Under Barrel Slide Racking

Under barrel

At a local steel match, I saw a shooter rack his pistol in an unusual method. He pinches the front of the slide to pull it rearward but he does so by grabbing the slide from underneath rather than on top. Most people use the slingshot method or the hand over the slide, but I have never seen someone rack their slide like this.

One of the RSOs later told him that he should not rack the slide like that because his hands were dangerously close to the front of the barrel and close to flagging himself.

This shooter explained that he racks the slide from underneath because he is concerned about out of battery detonation. Supposedly another competitive shooter had a fail to fire and racked his slide with his hand covering the ejection port to capture the round. The round went off in his hand when he extracted it.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Dave

    That RSO should take a look at all the best IPSC shooters and how they handle their guns…

    • Nicholas Chen

      I do see the benefit in terms of time. It is quicker to rack the slide and get your hand back to support grip than the over hand method.

    • Ian Goodman

      To what end?

      • raz-0

        It’s not a time thing. It’s a safety and necessity thing form how I’ve run into it, which is rarely during an actual course of fire, but at unload and show clear.

        First the necessity. Pistols with optics riding on a frame mount for steel or USPSA need either a slide racker the under the gun method. This has become less of an issue with better slide racker and optic mount designs, but habits are habits.

        Safety. On unload and show clear, you need to show the RO the ompty chamber. The under hand method makes it very easyto hold the slide back and move the chamber back to where the RO can see it while having good control over where the gun is pointing. The other safety point was covered with the detonating rounds. Steel guns and open guns tend to be 1911 or 2011 pattern guns in 9mm, 38 super or supercomp. They also tend to have extended ejectors. Which are a potentially dangerous combination as you can wedge a live round between the ejector and the ejection port AND do so lining up the primer with the ejector.

  • hikerguy

    While there are some who would reject this method, as long as it’s safe and gets the job done…..go for it.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Is putting your hand in front of the muzzle safer than possibly ejecting a misfire into your hand?

      • Ian Goodman

        Trolling much? No ones hand was in front of the muzzle in this video.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          Its a gimmick but have fun.

          • Stan Darsh

            In case Disqus won’t embed a clip: youtubecom/watch?v=dG9kxHtFZ60

          • Wackenator

            “Gimmick?” Not hardly.

      • Sianmink

        Those aren’t the only two options.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          I like to use my thumb and index finger to pull back on the rear of the slide. This does not involve putting any part of my hand near the ejection port.
          But that’s just me.

      • hikerguy

        I have seen serrations put into the front of the slide to do the same thing, which could also make the possibility of accident if the hand wanders in front of the muzzle when ejecting a misfire. I have never heard of that happening. It’s possible, though, especially if the shooter is careless or perhaps under the infuence, but I do see the point you are making.

  • The Truth of the Matter

    Why on earth would you eject a potential hangfire into your hand?

    • 1911a145acp

      I believe they are referring to normal unloading with your hand completely cupped over the ejection port to capture a live round while moving the slide to the rear. I have witnessed this detonation phenomena with a COLT LTW Commander that had an “extended” ejector. As with all manual of arms, knowledge and understanding of the procedure is key. Sometimes, when the slide is moved to the rear to eject a live round the cupped hand prevents the round from ejecting normally, the round can slip from it’s normal orientation held against the breech-face by the EXTRACTOR, the cartridge becomes loose and the primer may be pushed into the sharp edge of the EJECTOR whilst the slide is moved vigorously to the rear- resulting in ignition of the primer and detonation of the round while NOT contained by the locked barrel/ breech. If the slide is moved SLOWLY to the rear, while the palm is loosely cupped over the ejection port, there is little chance of detonation.

      • Mark

        Those sure would be some thin primers for that to happen.

        • 1911a145acp

          I have seen it happen with a STAR model BM in 9mm with South American 9mm +P FMJ ball for sub-machine guns that had a notoriously hard primer. Many recoil springs are in the 15lb -25 lb range It CAN happen with hard or soft primers.

  • KestrelBike

    If some shot a bunch and had to reload, wouldn’t the show at that end be quite hot?

