After watching forty TV shows about killing Bambi (albeit on fast forward) and a NRA-supported program so dull it should have been named The [Non] Adventures of Ambien and Zolpidem, I am SO ready for Down to Zero. Joan Armatrading absolutely nailed that one. Oh wait, I mean Down Zero TV. As far as I’m concerned, gun nuts can’t have enough shooting shows with personality, attitude and flair (preferably Rick). I like the fact that the cameraman for this new Sig-sponsored program gives Caleb shit about his not-so-epic Top Shot fail. I can’t wait to see what else they do besides Jackass-like sarcasm and someone standing still and shooting at a target we can’t see. Meanwhile, NO! That is not how you release the slide after a reload . . .

OK, yes it is if you’re in a competition or you need to reload as fast as possible to take out a cameraman (kidding), go for it. But it is absolutely not the way to reload if you’re in a gunfight, or you’re ever considering using your firearms for self-defense.

As the rabbi has pointed out many times, your fingers turn to flippers in a gunfight. It’s a natural, normal reaction to stress; the blood flows away from your extremities towards you internal organs. This feeds your engines (heart and lungs) super-oxygenated blood suffused with endorphins. It also allows you to suffer damage to the parts of your body most likely to be injured without a lot of bleeding and/or pain.

Again: in a gun fight, your fingers = flippers. Which is great if you have time to pause for a game of pinball (after removing the playing field’s protective glass). It’s not so great if you’re trying to manipulate a tiny metal catch on the side of your gun. While you’re moving. Looking for cover. Getting shot at. Protecting your family. And/or simply wondering if you’re going to die.

My take: train as you mean to fight. Every. Single. Time. Rack the slide by placing your weak hand on the top of the slide (behind the ejection port), pull it back and let it go. Use this racking technique whenever you safety check a gun. Never use the “slide stop” as a “slide release.”

For me, the question becomes “should Caleb use the slide stop”? I would imagine that demonstrating the former Top Shot hot shot’s reloading speed was the point of this segment. Releasing the slide with the slide stop is the fastest way to do it. Period. Yes but—I reckon slide rackage is such an important point for self-defense that Caleb should have at least mentioned it.

People watch these shows to gain knowledge, including impressionable newbies and kids. Do they know the difference between competition and combat techniques? No. And how you rack a slide can be a matter of life or death. A simple disclaimer—“Don’t try this at home, when someone’s shooting at you”—would do the trick. Am I wrong?

Oh, and if there are any TV producers reading this, we’ve got “The Truth About Guns” TV show (based on Top Gear) ready to go.

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26 Responses to Question of the Day: Why Do They Call it a Slide Stop?

  1. Wait. Let me make sure I understand you here. I’m in a gun fight. The BG has shot me in my off arm. Never mind how I managed to get the new magazine in the gun, it’s now time to rack the slide. Are you saying that I should make like a flamingo and release the slide with the bottom of my foot instead of reaching up with my thumb?

    I get the whole fingers-to-flippers thing, but if I’ve been shot in the arm and am leaking, I’d guess that my balance will have probably been affected too, making the whole monopod method a little more difficult than usual. Lean against a wall (if there’s one handy)? I’ll try not to lean against the arm with the hole in it. I could get a bad ouchie that way.

    I’ve never been in a gun fight and I pray I never will. But if it ever does happen, I’m guessing I’ll be faster on the slide release with my flipper thumb. I can see the benefit of training on the bottom of the shoe thing. You need to be able to accomplish a slide release any way you can. But while it may not be the safest method, with bullets already flying, speed will be my first consideration.

      • I’ll concede the main point. While I’m a habitual thumb-releasing offender, I can see that it’s safer to release the slide with your off hand. I will repent and change my ways. I hope.

    • I believe that there are some techniques for racking the slide one handed by catching your rear sight on your holster/belt/pocket and using that as your “second hand.” This mainly comes up in one-handed malfunction clearing.

    • I know one of the reasons to rack the slide is that not all guns have the controls in the same place – but racking the slide works every time…

  2. Keeping my thumb away from the slide stop was another thing drilled into my head repeatedly by my SO firearms instructor. It’s very good advice and RF is spot on about the flipper thing. Those were the exact words used when I was taught this concept.

