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Old June 9, 2014, 08:58 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Malfunction Clearing Question

Took an excellent all day tactical pistol class from two LEO trainers. Safety, safety, safety were numbers 1,2,3 of course. During drills on clearing malfunctions they emphasized avoiding slingshotting the slide (versus full-hand grasp), the theory being (to which I ascribe complete) that the full hand approach is more reliable when under stress. They applied the same logic to releasing the slide after an emergency mag load - grab the thing and rack it versus using relatively fine motor skills to use the slide "release".

My wife and I took a 2 hour lesson, HD/SD oriented, and the instructor had an opposing view : in case of malfunction use the slingshot because it saves a few tenths of a second and when doing an emergency reload use your left-hand thumb to release the slide after inserting the mag and prior to completing the left hand grip.

I'm going the reliable full-hand rack approach, but I'm interested in whether the community is somewhat split on these techniques.
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Old June 9, 2014, 09:38 PM   #2
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I'm undecided on the whole 'gross motor skills' thing with respect to most pistols.
On the one hand, I've just successfully used fine motor skills to release the pistol from it's Retention Level II holster, used fine motor skills to hit that tiny button that releases the magazine, and am just about to use fine motor skills again to press, Not jerk, the trigger after aligning the sights to a fine degree.

On the other hand, the Glock which seems to have started the whole 'slide stop is too small to find and it's "STOP!" not a release" does have a rather tiny lever. The original also has non drop-free magazines something else that made sense for a military weapon but less sense for a competition gun.
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Old June 9, 2014, 10:05 PM   #3
5whiskey
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Quote:
I'm undecided on the whole 'gross motor skills' thing with respect to most pistols. On the one hand, I've just successfully used fine motor skills to release the pistol from it's Retention Level II holster, used fine motor skills to hit that tiny button that releases the magazine, and am just about to use fine motor skills again to press, Not jerk, the trigger after aligning the sights to a fine degree.
^^^^I agree with this sentiment... somewhat. I think there may be something to the argument, but I also think it's used as a cop-out a lot of the time. I was discussing with my boss (who is a cop, only has cop experience, and hasn't worked anywhere else in his adult life) about how 3-round burst is an equipment solution to a training problem. His response was "taking your finger off of the trigger to control your fire is a fine motor skill," with my response of course being "well we managed the fine motor skill of pulling the trigger in the first place okay, so taking a finger off to control the fire shouldn't be that much more difficult." I got my wrist slapped a little, but it was a worthy debate (FWIW, I don't really care about having the full-auto selector on my rifle blocked).

I use the overhand slide grab, and I do believe that we should practice sure-fire, reliable, hard to mess up moves to keep our guns running. I also don't think using the slide stop or slingshot is wrong. Just make sure you practice often, and practice consistently.
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Old June 9, 2014, 10:15 PM   #4
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rdtompki, I've also recieved training in clearing jammed pistols, and was taught the same. Rather than the fine motorskills being the reason, another point was brought up.
How does the pistol feed the rds? It feeds the rounds reliably after the slide has come fully back and the recoil spring pushes it back into battery. At less than full travel, there is less force supplied by the the recoil spring. When clearing a jam, you want optimum not just adequate reliability for the feed.

I know, the pistol should feed when the slide stop is released. With a dirty gun, a larger heavier bullet, a poorly lubed gun stc. etc., it "should feed".
At a critical time, it only makes sense to use the optimum method to feed---
,the same as when it shoots. Practice for the worst case not the best case.

What did they show you about a double jamb, where the mag wont drop?
Worst case scenario. Habits are more reliable than learned skills sometimes used, sometimes not.
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Old June 9, 2014, 11:05 PM   #5
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What did they show you about a double jamb, where the mag wont drop?
The tac pistol class covered double feeds - pull the mag out and rack the slide (overhand grip) 2-3 times. The solo instructor (well, actually, my wife and I) hadn't covered malfunctions. Safest thing it seems to me is to use the same technique to rack the slide in all circumstances.
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Old June 9, 2014, 11:16 PM   #6
JohnKSa
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One of my carry guns doesn't have a slide release/stop so I've always used the overhand rack method to drop the slide.

In addition to the nice feature of being a fairly universal technique, it also gives the slide a little extra forward momentum if executed properly since properly racking the slide releases the slide at the extreme rearward point of travel while the slide release gives up a little bit of travel.

