Question of the Day: How Do You Release Your Handgun’s Slide and Why?

SIG SAUER gun guru Dylan Kenneson on how to rack your slide

In the video below, the SIG SAUER gun guru shows us five — count ’em five — ways to rack your handgun slide. I was always taught to use the hand-over-the-slide slingshot method; gross motor skills being your best bet during an adrenaline dump. I call it the combat rack, which makes it sound . . .

vaguely condescending towards our woman in uniform. And will continue to do so because “power stroke” is a bit too onanistic for my tastes.

Jon Wayne Taylor switched from power stroking to depressing the slide stop to reflect his mental state when Tales of Arabian Nights kicks his ass. I mean, for the sake of speed.

What racking method to you use and why?


  1. avatar John says:

    As I have small hands it is hard to hit the slide release on some of my guns. I’m a slingshot guy all the way.

  2. avatar Rick says:

    I start out condition one that I achieved through combat rack followed by the press check. Reloading in the fight is JWT’s method. It’s what the MC drilled into me.

  3. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Slingshot. Works for everything. Simple, so easy, a caveman brain can do it.

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      Ya know, you guys don’t have to get your panties all in a bunch over this stupid stuff when you just pack a revolver.

      1. avatar Anon says:

        yeah, then you have to worry about whether you’re going to use a speed strip, moon clips, or a speed loader. You’d also have to settle on the 3 or so common reloading techniques that come with each. Thank god revolvers are so much more simple.

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    All the ways. I don’t want to default to a specific action. I’ve seen too many people on the line stare dumbfounded when they can’t perform the task the way they want to perform it. I want to default to a specific result. Anyway I get that result is fine by me. Slide locks back, my hand(s) do some shit, I’m back to firing. This has manifested itself in matches. Sometimes I pop the lock lever sometimes I power stroke a couple of times I’ve racked on my belt without thinking about it. I’m not worried about gaming milliseconds I just want to keep the gun running and I practice every practical method to do that.

  5. avatar Sam I Am says:

    How do I release my slide?

    Uuuhhmmm, like, uuuhhh just let go of it?

  6. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Hand-over-slide. There are some pistols that don’t have a slide lock lever (Beretta Nano, I’m talkin’ to you!) so I just default to the one that works with every pistol.

    1. avatar AFGus says:

      I have a Beretta Nano and use the slingshot method due to the short slide. I don’t want to get my hand so close to the muzzle by using the hand-over-slide method, which is likely in a stress situation.

  7. avatar fteter says:

    I started out with the power stroke. But now that I’ve clearly entered the geezer zone, I ‘ve switched to canted slingshot – just works better with weaker hands. I would consider non-dominant thumb on slide lock, but location of slide lock varies so much between guns.

  8. avatar paul says:

    I switched to depressing the slide release rather than combat rack when I switched my carry gun to the HKVP9. Its faster but I had to practice hard to make it seamless. Whatever you choose commit to it or as my father used to say; pick a horse and ride it.

  9. avatar AFGus says:

    Slingshot and non-dominate thumb on the slide release are the two methods that I use most often. The reason I use the non-dominate thumb on the slide release is due to having small hands/short fingers that make it hard for me to reach the slide release on most pistols with my dominate thumb.

  10. avatar anonymoose says:

    I powerstroke with my thumb and first few fingers, depending on how big the slide is.

  11. avatar Tile floor says:

    Slingshot for the gross motor skill reason plus my LCP, which I carry during the summer, is nearly impossible to hit the slide stop lever to release the slide. I like to do stuff the same regardless of my setup which is why all my guns have an extremely similar manual of arms

  12. avatar MyName says:

    Depends almost entirely on the gun in question.

    1. avatar Astigmatism says:

      Agreed, on my M & P, I slap the magazine hard enough to knock the slide forward. I used to do the combat rack but sense my M&P cycles forward when I hit the magazine, why bother. LIke someone said before whatever it takes to keep the gun running.
      Edit…i just read the comments below.

  13. avatar Hank says:

    Swing the cylinder back into the frame.

