Previous Post
Next Post

A reader asks:

Do you use front cocking serrations? I tried it. It’s uncomfortable, non instinctive and I can’t shake the idea of getting my finger caught in the action closing. So…useful or just for show?

(Picture stolen from Ryan Finn’s review of the Springfield XDm 5.25″)

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Good for press checks (using thumb and pointing finger from the underside of teh slide) , but its one of those features that I could live without.

    • Yea this is the only time I use them too. I find I don’t miss them at all on my guns that don’t have them though.

    • Why anyone would want to put their hand near the muzzle of a loaded gun in beyond me.

      There is nothing that can be done in the front of the gun that can’t be done from the rear, better and safer–press checks included.

      • I learned it in the military. Done correctly, your non-firing hand gets nowhere near the muzzle of the gun. I find it is easier to maintain better muzzle discipline with the “underside” press check (for lack of a better name) than if I grip it from the rear of the gun, plus, the view of the chamber is better. Also better control – so that I don’t pull the round out too far by accident. Personal preference is all.

    • I do the same, and even though it was strange at first it is now completely natural. The main argument that I have heard against it seems to be concern over having one’s fingers that close to the muzzle. From my perspective, though if I can train myself to keep the four safety rules I can also train myself to do the press check without muzzling anything. Now that I’m used to doing it that way, gripping the slide from the rear for the check is kind of awkward.

    • Just for some perspective:

      Full-length guide rods
      Extended thumb safeties
      Extended slide releases
      Beavertail grip safeties
      Accessory rails
      Aluminum frames
      Flared magazine wells
      Slide rackers
      Adjustable sights
      Wide-body frames
      Skater tape grips
      170mm magazines

      Do you really suppose ol’ John is gonna quibble over some tool marks on the front of the slide?

      • Nominally this, but for the record, I don’t think he’d really have a problem with any of it. He didn’t just wake up one day and exude the 1911 whole from a biological orifice; rather it was an iterative prototyping process that took the better part of a decade. To assume that just because the War Department said “this is our new service pistol” that JMB would therefore decide that the pistol was wholly complete and no part of the design should ever be modified again is just the delusion of a fanboy.

      • I’m an orthodoxist. If the front serrations were such a good idea, st. John Browning would have incorporated it in his designs. There is a special place in Hell for heretics using “customized/sporterized” Browning pistols.

        • LOL! Well, good thing I’m heavily invested in the Nomex industry. Parting shot:

          “Anything worth building is worth improving.”

  2. I don’t know if they were popularized by Hollywood or some custom smith, but front serrations are about as useful as tits on a bull. If they’re so useful why not just serrate the entire slide?

    What we really need are sights on the left side of the slide, for those who like shooting the gun sideways.

  3. I would use them, if my pistol had them. Whenever I have to unload my pistol and there’s a round in the chamber I grab the front of the slide and pull back to unload the round and catch it with the same hand.

    • This is a very dangerous practice. There are known instances where the round did not eject properly or hit the hand and bounced back in the ejection port where it ignited against the extractor thus blowing the shooters hand apart.

      Pull the slide from the rear, without your hand covering the ejection port and let the round drop

      • Interesting, never heard of that. Would it make any difference that I am doing it slowly, waiting for the round to drop into my hand before closing the slide in a controlled manner?

        • No, because it is still possible for the round to hit the extractor if you slip and release the slide.

          Realize that if there is any kind of explosion during the process, the shrapnel will be flying out of the ejection port. Do you really want your hand there?

          The occurrences are rare as it needs to be a “perfect storm” , but they have happened often enough that the keeping your hand over the ejection port is considered dangerous.

      • +1 – I was at a local competition when this happened. I didn’t get to see it or the resulting mangled pinky finger, but I actually know the guy and he tells everyone he knows the same advice that Rabbi just gave.

  4. Like most others have said, I find it awkward to reach forward to manipulate the slide. Too many things can go wrong, and for no discernible benefit.

  5. No, never use them.

    I don’t really mind them on a gun, but I see no need for them. I don’t do press checks or have any other reason to rack the slide from the front.

  6. I’ve never cared for front serrations. But, my firearms of choice are the 1911 and 92FS. Neither of the designs are supposed to have these front serrations and they look alien on the firearms.

  7. I find them helpful for a quick chamber check. Especially if you are sweating in a tactical handgun course.

  8. I was just doing failure-to-fire drills with a buddy the other day, loading dummy rounds in each other’s mags. When his Glock clicked on a dummy round, he grabbed basically the whole slide, where you’d grab front serrations. His hand blocked the dummy round from ejecting. His gun was still “broken.”