    I was actually taught to use your belt and the rear sight as opposed to your shoe. I can see how the shoe would work better especially if you were behind cover or concealment. Standing up in a gun fight though, whether you’re trying to release your slide with your shoe or not is probably not the best plan.

      • Hahahaha. Im bummed i missed the shoe part.

        All your ponts are excellent. However, the slide release on the 1911 is pretty damn good though if actuated with the non dom hand after seating the mag.

        my sig on the other hand has a tiny and oddly postioned slide release, so i always rack it to load.

  3. Again: in a gun fight, your fingers = flippers.

    It’s a simple motion and doesn’t require any dexeterity at least on my pistol. Hit the damn thing and it releases. Racking the slide requires at least four major motions and it requires the dexterity to grab and hold the slide.

    While you’re moving. Looking for cover. Getting shot at. Protecting your family. And/or simply wondering if you’re going to die.

    Should we train for a gun battle or a self defense encounter? Should we have to shoot one or two rounds fired will likely end the fight. I plan on training more for combat, but the carry piece won’t be intended for that, if I have to use it for self defense I don’t think I will bother with moving, cover, tactical reloads, or anything except aiming and focusing on the front site until the threat stops being a threat. What percentage of self defense encounters require a reload anyways?

  4. There has been very few instances where a reload was necessary to continue a fight.

    Per the NTPD’s SOP 9 study of thousands of Police combat cases (Data gathering began in January 1970, and over 6000 cases were studied during the 1970s):

    The average number of shots fired by individual Officers in an armed confrontation was between two and three rounds. The two to three rounds per incident remained constant over the years covered by the report. It also substantiates an earlier study by the L.A.P.D. (1967) which found that 2.6 rounds per encounter were discharged.

    The necessity for rapid reloading to prevent death or serious injury was not a factor in any of the cases examined.

    In close range encounters, under 15 feet, it was never reported as necessary to continue the action.

    In 6% of the total cases the Officer reported reloading. These involved cases of pursuit, barricaded persons, and other incidents where the action was prolonged and the distance exceeded the 25 foot death zone.
    ……………..

    With autoloaders there may be more shots fired, but…. does anyone have any stats on shots fired now-a-days and the necessity for a reload to continue a close quarters fight?

    • An average is all well and good, but it’s a good idea to prepare for ANY type of gunfight. Some more than others, obviously. But I want to have as large a range of skills as possible, so that I have as many options as possible.

      For example, I’ll practice a lot of close-in (10 yards or less) drawing, moving and shooting; knowing full well that’s were “most” armed encounters will occur. But I also practice shooting my handgun at targets 25 yards out and yes, 50. That teaches me how to take my time and aim past a certain distance.

      Near, far, no matter where they are; I have skills to do what needs doing. Tactical reloads are part of the deal. I hope I never have to unholster my gun, and there’s no guarantee I’ll prove equal to the task, but I’m ready to create a plan B, C, D and E. (F stands for F****cked.)

  5. As to focusing on the front site….. If you are in a close quarters life threat situation, you will not be able to focus on the front site because you will have lost your near vision due to the activation of our fight or flight response in such situations. It releases adrenaline into the blood stream which relaxes the ciliary muscle of the eye, which in turn results in flattening of the eye lens, which causes you to lose your near vision and enhances your far vision for focusing on the threat. So best to learn a Point Shooting method that is effective at close quarters.

    Check out these eye pics:

    http://www.pointshooting.com/vision1x.jpg

    http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTCaZ2vZvjePvN_fAayZcI4RPPpvSZYQg04Df9IuM9ldmFktZm1fg

    The adrenaline stays in your system until it is disipated or neutralized.

    • As to focusing on the front site….. If you are in a close quarters life threat situation, you will not be able to focus on the front site because you will have lost your near vision due to the activation of our fight or flight response in such situations. It releases adrenaline into the blood stream which relaxes the ciliary muscle of the eye, which in turn results in flattening of the eye lens, which causes you to lose your near vision and enhances your far vision for focusing on the threat. So best to learn a Point Shooting method that is effective at close quarters.

