Written by Richard Dockery, February 2022
When it comes to changing magazines and chambering a new round after emptying the current magazine in your pistol, there are a couple of methodologies being taught, with pros and cons to each. At Femme Fatale ARMS & Training our focus is on consistent reliability in everything we teach. Any methodology must be 100% repeatable, enabling success under pressure. The method with the least chance of failure is what we will focus on when chambering a new round from a fresh magazine.
When your pistol magazine runs out of ammo, the goal is to replace it with a full magazine as quickly as possible, and to chamber a round from the new magazine in order to continue to fire your weapon at the threat. In the process of doing this, it is necessary for the slide to move forward, ideally from a locked open position, pushing the new round into the chamber. If you frequent ranges and observe how this is accomplished, you will often see 3 methods being used:
1) The shooter will insert a magazine, pull down on the slide stop with their thumb releasing the slide and enabling it to move forward, chambering the round.
2) The shooter will insert a magazine, pull on the slide itself with the hand that inserted the magazine, thereby releasing the slide-stop and chambering the new round.
3) The shooter will insert the magazine with considerable force, tripping the slide-stop with the force of the inserted magazine, resulting in the slide moving forward to chamber the next round.
So the question becomes which is “better”, and why.
Lets start with the first method, which is one of the most common seen on public ranges, that of pulling down on the slide-stop with the thumb of the shooting hand, releasing the slide and chambering the round. The questions to ask are “does it always work/when doesnt it work”, and “is it quick/efficient?”
Regarding speed it is fast. The magazine can be inserted with the non-firing hand and immediately the firing hand thumb can release the slide. Very fast. Does it always work?…..no. If you are moving fast and happen to hit the slide-stop before fully seating the magazine, you will allow your slide to close without chambering a round, resulting in nothing but a click sound upon pulling the trigger. There is also the situation where your slide doesn’t lock open ( for a few reasons) after the last round. If you have built the muscle memory to hit the slide-lock upon inserting the magazine, again no round will chamber. Regarding speed it is fast..but…is it really faster? Studies of brain function have shown that when the mind has more than one way of doing something, a fraction of a second at minimum is required to determine which method to use. If you chamber a round by pulling on the slide when it is closed, andthrn use the slide -stop when the slide is open, you now have to determine each time which method is necessary. Every second counts in a confrontation and even if you choose correctly, you have lost time. Choose wrong and you have a pistol with an empty chamber.
So how about inserting with force and automatically tripping the slide-stop? Is it fast? Yes, when it works. Again you have not only 2 ways to decide from under pressure, bit your mind also has to process whether or not it worked, or if you need to take further action. The offset in necessary mental function time under pressure and potential for failure negates any potential speed gains.
That leaves us with pulling the slide every time we chamber a round. Is it fast? Not as fast as the other 2 methods …when they work….but much faster than the other 2 when they dont. Does it work every time?…yes! and without additional brain function as you are using the method of “one way to do everything”. When you insert your magazine with a closed slide, you pull on the slide to chamber. When you insert with an open slide, you also pull on the slide to chamber. No thinking, and no failures, your round always chambers. Simplistic, consistent reliability without having to introduce additional brain function in a situation where the adrenaline has shut down your analytical capabilities.
Remember, you only have 1 chance to save your own life or that of another in an armed confrontation. Use only what works every time, each time.
Femme Fatale ARMS & Training is a woman-owned business that provides education and support to an over victimized and underserved segment of our population. We have programs to build confidence and skill without the intimidating aspects that tend to exist elsewhere in this industry. Our goal is customer satisfaction and loyalty. We’d appreciate an opportunity to show you how we are different, yet still, help you to accomplish your education and safety goals.
West Melbourne, Florida 32904 🎗We are open Mon-Thurs 10 to 5, Friday 10 to 6, and Saturday 12 to 4