    I just grip the rear serrations, like a slingshot.

  9. Front cocking serrations DO make sense on compact or subcompact versions of full size handguns.

    A great example of this is the SR9 and its compact models.The full size SR9 has only rear cocking serrations and it can be handled quite well with just those.

    By contrast the compact version has a shorter slide combined with a stiffer recoil spring than its full size counterpart, and as such is difficult to manipulate without the front cocking serrations to help the edge of your hand gain purchase on the small slide.

    I have not manipulated a compact 1911 but id imagine the rationale being the same.

    A full size gun with front cocking serrations as useful as a minivan with a roof spoiler.Neither serves any purpose beyond looks. A Ruger P89 has ZERO cocking serrations and can be gripped just fine by my hands.

  10. I don’t use them when shooting. I use my M&P’s front serrations when I’m doing dry fire just to reset the action (reaching up from underneath the pistol) but I’m too paranoid about shooting a finger off to use them with live rounds. The rear serrations work for how I run a pistol, and I just have no use for the front serrations. I’m not even tempted to use them.

    BTW: All my pistols have front serrations, even my Sig. That’s just the way the came from the factory. I don’t mind that they’re there, but I’m not going to use them.

  11. Front serrations are to the late ’90s, and early ’00s what the combat trigger guard was to the ’80s: An unnecessary embellishment added to accommodate sub-optimal technique. They’re easy enough to ignore, but will make a gun look dated in years to come. If you want something classic & classy, stick with round trigger guards and smooth sides.

    At least these aren’t dangerous. The fad for loaded chamber indicators actively is. It encourages people not to check the chamber directly. I refuse to buy any gun with a separate loaded chamber indicator, and it bothers me to see other gun makers responding to this so-called innovation by redesigning their extractors to serve this purpose badly.

    If you can’t be bothered to check the chamber yourself, you’re not ready to own a gun.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought loaded chamber indicators were required on a firearm if they want to be on the CA approved list. If that’s the case then I sort of understand manufacturers including them but only because they obviously want to be able to sell to as much of the market as possible.

      • You’re not wrong. Loaded chamber indicators are also required in Massachusetts. A simple spy hole satisfies this requirement but is useful in bright light only.

  12. I tried the cocking the gun with the front cocking serrations thing. Aside from not pointing the pistol at the ground comfortably, like I’m used to doing, I felt like I’d get my fingers caught in the action with the slide came back into battery. Seems like a waste to me.

  13. I can either use the rear serrations to do a press check or press check by grasping a portion of the slide forward of the ejection port (as demonstrated by Chris Costa/Travis Haley) which may or may not be via the front serrations (if available).

    On the long XDM 5.25, the front serrations are far away enough from the muzzle where I personally would feel comfortable enough to use. On an M&P45, they are too close to the muzzle.

    So, my short reply is… it depends on the gun and the user.

  14. I find front serrations unobjectionable. Like tail fins on a sixties Cadillac, they give the industry yet another means to make new guns look, well, newer than your old one. For cartel lords the serrations provide a ready-milled spot to place gold inlays, a spot deep enough for adding small diamonds as well. These inlays will look even better on S&W and Wilson artistically curved serrations. More practically, I like a means to double-check silently that a round is chambered. This specifically is an approval of Glock’s redesign of the extractor. A visual (silent) chamber-loaded check is useful. Cooper wouldn’t be doing a press check with the Japs only a thin bamboo stand away. Both Browning and Fairbairn found the thumb safety a bad idea. Wish Browning was here to speak for himself….

  15. Jason, I agree.

    I infer that a “Press Check” is partially pulling the slide/bolt back to see if there is a round in the chamber? If so Why?

  16. I was taught to press check during administrative loading to verify that a round has indeed chambered during make ready. It can also be done as-needed to verify condition of readiness without going through the whole unload, verify clear and doing another administrative loading.

    • Thanks Tam.

      Interesting concept. Would not want to develop it as muscle memory though. Just think of yourself doing this under fire.

      • To be clear. it’s done during an admin load only. Definitely don’t want to be chamber checking while under the clock or when in a real situation. As CalebG said, an empty gun is essentially a broken gun. Get it reloaded and back up as quickly as possible.

        • Train like you will fight, because you WILL fight like you trained.

          Reminds me of the old cop story. An Officer was killed in a shoot out. He had an empty revolver in his right hand and a speed loader in his left, but there wer no empty brass to be found.

