Personal Defense Network Editors

Racking the Slide on a Handgun

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Duration:   5  mins

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!

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One Response to “Racking the Slide on a Handgun”

  1. Daniel S. Schwartz

    Excellent demonstration and explanation on racking the slide. I’ve trained a couple of women with smaller hands at the range, and it’s been a struggle for Them because I was showing them the way that I had been taught: thumb and forefinger. Thanks for this tip and I too will change the way I rack the slide. Love these videos!

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