Friday, April 13, 2007

Boomsticks: Rack 'em up.

How to operate the slide of an autopistol if you (like me) do not have Hulk-like arm strength:

(All directions will be given assuming that your right is your dominant hand. If God put your right hand on the wrong side, simply reverse the description.)

First, hold your arms bent at the elbow, so that you're holding the pistol in close to your body, about tummy/bottom-of-the-ribcage level.

Next, reach across and grasp the pistol's slide from the top near the rear with your left hand, with your fingers on the right side of the slide and thumb on the left. Squeeze with your left hand as hard as you can, using the whole hand and not just the fingertips; the gun's made of steel, so you aren't going to crush it.

While pulling slightly to the rear with the left, punch away from you with the right, the hand holding the pistol's grip. (You can push a lot harder than you can pull.)

As the slide reaches the rearmost point of its travel, let go of it sharply. Do not ride it forward, as this could cause misfeeds or cause you to pinch the bejeezus out of your hand in the ejection port. Just let go and let it slam shut; it's designed to do that, so don't worry about hurting it.

Practice this a brazillion times, and it becomes second nature, and all your friends will think you're a lot stronger than you are when you're working the slide on big ol' auto pistols with ease. Let them be baffled for a couple minutes, then let them in on the secret.


Anonymous said...

Tamara ~

Don't be silly. Girls can't be taught how to do that. It can't be that easy! You're lying.


J.R.Shirley said...

Good description. That works on all but the teenie pistols with widdle bitty slides- those I have to "slingshot".

Matt G said...

I know older gentlepersons with rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, and atrophied musculature that use just that methond.

al said...

This is the way I've always done it with a centerfire auto. Just made sense.

I've observed a number of people trying to do it this way but they leave out the critical part - the punch forward. Once you mention it to them it's like a light coming on in their heads...

Anonymous said...

It's called a "Browning genuflection." Just another mystical secret of the Tamarite cult. Please don't share this with outsiders.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

It's always amazed me that the gunstore commando can recommend a J-frame airweight to a woman on the basis that, "she ain't strong enough for a REAL gun."

Let's see, an 18-oz revolver with a 12-pound trigger pull loaded with +P ammo. Yep. That's a great choice to start a new shooter off on. She'll definitely come back for more after that. God only knows what she thinks a "real" gun is like to shoot after THAT experience.

I personally believe a pistol like a Glock 19 is a great gun for a beginner, any beginner. It has a nice 5.5lb trigger and fairly light recoil. Operating the slide is about technique, not muscle-power.

Anonymous said...

My gunsmith says that if you don't chamber a round as you drop the slide (on a 1911) you will damage the trigger job. He was quite adamant about that. He said you can dry-fire it all you want, but never drop the slide unless there's a round (or snap-cap) in the magazine.


Tam said...

If you have a bullseye 1.5# trigger job done on a GI or old commercial Colt by whittling on the factory hammer hooks and sear nose, this is true.

Under any other circumstances, it's an old wives' tale.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

Just make sure you keep the weapon pointed downrange when you're using this technique (or any other, for that matter).

I've seen way too many folks who use this technique point the weapon cross-range while doing so.

Tam said...


Neither this technique nor any other invalidates the Four Rules.

The Four Rules are life.

Anonymous said...

I've already lost 2 rifles, a shotgun, a derringer and a revolver to the dreaded "We're sharing this now" rule.
If my darling wife finds out how to rack the slides on my 1911's I'll be in real trouble!

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend finds it easier to rack her 1911 by cocking the hammer first or wearing a pair of golf gloves.


Anonymous said...

This is also a really good trick for people with big meathooks to remember for working the slide on pistols like the CZ75, EAA Witness and SIG210 that don't offer a lot of real estate to grab hold of.

Anonymous said...

I think slide stop damage is what your thinking of, Hank. Most pistols shouldn't be dry fired repeatedly. There are a few exceptions... Ruger revolvers with hammer transfer bars come to mind. They can be dry fired with no ill results. Ruger even states this in their manuals (always verify with the manual). I've seen where an empty steel mag follower in a 1911 can scrape the bottom of the slide over a period of time as well. Snap caps are cheap, so why take any risks? Something to keep in mind is that slides are slowed somewhat by the force required to push a round out of the magazine and into the chamber. I've never really measured the difference in force, but enough manufactures and gunsmiths have said enough to discourage it that I don't do it. Not to mention that many gun owners, gun store clerks and people like me are rather irritated when empty chambers are "dropped". It's considered rude to do it with someone else's gun. Keep in mind this is why recoil springs come in different strengths for different loads of ammunition as well (reduces the force by creating different resistances to recoil). This is what allows the slide to cycle with lighter loads and prevents more powerful loads from slamming the slde back creating damage to frame and slide both.
I use the Israeli method to rack my autos.

Anonymous said...


Tick, tick, tick. Damn, you have registered 100% on my bullshit-o-meter, and the needle is stuck there! Maybe it's as sensitive as your semi-autos seem to be.

"Not to mention that many gun owners, gun store clerks and people like me"

People like me = Gunstore commandos?

Please don't ever show up at a match where I'm SOing and refuse to obey my commands because you are afraid of damaging your dainty little autos, or use anything but the normal way to rack your gun. My life is exciting enough as it is.

Anonymous said...

You must be very young. Getting so worked up about someone's opinion isn't healthy and says a great deal about you having some anger issues. Perhaps you shouldn't be handling firearms. Or perhaps you just lack civility...
To everyone else. I did some googling of "dropping slide on empty chamber". It seems this has been discussed quite a lot across the internet. I spent a good couple of hours after my initial comment looking for any solid information. Although not finding anything concrete, it would seem that most everyone feels it is a bad idea. The most common part listed that this could damage is the extractor pin. Most referenced handgun not to do this with was the 1911. Glocks remain indistructible in the opinion of "glockies". I've decided to email several gun manufacturers about this to see what they have to say.

People Like me = people who generally try to take care of their firearms. If I've been told not to do something repeatedly by store owners, collectors, gunsmiths, people at the range, etc, I generally take heed of it. I also tend to respect the property of others. Regardless of whether it's true or not, it's considered "bad form" and I've seen enough people jumped on about it.

Clarification of Israeli style: Gun is held pointing downrange in right hand *lefties reverse* and back of slide is pinched between thumb and side of finger of other hand. Slide is pulled straight back. I've always prefered this method as my arm is never forward of the muzzle as with the G.I. method. I've learned over the years that this is refered to as the "Israeli method" from a gentleman that served in the IDF.

Anonymous said...

"The most common part listed that this could damage is the extractor pin."

There's no such thing as an "extractor pin" on a 1911, FWIW.

Anonymous said...

"Extractor" not "extractor pin"

Anonymous said...

And this is why I always try to find a girl to teach a girl.


Anonymous said...

I used to use this technique before I worked on my arm strength by juggling . I later made it a specific habit to get out of when I caught the palm of my hand in the ejection port of my Beretta 96 yielding a condition not unlike M1 thumb.