          Later the brass were discovered in his left pocket. Seems the Police range had required the Officers to catch their brass so that no one would slip on a loose piece of brass.

          There is no telling if the Officer would have survived (This was pre-body armour) if he had just dumped the brass on the ground. But for a measurable period of time he was unable to shoot back because of “Administrative” unloading.

          If your magazine springs are weak enough that you are worried about proper feeding, replace them. Magazines are an expendable item.

          The only time I have ever encountered an empty chamber after slamming the bolt forward was on a M-16A1. The magazine catch hole in the magazine was worn enough that the 20 round magazine did not fully seat. Upon examination I noticed that the floor plate was stamped Colt. Magazine could have been 30 years old at that time. Fortunately shooting stuff is fun as I had to start IWQ over again.

  17. Occasionally, yes. If they’re there I’m likely to use them when practical. If not I don’t miss them much.

    Don’t have any kind of problem with them being there or using them as I have sufficient motor skills to keep my digits out of the chamber and off the bang switch while manipulating a slide.

  18. Occasionally reaching under the gun to pull the slide back for a chamber/press check. I don’t do this very often and could most like accomplish this without the serrations being there.

  19. Don’t have any and don’t need ’em. The press check thing is a non issue for me- my SIG doesn’t have a loaded chamber indicator, but if I look closely, I can see a tiny bit of brass next to the extractor, even when the gun is in battery.

  20. Mag check
    Chamber check
    Holster it.
    present it
    Unload it
    Mag check
    Chamber check
    And no one gets hurt.

  21. Newbie here, and maybe I misunderstand the question, but for me, it’s way easier to grab the slide close to the gun hand so that the lever arm created by grabbing at the front doesn’t cause me to aim the thing in a dangerous or otherwise undesirable direction. It seems easier to ‘pull’ the slide back rather than ‘push’ it from the front. I do grab the front serrations when disassembling for cleaning, but I don’t think they help a whole lot.

  22. I use the front serrations on my XDm to do press checks. It is my nightstand gun, so I check the mag and the chamber every night. I find my dad’s G17 more difficult to press check because it does not have serrations.
    On my XDsc, I also have a hard time doing press checks because there are no serrations, but also feel much less comfortable doing so because of the proximity to the muzzle. It is possible to do it without crossing the muzzle at all, coming up from a two hand grip, you just keep your hand behind the muzzle, almost just rotate your supporting hand up.

  23. I hardly use the read serrations anymore except when reloading from slide lock. Too many times getting my pinky pinched at lockup. My m&p doesn’t have serrations up front so I just use grip tape.

    Most everyone I see at competitions does press checks via the front of the slide, whether or not they have front serrations. I usually only see inexperienced or casual shooters using the rear serrations for everything.

    Using the rear serrations doesn’t really make sense, the only time you can get a decent grip on them(when you are using a proper high tang, thumbs forward grip) is when the slide Is locked back, when the slide is in battery my right thumb is in the way. This is especially true with guns where you ride your thumb on top of the safety, your thumb is pretty much covering the entire left side of the serrated area. You’d have to listen your strong hand grip to be able to reach the rear serrations. Sounds pretty stupid to me.

    Unless your shooting a gun with a high bore height like a sig or something, I can see how a sig could still have plenty of room to get to the serrations.

  24. I use them for press checking, not for operating the slide. Use the mechanical indicators all you like, when you have the time, nothing replaces actual physical checks. Mechanics fail.

  25. Look ‘down the tunnel’ from behind the firing pin stop. If you see light, the chamber is empty. (1911)

  26. Yes, I use Front slide serrations. I use the front of the slide for press checks and to clear malfunctions. I like to see inside the chamber when I have a malfunction and keep the barrel pointing down range. Front slide allows me to do this.

  27. Don’t have front serations, but I grip the slide from under the gun to do some things. Press checks on the line before the start. Dropping the slide when at slide lock, etc. I don’t use it every time but often enough to be able to do it when it’s faster than other methods.

  28. I press check my pistols, and while none have front serrations, I’d prefer that they did. It adds an index point and traction. Especially on guns with slide mounted safeties/dockers, like my beretta 92s and my ruger p90.

  29. To answer the question presented, no. I prefer to grasp the slide from the rear and not handle my pistol from the muzzle end.

  30. I have never thought to myself, man I am glad there is a front cocking serrations. Maybe if I was checking the chamber in rain or snow, it would be useful. I think it is for show.

Comments are closed.