Why I Don’t Use My Gun’s Slide Release Lever

By Tom McHale

snap the slide back
Do you use that handy lever on the side or your support hand to snap the slide back and release it?
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Have you ever noticed that when two people sit behind a desk on TV after 8pm, they can’t even seem to agree on anything, like whether or not Howard Stern has bad breath?

Top shooting instructors have the same issue, although I don’t think they spend much time discussing Howard’s oral hygiene. Far too often, they disagree with each other on basic shooting fundamental techniques. If you’ve been to more than one class or training event, you know the drill.

The Weaver stance is the only possible way you can hope to win a gun fight. All the best gunfighters know this, and Chuck Norris invented it.

vs.

A million so years of human fight response will position your body in a stance compatible with Isosceles so that shooting position is the only possible way to win a gun fight. Training your body to do otherwise is a waste of time and an insult to human instinct.

This is just one example. There are many others. Should you or shouldn’t you practice trigger reset? One eye open or both? Revolver or semi auto? I won’t even mention the 9mm vs. 45 debate. Oops, I just did. Or the Glock vs 1911, oops did it again!

The fact that big time instructors disagree with each other presents a real problem for mere mortals. Which opinion do we listen to? What do you do you when you learn a technique at Little Gun Tykes Academy, then when you take a class at Tactical Harmony Learning Center and Day Care, they teach you to do something the opposite way?

One subject of professional disagreement that’s crossed my instruction curriculum recently is the correct way to release the slide on a semi-automatic pistol. Do you use that handy lever on the side or your support hand to snap the slide back and release it?

Recently, I attended a tactical pre-school program at Academi run by a team of world-class instructors. One of the many things they taught was always to use the slide release lever after a magazine change. The benefit to using the slide release lever is speed. Your grip stays put, so there is minimal unnecessary hand motion. By minimizing movement, you maximize speed.

Note: I know it’s a slide lock lever, but for the context of this article, I’ll refer to it as a slide release lever.

I get that and agree with all the reasons in favor of using the slide release to chamber a round. But I don’t do it that way.

It’s not that I disagree with my recent expert instruction. Obviously, these guys know what they’re talking about. It’s just that my circumstances are different than what those dudes are accustomed to. Like many issues where there are multiple equally credible opinions on the correct and only way to do something, it usually depends on other factors. What is “right” or “best” for one person may not be for another depending on their unique situation.

Here area couple of reasons I manually rack the slide with my support hand rather than default to the slide release:

Racking the Slide Works on any Semi-Automatic

The old axiom, “Beware of the man who only has one gun, for he certainly knows how to use it” is absolutely true. The guys that taught my recent class are combat pros, and while they certainly capable of using many guns, they have a default type for self-defense or combat use. When you’re using the same gun all the time in practice, you can optimize each and every movement to eliminate every wasted motion. Your brain and finger know exactly where that slide release lever is and how much pressure it takes to operate.

However when you shoot different guns on a regular basis, those ingrained motor skills do not apply – at least not as smoothly. The slide release lever on a 1911 is in a difference place than on a Sig Sauer P226. Heck, on a 1911, I can’t reach the slide release lever with my firing hand, so I operate it with my support hand. On the Sig, it’s positioned right where the safety is on a 1911, so I use my firing hand thumb to release it.

Sometimes, controls are in opposite places on different pistols. The safety and slide lock levers are reversed on these two guns. Yeah, I know, the control on the Sig is a decocker, but it serves a similar purpose from an operations standpoint.
Sometimes, controls are in opposite places on different pistols. The safety and slide lock levers are reversed on these two guns. Yeah, I know, the control on the Sig is a decocker, but it serves a similar purpose from an operations standpoint.

Rather than developing a habit to reach for something that may or may not be there for the gun in hand, I prefer to develop a habit of racking the slide with my support hand. That technique works on any gun, whether it’s one I am reviewing, one of my wife’s guns or that of a friend.

So when the Zombies come, and we’re all scavenging for whatever guns are lying around, your technique will work right off the bat with virtually any firearm you find or acquire from recently devoured traveling companions.

Malfunction Drill Habit Building

In my view, another benefit to the racking the slide technique is that it’s part of the universal malfunction drill. If your gun doesn’t go bang, racking the slide, after a vigorous tap on the magazine, is the first thing you should do. Tap, rack, evaluate, right? I like that the basic steps are consistent whether you are loading a fresh magazine or figuring out why your gun didn’t go bang with a full magazine. In either case, you are slapping the magazine into place, then racking the slide. It’s one motion to learn, whatever the reason for that silent click.

