of 5). Upgrading its capacity at all makes him start using speedloaders instead.
      • Furthermore, in RE4 Leon picks up boxes of loose rounds as opposed to actual magazines and clips. Since he doesn't have any magazines in his inventory, it's unknown where he gets them from. Although, having to watch Leon load 15 individual bullets into a magazine would perhaps get extremely aggravating.
      • Interestingly, the automatic pistols are animated to have their slide lock back after the last round of a magazine and then be released back into battery upon reloading, though chambered rounds are, of course, ignored - and this rule also applies to the Red 9, a gun with an internal magazine reloaded by clips like the .223 rifle, meaning Leon will force new bullets in through the closed ejection port if he reloads while any rounds are left in the gun. The rifle itself has a similar rule, where Leon will not automatically work the bolt after firing the last round in the gun, but reloads otherwise work the same as the other weapons, with Leon opening it up and forcing in a full clip of five rounds, even if he only fired one or if he's upgraded it until it holds an impossible 18.
  • Daymare 1998 tracks magazines and ammo separately, and allows two types of reloading: a faster reload which drops the removed magazine on the ground to be recovered later, or a slower reload that puts the removed magazine back into your inventory. The game also allows magazines to be manually emptied if you want to use a different ammo type, such as hollow point rounds for the pistol. This doesn't apply to weapons that aren't magazine fed, such as the pump-action shotgun or revolver, which realistically get reloaded one round at a time similar to Alan Wake, above.

    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 even with a round left in the weapon wastes it (and magazines are very hard to come by). Enemies carry finite numbers of magazines, and reload, so their weapon will have exactly as many rounds 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 partially loaded magazines if you're not carefully managing how you use each magazine.
  • In the video game adaptation/sequel to The Thing (2002), if you reload a magazine-fed weapon, any ammunition in the old magazine will be wasted.
  • In WinBack, reloading your submachine gun or silenced pistol while there were still rounds in the magazine led to these rounds 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 decreasing order; most full magazine first, least full magazines last.
    • The sequels ARMA 2 and III continue this behavior, militantly so. However, it should be noted that the U.S. M1014 shotgun and bolt-action weapons in 2 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 (the Russian Saiga-12 and PMC's AA-12) are more correct in this regard, since they actually do use detachable magazines.
    • Additionally, one thing the series has never tracked is chambered rounds - reloading a weapon always performs the same animation regardless of whether the previous magazine still had rounds in it or not. Until the third game, this didn't even involve pulling the charging handle or anything to chamber a new round after emptying a magazine, except for pistols which were animated to have their slides lock back at the end of a magazine and then slide back into battery after replacing it. Some mods like ACE also add the ability to transfer bullets between half-empty mags and refill them.
  • The standalone version of DayZ takes aversion of this trope to an extreme unmatched by most games. You find magazines independently of ammunition, and thus can be carrying hundreds of 7.62x39mm rounds for your AKM rifle, but if you have no magazines, you're forced to arduously load one round at a time into the chamber of the weapon to fire it. Once you find magazines, you still have to manually load rounds into them before they're ready to use in the firearm. The reload hotkey will automatically attempt to load the most full compatible magazine available, and will put the current magazine into your inventory if there's room. If not, you'll just toss it on the ground. The game also keeps track of rounds in the chamber, so you can have one in the chamber and a full magazine as well.
  • Alien Swarm averts this:
    • Whenever you reload mid-mag you lose any rounds you had left in the previous magazine, 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 hog a whole box that can fill up at least two other players' assault rifles) 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 
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, 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 refilled 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).
      • 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 by introducing proper caliber names and types for each weapon, it also features a lot more caliber types, including a few wildcats, and a couple of fictional ammo types, just for fun. The 1.13 mod also introuced a penalty when trying to reload a weapon with the wrong magazine type (trying to reload a pistol with an 8-round capacity by using a 30-round magazine); doing so costs extra action points. The one area where it still plays this straight is that it doesn't keep track of whether a round is in the chamber when a gun is reloaded, although that is due to an engine limitation.
  • Likewise the first two X-COM games (UFO Defense and Terror From the Deep), 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 ammunition, but no spare magazine, it takes significantly longer to reload your gun as you have to insert the rounds 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 rounds loaded in each. When you reload, you throw the magazine, and any rounds left in it, on the ground.
  • Also averted in Gun. If you shoot four of your six rounds you'll watch Colton put exactly four fresh rounds in the cylinder before he's ready to fire.
  • Earlier alphas of 7 Days to Die averted the trope, Cry of Fear style. Reloading a gun emptied it of any remaining ammunition and reloaded it with a fresh mag, and that was valid even for shotguns. Later on, the game started tracking individual rounds instead of single "full reloads", and started playing it straight.
  • Unturned has magazines with their own ammo count. Each magazine has to be filled manually in the crafting menu, using the proper ammunition for it (helpfully, ammo works on all weapons of a certain category such as "military low caliber" or "civilian). In earlier builds like 2.0, you (plausibly but irritatingly) dropped your mag to the ground when reloading, but that was later changed to tossing it in your inventory – it only falls to the ground if there's no room in it to hold the removed mag. Also, if you reload your gun from a totally dry magazine, you have to cock it.
  • Garry's Mod addons sometimes simulate this with the best examples going to Spy's port of the weapons from Firearms: Source and Customizable Weaponry, most weapons have two unique reload animations between a full magazine and an empty magazine, usually with it being chambering the new bullet.
    • The best example would be the SKS in Firearms: Source that not only takes longer to reload with rounds left as you eject the remaining rounds from the internal magazine but any rounds in that magazine are completely gone. Using the SKS with a twenty round magazine means you have to load two stripper clips worth of rounds into it and you can only reload after you fire more than ten rounds, and even then, you only get ten rounds rather than a full reload.
    • Shotguns are also notable in which the character reloads an empty shotgun by loading a shell directly in the chamber through the open ejection port, then the rest of the shells are loaded into the tube.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 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, but the rest of an enemy's ammo is simply depicted as boxes.
    • You can also load your shotgun with mixed ammunition types. For example, the shotguns can often use the regular buckshot, a dart shell and a slug. If you take the time to juggle it, you can load any combination of buckshot, dart and slug shells.

    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 rounds it currently holds. The rifle is reloaded on-screen, but it only actually holds one bullet, so the trope doesn't apply. Played straight with the shotgun, however — your character always chucks both shells out of the gun, regardless of whether or not one is still unspent, and then always loads two shells even if you only have one left.

Alternative Title(s): One Bullet Magazines