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Hard to rack the slide on a 1911

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by mikemyers, Jul 8, 2015.

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  1. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    Ever since the 1980's, it's been difficult for me to rack the slide on a 1911. I'm not very big, and as I posted a week or two ago, I could probably win the first prize in the "98 pound weakling" lookalike contest from Charles Atlas.


    I recently tried advice from forums, from books, and from YouTube. They all helped, but it was still a struggle.

    The only reason I'm posting this new thread, is because Joe Means, a top shooter at the Broward Pistol and Rifle Club, gave me a suggestion yesterday that made all the difference in the world. It's easier to do, than to describe:

    1. Hold the 1911 in the right hand, and stretch your arm out in front of you, with your arm pointing out, and down maybe at a 30 or 40 degree angle. Then twist your wrist, so the gun is now mostly horizontal, the top of the gun to the left, and the right side of the gun on top. Your trigger finger can wrapped around the stock along with your other fingers.
    2. With the left hand, reach out and grip the slide, with the palm of your hand over the serrations on the rear of the slide, and the rest of the fingers clamping the gun from below.
    3. Now, PUSH with your right arm, while you PULL with your left.

    Yesterday after racking the slide the usual way, after doing it five or six times, it felt like a gremlin had welded the slide in place. Doing it this new way, I can do it over and over again continually.
     
  2. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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  3. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    As I see it, for safety reasons, that is out. There's already a YouTube video showing how to do just that - and then explaining why nobody should do it.

    As to the examples in that link, how many have you actually tried? ...and have you ever tried it the way Joe suggested? You might be surprised at the results.

    If I was 17, not 71, I doubt I'd be entering this thread.
    I'd like to see you try this on a Wilson 1911 - let alone a Les Baer.
     
  4. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    Generally speaking, cocking the hammer before you rack the slide would not be a safety concern since there normally wouldn't be a round in the chamber. The only possible safety problem would be if you were carrying in Condition 2 and lost control of the hammer and it fell on a loaded round. Of course if you were carrying in Condition 2, you wouldn't need to rack the slide.

    For instance, if you have a hard time racking the slide to chamber a round, insert the loaded mag, cock the hammer, then rack the slide. It is quite easy and very safe.
     
  5. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I've tried most of them. The best, for me, is with your strong arm bent and gun at your mid section (point away in a safe direction, of course), you push forward with your strong arm while pulling back with your support arm. A push, pull technique.

    It seems to me, at least as you've described Joe Means technique, you are getting everything from your support hand/arm since the strong arm is fully extended at the start. If you start with the gun closer to your body, with your strong arm bent, you can use the added strength of your strong arm to push away while your support arm pulls back.

    Of course, it is alway easiest to do if the hammer is already cocked.
     
  6. hoghunting

    hoghunting Member

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    One of those surprised results is your hand is covering the ejection port, so clearing a jam or checking the chamber isn't possible. If it works well for you when loading, then use it.
     
  7. RevDerb

    RevDerb Member

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  8. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    Actually, I'm finding all those videos to be worthless for the original question. If I were 81 or 91, I could probably still rack the slide on every one of the guns they use for an example. I think a six-year-old could probably do it.

    I would love to walk up to any one of the people doing the demonstrations, show them a new Les Baer 1911, and watch them try to rack the slide.

    To me, watching these demonstrations is like someone trying to teach a person how to properly hammer on a nail so it goes straight into a piece of wood, but using a block of foam to do the demonstration. It's not realistic.

    It's also interesting to me that not a single one of these demonstrations on the videos or web pages shows anyone doing what Joe showed me....

    I did make one mistake though when I typed up what he showed me - the right arm is extended a lot, but not literally all the way. The right hand is "'pushed out" as the left hand "pulls in". ....and the ejection port is not covered by the left hand, at least with my hands.
     
  9. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Mike, I guess I don't see how this method would work better than the normal overhand method. Does having the gun partially stretched out in front of you give you more leverage to push forward while you pull back? When I use the overhand method I push opposing directions, and wracking any slide seems pretty easy.

    Though, I am literally twice your size, and a little less than half your age.
     
  10. Sol

    Sol Member

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    Lighter recoil spring maybe?
     
