Is hand-cycling a good indicator of function?


January 1, 2008, 04:00 PM
When hand-cycling the slide (using live ammo) of a semi-auto pistol - are the results obtained worth anything when trying to determine if gun is feeding & ejecting properly?

For instance, if I can hand-cycle magazine after magazine of ammo (live ammo) reliably through the pistol - does this mean it will function properly when firing? Conversely, if it's jamming - does this mean I need to fix something?

Just curious if hand-cycling is a worthwhile test of functionality.


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January 1, 2008, 05:01 PM
Mostly it would show that your pistol reliably hand cycles. Just because your radio in your car works when its on the driveway does not mean it will work when you are driving. It might indicate some gross problems, but a lot of different things happen when live firing that you cannot replicate with hand cycling and vice-versa, especially if you are riding the slide forward when hand cycling. I would care about it for first round cycling, but would not bother with cycling a whole mag.

January 1, 2008, 05:06 PM
I'd say that if your gun hand-cycles, that's a reasonably good indication that it will work. I wouldn't bank on it, but it's a start.

If your gun won't hand-cycle then you definitely have a problem since you need to be able to hand-cycle the first round. That assumes you're properly letting the slide snap forward and not riding it.

If you're riding the slide and having problems hand-cycling that isn't telling you a whole lot.

January 1, 2008, 05:20 PM
I think you're getting pretty good advice, I've been told by several gunsmith's that hand cycling is a reasonable test as long as it's of course backed up by firing the pistol, one caveat though, I wouldn't rely on it to much as there's a phenomenon called bullet seat-back. Simply explained, it's when a cartridge moves back in it's crimp creating more pressure then you most likely will want and can even instigate a full fledged kaboom.................:)

January 1, 2008, 05:24 PM
Yes, I think hand cycling can be a good indicator of ejection, extraction and feeding. Certainly not a 100% indicator, but when it won't hand cycle, it will absolutely not function/fire correctly.

January 1, 2008, 05:30 PM
Thanks for answers - the gun is a small AMT .45 backup. It was jamming a little in beginning, but seems better after a 100+ rounds. It doesn't like anything but ball ammo, so I'll just stick to that for now.

I typically carry with empty chamber and it hand cycles the first round very smoothly. Subsequent rounds will hand cycle just fine if I work the slide back fast and then release it. I realize there are obvious (and substantial) differences between hand cycling and live-firing, but it's comforting to see the rounds feed through without jamming.

I like the gun; perfect size IMO, plus I love .45 ACP - but it's a little heavy in the pocket.

January 1, 2008, 06:04 PM
I could not hand-cycle my Kahr MK9 when new, but it didn't have any problems at the first range visit I had with it, or any subsequent one (about 200 rounds total).

After a little break-in, it does work fine hand-cycling most of the time, and expect it to get to 100% (or close to it) after another range trip or two.

January 1, 2008, 06:07 PM
My Dan Wesson CBOB hand cycles empty cases! So I'm pretty sure it will shoot empties fine. :) It really does cycle empties, and I'm wondering if my other 1911's do, for giggles. That AMT .45 ACP with RNFMJ beats my .380 with Magtech +P's (Apology to the guy who always says there is no such thing, I know, but that's what they called it. :)) I know a guy who carries that gun in an ankle holster. I can't find an ankle holster that will stay put with a PPK/S in it.

January 1, 2008, 06:47 PM
Easing the slide down while feeding a live round is a good way to MAKE a pistol malfunction. Let the slide close freely. I hope anyone doing hand-cycling is pointing the weapon in a safe direction, at something that will stop and contain a bullet.

January 1, 2008, 07:02 PM
IMO hand cycling a weapon only determines that a) it'll hand cycle, and b) it isn't a complete piece of slag. IE, the bare minimum to assure that you might be able to shoot it at some point.

Case in point: I used to have a USP .40S&W. Hand cycled fine. It shot fine, too - for about a thousand rounds after initial purchase, at which time it started dropping (all of my) magazines on recoil. It started off just being the last shot of the magazines, but then it progressed to all or most of 'em. Replaced the magazine springs, and it fixed it for a couple hundred rounds - but the problem kept occurring. Pretty sure it had to do with the spring for the magazine catch and recoil (when it started doing it again, I noticed it only happened with the more stout rounds). In other words, the recoil from being shot would cause the magazine catch to un-catch. Total damage (had I repaired it instead of selling the gun) would've been over $70 for a little "watch spring" that really shouldn't have failed in the first place. And yes, the gun still hand-cycled fine.

January 1, 2008, 07:06 PM
Hand cycling actually tells you very little. You can't approach the same cycling speeds, you can't replicate the attitude of the pistol under recoil, you can't recreate the combination of forces and speeds that are combined inside it.
You can feel for smooth slide & trigger travel, but you can't come anywhere near replicating what's really going on when you fire a live round.:)


January 1, 2008, 07:10 PM
Personally, I don't think what you *might* learn from hand cycling is worth the risk of running live ammo thru a gun you don't intend to fire and are likely lacking a proper backstop.

IF you think hand cycling is worthwhile, invest in some dummy rounds!


January 1, 2008, 07:39 PM
I recently purchased a brand new Ruger P95 and experienced some serious ejection issues when I took it to the range. The gun will hand cycle and eject a round every time, but wont eject a spent casing most of the time in actual use.

...The slide comes back and grabs a new round but the spent casing is still in the chamber, it ends up with the nose of the fresh round jammed up into the old case just below the primer.

...The extractor appears to be a cast piece, I don't know about trying to bend it, and I can't really tell by looking what the problem is. Pulling back the slide by hand will eject a chambered round with a hearty snap every time.
In this case, hand cycling proved nothing.

The Lone Haranguer
January 1, 2008, 07:42 PM
It can indicate gross problems like tipping magazine followers or broken extractors, but is not a good overall indicator IMO. The example given in the post above mine is a perfect example. You also introduce "operator error" (e.g., short-stroking or riding the slide) into the equation.

January 1, 2008, 07:58 PM
No not at all. Things are bouncing around during recoil like you wouldn't believe.

January 1, 2008, 08:36 PM
You can't hand cycle a Seecamp, but mine has been perfect at the range.

January 1, 2008, 11:09 PM
Its definitely no indication that it will cycle correctly when fired.
I know its not a handgun, but I have a Rem 597 17HMR, I can hand cycle full mags all day long with no probs. Go outside and shoot it, its gonna FTE nearly everytime.


Steve C
January 2, 2008, 12:16 AM
Manual cycling of ammo can be used to troubleshoot some problems. Hand cycling loaded ammo through you pistol should reveal any problems due to the magazine, the bullet shape catching, improperly assembled handlaods or mechanical problems like the extractor or ejector failing. Just make sure to emulate the way the pistol actually works when everything else is proper, IE the slide is retracted briskly and fully to the rear and then let go without its forward movement being hindered in any fashion.

What hand cycling will not tell you is if the ammo is of sufficient power to operate the slide fully or if the shooter hinders slide action with an improper grip.

January 2, 2008, 10:12 AM
I hand cycle 1911s all the time after a safety check. Typically this is to test magazine feeding, extractor tension, different bullet configurations. If it won't hand cycle, it lets me fix the problem at home where if have tools, etc. Hand cycling must be followed by shooting to see if the gun functions as expected.

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