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Must be in a gang.

    • DIR911911 .

      apple hill maybe?

      • TJ

        Probably Apple Dumpling.

  • stephen

    MASSIVE FLINCH at 2 second mark.

    With that said, I don’t see the benefit of under racking. You limit the amount of movement and it it could result in out of battery malfunctions.

    Just from this short clip, it looks like he needs to work more on fundamentals and not worry about under racking. Yes it works but the risk outweighs the benefit of saving time to me.

    Look at the top 10 shooters and see what they are doing.

    Just saying.

    • Mmmtacos

      “MASSIVE FLINCH”

      The comment I came here to make, surprised only one person has. And I agree, he’d do himself more benefit by ridding himself of that flinch than adopting some special snowflake technique.

      • Ian Goodman

        Its a game, relax and try not to have an aneurysm while watching non tactical videos.

        • Wackenator

          Can you recommend some videos I can send to people whom I want to suffer an aneurysm?

      • Mark

        Saw the flinch, or was it a flinch? I’ve seen guys who have built muscle memory into their shooting that actually happens after the trigger is pulled by just enough that it is more of a recoil reaction that helps them recover their sights faster. One guy I’ve watched that does what this guy does shoots consistent 2″ groups at 15 yards in rapid fire. And I know he does it because I saw a miss fire and his hand do the exact thing.

    • Not-a-flinch

      If this is a flinch, then everybody flinches. EVERYBODY.

      This is not a flinch: it’s a TENSE.

      If you don’t think you tense, you’re either a fool or delusional. We all anticipate recoil and tense to counteract it’s effects. A flinch degrades accuracy, a tense doesn’t.

      Get with the program.

  • Darkpr0

    While I don’t think the shooter here is a professional, this is nonetheless a neat idea. The firearms field needs more neat ideas. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s crap. It has some advantages over your over-the-top slide rack, it has some disadvantages. I might try fooling around with this and see what comes out of it. People get way closer to swiss-cheesing their hand using Kel-Tec KSGs than this guy did with his gun.

    • Don

      So what classifies someone as a “professional”?? The number of rounds one has thrown down range or the years they have been shooting? Someone that shoots competitively and wins money? Someone that works Or gets paid by a firearms manufacturer?? And what makes a professional any more special then an individual who has say 20 to 30 years of firearm experience? To say someone doesn’t know what they are doing just because they don’t have the “professional” title is a little naive don’t you think? But I agree with the rest of what you said 🙂 I have always loved how people knock things because they don’t do it; but yet as soon as something catches on main stream the same people are all of a sudden saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread 🙂

      • Darkpr0

        A professional is someone whose profession it is to do something. In this case, shooting. A profession is “A paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and formal qualification” as per Google. I don’t think this guy’s main occupation is shooting, nor do I think he derives income from it. His quoted reason for using this technique also suggests it being adopted for reasons outside of competition. I do not think he is a professional. That doesn’t mean his technique is bad.

  • William Johnson

    I have seen this done when someone wants to ease the slide back slightly to perform a chamber check. That being said I am all about the monkey paw.

  • Leonard

    This is the type of guy that probably sits down to pee, because it’s safer and less prone to pissing on the floor etc. JUST NO.
    If you’re concerned about a bad round going off, DON’T EJECT IT ON TO YOUR MOTHER SLAP’N HANDS TIMMY.

  • Will

    Concerned about an out of battery discharge? Then simply sling shot the slide.
    Just my humble opinion.

  • Guest

    Doing that impossible without front serrations, I can’t do it on stock Glocks.

    • Nicholas Chen

      The gun he is using is a race gun SV infinity. The slides are really easy to rack.

  • Some IPSC shooters started using the underhand method during the 1980s.

  • Jure Kumer

    this is probably the fastest way to rack a Tanfo stock 2 in IPSC unloaded start, though the square trigger guard hits mid of my palm (but on empty chamber its is probaby faster and less painfull way to rack thumb over slide).