    1. avatar Flintblocks says:


  14. avatar Fred says:

    Has anyone ever slammed the magazine Home which releases the slide automatically?

    1. avatar BlazinTheAmazin says:

      This works on my G19/G21 98% of the time and is my preferred Glock reloading method. I have had it work on several other types of pistols but it seems much more hit or miss. I can’t seem to get this to work on my G42 though.

    2. avatar Dingo says:

      I’ve tryed the slam mag method multiple times on glock 22, is fast but end up having to power stroke due to a FTF 50% of the time, so gave up on it!

    3. avatar Mark H says:

      Pretty much all of my 1911s do that. Smack the magazine in smartly and they will drop the slide.

  15. avatar Kendahl says:

    Slide stop lever if it exists and is readily accessible. Otherwise, rack slide. Slingshot if slide is easy to rack. Otherwise, support hand over slide and push hands together.

  16. avatar LKB says:

    Power stroke. Always works and have the muscle memory for it from a jillion “tap-rack” stoppage drills (random snap caps in the mag while running various exercises).

    Kinda surprised they didn’t include some one-handed racking techniques (e.g., rear sight on holster, belt, boot heel, etc.). Good technique to learn (both hands) so that you can clear a stoppage if one of your hands is OOC . . . .

  17. avatar Ralph says:

    How do I release the slide and why?

    I use the power-stroke or slingshot depending on how whimsical I feel at the moment.

    Why do I release the slide? Mostly to chamber a round.

    Wait, what?

  18. avatar Fallschirmjäger says:

    Okay, let me see if I’ve got this right…
    I’ve hit the release for the holster with my thumb – fine motor skills
    I’ve aligned the front and rear sights – fine motor skills
    I’ve pressed (not slapped) the trigger to shoot the pistol – fine motor skill
    I’ve hit the magazine release with my meaty thumb – fine motor skill

    Now, suddenly I’m going to go all caveman and have to grunt and slingshot the slide because all my fine motor skills are gone?

    I would think it’s more a case of design; the 1911, HighPower, S&W39, CZ75, etc. all had nice big shelves to lay a finger on and release the slide. Then came the GLOCK with it’s tiny ‘slide stop’.
    Is it any wonder why a new method had to be developed with a tiny thing like that barely protruding from the slide?

    The GLOCK was developed for the Austrian Army and for conscripts with minimal training. With personnel that have only the minimum of training with arms, you want to simplify things as much as humanly possible, which means a simplified slide release and a safety located on the same part of the gun that causes it to fire and operated with the same finger that pulls the trigger.

    1. avatar Eric Lawrence says:

      1911’s have a slide stop…or at least that is what JM Browning and the US Army called it. When your hands or the gun are covered in mud, water, dirt, or blood the last thing you want to do to get a gun back in shooting order is try to hit a smallish lever instead of grabbing and releasing the slide. I owned a HK USP Compact with a slide stop the size of an aircraft carrier and still used the slingshot method. Using firearms in places other than a square, covered, and dry range teaches you important things.

      I guess the Army Rangers, SAS, Polish GROM, AFSOC, and Navy SEALs are filled with conscripts using Glocks right?

      1. avatar Fallschirmjäger says:

        I’m pretty sure those aren’t conscripts, and neither am I even though I’ve been shooting a Glock since the mid-80’s when that funny piece of plastic first appeared in gun stores.

        Doesn’t change that it was designed by Gaston Glock to meet the needs of the Austrian Army which uses conscripts though, now does it?

  19. avatar Matt in AZ says:

    Last time I checked the Glock parts guide for my 23, the little lever on the side of the weapon is a slide _lock_, not a slide release; therefore I have learned and practiced using the hand-over-slide method. I don’t pinch or ‘slingshot’, more grip strength required. Plus it was easier to teach my wife who is weaker than I found the hand-over method easier as well.

    1. avatar Jauquin Murieta Jones says:

      Frustrated teecher much?

  20. avatar Darkman says:

    Ruger P89 and Shield 9mm. Releasing the slide lock is how I do it most of the time. I do rack the slide sometimes just to keep the movement fresh in case of malfunctions.

