CCW Weekend: Does It Actually Matter How You Rack The Slide?

Guns and Gear | Contributor

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Read a few message boards, get on social media or watch some videos on YouTube and you’ll encounter debate over how to actuate the slide on a carry pistol. The slingshot method is best, says one camp. The slide lock/slide release is better, says another; that’s what the thing is there for. Others will chime in with yet other alternatives, such as an overhand grip.

Just as with anything else gun-related, people argue back and forth about it all the time. What the best gun to pack in a concealed carry holster is, calibers and so on and so forth. In almost every instance, the discussion is really various people stating “I like this particular thing and you’re wrong for liking something else because it isn’t what I like.”

Does slide racking technique really matter all that much? Some people contend that it does. In fairness, there is at least one instance in which it might. Criticisms of certain slide-racking techniques have merit on paper, but in the real world may not.

For instance, some favor use of the slide release/slide stop lever to charge the pistol. It makes a certain amount of sense. After all, that’s what it’s there for and you use the tension of the recoil spring to do your job for you (I hear some folks call that there a “mechanical advantage”) and so on.

However, it could be pointed out that it’s a mechanical device. Mechanical devices fail, sometimes frequently so you can’t rely on the slide lever all the time. A number of people also point out that fine motor skills degrade under stress, so you might forget to actuate the release lever or not be able to do it all. On paper, these are valid points.

The slingshot method, where the slide is pinched between the thumb and forefinger and the gun is pushed forward, is also quite popular. With proper technique – meaning you push the gun with the strong-side hand to minimize the work of the weak hand – it’s easy enough for anyone to learn.

However, some critics observe that a best practice for clearing malfunctions is to point the ejection port at the ground (in case of a misfire) which is awkward with the slingshot technique if you tilt the pistol to the right, though you can tilt the gun to the left more easily.

Others use an overhand crimp, squeezing the slide between the fingers and the palm with the hand more or less over the sights. Ideally, the pinky finger will be clear of the ejection port in case of clearing malfunctions. While you don’t get the strongest grip, pushing the gun forward will make this technique much easier. Tilting the pistol toward the ground to clear malfunctions is much less awkward.

Care must be taken to not activate a slide-mounted safety, as Berettas and similarly equipped pistols can be inadvertently placed on safe.

Some people use a hybrid technique, wrapping the weak hand over the slide but pinching with the thumb and fingers for a stronger grip. Best practice is to punch the gun forward as an assist, just like the other methods. This gives you the solid grip of the slingshot technique, but also makes clearing malfunctions less awkward, just make sure your fingers get clear of the ejection port.

Does it actually matter? Not that much. The slingshot and overhand grip methods will all clear malfunctions and will get the pistol back into battery if performed correctly. Virtually any potential issues – activating a slide-mounted safety and so on – could easily be avoided by a little practice.

But what do you think? In your experience, does the slide racking technique matter all that much? Which one do you favor?

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.

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