Racking the slide of a semi-auto handgun can get frustrating to new shooters, especially women. Read on and learn the proper technique to make racking easier than you ever did.
Semi-Auto Handgun | Racking Tips and Techniques
Racking a pistol slide is also called “running” or “working” the slide using manual effort. When you shoot a semi-auto handgun, gas pressure resulting from the firing cartridge racks the slide automatically. Manual racking is necessary to load and unload a gun or clear a malfunction. If you intend to carry a semi-auto, you must understand how to accomplish these things with the proper technique.
1. Setting Up the Perfect Slide Rack
Many people, with the good intention of keeping the muzzle in a safe direction, bend over, extend their arms, and point the muzzle at the ground in front of them. This is a physically and tactically weak position, which negates your peripheral vision and makes you an easy target for attack in a chaotic environment. Extending the arms puts the gun farther away from you, making it easier to steal in a criminal situation, and making the act of racking harder.
2. Primary Hand Grip
Grip the pistol correctly, with the web of your dominant hand as high as possible on the backstrap, and plant your trigger finger straight and on the frame. This gives you maximum control and leverage.
3. Stand UP!
Stand up straight, with upper arms rested on your sides. Bend your elbows so the gun is within a foot of your face. Notice you can still keep the muzzle downrange or whatever direction is safe. You can also see and maneuver quickly if needed.
4. Support Hand Grip
With your support hand—not the hand that presses the trigger, grab the slide on the serrations the manufacturer put there. The correct place is on the rear of the slide, behind the ejection port. The ejection port needs to be clear and free to release any round or brass you want to get out of the gun. And of course, you don’t want your hand pinched in the port when the slide snaps shut. Grab the slide using an overhand grip, with your palm facing the ground and your hand, wrist, and forearm in a single straight line.
5. The Train and the Tunnel
With the gun gripped in your dominant hand, close to your body as described, and your support hand over the slide serrations, drive the firearm forward powerfully—like a train steaming down the track. Imagine your grip on the slide being like a tunnel, one that’s too low for the train. Use the power of your core in this motion, pushing your gun-side shoulder forward.
Here's a short video about how to rack a slide by National Association for Gun Rights:
Remembering and practicing these techniques are useful in any situation requiring you to draw and shoot. The firing range is the best place for you to develop your skill in racking a semi-auto handgun. Follow the instructions as much as you can because you'll never know when you'll have to do this in a gunfight or a defensive situation. It's a whole different ball game when you're facing someone with intent to kill.
What can you say about these semi-auto pistol racking tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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