  • Vitsaus

    Thanks to Chris Costashian and company, its all just a contest to see who can do the wildest, most absurd, most different weapon operations. Whether its holding it funny, charging it funny, using a different hand to do something the other hand can do just fine, some one will do it and hopefully look cool doing it.

    • Kip Hackman

      You Win the Internet in my eyes today sir. “Chris Costashian” I nearly spit my coffee out on my keyboard. I’m just as tired of the tacticool circle jerk that is the costa C clamp fan base as you.

    • Pranqster

      LOL, Chris Costashian!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • hami

    Race guns like that have such smooth slides a stern look is enough to rack them

  • Budogunner

    As an RSO who had been flamed here for being a safety nazi, I see nothing wrong with this. Looks safe and clean to me.

    • Dan

      Oh so you support unsafe gun handling practices!!!! Jk just want to be the first to flame you for something you big ol safety nazi you.

  • I realize that this is a game. Competition. But I believe I will continue to rack any slide with my weak hand on top of the slide. I was taught in defensive classes that fine muscle action degrades when you are in the arms of stress. That tends to make this system and the slingshot method iffy. It’s the same reason speed loaders are used by people who carry revolvers. Loading individual cartridges into the cylinder while stressed will be a recipe for dropping several of them.

    I was taught you fight like you train so I prefer the ‘Gross Muscle Movement’ style.

  • MatKep

    That looks like more of a fine motor movement comparred to the traditional over top palm and four finger pinch – definately not as strong of a grip and not as reliable in a state of duress. Also, more prone to slipping if slide or hand is wet/slippery. I’ll stick with the traditional way of racking the slide.

    Some have mentioned this as a preferred technique for racking the slide after a squib. I always let the squib fall to the ground. Why would you eject it into your hand?

    • M1911

      You don’t understand the difference between a fine motor skill and a gross motor skill. The concept of fine versus gross motor skill comes from child development studies. Moving your leg up and down is a gross motor skill. Grabbing something with your fingers, whether underhand or overhand, is a fine motor skill.

      Any time someone claims that method X is more reliable under duress than method Y, or that method X is a fine motor skill and method Y is a gross motor skill, ask for some evidence. Heck, just ask them for the definition of fine versus gross motor skill plus evidence that the technique in question is, in fact, fine or gross.

      This entire fine vs gross motor skill bushwa is just some instructors inappropriately using pseudo-scientific jargon in the attempt to make themselves sound authoritative. Unfortunately, they are using it incorrectly. But that didn’t stop them from hoodwinking a bunch of people.

      And don’t get me started on “non-diagnostic linear malfunction drill” or “dynamic critical incident.”

  • Jonathan Ferguson

    Nobody beats him in the kitchen…

  • USMC03Vet

    Why didn’t his slide stay locked back after the last shot?

    • Don

      Because he still had rounds left in the magazine. He completed the stage and that’s why he stopped, not because he emptied a magazine.

  • alabubba

    This may work OK in your tuned competition gun, but try it with your carry piece. Not so easy with full strength recoil spring, Unless maybe you have hulk strength hands.

  • Wackenator

    Been doing it like that for decades. Still have all 9 fingers.

  • JLR84

    I’m familiar with this as a way to perform a press check, but haven’t seen it as a way to chamber a round.

    Yes you shouldn’t put your hand over the ejection port to catch the ejected round due to the risk of an out of battery detonation, but that shouldn’t be a problem when simply racking the slide. I know my hand doesn’t cover the ejection port when racking the slide.

  • sam

    I call it the old reach-around.

  • Paladin

    Slingshotting would provide the same safety benefit and be a whole lot less awkward.

    • Don

      From the looks of the video, they guy has practiced his style thousands of times. He was very smooth and quick with his method so it definitely works for him.

      • Joe

        Don are you by chance the shooter seen in this video?

  • cobalt327

    More problematic the stiffer the recoil spring, I’d imagine.

  • Wackenator

    And the point of reporting this is what? It isn’t unsafe, many people do it. So what.

  • shooter2009

    Do what works for you, as long as it’s safe.

