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Racking first cartridge

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Armchair Warrior, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Armchair Warrior

    Armchair Warrior New Member

    My wife has carried a S&W 36 for many years. I would like to get her comfortable with a 9, 40, or 45. Her issue is not with recoil but she has difficulty racking the first round and this is not good in a SD situation. My sig 226 and springfield 40 seem too difficult for her to rack without struggling. Does anybody have a technique suggestion or a model in these calibers that they have noticed is easier to pull the slide back than others? I think it might be more a coordination issue or possibly the grip she can get on the slide. She is not weak, she carries heavy stuff all day so maybe a method suggestion might be in order.
  2. Urban_Redneck

    Urban_Redneck New Member

    Instead of pulling the slide rearward, grip the slide and push the frame forward.
  3. beatledog7

    beatledog7 New Member

    Racking the slide has more to do with technique than strength. I suggest: have her hold the pistol in front of her body at mid torso level (which will angle her elbows at about 90 degrees) with the muzzle downrange, grip the pistol in her strong hand, grip the slide overhand with her weak, and brace her weak side elbow against her ribcage. With this accomplished, have her then push the pistol away from her with her strong hand while keeping her weak side elbow firmly tacked up to her ribcage and her finger off the trigger. She may find that shifting her feet (strong side foot back a bit) thus getting a little bit of torso turn will make it easier to keep the muzzle downrange wile doing this.

    As far as SD situations go, it's better to have a round already in the chamber, so no racking is required when a quick shot is needed.
  4. David E

    David E New Member

    Pretty much ditto, but make sure her left elbow is nowhere near the muzzle and that her trigger finger is well clear of the triggerguard.

    If she still has trouble, move left arm enough to assist in the racking motion, so both hands/arms are pushing against each other for the racking process.

    With any exposed hammer gun, cock the hammer first.

    I agree the gun should already be chambered, especially if there's even a slight issue chambering the first round.

    If you inexplicably insist on an empty chamber, then lock the slide back and store it that way. Decide if you want a loaded mag inserted into the magwell or not.

    Or, take her out to practice more with her 36
  5. TarDevil

    TarDevil Active Member

    I can't add anything, but will add a third vote for keeping one in the the chamber. I've shot a lot, and while running drills from an empty chamber I experience too many feed issues (operator error, not gun) to chance carrying that way.
  6. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone New Member

    You'll also find that full size models tend to have a lighter recoil spring rate. The 1911 as an example uses (for the most part) a 16 lb. spring for the Government (5" barrel) model while an ultra compact 3" variant will often come with a 22-24 lb. spring. I run my Governments with 13 lb. springs which my 8 yr. old can manipulate though he's not quite ready to shoot them.

    My wife had similar problems with an M&P compact I purchased for her, big mistake, which was alleviated with a long slide model. Technique will also work wonders but cutting 6-8 lbs. of resistance goes a long way. Consider also the serrations and their feel. Some women aren't partial to knife edge hyper aggressive slide cuts tearing their fingers up. Ditto with stocks.
  7. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill New Member

    As noted above, in those guns with a hammer, cocking the hammer first can make a BIG difference. (My wife is struggling with this issue, now.)
  8. Fryerpower

    Fryerpower New Member

    My wife could not chamber the first round in a blowback design gun (Makarov) until she brought it close to her chest, turned sideways as described above, and used BOTH arms to push. One pushing the frame forward, the other pushing the slide back. No issues after that.

  9. JTQ

    JTQ Active Member

  10. Jim NE

    Jim NE New Member

    When my Keltec P-11 was new, even I couldn't rack the slide with a thumb-index pinch. Grabbing the slide from the side with my left hand (as if it were a metal bar) was the trick. That way you're using all of your fingers AND your palm.
  11. tuj

    tuj New Member

    Turn sideways (to keep muzzle pointed downrange) and use both arms to rack the slide; one to push the slide backwards and the other hand on the grip pushing the frame forwards. (finger off trigger!)

    It's all about technique. I once saw a 5'2" lady who was about 110 lbs pick up a dropped Gold Wing. You hold the front brake and use your butt and legs against the bike and anyone can pick it up.
  12. BCRider

    BCRider Active Member

    A hearty +1 on reading that cornered cat article.

    A big part of the issue is that often folks are not willing to roll the gun to where their wrist is more in line with the work being done. The Cornered Cat article shows the gun rolled to various positions to let the slide hand contact the gun more solidly and directly. And that makes a BIG difference.
  13. ATLDave

    ATLDave Active Member

    Is she trying the "overhand" method, or the "pinch" method?
  14. hentown

    hentown New Member

    I recommend the overhand method. If she still has trouble, buy her a G19 and install a lighter-than-factory-stock recoil spring.
  15. eldon519

    eldon519 Active Member

    A 9mm in the same gun would have a lighter recoil spring which might be easier for her to rack.
  16. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave New Member

    +1 for corneredcat

    any adult without major hand injury/disability should be able to operate a service-caliber pistol's slide
  17. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    My Wife has the same problem and no matter what we've tried she simply isn't confident having to rack a first round. We ended up putting her in a framed revolver, 38 spcl S&W 60.

    So when I told my friend I got a S&W model 60 for my Wife, he replied "Good Trade". Ha ha

  18. Patrick Gookin

    Patrick Gookin New Member

    I know with 1911's, different firing pin stops can change the force required to rack the slide with the hammer down. The original ones had less of a radius on the bottom, making it harder to rack. JMB replaced them with larger radius firing pin stops, making it much easier to rack the slide with the hammer down.
  19. sakata8242

    sakata8242 New Member

    I think you're missing the bigger picture. It's not just an issue of whether she can rack the first round in (there should be a round chambered anyway as there is no guarantee there will be time to even rack a round in when you need it)

    If she's having trouble racking the slide on an autoloader she will have trouble clearing malfunctions as well. If there's a misfire or a stovepipe can she tap-rack the pistol? How about a failure to extract? Will she be able to lock the slide back or rip the magazine out of the pistol, rack-rack-rack to remove the offending casing, and rack again to re-chamber a round?

    It also means she will have difficulty clearing the pistol as well. Turning the pistol sideways isn't always possible, and if you're not careful, you can end up sweeping yourself too.

    See if you can get her comfortable using different techniques racking the slide. If she still has trouble, it may be better for her to stick with a wheel gun that doesn't have the above issues. How badly does SHE want an autoloader? You may be looking for a solution to a problem that doesn't exist...
  20. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone New Member

    Per the OP, sounds like he's just covering bases by having her familiarize herself with auto loaders. Doesn't mean she has to trade off, only offers more options.

    I don't own one, or any other Glock but 30 seconds at the gun counter with a G17 will probably tell you whether or not she can handle racking a slide. If she can, I'd suggest a purchase.

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