Racking the Slide on a Handgun

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Using two different-sized handguns — a full size and a compact — for demonstration, Mandy Autrey of Gunlady Defensive Firearms Training shows an efficient and effective method for racking the slide on a handgun.

Improper Techniques

Many people come to Mandy and say they don’t have the hand strength to rack the slide. The reason they think that is because they’ve been taught the improper technique. With the slingshot method of racking the slide, people grasp the slide with their thumb and index finger, meaning they have to push the gun away from them, and that takes some of the strength away as they are getting ready to rack the slide.

Also most people do not have a lot of strength in just their index finger and thumb. Placing the gun too far away from the body while pulling the slide toward you means you lose a lot of dexterity and hand strength. Overall it’s not an efficient technique.

Mandy then details two other improper techniques that lead people to conclude they are not strong enough to rack the slide. Here’s an efficient way to accomplish it.

Recommended Push-Pull Technique

To rack the slide during handgun training, practice and in defensive use, start from the high compressed ready position — the gun is in close to the body, where we naturally do tasks such as opening jars. Grasp the back of the slide with all four fingers on one side and the meat of the palm on the other side. Squeeze these together to get a good grip on the slide. Do not cup it or wrap the thumb around the slide.

With this solid grasp, push forward with the strong (firing) hand while pulling back on the slide with the support hand, and let it go. The slide will get into full battery and work.

On a full-size handgun, it’s easier because you have more mass to hang on to on both the frame and the slide, and the spring is not as tight as it is on a compact gun. But the technique is the same for a compact!

Discussion
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4 Responses to “Racking the Slide on a Handgun”
  1. gil angelotti

    Well done video, but there are better techniques that can be employed. As she pushes the gun away from the body, leverage and strength diminish almost exponentially. The gun should stay as close to the body as possible to gain the most leverage and to leverage the individuals given strength limit. Her explanation was good, but there are better ways.

    Reply
    • Will

      @Stephen – Yes of course that’s the quick way to release the slide when it is locked, but that isn’t racking the slide. I’m presuming that her normal teaching style in front of her students (mostly women I’d guess) is starting with the slide locked so they know it is unloaded, and for them to do the same in their own “dry-racking-practice”.

      Reply
  2. Rusty

    Spring pressure not as tight as it is on a compact gun. Shooting a 45acp it takes xyz number of pounds of pressure to hold it back, it does not matter what size the gun is, full size compact or sub compact slide pressure spring pressure will be the same! Started out sounded like you knew what you were talking about, stick to what you know not what you think you know! Loose your credibility with your last words.

    Reply