With all that said, is there any reason to not use the slide release lever?

That depends. If the two issues I care about are relevant to you, perhaps you’re better off using the support hand rack method. If you use one gun or one type of gun, make that slide release lever your b&tch. It’s absolutely faster and smoother. You can also chamber a round while moving your gun into a proper sight picture. With the two-handed racking method, you can’t start to acquire a sight picture until the round is chambered, and you recover your firing grip.

I’m not advocating one method over the other. I’m simply stating my reasons for accepting the drawbacks of the support hand racking method. To me, the benefits of multi-gun readiness and consistency of motion for reloading and failure to fire drills outweigh the speed disadvantage. But that’s just me. Your situation may be different. And that’s the whole point. You’ll hear opposite opinions now and then from equally credible instructors. That’s OK. Consider their reasons, and go with the solution that makes the most sense in your specific case.

Comments are now open let the debate begin…

About

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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capes
capes
3 years ago

Kahr firearms will jam and nosedive the round if u slingsoot it.

Jungle
Jungle
4 years ago

Have recently purchased a Walther PPS M2. Had a full mag in it and released the slide using the thumb slide release lever. Was I surprised when the gun discharged. Has any one seen this happen before?

John Doe
John Doe
4 years ago
Reply to  Jungle

That is a defective firearm my friend. You need to get that to a gunsmith pronto. Or just get rid of it. Either way, if it is discharging just because it is going into battery, then it is not in an operable state.

HoppaHoale'
HoppaHoale'
4 years ago

What about just not letting the slide go in to lock. Say you have 15 rounds, count 14 drop and insert fresh mag . you will be chambered and never go in to slide lock, I do this when practicing. You do count rounds right? If not my opinion counting rounds should be done especially if you ever have to use the pistol for protection, you can prove that each shot was intentional and you had control especially if you knew how many rounds you fired.

Charles
Charles
4 years ago
Reply to  HoppaHoale'

You are an AMAZING person if you can count your rounds as another person is shooting at you. It tells every other person on this forum that “I have never been in a gun fight.” As many of our veterans here can attest.

Stephen Fulce
Stephen Fulce
4 years ago

I have a Glock 21 Gen 4 and am left handed. I don’t use my slide release lever because no matter how hard I try left or right handed it will not manipulate. I have this same problem with every large Glock I have ever attempted it on. 1911 no problem, Glock 17, 19, 22 no problem. It must have something to do with the stronger spring.

Rocky Mountain man
Rocky Mountain man
4 years ago

Ok! Ok! Ok! I really like my 1911s! I guess it’s apparent from my previous post. I’m comfortable shooting them anywhere and confident I can shoot them accurately .

Rocky Mountain man
Rocky Mountain man
4 years ago

Ok folks the difference of opinion is just showing we all like or prefer to do things a certain way . As my off hand is already disabled I “must ” use the slide release lever unless I can find another way. I keep training with my 1911s to ingrain the manipulation to muscle memory – it works! I can attest to that! I practice this in other areas at work and shooting as well! Volkman 5″ custom , kimber ultra carry 3″ , and full size custom ,ruger lw commander all 45acp.

El Guapo
El Guapo
4 years ago

my slide never locks open. i leave one in the chamber before reloading. the hardest part was remembering to count while training.

HoppaHoale'
HoppaHoale'
4 years ago
Reply to  El Guapo

That’s what I say. If you have 15 rinds just count 14 and do a reload, one will be chambered and never go in to slide lock. It is also good practice to count rounds for a few reasons one if ever have to use pistol for protection and shots fired one way to prove you had control is by counting rounds and each shot was intentional, an attorney who is trying to discredit you could argue that you didn’t have control because you didn’t even know how many shots you fired, therefore you must not have had control. Hey,… Read more »

Thomas Gill
Thomas Gill
3 years ago
Reply to  HoppaHoale'

Sorry Hoop but when your adrenal glands are pumping counting your rounds will be the last thing you will do. You have to focus on the shot placement and what is behind the suspect. Another thing is your looking for other suspects that might be involved. Ask any officer who gets into a shoot out ask them what went thru their head. Even trained experts in the military will tell you in urban fire fight focus on the shot and other combat threats. I will give you a great reason you don’t count your rounds. For many years when we… Read more »

peglar
peglar
4 years ago

I don’t agree

Jim
Jim
5 years ago

I can only hope that in a bad situation I can accomplish a Tac reload and not have to take the extra time to release the slide. Train for the worst and prey for the best. Springer 1911 4″ custom , cocked and locked

Christopher Michael
Christopher Michael
5 years ago

LOL! Depends on how much time ya got and how good you are when TSHTF. ” )
to each their own though.

