Active Reload is a gameplay concept that appears in Gears of War (and also other games,) in which the player can reload a weapon quicker than usual by pressing the reload button at the right time during the normal reload process. Dependent on the timing, this can merely speed up the time it takes to reload and allow the player to reengage in combat sooner, or - if timed exceptionally well - give the weapon in use a temporary bonus such as higher damage or (in the case of the flamethrower) longer range. A missed Active Reload, however, causes the weapon to jam, making the reload process take longer than it would have even without Active Reload.
The proper timing required for a successful Active Reload is indicated on the weapon's HUD and is different for each type of weapon. Upon attempting an Active Reload a slider quickly moves across the bottom portion of the display. The thin, white, opaque bar represents the window during which an optimal or "perfect" Active Reload can be performed, and the more transparent and longer bar represents the window during which an ordinary Active Reload can be performed. Trying to initiate an Active Reload outside of these areas results in a failed Active Reload. The faster reloading will be apparent by the character's swifter animation and occasional speech byte in which they generally declare excitement or confidence.
Active reloading has different effects on different guns and also takes more skill on certain guns. The Longshot Sniper Rifle is a single shot weapon that causes you to frequently reload. If you hit the white spot in the active reload the bullet will become extremely powerful capable of ‘downing’ an enemy in one shot depending on where you shoot him. Anywhere above the waist almost always results in a down, but a shot to the legs or the thigh will not down the player. Any type of sniper rifle shot to the head, however, will be an instant kill. When reloading the sniper rifle, if you hit the white spot on the active reload, the next time you reload the white spot will be smaller and consequentially harder to hit. If you persist and hit the white spot, the next time it will be even smaller. If you continue to hit the white spot it will stay the same width as the third time you’ve hit it.
Like the sniper rifle, the torque bow is also a single shot weapon. When hitting an active reload in the white section will result in the explosion from the dart being much larger. The blast is much more powerful than the regular one, so much so that you can shoot it on the ground next to an enemy and they will still blow up. Of course any type of shot from the torque bow directly to the body will result in an instant death.
Also like the sniper and the torque bow, the Boomshot is a single shot weapon. It launches rockets at a fast speed and explodes on impact. A regular Boomshot shell can kill an enemy by shooting the ground, but not every time, especially if they enemy is rodey running (Gears of War term for sprinting.) If you have hit an active reloaded in the white section the explosion will become much larger which is able to instantly kill your opponents easier than that or a regular blast. Of course any Boomshot shell directly to the body will result in an instant kill.
Weapons like the pistol, Hammerburst, shotgun, and the lancer all have the same effect. The bullets become more powerful and are able to "down" people faster from a distance.
Weapons can also be affected by getting better firing range, faster fire rate, and more distance. Also in Gears of War, when you have successfully done a perfect reload, your weapon's bullets flash in the HUD.
Weapons like the Hammer of Dawn, Grenades, and Smoke Grenades, can not be active reloaded at all.
*Applies only to the original Gears of War
Active reloading has also appeared, without the timing aspect, in games like Alan Wake, and more recently, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. In both games you can rapidly press the reload button, while reloading revolvers, to increase the rate at which the player loads in the rounds.