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Thread: Slide stop or slide release? Drop or rack the slide?

  1. #1
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    Slide stop or slide release? Drop or rack the slide?

    Sometimes it's astonishing what people will find to argue about. Case in point:

    Recently, on a general purpose firearms and self defense oriented discussion group, someone opened Pandora's box by asking if with a 1911 it's best to slingshot the slide or use the slide stop lever to release the slide when starting from slide lock. Naturally, many people had opinions, and very few of them seemed to understand that their opinions were ... well, opinions rather than facts. Some didn't even know what that thingie on the side of the 1911 is called, but that didn't stop them from advancing their opinion on which way is "best" as incontrovertible fact.

    I'm sure some of our members prefer to just drop the slide by pushing down on the slide stop lever, and I'm equally sure that some of our members prefer to rack the slide. The fact is, neither is "right" and neither is "wrong." There are reasons for doing either. Using the slide stop lever to release the slide is arguably faster, and they make slide stops with extended levers to make that action even faster. On the other hand, some (but not all) combat-oriented trainers stress that when you're in the midst of an adrenaline dump, your nervous system gets overloaded and you lose "fine motor control" of your muscles. Broadly speaking, this means that manual operations requiring small, delicate movements become more difficult. Translation: if you reach for the side stop under stress, you might miss.

    That argument holds that the slide stop is small, while the slide is big. Using an overhand grip to grasp the slide in your entire hand and rack it is potentially less likely to be flubbed due to loss of fine motor control under stress.

    A side argument is that, if you own, shoot and carry multiple different types of semi-automatic pistol, the slide stop isn't in the same place on all of them so muscle memory for finding and actuating it under stress becomes more difficult because of the muscle memory factor. But the slide is always right there on top of the gun, so the action of grabbing the slide and racking it remains the same regardless of what gun you're carrying.

    All these points were made, early in the discussion, yet the discussion raged on for more than ten days. A couple of people even referred to the slide stop as the slide "release," as if using that term somehow proved that using it is the only "right" way to accomplish chambering the first round. One person even argued that slamming the magazine home sharply "should" automatically drop the slide. (Hint: if that works with your 1911, send it to a gunsmith. It should not do that.)

    The high (or low!) point in the discussion came when toward the tenth day someone made the statement, "Slingshot or overhand, girls. That’s what JMB would have wanted." In response to which another participant referred to Browning's patent application for the 1911 (which he had already cited, several days earlier in the discussion). In the patent application, Browning says (and he quoted):

    ... but when the last cartridge has been fed from the magazine, the lug j^2 stands in the path of the spring-follower of the agazine, and when the breech-slide is moved to the rear above the empty magazine, the follower will raise the lug j^2 and the handle j and cause the projection l to enter the recess m in the breech-slide, thereby locking the same in the open rear position, and serving as an indicator to show that the empty magazine must be replaced by a charged one before the firing can be continued. After placing the magazine in the grip the breech-slide is released by depressing the handle j.
    So John M. Browning clearly intended the slide lock lever (as he referred to it) to be used to release the slide. After all, if he hadn't intended it to be used that way he wouldn't have designed it with a protruding, checkered shelf for the thumb to push down on. The Army field manual for the M1911 says to release the slide by pressing down on the lever. So Browning didn't "want" us to use the slingshot or overhand method. Yet he also designed the M1911 so that the slingshot or overhand method will also work. The slide stop notch is positioned and shaped such that pushing or pulling the slide slightly farther to the rear than the slide lock position has the effect of forcing the slide stop down. If there's a loaded magazine in the pistol when you do that, there's nothing to push the slide stop back up, so releasing the slide will allow it to move forward and chamber a round. One of the things that made Browning such a genius at firearms design was that he was very clever at building in multiple ways for a single part to function, or allowing a single part to perform multiple functions.

    The question in that discussion has no "correct" answer. Do it whichever way works for you. I will admit that I prefer the overhand method. My reason is that, ultimately, while I hope I never have to use a firearm to defend myself, that's why I own them and that's why I carry them. I know enough about muscle memory to accept the truth of the adage "We fight as we train." I don't want to fumble a slide release under stress, so I train to use the overhand method of racking the slide. I recognize that using the slide stop to drop the slide is probably faster, but I use competitions as training for the real world, Therefore, even though I'm handicapping myself by doing so, I use the overhand method even in competition.

    If you encounter a trainer who tells you that you MUST do it one way or the other ... take everything he/she says with a large dose of salt.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Likes (6) :
    cosh (27th September 2018), Frgood (23rd September 2018), John (5th October 2018), MuyModesto (14th October 2018), Peters (7th October 2018), Ric4509 (23rd September 2018)

    Last edited by Hawkmoon; 23rd September 2018 at 11:43.


  2. #2
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    Overhand method!

  3. #3
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    Slide release is way more consistent for me with a 1911 but I also agree that when working with multiple platforms the overhand slingshot method is more universal.

    I have a problem with the whole discussion about adrenaline dumps and fine motor skills. Not that I don't agree that this happens but you need to work through it. If you are so concerned about this how are you going to actuate the trigger? Isn't running the trigger the ultimate fine motor skill in shooting? Compared to the trigger all other activities are gross and crude.

    But as Hawkmoon mentioned if someone tells you that there's only one way I'd be tempted to walk or quietly listen and then ignore.

    Jim

  4. #4
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    Wait 'till that discussion moves on, to grips: two-thumbs forward or thumb over thumb? According to many shooters I know, one of these methods is correct and the other is the spawn of Beelzebub. The problem is, they don't agree on which is which...
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter
    Likes (1) :
    John (5th October 2018)


  5. #5
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    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spyros View Post
    Wait 'till that discussion moves on, to grips: two-thumbs forward or thumb over thumb? According to many shooters I know, one of these methods is correct and the other is the spawn of Beelzebub. The problem is, they don't agree on which is which...
    So many people have told me that I "can't" possibly shoot using a thumb-over-thumb grip that I think part of the reason I continue to do so (aside from several practical reasons that the detractors tend to ignore) is just to say, "Oh, yes, I can."
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  7. #7
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    Tsk, tsk, tsk, what a stubborn man!

    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  8. #8
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    +1911 to Those Recognizing the Foolishness of this Debate

    A wise 1911 user has used both methods and is thus aware of the pros and cons of each.

    He also chooses the method for which the "pros" are most relevant to his circumstances and the "cons" are of least concern. Oftentimes, competitive shooters go one way and SD focused shooters (who often also use non-1911 firearms on occasion) go the other way.

    And in a hypothetical extreme situation, such as an incapacitating injury to one hand, he -- a wise user -- has the capability to switch to the "other" method.

  9. #9
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    I do it which ever way is most convenient at the time. I probably use the slide release more often though.
    Lynnie, "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. "
    - Albert Camus

  10. #10
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    Me too!
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

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