Mike11C
Mike11C
6 years ago

I have a very hard time listening to anyone who insists that there is only ONE “right” way to do something. I don’t believe that for a second. I say that different techniques that achieve the same result are all “right”. Whatever works best FOR YOU is the “right” way.

HoppaHoale'
HoppaHoale'
4 years ago
Reply to  Mike11C

I agree. I did post my opinion about doing Tac reloads and just not letting the slide going in to lock. So true, one instructor will say one thing and another trainer will say the opposite. I train myself to count rounds. I know if I am using a 15 round mag after 14 the last round is in the pipe so do a reload, never goes in to slide lock. Some might not agree, some might agree. I just look at it this way, if I have to exhaust a full mag I am going to have to reload… Read more »

JW
JW
6 years ago

I normally don’t comment on articles but lately worry that we are losing our country from the inside and sometimes can’t keep from trying to pass on a little. But I am so outclassed here it is pitiful. John Lovell as I recall was the pilot for president Regan. Memory is he has a few years on me as well as a lot of history. I was an old Marine Gunny and got out after one tour in Vietnam and ten years service to become a cop. Sir I apologize if I have it wrong but I believe I you… Read more »

JW
JW
6 years ago

Sorry have to add bragaderi to my list I love the 357 mag the only gun that ever locked up on me was a 357 using 125 gr hot factory loads. Primer flowed around firing pin and onto hole the firing pin goes through. Had to hammer cylinder open to shave metal off the extruded primer And there is a good video of an a– h— on east cost that shot a highway patrol officer with a 22. It went under arm pit missing his vest and bounced around hitting his heart. He was dead and did not know it.… Read more »

John Lovell
John Lovell
6 years ago

On June 27, 2007 at 11:15 P.M. I was sitting alone in the back of a Subway shop reading. Two masked gunmen stormed in and had a gun in my face while the other went to the back room for the cash box. I gave up all my money without resisitance and the clerk gave up all the store’s money. THEN – THEY DIDN’T LEAVE! The gunman ordered me to the back room and ordered my to lie face down on the floor. I turned away and pretended to lie down. The gunman couldn’t see my right hand go up… Read more »

Al allen
Al allen
3 years ago
Reply to  John Lovell

I find that hard to believe. Not that I didn’t happen, but that your para ordinance .45 went off. That gun is the biggest piece of shit on the market.

pigpen51
pigpen51
3 years ago
Reply to  John Lovell

I remember reading about this shooting in one of the gun magazines, I believe. If I remember correctly, you changed to a different gun after this shooting, to one with more round count. Myself, my first centerfire pistol was a P 64, which has no slide release. So I was forced to rack the slide to bring it back into battery after a reload. The habit has followed me to every single semi auto pistol that I have owned, and now it is second nature. And I doubt that it is much faster to use the slide release, than to… Read more »

Jw
Jw
6 years ago

You never know how you will react if a gunfight until you have been there. That is why practice is so important. If you drill it into your head it will hold up for you when you need it but you can’t practice enough. And don’t forget dry fire practice. Research has shown that dry fire actually improves you more than live fire if you do it right and the whole idea is to pound it into your mind the right way to do it. You don’t shoot yourself in the leg practicing your draw with an empty gun (… Read more »

brigaderi
brigaderi
6 years ago

WOW!
I never realized how ‘challenged’ I was.
.357 ‘wheel gun’ 125gr. jhp nearly 2k fps.
1 shot above the shoulders or below the belt does it.
no double tap, no ‘release’ , no problem.
PRactice, practice, practice.
when you can shoot a frog before it jumps into the pond, from a draw, you are ready.
14 and 0

CHA
CHA
6 years ago

What everyone of you have demonstrated is that for everyday carry a revolver is the best ticket! Best of luck with all your levers, buttons, slides & magazines. Not to mention your brass all over the place!

