Rack Your Slide Like a Boss

Racking_the_slide_5

Prior to pillaging me for this articles’ title, I will state that this was the actual title for the entry on Beretta’s Blog. According to it, I am not racking my slide like a boss and I would suspect that many other shooters are likewise members of the “support staff.”

Rack-a-gun-slide

Title aside, the blog post does break down into layman’s terms the body mechanics of racking a slide. My wife (an OT-R) read through and verified that Beretta is probably spot-on from a physio-muscular perspective.

How do you rack your slide?



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Giolli Joker

    And this technique also allows you to properly rack a Beretta slide without accidentally engaging the safety…
    Smart, well written, article.

  • Roger

    Rack your slide any way you want, but don’t turn your pistol sideways & sweep the dude next to you at the range! That is a technique that I see every day at my range.

    • Hyok Kim

      I don’t know about any way you want, but you’re absolutely right on not sweeping the dude next.

  • Andy

    Good technique.

    The sides of the Px4 always seemed to smooth to me. Anyone else ever have that problem?

    • sianmink

      PX4 is just slippery all around. It’s not an issue though because the spring weight is so low. It’s one of the easiest racking pistols out there.

      • MrSlacker

        I have a 9mm Storm that is pretty slippery and stiff. Less than 50 rounds through it so it might lighten up some. I have managed to cut my hand a time or two on the slide serrations racking the thing. But like wetcorps, I’ve got pansy hands.

      • Hyok Kim

        One reason why people should be careful about putting a too strong spring weight for softer recoil.

  • iksnilol

    I kinda like, grab the slide and then like pull it back.

    I do grab the slide and pull it back, not push the gun forward. Only tactical thing I do is keep it close to get leverage and grab with the hand and not the fingers.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Usually I use the ‘pinch’ method. If a gun has a small gripping area, like CZs, their clones and tiny autos, getting a good grip ‘overhand’ grip can be difficult.

    • Who said anything about best and only? The article is intended for folks who have trouble with this and presents a solution. Did you read it?

      • Pete Sheppard

        Yes, I read the article and the blogger made a very passing mention of discomfort, then spent the rest of the article dismissing the ‘slingshot’ method and sang the praises of the ‘overhand’. The term ‘right technique’ strongly implies that any other technique is wrong. THIS is what bugs me.
        I absolutely agree that the overhand method is useful for those with a weak grip but he didn’t give much credit to the other method, which is JUST as practical and useful.
        If a shooter prefers overhand to slingshot, dandy! 🙂 Many prefer the slingshot. Be proficient and safe with your preferred method!

    • Wetcoaster

      I gave myself a nasty pinch during a safety course while using the overhand method when I lost my grip on the slide of deactivated… Beretta 96. The stiffer .40 springs that the Beretta blog mentioned overcame my palm/stubby finger grip, and the open slides Beretta seems to like proceeded to snag the meaty part of my palm… like a boss

      • Nicks87

        Yeah probably not the best way to rack a slide. When I was in the military I watched more than a few folks get chomped by the M9 using this “technique”. It happend regularly when people were cleaning their pistols and more often while under stress out on the range.

  • Jeff Smith

    I have Millet sights on my 1911. I tried that technique once and cut my hand open.

    • Giolli Joker

      Did you pull with your weak hand?
      Because the article actually suggests to keep it steady while pushing the frame forward with the strong hand, that should avoid injuries from slide/sights.

  • Michael Hardy

    I grab the slide from the back like pulling a slingshot. The picture above looks like it could block the ejection port if you have fatter hands (GUILTY), or pinch your palm when the slide closes if you don’t put your hand just right

    • Hyok Kim

      especially with gloves on.

  • Internet Browser

    Slingshotting still feels way less awkward to me.

  • 101nomad

    I need to practice that more. In the summer, here in Southern Texas, 100 degrees, sweaty hands, racking can be an exercise in creativity. I am sure really cold weather would be a factor as well.

    • Hyok Kim

      Yes, malfunction clearing drill is harder with gloves on.

  • Nicholas C

    I use this method. Thanks to the Magpul Dynamics Art of the Dynamic Handgun DVD.

    I do teach this technique quite often to female shooters who come into my store. The “sling shot” method is very ineffective. I tell them all the time, your index finger and thumb are too weak and not enough contact surface area to pull a slide. They still point the gun forward and try to rack the slide, I tell them to keep the gun close to their torso and turn their body and use the shoulders and arms to push opposing directions. They really do notice a significant difference.

  • wetcorps

    Will have to try this the next time I get to shoot a pistol, I must admit I often have trouble with them with my weak, girly hands.

  • gunslinger

    LIKE-A-BOSS thanks SNL

    i go between the slingshot and this. depends on how i’m standing.

  • David

    I always preferred the pinch. Honestly when speed is factored (immediate action) in I see a lot of people sweep their support hand with the muzzle when going overhand.