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    Not really all that surprising. If I'm understanding your description, of how "Joe" showed you how to rack the slide, it is something I've been shown and used for a time. If you could post a video it might help, as what I'm reading might not be the same as you're describing

    Being generous, it is less than optimal as the gun is too far away from your body for good control and you are using smaller muscle groups than you need to. It's shortcomings are explained at the 1:57 mark in the video in Post #7

    It reminds me of techniques taught LE/Military agencies which compromise efficiency for expediency of running a large group of shooters on a common shooting line.

    The technique demonstrated in Post #7 is the most efficient method of racking the slide on a tightly fitted 1911. Before you ask, yes, I've used it to rack the slide on Baer, Wilson, Brown, as well as custom fitted 1911s.

    I'm at a lost to comprehene your apprehension of cocking the hammer before retracting a slide on an unloaded 1911. Perhaps you can specifically point out your "safety reason"...it isn't at all apparent to most of us, as there is no danger of a negligent discharge when charging a 1911 using this technique
     
  12. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    The method shown by Kathy Jackson at her Cornered Cat site (mentioned above) is an excellent one that even slight if frame women find successful - the arms are close to the body to maximize leverage.
     
  13. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    I am with others: Cock the hammer.

    Heck I do it my Sigs all the time. Safety is keeping the finger off the trigger.
     
  14. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    mikemyers, think of this from a fitness standpoint.

    First, which arm is stronger, the one holding the gun by the grip or the one on the slide? For most, it'd be the one on the grip, usually called the strong hand.

    Second, in what exercise can you lift more weight, curl or bench press? I suspect most can bench press more than they can curl.

    The advantage then, is to get your strong arm to do a press, which will give the most power for movement, while your weak arm only really has to hold on and maybe pull (curl) a little.

    Pull the gun close to you, grab the slide, and press out with the gun, while pulling back on the slide. Most of the power comes from the press part.

    Notice in the video in post #7, the young lady has the hammer cocked.
     
  15. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    This is a very good vid...

    It is essentially the "cornered cat" technique with a pull added.

    But as Mike says he's not young and this is a Les Baer. A gun with a tighter than usual slide to frame fit.

    The first time I tried to rack the slide on a new Baer I thought the gun was broken and the slide fused somehow. After repeated tries I did get it and now know what to expect.

    As the young woman says in the vid it is technique. But with the Les Baer some strength, more than the average muscle, is required as well.

    I normally cock the hammer on 1911's before racking the slide.

    Is someone in a video somewhere complaining that it is unsafe to do so? Someone have a link?

    tipoc
     
  16. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    I am absolutely NOT saying the following video is accurate, or from someone qualified to discuss this - it's simply the very first link that shows up on my page when I do a Google Search for "rack the slide on a tight 1911".


    Fast forward to one minute into the video


    If this fellow is wrong, then I'm obviously wrong - it's just the first link I found, and while I wondered about it, I never sorted things out in my mind. Until I found out otherwise, I figured I'd follow that advice. His reason has something to do with not knowing if there's a round in the chamber, and that fits along with "every gun is always loaded until you verify otherwise".

    Again - I am NOT saying I agree (or disagree) with the guy, just that it seemed prudent to follow that advice, and find another way.
     
  17. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    Note: I've got two 1911's, both fresh from the factory. My Colt Combat Commander is just a hair tighter than I can comfortably rack the slide on, but I've been doing it anyway... but after five or six times, my arms were too tired - and the following morning they were sore.

    On the Les Baer, the ONLY way I get the slide to budge is to put the front of the gun against something solid, press just a little to break the lock-up, after which I can eventually rack the slide. I think that gun re-defines the word "lock-up". It's locked.


    One after another, I went through all the videos (none of which have someone racking the slide on a tight gun), and tried to do what people suggested. The method Joe suggested solved the problem completely (on the Colt). Right hand pushing out and down, and left hand pulling the slide back, gripped the way Joe told me to do it. I can rack the slide for dry firing once a minute, for 20 minutes, and feel fine when I'm done. The best I ever did with any other way is half of that. ....the gun needs to be rotated so that the right side of the gun is close to pointing up - when your left hand gets the best grip on the slide, you've got the gun oriented the right amount.

    I'll be gone to NYC until Monday. When I return, I'll find a way to set up a video camera on a tripod and film what Joe suggested.