HoppaHoale'
HoppaHoale'
4 years ago
Reply to  CHA

Hey, I honor your opinion yet remember, a revolver can malfunction. Also with the 5 or six shots you have I will take my 15. I am not putting you down you carry what you want plus I would rather carry spare mag’s than having to carry wheel gun speed loaders or strips. Tell you the truth, I am thinking about finding, I want a 3 inch 357/38 revolver for back up. Get ready for it! For when my pistol jams, lol…..

Capn Jack
Capn Jack
6 years ago

What a monumental waste of words……
Always carry with one in the pipe and safety off.
If you’re still in action after the magazine is empty,
you do what ever you can.

JohnnyM
JohnnyM
6 years ago

Test/practice with each and both hands with all firing stances. You’ll teach yourself what works best for you. Test as many different types of firearms as you can, and you’ll find out which works best for each and/or both your hands.

red hat
red hat
6 years ago

I always use the slide release lever. I see Travis Haley uses it also. In addition, many competition shooters use it because it is much faster. And, Jeff Cooper said that “the first principle of tactics is speed.” For the tactical timmies out there: Yes, I can rack it off of my belt or my shoe (been to the same classes as you). But the lever is far faster than going for my shoe and it doesn’t decrease the stability of my stance like lifting a foot off the ground does. Plus, I’d rather not be shot while hopping around… Read more »

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

I decided to go to the horse’s mouth, so-to-speak, on this debate. I have a Colt 1911, and so I called up Colt. They told me that using the slide release is perfectly OK. Also, as far as “wearing out” any of the components, or worrying about “metal-smacking-against-metal” – firing a gun causes an explosion much more powerful than a little metal clinking together. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve worn anything out by using the slide release, you will have lived for several hundred years, and will have used the slide release millions of times by then… Read more »

MartyB
MartyB
6 years ago

Rack the slide, forget the slide lock lever. When the bad stuff hits the fan, one’s fine motor skills are about the first thing lost. Most regular folks will not have the dexterity to find, let alone operate that little lever. And practice racking the slide one handed, just in case the weak hand is disabled. But buckle, heel, thighs, use them all. And practice.

Larry
Larry
6 years ago
Reply to  MartyB

It is a lot easier to accidentally “ride the slid” when you are full of adrenaline causing a malfunction vs missing the slide release.

rsu11
rsu11
6 years ago

I used to train and compete using the slide lever on reloads. I shoot mainly Glocks and Kahrs, which all go into battery just fine that way. But when I took a training course that included reloading under negative conditions, such as taking a round in my support hand, or worse, my shooting hand, I came around to racking the slide. One-handed reloading drills where I rack the slide against any surface available, such as my belt, shoe, holster, a table edge, etc., made me realize that although racking is slower than the lever, it’s better – it keeps “rack”… Read more »

Jim Griffiths
Jim Griffiths
6 years ago

While I agree that there is validity to the author’s first justification point, I don’t agree with the second. A malfunction drill is a different beast than a basic reload. You can easily teach yours to tap-rack-bang without going for the slide stop lever, while still using the lever for finishing an empty chamber reloads. It’s all about muscle memory from training adequately. I’m glad the author didn’t argue that pulling the slide to release it is a gross motor skill while hitting the lever is a fine skill. Anyone who can’t execute that fine of a skill is going… Read more »

TJ
TJ
6 years ago

In a self-defense situation, if you haven’t hit and disabled an attacker with the first magazine, forget racking the slide on a second – run like hell.

P2000K
P2000K
6 years ago

I’m right-handed, but I like to take advantage of some of the left-hand-friendly features on most modern handguns. First, I reverse the mag catch so the button pad is on the fight-hand side of the frame. When it’s time for a mag change, I’ve already taken my right index finger out of the trigger guard, and placed it on the frame, above the trigger guard. It may be just my hand size, but I found I can drop the mag by just flexing the top of my hand toward the gun. That allows the palm of my hand, just underneath… Read more »

BDH
BDH
6 years ago

Sabel doesn’t know the joy of being LH. The 1911 platform is more LH friendly than just about any other pistol. After 10s of thousands of rounds, I’ve never had an issue with slide release or notch wear (all Colts). My index finger releases the slide as well as ejects the magazines. I realize it is different with different platforms but unlike a RH shooter, I don’t have to shift the grip to eject the magazine or release the slide. Slide notch wear is repairable, not necessarily a death sentence for a slide. Think of the cost of sights, fitting,… Read more »

DaveG
DaveG
6 years ago
Reply to  BDH

+1

As a righty, I’m quite adept and fast, by using my left hand to do those admin functions without needing to break a good firing grip with my right hand.

