One Simple Trick to Never have a Negligent Discharge when Unloading Your Gun!
(Why the Order of Operations Matters)
If you’re like me, you are regularly administratively loading and unloading your firearms. I usually discourage people from excessive administrative handling of guns (e.g. gun selfies, pocket dumps, moving gun from belt to some car holster contraption), however sometimes it’s necessary. Whether it’s for nightly storage, cleaning, or for daily dry practice, I seem to be constantly unloading/loading my guns.
There is no shortage of people who have had negligent discharges (ND) while unloading, usually while cleaning guns that require pulling the trigger to disassemble. It goes like this (or a similar variation):
Remove magazine to remove source of bullets
Be about to rack the slide to clear the chamber when something interesting comes on the TV…
Pull down take-down levers and try to remember if you racked the slide, decide you probably did.
press trigger…*ears ringing*…Whoops…
Order of Operation Matters
I never gave much thought to the process of unloading. I’d just take the magazine out, rack the slide a few times, then look for an empty chamber and empty magwell, and I was done. That had worked well for me for a long time because I try to not be complacent. Then Claude Werner asked me a question.
CW – “What is the source of ammo into the gun?”
Me – “the… magazine?”
CW -“Everyone thinks the magazine feeds the gun. It doesn’t. The chamber does. Until the chamber is rendered safe, the gun is loaded.”
Unload and Show Clear
As a small aside, I have also adopted Claude’s method of marking the bottom of my chambered cartridges after unloading with a sharpie. A single line next to the primer. Rotate a cartridge with 5 marks to the bottom of the magazine. When the whole magazine has cartridges with 5 marks, shoot that magazine. This allows 80 unloadings in a 16 shot gun. This technique will prevent projectiles from pushing into the case from countless chamberings and keep your defensive ammo more reliable.
A small alteration in technique can pay dividends over the course of your shooting career. I’ve made the switch to this more robust and foolproof method.
Let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.
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The fanny pack is the universal sign that A) You just emerged from your mom’s basement because you’re out of cheetos, or B) You’re man enough to recognize the utility and comfort of a bag worn about the waist. I happen to be a combination of both.
If I weren’t married, I 100% would rock the fanny pack more often. As it stands, it is my dog walk, yard work, ruck walk, occasional around the house, and (if I’m not with my wife) grocery store companion. I think it’s a sign of maturity. At least that’s what I tell myself.
My fanny pack serves as a holster, mag pouch, and trauma kit when I’m out and about.
My cover story is it contains my insulin and blood sugar monitor. Pick a story that works for you. Especially if you wear it in a gym or somewhere where it could draw more than passing interest.
My fanny pack is the Maxpedition Octa Versipack. While it’s not a purpose built gun bag, it holds a glock 19 easily in the main compartment. If you have a striker fired gun, consider a trigger guard holster like the MIC for protecting that trigger. Tie that holster through a grommet hole so it tears away when you draw. You should also consider cutting away all internal mesh/dividers in the intended gun compartment. No obstructions, nothing to hang on.
The front pockets can carry spare mag, a small LED light, TQ’s, dog poop bags, etc.
Only keep the pistol in the main pouch, with nothing else in that segment of the bag. It has 2 zipper pulls on the main pouch. I removed one, and on the other I hung a longer segment of green paracord as a pull. Consider also a bead or woven pull tab so you can distinguish the gun zipper from the others without looking.
That’s it. Are you man (or woman) enough to rock a fanny pack?
Here’s photos of the VERY GOOD KG Products BeltBag. I took mine to the range recently and put myself on the timer with it. I was working draws and 1,2, or 3 shots on a 6″ circle at 5 yards. I was getting draw times from 2.5 to 3.0 seconds (concealed from holster puts me at 1.5 seconds or so from beep to first shot). If I were buying a new one, I’d definitely get a KG Products.
Though it might seem like minutia, and ultimately probably is, there is great debate in the firearms training community about how one should rack the slide of one’s pistol. The contention arises over the cost/benefits of each method with regards to speed, robustness, general applicability over wider set of circumstances, which pistol is used, left/right hand appropriate, fine/gross motor skills, hand strength, and a host of other points.
I have no intention of settling any debates. I want to show you several different methods and give you the pros and cons of each method. You’ll decide which to practice and implement.
As a general rule, all slide manipulations should be done in the 24″ or so sphere in front of our faces where we have extra dexterity, visual acuity, and where we can still see what is happening beyond the gun in the background.
Overhand Rack Behind Ejection Port
This one is the gold standard in many entry level (and advanced) fighting firearms training programs.
This works on most guns for a wide array of issues that guns have. It works for a stoppages, for a reload at slide-lock or slide-forward if you happen to ride the slide stop lever.
Because it works for multiple problems, there’s less to think about. It’s more ROBUST.
It works when you’re muddy, bloody, sweaty because you get maximum skin contact on maximum slide grooves.