  21. avatar Mark N. says:

    I hit the slide “release.” Because Kahr says to in the manual. If the slide is locked back, sling shotting will not properly chamber a round, but hitting the release (which is what Kahr calls it) works every time.

  22. avatar Em says:

    I shoot pistols left-handed, so at this point even on guns with ambi/reversible slide releases I slingshot it.

    1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

      As a lefty I sometimes forget about the slide release completely

  23. avatar former water walker says:

    Rarely slingshot. Mostly hand over hand. My guns are light weight and mebbe not enough mass the move the slide along. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer…

  24. avatar Epic Screeching says:

    I shake the gun violently while screaming obscenities at it. It doesn’t usually release the slide, but it’s quite humorous and cathartic.

  25. avatar Chris says:

    Slingshot method, pull back and release. Never had a problem.

  26. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

    Hand over the top of the slide. I’m left handed so the slide release isn’t always there. Also, in the opposite direction, reaching over the top of the slide makes it easy to apply the slide stop with my right index finger when I want to clear the gun.

  27. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Nice choice.
    But accurate only if you allow unspent rounds to fall to the ground. …..

  28. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

    First you must grow a TACTI beard, then get full sleeve tacti tattoo’s and maybe para cord bracelet. Only then can you rack a slide properly.

  29. avatar Mark H says:

    I normally use the slingshot, though it’s generally better to push forward with the gun while either holding the slide in place or simultaneously pulling back the slide.

    For folks with limited hand strength I recommend over the top push-push.

  30. avatar Andrew says:

    Slingshot. I found most newbies I took to the range, when teaching them the power stroke method, had a nasty tendency to bring both hands together to do it. The end result is the gun pointing between 45° and 90° to the side, which does nobody any favors. Slingshotting, they seem better able to keep it pointed down range and since monkey see, monkey do, I’ve made a point of doing it myself so they don’t try to (poorly) replicate a different technique.

  31. avatar strych9 says:

    Depends on the gun. Those with a larger slide release I just hit the release. Others I slingshot the slide.

    1. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:


  32. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

    I hit the offside slide release with my right index finger.

    If it’s only got a release on the thumb side, I’ll slingshot it, because I more often than not have to adjust my grip to hit it with my thumb.

    But most of my pistols have “ambidextrous” releases (which I use to full advantage as a right-handed shooter).

  33. avatar sound awake says:

    what if your other hand is busy or incapacitated or otherwise unavailable

    its why i dont own a 1911

    theyre cool and all that but my fingers are too short to get the slide and mag release on those things

    all my pistols i own because i can get all the controls easily with one hand lefty or righty

    makes sense and works for me

    1. avatar SnakesSA says:

      If your other hand is unavailable, how are you going to insert a new mag?

  34. avatar Jauquin Murieta Jones says:

    I thumb off the slide release. I always try to be mindful of all my actions, particularly with firearms. The times I haven’t used this technique I was not and still am not aware of.

  35. avatar Bob says:

    Why do firearms instructors use the word “utilize” so much? The word “use” is more efficient, easier to say, and more commonly used in Normal Conversation. This one also loves “utilization” more than “using”.

    It’s just a stupid way of trying to make yourself sound more important. Stupid, because it doesn’t work.

  36. avatar jimmy james says:

    That guy is smooth in all 5 techniques. I use strong hand slide stop release. Seems like extra motions to go any other way after loading a mag as your weak hand needs to be moving to wrap around your strong hand for the follow up shots. Economy of motion.

  37. avatar Wally1 says:

    On my H&K P7M8 and P7M10 all I have to do is squeeze the grip and the slide releases. No silly tabs or releases, it just works flawless. Engineering marvel. I wish H&K would start making these again.

  38. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

    Slide stop for 1911s. Slingshot for polymers.

    With my old M&P, I do both of those and the auto-forward, although technically I shouldn’t do slingshot because of the auto-forward (ejects live rounds for no reason).

    Honestly I got bigger fish to fry shooting-wise than nitpicking my reloading technique.

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