Jarhead80
Jarhead80
6 years ago

Similar to one who prefers to drive a jeep verses one who prefers a BMW I guess I have to say it is what works for me. If the slide is locked open I use my weak hand to rack the slide back and ride it all the way home where I can feel it locked. With a closed slide I use the same riding it all the way back and forward. after 70 years of shooting that is my comfort zone. I have to add with an extensive list of stupid things I have given up a long relationship… Read more »

Rick Metzger
Rick Metzger
6 years ago

I am 70 and have always used the slide lock. Also am left-handed and using my trigger finger is as natural as any other lefty-kid adaptation I ever learned growing up, As for females, at least older ones, I agree with comment above – my wife cannot reliably bring into battery a slide she racks. Part of the problem, admittedly, is that she has a slight tendency to ride the slide and can’t get rid of that. But using the slide lock on her Kimber works perfectly every time. One point not noted above, unless I missed it – all… Read more »

Blaine Nay
6 years ago

I have a few pistols that do NOT have an accessible slide lock (CZ-52, Walther PPK, Walther PK380, Radom P-64, etc.) A couple of my Rugers have an accessible slide lock but the lock will NOT release the slide. Ruger even says it’s NOT intended to be used to put the gun into battery, So, how does one close the slide on a gun that doesn’t have an accessible slide lock? Ya rack the slide! How do I close the slide on a gun that HAS a slide lock? For simplicity and predictability in a high-stress situation, the same way!… Read more »

pigpen51
pigpen51
3 years ago
Reply to  Blaine Nay

My first centerfire carry gun was the P 64. I got used to racking the slide to put it back into battery, when changing the mag. I have since used several different types of guns, but I have always just racked the slide when charging the gun or when returning from a reload. It is not any slower, save perhaps a few hundredths of a second, but it is certainly more of a positive method of returning into battery, at least for me. I have no problem with anyone who chooses any method, I just know that when I got… Read more »

RickinPA
RickinPA
6 years ago

Rack the slide for me. I’m left handed,64 years old and don’t really have the strength in my trigger finger I used to have, so Racking the slide has always been easiest for me. Luv my Ruger1911CMD. Told the wife and kids they need to bury it with me so’s I can get in a couple of shots at those Demons before they stick those darn pitchforks in my a**!

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

But you failed to explain why a .45 ACP Glock is the superior firearm, as most people are aware of already. Lol. Good article. I’ve always used the offhand to rack the slide and most of the debate I’ve been part of has been over the proper way to do it. Whether to grasp the slide over the top, or pinch the back of the slide. And add in the bit about are you pulling the slide back, or merely holding the slide while you push the lower half of the pistol forward. Myself, I kind of do a combination… Read more »

chuck
chuck
6 years ago

I went to the range yesterday, and my weapons of choice for the day were my glock19 gen4, and the glock42 gen4 out for its virgin run. now the 19, works flawlessly, by hand racking, or slide release. need I say more, its just an awesome pistol, but I read up on the 42-380, after I purchased it, I know, I know, but anyway, it was running great by emptying a mag, reloading another one, and using the slide release. now I tried to put in a full mag, and hand racked it, and got a failed to fire. the… Read more »

sabel
sabel
6 years ago

Approximateley 15% of the population is left handed and cannot use the Slide Lock as a Slide Release since the vast majority of pistols do not have a Slide Lock/Release on the right hand side of the gun. Therefore, it does not make sense for Lefties to even attempt to use the Slide Lock as a Release. Left handed people are accustomed to “translating” from right handed instruction, but the equipment must accommodate them. If they use the “rack the slide with the support hand” method, they can’t go wrong and can use the same motion with either hand. The… Read more »

William
William
6 years ago
Reply to  sabel

I’m one of the 15% (lefty). My training has taught me well! Racking the slide is good for either hand. If you’re serious about self defense, you shouldn’t really have a “weak” hand. Knowledge of your particular handgun of choice, inside and out, and practice for proficiency and accuracy with both hands will benefit your skills, confidence and capability. What if your weak hand gets injured? Now what are you going to do? With 1911 style pistols, my left index (trigger) finger is quite capable of pushing the lever down to release the slide. “Weak” hand, I use the thumb.… Read more »

sabel
sabel
6 years ago

If you happen to be a member of the 15% of the population that are left handed, you will find yourseslf at a distinct disadvantage when trying to use the Slide Lock as a Slide Release since very few piistols have a Slide Lock located on the right side of the gun. And, if you make a habit of practicing shooting with your support hand, you will find you can’t just “mirror image” what you normally do with your strong hand since, agaiin, the gun does not have a Slide Lock on the right hand side. On the other hand,… Read more »