You can get a lot of racking force if your hands are weak by pulling with the slide hand, while punching with the gun hand. Creating force vectors in opposite directions.
Touted as ‘gross motor’ and easier to perform under stress because you grab a chunk of slide and then try to rip the slide off the gun. As opposed to hitting little buttons. (I take issue with that ‘gross motor’ argument, since the trigger and mag release are also little buttons we access under stress… but I digress.) Photo time!
It’s demonstrably slower. Your hand has to move from the gun, to your chest, and back to the pistol to reestablish grip.
It can activate the safety on a slide-mounted-safety pistol (Berettas for instance)
Requires two hands
This is the solution for slide-mounted safety guns.
It really works on almost all semi-auto pistols.
It requires more grip strength to pinch the slide with 2 fingers instead of the four finger clamp of your hand. When I was having grip issues a few years ago from chemotherapy, I couldn’t do this method.
Requires two hands.
C-Clamp Grip in front of Ejection Port
I saw Frank Proctor doing this method in a youtube clip. He talks about it in his ‘deliberate load’ video. Relevant info starts at 1:13
It’s fast. Your hands only need to fold back together to a full firing grip
Can fix malfunctions and manipulate slide just like in the overhand and sling-shot method.
Allows good view of chamber for press-checking status of gun.
The proximity of muzzle to shooters hand is a little close for comfort. I could see a non-dedicated person flagging themselves easily.
Requires a lot of hand strength. I DEFINITELY couldn’t do this method when I was grip-compromised. Forward cocking serrations are a plus.
Double action guns, where you must overcome the spring tension of the hammer, makes this technique a little more difficult. Try thumb-cocking the hammer before attempting this.
Requires two hands.
I used to shun the use of the slide stop (or release) button to get the slide to go home after a slide-lock reload. I was being a Tactical Timmy. I was dumb. And slow.
The fastest way to send the slide home from slide-lock
Can be done one-handed
Can be done with either strong or weak thumb (if you’re right handed) depending on your digit length.
It’s only good for letting a locked slide go forward. It doesn’t solve any other pistol issues (stoppages, etc)
Some small framed guns with stiff recoil springs require an inordinate amount of thumb strength to release the slide with the button. My S&W shield is a culprit of this.
Left handed people will need to use their trigger finger for this. Or not at all. (H/T Steve W. for reminding me of lefties)
Off of a nearby surface
This is a method of necessity and extenuating circumstances. By catching the rear sight or ejection port on a nearby surface, you can safely run the slide. This is a last resort measure.
Minimal hand strength required. All you need to do is catch a surface with your gun, and lean on it. Your body weight and gravity are on your side. This was literally my ONLY recourse for running a slide when I was at my weakest in early 2015.
Only needs one hand
Any Surface will do. e.g. Belt, Holster, Car Door, Table, Face of scumbag you’re shooting, etc.
Benefits from a flat ledge on the rear sight to get good purchase on your chosen surface.
Muzzle direction can be an issue if you’re not careful. (Down and Away when racking off of your body/gear)
Possibility of malfunction if you don’t keep ejection port clear when performing.
While it really shouldn’t make a difference for your practice, I generally prefer the slingshot method for most slide manipulations when the slide is forward, the Proctor c-clamp method when press-checking the status of my gun, and the slide release/stop button for slide-lock reloads. But don’t take my word for it. Test it for yourself. Both on a timer, and then after many many repetitions under varying conditions to see how high percentage it is. If your preferred method works only 60% of the time, but it’s faster than another method that works 95% of the time, I’d probably go with the higher percentage move. But that’s me. I’m risk averse.
The photographer of this footage appears to be across an intersection from the shooter. I’d put him at 30 or so yards.
Now, put yourself in the photographer’s shoes. But you’re packing your carry gun. Can you reliably place accurate hits on important parts of a bad guy at that distance?
If yes, good keep carrying your gun.
If not, keep working on it.
If you don’t know if you could, then you need to find your maximum effective range with your carry handgun.
A drill to work during your next range trip:
Using a B-8 target. B-8 pdf (download a copy, and always print ‘fit to page’)
Start at 10 yards.
Shoot target 10 times at 10 yards, no time limit, freestyle. If/When you can get 10/10 in the 8 ring or better, move the target away 5 more yards.
Shoot the same drill at 15. Same Pass/Fail metric. Keep pushing back if you can.
… eventually you will hit your distance limit. 25 yards is the goal, but further is fine. You now know your maximum reliably effective range.
At this or future range trips… Work at the distance that caused you misses. Work it until you can shoot it clean, Then keep creeping back.
Modify it by doing 10 repetitions from the holster/1 shot on the bullseye. Or, set a time limit in which you’d like to make that shot, start at a 5 second par-time from a low ready, or 7 seconds from the holster.
A B-8 is head-sized at 25 yards, and simulates a high-center chest sized target as if it were at 50. The bad guys are out there, and need to be shot. Carry your gun. Do your part.
Stay Safe and Prayers Out to our Brothers and Sisters in Munich,