    Logically, it makes perfect sense to me.
    • Make two fists, hold your arms out in front of you, and with the right hand push left, and the left hand push right, and see how much force you can apply.
    • Now stand in front of something big/heavy, and with your right hand, push it away from you, with the object a foot or so away in front of you.
    • Last, tie a rope or belt or anything to the same heavy thing, and with your left hand, PULL it towards you.
    • Finally, to show how much weaker the first method is, instead of either of your hands pushing against the other, have someone stand in front of you who will push back. See how hard you can push. Because you're now pushing sideways, with your arm maybe a foot in front of you, the leverage works against you. Or, for an exaggerated example, stand and face something sort of heavy, one foot away from you, hold out your right hand, and try to push it to your left. (Instead of the object moving to your left, your body will probably twist to the right.....
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Well, I'm not saying he's right, or wrong.

    I'm just saying cocking it first makes things easier.

    Now:
    Loaded with the safety on or off, or empty, it is going to be cocked with the safety off when you open it
    So, you might as well cock it in the first place to make opening it easier.

    Myself?
    I control the gun with my right hand, finger out of the trigger guard.
    Then hook my left thumb in the trigger guard and wrap my left index finger over the recoil spring plug and squeeze.

    That will open the tightest match gun slide clear back to the take-down notch in one easy motion.
    ( Won't work with full -length guide rods!)

    But again, regardless of all that.

    The gun is going to be cocked with the safety off when the slide opens, loaded or empty.
    Regardless of how you open it.

    So get over it!

    rc
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  19. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    Those Alchemy Custom guys are smart guys, but while they don't like cocking the hammer before they rack the slide for safety reasons, the guy has no problem using the palm of his hand over the muzzle. I'll cock the hammer all day before I put my hand over the muzzle.

    I borrow this comment from another thread…

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=782990

    Everybody is telling you to cock the hammer. It maybe worthwhile to cock the hammer.
     
  20. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    I've decided that you guys are correct, and cocking the hammer on an unloaded gun, to make it easier to rack the slide, is safe.


    I tried doing it that way while dry-firing three days ago, before I ever got to the range to shoot with the gun.
    Remember that comment at the beginning of this thread that led to the "Charles Atlas" ad?
    By the 10th time I tried to pull back the hammer, my thumb was screaming at me. My body is much more used to dealing with keyboards than machinery.

    My thumb has no complaints with a revolver, but on the Colt, it feels like one or two more attempts are going to lead to a bandaid.

    Right now, with the Colt, doing it Joe's way solved the problem for me. Next week (weak??) I'll find out how things go with the Les Baer.
     
  21. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    1911 hammers have a safety notch in place, so if someone is manually cocking the hammer and it slips, it will not engage the firing pin. This is a universal safety feature on 1911 hammers. Unless there is a problem with the sear or sear spring, the hammer will not engage the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. Try it yourself, you will see that the hammer stops a short distance before coming to rest against the back of the slide.

    I also second running a lighter recoil spring, as most guns are over-sprung from the factory. I run a 12.5 pound spring in my 1911. I'd probably run a 14.5 pound spring if I was shooting hot loads. Some 1911s come from the factory with 18.5 pound springs, which is excessive and almost always a determent to the shooter, as follow up shots are faster with lighter springs.
     
  22. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Not exactly.
    Series 80 Colts or guns with that type firing pin block do not have a safety intercept notch on the hammer.

    Instead, they have a little 'speed bump' that should slow the hammer down enough it can't hit the inertia firing pin hard enough to drive it out of the slide.

    And the firing pin safety captures the firing pin all the time unless the trigger is pulled.

    rc
     
  23. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    That is incorrect, as both hammers have the half cock feature. Even if the half-cock is not captive (80 series), it still requires the trigger to be pulled before it will impact the firing pin. If the trigger isn't pulled, the sear won't clear the shelf.
     
  24. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    A few years before Pop passed away, we were wrestling with this same problem. Even with the hammer cocked, it was very difficult for him to work the slide.

    On another forum, a poster suggested this,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXZcjZLxsMs

    We eventually went with another option but that is a neat idea.

    Kevin
     
  25. mikemyers

    mikemyers Member

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    Interesting - anyone here actually tried one of these?

    I should add one more bit of information to this thread. Either I've been eating a lot of spinach without knowing it, or the Colt is breaking in. I've now shot it just under 300 rounds since I got it back from Colt two weeks ago. It is now MUCH easier to rack the slide than before, and I can even do it using either hand. It's not "the" answer to the original thread, but it's nice to know that over time, and with good lubrication, the gun gets better all by itself. It's still not "easy", but neither does it feel like the parts are held together with superglue.... :eek:
     
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