Dr Dave
Dr Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  sabel

ABSOLUTELY agreed. My wife is unfortunately in that 15% Everything she fires is custom made and when it is not she needs a work around I need to ask her if she racks I bet she does because she can’t get to the release I never thought of that. She is an amazing shooter but her limitations are amplified by the left side situation. I give her bonus points because she is SO good and she does it with twin “defects” she is right eye dominate and left handed. Talk about a mess. She can tack drive any weapon she… Read more »

John Yotko
John Yotko
6 years ago
Reply to  sabel

Amen… Somebody commenting about us lefties. My semiauto experience started wtb the Marines in the 1911 era. As a lefty, after loading a magazine I just reached up with my long fingers to work the slide lock. Later, in the winter, I was cold, gloves on and the fingers a little bit colder than the rest of me. I couldn’t find the slide lock without looking for it. If you are looking at your gun in the middle of a fight and it’s not your sights it means trouble. I have racked the slide since then. The newer concealed carry… Read more »

Snug
Snug
6 years ago

I like your thinking, keep it simple stupid. I hope my Model 60 training will serve me well. Does an AR-15 have a brass magazine tube or a stainless one?

Tom
Tom
6 years ago
Reply to  Snug

Magazine tubes? I always thought AR-15’s used black powder with patch and ball. You must have one of those new ones 🙂

Vanns40
Vanns40
6 years ago

A couple of thoughts: I agree with everything in the article and would point out that we react “in real life” the way we train. If all you ever use is the slide release you’ll be in big trouble when you run into any of a number of malfunctions that occur at the worst possible time. That said, how many practice shooting, including reloading with one hand including the weak hand? In those instances, if you’ve run the gun dry (never a good idea in the real world) you’ll have to either rack the slide using only one hand or… Read more »

Mary Sayman
Mary Sayman
6 years ago

If you couldn’t already tell, I am a lady shooter. I like to use the slide lock/slide release lever when I can because sometimes racking the slide doesn’t put a pistol into battery for me. However, I have a couple of pistols that have such stiff slide lock/release levers that it is impossible for me to release the slide that way. I also have a couple of pistols on which I cannot reach the slide lock/release lever. Proficiency all comes down to knowing your firearms and practicing, practicing, practicing as previously stated by the guys.

STW
STW
6 years ago

The rational I was taught for racking the slide was big muscles versus small muscles. When you are, figuratively, up to your ass in alligators you are more apt to loose the small muscle dexterity needed to use the slide release easily than you are the arm and hand muscles needed for racking. Makes sense to me.

HCW
HCW
6 years ago
Reply to  STW

I’ve heard the argument between gross and fine motor skill as well. Anything we do with our hands with regards to pistol manipulation is fine motor control. Yes, you do lose some under duress/stress which is why we need to train. Pointing, pinching, even grasping something with your full hand is a fine motor skill. Consider this, the magazine release and trigger are similiar in size to a slide lock/release. If you have difficulty operating the slide lock/release under stress (assuming you can reach it and have trained as such), you would have difficultly operating the magazine release and squeezing… Read more »

Robert T.
Robert T.
6 years ago

When in a gun fight, your interest in speed is warranted. Therefore use the lever, regardless of what it is called. Should either the notch on the slide or the point of the lever wear to the point that it no longer operates properly, a good pistolsmith can add metal and reform either or both or a new slide and lever can be acquired for much less than I would venture you value your life.

Tom
Tom
6 years ago

Interesting comments about the Kahr recommended operation, I was not aware of that!