It's not a huge difference, but I've run into at least one set of circumstances where a gun would function properly if the slide was racked to chamber the first round from a magazine but it would misfeed the first round if the slide was dropped using the slide release..
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Old June 9, 2014, 11:36 PM   #7
Derbel McDillet
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Quote:
They applied the same logic to releasing the slide after an emergency mag load - grab the thing and rack it versus using relatively fine motor skills to use the slide "release".
I've never believed in the fine vs. coarse motor skill argument.

Quote:
Safest thing it seems to me is to use the same technique to rack the slide in all circumstances.
BINGO! This is the answer I believe in as opposed to the fine vs. coarse motor skill argument.

You load, unload and clear stoppages by racking the slide. It's a common manipulation to accomplish multiple tasks.

Quote:
The tac pistol class covered double feeds - pull the mag out and rack the slide (overhand grip) 2-3 times.
I use entirely non-diagnostic techniques to clear stoppages. If the pistol fails to fire when I press the trigger I immediately perform tap, rack. If tap rack fails to get the pistol running then I attempt a Combat Reload. If I can't insert the magazine because the "spent" magazine failed to jettison when I pressed the magazine release then I put the fresh magazine between the ring and pinky fingers of my firing hand, lock the slide open, rip the magazine from the pistol, rack the slide 3 times, and then finish the Combat Reload.

If tap, rack fails to get the pistol running then I also have to decide if I have to do something to keep from getting shot, stabbed, beaten, etc., and do that FIRST because the tactical problem (keep from being hurt) is more important than the gun problem. I don't want to be standing there preoccupied with a gun problem and be vulnerable to whatever the bad guy(s) is trying to do to kill me.
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Old June 9, 2014, 11:47 PM   #8
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I was trained to clear a malfunction with one hand only, both strong & weak hand.
Samo for reloading the revolver & auto pistol. One hand only, strong & weak hand.
The idea for that was a 'what if' situation in which one hand/arm were disabled & you needed to clear the weapon & or reload with either hand.
It ain't easy but doable with a bit of practice.
I don't see much need for the one handed techniques in self defense
civilian world tho.
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Old June 10, 2014, 08:33 AM   #9
g.willikers
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It kind of depends, too, on how the gun fits your hands.
If the slide stop is suitably placed why not use it?
With the thumbs forward, two handed grip, it is a very quick way to reload.
If the slide stop isn't in a suitable place, or when there's a stoppage, then the more aggressive approach is needed.
Best to be able to use both.
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Old June 10, 2014, 11:33 AM   #10
Derbel McDillet
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Quote:
Best to be able to use both.
That practice increases decision-making and slows you down because you have to orient to a given situation and then make a decision what to do - Do I rack the slide or do I release the slide stop? On the surface may it seem like a simple decision but under extreme stress you can become indecisive. The less decisions you have to make about operating your gun during a fight in turn frees your mind to deal with the more important tactical decision-making required to react to danger.

The only time I manipulate the slide lock is to lock the slide open for unloading and for clearing a stoppage.

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Old June 10, 2014, 12:24 PM   #11
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Derbil: The truth of your statements are undeniable, given sufficient experience in the right kinds of situations.

Some will counter that thumbing the slide-catch/release is faster, and they are 100% correct given the context of being able to do so as planned, when planned. This is exactly what happens in the context of competitions. A good competitor plans when he is going to reload and how. You can observe them "miming" their stage plans in many cases while waiting their turn for a particular stage. They can do this because they know what the "shooting problem" is going to be in advance.

No one going into a self-defense encounter has any idea what is going to happen in advance. Do you even need to shoot? How many attackers ... one, two, more? How many shots does it take to get each attacker to stop ... one, two, more, or none? Will a reload be required at all? Will it be from slide-lock or a top-off following a string of fire? Will a malfunction occur and if so which one, and when?

This is why reflexive, non-diagnostic methods work best in the context of a fight. They are designed to work in situations where you cannot predict what is going to happen is advance. You need to act decisively, without pauses to identify a problem and then choose from a menu of possible solutions.

Resistance to the reality of these notions generally evaporates during the course of a well-designed FoF class.
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Old June 10, 2014, 12:59 PM   #12
g.willikers
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If there's a hangup after racking the slide, don't you have to do it again?
Is that any faster than having a slide lock hangup, and then racking the slide?
If there's no hangup, the slide lock method is still faster to the next shot.
The grip has already been established, even before the round chambers.
And if there's a mag change before the gun is empty, then neither method is needed.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
If there's a hangup after racking the slide, don't you have to do it again?
Define "hangup" in this case.

