Probably the first question is whether you’re someone who thinks you need to do press checks at all. It’s not quite as contentious a subject as .45 vs. 9mm, but there are plenty of firm opinions on both sides of that question. But if you are a press checker, do you know how to do it without dropping a round or causing an out-of battery situation? Not to get too personal, but are you an over-the-top front, over-the-top rear or a pinch kinda person? Inquiring minds want to know. How do you press check your guns?

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95 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Know How to Do Press Checks?

    • The only person I ever knew that did press checks stopped after he used a skin care product, did a check and blew a .40 hole in his left hand, on a side note hornady critical defence can expand in1″

      • This is an old thread, but yeah, I agree it’s OCD. And I do press checks, anyway, with the top back (#2 from the video) method.

        I come from a background of caving where failing to double- and triple-check both your anchors and your harness can mean going splat in a deep dark hole. I don’t mind developing a few excessively paranoid rituals to guard against my own complacency or forgetfulness. They force me to pay attention and give me perfect confidence that everything will be just as it should be when needed.

        • Well rock climbing is quite a different animal. Your anchor not only has to be in there, it has to be secure. Once a round is in the chamber, that’s it. No need for it to be tight. I just always keep my carry gun loaded with a round in the chamber so there is no need to check. This helps when cleaning it too. There is no chance of assuming it is unloaded because the fact is, it is always loaded. Of course all guns should be considered loaded when the time comes to clean them. I think the double check analogy you used is a good idea when unloading. That is where accidents seem to happen most often.

  1. I’ve taken several classes from LEO / ex-military guys and they are big on that. I just toss a cartridge on the ground to save time (“cause one is heading there). 8>)

  2. Aside from the .22s and revolvers, all the handguns I own have loaded chamber indicators that can be seen and felt, so I don’t see the point of the act there.

  3. I perform ‘press checks’ by turning the firearm sideways and looking for the rims of the cartridges behind the cylinder.

        • You can execute a press check in the dark. 1. Hold the pistol in your firing/strong hand. 2. Grasp the rear of the slide with your weak hand. 3. Pull the slide partially to the rear and 4. Use strong hand trigger finger to feel for the presence of a chanbered cartridge. 5. Return slide to battery. 6. For good measure eject magazine and attempt to depress the top round to determine of your magazine is full. 7. Reseat magazine.

          Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be getting ready to potentially fire a weapon in self defense without making sure it was actually loaded.

  4. Since I do not allow other people to play with my loaded guns, I already know which is loaded, which has a full mag and an empty chamber, and which is unloaded. A press check would accomplish nothing. If someone else has been fooling with it for any reason, I would unload and reload with fresh ammo. In fact, I do FAR more checking on guns I know are unloaded, than on guns I know are loaded. Has something to do with 4 obscure rules, I guess.

    • ^^This.
      I load my own weapons and when I carry I ALWAYS have a round in the chamber. Assuming I somehow manage to screw up racking the slide on my SR9c and a round doesn’t go into battery there is a loaded chamber indicator that I can see in daylight and touch in the dark. This would only be an issue in the event of a tactical or combat reload, since if I pull my pistol fresh from the holster I already know without a doubt that it is loaded, chambered, and ready to go.

      I used to watch Steven Segal movies playing the SEAL and he just LOVED to press check his pistol all the time. The only time I can possibly think this would be reasonable is if you’ve just picked up a pistol somebody else has dropped, in which case it is either already empty or it has been in operation and there is no doubt a round chambered, so what is really the point except to look “operator”?

      • “Look Operator.” Bingo. I have no scientific studies to back me up but I believe 99% of the training classes conducted out there(with the exception of basic safe gun handling) are geared towards parting the rubes from their money.

        Like Harleys being sold to dentists, cpa’s and such the operator operating operationally classes are designed to suck in the guys that have never been anywhere and done anything.

        “If they weren’t meant to be sheared, God would not have made them sheep.”

      • JWM, in general I agree with your assessment, however I have to put in a plug for my buddies at The Range 702 here in Las Vegas.