  • Joe

    Try this technique with any handgun that does not have forward slide serrations, or any handgun with a barrel shorter than 4″ regardless of the serrations. I will give you a hint, works, it does not, often enough.

    • Don

      Well considering this individual did it quite smoothly / safely and it was done during a competition and with a suped up firearm, I am sure he has practiced it a thousand times over to create the same muscle memory that you use to rack your slide. And quit knocking a guy on a “what if” when it doesn’t pertain to his situation. You can clearly see the front serrations on his slide.

      When we shoot IPSC we have a name for shooters like you, we call them Gun Geeks. Shooters who “think” they know it all… Shooters who think the only correct way to do something is to do it their way and with the equipment they tell you works… Get off your high horse, it’s shooters like you who take the fun and pleasure out of the sport / hobby.

      • Joe

        Thats a big negative Ghost Rider, in no way mocking this technique, or shooter, just noting that this technique will not work very well with certain Semi Auto Handguns. And I definitely do NOT know it all, I do know a lot about a little as the saying goes. However since you were able to infer, by reading between the lines, that I’m a “Gun Geek” and that I ” take all the fun out of shooting” then can I rightly assume that you, Don are a wizard possessed with the ability to see through time and space? Or perhaps you simply don’t like the name Joe?

        Loosen up, smile, hug a person you love, drink some water, change your socks, take a shower, and lie down for 15 minutes. There don’t you just feel good all over?

  • N_Lightened_1

    Nothing wrong with this technique as long as your pistol has a very light recoil spring, which I don’t prefer in any pistol. Under hand like this keeps your fingers away from the muzzle, unlike an over hand grip at the same place. Even with a light recoil spring, I find the traditional slingshot method works best for me. Nonetheless, to each his own…the RSO is wrong…it’s not inherently unsafe.

    I also don’t buy the “he’s trained himself to control recoil” cr@p. That’s as bad a flinch as I’ve seen from any rank amateur shooter. I can’t believe a competition shooter with an expensive rig like his hasn’t learned that you have to hold still until the bullet leaves the barrel. Training to account for such a flinch and still hitting your target makes no sense to me.

  • MrApple

    To each his own.

  • Wackenator

    Is he a IPSC shooter? Can’t find his name at any matches. What is “The Ladies Man?” Some sissy gay flick?

    • Stan Darsh

      Some “sissy gay flick”? Thanks for keeping alive the sentiment that firearm enthusiasts are only xenophobic OFWG.

      • Sumner_Vengeance

        Xenophobic?

      • Wackenator

        OFWG – not sure what it means, but I am an Afro-American Iraqi veteran who has smoked (as in killed) more AK-47 “enthusiasts” than you can count.

  • EstebanCafe

    If the shooter does not drift the trigger finger away from the frame while racking the slide in such a fashion, he may slip (method = terrible grip) and, if the finger is anywhere near the trigger, get himself a negligent discharge. This is a DQ just waiting to happen.

  • Tom Forrest

    I’ve only seen that method used for a press check. I don’t believe that it is a reliable method, and would not train it for defensive purposes. If he wants to risk injury that’s up to him. The only time I ever put my hand over the ejection port is to sweep a stovepipe. If I have a hang fire I eject it on the ground. On the range I leave the weapon sit for at least a minute before ejecting the misfire.

  • me me

    Actually I would think catching an exploding round in your hand is a lot better outcome than a free air explosion in your face. Sacrifice the hand to save your eyes face and neck. Hands can be reconstructed or loss adapted to more easily than loss of eyes.

    So rack like everyone else and wear a glove with “armored” palm pad if you got worries. Don’t challenge the RSOs with pointless variations. They are not there to be genuises on experimental techniques but to enforce very simple COMMON sense safety rules.

    Want to do exotic procedures? Buy your own private range and do not invite anyone who does not subscribe to your exact firearms philosophy. Be your own RSO asnd bear the consequences of experimentation.

  • thetruth

    WTF OVER

  • Toxie

    Works for a race-gun 1911. Not so much with most ANY other type of pistol.

  • Pranqster

    wow, afraid of out of battery detonation?! how often is this guy having those?