      There is no one right way, for many reasons, including that people don’t respond to situations the same way. I personally am my most relaxed when there is the most amount of stress and danger. Flight or flight isn’t the only possibility – the zen state is possible and achievable with the right mindset and training. I prefer flash sight picture shooting over point shooting at anything over 1 yard.

      The adrenaline stays in your system until it is disipated or neutralized.

      Adrenaline and the fight/flight response are caused by fear. Fear is the mind killer. When lethal force becomes necessary fear is the least desirable reaction one can have. The adrenaline should come after the threat is no longer a threat. YMMV

      • “I personally am my most relaxed when there is the most amount of stress and danger.”

        The same thing happens to me. I think that danger creates focus which relieves stress, but who knows. When everybody else is running around like headless chickens, I’m calm. Afterwards, when everybody else is calmed down, I’m so twitchy that I can’t sit down. The last time I was in a real furball, the cops thought I was on tranquilizers. An hour later, I was so uptight that I ate two large pizzas with everything and practically shotgunned two six packs just to relax. Weird.

  6. When I am at the range just doing some casual target shooting, I will use the off-hand slide release method, only because it is not good to repeatedly release the slide with the slide stop lever. However, when I am practicing speed/tactical reloads, I will use the thumb to lever technique, because it is much faster and safer. Plus that is the way I have been trained in the Military.

  7. Interestingly enough, in my CHL class, I was taught that if you released the slide with the slide stop, you could conceivably cause the round to chamber improperly (due to not giving it the maximum amount of force as when you pull the slide back all the way and release it), which could lead to a misfire.

    I’ve never seen that happen, but then again, I NEVER use the slide stop as a release.

    I think the slide stop method has taken on the same kind of tough-guy chic like the gangstaz grip (sideways hold) because of movies.

    • “due to not giving it the maximum amount of force as when you pull the slide back all the way and release it”… if that extra 1/16-1/8” of movement is the make-or-break in power required to properly chamber a round, I think it’s time to replace the guide spring! F=MA, M being constant and therfore “0”, so dF=dA. I would have to take some measurements, but I cannot see how an additional 1/8 (max!) of movement (and thus higher A) is going to add much to F. I think your CHL instructor is spitting out old wive’s tales!

  8. I’t my understanding that the FOF response is triggered when our reptile sense, senses that something or someone is attempting to make us their dinner or kill us.

    So, as per above …”As the rabbi has pointed out many times, your fingers turn to flippers in a gunfight. It’s a natural, normal reaction to stress; the blood flows away from your extremities towards you internal organs. This feeds your engines (heart and lungs) super-oxygenated blood suffused with endorphins. It also allows you to suffer damage to the parts of your body most likely to be injured without a lot of bleeding and/or pain….”

    You’ll also have: a way increased heart rate, tunnel vision, loss of hearing, time distortion, loss of fine motor skills (aligning the sights – squeezing the trigger), improved gross motor skills such as bashing, a crush grip on your gun which makes moot squeezing the trigger, etc…. At least that’s what the literature says.

    Here’s a link to my article: Is Front Sight Press, Front Soight Folly? http://www.pointshooting.com/1afolly.htm

  9. If you know the pistol you will use has a slide stop, then there is no problem.

    But:
    Some pistols do not have external slide stops (Kel-Tec P32/P3AT, Walther PP series, Sig P230).
    Some pistols do not have rear sights (Kel-Tec P32/P3AT).
    Some pistols do not have any slide stops (NAA Guardian).
    And how do you retract the slide with your light in the off hand?

  10. I used to thumb the slide stop until Adam at AFS taught me the correct way as you have mentioned.

  11. Sorry Rabbi – I’m still using the slide stop as a slide “release”! Do what works for you and practice. If my “fingers turn to flippers” and I cannot handle pushing a slide stop lever, how can I possibly expect to properly drop and load a new magazine, and THEN squeeze the trigger with enough control to effectively place shots?

  12. There’s a “right” and “wrong” way to do everything…

    That said, Caleb’s not in a gunfight but performing a marksmanship drill which rewards both speed and accuracy and sometimes, when we compete, we use a few tricks which may be tactical no-no’s on a two-way shooting range but shave a few tenths.

    No biggy.

  13. Ok I know I’m knew to TTAG, but who is “the rabbi” you refer to in several of your posts. I’m just curious.

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