        They offer the mandatory CCW instruction class – 8 hours – at no cost to the public. You can throw in a Utah non-resident permit for $50.00. Jeff and Rocky are the instructors. I’m not sure of Jeff’s bio, but Rocky is retired SEAL and 11 years police officer in California.

        Next they offered a basic tactical pistol course for $100.00. I was some concerned about this course being taught by a SEAL, but Rocky was right on point with everything and at no time tried to make you into an operator or put anyone down for not having that mindset, he just taught you what you needed to know and answered questions when appropriate.

        It pays to check out what people who have already taken an instructor’s class have to say about the experience. What I have to say is that sometime in April I am going back for the basic tactical rifle course.

        • I figure the mandatory ccw class is probably heavy on safe gun handling and legal issues. I don’t think these classes should be a requirement but I believe everyone going to carry should have some sort of class in this flavor.

          Any class above and beyond that is entirely up to the individual and what they want and can afford. I fault no one for training or competing if that’s their desire.

          Just remember. Your former SEAL is just that, a former SEAL. He’s a businessman or the employee of a business man now. Personally, I think these businesses and the shooting public in general would be better served if we cut way back on using the word, TACTICAL.

    • On one hand the operators scold you for looking at your holster to make sure your shirt tail isn’t in there before inserting your pistol then they tell you to do a press check.

      I got your press check right here. TAP-RACK! Done.

  5. The only time I do a press check is when I’m loading up a gun with defense ammo with intent to have at the read for defense. I almost never do a check at the range.

  6. I have an occupied chamber indicator that works and is maintained. I feel it before and and after chambering.

  7. A press check is when the slide is locked to the rear, you insert the head of your hangdown into the ejection port, and release slide.. everyone knows this!

  8. I usually just spin the gun around my finger like old Doc then just pull the trigger and find out. Works every time.

    • This is actually what I do. I sometimes bring a flashlight just in case it’s not light enough. It’s the only way to be sure.

      Am I doing it right?

      • I find that the light in the oven is usually bright enough to see down the barrel… of course it has to be on “Broil” and right around 500 degrees first.

  9. I have no LCI, but also nobody messes with my guns but me. To the extent I find it necessary to press check (rarely), I find it quite easy to loop a finger or two over the top of the slide and pull back, without really moving my hand from the standard grip position. Of course, I have a tiny little P238. Probably wouldn’t work so well to try that with a full frame weapon.

    The entire last half of that video seemed like “how many additional dumb ways can I find to potentially muck up a bone-simple evolution?” I mean really, thumb on the beavertail and two fingertips on the rear sight? Come on, what is that shit?

      • Ah, see, the way I learned GLOCK disassembly was to hold the weapon parallel to my chest in my right hand, and use my left hand to push the slide back (to my right) while I grab the catches with my right index and thumb.

        On the other hand, the method I described above for press checking is the same method I use to hold the I have no LCI, but also nobody messes with my guns but me. To the extent I find it necessary to press check (rarely), I find it quite easy to loop a finger or two over the top of the slide and pull back, without really moving my hand from the standard grip position. Of course, I have a tiny little P238. Probably wouldn’t work so well to try that with a full frame weapon.

        The entire last half of that video seemed like “how many additional dumb ways can I find to potentially muck up a bone-simple evolution?” I mean really, thumb on the beavertail and two fingertips on the rear sight? Come on, what is that shit? back the correct distance to remove the takedown lever for disassembly.

  10. Most of my pistols have sone method that allows you to see if it is chambered or not. I don’t do press checks.

  11. I “press check” very frequently, because I do a lot of dry fire practice. I use red snap caps, so it is easy to tell if there are live rounds loaded or not. The best way that I’ve found to do it without accidentally ejecting the round/snap cap is to pinch the rear of the slide as if I were going to slingshot it, then roll my hand/wrist back while bracing against the other hand (which is gripping the frame). I do this on all my pistols, including some harder-to-pull slides (cz-p-01) but it’s especially useful to reset my glock for dry practice.

