There are numerous ways you can rack the slide on a semi-automatic handgun.
While most of those ways work, there’s a particular way we teach it at KR Training that we prefer because it’s a single technique that can work across a multitude of situations and contexts. This technique is used by other top”combative pistol” instructors like Tom Givens, Paul Gomez, etc. because of the superior nature of the technique for this context.
If you watch this Paul Gomez video, from about 1:27 to 1:29 into the video he demonstrates the technique:
The video is good for other things, but just focus on those 2 seconds for now. I don’t want to get too much into the specifics of this “over the top” technique, it’s strengths and such, because it’s not germane to the goal of this article.
The key I want to stress tho is to LET GO of the slide. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what technique you use to rack the slide. Pull the slide back, and then LET IT GO.
This was so common during this past weekend’s BP1/DPS1 classes that I wanted to elaborate on the topic.
People want to help the gun.
The gun doesn’t need your help. It’s designed to work in a certain way, so you need to let it work in that way.
Or perhaps they think it might damage the gun to let the slide slam home. Folks, when the gun shoots it’s subject to far more mechanical and physical stress than you could ever inflict upon it. But again, it’s designed to work that way and manage such things.
In the end, a gun is merely a hunk of steel with springs and levers and inclined planes and other simple machines cobbled together in a very ingenious way. These springs and levers are put together in a very precise way and need to work in their finely tuned orchestration in order to run right. One of those is the amount of tension and force required to strip a new round off the top of the magazine and load it into the chamber. Try this. Take a full magazine and hold it vertically in your hands. Now use the tip of your index finger, apply it to the back of the top round, and push it forward out of the magazine simulating how the round is stripped from the magazine and fed into the chamber. It’s kinda tough to do, isn’t it? Requires some strength, some force. Now, take your empty/unloaded gun and pull the slide back. If you hold on to the slide and ease it back down, there’s not much force generated; you could stick your finger into the ejection port, ease the slide down onto it, and it wouldn’t hurt much. But if you hold the slide back and then let it go, a lot of force will be generated; I’m sure you wouldn’t stick your finger in the way of that! It’s a simple equation: force = mass x acceleration. The mass of the slide is constant, but the acceleration changes. As you saw when you tried to push the top round out of the magazine, a high level of force is required to strip that round out of the magazine. So if you need a lot of force to strip the round, the only way you’re going to get that high level of force is to have a high level of acceleration. How are you going to get the slide to move its quickest? By using the maximum range of motion (pulling the slide ALL the way to the rear of it’s range of motion — something releasing with the slide lock lever won’t let you do), and allowing for maximum force… which means
DON’T HELP THE SLIDE FOWARD. LET IT GO.
When you pull the slide back, just open your fingers. Let the slide go and let it slam forward. It’s designed to work that way. Do NOT move your hand at all. Or if you are moving your hand, let your hand continue to move in the direction of the rearward slide (e.g. up towards your shoulder). Your hand should NOT change direction and start to move forward with the slide. If you do this, if you do not let go of the slide, you will slow the slide down, it will not generate enough force, and the gun will malfunction.
And I saw lots of malfunctions all DPS1 class long because people kept riding their slides (yes, we constantly remind them, but old habits die hard). The slide would not fully close thus the gun would not fire. Or the top round wouldn’t chamber thus the chamber was empty and nothing would fire (tho some of that was also caused by magazine problems such as old/weak springs and/or sand blocking the follower from moving). Or they’d cause the top round to only partially feed and seat, causing a larger malfunction. And this is why you need to run the gun like the machine was designed to run.
Let the slide go. It doesn’t need your help.