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Noel Ludvigson
Noel Ludvigson
6 years ago

I agree that it is best to practice racking the slide with your support hand if you shoot multiple guns as I do but I also disagree that if you shoot one gun that you should “make that slide release lever your b&tch” and here is why: If you continually let the slide slam home by using the slide release lever you will eventually wear out either the notch in the slide or the notch in the slide release lever that takes you to “slide lock”. Have you seen now small those notches are? Do you really want your weapon… Read more »

james
james
6 years ago

For me ,it’s simple . My usual carry is a 9mm with a decock lever. When mag is empty the slide locks back, so a touch of the lever (ambidextrous) locks & loads. my back up has no exposed hammer ,so jack the slide is it.

mike hutson
mike hutson
6 years ago

revolver

John B.
John B.
6 years ago

I prefer to use the slide release with my support hand. For me it’s “muscle memory” since I also use my support hand to release the BCG on my AR. I say there’s no right or wrong on this, pick a method that works for you, and practice it, practice it, practice it. Just don’t go and say to others, such as myself, that I’m wrong in my methodology. Healthy debate is great, but being a know-it-all isn’t. My 2-cents worth.

Larry Weeks
Larry Weeks
6 years ago

My carry gun manual ( a Kahr CW40) says use the slide release to reduce the chances of Failure-to-Feed.

Wayne V
Wayne V
6 years ago
Reply to  Larry Weeks

I suspect that gun manufacturers may recommend using the slide lock/release rather than manually racking the slide to prevent someone from easing the slide forward. This would very possibly prevent the gun from going into battery. When manually racking the slide, it must be allowed to slam forward.

durabo
durabo
6 years ago

Constant use of the slide lock (aka “release”) lever could eventually cause the wearing away of the slide metal, causing a slide lock failure. We have developed muscle memory with one system – usually using the support hand, so why change to the thumb release method? In combat, we will always revert to what we originally learned.

Dave
Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  durabo

The rational that you will cause a failure due to wear is irrational. That is no more likely than a failure of the sear due to use. I might happen, but only after many, many thousands of applications. I am both an ex LEO and a mechanical test engineer, and have been a shooter for more than 45 years. I have never experienced nor heard of such a failure. I think that both methods are viable, and you should use whichever one suits you. I personally use the slide release lever as I believe that it’s faster, and assures that… Read more »

Tacus
Tacus
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave

I had a Colt Mustang .380 ACP That the slide lock wore out on. It was actually the notch on the slide that over time wore into an angle instead of a square notch. would no longer lock open. Required replacing the slide to fix.
I have gotten into the habit of counting rounds and reload on my last live round to reduce the chance of causing excessive ware.

Dr Dave
Dr Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Tacus

Now that is a neat luxury I wish I had. I guess you are talking about pure range fire no? In the real world we don’t take mental energy away from a situation to count shots we simply aim dump and run. If I had to count shots be it AR or carry weapon I would surely be dead along time ago. I sometimes HAVE to use the allowed 48 hour LEO window just to get the event back into my mind after a shooting incident I can’t even imagine having to take my mind off of shooting precise aimed… Read more »

O'Toole
O'Toole
6 years ago
Reply to  Dr Dave

AMEN!!

Larry
Larry
6 years ago
Reply to  durabo

You don’t use it because of wear?????? Really???? I think shooting the gun will wear it out WAY MORE.

Tom Clark
Tom Clark
6 years ago

I prefer the release lever, HOWEVER, on my RIA 1911 if it’s not ‘warmed up’ my wonderfully tight slide takes a second hand to release. Once I’ve fired about 10 rds, it’s perfect. I don’t want to reduce accuracy by ‘loosening’ the slide, so if the weapon is cold I automatically use my left hand to rack the slide. Otherwise I just love the release lever since my old Army days when the Colt 1911’s were sloppy as hell to begin with! Tom Clark

AR Libertarian
AR Libertarian
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Clark

Awesome! And thank you for your service sir.

John W Tobin
John W Tobin
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Clark

Army Colt .45 1911. “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. Mailman, Pleiku, 68′-69′. I didn’t get to shoot it much, but when I did, it never misfired.

Lt2525
Lt2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Clark

Ok guys lots of talk about one method vs another I only use the slide release lever now due to the loss of my l hand use after an accident . If i am causing more wear than normal on the lever I will just replace it and consider it normal wear and tear from use. I still shoot all my pistols and revolvers as often as possible so one ax ample is if you are left one handed due to combat injury or whatever reason you must be ready to keep your pistol running as quickly as possible without… Read more »

JaySig
JaySig
6 years ago

Other reasons to rack the slide: By using the slide release lever, some say it increases wear on the part of the lever that retains the slide. Not sure if that’s 100% accurate or not, but it’s a point. Second, and more important in my mind, is that by racking the slide you increase the chances of the gun properly going into battery. I have seen newer pistols have incomplete battery conditions when people use the slide release. When they rack the slide, they are adding another 1/8 to 1/4 inch compression on the spring, which puts a stronger, more… Read more »

Fred
Fred
6 years ago
Reply to  JaySig

You’re right. A good, solid slide racking is the only good way to chamber that first round. Some new, tight guns won’t go in to battery if you use the slide stop lever as a “slide release” lever. Additionally,if you buy a Beretta Nano you won’t have any questions: it does not have a slide stop lever. The slide is locked open when the magazine is emptied. No external controls. Look it up. Rack the slide and CONSIDER carrying with a round in the chamber to facilitate one-handed shooting.