    • I do the same thing. I do a ton of dry fire so I press check CONSTANTLY. I do it before I am going to do a drill to make sure that they are indeed snap caps I have loaded. I also do it because I have seen people in compettion mess up their run because they didn’t actually have a round in the chamber but they thought they did. Or the gun didn’t fully go to battery or something of that sort. As for the method used to press check? I really don’t care so long as you know you are loaded up. I personally use the travis haley approach and crack it open then smack the rear of the slide to be doubly sure that it’s in battery.

  12. I do it after loading and unloading and every time I pick up my gun after it has been out of my immediate possession. Some may consider that OCD, but absolute safety is important to me. And that is how I teach it. Yeah I have loaded chamber indicators too. I don’t rely on those. As to how, I don’t care as long as the hand and fingers don’t go in front of or dangerously close to the muzzle.

  13. between the m9 for work and the px4 for personal use, the beretta platform kind of makes the press check unnecessary because a)there’s a lci and b)at some point before or after, I would have to apply the safety /decocker to keep from rolling around with a cocked gun

  14. Wow. Someone actually spent time making a video of this and posting it on YouTube? There’s a name for checking to see if there’s a round in the chamber?

    Next someone will make a video of how to wipe their bottom. (No, I don’t want to check to see if they already have.)

  15. I am with defensor fortismo. I run revolvers and Berettas generally, and there is little need for the practice of performing press checks. On the other hand, I generally know after racking whether or not a round was chambered. It is quite easy to feel on my platforms. On the other hand, the mechanical motion that is used for press checks can be helpful in other situations, so I do have some use for it. Because those checks happen only in very low-intensity, I use whatever method I happen to feel like at the time. Mostly I use it to verify the type of round that I have in the chamber rather than to determine if there is a round in the chamber at all. And I do that usually only when I am in a non-range situation that I need to spend the extra redundancy to ensure that I have, say, a snap cap in the gun and not a live round.

  16. WAIT A SEC!

    If you pull the magazine out and see a round on the left, you know there’s a round in the chamber?

    NO. All you know is there are an odd number of rounds in the magazine.

    Or maybe I just woke up in a dream and don’t know something.

  17. I don’t.
    I know if my guns loaded or not.
    The only time I check the condition of a gun is when I take it out of my safe.
    Or if someone hands me a weapon.
    I might press check it there and then before handling it.
    Generally I just pull the slide back to the rear completely to check if its loaded or not.
    As I don’t leave a mag in my safe guns. A press check from the rear is what I might do.
    I have always felt press checking was a very bad habit to have. It doesn’t instill much confidence if Im around someone constantly doing it.

  18. Nobody is around to mess with my guns. All my guns are loaded and ready to fire with the exception of my SAM7R – AK variant. That weapon contains a fully loaded 30 round magazine, but it is NOT chambered and the safety is on.

    My daily carry, which is a Sig P229, the rim of the chambered cartridge can be seen by looking at the side of the ejection port and the same for my other pistol, a Ruger SR22, where the chambered round can be viewed at the top of the ejection port.

    TV and movies has instilled a false sense of urgency in this area. In virtually every scene of possible gun use, which we all know is abundant, EVERYONE racks their shotgun, opens the cylinder on a revolver and views the full cylinder or pulls the slide back chambering a round in a semi-auto type firearm. It’s theatrical TV / movie bull shit with little real world applicability.

    However, if I was to handle a weapon that I did not know the status of, I’d have to say that generally speaking, I would unload the weapon for a variety of reasons.

  19. I always keep 3 “ready” guns with a round in the chamber in my safe, one is usually my edc. Every morning before I holster I do a press check; i’ve come up on a dry chamber (I think I was cleaning it the night before) once so taking 10 extra seconds is far better than hearing a click instead of a bang in a firefight.

    • It sounds like for you personally, it might be a good idea. I know for a damn fact my edc is fully loaded. Unless my dogs unloaded it, I did it in my “sleep walk unload my gun dream sequence” or the fairy unload my guns at night god-mother did it, that’s one thing I KNOW FOR SURE, that I WOULD bet my life on, that if I pull the trigger on my EDC, that .40 is going to rock and roll.

