Proper Handgun Racking Technique

How to properly retract the slide to load, unload, and clear a malfunction
and why the Chambermax TA-1 helps.

Hand Over the Top

The best way to retract the slide of your pistol is to place a hand over the top of the slide onto the TA-1, grip it, pull it fully rearward until the travel stops, and release.

When you load and unload, you want to pull the slide fully to the rear until it stops, which you will feel is a little past the slide lock. Doing so maximizes the potential kinetic energy of the barrel spring. This helps the pistol properly pick up and chamber the next round from a magazine for loading, or maximizes the breech area opening for ejecting a live round during unloading or clearing a jammed round.

This technique is practiced by shooting professionals as it is a gross motor skill that requires less accuracy in the placement of your hand and it maximizes your grip on the slide.

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The Chambermax TA-1 accessory, with its unique wedge shape, helps prevent your hand from slipping off the rear of the slide and reduces the gripping force required from your hand to retract the slide. This is highly beneficial if you have reduced finger or hand strength or have wet or contaminated hands such as in defensive combat or a high stress situation. The TA-1 also directs your hand away from the muzzle end of the pistol for safer operation.

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“Sling Shot”

We call this the “Sling Shot” way to retract the slide. We’ve all seen it in the movies but it’s a mediocre way to rack the slide and is not recommended. The problem is that it uses fine motor skills; you have to place your index finger and thumb in the just the right spot at the back of the slide, it requires a lot of finger squeeze when pulling back the slide, and it increases the likelihood that your fingers will slip off the back of the slide which can cause a malfunction. If it’s your technique the Chambermax TA-1 will make it easier, but the best way is the hand over the top method shown above. The “Sling Shot” technique is fine on the shooting range, but it is never taught or practiced in defensive handgun.

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“Thumbing” The Slide Release

“Thumbing” the slide release button to close the slide and chamber a round is never a recommended way to close the slide. Again, you want to pull the slide all the way rearward, just past slide lock, to maximize the energy in the barrel spring to chamber the first round in a new magazine. Simply pressing down on the slide release button to snap the slide forward is not the proper way to handle loading a semi-automatic pistol with live rounds.

Proper Pistol Grip

A few pointers on proper pistol grip as shown with a Chambermax TA-1

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Proper Two-Handed Pistol Grip

  • The web of the shooting (trigger) hand should be as high and deep into the backstrap of the pistol as possible; the support hand should be as close to the bore as possible. This grip aids the shooter in controlling recoil and muzzle flip.
  • Shooting hand is “handshake” tight.
  • Support hand is as tight as possible without causing a tremor.
  • Both thumbs forward — this anatomically locks the wrists, reducing muzzle flip during firing. Ideally, both thumbs are laying atop each other as shown and are below the slide.
  • Support hand fingers are firmly wrapped around the shooting hand. Ideally, support hand fingers are placed in the grooves created by the fingers of the shooting hand.
  • Trigger finger is “indexed” along the frame until a shot is taken.
  • Support hand index finger is touching the bottom of the trigger
    guard, not wrapped around the front of it.
  • When viewed from the top, the support hand thumb and the
    shooting hand index finger are approximately even.
  • The support hand grips with side-to-side pressure, using the fingers and the palm in a “C-Clamp” manner.
  • The shooting hand grips front to back, as firmly as possible, while still allowing independent movement of the trigger finger.
  • The side of the trigger finger must NOT come into contact with the frame while firing.