Jeremiah Burton
Jeremiah Burton
6 years ago

I used to always rack the slide as opposed to using the slide release lever. It’s how my dad taught me to do it. But, a couple of years ago, I bought a Kahr CM9. The manual states that you should always use the slide release, or it might not go into battery. I’ve tried racking the slide a few times, when it’s already locked open, but just like the manual says, it does not go into battery. The only way for me to do it reliably, is to use the slide release lever. Unfortunately it appears that always using… Read more »

Cooleemee Edd
Cooleemee Edd
6 years ago

I shoot 1911s. I started in 1969 in Vietnam and still carry one. I rarely use the slide release. Call it “muscle memory.” As far as slide release wear and tear…you can buy a new slide release. They are NOT expensive, and it doesn’t (usually) take a gunsmith to tweak it if it doesn’t fit just right. I have even accidentally bent one, then hammered them back into shape (not while on the weapon) and polished it a bit to make it fit better. A bigger question for me is “Condition 1” or “Condition 2” carry. I like to carry… Read more »

PaCo
PaCo
6 years ago
Reply to  Cooleemee Edd

Cooleemee Edd Ask your friend how do he intends to rack the slide of his weapon when he is trying to fend off an attacker with his non dominant hand? Case in point a google/youtube Chicago off duty officer shoots teen The cliff notes are He was getting gas was approached by three guys while getting gas, he blades the guy with a gun handing him something with his left hand while using his right hand to draw then shooting the guy in the head with his weapon, if he would have had to rack the slide he would have… Read more »

drew
drew
6 years ago
Reply to  PaCo

PaCo, Have you ever had any REAL training? I’m not talking get your carry permit “training”. I’m talking real deal, a fighting pistol class. If you had then you would know that there are multiple ways you rack your slide without using your support hand. Example: put your rear sight up against something rigid with a “lip”, like a belt the heel of your boot, a counter, and push down. boom slide racked. What happens when you get into a defensive scenario and your adrenaline starts racing? typically you lose your fine motor skills, manipulating your slide stop is a… Read more »

O'Toole
O'Toole
6 years ago
Reply to  drew

REALLY?? If you train for “REAL”………..IF YOU AREN’T SHOOTING YOU OUGHT TO BE MOVING AND AT SPEED(whatever that maybe for you but very fast would be a good thing!!) or at very least behind suitable cover; in either case sling shot-ing the slide/gross motor skills is BEST. Now if you are at the commando range performing static shooting…..good luck with that in the “real” world event[s]. One handed manipulations are good to practice but only if one wing isn’t available for whatever reason. Which means you day has gone into the crapper and you are operating purely in survival mode… Read more »

Old 1811
Old 1811
6 years ago
Reply to  drew

Drew, I don’t get the point of your comment. You seem to be saying that a person with REAL training would know how to rack the slide one-handed, yet you don’t acknowledge that a person with REAL training would have the skill and the confidence to carry a pistol in Condition One. As a person who has both given and received REAL training, I can state that all the one-handed slide-racking techniques I know of are slow, chancy, and require too much attention to accomplish while you’re in a fight. They are always (to my knowledge) taught as reload/problem-solving techniques… Read more »

1911shooter
1911shooter
6 years ago

I carry a Kahr PM9 which is almost identical to your CM9 and I also read the manual. However, I rack the slide, and it feeds the top round just fine. All you have to do is pull it like a man and let it go, not ride it forward.

Seth
Seth
6 years ago

I have a Kahr CM-9 as well and also always use the lever rather than racking. Extremely proficient, fast and has never failed. I have had jams when racking this gun and would advise against it. When split seconds count, a jam = failure!!!

ASAWChief
ASAWChief
6 years ago

I have found that using the slide release sometimes the round jams when chambering a round. I never have had a round jam by racking the slide to chamber a round. This is factory ammo, a bad reload you can’t chamber them with a hammer.