  20. I see it as the other side of the “all guns are loaded” coin. If you verify a gun is unloaded and “safe” to manipulate it in a certain way (deciding whether to buy or during cleaning), why would you not verify that a gun is loaded before you holster it in case it is needed for protection?

  21. I always look down the muzzle of the barrel and press the trigger. If I am still alive, then it is unloaded. Another method is to put my hand over the muzzle and pull the trigger, if I still have a hand then it is unloaded. I recommend this method to ISIS members, Democrats, RINOs, BATF Agents, IRS Agents, DEA Agents, and Every Moron for Gun Nonsense Members and Affiliates.

  22. Why would anyone do a tactile test with one’s pinky to verify what your eyes are telling you? If you see silver or gold, it’s loaded. End of story. I would not sacrifice a pinky tip to double verify anything.

    • Needless weapon handling. I was watching a Hickock 45 video where he mishandled a pistol getting his left hand fingers near the muzzle of the gun when it was loaded and hot. The hammer was back and ready to go. I think it was a Sig 229 sequence. The more you fiddle fart around with a loaded firearm, the more likely the chance of an unintended discharge. Apparently some of us are religious about having a round chambered ALWAYS and others seem to be wishy-washy and tend to be careless or less certain about it.
      I don’t have an answer for those folks except to screw their head on tighter.

    • LOL….if something goes wrong while sticking your finger inside the gun, you will never, ever stick your finger inside again….

  23. My press check is “Hey I just loaded this, there’s a round inside of the chamber, so press checks are for idiots that want to look cool.” Video in search of a topic.

    • Watch some of the Steve (Galactic Douche) Segal movies where he press checks his gun with some retarded technique the idiot does to look cool. Segal is as big a douche as Jesse (horn dog) James is.

  24. To me, what is more annoying are the guys who clear a weapon by cycling the action five times rapidly. Ok, it’s ok in a tactical situation if you want to drop the mag and rapidly clear a double feed….if you’re a jerkoff in a local gun store clearing a weapon to show somebody, just lock the action to the rear and visually inspect.

  25. So a ‘press check’ is basically looking to see if there’s one in the chamber?

    Grip the slide as you normally would, and pull it back just enough to see the cartridge. I do it every time I’m about to holster my gun, even if I know it’s loaded.

    I don’t know what all this retarded ‘put your finger close to the muzzle’ bullshit is about.

  26. A press check is unnecessary on any pistol I carry. They all have some reliable means of seeing/feeling that a round is truly chambered.

    When loading an M16, M4, AR with a 30-rounder in serious circumstances I consider it good practice to do a press check (pull check…).

  27. Does anyone know why it’s called a “press check”? That term refers to examining printed material coming off a press for color and registration. What “press” is involved in a chamber check?

  28. I only check a gun if it isn’t mind and it was handed to me. Other than that, I make sure all my guns are either loaded or unloaded. If it is stored in the safe, they are always unloaded. If it’s my defense gun, carry or next to the bed gun, it HAS to be loaded already. If something goes bump in the night and I grab my gun, I don’t need to press check it because I KNOW it is loaded.

  29. I’m around guns all day, some mine, most not. I press check frequently to insure the gun is unloaded AFTER I’ve already cleared it (better safe than sorry). When I load my carry gun I press check to insure that the extractor has a grip on the case rim. And with ARs I always press check after making ready. Because 1) that’s what my PMI told me to do, 2) ARs are easy to short stroke, and 3) to insure that the magazine is fully inserted. #3 is the big one, actually. A press check costs nothing and can be the difference between a click and a bang.