Quote:
Is that any faster than having a slide lock hangup, and then racking the slide?
If there's no hangup, the slide lock method is still faster to the next shot.
Well, it depends upon what you mean by "hangup". But what you've done in this case is to suggest that learning two separate techniques to solve a given problem ... and further having to decide and then apply them in the correct order ... is "better" than learning one technique and applying it twice. I'm not sure how that works very well under the stress of an actual attack.

I think it's easy to show that using the thumb-slide-release method is faster when you are demonstrating it under ideal conditions, and know ahead-of-time that it is going to happen, and probably when it is is going to happen. It's faster every time under those conditions.

My observation is that the wheels come flying off of that idea once you remove that element of predictability. The moment it takes one to go "huh? sumpin' wrong? what wrong? what I need do?" ... and then decide the right course of action ... erases any time advantage, when you don't see it coming in advance. At least this is what I've seen in FoF classes.

There's zero ego in this observation. It's just an observation. I've witnessed noobs do it, and top-ten national competitors do it ... repeatedly.
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Old June 10, 2014, 03:04 PM   #14
g.willikers
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Hangup = gun not shooting, for any reason, requiring further manipulation to make operational?
(I just made that up).
The only time a choice would have to be made, of whether to use the slide lock release or the slide rack method, would be if the slide was, indeed, locked back, after shooting the gun dry.
If, after loading with the slide lock release, the gun then just goes click or doesn't go into battery, it's time to rack the slide and clear it.
Same as if the slide rack method was used, in the first place.
I just don't see any downside to using the slide lock release.
It is so much faster to the next shot.
If the gun requires another manipulation, there's nothing lost by using it.
The shooter is in the same boat, either way.
If they're stuck standing around dumbfounded, all confused like, with their thumb you-know-where, well, it's obvious who's to blame, there.
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Old June 10, 2014, 04:17 PM   #15
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If they're stuck standing around dumbfounded, all confused like, with their thumb you-know-where, well, it's obvious who's to blame, there.
Lol ... seriously. Avoiding that condition is half the issue.

I can show you at least 6 different ways to reload a gun from slide-lock. Each of them is highly optimized to be the fastest for some particular scenario or circumstance, or in some cases for a particular model of gun.

If you want to get truly silly, I can expand that number to over 50 variations, again with accompanying explanations for why each is "duh bestest" for some special case. It's one of my favorite range-bets (not a bar-bet, because demonstrating them in a bar is problematic at best, lol)

I think that both you and I would agree in principle that trying to master 50 - or even 6 - different techniques, to such a level of proficiency that we could cognitively recognize and employ them in the middle of a fight, would be a daunting task. There just isn't enough practice time available for that, and there is no time to choose from a menu in a fight. "Hicks' law" is often invoked to describe this, albeit imperfectly.

Of course, there are cases where having options confers a significant advantage ... so much so that having to make that cognitive choice is worth the investment on training (or time to make the decision).

For my part, I see a tremendous advantage is reducing the number of slide manipulation techniques I have to master to a count of one. It's what I do when I load a gun, or unload it. It's how I clear some malfunctions. It's the first step and/or the last I perform as part of the process of clearing others. I do it when I reload from slide-lock, and I even do it when I perform a top-off. Every time I practice one technique (unloading the gun, for instance) I am getting in repetitions which apply to all of the others as well.

By doing so I learn to reflexively respond without needing a cognitive pause. I like that because it means that I have taken a recognition-selection-action process out of the picture. It's just straight to action in all cases.

To add another technique, which is optimized only for some instances (slide-lock), where I would have to recognize-select-act to take advantage, and where I would need to now recognize-select-act in order to NOT perform that technique in other cases ... it should confer an overwhelming advantage to justify the cost.
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Old June 10, 2014, 05:18 PM   #16
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I think we over think these things.
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Old June 11, 2014, 07:41 AM   #17
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Yeah, all this is making my head hurt.
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Old June 11, 2014, 09:41 AM   #18
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zombietactics,

Beautifully put. Thank you.

People tend to measure speed in known circumstances, how fast is Technique A versus how fast is Technique B? They forget the very real, difficult to measure factor of adding cognition/decision into the action loop.

And that's even before we get into reliability questions or questions about priorities. Is it better to use a technique that's a tenth of a second faster, but .4% less reliable? Or better to give up that speed in favor of increased reliability? It depends.

