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Perishable Skills in Perilous times… Weapon Handling and Manipulation of the fighting handgun.

Posted by Charles "Chuck" Chadwick, Jr. on

When it comes to Handgun Manipulation Skills they are just as important to fighting with your pistol as the fundamentals are to achieving fine marksmanship & accuracy.  While we see a lot of techniques we always test and ask why one is better than the other and so on with pros and cons etc...

So, with a fighting handgun there are just not that many functions.  The device is quite simple in its design to the extent that we can agree that outside of trigger manipulation there are only four things that we do to the gun.  Yes, there are only 5 things total that we do to a handgun during shooting and fighting with it.  Those are as follows in no particular order.

  1. Manipulation of the slide to the rear
  2. Insertion of loaded magazines
  3. Pushing the magazine release
  4. Pressing the trigger straight and to the rear
  5. Operation of external safety

For now, let’s focus on just one of these four to keep it simple.  How about number 1. Yes, Manipulation of the slide to the rear.  We can become very creative with ways to accomplish this task (especially during incapacitation drills) but what will we go to all the time if all is well.  Proper manipulation of the slide should be as dependable as it is foolproof.  This would include a few things... such as surface area coverage for maximum contact to achieve peak available friction for hand to gun contact (grip) without covering the ejection port, hand strength and arm strength.  Outside of being physically capable to perform the function in a proper manner we need the best grip we can achieve on the slide.  This is not a reload conversation or immediate action article.  This is a how do you make contact with the slide when you force it to the rear reality check.  If you are not currently doing so with as many of your five digits on your hand and including as much palm on the gun as possible you are doing considerably less percentage wise than what you have available.  Get as much of the hand on the gun without covering the ejection port and be sure your thumb is not touching the weapon.  That is probably going to get your attention right there if you have been using only your thumb and the side of only one of the four appendages at your disposal to complete this operation. Don’t pinch what needs to be grabbed.  You are depending on thumb strength alone as your go to standard on charging and clearing the weapon.  While everyone loves to go to the range on a 71 degree, blue skied, partly cloudy, light breeze day (I think I hear suppressed carbines dropping shells on the Bermuda grass while birds are singing in the background...) we must prepare for adverse conditions including and not limited to wet slippery hand syndrome that may have occurred for a multitude of reasons.  Sweat is a naturally produced substance we create that makes guns and especially the slide of the gun slippery.  Or how about a more serious situation like blood.  Bloody hands.  Blood is slippery and therefore makes things slippery I think you get the idea.  This is similar to and also why we do not oil the exterior of the handgun or over lubricate the interior as the oil or preservative could make its way to the exterior and cause the gun to be slippery.  This is why you don’t lotion your hands before doing certain activities that require grip for safety. Whatever tactic you have been putting to use most you will default to under duress including depending on a small surface area and thumb strength alone for getting that slide to the rear for whatever reason might that be.  Get out and train but do so effectively.  See you on the range!


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