  30. LOCK SLIDE TO THE REAR, DROP A SINGLE ROUND INTO CHAMBER, RELEASE SLIDE. INSERT FULLY LOADED MAGAZINE INTO GUN, PULL ON MAGAZINE TO MAKE SURE MAGAZINE IS FULLY SEATED. DONE. IF I CAN’T REMEMBER IF I JUST DROPPED A LIVE ROUND INTO THE CHAMBER, MAYBE I SHOULDN’T BE HANDLING THE GUN. IF I HAVE TO DO A PRESS CHECK IN THE MIDDLE OF A GUN FIGHT, I SHOULD BE USING A HIGHER QUALITY GUN. IF I PICKED UP A GUN FROM A DEAD BODY, I’M UNLOADING, COUNTING ROUNDS, THEN RELOADING. OBVIOUSLY IF IT DIDN’T WORK FOR THE DEAD GUY I’M NOT GOING TO TRUST IT.

    • John you said (in all caps which is annoying)… “DROP A SINGLE ROUND INTO CHAMBER, RELEASE SLIDE. INSERT FULLY LOADED MAGAZINE INTO GUN, PULL ON MAGAZINE TO MAKE SURE MAGAZINE IS FULLY SEATED. DONE.”

      The problem with that is when you release slide with a round in the chamber, the extractor hits rim of the cartridge and puts undue stress on the extractor. I have taught a lot of classes and have seen people use this technique – the majority don’t have problems but I have seen 5 people who’s extractors failed/broke that caused extractor malfunctions on the range. After checking with a few companies I found that many do not recommend because of that reason. So while the odds are low and it probably doesn’t happen a lot, I don’t recommend it to my students.

      I guess checking with your gun manufacturer would answer this question.

      I hope this helps.

      • Yeah, I think this is some trolling, as this is probably the worst advice on here. Slamming an extractor down on a pistol is a great way to demolish the rim of the case, and put your extractor out of tune.

        Judging by the all caps, I’ll go ahead and postulate that father time here is slinging a 1911, and that pistol has enough difficulty extracting reliably anyway. Don’t ever do this.

      • Well I started doing this with my Gock and my AR because I was getting bullet set back.
        Instead of releasing the slide or bolt, I let it close slowly, then push it into batery on the Glock and use the assist on the AR to prevent the extractor damage.

  31. I only do a press check on initial loading in the context of:
    Insert mag —> tug on mag —>rack slide —> press check —> battery check with thumb —> holster
    I always grab the rear serrations never the front, I like my fingers where they are currently.

  32. The only reason I can imagine doing this is after picking up someone else’s weapon. Drop the mag, get round count, insert mag, press check. Other than that if you don’t know what condition your weapon is in you shouldn’t be armed.

  33. A few people have pointed it out, but the real answer is “never”, at least it should be.

    Know when your guns are loaded, which should be always. Load the things and put them in a holster and LEAVE them there. Don’t pull them out, and put them back, don’t screw around with the magazine, or press check it, or play with the safety (if you have one). Load, holster, done. The only time that thing should be coming out of it’s holster is when it’s going into the safe or if someone needs shooting.

  34. I used to press check after I loaded my gun when it didn’t have chamber & striker indicators – otherwise I don’t mess with it.

    What bugs me are the guys who PC (press check) all the time. You know those tacticool guys (funny how they have more camo & gear than I had when I was doing my grind in the infantry). They load their gun & do a PC. They shoot a couple rounds, then do a PC, then holster their rig in their ‘kit’. They set up a new target then do another PC, shoot some, PC, Holster. Unholster to show you their new sights, PC, then holster. Eat lunch, PC a few times, get a coke, PC, hit the head, PC, etc. etc.

    I remember a time when shooting was not so anal or tacticool.

    Ahhh those were the days.

    • that’s great on pistols and rifles that have them. Of course my XD 357 can show that its “cocked” but doesn’t necessarily mean the chamber is loaded.

  35. I us my strong hand only to do a press check. I put the web of my had in the back strap, and put my fingers over he rear of the slide. When I squeeze my hand the slide retracts enough to see about half of the round. Over cycling of the slide is impossible so no round ever falls out, and no fingers are anywhere near the trigger. Maybe not as tacti-cool as some other options. It works for me, I feel comfortable with it, and that’s what its all about.

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