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Old June 11, 2014, 01:47 PM   #19
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You folks were great putting up with a newbie question. In this (new to me) handgun business I'm working on the KISS principle. This one instructor is good, but he introduces some things that to me would require too much repetition or add an additional decision to the decision tree. He has a technique for walking to the right, let's say toward cover, while firing on a stationary target; the position involves a horizontal gun, left elbow braced against the rib cage, etc. The likelihood of a civilian ever having to employ that technique, even if superior, isn't worth the practice time versus run like heck toward cover and if appropriate fire one handed.
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Old June 11, 2014, 10:20 PM   #20
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I want all my guns to work the same way: grab gun, pull trigger, go bang. So, under stress, I would not have to think too much.

Same for malfunctions; so I would never make a habit of pulling the slide stop to release the slide because some guns are difficult to do it that way. Either the lever is too small or to much force is required or both. My Shield for example has a slide stop that is extremely hard to use as a release. My Taurus 92 has a slide stop that is easy and smooth as glass. I want to do the same habit for both.

As for overhand versus slingshot, I always use slingshot because it keeps the gun pointed downrange, more toward the target than overhand does.
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Old June 11, 2014, 11:32 PM   #21
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One small argument in favor of the universal overhand technique is there is no reason to assume that the gun you will use in a fight will always be yours.
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Old June 12, 2014, 07:08 AM   #22
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One small argument in favor of the universal overhand technique is there is no reason to assume that the gun you will use in a fight will always be yours.
Doesn't apply to me although makes sense; All our handguns as it happens are full size M&P, virtually identical. None, for example, have an external safety. I've seen threads where an individual purchased three different 9mm, small autoloaders for CCW. I assume the intent is to have different "jewelry" for different occasions? Sounds good unless you actually have to use your tool. I doubt many carpenters reach into their tool chest each day and say "which titanium hammer will look best with my shirt today?".
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Old June 12, 2014, 10:00 PM   #23
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I'm a LEO firearms instructor and teach all three methods; over-hand, slingshot and slide release. In fact, I had this conversation with one of my officers last night.

Learn all three, use what works for you. But know how to do all three!! If all you learn/use is the over-hand, what are you going to do if one of your hands is injured? Ask a new shooter to rack the slide and most will use the slingshot. Why? Because it's a natural movement.

I also do not believe in the loss of "fine motor skills". Anything with your hands; racking the slide (any method), reloading, opening a door is a fine motor skill. If a shooter is expected to be able to hit a teeny, tiny magazine release, insert a magazine into a magazine well, press the trigger, then why in heaven's name can they not be expected to hit the slide release???
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Old June 13, 2014, 07:54 AM   #24
rdtompki
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Quote:
I'm a LEO firearms instructor and teach all three methods; over-hand, slingshot and slide release. In fact, I had this conversation with one of my officers last night.

Learn all three, use what works for you. But know how to do all three!! If all you learn/use is the over-hand, what are you going to do if one of your hands is injured? Ask a new shooter to rack the slide and most will use the slingshot. Why? Because it's a natural movement.

I also do not believe in the loss of "fine motor skills". Anything with your hands; racking the slide (any method), reloading, opening a door is a fine motor skill. If a shooter is expected to be able to hit a teeny, tiny magazine release, insert a magazine into a magazine well, press the trigger, then why in heaven's name can they not be expected to hit the slide release???
Steve, thanks for the great post. It's a challenge for a newbie to sort out the different ways of doing things. As my wife and I continue to take training we'll continue to find instructors who have their own way of doing things. The LEO instructors for my one day tactical pistol class emphasized over-hand, but I have no doubt in a full-week of law enforcement training they would have discussed and taught the other techniques. And the slingshot is using our wonderful opposing thumb which over man's development has proven pretty darn reliable.

I didn't care for the the slide release technique taught by our most recent instructor (left thumb after inserting mag during and emergency reload) for a few reasons, one being that 10 round full-size M&P mags, especially my wife's 9mm, take a real slam to ensure that they lock in place. This sort of manipulation doesn't put the left hand thumb in much of a position to actuate the slide release; better to over-hand. If the M&P was more amenable to using the slide release with the strong hand thumb I would see that technique, but it doesn't work reliably for me.

As a civilian the likelihood I'll ever have to use any of these techniques in a live situation is so close to zero it's ridiculous, but we do train and practice to prepare for those situations that approach zero probability.
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Old June 14, 2014, 12:40 PM   #25
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Pick one and train with it.

The odds of that .1 seconds making the difference are smaller than screwing up the reload/malfunction making the difference.

I go with the overhand method because it is easy and I can do it with semi-numb hands (practicing in Colorado winters forced some changes). I figure if I can do it with numb fingers, I can probably do it under some stress.
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