  • dan citizen

    having in the past broken bones in my left hand I find this method awkward as my hand doesn’t really curl that well, whereas the slingshot method, refined by 30 years of practice is flawless.

    why fix what isn’t broken?

    If a shooter has difficulty with one method, train another. This training method is like recommending everybody use a wheelchair because some people can’t walk.

  • Dracon1201

    I slingshot it. I was a little weak for it at first, but I gained the grip pretty quickly.

  • Jeremy Star

    This is the way I was shown at multiple classes. I have been doing it this way for a long time. I’ve shown a lot of women how to do it this way when they complained about racking the slide being so hard. I’ve heard a lot of “Oh, wow! That’s WAY easier!”

    • Hyok Kim

      “This is the way I was shown at multiple classes. I have been doing it this way for a long time.”

      People had thought for a long time that shooting a pistol with two hands was sissy.

      “I’ve shown a lot of women how to do it this way when they complained about racking the slide being so hard. I’ve heard a lot of “Oh, wow! That’s WAY easier!””

      What’s good for one group of people is not necessarily ideal for another group of people.

      • Jeremy Star

        Drunk post?

        • Hyok Kim

          You mean you were drunk when you had posted earlier?

          • Jeremy Star

            No, I mean that your reply makes no sense.

          • Hyok Kim

            Oh! I’m sorry. I thought you would be smart enough to get what I meant.

            What I meant was just because one has been doing it in a certain way for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean it is the optimal method, and what is best for one group of people is not necessarily the best for another group of people.

          • Jeremy Star

            I’m sorry, I thought you would be smart enough to get the fact that your reply has nothing to do with the subject at hand other than trying to make yourself feel superior.

          • Hyok Kim

            If so, then why do you even bother to reply?

  • who cares?

    I give up. How does Bruce Springsteen (the Boss) rack his slide?

    • who cares?

      I apologize, I just got back from the dentist, and I’m in one of those sarcastic moods.

      • iksnilol

        No need to apologize. I am constantly in the “sarcastic moods” and I am doing great. When I think about it I am kinda mean, but people find it funny?

        This is way too much self-reflection.

  • anonymous

    I’m an agnostic on most tactical issues, believing that your body will find the best way no matter what the guy yelling in your ear says. However I have to point out that our correspondent, when he was contemplating his fate, didn’t mean “pillage” which means to loot but “pillar,” which mean tie one to a pillar and whip him. Now, let the pillaring continue.

  • guest

    I have been doing this instinctively all the while. So I am Boss. Good to know.

  • DZ

    I slingshot that b into the upper atmosphere.

    In reality, I use the handgrip demonstrated, but have the pistol pointed like the slingshot method with a pushing AND pulling motion for that extra positive action.

  • Michael Pham

    I think the word you’re looking for is “pillorying”, not pillaging, which implies something a lot more… physically involved.

    • Julio

      Thankyou. Saved me a post.

      … oops!

  • Tom

    Usually over the top like that. It takes less strength and is definitely faster, as proven by a shot timer during USPSA practice (for unloaded starts). Part of the “faster” is that it’s quicker and a more natural movement to get your weak hand from there to your normal grip that from behind the gun, grabbing slingshot style. Another part of the speed benefit is that you can start racking right away, you don’t need to push the gun out away from you to get at the right angle to slingshot grip it.
    I try not to do it, or at least don’t let the slide go back forward, when unchambering a live round. There is a tiny chance the round will bounce off your hand and get wedged in there such that the extractor, etc, hits the primer and goes off. I have seen pics of the resulting shrapnel in hands.

    • Hyok Kim

      “Usually over the top like that. It takes less strength and is definitely faster, as proven by a shot timer during USPSA practice (for unloaded starts). Part of the “faster” is that it’s quicker and a more natural movement to get your weak hand from there to your normal grip that from behind the gun, grabbing slingshot style.”

      Pointing is faster and more natural than aiming, but not necessarily better, especially as the distance increases.

  • Badass

    I rack it like any real man and puss it in a downward motion on the edge of a table

  • 1leggeddog

    If the bullet goes into the chamber and your pistol is ready to fire, then you’re good.

  • Blake

    In Soviet Russia, slide racks YOU!

    Especially if you don’t pay attention to how you hold your Makarov…

  • Broz

    I usually tell women who have a difficult time overcoming the inertia of the mainspring/hammer strut combo, to grip the slide with their off hand, grip the frame with their strong hand and push the frame forward. It seems to work for many women who’d previously had the problem of pulling the slide rearwards…

    CB in FL

    • gunslinger

      Why does that work? One hand holds an object immobile and the other moves a part. Physics is failing me late at night

      • Cymond

        I’m no expert, but it probably has to do with which muscle groups are used. If nothing else, the muscles in a person’s dominant arm are probably stronger than the muscles in their secondary arm.

  • JT

    I have seen people rack the slide like that. I would never do it that way. If I wanted to be showy, I would just slingshot like I usually do only while pushing the gun forward in a dramatic way. If I really needed to rack the slide fast, I’m reaching out till I connect with something, not assuming the slide is going to be there, so my arm is moving back before it contacts the slide.

    Also wondering how anybody gets good retention with the weakest fingers on their hand moving in an awkward direction with no help from their opposite hand moving the gun forward even slightly. I wouldn’t train all that into myself when I have the other method that just seems more idiot-proof

  • Wills

    What ever method you can do, CONSISTANTLY, and SAFELY under stress is the best method

  • Ed

    Look where the Gun is pointing… What if there are people standing on his sides?
    + Try to do it after shooting a lot when the slide is realy Hot Or, when you manipulate Jams…

  • Leigh Rich

    I don’t have to clam my slides to rack them like a GIRL. I have great hand strength and rack it between my thumb and pointing finger. More of a sling shot method.

    • Hyok Kim

      One advantage of sling shot method is that it’s far less likely to result in double feed type jam due to one hand covering the ejection port, especially when wearing gloves.

  • JSmith6

    I use the front serrations on my Kimber or the notches on the front of the slide on the M9. I’ve been corrected by the RSO numerous times…..yet never pinched myself or had a ND.

    • Hyok Kim

      I have never had an auto accident, does this mean necessarily I wouldn’t have one in the future?

  • nowaynohow

    Just get a revolver no slides no magazines no problems

    • Hyok Kim

      Dropping a revolver on its side is far more likely to result in damaged firearm than a semi-auto, one very important why the military moved away from the revolvers.

      • Leigh Rich

        The pistol holds more rounds and easier to reload than a revolver. Dropping a revolver had nothing to do with why the military went to pistols.

        • Hyok Kim

          “Dropping a revolver had nothing to do with why the military went to pistols.”

          That is clearly not true. When military chose sidearms, it includes drop test to test its robustness (to see it would still function) as well as whether it would discharge due to impact.

  • Smiddywesson

    I always used the slingshot method. However I just had my springs changed in my Sig P220, and the last time at our Louisiana range my hands were sweaty, and I had the disquieting experience of failing, for the first time in 23 years, to cleanly rack the slide.
    I read all your comments, and I’m willing to try something new, but I’m afraid my muscle memory has doomed this old dog from learning new tricks.
    Maybe I should use the kangaroo method, you put the slide between your knees, hold the grip steady, and hop “BOING!”

    • Hyok Kim

      “However I just had my springs changed in my Sig P220, and the last time at our Louisiana range my hands were sweaty, and I had the disquieting experience of failing, for the first time in 23 years, to cleanly rack the slide.”

      That is one very good reason why people shouldn’t put too strong spring. A lot of people only think of pros, not cons.

      Pros are softer recoil, better reliability (within reason) especially when the gun becomes really dirty or use in really ultra cold environment (which should be a non-issue unless one uses a pistol as a primary weapon in a combat zone or in extended exposure in a ultra cold environment).

      Cons are one is forced to use stronger grip in the trigger finger hand than otherwise losing the fine motor skill in the trigger finger so that the gun doesn’t jam, and as a result degrading practical accuracy and less effectiveness and efficiency in malfunction clearing drills.

  • I saw a demonstration in which the instructor showed a quick draw method. He raised the pistol from the hip to the belly, very close to the body, then laid his off hand on the slide forward of the ejection window. The off hand was straight, with four fingers pointing down and thumb outstretched. He laid the barrel into the valley between fingers and thumb, got a grip and pulled while pushing the gun forward and up into isosceles stance, so that he immediately got his off hand in position to curl around the dominant hand on the grip.

    I admit that this is a controversial method that puts the hand too close to the muzzle, but he was addressing the issue of quick draw for bodyguards. Moreover, the motion lets you avoid extraction window, sights and safeties. As I understand, a lot of people use it, or there would have been no serrations on this part of the slide.

    I tried it personally on the range, and it was very comfortable with a range of pistols, maybe even with Beretta 92 (on one hand, the grip is worse and you are tempted to use the tapering side which put your fingers right next to the muzzle; on the other, you don’t have notorious Beretta problems with pinching and accidentally engaging safety).

  • Hyok Kim

    Dear Nathan. S. I am impressed by your humility to ask how we do it. I expected to hear from you that you don’t need to learn anything since USMC had already taught you how to do it.

    Well, my preferred method is from Dave Spaulding. I consider him to be the best combat pistol instructor. Unlike some, he actually explains the reason behind his techniques. Also, he’s willing to change and improve his method as time goes by unlike some.

    Here he explains.

    http://www.gunsandammo.com/2012/11/13/running-the-gun-how-to-clear-a-handgun-malfunction/